Fantasy Basketball 2016-17: A Dozen Dimes, Volume 13
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 ideas you like from previous weeks that are still valid.
Okay, let's get down to it.
Buy D'Angelo Russell
D'Angelo Russell is having a decent sophomore season, coming in as the 120th-ranked player in nine-category leagues with averages of 15.1 points, 2.0 three-pointers, 3.9 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 1.3 steals, 0.3 blocks, and 2.7 turnovers in 27.4 minutes per game. He's posting a shooting split of 39.9% from the field and 76.5% from the free throw line.
Russell has been in a bit of a slump lately, however, scoring only 10.8 points per game over his last four while shooting a putrid 34.6% from the field and 54.5% from the line. He's been the 293rd-ranked player in the league over that span, which makes this a good time to buy low.
Russell's Los Angeles Lakers are only 4.5 games out of a playoff spot at 15-30, but they are the 28th-ranked team in our NBA Team Power Rankings and our algorithms only give them a 1.0% chance of making the postseason. Once they fall out of the playoff race and begin to focus more heavily on youth development, Russell has big second-half breakout potential with substantial upside in points, threes, assists, and steals. If he can limit his turnovers and get his field goal percentage up a tad, he could threaten to be an early- to mid-round value by season's end.
Sell Devin Booker
Devin Booker is on the hottest streak of his young career, coming off back-to-back 39-point games and scoring 22 or more in five straight. Over that five-game span, he has averaged 31.0 points, 3.4 threes, 2.4 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 0.8 steals, 0.2 blocks, and 4.4 turnovers in 38.1 minutes per contest. He is shooting 54.9% from the field and 83.9% from the free throw line, making him the 30th-ranked player in nine-category leagues over that span.
That's a great return on what was likely a late-round investment in fantasy leagues, but this is a time when you might want to sell high on Booker.
For starters, the 54.9% shooting from the field recently doesn't jive with his career mark of 42.3% or this season's almost identical clip of 42.2%, so some regression is likely coming there. The points, threes, and free throw percentage have been great lately and are regularly the biggest source of his value, but they'll likely come down a bit, as well, and once they do, you're left with a player who doesn't get enough rebounds, assists, or defensive stats, and he turns the ball over too much to give you consistent standard league value (he's a borderline late-rounder on the season, ranking 141st in nine-category leagues).
His future is plenty bright, but Booker's line simply isn't diverse enough beyond the scoring to warrant holding him when such a good sell-high opportunity presents itself.
Add Kelly Olynyk
Kelly Olynyk is coming off his best game of the season on Friday night. He scored 26 points on 9-for-11 shooting from the field and a perfect 4-for-4 shooting from the charity stripe while adding four triples, eight boards, three assists, and a steal.
Olynyk's minutes have risen from 20.9 on the season to 25.7 over his last four, and his production has followed suit. He's the 50th-ranked player in nine-category leagues during that period, averaging 14.3 points, 2.3 three-pointers, 5.5 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 0.3 steals, 0.8 blocks, and a mere 1.0 turnover per contest while shooting a blistering 62.9% from the field and 66.7% from the free throw line.
If Olynyk's minutes continue to rise, and if he can ever overtake Amir Johnson in the starting lineup (a distinct possibility, as Johnson's minutes have dipped to 18.2 over Olynyk's four-game hot stretch), he has the potential to be a mid- to late-round value for the rest of the season with his well-rounded stat line. He's currently available in 85% of Yahoo leagues and 95% of ESPN leagues.
Add Al-Farouq Aminu
Al-Farouq Aminu had a decent amount of fantasy appeal coming into this season as the starting power forward for the Portland Trail Blazers, but inconsistency and a couple of nagging injuries have kept him from being a reliable standard-league asset.
Over Aminu's last six games, however, he's shown signs of being a relevant fantasy player. Over that span, he's averaged 10.3 points, 0.8 threes, 10.0 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 0.7 steals, 1.2 blocks, and 1.5 turnovers in a healthy 32.9 minutes per contest while shooting 44.6% from the field and 70.0% from the line. That has made him the 77th-ranked player in nine-category leagues over that span and someone who should be firmly on your radar if he's available in your league (as he is in roughly 50% on Yahoo and 70% on ESPN).
