Fantasy Basketball 2016-17: A Dozen Dimes, Volume 6
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 Derrick Favors
I have received a lot of questions about buying or selling Derrick Favors over the last week or two, so I figured I would address his situation here. Put simply, I am still holding on Favors and buying low where I can.
Favors' fantasy stock has gone up in each of his six NBA seasons, peaking at 29th-ranked value last year. He filled the box score in 2015-16 with averages of 16.4 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.2 steals, 1.5 blocks, and 2.4 turnovers per contest, and a shooting split of 51.5% from the line and 70.9% from the charity stripe, and those numbers aren't simply going to go away just as he's entering his physical prime at age 25.
Yes, his injury status has been a problem to start this year. He came into this season experiencing knee soreness and with a minute restriction because of it. Then, just as it appeared the minute limit was being lifted, his floor time bottomed out again, and now he has missed his team's last five games.
While that kind of rocky start is concerning, his injury has been diagnosed as a bone contusion and nothing more. That means that his MRI revealed no structural damage and that this is probably just the Utah Jazz being cautious with their young stud early in a year in which they have playoff aspirations.
The words "out indefinitely" tend to scare fantasy owners, but that just means that the team doesn't want to set a timetable. Favors could be back this week for all we know -- it'll just be a matter of when his discomfort lessens.
If Favors' owner in your league is willing to sell him and you can handle the risk that comes with an undefined absence, you should see just how low you can buy on his early-round upside.
Buy Paul Millsap
Paul Millsap of the Atlanta Hawks is one of the most underrated stars in the NBA and in fantasy hoops. He has been a top-25 player in nine-category leagues for five of the last six seasons and had arguably the best campaign of his career just last year at age 30 when he ranked 10th overall.
This year, his average draft position (ADP) across the industry was 19th, but he's off to a slow start, currently ranking 43rd through his first 17 games -- his lowest ranking since he was 89th in 2009-10 as a member of the Utah Jazz.
All of his numbers are pretty close to being in line with his averages through four seasons with the Hawks, however. It's just that with the exception of assists -- which are slightly up -- everything else is down just a smidgeon.
|Hawks Career Averages||245||32.9||17.2||1.0||8.4||3.2||1.8||1.2||46.7%||74.8%||2.4|
While some might attribute the small dip in production to his fit with his new teammate, Dwight Howard, it's important to note that his minutes (32.3) and usage rate (24.0%) so far this season line up almost identically with his career numbers as a Hawk (32.9 and 24.6%, respectively).
At nearly 32 years of age, Millsap might be starting a decline after his peak, but there's a better chance that his numbers are on the verge of creeping back up just that last little bit to the norm over a bigger sample size. For that reason, you should be sending out buy-low offers while you can. Opportunities to buy low on a player like Millsap and his ceiling of first-round value don't come around every day, so now is a good time to bet on some positive regression coming for the three-time All-Star.
Add Patrick Beverley
Patrick Beverley is consistently one of the most overlooked players in fantasy hoops. He has put up top-100 value in each of his last three seasons, yet still had an average ADP of 141 across the industry this year.
The reason Beverley isn't really taken seriously is because he plays the point guard position on a team where James Harden is actually the de facto point guard. If you can look past traditional point guard expectations, however, there's real value in a combo guard like Beverley.
He still gives you decent assists (particularly if he slots in as your shooting guard) with 4.0 through six games this year (3.4 last year) and good rebounding numbers for a guard at 4.0 (3.5 in 2015-16). Where his true value lies, though, is in the threes (1.6 per game for his career), steals (1.2), and low turnovers for the position (1.3).
He won't give you much in terms of points (9.2 per game for his career), and his shooting numbers leave a little to be desired, but he should still be owned universally, rather than his current 45% and 15% rates on Yahoo and ESPN, respectively.
He wasn't on many radars after missing the Rockets' first 11 games of the year coming off knee surgery, but he has been the 79th-ranked player in nine-category formats since his return and should be scooped up immediately if he's still on your wire and you've got dead weight at the end of your bench.
Add Jamal Murray
First up, rookie Jamal Murray is on a tear over his last five games. His averages of 18.8 points, 2.8 triples, 4.6 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 0.4 steals, 0.6 blocks, and 1.4 turnovers per contest, and shooting split of 48.4% from the field and 85.7% from the free throw line have made him the 52nd-ranked player in nine-category leagues over that span.
