Fantasy Basketball 2015-16: A Dozen Dimes, Volume 12
Welcome back to our weekly transactions article for fantasy hoops, where we offer up 12 nuggets of advice, featuring the top adds, drops, buys, and sells for this upcoming week and beyond.
As usual, these are in relative order of importance. If you're looking for more advice, check the "related articles" section to cycle through other recent editions of this column. We try not to repeat ourselves too much from one week to the next, so you might find more ideas you like from previous weeks that are still valid.
Ok, let's get down to it.
Drop Kobe Bryant
Back in Volume 7, we recommended getting proactive with Kobe Bryant. He was putting up decent counting stats at the time, but that seemed barely worth the huge drain on field goal percentage and the injury risk that comes with his age and the miles on his tires. Well, it appears the proverbial shoe has dropped on the injury front, as he's limping through January on a jammed Achilles.
He's missing parts of some games, the entirety of others, and should be a question mark for the rest of the season. He should probably just shut it down, but the farewell tour aspect of his final season makes that hard for him to do. Either way, if you're holding him, you're doing it for the name or the hope that he might have a couple more vintage Kobe games in him. Meanwhile, a perfectly good replacement is sitting on your wire, putting up stats that could help your team. Drop Kobe before the season passes you by (or, if you can sell him for anything of value at this point, more power to you).
Buy Nikola Mirotic
Nikola Mirotic has had a very up-and-down season in Chicago's loaded frontcourt, but now that Joakim Noah looks set to miss the rest of the year due to a shoulder surgery, Mirotic's minutes should be relatively safe going forward. His last two games might not have been very encouraging -- especially considering he was removed from the starting lineup on Friday in favor of Tony Snell -- but a bit of lineup tinkering won't change the fact that Mirotic has a clearer path to minutes now than he has all season.
Before the two-game lull, Mirotic was averaging 11.8 points, 2.0 threes, 6.2 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 1.0 steal, 1.5 blocks, and 1.2 turnovers in 13 games as a starter, while shooting 40.0% from the field and 75.6% from the line. That was good enough for 53rd-ranked value in nine-category leagues over that span and is well worth buying into if his owner overreacts to the demotion to the bench and a couple bad games.
Add Taj Gibson
Speaking of Joakim Noah's season-ending surgery, Taj Gibson has pretty much secured must-own status for the rest of the season. Gibson joined the Bulls' starting five back on December 9th and has been a solid source of rebounds and blocks ever since, while posting good percentages and low turnovers. Over the last month (16 games), Taj has averaged 8.9 points, 8.6 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 0.5 steals, 1.1 blocks, and 1.2 turnovers in a healthy 31.0 minutes per game, while shooting 56.4% from the field and 66.7% from the line. He's still available in roughly 50% of Yahoo leagues, but that shouldn't last much longer.
Buy Robert Covington
Back in mid-December, Robert Covington was starting for the Philadelphia 76ers and putting up top-40 value with a ton of fantasy goodies across the board. Before the end of 2015, however, his production fell off a cliff, and he got demoted to the Sixers bench (and considering their roster construction, that counts as a particularly demoralizing demotion).
Well, he's still coming off Philly's bench (for now), but he has rediscovered his fantasy-friendly mojo over his last two games. It's a small sample, but averages of 20.5 points, 5.0 threes, 5.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.5 steals, 1.0 turnover, 46.4% shooting from the field, and 83.3% from the line over that span should serve as a friendly reminder of his early-round upside. Apart from a low field goal percentage, RoCo contributes nicely across the board in nine-category leagues, so you should take advantage of what's left of the buy-low window, if you stil can.
Add Amir Johnson
The Boston Celtics' frontcourt has passed around fantasy relevancy all season, but the most consistent contributor has arguably been Amir Johnson. He's ranked 84th on the season in nine-category leagues, but has been even more impressive over the last two weeks (eight games), averaging 12.4 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 0.8 steals, 1.1 blocks, and 0.8 turnovers per contest while shooting 68.8% from the field and 52.6% from the free throw line. That's good enough for 27th-ranked value in nine-category leagues over that span, making it seem kind of silly that he's still available in over 40% of Yahoo leagues.
Add Donald Sloan
Since Jarrett Jack when down with a season-ending ACL injury, Shane Larkin and Donald Sloan have traded off starts and fantasy production. They might be in a relative timeshare for the rest of the season, but as of right now, Sloan looks like the one to own. Over his last three contests (all starts), he's posted averages of 9.0 points, 1.3 triples, 5.7 rebounds, 8.0 assists, 0.3 steals, and 2.3 turnovers in 26.7 minutes per game, while shooting 52.9% from the floor and 83.3% from the charity stripe. That's 101st-ranked value in nine-category leagues, so nothing to rush to the wire for, but certainly a decent add for anyone in need of assists and decent late-round production.
