Fantasy Basketball 2015-16: A Dozen Dimes, Volume 7
The holiday season is underway, but all the buying and selling doesn't just have to happen at the mall. While everyone else's guard is down and they're busy spreading holiday cheer, now's your chance to pull off some league-winning moves.
Yeah, that was lame, but writing these intros can be hard when you're behind on your Christmas shopping and have limited time to write your weekly column...or so I'm told.
Anyways, let's get to this week's moves!
Add Kelly Olynyk
The Boston Celtics have one of the more crowded frontcourts in the Association, so their forwards and centers tend to trade off value a bit as coach Brad Stevens tinkers with his rotation. As of right now, Kelly Olynyk is the one demanding higher than 30% ownership in Yahoo leagues, seeing as how he's been the 33rd-ranked player in nine-category leagues over his last six games.
During that span, he's averaging 16.5 points, 1.7 three-pointers, 3.8 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.2 steals, 0.8 blocks, and 1.3 turnovers in 24.0 minutes per game, while shooting 52.6% from the floor and 69.2% from the free throw line. He might not keep it up for rest of the season, but he's a solid per-minute contributor across many categories and will always be valuable when given the minutes. He should be owned now while he's getting the until he cools off.
Buy Jae Crowder
One Celtic that has consistently put up fantasy value this season is their starting small forward, Jae Crowder. Through 24 games, Crowder is averaging 12.4 points, 1.6 threes, 4.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 2.0 steals, 0.5 blocks, and 1.7 turnovers in a healthy 31.3 minutes per contest, while shooting 42.8% from the field and 85.3% from the line. There's likely nothing in that line that jumps out at the casual fantasy player, yet Crowder is the 39th-ranked player in nine-category leagues this season.
The threes, steals, free throw percentage, and low turnovers are all solid, while the rest of his line is bordering on league-average. True nine-category threats like Crowder are invaluable in fantasy leagues, even if they don't put up gaudy popcorn numbers that people are seeking in places like points, rebounds, and assists. If someone is sleeping on his rest-of-season value (considering his mere 75% ownership rate in Yahoo leagues, lots of people seem to be), see if you can pick him up in a trade.
Sell Kobe Bryant
Kobe Bryant is having a farewell tour for the ages, setting league records for inefficiency along the way. The counting stats are still impressive, as he's averaging 16.2 points, 1.7 threes, 4.2 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.1 steals, 0.1 blocks, and 2.1 turnovers per game, but the 32.4% shooting from the field on a whopping 17.2 shots per contest has him ranked all the way down to 205th in nine-category leagues.
Kobe-mania is at its highest peak in ages, and he's somehow playing 30.9 minutes per night. Considering his age and recent injury history, it's kind of hard to believe that nothing has gone wrong yet with all those extra miles, so now is pretty much the best opportunity you'll get to sell him before the other shoe inevitably drops. Besides, wouldn't it be great not to lose field goal percentage every single week?
Add Ian Mahinmi
Ian Mahinmi has quietly been having a solid season as the starting center for the Indiana Pacers, posting 90th-ranked value in nine-category leagues in only 24.9 minutes per game. Over the last two weeks (six games), he's been even better, posting 41st-ranked value for averages of 10.8 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.2 steals, 1.0 block, and 1.8 turnovers per contest, while shooting a blistering 74.3% from the field and 72.2% from the line. Why he's only owned in 27% of Yahoo leagues is beyond me.
Add O.J. Mayo
Jerryd Bayless and Greivis Vasquez are both missing time for the Bucks with injuries, and Michael Carter-Williams doesn't seem to be in Jason Kidd's good graces these days, so O.J. Mayo has been drawing starts at point guard for Milwaukee over the last nine games. It was a bumpy start, but over his last six contests, Mayo is putting up 54th-ranked value in nine-category leagues with averages of 14.3 points, 1.5 threes, 3.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.8 steals, 0.2 blocks, 2.0 turnovers, 44.3% shooting from the field, and a perfect 7-for-7 from the line.
He's still available in over 70% of Yahoo leagues but shouldn't be while he's putting up those kind of numbers in a consistent 34.1 minutes per night. The eventual returns of all the aforementioned point guards could will likely dampen his value, but you have to roll with him for now.
