StrategyAugust 26, 2008

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Differences in Drafting for Roto and Head-to-Head Leagues

By David Vauthrin

With the season about two months away, it’s time to start planning for your drafts. For some that means spending countless hours researching as much information as possible. For others it means doing prep work the day of the draft. Regardless of which group you fall into, I’m here to help identify two key differences between drafting for a roto league compared to a head-to-head league.

1) Punting categories

In a head-to-head league, it’s often smart to pick one or two categories to give away every week, while strengthening your team in the other categories. Remember, in a standard eight-category league, to win your week you need to take five cats. While in an ideal world everyone would build teams solid in all categories, it’s just not realistic in most competitive head-to-head leagues. However, in a roto league you need a team that can compete in all areas. Now that isn’t to say that some areas of your team aren’t going to be stronger than others. That’s to be expected. But it does mean that it will be very hard for you to win the league if you get a dreaded “1” in any category. Let’s use Dwight Howard as an example. In a head-to-head league he is very valuable if your strategy is to punt free throw percentage and turnovers. However, his value drops significantly in a roto league where turnovers and free throw percentage are counted as he makes it hard for his owners to compete in those areas.

2) Player values

Dwight Howard isn’t the only case of a player having a large difference in value depending on your league format. LeBron James is another example. Like Howard, James struggles with free throw percentage and turnovers. In a roto league that warrants bumping him down your draft board a few spots. But in a standard head-to-head league, he is a great player to own if you punt free throw percentage and turnovers. Other guys with similar fluctuations in value in a roto league include Stephen Jackson and Jamal Crawford in field goal percentage, Tracy McGrady in field goal and free throw percentage, and Jason Kidd in points, field goal percentage, and turnovers. That isn’t to say these players aren’t worthy of being drafted in your roto league. Not at all. It means thinking twice before taking them unless you intend to pair them with players who can help cover their deficiencies.

David Vauthrin is one of a growing number of fantasy experts who write for the Cafe. A native of Houston, Texas, David is a diehard Rockets fan. Having graduated with a degree in journalism from UT-Austin, it is believed his blood is not red, but rather burnt orange.
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