5 Fantasy Basketball Busts for 2017-18
Fantasy basketball season is upon us and that means it's officially draft time.
To get started on your research, jump on over to our NBA player projections. There, you will find total and per-game projections for each NBA player, as well as a one-number value that shows each player's overall importance in fantasy hoops based on his contributions in your typical standard-league categories (the "Fantasy" column).
This week, we've already identified five sleepers and five breakout candidates based on where our projections are higher on a player than average draft position (ADP) statistics and rankings across the industry. For our busts, we're taking the same approach in reverse and giving you five players that our algorithms project to underperform based on their ADP.
Now, let's bust some busts.
PG Dennis Schroder, Atlanta Hawks
Yahoo O-Rank: 51
ESPN Rank: 45
Our Rank: 88
Dennis Schroder is in for an increased role on an Atlanta Hawks team that shed the majority of its core, including Paul Millsap and Dwight Howard. An increased role would usually mean more fantasy goodness, but not for someone as inefficient as Schroder.
Schroder turns the ball over a ton, and if you're someone who plays in a nine-category league that counts turnovers, that's going to hurt you a lot. He averaged a whopping 3.3 giveaways per contest last year and we're projecting him to hit 3.8 this year.
We're expecting an increase in points (17.9 to 21.7) and threes (1.3 to 1.9), but there's no reason to think his assists will increase that much now that he's surrounded by much less talent. His defensive stats have never been that impressive, and more shot attempts with more focus from opposing defenses likely means he's also in for lowered shooting efficiency.
We're projecting Schroder to finish the year ranked 88th, so he's someone to avoid on draft day at his current ADP of 44.0.
SG/SF Andrew Wiggins, Minnesota Timberwolves
Yahoo O-Rank: 63
ESPN Rank: 48
Our Rank: 96
Why are people still drafting Andrew Wiggins in the middle rounds of fantasy drafts? Don't get me wrong, Wiggins is a great scorer, averaging 20.4 points per game over his three-year career, but what else does he really give you? An occasional three? The scattered steal? His contributions in every category outside of scoring range from average to below average, so he's more of a specialist than anything.
He's finished 131st, 115th, and 117th in nine-category leagues over the last three seasons -- if his specialty were anything other than scoring, he'd routinely be selected outside of the top 100. And this year, with the Minnesota Timberwolves having added guys like Jimmy Butler and Jeff Teague, it's even reasonable to expect him to take a step back in points.
We're projecting him to finish 96th overall, which is admittedly a step forward, but at his current ADP of 44.3, you shouldn't want any part of him.
PG/SG D'Angelo Russell, Brooklyn Nets
Yahoo O-Rank: 60
ESPN Rank: 53
Our Rank: 98
D'Angelo Russell is still only 21 years old and entering his third NBA season. His upside on his new team, the Brooklyn Nets, is certainly high, but a huge breakout year is far from a given. He should be in for a bigger role as the Nets' new franchise cornerstone, but Russell's inefficiency to this point in his career combined with higher usage might do more harm than good to your fantasy team.
With the increased opportunity, we are expecting his counting stats to go up, but then so will his turnovers and shot attempts. He is generally a good source of points, threes, assists, and steals, but his subpar peripherals (40.4% shooting from the field, 76.4% from the line, and 3.1 turnovers per contest) will be an even bigger drain on your team this time around with the bump in volume.
According to our projections, Russell is set to finish 98th overall in 2017-18, which makes his current ADP of 51.7 seem mighty pricey.
SF/PF Harrison Barnes, Dallas Mavericks
Yahoo O-Rank: 61
ESPN Rank: 66
Our Rank: 125
Harrison Barnes had a solid first season with the Dallas Mavericks, finishing the year ranked 76th in nine-category leagues. A large part of his value came from his scoring (19.2 points per game), but his peripherals were solid (46.8% shooting from the field, 86.1% from the line, and 1.3 turnovers) and helped a great deal, as well.
The problem is that Barnes doesn't give you much else in terms of counting stats. His threes, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks all range from average to meh, and he therefore isn't all that useful when he's not scoring 20 points or so.
It's also important to note that his field goal and free throw percentages from last year were easily above his career averages of 45.3% and 77.6%, respectively. If there's any kind of regression, Barnes becomes even less enticing at an ADP of 63.7.
PF Julius Randle, Los Angeles Lakers
Yahoo O-Rank: 75
ESPN Rank: 72
Our Rank: 140
Julius Randle is a threat for a double-double in points and rebounds on most nights, and even gets enough assists to threaten a triple-double from time to time. It's easy to consider him somewhat of a poor man's Draymond Green with that kind of production, but he just doesn't produce enough anywhere else to truly warrant that comparison.
His threes (0.4), steals (0.7), and blocks (0.7) don't move the needle at all, and his turnovers (2.4) are a tad high for a power forward. His field goal percentage (47.2%) is decent, but that's offset by his pedestrian field goal percentage (72.7%).
Going into his fourth NBA season at only 22 years of age, there's always the chance that he builds on last year's 131st ranking in nine-category leagues, but the arrival of Lonzo Ball likely takes the ball out of Randle's hands a bit, which could reduce his assists. If all you're getting out of him is a low-end double-double in points and rebounds, he certainly won't be worth his 66.7 ADP.
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