November 8, 2018, 5:59 pm
Hey Hoop Ballers! Welcome back to another edition of Deep League Digging – my weekly column scouring the darkest reaches of the fantasy NBA landscape in search of diamonds in the rough for deep league owners.
While it is still early in the season, from a fantasy perspective, the picture is starting to become a bit more clear. Outlier performances that drove late-round plodders into the top-20 are regressing back to the mean, and some early season duds have started to work their way back up towards their ADP value.
This is usually about the time I like to stop and take stock of all of my teams. An exercise that I find helpful in both head-to-head and roto formats is to plot out my average categorical performance each week (or per game in roto). I then compare my performances in each category against the best, worst, and average performers in the league. Plotting things out that way helps me visualize where I am dominant, where I can compete on a week-to-week basis, and where I may want to consider making some trades to punt a category.
Understanding your team’s strengths and deficiencies also helps in devising a strategy for streaming each week. The feasibility of streaming is largely dependent on your format, but if you are in a daily changes league with a generous acquisition limit, you should probably be streaming. At this point in the year, I generally start to move on from a flier or two to open up a roster spot open a streaming spot in my daily changes leagues, as it can be the difference between a 5-4 victory and a 6-3 victory.
This is doubly true in deep leagues. At this point in the year, there are very few guys sitting on the wire that will make a meaningful season-long contribution to your team. However, there are plenty of categorical specialists that may be ranked outside of the top-300, but can still snag a few counting stats each night in around 15-20 minutes.
As always, I’ll be focusing on players that are less than 10 percent rostered, since that is roughly the level of player available in leagues with 16-teams or more. Depending on your league size, some of the guys I will highlight will not be available, but I’ll still be sure to throw you 30-team degenerates out there a bone and highlight some seriously deep streaming considerations in each category.
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Terrence Ross, Magic, 2.0 threes/game (12% owned) – Ross will see an expanded role for as long as Jonathan Isaac remains sidelined with an ankle injury, so he should be rostered in all deep leagues until we hear more about Isaac’s timetable to return. When Isaac is back, Ross may still hold back-end appeal in 16-team leagues, or at least be deployed as an elite deep-league 3-point streaming option with some added upside as a capable steals producer.
Antonio Blakeney, G, Bulls 1.4 threes/game (5% owned) – If Bulls basketball is an orchestral ensemble of chucking, Blakeney is in the running for the title of maestro. In the past week, he is averaging double-digit shot attempts in only 17 minutes per game, and converting them at a solid 49 percent clip. A good number of those attempts are coming from deep, so give Chicago’s chucker in chief a look if you need to shore up the 3-point category down the stretch of a tight head-to-head matchup. Side note: Blakeney is probably worth holding onto long-term in 18-team leagues and deeper until Kris Dunn and Denzel Valentine are back in the lineup.
Davis Bertans, F, Spurs, 1.6 threes/game (3% owned) – The sharpshooting Latvian big man is quietly enjoying a decently steady role in the Spurs rotation to start the year – something that cannot be said of his NBA tenure to this point. His role is modest (16.2 minutes per night), but it is enough time to bang in a shot or two from downtown. Bertans is more of a streamer in 18-team leagues and smaller given his barren stat set outside of threes, but is probably worth rostering in anything deeper if you need triples.
Juan Hernangomez, F, Nuggets, 1.3 threes/game (2% owned) – Juanchoself some threes? Hernangomez gotcho threes. It has been a roller coaster ride for Hernangomez so far this season as he hasn’t been able to settle into consistent rotation minutes, but things are looking up lately as he has provided a big spark off the bench in key moments. He has a pretty well-rounded stat set and is worth rostering in 18-team leagues and deeper, but as with most players featured in this section, holds the most appeal as a 3-point streamer with some added upside in blocks and rebounds in 16-team leagues..
