Fantasy Basketball 2016-17: A Dozen Dimes, Volume 3
Welcome back to our weekly transactions article, where we dish out 12 dimes of advice fantasy hoops advice, including the top adds, drops, buys, and sells for this upcoming week and beyond.
These are generally listed in relative order of importance. If you're looking for even more advice, check the "related news" section to cycle through other recent editions of this column. We try not to repeat ourselves too much from one week to the next, so you might find more ideas you like from previous weeks that are still valid.
Okay, let's get down to it.
Buy Joel Embiid
Joel Embiid is obviously an injury risk in fantasy hoops after missing his first two NBA seasons to foot surgeries, but darn, does he ever look like he'll be fun to own after his first four NBA games with the Philadelphia 76ers.
Through those four contests, "The Process" is averaging 18.5 points, 1.5 triples, 6.3 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 0.5 steals, 3.0 blocks, and 4.3 turnovers in only 22.0 minutes per game, while shooting 48.0% from the field and 80.0% from the charity stripe. That's good enough to make him the 41st-ranked player in nine-category leagues -- again, that's in only 22.0 minutes per contest and with the 4.3 turnovers factored in.
Prorate those averages to their per-36-minute equivalents and the line just looks silly: 30.3 points, 2.5 triples, 10.2 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 0.8 steals, 4.9 blocks, and 7.0 turnovers. If you put all the players in the Association at their per-36 equivalents, Embiid would rank 15th in nine-category formats (with the high turnovers being the only thing keeping him from a shot at the top spot).
His ability to stay healthy over the course of an 82-game NBA season has yet to be tested, but his ceiling is far too tantalizing to ignore if you're looking to make a trade for upside.
He will sit out some games during back-to-backs and looks to be on a 24-minute restriction until at least Christmas, but even that shouldn't stop him from hitting mid-round value if his league-leading 39.4% usage rate to this point is any indication. If anything, those restrictions stand as the only way you're going to convince someone in your league to give him up in a trade after the superstar flashes he's shown in his still ultra-young NBA career to date.
Buy "The Process" while you still can, swallow the injury risk, and enjoy what looks like it will be a league-winning ride if he's fully unleashed in the new year and can stay healthy (let's all cross our fingers).
Add Tyler Johnson
The Miami Heat's "Big Three" era has officially ended, and this year's team already looks like a far cry from what it was just last season. With increased room for some of the young guys on the team to step up, third-year combo guard Tyler Johnson has been an early standout.
Through five games, Johnson is averaging 15.4 points, 1.6 threes, 4.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.4 steals, 0.8 blocks, and only 1.0 turnover per contest, while shooting a blistering 52.8% from the field and 92.9% from the line. That makes him the 19th-ranked player in nine-category leagues, and yet he's still somehow available in almost 50% of Yahoo leagues and 70% on ESPN.
The return of Josh Richardson to the Heat lineup on Friday night was expected to cut into Johnson's minutes and production, but Johnson still played a healthy 30 minutes, while Richardson played 12 and Dion Waiters only played 24 (as compared to his 35.9 per contest in the four games prior to Richardson's return).
Johnson might very well cool off or fall into more of a timeshare with Richardson and Waiters eventually, but for now, he has to be owned while he's contributing so much in 29.8 minutes off the bench.
Add Sean Kilpatrick
Through six games, Kilpatrick is the 74th-ranked player in nine-category leagues thanks to his 17.0 points, 2.0 threes, 4.2 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.2 steals, 0.2 blocks, and 1.8 turnovers in 26.2 minutes per contest, to go with a shooting split of 44.6% from the field and 85.7% from the charity stripe.
It's important to be aware that his minutes have seen a bump with Jeremy Lin out of the lineup due to a hamstring injury, so this kind of production might not last forever. Still, with Lin due to be out two weeks and Randy Foye picking up a DNP-CD on Friday night, Kilpatrick's minutes and touches look safe for the time being at the very least.
He's still available in 50% of Yahoo leagues and roughly 75% on ESPN, so he makes for a decent short-term option if you're in need of points, threes, steals, and serviceable efficiency numbers.
Buy Victor Oladipo
Victor Oladipo is coming off a 34th-ranked season in nine-category leagues in 2015-16, and his arrow was pointing up this year as he joined an Oklahoma City Thunder team that was looking to fill the void left by a departing Kevin Durant and a traded Serge Ibaka. People drafted 'Dipo with those previous returns and his increased upside in mind, as his average draft position (ADP) across the industry was 30th.