Add Tyler Johnson
Goran Dragic is sidelined for at least the next week with a calf strain, and now Beno Udrih seems to have a neck injury that kept him out of Sunday's game against the Thunder. That leaves Tyler Johnson to absorb a ton of point guard minutes for the Heat, as evidenced by his playing just under 39 last night. He's averaging 13.0 points, 0.8 threes, 4.3 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 0.8 steals, 0.3 blocks, and 2.5 turnovers over his last four games, while shooting 52.5% from the field and 87.5% from the line. That's good enough for 107th-ranked value in nine-category leagues over that span, so he's certainly worth a look in the short-term now until the Heat get healthier.
Sell Bradley Beal
Bradley Beal is a great fantasy asset when healthy. In 19 games this season, he's averaging 19.4 points, 2.2 threes, 4.7 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.1 steals, 0.3 blocks, and 2.8 turnovers in 35.0 minutes per contest, while shooting 44.4% from the field and 76.1% from the line. That's 71st-ranked value in nine-category leagues, which is right on par with the mid-round value he's put up the last two seasons.
The only problem with Beal is that he has yet to have what you'd call a fully healthy season in his four-year career, and he's not exactly on his way to one this year. After missing 16 consecutive games with a right fibula stress reaction, he'll be on a minutes restriction the next two weeks before being re-evaluated. Beyond that, there's talk of a minutes limit that could last the rest of his career. If the Wizards can't get back in the playoff hunt, Beal might be a shutdown candidate around the fantasy playoffs, and his chances of having a healthy rest-of-season are tenuous at best anyway. If you can sell him for a more reliable mid-round asset, it might be a good idea.
Add Dennis Schroder
Dennis Schroder's minutes and fantasy production hinge heavily on the play and health of Jeff Teague. Over the last two weeks (six games), Schroder has excelled, putting up 84th-ranked value in nine-category leagues on the strength of 11.8 points, 1.3 threes, 4.8 rebounds, 6.5 assists, 1.2 steals, 0.2 blocks, and 2.5 turnovers per game, with a shooting split of 47.5% from the field and 77.8% from the line. Once Teague heats up again, Schroder will likely fall back down to earth (he's only ranked 149th on the season in close to the same minutes as this mini-breakout), but he's certainly worth owning until that happens.
Sell J.R. Smith
In Volume 10, J.R. Smith was mentioned in this space as a drop candidate. Admittedly, that was a pretty bad call on my part, as he's been the 14th-ranked player in nine-category leagues since then, with averages of 18.6 points, 4.1 threes, 2.3 rebounds, 0.7 assists, 1.4 steals, 0.1 blocks, and 0.3 turnovers per contest, and a shooting split of 50.0% from the field and 75.0% from the free throw line. That said, the idea of moving on from him still stands.
Smith is one of the streakiest shooters out there and 4.1 threes and 50.0% shooting from the field (he's at 40.7% on the season) are far from sustainable. He's certainly not droppable anymore, but as the Cavs' fourth option at best that has a shooting regression likely just around the corner, you should try to sell him now while he's at peak value.
Add Trey Lyles
Between the injuries to Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors, Trey Lyles has earned 24 starts this season. He's barely been a blip on the fantasy radar over the majority of those starts, but over his last three games, he's posting top-50 value. Over that span, his averages of 17.3 points, 1.7 threes, 4.7 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 0.7 steals, 0.3 blocks, and 1.0 turnover per contest, and shooting split of 66.7% from the field and 58.3% from the line have made him worthy of your attention. Favors is due back any day now, but that's been the case for weeks. Give Lyles a shot if you've got room on your roster and see how long this lasts.
Add Markieff Morris
The drama surrounding Markieff Morris in Phoenix this season has rendered him nearly useless in fantasy. After two years as a top-100 asset in nine-category leagues, Morris comes in as only the 291st-ranked player this season, well outside of standard-league value.
Well, either he's found his way out of the doghouse over his last three games or the Suns are showcasing him for a trade. Over that span, he's posting late-round value with averages of 14.0 points, 7.7 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.7 steals, and 2.0 turnovers per game, with a shooting split of 40.0% from the field and 76.9% from the line. He might go back to coming off the bench and racking up DNP-CDs again any day now, but he's worth an add for now as a stash at the very least, just to see if he holds onto his regained starting spot or if he gets traded to a place that could unleash his value.