Fantasy Basketball 2016-17: A Dozen Dimes, Volume 8
Welcome back to our weekly transactions article, where we dish out 12 dimes of 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 Karl-Anthony Towns
Karl-Anthony Towns was the 12th-ranked player in nine-category leagues in his rookie season. That kind of immediate and sky-high impact, coupled with his only being 21 years of age, made him a popular pick near the beginning of drafts this year. His average draft position across the industry was sixth overall, and some would say he hasn't quite lived up to those expectations, coming in as the 24th-ranked player in nine-category leagues to date.
Don't be fooled.
Towns is filling the box score just as well this year as he did in his rookie campaign. His 1.4 blocks are down slightly from 1.7, but the 21.6 points, 10.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 0.8 steals per game are all up. He's even added more threes, leaping from 0.4 per contest last year to 1.4 in his second NBA season.
The reason his ranking has dropped a bit is because of a dip in shooting efficiency, with his ultra-efficient split of 54.3% from the field and 81.1% from the line last year sinking to 47.8% and 77.4%, respectively. The drop-off in field-goal percentage is understandable, considering he's attempting 3.8 triples per contest (as compared to 1.1 last year), but both percentages can still reasonably be expected to equalize a bit as the season progresses.
Defenses are adjusting to KAT and he's still feeling out the NBA and new head coach Tom Thibodeau, so slight growing pains were to be expected. With top-five upside, Towns is someone you should be looking to buy during his rough patches and his 108th ranking in nine-category leagues over his last four is just the opportunity you've been looking for.
If you can get him for anyone outside of the top handful of surefire assets in fantasy, you should probably do that.
Drop Emmanuel Mudiay
Emmanuel Mudiay has plenty of holes as a fantasy asset, but his ownership rates have stayed north of 50% most of his two-year career thanks to consistent minutes (30.3 for his career), decent scoring (12.7) and threes (1.1), and solid assists (5.0) for a late-round draft selection or waiver wire grab.
Mudiay's sophomore season has simply been a train wreck, though, and it's time to move on. You can simply do better on your waiver wire in all but the deepest of leagues, as he currently ranks 310th in nine-category leagues and is trending even further down (if one can do such a thing).
Mudiay is averaging 12.7 points, 1.0 triple, 4.3 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 0.8 steals, 0.3 blocks, and 2.9 turnovers in 29.8 minutes of action per game, while shooting 34.7% from the floor and 78.7% from the free-throw line. With the assists down, there's little going on there to justify his 55% ownership rate in both Yahoo and ESPN leagues.
He's been even worse over his last three games, dropping down to 20.7 minutes per contest and averaging 4.7 points on 22.7% shooting and basically nothing else. He's essentially in a timeshare with Jameer Nelson now and it's confusing why he's still owned in so many leagues.
Add Deron Williams
Deron Williams has been an early- to mid-round asset for most of his career, but his minutes and general production have been in decline over his last two seasons. Throw in the fact that he misses roughly 15 to 20 games per campaign due to injury, and he simply hasn't been a fun guy to own in recent years.
This season, he's the 189th-ranked player in nine-category leagues, and therefore hasn't even been a must-own player in standard leagues. He's been coming on recently, however, performing as the 91st-ranked player in nine-category leagues in his last five.
Over that span, he's averaging 13.8 points, 1.8 threes, 1.8 rebounds, 9.2 assists, 0.4 steals, and 1.6 turnovers per contest, while shooting 38.3% from the field and a perfect 14-for-14 from the charity stripe.
His rest-of-season value is just as murky as it's been in recent years, but he's worth giving a shot now if you're in need of assists, threes, or a smattering of decent scoring performances. He's available in 35% of Yahoo leagues and 55% on ESPN and should be grabbed if he's on your waiver wire, at least until another injury happens.
Add Dwight Powell
Dwight Powell has always been a solid per-minute performer (13.8 points, 9.2 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.6 steals, and 0.9 blocks per 36 minutes for his career), but never managed to play his way into a consistent opportunity until this year.
On the season as a whole, Powell is the 109th-ranked player in only 20.9 minutes played per contest. His averages 7.1 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 0.9 assists won't turn many heads, but the 1.3 steals, 0.6 blocks, 0.5 turnovers, 49.2% shooting from the field, and 76.7% from the line buoy his value to settle in as a late-round asset you could definitely do worse than.