He'll never be a big-time scorer, but Aminu's always good for a decent number of rebounds and a shot at one each of a three, steal, and block per game while not hurting you too badly in either of your shooting percentage categories or turnovers.
Add Terrence Jones
Terrence Jones is fantasy inconsistency personified, but he's currently on an upswing.
Over his last three games, he's been the 97th-ranked player in nine-category leagues. He is averaging 14.7 points, 0.3 threes, 7.7 rebounds, 1.0 assist, 0.7 steals, 1.3 blocks, and a mere 0.7 turnovers in 28.7 minutes during that span while shooting 62.1% from the field and 46.7% from the free throw line.
He's only the 174th-ranked player in nine-category leagues on the season, but that might be trending up with recent developments. He's been spot starting for Anthony Davis whenever he's missed time throughout the season, but Jones got the start next to Davis upon the Brow's return to action on Saturday. That could be a big step in the right direction for Jones' fantasy value.
When Jones was a regular starter with the Houston Rockets during both the 2013-14 and 2014-15 campaigns, he was the 64th- and 69th-ranked player in nine-category fantasy leagues, respectively. If he manages to stick in the starting unit with the New Orleans Pelicans, his upside in rebounds, blocks, field goal percentage, and low turnovers will likely make him fantasy-relevant once again with mid-round upside.
He's currently available in 55% of Yahoo leagues and 85% on ESPN, but might not be for long.
Buy Derrick Favors
It's been a bumpy season for Derrick Favors, but his breakout feels like it's just around the corner.
On the year, Favors is the 200th-ranked player in nine-category leagues. He is averaging 9.1 points, 0.1 threes, 6.0 rebounds, 0.9 assists, 0.8 steals, 0.9 blocks, and 1.3 turnovers in 23.0 minutes per contest, and Favors is shooting 45.0% from the field and 63.9% from the free throw line. That's certainly a far cry from the 29th-ranked campaign he put up just last season, but he's not likely to remain locked in the basement like that for much longer.
He's played mostly on a minute restriction this year because of a nagging bone bruise in his knee, but his minutes are currently trending up as he's averaged 28.6 per contest over his last five (having topped 30 twice over that span). He's starting to look ready for his regular workload, and once that happens, the early- to mid-round returns he's given fantasy owners over the last three seasons (ranks of 58th, 45th, and 29th in nine-category leagues over the last three campaigns) should return.
At that point, those who invested an early-round pick in him and stuck around will finally be rewarded. Before that happens, however, you should make a last-ditch effort to buy low on him. His upside in points, rebounds, steals, blocks, field goal percentage, and low turnovers make him one of the best bigs to own in fantasy hoops when he's on.
Add/Buy Clint Capela and Drop Montrezl Harrell
Clint Capela is expected back from a broken left fibula on either Tuesday or Wednesday of this week after having missed Houston's last 15 games with the injury. He's available in 30% of Yahoo leagues and 70% on ESPN, and this is a run-don't-walk situation if he's available in your league. Otherwise, if he's currently owned, you're almost out of time to buy low on the breakout big man.
On the season, Capela is the 76th-ranked player in nine-category leagues with averages of 11.8 points, 8.0 rebounds, 0.9 assists, 0.4 steals, 1.5 blocks, and 1.4 turnovers in only 24.5 minutes per contest. He owns a shooting split of 64.0% from the field and 44.6% from the free throw line. For a month from November 7th to December 7th, he was even better, coming in as the 37th-ranked nine-category player over that span with averages of 13.3 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 2.2 blocks per contest with a 63.8% shooting mark from the field.
Montrezl Harrell filled in admirably for Capela during his absence, but he now becomes expendable with Capela expected to eventually slip back into his role as the Rockets' starting center. Capela's upside in rebounds, blocks, field goal percentage, and turnovers makes him too enticing to leave sitting on any waiver wires, even with his putrid free throw percentage (thankfully he only shoots a little over two freebies per contest).