He's getting 27.1 minutes per night off the bench during that stretch as well and looks to be earning more and more of his coach's trust. Be warned, though, that a lot of this recent surge of big minutes and fantasy delight has been helped by the fact that the Nuggets have been down Gary Harris, Will Barton, and Danilo Gallinari at various points, including missing all three for the last two games.
Murray's value probably won't stay this high on a rest-of-season basis, but he's certainly worth an add while he's hot. He's still available in nearly 50% of Yahoo leagues and over 75% on ESPN, so go take a look on your wire to see if he's still sitting there.
Drop Will Barton
I know, I know. Last week I was telling you to add Will Barton. A lot can change in seven days.
First of all, his ankle issue has popped back up, and he's missed the last two games for the Nuggets after returning from a nine-game absence for just three. Meanwhile, in those three games that he played, he only scored 6.0 points in 20.9 minutes per contest, while shooting 21.4% from the field.
The eventual return of Gary Harris always stood as a cap on Barton's ceiling, but the emergence of rookie Jamal Murray has chipped even further away at Barton's rest-of-season value. He's still owned in 45% of Yahoo leagues and 30% on ESPN, but you can safely drop him for a hot free agent if you're still holding on.
Sell Andrew Wiggins
Outside of the scoring and 1.6 triples per contest, Wiggins' 4.1 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 0.4 steals, 0.5 blocks, 2.8 turnovers, 43.0% shooting from the field, and 76.7% from the line don't give fantasy owners a lot to be excited about. As a result of all those holes in his fantasy line, he is only posting 181st-ranked value in nine-category leagues, which is actually the worst mark of his career to date.
If you can sell Wiggins on his name appeal to a points-starved owner, you should probably do that. He'll surely be better than this on the season as a whole, but there just aren't enough dimensions to his game to make him a very covetable fantasy asset.
Buy Ricky Rubio
Rubio has been having a rough season, ranking only 174th in nine-category leagues through 11 games. He is averaging 6.1 points, 0.5 triples, 3.9 rebounds, 6.7 assists, 1.5 steals, 0.0 blocks, and 2.2 turnovers per contest, while shooting a dreadful 33.3% from the field and 71.9% from the free throw line.
Rubio has always had his warts (scoring, shooting, turnovers), but every single mark in his line this year represents a career-low, despite the fact that he's still playing 29.8 minutes per game (darn close to his 30.6 from last year).
Something's got to give.
Rubio has always been among the league leaders in assists and steals (8.2 and 2.2 career marks, respectively), while grabbing great rebounds for his position (4.3) and hitting a solid mark from the line (81.2%). There's no reason to think that he's not capable of continuing to do those things at age 26, so he should be given the benefit of the doubt after a rough stretch in an admittedly small sample size.
Perhaps he's having trouble adjusting to life under new head coach Tom Thibodeau, or perhaps the sprained elbow that cost him five games is still bothering him.
Regardless, he'll be better than this eventually. Even if he's traded to another team, it would most likely be to one that still needs him to play his usual 30 minutes per contest, so it's worth checking in on his no-doubt frustrated owners to see what he would cost you.
He can't really fall much further and his ability to put up huge lines and almost single-handedly win you assists and steals some weeks makes him a very appealing buy-low target.
Add Ersan Ilyasova
Ersan Ilyasova has shown flashes of mid- to early-round upside throughout his career but has not put up that kind of value since ranking 48th in nine-category leagues in 2011-12 and 43rd in 2012-13. On both sides of those breakout seasons, he has held late-round value but has often been far too inconsistent to trust over a full fantasy season.
This season started out pretty well the same way, with Ilyasova trading off good and bad games between playing for the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Philadelphia 76ers (who acquired him in a trade during the first week of the season). Since being inserted into Philly's starting lineup on November 16th, however, Ily has shown flashes of what made him such an attractive fantasy asset a few years ago.
Through those seven games, Ilyasova has been the 95th-ranked player in nine-category leagues with averages of 13.9 points, 1.9 triples, 6.4 boards, 1.4 assists, 0.3 steals, 0.0 blocks, and 1.4 turnovers in 28.1 minutes per contest, and a shooting split of 52.1% from the floor and 83.3% from the line.