With Dirk Nowitzki out of the lineup for the Dallas Mavericks over their last eight and Andrew Bogut out for their last three, Powell has stepped into a bigger role and is even more worthy of ownership. Over those eight Dirk-less games, Powell has averaged 10.0 points, 5.8 boards, 1.3 assists, 1.4 steals, 0.5 blocks, and 0.5 turnovers, while shooting 61.5% from the field and 84.2% from the free-throw line.
That's good enough to be the 52nd-ranked player in nine-category leagues over that span.
The decent boards and steals are nice, but the off-the-charts efficiency and negligible turnovers are what make Powell a solid guy to own right now. He's still available in 75% of Yahoo league and 90% on ESPN, so take a look if you've got some dead weight on the end of your bench.
Add Andre Roberson
As a guy that scores only 7.0 points per game, Andre Roberson is not exactly what most people consider a strong fantasy asset. His ownership rates of 17% in Yahoo leagues and 8% on ESPN are a clear indication of that.
But his last six games warrant your attention. He has averaged 8.3 points, 1.2 threes, 4.8 rebounds, 1.0 assist, 1.2 steals, 1.7 blocks, and a mere 0.8 turnovers in a whopping 35.1 minutes per contest during that time, while shooting 50.0% from the field and 42.9% from the free throw line.
The points and free-throw accuracy are a drag, but the rest has helped make him the 76th-ranked player in nine-category leagues over the last two weeks.
If you can handle the low scoring output, Roberson is worth a look as someone who racks up a lot of minutes for the Oklahoma City Thunder (31.2 on the season), and can give you one each of a three, steal, and block per game, while tossing in rebounds, a decent shooting percentage and very few turnovers. Don't overvalue scoring when the guy can give you so much more.
Buy Jrue Holiday
The initial buzz surrounding Jrue Holiday after his season debut on November 18th has died ever so slightly. He's been just the 97th-ranked player in nine-category leagues in 10 games played, and he recently missed three games due to turf toe.
Although turf toe is the kind of lingering injury that could cost Holiday a few more games down the line, this presents an excellent buy-low opportunity on a point guard that has consistently been a mid-round asset the past six seasons when healthy, including a 27th-ranked finish in 2014-15.
Keep in mind that the New Orleans Pelicans ramped him up slowly, bringing him off the bench for his first six games and keeping his minutes in the mid-20's for his first week of action. Over the last two weeks, however, he's moved into the starting lineup and averaged 33.3 minutes, including almost 40 minutes in his return from his three-game absence on Sunday night (in case you were worried about the severity of his injury).
The main thing dragging his value down right now is an out-of-character 68.8% from the charity stripe, as compared to his 79.8% career mark. Once that creeps back to the mean, you have all the makings of the line that made him a top-30 player only two years ago.
Buy now before he officially gets his footing and starts filling out the box score on a regular basis again.
Add/Buy Tim Frazier
Tim Frazier had a hot start for the Pelicans, but was supposed to be a drop candidate after Jrue Holiday's return to the lineup. He has remained relevant, however, and has continued to start in all but two games this year.
His nine-category ranking on the season is 108th, which still warrants ownership, and his ranking of 48th over his last four games should see him scooped up in more than the 60% of Yahoo and 65% of ESPN leagues he's currently owned in.
Granted, three of those four games were when his team was without Holiday, but Frazier's triple-double of 14 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists (with five steals to boot) while the Pelicans were at full strength on Sunday night should put him back on all radars until further notice.
He's done plenty to own the trust of head coach Alvin Gentry (as evidenced by his 35.4 minutes per contest over the last week) and has a legitimate shot at standard-league value all season long if he keeps getting enough minutes to prove his worth like this.
The impending return of Tyreke Evans could eat into said minutes, but we'd have to see him stay healthy over an extended stretch for that to even be a concern at this point.
Sell Lou Williams
Lou Williams is the fourth-ranked player in nine-category leagues over his last five games.
No, that is not a typo.
Over that span, Sweet Lou has averaged 32.2 points, 3.6 triples, 4.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.8 steals, 0.2 blocks, and 3.6 turnovers in 30.4 minutes, while shooting a blistering 51.6% from the field and 94.2% from the free-throw line. Unless you truly believe Williams became Stephen Curry overnight, there has never been a more obvious sell-high moment.
Yes, Lou has been the 49th-ranked player on the season, has a legitimate shot at Sixth Man of the Year for the second time in his career, and absolutely deserves universal ownership. That said, he's not going to stay this good and a large part of his boost in everything came from the absences of D'Angelo Russell and Nick Young, who both returned to action on Sunday night.
