Head to Head Draft Strategies
Posted by Erik on October 11, 2008
Know Your CATS!
After participating in GMTR’s Mock Draft, I got exposed to various Head to Head drafting strategies. Some I was familiar with, while others not so much. I learned a lot in the process of participating in it and I would like to share some of the knowledge I gained with some aspiring drafters out there.
For those who are not indoctrinated or even those who are slightly lost or confused with the Head to Head format, this one’s for you.
To be a winner in H2H, it is imperative to draft with a strategy. And generally, the basic strategy is to focus on 5-6 CATS or Categories (total of 9 is standard) and draft players that should help you win in those during your team’s weekly matchups.
Due to the way players generally produce stats, there are certain groups of categories that are easier to synergistically (yes it really is a word) go for. These groupings of categories are what nominally form the plethora of Head to Head drafting strategies.
Big Ball or Big Man Strategy
This strategy revolves around the categories that Big Men (Centers and Power Forwards) are generally good at contributing in.
Cats to Dominate: FG%, Rebounds, Blocks
Cats Dumped/Ignored: FT%, Assists, Steals, 3 Point Shots Made
Cats Contested: Points, Turnovers
As you may have noticed there are only 3 categories that big men can truly call their own. So the plan is to go for your big men early, where the “quality” big men are also big scorers. Thus attempting to be competitive in the Points cat as well as the primary 3 cats. Since guards and swingmen generally have higher TOs per game than big men, the TO cat is also a viable target to be competitive in. So, that’s 5. Since you HAVE to pick small guys to fill up your roster positions it is best to also remain focused and target players that contribute solidly in either Steals or 3 Point shots made. Big men generally kill the FT% cat so don’t bother. And assists will come few and far between as the “True passing PGs” are normally gone by the 2nd round.
This is an effective strategy. If you decide to draft 4 consecutive big men from rounds 1-4, then it will be quite difficult for many teams to handle your big man cat dominance.
Reasonable Early Draft Targets:
Amare Stoudemire, Elton Brand, Kevin Garnett, Al Jefferson, Marcus Camby, Tim Duncan, Dwight Howard, Josh Smith
Small Ball or Small Man Strategy
This strategy revolves around drafting players that contribute in categories that small men (Point Guards and Shooting Guards) are generally good in.
Cats to Dominate: Assists, Steals, 3 Point Shots Made, FT%
Cats Dumped/Ignored: FG%, Rebounds, Blocks, Turnovers
Cats Contested: Points
This strategy is slightly more difficult to pull off than the first because there are only about 5-6 guys who are expected to average 8.5 assists per game or more this year. If you can own two of them then you’re on the right track to dominate assists. If you own one then you will have to supplement his assist production with around 2 or more guys who average 5.5 or APG to remain dominant in that cat. A good start for this strategy is the double PG 1st-2nd round bounce.
One of the difficulties of this strategy is filling your 2 C slots with guys who shoot 78+ to 80+ percent from the line to not hurt your investment in good FT%. Centers like Rasheed Wallace and Mehmet Okur who contribute to your 3 pointers made cat are pretty useful. Other options are Troy Murphy, Al Harrington, and Brad Miller (assists)
Reasonable Early Draft Targets:
Chris Paul, LeBron James (but he hurts FT%), Deron Williams, Steve Nash, Baron Davis, Jose Calderon
This strategy revolves around the focus on winning the shooting percentages and having a team that commits the least turnovers.
Cats to Dominate: FG%, FT%. Turnovers
Cats to Dump/Ignore: Assists / 3 Point shots made / Blocks / Rebounds / Steals / Points
Cats to Contest: Assists / Blocks / Rebounds / Steals / Points
This is an interesting strategy because most drafters and fantasy team owners will have a tendency to dump the turnovers cat because they probably plan to apply the tactic of playing as many games of their players within the week as possible to maximize the adding cats. While you on the other hand will find it quite easy to win in the categories you want to dominate.
As you may have noticed there are no set nor prescribed 2nd priority categories to go for. The only thing clear and carved in stone is the focus on the efficiency cats. It would really depend on who are the players that reach you. Some reasonable choices are rebounds, blocks and steals. This strategy will tend to weigh slightly heavier on the big men as there are more big men who shoot good FT% than there are small men who shoot good FG% at high volumes.
Reasonable Early Draft Targets:
Chris Paul, Amare Stoudemire, Dirk Nowitzki, Kevin Garnett, Elton Brand, Jose Calderon, Kevin Martin
Hustle Ball Strategy
This strategy is about forgetting about the points category altogether and focusing on the Blocks and Steals categories which are arguably the two most difficult stats to accumulate. This strategy is not about grabbing marquee or big named players. It is about getting players who contribute to the said cats but who do not necessarily have to be big scorers.
Cats to Dominate: Blocks, Steals, Rebounds, Turnovers
Cats to Dump/Ignore: Points, Assists, 1 of 2 Percentages
Cats to Contest: 1 of 2 percentages, 3 Point Shots Made
What makes this strategy effective is that it is counter intuitive to go for players who do NOT score a lot when there are those who can/do that are still available in the draft pool. This concept works in the favor of the Hustle Strategy employing drafter. As he will see that he will have easy access or minor competition for the players he is targeting.
Reasonable Draft Targets:
Chris Paul, Shawn Marion, Kevin Garnett, Marcus Camby, Josh Smith, Jose Calderon, Rasheed Wallace, Andrei Kirilenko, Andris Biedrins, Jamario Moon, David Lee, Rajon Rondo
It’s drafting Roto-style in head to head. This strategy is for the megalomaniacs who want to win it all. Although this is not entirely possible due to the fact that odds are your competition will be specialized and very competitive in the cats of their choice. The idea is to beat small ball teams with your big man numbers and big ball teams with your small man numbers.
Cats to Dominate: N/A
Cats to Dump/Ignore: Possibly Turnovers and 1 of the Percentages
Cats to Contest: ALL with the possible exception of Turnovers and 1 of the Percentages
This strategy is difficult to pull off and should only be attempted by those who know what they are doing. I tried this last year in an 18-man head to head league. I was able to pull off a rare 9-0 sweep of one my opponents in one match-up but I finished 9th out of 18 in that league so as you can see I wasn’t that successful with it. But my result is not a definitive gauge of the strategy itself. The main objective of this strategy is to make the playoffs and then focus on 5 cats for smooth 5-4 wins thereafter.
Good Centers and Guards in the first few rounds and then fill in the small forward slot later in the draft.