5 Fantasy Basketball Busts 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).
Today, we're tackling busts. That means we're giving you five players that our algorithms project to underperform based on their rankings on Yahoo and ESPN.
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 bust some busts.
Goran Dragic, PG/SG, Miami Heat
Yahoo O-Rank: 62
ESPN Rank: 37
Our Rank: 104
Goran Dragic has been a mid-round asset in fantasy hoops for five of the last seven years, but don't ignore the fact that he has failed to crack the top-100 in two of his last three seasons in Miami (including a 103rd-ranked finish in nine-category leagues last year). He may have been an All-Star in real life, but the fantasy returns simply do not justify his mid-round price tag anymore.
Sure, he plays big minutes and eats up usage on the Heat, but you want plenty of juice in stats like threes, assists, steals, and free throw percentage from your point guards, and Dragic is pretty middling in all four areas. He does give you pretty decent scoring and rebounding from the position, but not enough to make up for the other deficiencies.
His average draft position (ADP) across the industry sits at 55.3, but we're projecting him to finish 104th in standard nine-category leagues. Simply put, you can do better than taking him where you'd need to.
Dwight Howard, PF/C, Washington Wizards
Yahoo O-Rank: 65
ESPN Rank: 39
Our Rank: 118
Dwight Howard's ADP and actual fantasy ranking are always way off, since his low free throw percentage at such a large volume can be such a detriment to your fantasy squad. If you're punting freebies, go ahead and pony up, but otherwise, Dwight's generally not worth the pain he'll cause.
Listen, the rebounds, blocks, and field goal percentage are certainly nice, but you can get comparable numbers in those areas later from guys like Jonas Valanciunas, Steven Adams, Hassan Whiteside, Enes Kanter, Dewayne Dedmon, etc. without all the missed free throws and high turnovers for a center.
Not to mention, dude's going on 33 years of age and is on his fourth new team in as many years (five if you include his couple days as a Brooklyn Net before getting bought out to join the Washington Wizards). At any time, his minutes, usage, and production could all take a sizable hit, so the risks are starting to far outweigh the potential rewards. Go ahead and pass on Dwight this year.
Harrison Barnes, SF/PF, Dallas Mavericks
Yahoo O-Rank: 70
ESPN Rank: 53
Our Rank: 120
Somehow, Harrison Barnes keeps getting rankings on Yahoo and ESPN that are higher than any ranking he's ever achieved in eight- or nine-category leagues. With newcomers Luka Doncic and DeAndre Jordan in Dallas, I'm not really sure why this would be the year that Barnes officially breaks out, but his ADP of 65.0 seems to suggest that some people out there believe in him for some reason.
Not us, though. Our projections have him at 120th, with not much in his line to get excited about outside of decent points and threes to go with an acceptable free throw percentage. His rebounding isn't that great for the position and you're generally getting zeroes from him in the defensive categories, so it's hard to figure out what the appeal is here.
If you're considering him in the middle rounds, don't. He's a points specialist at best, and you can make up for that elsewhere.
Kyle Kuzma, SF/PF, Los Angeles Lakers
Yahoo O-Rank: 80
ESPN Rank: 69
Our Rank: 142
Kyle Kuzma had a great rookie season for the Los Angeles Lakers last year, so it's understandable why people want to buy into the 23-year-old going into his sophomore campaign. We're advising against the price tag, however, as our projections have him at 142nd -- a far cry from his current 76.0 ADP.
As you may have heard, the Lakers had a busy summer, most notably signing one LeBron James. A slew of veterans jumped aboard following the King's commitment, and suddenly there are a lot of mouths to feed on a team that just went from rebuilding (with time for youth development) to a pseudo-contender with playoff aspirations.
Despite the departure of Julius Randle, Kuzma might not even start for the Lakers much this year, as they experiment with various "positionless" lineups. If his minutes slip from last year's 31.2 that's one thing, but even when he's getting the time, he won't be much of a focal point, and doesn't get much for his fantasy owners outside of points, threes, and decent rebounds. There are players with much more upside based on team situation at his current rankings and ADP.
Andrew Wiggins, SG/SF, Minnesota Timberwolves
Yahoo O-Rank: 100
ESPN Rank: 58
Our Rank: 157
Andrew Wiggins is a staple of our bust columns heading into every fantasy season, and is typically a mainstay of our sell recommendations throughout the year. The fact that he's a former first overall pick gives him a lot of unfounded hype, and from a fantasy perspective, he's not much more than a mediocre points specialist.
Yahoo got a little wiser this year, putting him at 100 instead of the usual top-50, but ESPN still has him at 58, even though he's never ranked higher than 115th in a single season in nine-category leagues (including a career-worst 158th effort just last year).
We're projecting him to hit last year's marks again, which would make drafting him hard to stomach even at Yahoo's depressed ranking, and practically insane at his 58.7 ADP. Even if Jimmy Butler gets traded, we saw who Wiggins was in the three seasons he played for the Minnesota Timberwolves before Jimmy's arrival. He's still got plenty of room to grow at 23, but his box score lines aren't going to get that fat overnight.
Fade him across the board.
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