Fantasy Basketball Playoff Rankings for ESPN Head-to-Head Leagues

The NBA season is more than half over, which means that the fantasy playoffs are roughly seven weeks away. For some teams, the weeks before the playoffs will be a mad scramble just to qualify for the fantasy postseason. Other teams have already secured their playoff spot and are now focused on strengthening their fantasy teams for a playoff run. This week’s rest-of-season rankings will be focused on identifying players who can help you prepare for your ESPN fantasy playoffs. Click here for Yahoo fantasy playoffs player rankings.

So much of being prepared for the fantasy playoffs comes down to understanding the NBA schedule, which is unbalanced from week to week. As a result, I asked RotoWire’s NBA schedule guru, and Langston Galloway superfan, J.J. Calle to share some tips to help prepare for the fantasy playoffs. In addition, I’ve provided rankings and auction values weighted for the number of games each NBA team will play during the fantasy playoffs. Today’s rankings and advice is meant for ESPN leagues.

Nuggets of Wisdom from J.J. Calle

All stats and schedule quirks are accurate as of 1/27/15. For a full breakdown of the ESPN head-to-head playoffs, consult this article.

In standard ESPN head-to-head leagues, four teams qualify for the fantasy playoffs, which are comprised of two two-week matchups (pictured below).

As detailed in the ESPN Head-to-Head Playoff Cheat Sheet article, standard ESPN leagues merge the week before and after the All-Star break (Week 16-17) into one matchup. To squash any confusion, Matchup 20 begins Week 21, due to the matchup consolidation. For a full explanation of ESPN’s playoff schedule and rules, click here. Please consult your league settings before accepting this breakdown as gospel.

If you accessed the ESPN head-to-head playoff article linked above, you know the Charlotte Hornets play a maximum 18 games during the month long fantasy playoffs. The recently postponed Portland Trail Blazers/Brooklyn Nets game was rescheduled for April 6th (Week 24), elevating both teams into tier one of total games, joining the Hornets with 18. That is the only game scheduled for April 6th, the same day as the NCAA championship game, and now both teams play four games during the week instead of three. In the same vein, each squad picks up one additional quality game. The Nets will play the most home games (11) and, the Trail Blazers are tied with the Hornets for most road games (11) and back-to-backs sets (6) during the fantasy playoffs. The Los Angeles Lakers and Sacramento Kings are the only other teams to max out their games (10) during the finals (Week 23-25). Every team except the San Antonio Spurs and Phoenix Suns plays two games during an abbreviated Week 25.

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Technical fouls and flagrant foul points are an overlooked end-of-season factor.

A player is automatically suspended one game when they accrue 16 technical fouls, followed by a suspension every two additional techs. Russell Westbrook currently leads the field with 11 techs, averaging one every 2.8 games. At that rate, he’ll reach critical mass before March. I’m not predicting Westbrook maintains his current pace, but it needed to be mentioned since his temper threatens your chances in the head-to-head fantasy playoffs.

Another wrinkle is coach Jeff Hornacek’s team rule benching his players if they pick up a technical foul for arguing a call. Goran Dragic and Markieff Morris were the first culprits, but Hornacek reserves the right to apply his mandate on a case-by-case basis. He recently said, “…we don’t have that hard-and-fast rule, but I may still sit him for the end of the game if I feel like it.” As a team, the Suns lead the league in technical fouls.

A player is suspended one game when they earn six flagrant foul points, two games when they acquire seven points, and two games for anything over seven points. Kyle O’Quinn has four flagrant foul points, just one flagrant foul 2 away from an automatic suspension. He’s the only player in immediate danger of incurring a suspension. Below are lists of the leaders in technical fouls and flagrant fouls as of January 27, 2015.

Technical Foul Leaders (as of 1/27/15)
Russell Westbrook, OKC 11
Markieff Morris, PHX 10
Matt Barnes, LAC 9
Blake Griffin, LAC 8
Eric Bledsoe, PHX 7
Rudy Gay, SAC 7
John Wall, WAS 7
Tyson Chandler, DAL 7
Flagrant Foul Leaders (as of 1/27/15)
Kyle O’Quinn, ORL 4 points
Quincy Acy, NYK 3 points

ESPN Fantasy Playoff Rankings & Auction Values

Below are rankings and auction values based on RotoWire Projections for the standard ESPN fantasy playoffs. These rankings and auction values are intended for head-to-head leagues where RotoWire recommends focusing on the six positive counting categories (pts, rebs, asts, stls, blks, three-pointers), even if that strategy makes your team non-competitive in the other categories. As a point of reference, I’ve also included the rest-of-season rankings for each player so that you can identify players whose value is different in the playoffs compared to the rest of the season. Here are a few players who stuck out to me:

Damian Lillard (Regular Season: 8th, Playoffs: 3th): The Blazers play 18 games during ESPN’s fantasy playoffs, thanks in part to a recent blizzard, and Lillard has a great chance to play in all of them – he has never missed a game in his career.

