The ultimate beginner's guide to Fantasy Basketball

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So, you have decided to dip your toe into the waters of playing NBA Fantasy. Maybe you got roped into a league with your mates who just wouldn’t stop asking. Maybe you love the NBA and want to put your knowledge to the test.

Or perhaps your partner has pulled you in to try and develop a shared interest. Whatever the reason, I’m glad you’re here as I’ll shepherd you through the somewhat daunting looking facade of playing fantasy basketball. Let’s get to it.

[Join or create a 2019 Yahoo Fantasy Basketball league for free today]

Let’s start with the absolute basics. What are fantasy sports? Well, unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll have a basic understanding, but let’s assume that you are emerging from a rock-like habitat.

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Fantasy sports, in its most basic form is the idea of selecting players from a sporting league (the NBA in this instance) onto your fictional (fantasy) team and having their on-field exploits create a score for your fictional team. The format of the league varies wildly, but at its core, we are choosing players across an entire league to contribute their stats to our fantasy squad of players.

How do I score points in Yahoo Fantasy?

First of all, the most basic form of NBA fantasy involves a points scoring format. Players accumulate a set number of points based on actions they perform on the basketball court. In default Yahoo points leagues, those points are distributed as follows:

  • 1 point for every real-life point scored

  • 1.2 points for every rebound grabbed

  • 1.5 points for every assist registered

  • 3 points for every steal swiped

  • 3 points for every shot blocked

  • -1 point for every turnover committed.

So, a player who ends the night with 15 points, six rebounds, three assists, one steal, one block, and two turnovers would end up with 30.7 fantasy points. Simple enough?

Fantasy Basketball is the perfect way to learn more about players like Steph Curry, pictured.
Golden State Warriors superstar Steph Curry could be a crucial piece for any Fantasy Basketball team. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

A standard Yahoo fantasy team will have 13 players on it, with ten active players and three bench players. Every player that is in one of your active slots will contribute to your team’s total score for the week, while points accumulated by a player who is on the bench will not count. You can move your players from the bench to the active slots during the week so that you maximise your total fantasy points scored.

During the week, your fantasy team will take on another manager’s fantasy team and at the end of the week, the fantasy team with the most fantasy points wins the matchup.

How does a fantasy draft work, and what is a roster spot?

So, how do you go about getting these players onto your fantasy team? The core of any fantasy league is the draft. A usual league will consist of 10-12 different teams, each with 13 roster spots (players).

A roster spot is a one of the 13 spaces each Fantasy owner can use to select a player - either through the draft, a trade or from the waiver wire. Each team can only have a maximum of 13 players.

Before the season begins, a draft occurs. The teams are put in order from one to 10 or 12 depending on the size of the league, randomly, or by some predetermined method and those teams then go in order picking players from the NBA onto their team.

So, Team 1 gets the first pick and they pick James Harden, for example, and so on until all the teams have made a selection. That is the end of Round 1 of the draft. In Round 2, the order of the teams reverses. This is known as a snake draft. So the team that picked last in Round 1, now picks first in Round 2. This pattern continues through all 13 rounds of the draft.

How to structure your Fantasy Basketball team

A standard Yahoo fantasy roster has 13 spots on it, with 10 being active slots and three reserve positions, but it isn’t just as simple as that. For the 10 active roster spots, there are positional designations. Each player in the NBA and in Yahoo’s fantasy pool has at least one, often two, and sometimes three, positions that they play in an NBA game. The five positions on an NBA court are

  • Point Guard

  • Shooting Guard

  • Small Forward

  • Power Forward

  • Centre

A default fantasy roster has the following roster requirements when you are drafting your team

  • 1 Point Guard

  • 1 Shooting Guard

  • 1 Small Forward

  • 1 Power Forward

  • 2 Centres

  • 1 Guard (either point guard or shooting guard)

  • 1 Forward (either small forward or power forward)

  • 2 Flex (can be any position)

These are your 10 active slots. So, when drafting, it is important to make sure you have players to fit all of these designations. Your three bench players can be any position. These restrictions make it so that you can start, on any given day a maximum of four point guards, four shooting guards, four small forwards, four power forwards, and four centres, but not all at once. So, if your roster contains five players who are all point guards, if they all play on the same day, you won’t be able to count their fantasy points.

At the end of the draft, you will have your 13 players, as will the other members of your league. That isn’t the end and your team will likely look a lot different when the season is over.

Managing your Fantasy team

There are two ways of changing your team during the season. You can negotiate a trade with another member of your league, where you send one, two or three players to another team in exchange for one, two, or three of their players. This is more complex than other ways of changing your team, as it puts your negotiating skills to the test - but a good trade can change everything.

What is the waiver wire, and how do I use it?

There is also the waiver wire or free agent list. Any player who wasn't selected in the draft sits on this list. At any point during the season, you can choose to drop one of your players and add a player off the free agent list, but often leagues will have restrictions on how many of these moves you can make in a week. This is key when a player is injured long-term, or underperforming, and a surprise player is playing well. Making astute moves on the waiver wire is key to winning a fantasy league.

Being active in moving players into your active slots, making trades with your fellow managers, and scouring the waiver wire for players who can help your team are the key ways to maximise your chance at winning your first fantasy league.

How playoffs work in Fantasy

At the end of the season, the top 4-6 teams (usually) will qualify for the playoffs, where they will play in a loser goes home matchup until we are left with just two teams to contest the fantasy championship. Hopefully, you find yourself in the championship matchup this season as you learn the ins and outs of fantasy NBA.

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