James Ennis, F, Rockets, 2.0 threes/game (3% owned) – Ennis was one of my favorite late-round targets in deep-league drafts this year, not necessarily because of transcendent talent, but more due to the opportunity in front of him to fill the Trevor Ariza-sized gap on the wing in Houston. Despite the slow start with a hamstring injury, he is starting to come online now with some steady 3-and-D production. His numbers lately are buoyed by hyper-efficient shooting, but even with some expected regression there Ennis is worth a speculative add in 16-team leagues. Even if he fizzles out from a season-long perspective, he remains one of the top deep league streaming options for both threes and steals.
Landry Shamet, G, Sixers, 1.8 threes/game (1% owned) – Shamet’s NBA career is off to a solid start so far as he is averaging 7.5 points and 1.6 threes in 20 minutes per game. We have yet to see a fully healthy Sixers rotation, so there is reason for concern about Shamet’s playing time moving forward as the team gets more pieces back in the puzzle. Still, Shamet is worth a speculative add in 20-team leagues and deeper if you need threes, and can be looked to as a solid 3-point streaming option in 16-team leagues.
Alex Abrines, G, Thunder, 1.8 threes/game (1% owned) – Abrines should see some extra run for as long as Russell Westbrook remains out nursing an ankle injury. He is worth a speculative add in all deep leagues, but know that he doesn’t offer much at all outside of 3-point production and the occasional steal. When Westbrook is back, Abrines will probably return to a 15-20 minute role, which is still enough time for him to be useful as a 3-point streaming option.
Shabazz Napier, G, Nets, 1.5 threes/game (<1% owned) – Napier hasn’t quite matched his production from last season following a move to Brooklyn this offseason. His playing time is down as he is competing for minutes with the Nets’ bevy of guard options, but even in a limited role he can still get hot and light it up from deep on any given night. There are likely better streaming options around on the wire in 16-team leagues, but consider Napier a boom-or-bust type option in deeper formats.
Ed Davis, F/C, Nets, 8.1 rebounds/game (5% owned) – With an impressive per-36 rebound rate of 16.7, Davis is an elite rebound streaming option in both standard and deep leagues. Don’t let the paltry 17 minutes per night scare you away, he is still managing to pull down over 8.0 boards per game in that time. Davis is in a tier of his own for deep league rebound numbers, and could hold some season-long value depending on what your team needs in 16-team leagues.
Tyson Chandler, C, Lakers, 6.0 rebounds/game (5% owned) – The Lakers haven’t exactly gotten off to the start that they would have hoped for after bringing in LeBron and his merry band of misfits. A lot of those struggles come back to lackluster defense. In walks veteran big man Tyson Chandler to the rescue! In all reality, Chandler will probably only be a very small Band-Aid to what ails them, but the move is good news for deep league fantasy managers. He was all but out of the rotation in Phoenix, and the Lakers have few viable options at center beyond Javale McGee, so 15-20 consistent minutes seem feasible. In that time, he will do very little but can be expected to pull down around 6-7 rebounds, making him a solid streaming option in 16-team leagues and deeper if his role in the rotation sticks.
Gorgui Dieng, C, Wolves, 4.9 rebounds/game (3% owned) – Early in the season it looked like Dieng may have been looking at steady rotation minutes – not large rotation minutes, but at least steadier than last year. That no longer seems to be the case as we have seen his minutes decline while also becoming more sporadic in the past week. You can probably move on at this point in 16-team leagues if you are holding, but keep him on your watch list if news of a Butler trade including Dieng develops. Until then, he is a solid rebound streaming option with the added upside of an extra block in limited minutes, though he is a tier below Davis.
Mason Plumlee, C, Nuggets, 5.1 rebounds/game (2% owned) – The Nuggets are winning right now, but there is something weird going on in the frontcourt as Nikola Jokic appears completely passive and resigned at the moment, forcing Plumlee to play bigger minutes and serve in a more prominent role. That should turn around, so he probably isn’t worth rostering in 16-team leagues, but can be back-end usable in 18-team formats and deeper if you are punting free throws. (he’s shooting 32 percent from the line this year on 2.3 attempts). He is a solid rebound streaming option in shallower formats, with considerable ability to provide out of position assists and steals as well.