Those who invested an early-round pick in Oladipo have not been satisfied so far this season, however, as he's come in as just the 217th-ranked player through six games with the Thunder. Over that span, he has averaged 15.5 points, 1.7 threes, 3.7 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 0.7 steals, 0.3 blocks, and 1.8 turnovers per contest, while shooting 39.5% from the field and 65.2% from the line.
His scoring and rebounding are pretty well on par with his career averages, while the assists, steals, and both percentages are down. He might very well get fewer assists now that he's playing next to one of the league leaders in that category in Russell Westbrook, but 3.9 to 1.5 is a steep drop-off that should equalize a bit as he continues to get his footing and becomes more featured in lineups without Westbrook.
The steals and percentages, meanwhile, should creep back to his career averages eventually. When he's back to having a serviceable shooting percentage from the field to go with elite free throw shooting and steal numbers -- even if the assists are slightly down -- he'll be right back in the mid- to early-round range in fantasy value. Consider this a buy-low window.
Sell John Wall
John Wall is a stat-stuffing machine, but it's hard to get excited about his rest-of-season prospects right now.
Coming off two knee surgeries this offseason, the Washington Wizards clearly plan on being cautious with Wall in the early going of 2016-17. On Saturday -- in just the Wizards' fifth game of the season -- Wall was rested on the second night of a back-to-back set, and that seems to be the plan going forward.
You obviously shouldn't sell low on Wall right this second, but it might be worth floating him out there in an offer or two after the next few big games he manages to string together. Considering his 25th-ranked start in nine-category leagues -- with averages of 22.0 points, 0.5 triples, 5.3 rebounds, 10.0 assists, 2.5 steals, 0.8 blocks, and 5.3 turnovers, and a shooting split of 44.3% from the field and 82.8% from the line -- it shouldn't be too hard to get another owner in your league interested in him.
Wall is a fantastic fantasy asset in a vacuum, but the low threes, high turnovers, and relatively inefficient shooting can be tough enough to swallow when he's playing at or around 82 games. If we already know that he's going to get closer to 70 this year with the chance of even fewer, I would start targeting other elite (yet underrated) point guards like Kemba Walker or Kyle Lowry as part of some sort of packaged deal with an assist-starved league-mate.
Buy Derrick Favors
Derrick Favors has been a mid- to early-round fantasy asset in nine-category leagues for the last three seasons, including a 29th-ranked finish just last year. He's off to a slow start this season, however, coming in as only the 264th-ranked player through six games.
That ranking comes from averages of 8.8 points, 6.2 rebounds, 0.7 assists, 0.8 steals, 0.7 blocks, and 1.3 turnovers, and a shooting split of 38.5% from the field and 59.1% from the free throw line. The important caveat to the lowered production, though, is that it comes in just 22.6 minutes per game, down from last year's 32.0.
The Jazz are bringing Favors along slowly after a knee issue sidelined him for the season opener. His minutes are slowly increasing (he went from 16 to 23 to 27 and 27 again over his last four games) and his numbers are coming along for the ride. Once the shooting split of 38.5% and 59.1% regresses closer to his career averages of 51.1% and 66.7% respectively, Favors should have no trouble regaining his early-round status. Apart from the shooting marks and his blocks being slightly down in a small six-game sample size, the rest of his line matches his career per-36 averages almost to a tee.
Buy low while you can.
Add Danny Green
Danny Green had a down year in 2015-16, ranking 139th in nine-category leagues after four straight top-100 seasons and a peak 23rd-ranked finish just one year prior in 2014-15. Fantasy owners had a hard enough time trusting Green going into drafts this season after last year's dud as it was, but a strained quad has kept him out of lineups this whole year to date, and his ownership rates have subsequently dipped to 67% on Yahoo and 16% on ESPN.
Now that Green is due back this week, it's worth taking a flier on his early-round upside.
Even in his down 2015-16, Green averaged almost a three (1.5), a steal (1.0), and a block (0.8) per game, and that's more valuable than you might realize. Only two players hit those marks in 2015-16 (Draymond Green and DeMarcus Cousins), and Green was darn close to joining them.
If he can bring his lowly 37.6% shooting average from last year closer to his 42.8% career mark this season, he contributes enough juice in categories outside of scoring (9.1 career average) to give -- at least -- fairly consistent mid-round returns going forward. Green is worth adding now if available and perhaps even worth a last-ditch buy-low offer if he's not.
Buy Greg Monroe
Greg Monroe has been coming off the bench behind Miles Plumlee for the Milwaukee Bucks through seven games, but that hasn't kept him from posting 46th-ranked value in nine-category leagues in only 21.7 minutes per contest.
