Fantasy Basketball: A Dozen Dimes, Week 1
Each week, you'll get our top add, drop, buy, and sell suggestions in an attempt to provide you with a one-stop spot for advice on planning your week in season-long fantasy basketball -- although the trends discussed can be helpful for identifying quality DFS plays as well.
Transactions are listed in relative order of importance, with the most pressing moves at the top. Most analysis assumes standard-sized leagues (12 teams) and default, nine-category scoring (points, threes, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks, field goal percentage, free throw percentage, and turnovers).
Now let's toss the ball up on the 2017-18 fantasy hoops season!
Buy Victor Oladipo
Victor Oladipo took a step back last year from a fantasy perspective as Russell Westbrook's wingman in Oklahoma City. After finishing the 2015-16 season -- his last with the Orlando Magic -- as the 34th-ranked player in nine-category leagues, 'Dipo only came in 86th in his lone campaign with OKC.
Most of his numbers were the same from one year to the next, but the most notable dips in production came in his assists (3.9 to 2.6) and free throw percentage (83.0% to 75.3%). One would assume that the assists will go back up now that he's playing next to Darren Collison in Indiana instead of last year's MVP/usage leader. There should also be some positive regression in his accuracy from the line, considering his 80.0% career mark from the charity stripe.
And if those two things correct themselves, Oladipo suddenly becomes an early-round fantasy asset again. His average draft position (ADP) is 59.7 this year, according to FantasyPros.com, so his owner in your league might not be onto his top-30 upside. Send out some offers before the season starts and Oladipo reminds everyone how perfectly suited his game is to fantasy hoops.
Sell Marcin Gortat
Over the last two months of last season, Gortat was the 220th-ranked player in nine-category leagues, averaging 8.6 points, 8.0 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 0.2 steals, 0.4 blocks, and 1.2 turnovers in 24.7 minutes per game, while shooting 54.4% from the field and 57.1% from the line. The rebounds, field goal percentage, and turnovers were nice, but the rest was just gross.
If Gortat isn't getting you double-digit boards, a block per game, and both percentages at a reasonable success rate, what good is he? He doesn't score a lot, he doesn't stretch the floor, and he's never given owners anything in terms of assists and steals. Those aforementioned two months spanned 29 games, so it's not like it was a small sample size.
Gortat is nearly 34-years-old, had horrible recent returns, and is a big bruiser in a league that is phasing that player type out in favor of guys who are faster and who can shoot. If you grabbed him in the middle rounds, there's still time to abandon ship. Sell while you can.
Buy/Add Jamal Murray
Jamal Murray might not be a pure point guard, but the Denver Nuggets are holding an open competition to see who starts at that position for them this year. To this point, Murray has a leg up on the ultra-inefficient Emmanuel Mudiay and old-as-sin Jameer Nelson. In fact, he got the nod at the one in Denver's last preseason game next to entrenched starters Nikola Jokic, Paul Millsap, Gary Harris, and Wilson Chandler, and that's a really good sign.
Looking back at the end of Murray's rookie campaign in 2016-17, he was the 96th-ranked player in nine-category leagues over the last month (16 games), with averages of 13.0 points, 1.8 triples, 3.0 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.2 steals, 0.3 blocks, and 1.8 turnovers in 27.2 minutes per contest, and a shooting split of 42.7% from the field and 90.3% from the line. He started only six of those contests, but it's worth noting that he played between 32 and 41 minutes over his last four (all starts).
Murray had an unassuming ADP of 115.0 this draft season and has current ownership percentages of 75% on Yahoo and 15% on ESPN. If you can catch an owner sleeping on his breakout potential (or can simply add him for free), you should jump on the opportunity before he's set loose.
Add Taurean Prince
Taurean Prince made waves at the end of his rookie campaign in 2016-17, starting the final 10 contests of the regular season and six playoff games for the Atlanta Hawks. His production during that span was admittedly modest, but with Paul Millsap, Dwight Howard, and Tim Hardaway Jr. all out of town, Prince is in line for a bigger role and thus a higher fantasy upside.