Zaza Pachulia, C, Pistons, 4.0 rebounds/game (1% owned) – Zaza is more of “break glass in-case of emergency” streaming option in 16-team formats, but 18-team and 20-team managers can look his way for a few extra boards if some of the names above are already rostered. He is playing a pretty consistent 14-ish minutes per night, and can be counted on to pull down around 4-5 boards in that time.
Cristiano Felicio, C, Bulls, 5.4 rebounds/game (1% owned) – The rising star that is Wendell Carter Jr. quickly dashed any hopes for Felicio having 16-team league rosterability. He should be relegated to roughly 15 minutes per night in a bench role for as long as Bobby Portis and Lauri Markkanen remain sidelined, and can provide little outside of 4-5 rebounds per night in the time. Consider him roughly in the same streaming tier as Pachulia.
J.J. Barea, G, Mavericks, 6.0 assists/game (9% owned) – Barea’s minutes are down this year, limiting his 16-team appeal unless you desperately need assists at the end of your bench. Even if he is not the deep league must-roster guy that we have come to expect, he still is one of the premier assist streamers with an assist rate of 12 per 36 minutes.
Trey Burke, G, Knicks, 3.4 assists/game (9% owned) – Burke was impressive down the stretch last season, placing him in the late-round flier discussion for standard league drafts. At this point, it is clear that Burke won’t produce enough to warrant a standard-league roster spot, and 16-team managers should probably move on as well. Even if his season-long value is in question, he can still serve as a solid assist streamer in all deep leagues, albeit a tier or two below Barea.
Tony Parker, G, Hornets, 4.8 assists/game (6% owned) – My eyes still have not adjusted to seeing Parker in any color but Spurs black, but it would appear at the moment that a change of scenery is doing the veteran guard’s fantasy game some good. He is still only rosterable in 18-team leagues and deeper (18-team only if you need assists), but looks to be one of the better assist streaming options around on the wire in deep leagues. Barea is still the number one option there, but if he is rostered, Parker can serve as a solid second choice.
Monte Morris, G, Nuggets, 3.5 assists/game (4% owned) – Morris looks like a legitimate long-term answer to the backup point guard gap in Denver’s rotation. Make sure that he is on a roster in all 18-team leagues at least until the Nuggets are back at full strength. He may not fit every team build if your team is completely stacked with guards in 16-team formats, but he shouldn’t be on many deep-league wires.
Frank Mason III, G, Kings, 4.0 assists/game (1% owned) – Mason’s playing time has been anything but consistent so far this season, so stream him in at your own risk. However, Mason has put up at least five assists in every game that he has seen at least 15 minutes this year, making him one of the better per-minute assist producers available in most deep leagues.
Emmanuel Mudiay, G, Knicks, 2.4 assists/game (1% owned) – In his current role, Mudiay isn’t quite showing enough pop to warrant a roster spot in anything shallower than 20-team leagues. He is primarily serving as a foil to Frank Ntilikina managers desperately clinging onto hope for a breakout campaign. Mudiay’s minutes have fluctuated wildly so far, but he is a fairly safe bet to at least grab a few assists and a steal or two in a streaming role for 16-team managers.
Tim Frazier, G, Pelicans, 2.4 assists/game (<1% owned) – Now we’re talking, this is one is for those deeeeeeeeep league managers. Frazier shouldn’t really be looked at as a reliable streaming option in 16-team, 18-team or probably even 20-team leagues unless Elfrid Payton is scheduled to miss a game. However, In 30-team leagues Frazier is likely one of the better assist streaming options out there if you need a few assists to lock in the category for the week.
DeAndre’ Bembry, F, Hawks, 1.5 steals/game (6% owned) – Be still my beating heart – 2018, the year of the Bembry, continues! I love what he brings from a fantasy perspective, but I also get that his low-usage, free-throw-/puntable game isn’t necessarily right for every team. Still, if he is around in 16-team leagues, be sure to give him a hard look to see if it fits your build as he can absolutely fill out the box score. He doesn’t quite profile as a single-category specialist or 16-team streamer necessarily, but the Hawks are Bembracing the tank, and I needed to throw out the disclaimer that he is worth a look if available in your league.