In that limited time, Moose has averaged 11.1 points, 8.7 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.6 steals, 0.7 blocks, and 2.0 turnovers, while shooting 45.0% from the field and 92.3% from the free throw line. Prorated to their 36-minute equivalents, those averages bump to 18.5 points, 14.2 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 2.6 steals, 1.2 blocks, and 3.3 turnovers. Maybe letting Monroe beat up on second units isn't such a bad thing for his fantasy stock after all.
There's always the chance that Monroe regains his starting job (Plumlee isn't doing much in 14.7 minutes per contest and Monroe was benched last season too before regaining the starting job 12 games later) or gets traded (he's been in trade rumors for months). Either of those scenarios would likely mean more minutes, so you might want to buy him now while his playing time is on the limited side. He's worth buying for his current production as it is, but the chance that he sees more minutes makes him a smart buy-low to start the year as well.
Buy Robert Covington
Robert Covington owners need to wait this thing out. Everyone else needs to buy in.
Yes, RoCo is only averaging 4.0 points and 1.0 triple per game and shooting 16.7% from the field, but he's averaged 12.8 points and 2.4 triples while shooting 38.5% in his now three seasons in Philly. Those things tend to regress pretty darn close to the mean eventually, so the returns from the mere five games he's played to date shouldn't be taken as gospel -- especially because he is still getting 27.8 minutes per night, as compared to his 28.4 last year.
In the meantime, he's still grabbing 4.4 rebounds, swiping an elite 2.6 steals, swatting 1.0 shot, and only turning the ball over 1.8 times per contest, and hitting 75.0% from the line. Those numbers are all in line with (or better than) his typical averages and are still providing value for his owners. He's typically a streaky player, so this is a good opportunity to buy low on a guy who has ranked 63rd and 66th over the last two years in nine-category leagues before he heats up again.
Add J.J. Barea
J.J. Barea has never been a standard-league fantasy asset over a full season in his 10-year NBA career, but he's off to a good start in his 11th campaign at age 32.
Through six games and a career-high 33.8 minutes per contest, Barea is averaging 17.2 points, 2.3 threes, 3.5 rebounds, 5.2 assists, 0.8 steals, 0.2 blocks, and 2.2 turnovers per game, while shooting 39.5% from the field and 96.2% from the charity stripe. That 57th-ranked value in nine-category leagues is almost certainly unsustainable after a career of never cracking the top-200, but he's certainly worth owning until he cools off.
For now, Dirk Nowitzki, Deron Williams, and Devin Harris are all sidelined with various injuries, and Barea is standing in admirably to help Harrison Barnes carry the load for the Dallas Mavericks. Pick him up and ride the wave if you have dead weight on your bench, at least until the other shoe drops.
Add C.J. Miles
This is by no means a ringing endorsement for his rest-of-season value, but C.J. Miles is on a hot streak and warrants ownership until he cools off.
Through six games, Miles is averaging 14.5 points, 2.2 threes, 2.7 rebounds, 1.0 assist, 1.2 steals, 0.5 blocks, and 0.3 turnovers per game, while shooting a red-hot 55.0% from the field and 88.9% from the line. That's 32nd-ranked value in nine-category leagues for a guy that has never cracked the top-100 in his previous 11 years of NBA service.
Miles has flirted with that kind of value in small bursts in the past, but has had trouble sustaining it for a full season. He's much more of a three-point specialist with low turnovers and a decent free throw percentage than a strong season-long fantasy asset. He should be owned when he's on a streak like this, but you should have no issue dropping him if he disappears anytime soon or a hot free agent with more long-term upside pops up on your waiver wire.
Buy Darren Collison / Drop Ty Lawson
Through eight games, Lawson played a healthy 32.0 minutes per contest (out of necessity) but only managed 6.4 points, 0.6 threes, 3.6 rebounds, 6.6 assists, 1.1 steals, 0.1 blocks, and 1.5 turnovers, while shooting a disgusting 32.1% from the field and 62.5% from the free throw line. That's only 170th-ranked value in nine-category leagues over that span, and that's going to plummet once Collison returns. Feel free to cut bait (the Kings might do the same before long).
Collison, in the meantime, should regain his starting role from two seasons ago after losing it to Rajon Rondo last year. In 45 games as a starting point guard in 2014-15, Collison put up 44th-ranked value with averages of 16.1 points, 1.3 threes, 3.2 rebounds, 5.6 assists, 1.5 steals, 0.3 blocks, and 2.1 turnovers per contest, and a shooting split of 47.3% from the field and 78.8% from the line.
The Kings keep popping up in trade rumors regarding other starting-caliber point guards around the Association, but Collison's value should still fall safely in the middle rounds if he gets shifted to the bench. In a sixth-man role last year, Collison still managed to play 30.0 minutes per night and rank 79th in nine-category leagues.
Either way, your window to buy low on him is about to close.