August 22, 2023, 1:19 am
So you’re new to fantasy basketball, huh? You’re maybe trying it out after years of playing in points-based fantasy football leagues?
You’ll play with friends, co-workers, acquaintances, or strangers; you don’t really care who? But mostly, you just don’t want to put down any money?
You’re more into aesthetics than information? You like apps on your phone that are super simple to navigate and almost never have any bugs?
You want skewed, dated rankings? You believe in historically defined positions, i.e. point guard, shooting guard, small forward, power forward, and center?
You get your sports news from SportsCenter, and you don’t think First Take is an obnoxious trash fire of a television program?
If most or all of this is true for you, then ESPN is definitely the best platform for you. ESPN is a great place to start for anyone who likes to casually watch hoops and knows more about the sport and its inner workings than the average jamoke. But once you get the hang of it, and if you ever start pummeling fools, you’ll more than likely get bored with the basic-ass points format that peeps prefer here and you’ll want to transition to head-to-head and/or roto formats, and you’ll likely realize that what Yahoo! lacks in design, it makes up for in content and competition.
Yahoo! is a much better place to build and sustain a community than ESPN. There is an easy-to-use chat function, if you choose to use it. There’s also a solid-enough message board. These alone make Yahoo! superior to ESPN, in my opinion. But again, ESPN isn’t bad…it’s just basic.
Additionally, Yahoo! allows you to customize settings in a more straightforward manner, and it has more accurate assessments of players than ESPN; although, that’s not to say it couldn’t improve in that area, as well. You definitely need to take their rankings with a grain of salt. Also, depending on whether you’re looking on your computer or on your phone – and where in the platform you’re looking – you might get a player’s per-game ranking or their total-games ranking, which can wildly vary, especially if it’s a player like KD, Kyrie, or Kawhi, each of whom are top-ten players when they play (but you know…actually playing is not any of their strong suits).
In my opinion, it’s additionally preferable to engage in head-to-head and roto leagues on this platform. Those who are on here are typically more serious and more knowledgeable than the average fantasy player, and these formats are for more serious and more knowledgeable players. They require far more skill and strategy than the points format. In points, you’re mostly just seeking out superstars who make the end-of-night highlight reels. Most top players’ flaws don’t hurt them in a points league.
In head-to-head leagues, you really need to consider roster construction – if you have a bunch of players with mix-and-matching volatile shooting percentages, for example, you could cancel the two out! This is not something you really need to consider in a points league, but it could seriously destroy you in a H2H league. That said, you can punt (disregard) certain categories and focus on being elite in at least five categories. This is a strategy you can deploy to great success in most leagues, but still…proceed with caution when leaning in so hard on any one category to the point that you’re neglecting others in your punt build.
In roto leagues, it’s not so important to be elite in any one category; rather, it’s important not to be terrible at any categories. This format tends to be easier to pivot in than the others, because patterns start to emerge over time and other managers are often willing to make mutually beneficial trades to help improve their own team. In head-to-head leagues, some managers can be a bit precious with the players they drafted, much like real-life GMs.
Anyway, once you start to enter the fantasy geek zone, Yahoo! is the place to get your feet wet. And it’s an enjoyable place to stay and dwell, as well.
Once you’ve reached peak geekdom – and you don’t pay much mind to the rankings of a platform – but instead, you trust your own instincts and evaluations (and rely more on advanced metrics), Fantrax is the place for you. The rankings on this platform are worthless, as they are all over the place; I’m really not sure who determines them, to be honest. ESPN’s are generally conservative and late to the party on many ascending players; and Yahoo!, as I mentioned, are usually in the vicinity of where a player ought to be. But Fantrax is as unpredictable as James Harden.
Having said all that, who cares? Fantrax is the ideal platform for those who want to start dynasty leagues, deeper leagues, real salary leagues, etc. It’s not as user-friendly as the other two major platforms, but it’s not impossible to navigate, either. I guess the way I’d put is: if ESPN is Etsy and Yahoo! is eBay, Fantrax is the Silk Road. Make sense? I hope so!
One major downside to Fantrax is that drafting there can be as chaotic as bargaining with vendors on Canal Street, whereas drafting on ESPN is like going to a big nearby mall, and Yahoo! can be more like a chill stroll at the friendly farmers’ market. But once you’ve done enough drafts, you can cope with the chaos of Fantrax.
I wouldn’t say Fantrax is the supreme platform; I would just suggest that it’s the most in-depth and intense platform. But I will always have a soft spot for Yahoo!, where I built and refined my skills and strategies. I am the commissioner of a tight-knit Yahoo! league that I love, and for as long as it exists, I will continue to keep it there. But the deeper I go into this fantasy world, I imagine the deeper I’ll go into the Fantrax realm.