Fantasy Basketball 2016-17: A Dozen Dimes, Volume 1
Welcome back to A Dozen Dimes, your weekly guide to fantasy basketball transactions.
Each week, we'll give you our top add, drop, buy, and sell moves of the week, in an attempt to provide you with a one-stop spot for advice on planning your week in season-long fantasy basketball (although the trends discussed within can be helpful for identifying DFS plays, as well).
Transactions are listed in relative order of importance, with the most pressing moves at the top. Most analysis assumes standard-sized leagues (12 teams) and default, nine-category scoring (points, threes, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks, field goal percentage, free throw percentage, and turnovers).
Let's toss the ball up on the 2016-17 fantasy hoops season.
Sell Jeff Teague
Jeff Teague is ranked 58th in Yahoo leagues and 51st in ESPN leagues going into the season and that just seems too high for a guy that ranked 74th last year in nine-category leagues last year while playing in a better fantasy situation.
In Atlanta, Teague led the starting unit with a usage rate of 26.6%, but now he'll be sharing ball-handling duties with Paul George (30.4% usage rate) and Monta Ellis (21.2%) on a regular basis in Indiana. His 28.5 minutes per contest might go up a tad without Dennis Schroder playing behind him anymore, but fewer meaningful touches when he's on the floor will likely mean a step back in overall production.
There's enough to like in Teague's game to make him an interesting guy to own in fantasy (particularly if you're hurting for assists), but I think there's an opportunity to sell him now if you can find someone who is unhappy with their point-guard situation post-draft. There are several of players at Teague's average draft position (ADP) with more upside.
Add Tim Frazier
The New Orleans Pelicans are starting this season with a very thin backcourt as both Jrue Holiday (personal) and Tyreke Evans (knee surgery) are without timetables to return. That leaves Tim Frazier as the starting point guard for the Pels on opening night, so he is a guy to own in standard fantasy leagues until further notice.
In 16 games with the Pelicans last year, Frazier averaged 13.1 points, 0.8 threes, 4.4 rebounds, 7.5 assists, 1.4 steals, 0.1 blocks, and 2.4 turnovers in a healthy 29.3 minutes per contest. He shot 45.0% from the field and 76.3% from the line. That made him the 88th-ranked player in nine-category leagues over the last month of the season, so he should definitely be owned in more than 60% of Yahoo and 16% of ESPN leagues right now.
Add Ish Smith
Like Frazier, Ish Smith presents an excellent injury replacement to consider in the early part of the 2016-17 season. Reggie Jackson will be on the shelf for several weeks to start the year with knee tendinitis, so Ish will be starting at point guard for the Pistons from the jump.
Last season, in 50 starts for the Sixers, Smith averaged 14.7 points, 0.9 threes, 4.3 rebounds, 7.0 assists, 1.3 steals, 0.4 blocks, and 2.6 turnovers in 32.4 minutes per contest. He shot 40.5% from the field and 66.9% from the charity stripe. The turnovers and percentages will hurt your team a bit, but those flashy counting stats are sitting on waiver wires in 49% of Yahoo and 61% of ESPN leagues.
Add Terrence Jones
Terrence Jones had a horrible season for the Rockets last year, but don't forget that he ranked 64th in nine-category leagues in 2013-14 and 69th in 2014-15 before sinking down to 233rd in 2015-16.
He has been plagued by injuries in his young career, but he's still only 24 and now has a fresh start with a Pelicans squad that is desperately in need of production.
In four preseason games with the Pels, Jones averaged 17.3 points, 1.5 triples, 4.5 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 0.5 steals, and 1.3 blocks in only 25.8 minutes per contest while shooting 46.4% from the field and 68.8% from the free throw line. That kind of production (that closely resembles what he did in his two successful fantasy seasons in Houston) is available in 41% of Yahoo and 92% of ESPN leagues. He should absolutely be scooped up for the potential of a bounce-back to mid-round form.
Add Cody Zeller
I really and truly can't understand why Cody Zeller is only owned in 15% of Yahoo and 12% of ESPN leagues.
In 2015-16, Zeller was the 103rd-ranked player in nine-category leagues while only playing 24.3 minutes per contest. His averages of 8.7 points, 6.2 rebounds, 1.0 assist, 0.8 steals, 0.9 blocks, 52.9% shooting from the field, 75.4% from the line, and 0.9 turnovers might look unassuming, but give those a minutes bump and he's suddenly a mid-round center.
We have him projected 106th at only 25.5 minutes, which should be enough to raise his ownership rate by more than 50% alone. Throw in the fact that he supplanted Al Jefferson as a starter last year and should have no trouble doing the same to what's left of Roy Hibbert, and you have real breakout potential on your hands who is unowned in the vast majority of fantasy leagues.
Buy Steven Adams
It's hard to accurately gauge the fantasy outlook for most Thunder players this year (outside of the fact that Russell Westbrook is going to be a certified beast), since it's difficult to know just how rotations will be run now that the team is without Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka.
One player who has true breakout potential with an increased role is Steven Adams. In 18 playoff games last year, Adams broke out to the tune of 10.1 points, 9.5 rebounds, 0.7 assists, 0.5 steals, 0.8 blocks, and 0.9 turnovers in 30.7 minutes per contest while shooting 61.3% from the field and 63.0% from the charity stripe (and that was with KD and Ibaka still around).
We like Adams to take an even bigger leap this year now that he has more room to operate. He's our 64th-ranked player going into the 2016-17 season with averages of 11.9 points, 9.2 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 0.6 steals, 1.5 blocks, and 1.2 turnovers in 30.5 minutes per game -- and a shooting split of 60.6% from the field and 58.4% from the line.
