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Draft Bargains: Exploiting The Default Rankings

Charlie Zegers

Charlie has covered the NBA, NFL and MLB for RotoWire for the better part of 15 years. His work has also appeared on,, the New York Times, ESPN, Fox Sports and Yahoo. He embraces his East Coast bias and is Smush Parker's last remaining fan.

We've all been there. Several rounds into a draft... the new guy just picked the player you wanted, and you're paging through the rankings trying to find a suitable replacement.

This is where drafts take a turn for the ugly.

Pre-draft preparation can help you avoid that problem. The fact that you're reading a draft prep article means you're going in better prepared than that guy from sales or your annoying brother-in-law that you invited to the league because you really needed a tenth man. But at some point, you're going to find yourself looking at the in-game rankings, searching for inspiration.

The fact is, there are values to be found on those lists, but finding them takes a little work. For the purposes of this discussion, I took a look at Rotowire's projected player rankings for the upcoming season and compared them against the rankings found in Yahoo! and ESPN's fantasy basketball leagues, looking for the biggest differences in rankings.

The idea is simple: if or Yahoo rank a player much lower than we do, that player may be available in a later round in an ESPN or Yahoo draft.

Potential bargains in drafts:

It's easy to see why the experts would have major differences of opinion when projecting stats on these players; most are either young and relatively unproven (Monroe, George, Lin, Leonard, Thompson) or facing significant position battles. Jeff Teague's value, for example, depends largely on how much playing time he loses to Devin Harris. Mario Chalmers could take another step forward this year, or he could find himself getting pulled to create playing time for Ray Allen. And Greivis Vasquez is a much better play if the "Austin Rivers as point guard" experiment fails.

Potential bargains in Yahoo! drafts:

Like the analysts at ESPN, the Yahoo! guys aren't as high on Greg Monroe as we are. They also don't seem to have much faith in Tyreke Evans' chance at a bounce-back season, or in Andrea Bargnani or Ricky Rubio. And they seem to be down on both Austin Rivers and Greivis Vasquez, which might mean they're anticipating a job-share at the point in New Orleans.

In the interest of equal time, here's a list of players that were rated by Yahoo! or ESPN but did not make Rotowire's Top 200:

It seems we're a bit more pessimistic about Rose's recovery from ACL surgery than the guys at Yahoo! and ESPN.

We also suspect that Aaron Brooks will take too much playing time from Thomas, that Evan Turner will get the bulk of the 2/3 minutes in Philly over J-Rich, that playing with Nene will hurt Okafor's production and that the Orlando frontcourt is likely to be an absolute mess.