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2010-11 Draft Prep: Center Tiers

Sergio Gonzalez
Fantasy Writer
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You are up in the draft. Hurry up. Time is ticking. Make a pick. Make a pick. Make a pick.

That's your pick? Really? Thanks for the donation, make sure you pay your league fee up front.

Just about every Fantasy owner has had it happen to them at some point. You get forced into making a rash decision and spend the rest of the season thinking about the players you could have had if you'd only had the chance to think about it a little longer. But in a timed draft, time is of the essence and you'd better do a lot of your thinking before your draft ever starts.

That's right, if you want to be good at this whole Fantasy thing and want to be more than just an annual contributor to your buddy's bank roll, you've got do do your homework.

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That's where we come in.

We are in the business of getting you as prepared as possible for your draft. Consider us like the nerd in your high school algebra class who you got to do your homework by promising an invite to the party on Friday night.

One of the most successful draft strategies we recommend and subscribe to ourselves is the use of tiers when drafting.

What it boils down to is grouping players at each position into clusters of similar players. At each position, there are different levels of players. The trick is to group a series of players who you feel could conceivably finish in the same relative production level by season's end.

By mapping these players out and having them in front of you while you draft, you can give yourself a better visual guide as far as what is really left at each position in order to make a better decision. For example, if your pick is up and you see that your list still has more than a few players available at a certain position that you'd be comfortable with and only a couple at another position then the decision is clear.

The idea is to come up with a "last-resort" player for each tier. This is the last player you'd be comfortable drafting at a certain level. The levels can be determined in different ways. One way to do it is by breaking down players into position slots. Decide who the very last player you'd be comfortable with as your No. 1 forward, your No. 2 forward, etc.

Cross off the players in each of your tiers as your draft goes on and make a move when you start running out of names. It's simple and it works.

We've taken the liberty of coming up with our own tiers for you at each position. While we always recommend coming up with your own based on your league's format and your own notions and research, rest assured that a lot of thought and research was put into our set of tiers. We've got a lot of time to think about Fantasy hoops, time that you may not have considering that pesky job or family thing you've got going on.

So print them out, take them with you to your draft and cross off players as picks are made. You'll make much smarter picks and will come away with a much more balanced team as a result.

You are welcome. We're still on for Friday night, though, right?

Players denoted with a (*) indicate players who may not be eligible at the given position in your league. Check your position eligibility rules accordingly. Players denoted with a (inj) tag indicate players who are expected to miss time going into the season.

Centers

Dwight Howard is a one-man tier in Fantasy and is clearly our No. 1 selection at the position. You may have to make adjustments in category leagues where his free-throw percentage is still a killer, but he can almost single-handedly win you several other categories.

David Lee outscored Howard last season in standard Head-to-Head formats, but we are a bit leery of the new system in Golden State being a lower volume offense than in the past under Don Nelson or even what Lee enjoyed under Mike D'Antoni in New York. Still, we consider him an elite top-five choice.

Zach Randolph belongs in the same class as Lee, Brook Lopez and Pau Gasol when it comes to numbers, but we consider him a "last-resort" player at the elite tier because of his off-the-court troubles and past inconsistencies. Last year, though, he seemed to find a good fit in Memphis.

Al Jefferson and Chris Kaman could conceivably put up similar numbers to the elite class, but have some question marks of their own.

Yao Ming is listed as a "quality reserve." He'll be healthy enough to play and start going into the season, but a 24-minute limit per game will be strictly enforced all season by the Rockets. That type of restriction should severely cap the former 20-and-10 big man's production. He could climb levels once the season gets under way, but he's far too risky to go into the season with as one of your starters.

Tiers

Super-elite: Dwight Howard

Elite: David Lee, Brook Lopez, Pau Gasol*, Zach Randolph

Next best thing: Al Jefferson, Chris Kaman

Reliable starters: Al Horford, Andrew Bogut, Kevin Love*, Andrea Bargnani, Marc Gasol, Andray Blatche*, Joakim Noah, Roy Hibbert

Low-end starters: Troy Murphy, Nene, Jason Thompson, Emeka Okafor, Marcus Camby, Andrew Bynum (inj), Mehmet Okur (inj)

Quality reserves: Yao Ming, Anthony Randolph, Darko Milicic, Anderson Varejao, Andris Biedrins, Jermaine O'Neal, Brendan Haywood, Timofey Mozgov, Greg Oden (inj), Samuel Dalembert (inj)

Reserves: DeJuan Blair, J.J. Hickson*, Drew Gooden*, Udonis Haslem, Robin Lopez, Channing Frye, Spencer Hawes, DeMarcus Cousins, Shaquille O'Neal, JaVale McGee, Tiago Splitter

Low-end reserves: Brad Miller, Nazr Mohammed, Nick Collison, Nenad Krstic, Hasheem Thabeet, Zydrunas Ilgauskas

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter . You can e-mail us your Fantasy Basketball questions to DMFantasyHoops@cbs.com . Be sure to put Forward Tiers in the subject field. Please include your full name, hometown and state.

Want an edge in your draft? Download the Fantasy Draft Kit App.

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