5 Fantasy Basketball Sleepers for 2015-16
It's a little less than a week to go before the start of the NBA regular season, so now is generally the time when fantasy basketball drafts go down. If you're getting ready for a hoops draft yourself, checking out our fantasy projections is a great place to start your preparation (or light a fire under it).
If you're looking to further that quest for fake-sports knowledge, we're here to offer you a look at five of the best sleepers in fantasy hoops for the 2015-16 season.
For our purposes, we'll call a sleeper someone with an ADP outside the top 100 that is mostly off the general public's fantasy radar, but who our projections say will be a standard-league asset this season (think Draymond Green from last year). If you want to know some players within the top 100 who we project to handily beat their ADP this season (think Jimmy Butler from last year), check out our 2015-16 Breakout Candidates as well.
For now, let's wake up on some sleepers.
Lou Williams, Los Angeles Lakers
Yahoo O-Rank: 145
ESPN Rank: 113
nF Fantasy Rank: 60
The reigning Sixth Man of the Year, Lou Williams, will be leading a new bench unit this season after signing a three-year contract with the Lakers this summer. During his award-winning 2014-15 with the Raptors, Sweet Lou finished as the 75th-ranked player in nine-category leagues. Based on his Yahoo and ESPN rankings for this year, the industry seems to be expecting some kind of drop-off from Williams in his first season playing for the Lakers, but we don't buy it. As the primary backup for youngsters D'Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson, Lou should have plenty of opportunity to see the floor and do what he does. And what he does is give your fantasy team a nice boost of scoring, threes, assists, steals, free throw percentage, and manageable turnovers near the end of your draft. We're projecting him as the 60th-ranked player in nine-category leagues this year, so you can basically take a flier on him with one of your last picks and have a legitimate shot at a mid-round return in value. Not bad.
Jamal Crawford, Los Angeles Clippers
Yahoo O-Rank: 136
ESPN Rank: 153
nF Fantasy Rank: 77
Jamal Crawford has finished 79th, 71st, and 87th in nine-category leagues over his last three seasons, predominantly playing the role of the Los Angeles Clippers' sixth man. The Clippers added some much needed depth to their roster this offseason, and as a result, people seem out on J-Crossover as a fantasy asset. We, on the other hand, figure he'll continue to play similar minutes and put up the same kind of points, threes, assists, steals, free throw percentage, and low turnovers that have made him a mid-round player the past three seasons. If you're worried about the presence of Lance Stephenson, you shouldn't be. He may think he's a star, but Lance finished second to last in the entire Association in our NBA Player Rankings last year with a nERD of -8.4. He's one of the least efficient players in the game, and it's not very likely that Doc Rivers is going to bury a two-time winner and every-year candidate for Sixth Man of the Year to give Lance more touches as the Clippers make a run at the title.
P.J. Tucker, Phoenix Suns
Yahoo O-Rank: 131
ESPN Rank: 100
nF Fantasy Rank: 83
P.J. Tucker has quietly finished 84th and 90th in nine-category leagues over his last two seasons with the Suns, while playing over 30 minutes per game in each. He's not the sexiest of fantasy assets, but his contributions in threes, rebounds, steals, low turnovers, and passable percentages on a low volume of attempts have made him a great guy to have at the end of your roster over these last couple years. Yes, the emergence of T.J. Warren could eat into Tucker's playing time (and maybe even threaten his starting spot at small forward), but Tucker's being the superior defender and long-range threat will probably guarantee close to his regular helping of playing time, regardless of whether he starts or comes off the bench. Jeff Hornacek has even hinted at using Tucker at power forward this season, which would go a long way in keeping him right around the 29.5 minutes we've projected him to play per game.
Courtney Lee, Memphis Grizzlies
Yahoo O-Rank: 146
ESPN Rank: 308
nF Fantasy Rank: 84
It looks as though Courtney Lee will spend another season as the starting shooting guard for the Memphis Grizzlies, so he should continue to contribute decent threes, assists, steals, a high free throw percentage, and low turnovers to his fantasy owners. Lee rarely misses games (he's played 77 games or more in six of his seven seasons), and has the ability to go on extended hot streaks. To wit, he was an early-round asset over the first month and change of last season and averaged 13.3 points per game on 55.0% shooting (46.7% from long range) over 11 playoff games. He's going undrafted in many leagues, so it's not a bad idea to grab him with a late pick to see if he can start the year hot.
Patrick Patterson, Toronto Raptors
Yahoo O-Rank: 159
ESPN Rank: 355
nF Fantasy Rank: 87
Patrick Patterson finished last season as the 89th-ranked player in nine-category leagues in just 26.6 minutes per game played as Toronto's backup power forward. With Amir Johnson out of town, the Raptors' starting four spot is up for grabs and 2Pat is the favorite to win the job. Even if he loses that bid to Luis Scola, Patterson has proven that there's plenty of nine-category value to be had with his threes, rebounds, decent percentages, and ultra-low turnovers. If he starts and gets closer to 30 minutes per game, he'll be even more valuable, but even a repeat of last season's performance is an enticing floor to target with the last pick in your draft.