His ranking of 64th on Yahoo might make people aware of his potential (although he still tends to slip in drafts as an unproven asset), but his 122nd ranking on ESPN is extremely exploitable if you're looking to make a trade for a center with a tantalizing ceiling.
Add Ty Lawson
Ty Lawson looked washed up in Houston and Indiana last year, and his outlook isn't all that great in Sacramento, either (he's our 216th-ranked player this year). But you might want to consider grabbing him for the first couple weeks if you need a point guard.
Darren Collison has to serve an eight-game suspension to start the season, and apparently the Kings are ready to give Lawson 30 to 40 minutes per game during Collison's absence. The last time Lawson averaged those kind of minutes was 2014-15 in Denver, when he ranked 67th in nine-category leagues with solid points (15.2), threes (0.9), assists (9.6), and steals (1.2).
It's not like the Kings have committed to Collison as their starting point guard going forward, either, since their name has popped up in trade rumors regarding several point guards who are believed to be on the market. If Lawson can re-discover his mojo, perhaps he even runs away with this job and becomes a rest-of-season asset.
Add Patrick Patterson
The Toronto Raptors' key offseason acquisition and projected starting power forward, Jared Sullinger, is out indefinitely after getting a screw inserted into his left foot on Monday. That's a bummer for Raps fans and Sullinger owners (go ahead and drop him, by the way), but it opens up some room to make Patrick Patterson a viable fantasy option.
Patterson had a rough 2015-16 season, shooting a career-low 41.5% from the field, but he's only two years removed from ranking 89th in nine-category leagues in 2014-15 with averages of 8.0 points, 1.3 threes, 5.4 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 0.7 blocks, and an ultra-low 0.7 turnovers per game with a shooting split of 44.9% from the field and 78.8% from the free throw line.
The Raps are currently stuck between starting rookie Pascal Siakam or Patterson at the four, but expect Patterson to soak up the majority of power forward minutes and appear in most of the team's closing lineups, regardless of whether or not he starts. A bounce-back year could be in the cards for Patterson going into unrestricted free agency, so his suddenly increased opportunity makes him worth a flier.
Buy Jonas Valanciunas
Is this finally the year of Jonas Valanciunas? Many people (yours truly included) have been trying to predict the 24-year-old's breakout for several years now, but this finally feels like his time.
After a strong postseason, Valanciunas comes into his fifth campaign with the Raptors with fewer obstacles standing between him and playing time: Bismack Biyombo is out of town, Jakob Poeltl and Pascal Siakam are unseasoned rookies, and no one's really sure just yet what to make of Lucas "Bebe" Nogueira as Biyombo's replacement at backup center.
In just 25.9 minutes per game last year, Valanciunas ranked 52nd in nine-category leagues as a per-minute beast in points, rebounds, and blocks, with solid percentages and low turnovers. With four to five more minutes per contest, JV has the potential to be a top-30 fantasy asset this year.
The recent Sullinger news increases the chances of Raptors coach Dwane Casey being forced to take the training wheels off of Jonas and give him 30-plus minutes per night, so you might want to take the plunge and buy into that potential before it's too late.
Add Tony Parker
Tony Parker's days of being a must-own guy in fantasy hoops have long passed, but this week he could be a smart streaming option.
The Spurs are the only team to play four times in the first week of NBA action, so Parker's contributions in scoring and assists could give you a nice boost in those categories while keeping you competitive in turnovers and both shooting percentages.
The point guards listed above (Tim Frazier, Ish Smith, Ty Lawson) are bigger priorities if you're looking for longer-term potential, but old man Parker is fine if you just need a one-week fix.
Buy Rondae Hollis-Jefferson
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is far from a household name, and he's not likely going to be one this year playing for the lowly Brooklyn Nets. That said, he's got mid- to early-round upside in fantasy with his skillset, so he's a guy you might want to buy if someone in your league is sleeping on his potential.
RHJ's rookie season was cut short by injury, but coming into his sophomore year, he's got a lot of room to make a splash. His first-year numbers showed a lot of promise with 9.0 rebounds, 2.3 steals, and 0.9 blocks per 36 minutes, plus low turnovers (1.5 per 36) and solid percentages (45.7% from the field and 71.2% from the stripe). The steals are elite and worth the price of admission alone, but the out-of-position strength in rebounds and blocks are what make RHJ such a solid sleeper pick this year.
We have him projected 97th overall this year with a line of 10.5 points, 0.3 threes, 9.7 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.6 steals, 0.5 blocks, and 1.4 turnovers in 29.9 minutes per contest, and a shooting split of 45.3% from the field and 71.1% from the line. FantasyPros.com has RHJ's industry-wide ADP at 117.5, so there's a good chance that you can get him at a reasonable price (or even off the wire) in your standard-sized league.
Drop Michael Carter-Williams
MCW had fallen out of favor in Milwaukee and was projected to lose time to Matthew Dellavedova and Rashad Vaughn this season prior to the trade. Now that he's playing behind the Bulls' three-headed guard trio of Jimmy Butler, Dwyane Wade, and Rajon Rondo, there's little chance that he gets enough minutes to provide standard-league value this season.
Even while starting from time to time in Milwaukee, he was the 168th-ranked player in nine-category leagues in 2014-15 and the 117th-ranked player in 2015-16 while playing over 30 minutes per game. He's always been good for decent counting stats when getting minutes -- namely points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks (for the position) -- but his drain on turnovers and both shooting percentages made him a pain to own.
With all the same efficiency issues and not enough projected time to accumulate counting stats, the 2014 Rookie of the Year doesn't belong on any standard league rosters this year. If you're part of the reason that he still has a 34% ownership rate on Yahoo or 56% on ESPN, you can comfortably jump ship and grab someone with more upside.