Fantasy Basketball: The Unique Appeal of Robert Covington

Robert Covington has always been a player with a unique kind of fantasy appeal, but there was nothing at all appealing about his start to the 2016-17 season.

The late-blooming Philadelphia 76ers forward was an utter brick machine over the opening weeks of the season, shooting a hair-raising 26 percent from the field over his first dozen games and urging even the most patient field-goal-percentage punters to retreat to the waiver wire.

The sub-zero depths of Covington’s early cold streak make it all the more impressive that he has turned his season around in a big way. He's just outside the overall top 50 in terms of year-to-date fantasy production per numberFire metrics, even when you factor in his 38 percent overall field goal mark on 10.4 attempts per game.

How can a player who poses such a notable field goal percentage drain nonetheless recoup mid-round fantasy value? Therein lies the unique appeal of BobCov.

Triple-One All Star

Even as Covington tested his owners’ patience with his early shooting woes and resultant low points-scored output, the fourth-year forward provided enough in the peripheral categories to warrant a moderately long leash.

Indeed, Covington may have faltered from the field over his first dozen games, but he still managed a strong output in the precious low-volume categories, averaging a combined four steals, blocks, and made threes over that span.

This output is the key to Covington’s appeal as a fantasy asset. Per numberFire's season-long combined threes, steals, and block value metric, Covington is one of only 13 players to average a score of over 3.00 in net value.

Player 3PM Score + Stl Score + Blk Score
Stephen Curry 5.02
Draymond Green 4.92
Giannis Antetokounmpo 4.69
James Harden 4.57
Trevor Ariza 4.49
Kevin Durant 4.33
Anthony Davis 4.04
Kyle Lowry 4.01
DeMarcus Cousins 3.77
Robert Covington 3.72
Kawhi Leonard 3.39
Russell Westbrook 3.25

Excluding the quietly great Ariza, all of the players here are top-tier assets who cost a pretty penny on draft day. Covington, on the other hand, was the 129th player off the board on average (per FantasyPros ADP data), likely for fear that his field goal percentage woes would negate his output in the peripheral stats.

Shooting Negative, Net Positive

What’s somewhat miraculous, then, is that even when you factor in his early-season brick-fest, along with the fact that he hasn't worked his full-season field goal percentage above 40 percent, Covington remains a decidedly positive overall fantasy value across the season.

There’s no denying that BobCov’s shooting is a liability -- he scored in the bottom five of numberFire fantasy values for field goal percentage.

Thing is, of all the players in the bottom 10 in this department, he is one of only two players to post over 1.00 in positive net value overall.

Player FG% score Overall score
Russell Westbrook -1.51 8.62
Emmanuel Mudiay -1.36 -4.44
Marcus Smart -1.28 0.16
Andrew Harrison -1.28 -4.41
Robert Covington -1.23 1.14
Langston Galloway -1.17 -2.87
Frank Kaminsky -1.11 -1.26
D'Angelo Russell -1.1 -2.37
Wesley Matthews -1.06 0.69
Dario Saric -1.05 -3.88

Considering his modest draft-day price, Covington has been an absolute boon for field-goal-percentage punters.

Punters Only?

There's no question that Covington is an elite field-goal-punter asset. But is that the limit of his value?

Indeed, the coup for Covington and his strong recent play might very well be that his output in threes, steals, and blocks (along with his sneaky valuable 6.2 boards per game and not-to-shabby 79 percent from the line) has pushed him beyond the status of mere specialist going forward.

He will certainly throw out shooting-percentage stinkers here and there. However, assuming he doesn’t go through another protracted ice-cold shooting spell, his rest-of-season value might be even more promising than the borderline top-50 value he’s amassed thus far, since part of that value is weighed down by his poor early start.

Soon enough, standard leaguers of all stripes and strategies might be recognizing what field-goal-percentage punters have known for years -- it’s never wise to sleep on BobCov.