Fantasy Basketball: A Dozen Dimes, Volume 5
The big moment that will dictate the majority of this week's moves in your league happened on Friday evening, when DeMar DeRozan slipped going to the hole against Dallas and tore his left adductor longus tendon (part of the groin). It was a big blow to the Raptors, who were off to the best start in their franchise's history before losing their lone All-Star, but they just might have the depth to stay afloat in the weaker Eastern Conference.
Toronto has roughly eight other players that you could consider rosterable in standard leagues, so there might be a Black Friday-esque rush to the waiver wire today as everyone is trying to strike gold with one of them. After all, someone has to get a boost with DeRozan's 28.5% usage rate and 16.2 shots per game up for grabs.
We'll talk about those options in a moment, but first...
Hold DeMar DeRozan
DeMar is a top-50 fantasy option in both eight- and nine-category leagues when he's on and that makes him officially worth waiting for. If someone in your league gets trigger happy and drops him, I'd suggest picking him up and perhaps even taking advantage of the buy-low window if you think you can handle the four-week wait and his owner is getting antsy about holding on.
At least that's how things stand right now. There's no indication as of yet that DeRozan will need surgery - which would sideline him for a significantly longer period of time - so his expressed hope for a return after four week might actually be in play. It's still early in the season and your ability to wait on him will all depend on your current standing in your league and how healthy the rest of your team is, but I would definitely hold for now.
Check out this very informative post for an idea of what he's dealing with and why he can be optimistic about the length of the healing process.
Kyle Lowry and Jonas Valanciunas are obviously not guys that will be available on your waiver wire (although they should see a bump in production now), but Lou Williams, Amir Johnson, Terrence Ross, Patrick Patterson, James Johnson, and Greivis Vasquez are all unowned in about 40% or more of the Yahoo leagues out there and could give you decent fantasy production while DeMar DeRozan is out.
In fact, every player listed above except Vasquez was already producing top-100 value before DeRozan went down, so game on now that he's out.
Williams was one of the hottest pickups last week and should obviously be universally owned for the foreseeable future. Vasquez gets possibly the biggest bump, since he took DeRozan's place in the starting lineup against the Lakers on Sunday and has been averaging 18.0 points, 2.7 threes, and 4.7 assists over his last three, to go with 53.8% shooting from the field for mid-round value. Ross should absorb a fair number of usage and shots in the starting lineup as well, making him a must-own. Finally, James Johnson hasn't been that great since his return from an ankle injury, but his defensive upside and chance to become a starter at some point makes him someone worth monitoring.
For now, the priority scale for Raptors not named Kyle or Jonas goes roughly Amir, Sweet Lou, Ross, Vasquez, James Johnson, Patterson. That could flip at a moment's notice, of course, so monitor their minutes and production as time goes on.
Sell Kobe Bryant
Kobe Bryant is having a fantastic year for a guy who's 36 and in his 19th season, make no mistake. He's currently leading the NBA in scoring with 26.6 points per contest and throwing in 5.4 rebounds, 4.6 assists, and 1.4 steals for good measure. Those would be fantasy MVP numbers, but he's currently only ranked 70th in nine-category leagues because he's turning the ball over 2.9 times per game, hitting a career-low 78.3% of his attempts from the line, and shooting 39.2% from the field on 23.1 shots.
If you can take the hit in field goal percentage, more power to you, but I would be selling Kobe as hard as I possibly could right now. Last night, he became the oldest player to ever top 30 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists in a game and is now the only player in NBA history to amass 30,000 points and 6,000 assists. In other words, the Kobe vibes are extra positive this week and you might never get a better chance to offload him.
Byron Scott has spoken about reducing Kobe's 35.9 minutes per game and that could subsequently reduce the good fantasy lines as well. Not to mention, he's been perfectly healthy so far this year, despite the 54,819 minutes of NBA action on his legs. Young bucks have a hard enough time maintaining that kind of pace in minutes as the season wears on, imagine the toll it could take on a 36-year-old in the twilight of his career.