Look no further than this preseason for evidence of his tantalizing ceiling. He's only played 22.5 minutes per contest (it is just the preseason, after all), but his per-36-minute averages of 16.3 points, 1.9 threes, 7.0 rebounds, 2.6 assists, and 1.9 steals scream mid-round fantasy asset.
He has gone undrafted in the majority of fantasy leagues, sitting with a mere 45% ownership rate in Yahoo leagues and approximately 2% on ESPN, so you can add him for free in most places. Get on that now before the season starts and the other owners in your league get wise to the likelihood of his sophomore breakout.
Buy/Add Josh Richardson
Rodney McGruder started 65 of the 78 games he played for the Miami Heat during his rookie season in 2016-17, but he's unfortunately sidelined for the next three-to-six months following surgery on a stress fracture in his leg. While it's not necessarily a given that Josh Richardson will start in McGruder's place, he's certainly in line to absorb some of his minutes.
And as recently as the last month of 2016-17 (15 games, 13 of which he started), Richardson was a fantasy beast. In a solid 34.3 minutes per contest, he averaged 11.7 points, 1.9 triples, 2.6 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.6 steals, 1.5 blocks, and 1.3 turnovers, while shooting 43.2% from the field and 80.0% from the line. If he can replicate anything close to that this year, he'll be a steal for anyone who got him anywhere near his 183.5 ADP.
While some have caught onto J-Rich's upside in light of McGruder's injury, he remains unowned in over 50% of Yahoo leagues and nearly a whopping 99% on ESPN. If you're lucky enough to be in one of those leagues, scoop him up. If he's already owned, send out a feeler to see if you can acquire him before he explodes.
Buy/Add Milos Teodosic
Milos Teodosic has had a very buzzworthy preseason, dazzling everyone with his insane passing ability.
But even if you don't play in a league that counts highlight passes as a category, he's been putting up actual fantasy-relevant numbers as well.
He's only played 25.3 minutes per game, but that's about what most regular rotation guys get in the preseason (Blake Griffin only averaged 23.5 over three contests, for example). Teodosic's per-36-minute averages of 11.4 points, 2.9 threes, 1.9 rebounds, 8.1 assists, 1.9 steals, and 3.3 turnovers over that tiny sample have been noteworthy and should be enough to put him on your radar.
He's not likely to get 36 minutes per night, of course, but he definitely has a shot to start for the Los Angeles Clippers this year and to put up flashy fantasy numbers with the opportunity. He's still available in over 50% of Yahoo leagues and almost 70% on ESPN, so jump on him now if you're in need of a point guard with big upside.
Add Kyle Kuzma
Kuzma tore up NBA Summer League and that has carried over into the preseason. Through six games, he racked up impressive averages of 17.3 points, 1.3 three-pointers, 4.0 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 0.7 steals, 0.0 blocks, and 1.7 turnovers per contest, and a shooting split of 51.4% from the field and 78.6% from the line.
That kind of production might not carry over into the regular season, though, since he's stuck in a position battle with Julius Randle and Larry Nance Jr. and could come out on the wrong end of it. Still, it's hard not to be intrigued by one of the hottest players this offseason, so he's worth a flier if he's available in your league, as is the case in 35% of Yahoo leagues and almost 100% on ESPN.
Sell Andrew Wiggins
Over the first three years of Wiggins' career, he has ranked 131st, 115th, and 117th in nine-category leagues, and the only stat in his line on the positive side of average in each of those seasons has been points. And while his career 20.4 points per game are nice and all, it's kind of empty without any additional category juice.
And there's reason to be even more concerned about Wiggins' fantasy potential than usual, since the Minnesota Timberwolves beefed up their roster with guys like Jimmy Butler and Jeff Teague this summer. If there are fewer shots and points to go around, Wiggins might even have less upside than in years past, and that's saying something.
Despite all this, he still somehow managed to garner an ADP of 47.3 this year (via FantasyPros.com). If you happen to own him, sell him on his name-brand appeal now before it's too late.
