The 5 Best Fantasy Basketball Sleepers for 2016-17
It's fantasy basketball season, and that means fantasy basketball drafts.
You can get a jumpstart on your research by checking out our fresh NBA player projections, which feature total and per-game projections as well as a one-number fantasy value, showing a player's importance based on his overall contributions to your fantasy squad.
Based on those projections and value-added calculations, who are the top five sleepers entering the 2016-17 season?
5. Marvin Williams, Charlotte Hornets
Marvin Williams is a guy who most fantasy players overlook. ESPN has him ranked 114th in their default rankings, and his average draft position (ADP) on Yahoo is 106. However, he comes in just outside the top 50 in our projections for a couple of reasons.
The biggest reason is his evolved three-point game. Williams shot 40.2 percent from deep last season, and we have him projected for similar numbers this season. His effective field goal percentage last year of 55.4 percent was easily a career high, and along with his ability to grab rebounds, Williams has the ability to contribute solidly in six categories this season. He also collected 77 blocks last season, which was comfortably a career high. If his game continues to evolve at age 30, he will be one of the top 50 or 60 fantasy players this season.
4. Robert Covington, Philadelphia 76ers
Another player ranked and being drafted in the 100s who could pay off big time for your fantasy hoops team is Robert Covington. With Ben Simmons out for the next few months, Covington gets a chance to jump back in the starting lineup and continue doing what he does best: shoot the rock. The former Tennessee State star is our 57th-ranked fantasy player because -- even though he shoots in the low 40s in field goal percentage -- he owned a 50.4 percent effective field goal percentage last season because of his ability to shoot threes.
Now with an even better roster with Joel Embiid and Dario Saric on the floor, Covington is going to find himself open a lot more. If the Sixers can also find other ways to get him open, Covington should knock down a ton of threes this season. He also had 105 steals last season, ranking him 27th in that category. Steals and threes are two of the more valuable categories in fantasy, and Covington is an elite contributor in both. Don't let him slip past the seventh or eighth round of your fantasy drafts.
3. Clint Capela, Houston Rockets
Our rankings have Clint Capela ranked just outside the top 80, which would put him in the middle of the seventh round. However, ESPN has him ranked 139th, while his ADP at Yahoo is 110. With Dwight Howard now in Atlanta, Capela is the undisputed starter at center for a Rockets offense that is going to likely lead the league in pace this season. While Capela isn't a great offensive option, if you can ignore his ugly free throw percentage, he might be in for a huge season for fantasy purposes.
We have Capela projected to average a double-double in 2016-17. Along with his ability to contribute to your team's field goal percentage, blocks and steals, Capela should be going well before round 9 or 10. While his free throw shooting is a problem, something that has gone overlooked this season is the elimination of the "hack-a" strategy. We have Capela projected for 3.7 free throw attempts per game, so compared to other poor free throw shooters like Andre Drummond and DeAndre Jordan, Capela's poor percentage from the charity stripe won't kill you because of his lower volume of attempts.
2. Eric Gordon, Houston Rockets
Speaking of undervalued members of the Mike D'Antoni Rockets offense, Eric Gordon looks like a player who could have a big bounce back year if he can stay healthy. His health has been his biggest downside over the years, but when healthy, he can put up numbers for your fantasy team. Last season in just 45 games, Gordon posted better than 15 points per game and he had a 52.1 percent effective field goal percentage, his best mark since 2009.
Even if Gordon only gives you 65 games this season, his production is worth more than his ADP at Yahoo of 120. We have him ranked just below his teammate, Capela, and if this preseason is any indication of what we are about to get from the Rockets' offense, it might be worth grabbing as many shares of this team as possible in your fantasy drafts. In five preseason games, Gordon has an effective field goal percentage of 58.8, and he is shooting 47 percent from beyond the arc.
1. Nikola Mirotic, Chicago Bulls
There are a few things that make Nikola Mirotic intriguing this season from a fantasy standpoint. If the Bulls end up trading Taj Gibson in the final year of his deal, Mirotic might see 30 minutes a game at power forward. Even though he may not even begin the year as the team's starter, his ability to contribute in almost every category makes him one of the most undervalued players amongst the consensus ranks.
His Yahoo ADP is okay at 80, but his ESPN rank is a baffling 128th. However, we have Mirotic as our 54th-ranked fantasy player this season. While we only have him projected for about 26 minutes per game, Mirotic has superb per-36 numbers in his career. At 17.6 points, 8.4 rebounds, and 2.6 made threes per-36 minutes, the sky is the limit if he can get the playing time.
Along with averaging close to a block and steal per game, there is simply no weakness in Mirotic's game. These are the types of players you want to target in the middle and late rounds of your draft depending on your league size. Mirotic has a unique blend of floor and upside, making him one of this season's best sleepers among the players currently going in the middle rounds of drafts.