November 9, 2017, 5:56 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.
It’s only Thursday, but this has already turned out to be another hectic week in this young NBA season. Eric Bledsoe is now a Buck; the Knicks, Sixers and Magic have more wins than losses; and Bobby Portis made it through his first game back without punching any of his teammates in the face.
While it is still early in the season, the fantasy landscape is starting to become a bit clearer. Single game outlier performances that drove late-round plodders into the top-20 have started to become buried by more predictable performances, and 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 head-to-head formats is to plot out my average categorical performance each week along with the total number of counting stats accrued in each category over the season. 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 punting a category to get stronger in other categories.
Understanding your team’s strengths and weaknesses 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 be streaming – simple as that. I leave a roster spot open in all of my daily changes leagues for streaming, 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 money counting stat or two each night in 15 minutes. With some preparation, diligence and a bit of luck, you can ride a revolving door of specialists to the top of your league. Sorry… I really lost the handle on that metaphor, but you get what I mean.
As always, I’ll be focusing on players that are less than 5 percent owned, 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 are likely already owned and should be viable season-long options, but I will also throw out some streaming considerations that may be available in even the deepest of leagues.
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Jeff Green, SF, Cleveland Cavaliers (5% Owned): Green continues his quest to become the ultimate NBA journeyman this year with the Cavaliers. He is currently averaging around 20 minutes per game through 11 contests. That amount of playing time really is not enough to catch the attention of fantasy owners, but he has some streaming appeal as a guy that is still averaging close to 10 points per game in limited minutes. You would be hard pressed to find another guy on the wire in 16-team formats that can provide a consistent scoring output like Green, but his limitations in nearly every other counting stat makes him more of a streaming specialist in 16-team leagues and smaller.
Nene Hilario, PF/C, Houston Rockets (2% Owned): You may wonder why I’m including Hilario (who can get you some rebounds and blocks as well) in the points specialists section. Well, streaming points in general is really tough. They are one of the first categories to dry up in drafts, which consequently limits the value of streaming. There are also very few guys out there that are purely points specialists. However, there are many players like Hilario that are not necessarily specialists, but will still provide a better than average lift in the category compared to other players on the wire. That is a lot of explanation to say that he is averaging eight and half points in 15 minutes per game on the season. That is not eye popping by any standards, but shows that he can give owners a minor bump in scoring along with a few boards and an occasional block or two. If Nene is scheduled to miss time, look for Tarik Black as a streaming option for some rebounds and blocks.
Alec Burks, SG, Utah Jazz (<1% Owned): Burks may profile a bit better as a deep league three point streamer, but given the bevy of better options for streaming threes out there, I chose to include him in the points specialist category. His role in the rotation is anything but established, which makes him a pretty risky streaming option, but the potential for some double-digit scoring outbursts is there if he sees between 15-20 minutes. Burks is also a pretty inconsistent shooter, so beware of the detrimental impact he can have on your field goal percentage category.
Joe Harris, SG, Brooklyn Nets (1% Owned): The injury to Jeremy Lin opened up a bigger role for Harris, and he has really taken advantage of the opportunity. He may not be the next J.J. Redick, but he is knocking down almost two triples per game this season while still managing to shoot around 47 percent from the field. Despite some solid play, he is still more of a specialist in 16-team formats, but he is back-end roster worthy in larger formats.
Wayne Ellington, SG, Miami Heat (1% Owned): Ellington is a bit more of a boom or bust streaming play than Joe Harris. When he gets loose, he is capable of putting up some big numbers, but there will also be some goose eggs mixed in there due to his inconsistent shooting. He is still a worthy streaming option for deep league owners, as there are few guys sitting around on the wire that have the potential to drain six triples in a single game (which he did on October 23 vs. the Hawks).
Pat Connaughton, SG, Portland Trail Blazers (2% Owned): Connaughton has cooled off after a hot start to the year, but he still appears to be a lock to get around 18-20 minutes per night. That is all he needs to give owners a triple or two on any given night out of a streaming spot. He is currently averaging one and half threes in around 21 minutes per game on the season, which makes him a more reliable, but lower upside streaming option than guys like Wayne Ellington.
Troy Daniels, PG/SG, Phoenix Suns (<1% Owned): Daniels has actually surprised me with his efficiency lately. In the past week he has knocked down two and half triples per game on 47 percent shooting in only 17 minutes per contest. He will almost certainly come back down to earth and end the year closer to one triple per game on average, but he is still a very reliable deep league streaming option. He has only logged two games this season without a three, and has five games with two or more shots converted from deep.
Alex Abrines, SG, Oklahoma City Thunder (<1% Owned): The minutes have been inconsistent so far for Abrines to start the season, but he is still managing to hit just under a triple per game. Despite the inconsistent minutes, he is at least in the rotation, which gives him some appeal as a three point specialist for owners in super deep leagues. He is really only someone to consider streaming in 20-team formats and deeper, as there should be plenty of more reliable options around on the wire in shallower leagues.
Aron Baynes, PF/C, Boston Celtics (3% Owned): Baynes is currently averaging around five and half rebounds per game in only 19 minutes per contest so far on the season. Beyond his rebounding, he has some bonus streaming appeal on the defensive end since his averaging close to a block per game as well. He isn’t likely to see more than 25 minutes on any given night, but even in limited minutes he is a very safe option to stream in if you need help in rebounds.