Sell now or forever hold your peace.
Buy Kevin Love
When it was finalized that Kevin Love, LeBron James, and Kyrie Irving were set to play together, it became likely that someone - if not everyone - would see a dip in production (as evidenced by recent "Big Three" history in Miami). Kyrie has been more or less the same and LeBron has seen slight drop-offs in some places, but Kevin Love has taken the most noticeable hit.
Someone in your league might feel scorned after burning a late first- or early second-round pick on him, so you should definitely kick the tires with a buy-low offer while you still can. The numbers above, while admittedly down, are still good enough for 22nd-ranked value. What's more, over his last four games, Love has been a first-round value on the strength of 21.0 points, 0.8 threes, 7.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.3 steals, and only 1.3 turnovers, to go with 58.0% shooting from the field and 85.2% from the line.
He might not put up the same gaudy numbers as he did in Minnesota, but he'll still put up value better than the vast majority of the league. If he can be had for a little bit less than usual, his top-5 upside in any given week is worth taking a shot at.
Add K.J. McDaniels / Drop Tony Wroten
The 76ers are obviously not concerned with winning any basketball games this season and their roster is filled with sub-NBA "talent", but this year's second-round draft pick K.J. McDaniels looks to be the real deal. He's played over 32 minutes in each of the last two contests and averaged 19.5 points, 2.0 threes, 9.5 rebounds, 1.0 assist, 0.5 steals, and 1.5 blocks per game in them, to go along with 46.9% shooting from the field and a perfect 5 for 5 from the line.
Brett Brown has handled McD with kid gloves so far this season, but his minutes are currently trending up and you should take notice of it. He has the potential to absolutely stuff the stat sheet with points, threes, rebounds, steals, and blocks when given the time on the floor, so when minutes aren't the issue, he should be owned all over the place.
Oh, and drop Tony Wroten. He's ranked 238th in nine-category leagues and is now out for at least a week with a knee issue. His percentages and turnovers make him tough to own as it is, so if you were looking for a reason to move on, you have it.
Sell Dwyane Wade
Dwyane Wade came back from a hamstring injury that cost him seven games on Sunday and put up 27 points on 11 for 18 shooting from the field, to go with 5 rebounds, 5 assists, and 7 turnovers. Wade has been pretty great when he's played this year, putting up mid-round value, but his owners' biggest fears are coming to life with the way he missed half of the Heat's games so far this season with what was initially thought to be a minor injury.
There's a good chance that this isn't the only stretch of games that D-Wade ends up missing for one thing or another, so pick a successful string of games and sell him when you can. Last night was a good start and the Heat play Washington in the second game of a back-to-back tonight. If Wade plays and plays well, you might have your chance to sell his newfound health on someone else and let them handle the GTD headaches.
Sell Derrick Rose
Speaking of GTD headaches, the king of them has been back in action for 3.5 games. Derrick Rose, an early-round selection this year, is only putting up 201st-ranked value in that time, averaging 13.8 points, 3.3 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and not much else, while shooting 45.5% from the field and 61.5% from the line.
Rose's days of being a lock for early-round value might be behind him and he looks more susceptible to scrapes and bruises than just about anyone in the NBA at this juncture. He'll definitely show flashes of his old self from time to time, but he's someone that you could probably stand to sell the next time that happens. Yes, he might regain his MVP form and drop first-round value for a long stretch at some point, but missing out on that might be a risk you should take for the trade off of breathing easier as each Bulls tip-off draws closer.
Buy Danny Green
Danny Green has been having a breakout season in fantasy, posting top-20 value on the strength of 11.1 points, 2.3 three-pointers, 3.8 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.3 steals, 1.4 blocks, and only 1.1 turnovers per game, while shooting 47.8% from the floor and a perfect 13 for 13 from the line.
The low point total might lead others to undervalue him and see him as merely a three-point specialist, but savvy fantasy owners should look at that line and recognize that it doesn't have a single hole in it. Nine-category threats like Danny don't come along every day and he's a great glue guy that can probably be had for someone of mid- to late-round value with far less upside.
