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Punt FT%

Over the next two weeks I will be writing a series of team building guides focusing on the various punting strategies available for H2H leagues. I have drafted and won with both balanced teams and teams that are punting at least one category. Both approaches have their merits. A balanced approach allows you to be competitive in more categories and gives you more roster flexibility as more players will fit your team build. It also gives your team more upside on a weekly basis given that more categories will be in play. However, the downside is the variability that comes with more categories being in play. Instead of having a weekly downside of losing 5-4 or 6-3, a bad week for your team could mean a 7-2 or even 8-1 loss. Punting takes away much of the variability and makes it easier to predict how each matchup will play out and which categories will be essential for victory. Punting a category also gives you additional flexibility during the draft. When you punt, your draft board becomes dramatically different from your league mates’s draft boards making it easier to grab the players that you need for your team build.

The decision to punt a category does not necessarily have to come before the draft. Deciding to punt a category in the middle of your draft is fine and often the best strategy. For example, if you find yourself extremely short on assists going into the seventh round, don’t feel forced to take Steve Nash or Jeremy Lin if you’re more comfortable with other players in that range. Punt assists for the remainder of the draft and focus on building up the other categories.

Today we’ll look at the most common punt strategy; punt FT%. Like with Shaq before him, and with Wilt if fantasy existed in the 60s, there is no way to have Dwight Howard on your team and be competitive in FT%. Don’t bother trying. Any team with Dwight, even if that team has Durant and Harden as well, will never win FT%. The following guide is for teams that select Dwight Howard in the first round. This year is unique in that it is the first time in years that Dwight could be available in the second round of drafts. I will address this twist at the end of the guide.

Punting FT% is not just done by going to Basketball Monster, sorting the rankings without FT%, and picking the top players. You still have to win 5 categories. When punting FT%, I like to pair the lower FT% big men with point guards. By going heavy on point guards, it’s possible to make your team competitive in all categories but FT% as most lead guards are strong in the categories that the low FT% big men are weak in. The goal in a punt should be to be dominant in 4-5 categories and then be competitive in 2-3 other categories. Mixing point guards and Dwight Howard makes this possible. Below is a round-by-round breakdown of possible targets for a punt FT% build. The round that I have listed each player in is the round that I would target them in.

Note: Yahoo Fantasy Basketball’s ranking is in parentheses.

R2) Dwyane Wade (22) – FT% fell to 72% last season. Solid points, steals, FG%.

R2) Al Horford (17) – Good source of assists. FT% should rebound but only a 73% career shooter. A better pick than Ibaka/Sanders as blocks are easy to get later when punting FT%.

R3) Mike Conley (28) – 6+ assists, 2+ steals. His medicore FG% is easy to offset with this build.

R3) Blake Griffin (49) – An ideal target. Close to 4 assists, close to 20 PPG. Points can be an issue with this build as many of the low FT% big men don’t score.

R4) Thaddeus Young (54) – FT% fell off a cliff last year. Great source of steals. Scoring should go up this year.

R4) DeMarcus Cousins (42) – Cousins is much more attractive when he’s only hurting you in one of the percentages. Good points and steals for a big man.

R4) Josh Smith (38) – Value dip last year had a lot to do with FT% falling to 52%. The defensive stats are still there but playing SF may lead to a small decrease.

R5) Goran Dragic (62) – Only 75% from the line last season. A great source of threes and assists.

R5) Chandler Parsons (57) – 2.0 3PG last season. Number could go up with Dwight in town. Shot 55% from the line in 2011-2012.

R5) Jrue Holiday (61) – Only A 75% FT shooter last season. TOs should come down with more ball handlers in NO.

R5) Derrick Favors (60) – Promising big should put up early round value in this build. Expect 2.0 blocks.

R6) Andre Iguodala (70) – Still a great target when punting FT%. Scoring has dropped off but still a solid contributor in steals, threes, and assists.

R6) Rajon Rondo (63) – Go after the other PGs listed first. Health questions and the lack of threes make him overrated in this build. Still, the assists and steals matchup well with Dwight so he’s worth a mention.

R7) Andre Drummond (95) – An absolute must if punting FT%. Will return top 10 value in this build. Reach in the 6th if you have to.

R7) JaVale McGee (96) – A solid consolation prize if Drummond is gone. 2.0 BPG in only 18 MPG last season.

R8) Gordon Hayward (93) – Good source of threes and assists if you missed out on point guards earlier in the draft. Should put up 16/4/4 for the Jazz this year.

R8) Kenneth Faried (86) – 56% FT shooter last season. Should average close to a double-double and a block.

R8) Spencer Hawes (120) – Sneaky source of threes and assists. His counting stats should go up across the board this season.

R9) Danny Green (97) – Three-point specialist that you can get a great price. Good defensive stats and barely goes to the line.

