Steps to Navigate the First Round

Taong was looking for some guest bloggers this year, so I volunteered as tribute! I’ll chip in from time to time to help keep the blog full with fun content. I thought I’d do my introductory blog by providing a few recommended steps to follow in order to prepare yourself to make it through the first round as clean as possible. The first round is the trickiest, but also by far the most fun.

Step 1: Identify the teams you expect to lose 

Everyone’s list might be slightly different here, but there is usually a consensus on which teams we expect to advance (i.e. Golden State and Cleveland, most years anyways). You can have 1-3 series you are unsure about and plan to wait a bit on.

In the East, there is a clear top 4 in the standings, but there are also a lot of question marks in that top 4. I’d plan for Washington, Milwaukee, Miami, and Indiana to lose with reasonable confidence.

In the West, the top two teams are miles ahead of everybody else. Minnesota and San Antonio would be the safest bets to lose. The other two series are a literal coin flip, so we will treat them that way in planning. I like Utah and Portland to win, but it could go either way.

Step 2: Identify the top 14 players from teams you expect to lose 

There are 14 days in the first round of the NBA playoffs from the start of the Game 1s until the end of the Game 6s. Make sure you know who your Top 14 options are, because you will want to plan to pick them all in that time period. I would not plan for Game 7 with this list. If a series goes to 7 (which likely will happen with at least one), you can deal with it then and pick the best remaining option you have.

My Top 14:
1. Bradley Beal 32 PRA
2. John Wall 31 PRA
3. Greek Freak 42 PRA
4. Kris Middleton 30 PRA
5. Hassan Whiteside 27 PRA
6. Goran Dragic 26 PRA
7. Victor Oladipo 33 PRA
8. Karl Anthony Towns 36 PRA
9. Jimmy Butler 32 PRA
10. LaMarcus Aldridge 32 PRA
11. Anthony Davis 42 PRA or Damian Lillard 38 PRA
12. Jrue Holiday 30 PRA or CJ McCollum 29 PRA
13. Donovan Mitchell 28 PRA or Russell Westbrook 46 PRA
14. Rudy Gobert 26 PRA or Paul George 31 PRA

Note: I have the Top 14 listed by PRA. On Fantasy Postseason, you also get points for Steals and Blocks. You might need to adjust based on that, though the Top 14 should be roughly the same group of players.

Step 3: Watch for the days with only two games 

The NBA playoff schedule is done in a similar way each year. The first Monday, three days into the playoffs, only has two games. Be prepared for that day. If you pick from one of those two teams on Saturday, you might be forced to make a tough decision on Monday. The schedule for that day is: 

Miami @ Philadelphia
San Antonio @ Golden State

Picking a Miami or San Antonio player (or a 76er/Warrior, if you like to live life dangerously) is a calculated risk. Tread carefully. 

Additionally, April 23rd only has two games as well, both Game 4s:

Houston @ Minnesota
Oklahoma City @ Utah

Keep these two days in mind, as you will have fewer options available than you usually would.

Step 4: Consider saving a few studs for some home cooking 

Going back home is a great opportunity for some of the NBA’s biggest stars to show up big for their home fans. Consider saving a few of the elite options (e.g. Greek Freak and Anthony Davis) for a home game.

Step 5: Be flexible 

The landscape can change after each day in ways you never expected. Be prepared to shift your plan accordingly. Utah just went into OKC and won Game 1? Perhaps it’s time to start considering picking Westbrook sooner rather than later.

Step 6: Above everything else, trust your gut 

Do you think LaMarcus Aldridge is set for a huge game 1 on Saturday, but aren’t sure if that will put you in a risky position for Monday? Go for it. Let Monday deal with what comes next. Go for the guys you think will perform well on that day, instead of just picking based on the numbers. Always going best player available can be bland at times, and can cause you to miss out on picking players on the right day. Players aren’t perfectly tuned stat machines. They are human beings who can perform better or worse on a given day for a variety of reasons. Find a reason to get behind a guy, and trust your gut.

Personally, I steer clear of games I think might be a blowout whenever possible. For example, the 1 vs. 8 matchup where the 1 seed is at home has a high chance of being a blowout, so I might wait to pick a player from the 8 seed until they have a home game and have a reduced chance of getting blown out. This year, that could be Golden State vs. San Antonio (depending on how healthy Golden State is) or Minnesota vs. Houston. Instead, I might pick a guy from a closer series during the road games and take a chance on them.

Closing remarks 

See you all on the Fantasy Postseason league, as well as the Google Drive league for those who signed up for it. The Google Drive is filling up well. If you want in on Google Drive please ask in the comments and I’ll let you know what you need to do.

Big thanks to Taong for running this blog and for opening up the opportunity to do some guest pieces. This blog allows the game to survive and thrive after and Autotrader inexplicably dropped it. I look forward to seeing Taong’s picks for the opening weekend. I think he will be alright, so long as he doesn’t pick Myles "2 PRA" Turner :P.



  1. Hello. Please send me an invite to the Google drive competition at ""


    1. Done. We've been in contact, so you already know this! See you in the Google Drive!

  2. Ugh Myles! Lol

    Great post, Tangent!

  3. We will never forget the legendary Myles Turner performance. 1 PRA times 2, and 5 personal fouls. Unbelievable!

    1. I'll never forget Timofey Mozgov AKA "The Infamous Zero" in the 2015 Finals (he got 39 and 31 on either side of that showing)!

    2. Me as well. I had Mozgov that day too. It was a brutal performance to watch. 0!

    3. Turner is a no pick for me, don't trust him

  4. Love all you guys! Stoked for this year's DTTF! I signed up for the Fantasy Postseason one as well!

    1. With Cavs and Warriors not their own selves, DTTF this year should be more unpredictable.

    2. I agree, the Cavs and Warriors not being the obvious conclusion will make this game far more fun. People will likely be picking sides in these matchups and there should be some split opinions!

    3. I just hope it isn't the two of them afterall when the Finals get here! #Pleasesomethingdifferent

  5. Fantasy Postseason has no multiplier for later rounds, so why not pick LeBron and Durant first round since they will face easier competition? And in Durant's case, there's no Steph in the first round.

    1. By picking LBJ and KD in the 1st round,
      1. that’s 2 lost chances to pick good players from losing teams,
      2. that’s 2 picks in the Finals you’ll prolly allocate to bench players

    2. As Taong said above, you will run out of players quickly. Let's say Durant scores 45PRA in this juicy matchup, and only 35PRA in the West Finals. Correct, you gain 10PRA for picking Durant early. However, you will be forced to pick Zaza Pachulia down the road and only get 10PRA, and miss out on picking Kris Middleton for 30PRA. That's a 20PRA loss. Tread carefully picking from advancing teams in the early rounds. Be my guest if you want to do it. Just don't complain in the later rounds when you are completely out of players :P

    3. Very good point Tangent on the +10 PRA thing. Couldn't have said it better myself.


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