He plays a healthy 29.3 minutes per game and is entrenched in the Spurs' starting lineup. He doesn't get "Popped" as often as the other Spurs (barely at all, in fact) and should be one of the safer Spurs to own this season. Take a swing at him and see what happens.
Add Nikola Mirotic
Taj Gibson has missed the last four games for the Bulls with a sprained left ankle and Nikola Mirotic has filled in admirably as the first big off the bench to back up starters Joakim Noah and Pau Gasol.
In his last five games, Mirotic has posted top-20 value with averages of 12.6 points, 1.6 three-pointer, 8.6 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.0 steal, 1.4 blocks, and only 1.4 turnovers per contest, while shooting 48.7% from the field and 85.0% from the line. He has a good chance to hold standard-league value at this rate, even when Taj gets back. Until that time, he'll be a must-own and could even become a must-start if Noah or Pau go down as well.
Sell Suns Point Guards
The Suns' three-point-guard experiment isn't working all that well just yet and it's really harpooned the fantasy value of all three former studs. Goran Dragic, Eric Bledsoe, and Isaiah Thomas have all seen their production drop off from last year as Jeff Hornacek tries to find the best ways to deploy them.
|Goran Dragic||9-cat Rank||PTS||3s||REB||AST||STL||BLK||FG%||FT%||TOV|
|Eric Bledsoe||9-cat Rank||PTS||3s||REB||AST||STL||BLK||FG%||FT%||TOV|
|Isaiah Thomas||9-cat Rank||PTS||3s||REB||AST||STL||BLK||FG%||FT%||TOV|
It might seem like a good time to buy low on all three, but there's certainly a chance that these levels of success have become the norm for them now. At the very least, their ceilings are all likely lower than last year, so you might be running out of time to sell them on their names and previous success alone.
Dragic put up most of his numbers when Bledsoe was out last year, Bledsoe's health is a concern after last season's meniscus tear, and Thomas simply isn't as productive off the bench as he was as a starter with a full complement of minutes in Sacramento. Get out while the getting is good.
Buy David West
David West is back playing for the Pacers after missing the first 15 games of the season with an ankle injury. His numbers have been fairly conservative through his first two games back, averaging 16.0 points, 6.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists, and 0.5 steals in only 24.0 minutes per contest, while shooting 45.5% from the field. Now is your best and perhaps last chance to buy low before the Pacers start running everything they can through him.
The losses of Paul George to injury and Lance Stephenson to free agency this offseason, coupled with a slew of early-season injuries to Indiana's remaining rotation players, made guys like Chris Copeland, Solomon Hill, and Donald Sloan look like fantasy superstars in the early going. Funnel that production to the more talented West and he should be in for a beastly fantasy season as long as he's healthy.
Seven of West's last nine seasons have landed in the top 50 in nine-category leagues, with the two exceptions being the year he returned from ACL surgery and last year's 70th-ranked finish. Considering last year's slight dip was mostly due to him stepping aside ever so slightly for George and Stephenson's breakouts, you can imagine West will skyrocket back up the ranks this year. Go out and get him.
Nene is the kind of player fantasy owners hold onto out of habit. Yes, there was a time not all that long ago when he was an early-round stud. The problem is that he's now had two straight years of putting up only borderline standard-league value and he missed a combined 50 games due to injury between them.
He's currently dealing with a case of plantar fasciitis, which can linger for a long time. He's doubtful to play against the Heat tonight and that trend could continue after missing the last three games and getting in a mere six minutes in the one before that. In 11 games played, he was only putting up 224th-ranked value in nine-category leagues anyway, with averages of 10.6 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.2 steals, and 0.5 blocks, while shooting 46.8% from the field and only 54.2% from the line.
That kind of production is easily replaceable on the waiver wire, so holding on for him to get healthy simply isn't necessary at this point. His ownership level is shockingly still at 50% in Yahoo leagues and that should be a whole lot lower. If you're part of that group, don't be any longer.