R10) Anderson Varejao (119) – Upside. Upside. Upside. Doesn’t block shots but a good source of steals for the 40 games that he’ll play this year.

R11) Brandan Wright (197) – Mid-round value without FT%. Weak rebounding but literally almost zero turnovers (0.5 TOs per game last season)

R13) DeAndre Jordan (142) – Coming off a really poor season but finished 39th overall without FT% in 2011-2012.

As mentioned early, Dwight will be available in the 2nd round in a lot of leagues this season. This has a few implications. The LeBron/Dwight FT% punt dream team is in play this season. If I have LeBron and Dwight is sitting there at the end of the second, I am taking Dwight every single time. Without FT% to worry about, LeBron becomes by far the most valuable player in fantasy. The LeBron/Dwight combo puts you in a dominating position in rebounds, blocks, points, FG%, and steals, while giving you a solid start in threes and assists. Out of all the possible realistic round one and two pairings, LeBron and Dwight is by far my favourite.

Many experts will tell you to avoid Dwight in the second round if you grabbed a player in the first round who is a great FT shooter. With regards to Steph Curry, I completely disagree. Threes and assists are of huge importance to a successful FT% punt. No one combines those two categories like Steph does. Steph does lose some value due to Dwight tanking FT%, but he should still be, at worst, a top 8 player without FT%. Therefore, by matching Steph with Dwight you get two players who will return mid-to-early first-round value in a punt FT% scenario whose strengths complement each other perfectly. To illustrate this, here are the first ten rounds of a mock draft where I went with Steph and Howard in rounds one and two.

R1) Curry

R2) Howard

R3) Blake Griffin

R4) Goran Dragic

R5) Jrue Holiday

R6) Gordon Hayward

R7) Andre Drummond

R8) Spencer Hawes

R9) Wilson Chandler

R10) Shawn Marion

None of those picks are unrealistic so this strategy is very doable. I plugged this team into Basketball Monster and it turns out that this team is well-above-average to absolutely dominant in all categories but FT% (terrible), TOs (terrible), and threes (average). In short, this is an absolute monster of a H2H team. This strategy works with Harden too, just not as well due to his lower assists and threes.

The moral of this story is you shouldn’t ignore Dwight in the second round just because your first round pick is a solid free-throw shooter. If you get creative and have a solid game plan going into your draft, you can come out with a dominant, if unconventional, H2H team. Currently, Dwight is a first-round pick going into the second or even third round. Take advantage of this.


Follow me on Twitter @EliteFanBBall for the latest fantasy basketball news. I will gladly answer any fantasy basketball related questions that you may have. 


  1. Steven Chen

    What do you guys think about my draft and team? I ran out of time and got stuck with D12. I think I might have drafted too many bigs in the early and mid rounds. I think I need to trade some bigs for more guards. I am basically punting FT% and TOs. Any opinion or advise would be great! Thank you!!

    12 teams 14 players h2h 9 cats

    1. (4) Stephen Curry (GS – PG,SG)
    2. (21) Dwight Howard (Hou – PF,C)
    3. (28) Andre Drummond (Det – PF,C)
    4. (45) Victor Oladipo (Orl – PG,SG)
    5. (52) Jrue Holiday (NO – PG)
    6. (69) Pau Gasol (Chi – PF,C)
    7. (76) Larry Sanders (Mil – PF,C)
    8. (93) Terrence Jones (Hou – SF,PF)
    9. (100) Enes Kanter (Uta – C)
    10. (117) Amir Johnson (Tor – PF,C)
    11. (124) Reggie Jackson (OKC – PG,SG)
    12. (141) Matt Barnes (LAC – SF)
    13. (148) Draymond Green (GS – SF)
    14. (165) Mirza Teletovic (Bkn – SF,PF) dropped for Jameer Nelson from FA

  2. Anonymous

    What do you think of my team? 9 cat 12 team h2h

    1. (7) LeBron James (Cle – SF,PF)
    2. (18) John Wall (Was – PG)
    3. (31) DeAndre Jordan (LAC – C)
    4. (42) Nicolas Batum (Cha – SG,SF)
    5. (55) Andre Drummond (Det – PF,C)
    6. (66) Dennis Schroder (Atl – PG)
    7. (79) Jordan Clarkson (LAL – PG,SG)
    8. (90) Robert Covington (Phi – SF,PF)
    9. (103) DeMarre Carroll (Tor – SF,PF)
    10. (114) Bismack Biyombo (Orl – PF,C)
    11. (127) J.R. Smith (Cle – SG,SF)
    12. (138) Amir Johnson (Bos – PF,C)
    13. (151) Jamal Crawford (LAC – SG,SF)
    14. (162) Seth Curry (Dal – PG)
    15. (175) Ish Smith (Det – PG)
    16. (186) JaMychal Green (Mem – PF)

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