Add Alex Len, Jon Leuer, Mirza Teletovic
The fall from grace of Markieff Morris and the nagging hamstring injury of Tyson Chandler has really opened things up in Phoenix's frontcourt, and all three of Alex Len, Jon Leuer, and Mirza Teletovic have taken advantage, with each posting top-100 value over the last couple weeks. Chandler returned to action on Sunday but only played 23 minutes to Len's 25 (who continued to start), so there's a chance that all three continue to hold standard-league value going forward. Here's their last two weeks (eight games):
A Morris trade for someone to start at power forward (7 minutes played over his last five games and four DNP-CDs, so a deal seems somewhat inevitable) or Chandler eventually ramping things up could result in a drop-off for one or more of the hot trio of Len, Leuer, and Teletovic, but they're all worth owning or at least monitoring until we see how it all plays out. Leuer seems to have the safest role in terms starting and getting the most minutes, Len has the most per-minute upside, and Teletovic can get hot off the bench and is a great three-point specialist. It's a bit of a dart throw, but that seems like the order to own them in, depending on your needs.
Drop Markieff Morris
Speaking of Markieff Morris, it's hard to fault you for dropping him at this point. He has top-100 upside when he gets the minutes, but it doesn't look like that'll be happening in Phoenix anymore, and there are only a handful of places to which he could get traded where a starting role and consistent minutes would be there waiting for him. You can still hold him to see how it all plays out if you like, but there's probably someone more useful sitting on your waiver wire, begging to be picked up.
Buy Wesley Matthews
We were all wrong to doubt iron man Wesley Matthews' ability to overcome an Achilles injury and surgery. Sure, that type of injury almost always causes people to lose a step, but Matthews just seems too tough to care. His season started slow, admittedly, but he's been the Wes of old over his last six. He's put up first-round value over that span on the strength of gaudy averages of 19.0 points, 4.0 triples (including a game in which he hit 10), 4.3 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 2.0 steals, 0.7 blocks, 1.3 turnovers, 42.5% shooting from the field, and 84.2% from the line in a healthy 36.7 minutes per contest.
The buy-low window might already be closed, but it might be smart to test out if his owner is still scared of the injury and if he or she sees this as a sell-high opportunity. Matthews has a history of playing surprisingly well through injury, so there's a good chance that he'll be fine the rest of the way now that the early cobwebs have been shaken off.
Add Matt Barnes
Matt Barnes has a fantasy-friendly game when he gets sufficient minutes, and it looks like he's in line for them now that he's replaced the benched Zach Randolph in the Grizzlies' starting lineup (a move coach Dave Joerger says he'll stick with for "a while"). Over his last three games, Barnes is putting up mid-round value in 30.6 minutes per contest, with averages of 10.7 points, 2.7 threes, 10.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.0 steal, 0.7 blocks, and 2.3 turnovers per game, while shooting 40.0% from the field (and without attempting a single free throw). He's been a mid- to late-round guy the last few years for the Clippers while getting those kind of minutes, so roll with him for as long as this new role sticks.
Add Bojan Bogdanovic
With Rondae Hollis-Jefferson sidelined for the next 8-10 weeks, Bojan Bogdanovic has slid into the starting shooting guard slot for the Brooklyn Nets over the last four games and has been particularly good over his last three. Over that span, he's averaged 14.7 points, 2.3 triples, 4.7 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.0 steal, 0.3 blocks, and a mere 0.7 turnovers in 36.5 minutes per contest, while shooting 48.5% from the field and 62.5% from the charity stripe. He's worth a flier to see if he can keep up that kind of production while the minutes are there for the taking.
Add Allen Crabbe
Allen Crabbe is playing consistent minutes off the bench for the Portland Trail Blazers and has been red hot over his last seven games. Over that span, his averages of 15.1 points, 1.9 threes, 2.6 rebounds, 1.0 assist, 0.7 steals, 0.1 blocks, 1.1 turnovers, 54.7% shooting from the field, and 84.6% from the line has resulted in 65th-ranked value, making him the most valuable Blazer not named Damian Lillard or C.J. McCollum over the last two weeks. It's hard to believe that he'll keep this up for the whole season, but if you're looking for a truly under-the-radar hot free agent, Crabbe could be your man, as he's still available in over 80% of Yahoo leagues.
Sell Ersan Ilyasova
Ersan Ilyasova has been sprinkling in more good games than bad in the month of December, including the last week in which he ranked 34th in nine-category leagues for his four games played. Over that span, he averaged 14.3 points, 2.3 threes, 8.3 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.0 steal, 2.0 blocks, and only 1.0 turnover per game, while shooting 44.9% from the field.
Periods like this remind us why we talk ourselves into Ilyasova every year, particularly after his back-to-back seasons as a top-50 asset in 2011-12 and 2012-13. The thing is, he's been starting for Detroit all season long and is still only been posting late-round value, which is much more in line with the roller coaster of his two most recent seasons than those two fantasy-relevant campaigns. There's always the chance that he keeps it up, but Ily has been more of a tease than anything the last few years, so this is a great sell-high moment for his owners.