Kemba Walker (Regular Season: 141st, Playoffs: 10th): This is a risky proposition because he is out for at least the next six weeks, but Kemba has a league-leading 18 games during ESPN’s fantasy playoffs. If he is healthy, he projects as a top-10 value.

Blake Griffin (Regular Season: 12th, Playoffs: 29th): Griffin has been awesome this season, but if you are locked into the playoffs, it may be time to sell high, the Clippers only play 15 games during ESPN’s fantasy playoffs.

Danny Green (Regular Season: 41st, Playoffs: 31st): Green has been surprisingly good this season from a fantasy standpoint, and projects to be even more valuable during ESPN’s fantasy playoffs where the Spurs play 17 games.

Kevin Love (Regular Season: 36th, Playoffs: 64th): A disappointing regular season projects to be an even worse fantasy playoffs for Love, whose Cavs play just 14 games during ESPN’s fantasy playoffs.

Playoff Rank Playoff Value Player Team ROS Rank
1 $57 Stephen Curry GSW 1
2 $54 James Harden HOU 2
3 $52 Damian Lillard POR 8
4 $48 DeMarcus Cousins SAC 3
5 $47 Russell Westbrook OKC 5
6 $46 Kevin Durant OKC 4
7 $44 Klay Thompson GSW 11
8 $43 Anthony Davis NOP 7
9 $40 John Wall WAS 10
10 $39 Kemba Walker CHR 141
11 $36 LeBron James CLE 6
12 $35 Draymond Green GSW 14
13 $35 Kyle Lowry TOR 13
14 $32 LaMarcus Aldridge POR 29
15 $32 Wesley Matthews POR 28
16 $32 Chris Paul LAC 9
17 $31 Darren Collison SAC 20
18 $31 Gordon Hayward UTA 23
19 $31 Jeff Teague ATL 22
20 $31 Marc Gasol MEM 19
21 $31 Paul Millsap ATL 15
22 $30 Rudy Gay SAC 17
23 $30 Michael Carter-Williams PHI 16
24 $29 Jrue Holiday NOP 75
25 $29 Chris Bosh MIA 26
26 $28 Tim Duncan SAS 38
27 $27 Brandon Knight MIL 30
28 $27 Andre Drummond DET 25
29 $27 Blake Griffin LAC 12
30 $27 Ricky Rubio MIN 33
31 $26 Danny Green SAS 41
32 $25 DeAndre Jordan LAC 21
33 $25 Gorgui Dieng MIN 34
34 $25 Kawhi Leonard SAS 49
35 $24 Nicolas Batum POR 48
36 $24 Monta Ellis DAL 27
37 $24 Mike Conley MEM 37
38 $23 Carmelo Anthony NYK 35
39 $23 Ty Lawson DEN 18
40 $23 Serge Ibaka OKC 31
41 $23 Rudy Gobert UTA 42
42 $23 Derrick Favors UTA 39
43 $22 Al Jefferson CHR 54
44 $21 Joe Johnson BRO 56
45 $19 Tyreke Evans NOP 46
46 $19 Jarrett Jack BRO 66
47 $19 Thaddeus Young MIN 55
48 $19 Kyrie Irving CLE 24
49 $19 Trevor Ariza HOU 52
50 $19 Victor Oladipo ORL 32
51 $18 Mason Plumlee BRO 71
52 $18 Rajon Rondo DAL 45
53 $18 Jimmy Butler CHI 50
54 $17 Zach Randolph MEM 63
55 $17 Andrew Wiggins MIN 53
56 $17 Dwight Howard HOU 44
57 $16 Kyle Korver ATL 58
58 $16 Greg Monroe DET 60
59 $16 Bradley Beal WAS 62
60 $16 Nerlens Noel PHI 51
61 $15 Jared Sullinger BOS 70
62 $15 Markieff Morris PHO 43
63 $15 Eric Bledsoe PHO 40
64 $15 Kevin Love CLE 36
65 $15 David West IND 96
66 $15 Marcus Smart BOS 78
67 $15 Mario Chalmers MIA 68
68 $14 Hassan Whiteside MIA 77
69 $14 DeMar DeRozan TOR 74
70 $14 Dirk Nowitzki DAL 59
71 $13 Dwyane Wade MIA 80
72 $13 Elfrid Payton ORL 61
73 $13 Al Horford ATL 69
74 $13 Chandler Parsons DAL 57
75 $13 K.J. McDaniels PHI 72
76 $12 Pau Gasol CHI 64
77 $12 Lance Stephenson CHR 92
78 $12 Nikola Vucevic ORL 67
79 $12 George Hill IND 115
80 $12 D.J. Augustin DET 88
81 $11 Goran Dragic PHO 47
82 $11 DeMarre Carroll ATL 76
83 $11 Kelly Olynyk BOS 95
84 $11 Khris Middleton MIL 87
85 $11 Jae Crowder BOS 133