Williams barely slowed down upon their return, posting 24 points, 2 triples, 6 boards, 5 assists, and 2 steals in nearly 26 minutes of action in their first game back.
That's plenty of proof that he should continue to be a fine fantasy asset going forward, but with so many mouths to feed in the Los Angeles Lakers backcourt and at least some regression bound to rear its ugly head any moment, you should still get selling while the selling's good.
At least see what kinds of deals you can create with people infatuated with his recent run.
Add Nick Young
Speaking of the Lakers' backcourt, Nick Young returned to action Sunday and wasted no time continuing his unexpectedly solid fantasy season by scoring 15 points in only 20 minutes of action.
In 19 games this year (all starts), Young is the 86th-ranked player in nine-category leagues, averaging 13.4 points, 2.5 threes, 2.5 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 0.3 steals, 0.4 blocks, and 0.6 turnovers in 24.7 minutes, while shooting 46.3% from the field and 91.9% from the line. His periphery stats leave a little to be desired, but the scoring, threes, and generally solid efficiency make him worthy of continued ownership until he turns back into a pumpkin.
His recent strained calf injury and subsequent six-game absence has his ownership rates down to 35% in Yahoo leagues and 15% on ESPN, so scoop him up if he was dropped in your league and see just how long he can keep up this improbable breakout in his age-31 season.
Buy Jonas Valanciunas
Jonas Valanciunas has long been on the verge of a fantasy breakout that has never truly come. He's been a solid mid-round asset the last two seasons, but his minutes have been stuck in the mid-20's his whole career (despite starting in 298 of his 304 career games), and that has always made him feel like an untapped fantasy stud.
This season has been more of the same. JV is the 76th-ranked player in nine-category leagues so far this year, with averages of 12.2 points, 9.4 rebounds, 0.8 assists, 0.4 steals, 0.8 blocks, and 1.6 turnovers in 27.9 minutes, and a shooting split of 53.4% from the field and 83.3% from the line.
The scoring and rebounding are pretty well where they've been the last two years, but the 0.8 blocks per contest is a notable drop from last year's 1.3.
Even so, the shooting efficiency from your center position is a huge positive for the big Lithuanian, and the potential for bigger things as a member of the Toronto Raptors' thin frontcourt at the ripe young age of 24 is as much there as it ever was.
Valanciunas' scoring has bottomed out over his last six games, scoring six or fewer points five times, and coming in as the 204th-ranked player over that span. He may never get minutes in the 30's and truly unleash his fantasy potential, but he'll be better than that.
Consider this a buy-low moment. That elusive breakout was hinted at during last year's playoffs and could still happen.
Add Tony Allen
Tony Allen has always been on fantasy radars as a steals specialist, but he can step things up in even more ways whenever the Memphis Grizzlies are thinned out by injuries (and boy are they thinned out right now).
Over the Grindfather's last four games, he's been the 29th-ranked player in nine-category leagues in a healthy 33.8 minutes per contest. Over that span, he's averaged 15.5 points, 0.3 threes, 8.0 rebounds, 1.0 assist, 2.0 steals, 0.5 blocks, and 1.8 turnovers, while shooting 60.5% from the field and 69.2% from the free-throw line.
He's not going to keep things up at that level for long (although he's been a sneaky late-round asset for most of his seven seasons in Memphis), but he certainly deserves a look while the Grizzlies are down several players. He's still available in 80% of Yahoo leagues and 90% of ESPN and you could do a lot worse right now.
Drop J.R. Smith
Speaking of a lot worse right now, J.R. Smith has stunk this year.
He's currently the 143rd-ranked player in nine-category leagues and he's only that high because of the 2.2 triples, 1.4 steals, and 0.7 turnovers per contest and perfect 6-for-6 mark from the charity stripe.
While those numbers are usually worth hunting in standard leagues, the 7.6 points, 2.1 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 0.5 blocks, and putrid 31.2% shooting mark from the field are a little hard to get excited about.
And most of his good stat lines came in the first couple weeks of the season.
Since returning from a three-game absence due to an ankle injury on November 18th, Smith has been the 257th-ranked player in nine-category leagues, with averages of 5.1 points, 1.6 threes, 1.8 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 1.1 steals, 0.4 blocks, and 1.0 turnover, along with a 27.6% mark from the field and not a single attempt from the free-throw line.
He's held late-round value for each of the last 10 seasons (including seven top-100 performances) and is decidedly streaky, so there's obviously a chance he could be better.
There's little reason to own him now as someone at age 31 who only has a late-round ceiling at the best of times and is so far from it right now.