Buy/Add Justin Holiday
Holiday has laid waste to the 2017 preseason, averaging 16.7 points, 3.2 triples, 5.0 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.8 steals, 0.3 blocks, and 2.3 turnovers in 26.9 minutes per contest, and shooting 44.2% from the field and a perfect 13-for-13 from the charity stripe. Those numbers have made him the 9th-ranked player in nine-category leagues during the preseason on average, and number one with a bullet in terms of totals (for whatever that's worth).
He hasn't been on standard-league radars for either of his four seasons in the NBA, but he's also never played more than 20.0 minutes per game. On a Bulls squad with little discernible talent, Holiday looks locked and loaded to start and produce some fantasy goodies. He's available in almost 60% of Yahoo leagues and 50% on ESPN, so grab him where available and see what he'll cost you where he's not.
Add Jerian Grant
Speaking of the Bulls and their need for someone -- anyone -- to produce, Jerian Grant has become an interesting option in fantasy leagues now that Kris Dunn is set to miss two to four weeks with a dislocated finger, and Grant has to slide in to start at the one.
Like Holiday, Grant has had himself a decent little preseason. Over six games, he has been the 64th-ranked player in nine-category leagues with averages of 8.0 points, 1.3 threes, 4.3 rebounds, 6.0 assists, 0.8 steals, 0.5 blocks, and 2.0 turnovers in 23.2 minutes per contest, and a shooting split of 40.0% from the field and 88.9% from the line.
His rest-of-season outlook might be muddy when Dunn returns, but for now, owners in need of some short-term point guard help should be looking at Grant off the waiver wire. He's available in nearly 90% of Yahoo leagues and 100% on ESPN.
Buy Jonas Valanciunas
Jonas Valanciunas has been ranked between 52nd and 69th in each of his last three seasons. Some would call that consistency, others might call it stagnation. Either way, he's pretty well a lock for mid-round value every year.
The thing is, he's been giving fantasy owners those returns in a mere 26.0 minutes per game, so one can't help but wonder if he'd be a bigger fantasy stud if Raptors coach Dwane Casey would just let him loose. On a per-36-minute basis, JV ranked as high as 23rd in 2015-16, and that makes him seem like an untapped resource.
The Raptors aren't likely to suddenly start giving Valanciunas a ton more minutes, however, especially considering how little he stretches the floor and how effective Serge Ibaka is at the five. That said, despite the capped upside, there's no real reason to think that JV will go the other way and drop off either. Yes, his big and bruising game is being phased out a bit in today's NBA (see Gortat, Marcin), but the Raps still seem to believe in the 25-year-old and look committed to him as their starting center for the foreseeable future.
Drafters seem to have given up on JV's breakout potential, though, letting his ADP sink to 73.7. With Patrick Patterson out of town and the remaining big guys on Toronto's roster still needing some seasoning, Valanciunas should be in for at least more of the same this year, which means he should pretty easily outplay his ADP with plenty of rebounding, blocks, and solid peripherals.
If someone in your league is sleeping on JV's reliable floor and solid preseason (ranked 30th in nine-category leagues over five games in just 20.1 minutes per contest), make them pay by buying kind of low before the season gets going.
Sell Derrick Rose
Can we stop trying to make this Derrick Rose thing happen in fantasy hoops?
Of his eight seasons in the NBA, he's only ranked within the top-100 in nine-category leagues twice, and the most recent occurrence was during the 2011-12 season. The last four years, the best he's done is his 120th mark from last season, and that's barely within standard-league value.
Despite his tenuous hold on fantasy relevance, Rose is currently owned in 80% of Yahoo leagues and 90% on ESPN.
What am I missing here?
He just joined the Cleveland Cavaliers, where he'll be playing next to LeBron James, Kevin Love, and Dwyane Wade -- and eventually behind Isaiah Thomas. Yes, Thomas is out for the beginning of the year and Rose looks in line to start at point guard, but we all know James is the real floor general of the Cavs and even Wade is known to tote the rock from time to time.
If Rose isn't going to be counted on to score all that much as a fourth or maybe even fifth option -- and won't even hold the ball as much as he did in New York or Chicago -- what else are you getting from him in fantasy? Free throw percentage?
If you can dupe someone into trading anything of value for him before the season starts, you should do that. MVP Rose ain't coming through that door anytime soon, so let's collectively accept that and move on.