The lack of defensive stats is a problem, but owners in need of scoring, threes, rebounding, and decent efficiency numbers should take notice. Another dip in production might be just around the corner and Philly's frontcourt is only going to get more crowded as the season wears on, but for now, Ilyasova is worth owning to see if he can build on his recent strong play and put together a renaissance season.
Add JaMychal Green
JaMychal Green has been starting at power forward for the Memphis Grizzlies all season, with Zach Randolph moving to the bench. Green has shown flashes of why he belongs in that role but has mostly been too inconsistent to recommend as a standard-league fantasy pick-up.
That has changed over his last five games, however. Over that span, Green has averaged 13.4 points, 0.8 threes, 8.0 rebounds, 0.8 assists, 0.4 steals, 0.8 blocks, and 1.4 turnovers in a healthy 31.6 minutes per contest, while shooting a blistering 67.6% from the field and 81.0% from the free throw line.
That 55th-ranked value in nine-category leagues is obviously worth seeking out on your waiver wire, while he remains 70% available in Yahoo leagues and nearly 85% on ESPN. His efficiency binge is likely to equalize before long, but his arrow is clearly pointing up, and he's worth owning while he's starting, playing big minutes, and putting up solid numbers.
Buy Robin Lopez
The beginning of Robin Lopez's Chicago Bulls career was fairly uninspiring, but he has been a much bigger part of the team's game plan over the last couple weeks. Here is the split between RoLo's first eight games with the team and his last eight.
His minutes and usage are way up, and his numbers have followed suit. He has scored in double figures in all eight of his most recent contests, while double-doubling in four. His 42.1% shooting from the field is even notably low for the 53.0% career shooter, so his value has a chance to go even higher going forward.
Lopez has been a mid-round asset in three of his last four seasons, and he's trending that way yet again as a member of the Bulls. If you want a fairly consistent double-double with high level blocks and sterling efficiency numbers for a big man, buy in while you still can.
Drop Joakim Noah
Joakim Noah's fall from fantasy grace has been one of the harshest in recent memory.
After five straight years of putting up early- to mid-round value in nine-category leagues from 2009 to 2014 (including two straight 19th-ranked finishes in 2012-13 and 2013-14), Noah dropped to 113th in 2014-15 and wasn't even rosterable in standard leagues last year with a career-worst 200th-ranked finish.
If you were hoping for a Noah renaissance now that he's a member of the New York Knicks, I'm sorry to tell you that it might not be happening.
Through 14 games, Noah is the 169th-ranked player in nine-category leagues, with averages of 4.1 points, 8.4 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 0.8 steals, 0.7 blocks, and 1.2 turnovers in only 22.2 minutes per contest, and a shooting split of 46.4% from the field and 31.6% from the free throw line. He has bottomed out entirely in recent weeks, playing fewer than 20 minutes in four of his last five games and ranking 249th over that span (while failing to score a single point on two separate occasions).
He still gives you decent rebounding and out-of-position assists, but the ultra-low point totals, uninspiring efficiency numbers, and low minute totals make him someone to leave on your wire unless you're desperate for a boost in one of his few strong areas. He's somehow still owned in 50% of Yahoo league and nearly 40% on ESPN and really shouldn't be.
Add Dion Waiters
Dion Waiters has never been a standard league fantasy asset, not once placing higher than the peak 198th-ranked value in nine-category leagues that he posted in 2013-14 on the LeBron-less Cleveland Cavaliers. This year, as a member of the Miami Heat, he's still not all that worthy of long-term ownership, as he currently ranks 211th in nine-category leagues through 16 games.
But sometimes fantasy is won by streaming the hot hand, and Waiters undeniably is playing with one right now.
Over his last four games, Waiters has been the 75th-ranked player in nine-category leagues for averages of 18.3 points, 2.0 triples, 3.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 0.8 steals, 0.3 blocks, and 1.3 turnovers per game, and a shooting split of 42.4% from the field and 83.3% from the free throw line.
Waiters is still only 24 years old and might eventually figure things out, but it's more likely that he goes back to putting up inefficient scoring lines with little else again before long. If you're not dropping anything of too much value, feel free to roster Waiters while he's hot and then drop him like a hot potato when the boosted peripheral stats come back down to earth. He's widely available in 60% of Yahoo leagues and 75% on ESPN and is a decent streaming option going into a four-game Miami week.