5 Fantasy Basketball Sleepers for 2018-19
The NBA regular season is just around the corner, which means we are officially in the heart of fantasy basketball drafting season.
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).
We're here today to give you five standout sleepers from our projections. For our purposes, a sleeper is someone with a Yahoo or ESPN ranking around the end or outside of the top 100, but who our projections say will be firmly inside it by the end of this coming season.
Each table includes that player's 2018-19 per-game projections. All nine-category rankings from previous seasons are courtesy of BasketballMonster.com.
Now, let's wake up on some fantasy sleepers.
Tyreke Evans, PG/SG, Indiana Pacers
Yahoo O-Rank: 97
ESPN Rank: 121
Our Rank: 58
Tyreke Evans has had a rollercoaster fantasy hoops career, to put it lightly. He was a top-75 asset in nine-category leagues during his rookie season in 2009-10, finished as the 46th-ranked player last year (a career best), and alternated irregularly between late-round and mid-round efforts in between (including a 40-game, 221st-ranked dud the year before last).
All that is to say that it is hard to know which version of 'Reke you're getting in any given season. Last year, he was in an ideal situation for fantasy production, sopping up usage on an injury-ravaged Memphis Grizzlies squad. This year, he joins a crowded Indiana Pacers guard rotation that includes Victor Oladipo, Darren Collison, and Cory Joseph.
But even with all that shared usage, our algorithms like him to produce like the best version of himself -- a mid-round value with juice across most counting stats (points, threes, rebounds, assists, and steals, in particular). The Pacers are likely to use Evans in a sixth-man role, which suits his instant-offense style of play just fine, especially since he would likely be spending a lot of time as the primary ballhandler in those bench lineups.
Dejounte Murray, PG, San Antonio Spurs
Yahoo O-Rank: 101
ESPN Rank: 96
Our Rank: 74
In late January, Dejounte Murray supplanted future Hall of Famer Tony Parker as the starting point guard for the San Antonio Spurs and now has a stranglehold on the job following Parker's departure for Charlotte. Murray's ADP across the industry sits at 106.3, but we have him projected to finish as a top-75 asset in nine-category leagues.
Over the last two months of last season, Murray was a consistent starter and came in as the 78th-ranked player in nine-category leagues with averages comparable to our projections over that span. With a full season in the driver's seat coming up, perhaps even greater things are in store for the 22-year-old.
His lack of points and threes might scare off some, but don't sleep on Murray's ample assists and steals, decent percentages, and elite rebounding for his position.
Derrick Favors, PF/C, Utah Jazz
Yahoo O-Rank: 146
ESPN Rank: 98
Our Rank: 75
Derrick Favors established himself as an early- to mid-round asset when he began starting games full-time for the Utah Jazz back in 2013-14. Injuries hampered his 2016-17 campaign (when he finished 162nd in nine-category leagues), but he bounced back ever so slightly last year with an 87th-ranked effort.
Despite coming off a comeback season, ESPN has Favors teetering on the brink of being outside the top-100, while Yahoo has him ranked all the way down at 146. According to our projections, Favors has a top-75 season in him this year.
He's still the no-doubt starting power forward for the Jazz, even if his pairing up front with an equally range-less Rudy Gobert is a floor-spacing problem in the modern NBA. When Favors can get something in the range of 30 minutes per contest, he's good for value across all your big-man categories (boards, blocks, field goal percentage, low turnovers), while tossing in the occasional scoring burst and steal for good measure.
If you can land him somewhere around or after the 100th pick in your draft, you're buying into a guy that has early-round upside when everything breaks right for him. Don't sleep on that ceiling.
JaVale McGee, C, Los Angeles Lakers
Yahoo O-Rank: 119
ESPN Rank: 183
Our Rank: 79
It's not very often you'll hear JaVale McGee's name tossed around in fantasy circles, considering he's only twice cracked the top-100 in nine-category leagues over his 10-year NBA career (the last time being in 2011-12), and hasn't even sniffed the top-200 once over the last five years.
But over his last couple seasons playing on the star-studded Golden State Warriors, he's shown that he can produce value when given just a handful of minutes. Even if the Los Angeles Lakers want to play position-less and small this year, McGee's bound to get a healthy complement of floor time by default as one of the only seasoned centers on the team's roster.
If he gets even the modest 18.9 minutes we're projecting him to, he could provide mid-round value on the strength of his rebounds, blocks, high field goal percentage, and low turnovers. If you whiff on centers and big-man stats early, McGee has the potential to be a major value pick near the end of your draft.
Trevor Ariza, SG/SF, Phoenix Suns
Yahoo O-Rank: 106
ESPN Rank: 229
Our Rank: 83
Trevor Ariza has provided early- to mid-round value for five years running, including a 58th-ranked effort just last season. The change of scenery from the trigger-happy Houston Rockets to the young Phoenix Suns has some bearish on the 33-year-old's fantasy outlook this season -- as evidenced by his 137.8 ADP across the industry -- but our projections say he isn't done providing fantasy value just yet.
Ariza will likely remain a starter with the Suns and command a healthy complement of minutes (he was still playing 34 a night as a 32-year-old last year). If he gets the 32.5 we're projecting him for with his new squad, his combination of elite threes, steals, free throw percentage, and turnovers will maintain his mid-round upside, even if he's now running with a bunch of youngsters instead of James Harden and Chris Paul.
Getting him at a pick around his 106 ranking on Yahoo comes with plenty of upside, but his 229 ranking on ESPN opens up the opportunity for grand larceny. Queue him up accordingly.
|Player||Position||Team||Yahoo O-Rank||ESPN Rank||Our Rank|
|Larry Nance Jr.||PF/C||CLE||95||154||78|