Tyus Jones, G, Wolves, 1.1 steals/game (5% owned) – Jones can also help you out in assists if you are looking to stream that category and guys like Barea are already rostered, but I chose to highlight him here as a steals specialist as his per-minute production in steals is a bit stronger than assists. He probably should be rostered in 16-team leagues on the upside that he is possibly dealt with Butler or Teague is sent without a guard in return, but is a fringe guy that could hold more appeal as a streamer depending on your team.
J.R. Smith, G, Cavaliers, 1.3 steals/game (4% owned) – Smith is worth a speculative add in all deep leagues since the absence of Ty Lue apparently has turned him into 2015 J.R. Smith. We know what he can bring at this point – solid production in threes and steals with the potential to nuke your field goal percentage on any given night. If he ends up back on the bench at some point, deep league managers can probably move on from Smith and consider him a solid streaming option for threes and steals.
Jerian Grant, G, Magic, 1.5 steals/game (2% owned) – Similar to Jones, Grant could fit the bill as either an assist or steals streaming option, but provides stronger per-minute production in the steals category. He has been consistently seeing around 20 minutes per night, and racking up a very serviceable 2.6 steals per 36 minutes in his time on the court.
Hamidou Diallo, G, Thunder, 1.0 steals/game (<1% owned) – In anything smaller than 20-team leagues, there are probably better options around on the wire to stream in a few steals, however, 30-team managers can place a relatively safe bet to net an extra steal or two by streaming in Diallo. He will give you very little else, but is currently posting 2.7 steals per 36 minutes, and has only played two games this season without registering a steal, making him a great streaming option in super deep formats.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, F, Hornets, 1.4 blocks/game (9% owned) – MKG is likely already rostered in most 16-team leagues and deeper, but it is worth pointing out that he is on fire so far this season as a shot blocker. In only 21 minutes per game, Kidd-Gilchrist is averaging 1.4 blocks. Give him a look in all deep leagues for as long as this lasts, but still look his way for streaming value even if he starts to cool off a bit.
John Henson, C, Bucks, 0.9 blocks/game (6% owned) – Henson is well known as a big per-minute shot blocker, so I won’t spend much time repeating what has already been said countless times before. He may be rostered already in most 16-team leagues, but consider streaming him in if you need to send a few additional shots back in a weekly matchup.
Damian Jones, C, Warriors (6% owned) and Kevon Looney, C, Warriors (4% owned) – Jones and Looney are locked in an epic struggle to see who can kill each other’s fantasy value more in this timeshare. Looney currently holds a slight advantage in minutes per game (16.9 compared to Jones’ 15.8), but Jones is blocking a few more shots (1.0 per game compared to Looney’s 0.6). Looney is available in slightly more leagues, so he is probably the more realistic streaming option in deep leagues, but Jones is currently the stronger per minute shot blocker. Roll the dice on matchups (Jones profiles better against taller “traditional” centers, and Looney is more of a small-ball option) and hope for the best. ¯_(ツ)_/¯
Maxi Kleber, F/C, Mavericks, 1.3 blocks/game (2% owned) – Kleber has seen his minutes decrease since Harrison Barnes returned to the starting lineup, and the imminent return of Dirk Nowitzki only hurts his value further, but Kleber is one of the better block streaming options available in 16-team leagues and deeper. He is currently blocking 2.5 shots per 36 minutes, putting him in “elite” streamer territory.
Gary Clark, F, Rockets, 0.9 blocks/game (<1% owned) – Clark is a two-way player for the Rockets making a name for himself lately, posting seven blocks in his last four outings. He wasn’t even available to roster in ESPN leagues until very recently, so there is a good chance that he is available in plenty of deep leagues. Strongly consider a speculative add, or at the very least put him at the top of your watch list to see if he can keep this up.