Drop Bismack Biyombo
Bismack Biyombo was a decent rebound and block specialist when he was starting for the Orlando Magic, but he lost his job to Nikola Vucevic three games ago and has been averaging 15.7 minutes per contest since the demotion.
Over that three-game span, Biz has been the 276th-ranked player in nine-category leagues with averages of 3.3 points, 3.7 rebounds, 0.0 assists, 0.3 steals, 0.7 blocks, and 1.7 turnovers per contest while posting a shooting split of 37.5% from the field and a perfect 4-for-4 from the charity stripe.
Biyombo will likely get more minutes eventually and a Vucevic injury or trade could certainly open up enough room to make him fantasy-relevant again (at least as a specialist), but for now, he's a drop in the nearly 50% of Yahoo leagues and 15% on ESPN in which he's owned.
Add Lucas Nogueira
Lucas Nogueira has been a surprising mid-round value this season (currently ranked 73rd in nine-category leagues), despite only averaging 4.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 0.9 assists in 21.0 minutes per contest.
Where his value has come from has been in his 1.0 steal, 1.8 blocks, and mere 0.8 turnovers per contest, and his shooting split of 66.7% from the field and 64.4% from the free throw line.
It's unconventional to own players who give you next to nothing in the popcorn categories of point, rebounds, and assists (as evidenced by Nogueira's 20% and 5% ownership rates on Yahoo and ESPN, respectively), but Nogueira is one of only four players in the NBA to average at least 1.0 steal and 1.5 blocks per contest this year (the others being first-round assets Kevin Durant, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Anthony Davis). He would also be among the league leaders in field goal percentage if he attempted enough shots to qualify.
In the meantime, he's a top-tier specialist if you need help in your defensive categories, particularly now while he's starting in place of an injured Patrick Patterson. Over the last week (three games), he's averaging 7.0 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.3 steals, 2.3 blocks, and 1.3 turnovers in 29.0 minutes per contest while shooting 83.3% from the field and 1-for-5 from the free throw line.
It's growing harder and harder to leave that kind of mid-round value on the wire while he's getting such solid minutes and ridiculous defensive stats.
Add Jodie Meeks
Over Meeks' last three games, he's the 52nd-ranked player in nine-category leagues with averages of 12.7 points, 2.3 triples, 3.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 2.3 steals, 0.0 blocks, and 2.0 turnovers in 28.1 minutes per contest. He owns a shooting split of 48.0% from the field and 87.5% from the line during that run.
His rest-of-season value isn't that enticing, but his per-36 numbers on the season would make him a mid-round value, so he's worth owning whenever he gets starter's minutes. He's available in 95% of Yahoo leagues and nearly 99% of ESPN leagues, so Meeks makes for an interesting and widely-available streaming option for Orlando's upcoming four-game week.
Drop Buddy Hield
Buddy Hield is the 248th-ranked player in nine-category leagues this season and the 227th-ranked player over the last week (three games). Despite that, he's owned in 40% of Yahoo leagues and 30% on ESPN.
Does. Not. Compute.
Yes, Hield has had decent stretches of scoring and hitting triples, but the inconsistency and otherwise empty stat lines make his relatively high ownership rates confounding. He's only a rookie and his long-term upside is intriguing, but he should be dropped in all re-draft leagues, particularly now that Tyreke Evans is back and heating up.
Add Ben Simmons
Ben Simmons is practicing for the Philadelphia 76ers and could see his NBA debut come within the next month. There's certainly the risk that the Sixers play it extremely cautious with their prized prospect, but his sky-high upside makes him an interesting stash in fantasy with the start of his NBA career just around the corner.
If you have an injured slot on your roster, picking him up now is a no-brainer, and he might even be worth the grab even if he just has to sit on your bench for a few weeks, if you're well-placed in the standings. He's currently available in 55% of Yahoo leagues and 65% on ESPN, and his ownership is going to spike upwards as we get more positive reports about the ramping up of his activities.