86 $11 Kentavious Caldwell-Pope DET 89
87 $11 Luol Deng MIA 94
88 $11 Robin Lopez POR 122
89 $10 Robert Covington PHI 73
90 $10 Roy Hibbert IND 120
91 $10 Giannis Antetokounmpo MIL 83
92 $10 Ryan Anderson NOP 81
93 $10 Ben McLemore SAC 91
94 $9 Evan Turner BOS 103
95 $9 Josh Smith HOU 100
96 $9 Jeremy Lin LAL 106
97 $9 Tyson Chandler DAL 90
98 $8 Corey Brewer HOU 105
99 $8 Solomon Hill IND 130
100 $8 Marcin Gortat WAS 99
101 $8 Paul Pierce WAS 93
102 $8 Kenneth Faried DEN 65
103 $8 Patrick Beverley HOU 104
104 $8 Jeff Green MEM 84
105 $8 Manu Ginobili SAS 121
106 $8 Brook Lopez BRO 128
107 $8 Dion Waiters OKC 109
108 $8 Channing Frye ORL 79
109 $8 Kevin Martin MIN 114
110 $7 Jamal Crawford LAC 86
111 $7 Joakim Noah CHI 82
112 $7 Courtney Lee MEM 101
113 $7 Enes Kanter UTA 108
114 $6 Isaiah Thomas PHO 85
115 $6 Andrew Bogut GSW 125
116 $6 Jordan Hill LAL 136
117 $6 Greivis Vasquez TOR 116
118 $6 C.J. Miles IND 148
119 $6 Harrison Barnes GSW 124
120 $5 Jonas Valanciunas TOR 126
121 $5 Tobias Harris ORL 107
122 $5 Terrence Jones HOU 127
123 $5 Michael Kidd-Gilchrist CHR 151
124 $5 Cody Zeller CHR 143
125 $4 Amir Johnson TOR 119
126 $4 Deron Williams BRO 210
127 $4 Eric Gordon NOP 117
128 $4 Matt Barnes LAC 98
129 $4 Trey Burke UTA 135
130 $4 Jusuf Nurkic DEN 142
131 $4 Dante Exum UTA 97
132 $3 Tony Allen MEM 140
133 $3 Donatas Motiejunas HOU 129
134 $3 O.J. Mayo MIL 134
135 $3 J.R. Smith CLE 102
136 $3 P.J. Tucker PHO 111
137 $3 Jose Calderon NYK 123
138 $3 Derrick Rose CHI 112
139 $2 Arron Afflalo DEN 113
140 $2 Wesley Johnson LAL 150
141 $2 Tony Parker SAS 152
142 $2 Boris Diaw SAS 155
143 $2 Wilson Chandler DEN 118
144 $2 J.J. Redick LAC 110
145 $2 Andre Iguodala GSW 132
146 $2 Rodney Stuckey IND 173
147 $1 Nick Young LAL 172
148 $1 Marvin Williams CHR 161
149 $1 Brian Roberts CHR 163
150 $1 Patrick Patterson TOR 149
151 $1 Avery Bradley BOS 146
152 $1 Louis Williams TOR 153
153 $1 Ed Davis LAL 168
154 $1 Omer Asik NOP 144
155 $1 Gerald Green PHO 139
156 $1 Jodie Meeks DET 167
157 $ – Steven Adams OKC 147
158 $ – Zaza Pachulia MIL 156
159 $ – Langston Galloway NYK 154
160 $ – Taj Gibson CHI 137
161 $ – Larry Sanders MIL 233
162 $ – Nene Hilario WAS 169
163 $ – Reggie Jackson OKC 158
164 $ – Kevin Garnett BRO 178
165 $ – Tim Hardaway NYK 160
166 $ – Brandon Bass BOS 175
167 $ – Alan Anderson BRO 177
168 $ – Jared Dudley MIL 162
169 $ – Jason Smith NYK 138
170 $ – Timofey Mozgov CLE 131
171 $ – Tiago Splitter SAS 186
172 $ – James Johnson TOR 159
173 $ – Luis Scola IND 201
174 $ – Carlos Boozer LAL 176
175 $ – Tristan Thompson CLE 145
176 $ – Iman Shumpert CLE 157
177 $ – David Lee GSW 189
178 $ – Joe Ingles UTA 181
179 $ – Jason Thompson SAC 166
180 $ – Kyle Singler DET 187
181 $ – John Henson MIL 180
182 $ – Bojan Bogdanovic BRO 170
183 $ – Alex Len PHO 165
184 $ – Wayne Ellington LAL 192
185 $ – Marreese Speights GSW 188
186 $ – Jerryd Bayless MIL 179
187 $ – Mike Dunleavy CHI 164
188 $ – Marco Belinelli SAS 195
189 $ – Derrick Williams SAC 174
190 $ – Evan Fournier ORL 171
191 $ – C.J. Watson IND 205
192 $ – Devin Harris DAL 185
193 $ – Luc Mbah a Moute PHI 193
194 $ – Terrence Ross TOR 190
195 $ – Thabo Sefolosha ATL 198
196 $ – Jason Terry HOU 194
197 $ – J.J. Hickson DEN 184
198 $ – Elijah Millsap UTA 199
199 $ – Spencer Hawes LAC 183
200 $ – Vince Carter MEM 196