Noah Vonleh, PF, Portland TrailBlazers (1% Owned): Depending on your league size, Vonleh may actually have some season-long appeal if he continues to get around 25 minutes per game. If he isn’t owned in 20-team leagues or larger, he may be worth a speculative add to see if he still gets minutes once Al-Farouq Aminu returns to the lineup. In 16-team leagues, you’ll be hard pressed to find a streaming player who can give you a bigger lift in the rebound category. He is currently averaging five and half boards per game in 18 minutes, and he has the potential for some big double-digit rebound nights if he sees over 20 minutes on the floor.
Cristiano Felicio, C, Chicago Bulls (<1% Owned): Felicio is averaging close to five rebounds per game in just 16 minutes of action. He won’t get many minutes while Robin Lopez is active ahead of him, but he can clearly provide a significant boost for owners in need of boards in under 20 minutes of action. Vonleh and Baynes are definitely higher upside streaming plays than Felicio, but he does have a very stable floor as he has seen a steady role in the rotation so far.
Jameer Nelson, PG, New Orleans Pelicans (3% Owned): Since signing with the Pelicans in October, Nelson has managed to play his way into the top-150. He does not have much upside as a season-long asset given the eventual return of Rajon Rondo, but he has proven that he can still provide value in the assist category in limited minutes. He is currently averaging close to four assists per game in 27 minutes, so he is a great fill-in option for some dimes if he is around on the wire. The 27 minutes per game will almost certainly go down when Rondo returns, but he should still retain deep league appeal as a specialist.
Raymond Felton, PG, Oklahoma City Thunder (1% Owned): Felton has proven to be a serviceable asset off the bench for the Thunder so far this season. He is currently playing around 18 minutes per game and is averaging close to two and a half assists in those minutes. That certainly won’t win your week, but if you are neck-and-neck with your opponent in assists, streaming in a guy like Felton could be what takes you over the edge.
Tyus Jones, PG, Minnesota Timberwolves (<1% Owned): As a reserve player on a Tom Thibodeau coached team, he isn’t likely to see many nights where he eclipses 20 minutes played, but he can still be effective at providing some extra dimes for deep league owners in limited minutes. He is averaging two assists per game in around 14 minutes, and has reached the five assist mark in under 15 minutes twice this season, which makes him a streamer with a relatively stable floor. He also gets it done on the defensive end of the floor, so you may be able to also get a steal or two out of him in a streaming role.
Garrett Temple, SG, Sacramento Kings (2% Owned): Temple has been a tough guy to own this year since we really have no idea how many minutes he will play on any given night. We’ve seen him play anywhere from 16 minutes to 30 minutes – regardless of whether he is listed as a starter or not. Despite the maddening nature of the Kings’ rotations so far this year, Temple still has been able to average close to two steals per game, which is a huge lift in that category out of a streaming spot.
Josh Hart, SG, Los Angeles Lakers (<1% Owned): Hart is currently ranked just outside the top-250 in only 14 minutes per game primarily due to his ability to pester ball handlers and force turnovers. It may not sound like much, but he is averaging just under a steal a game in a very limited role off the bench, which gives him some value as a deep league streaming option and steals specialist. Despite the limited minutes, he has actually held a very steady role, so he has a pretty stable floor as a streamer for owners in 20-team leagues or deeper.
Quick bonus take: I have Hart on my watch list in just about every deep league I’m in this year, and have speculatively added him as a potential season-long asset in a few 30-team leagues. He may not see much action with Jordan Clarkson playing well right now, but I’m in intrigued by his stat set potential and wouldn’t be surprised if he plays his way into a bigger role as the season progresses.
Jonathan Isaac, SF/PF, Orlando Magic (4% Owned): Isaac isn’t going to see the floor much time this year as he is buried on the depth chart, but he does have the ability to make a pretty profound impact on the defensive end of the floor when he gets the run. He is averaging a block per game in just under 20 minutes of action, with a trio of multiple block games. He doesn’t have the safest floor given his inconsistent minutes, but he has the potential to provide some huge games on the defensive end with an added bonus of his steady rebound numbers.
Ekpe Udoh, PF/C, Utah Jazz (1% Owned): Udoh is currently ranked inside the top-200 in only 14 minutes per game almost entirely due to his one and half blocks per game in that time. I’m not a huge fan of using per 36 numbers to measure players relative value, but his rate of 4 blocks per 36 minutes is too ridiculous not to share. His ceiling is limited by his ability to stay on the floor (he can be a pretty prolific foul collector), but even in a 15-20 minute role per night he has an extremely high ceiling as one of the better streaming options out there for blocks.
Willie Reed, PF/C, Los Angeles Clippers (<1% Owned): Reed isn’t a safe bet to play more than 15 minutes per game, so that limits his streaming upside to 20-team leagues or deeper, but he is a pretty high upside play in a streaming role. He is currently averaging half a block in only 11 minutes per game on the season. The minutes are not likely going to increase significantly barring an injury in the Clippers frontcourt, but half a block in such limited playing time shows that he is aggressively going for blocks in his very limited run, which is great for owners who may be streaming him in hoping for a swat or two.
That’s it for this week. If you want to tell me I’m crazy for rostering Josh Hart, or just want to chat about dynasty leagues and all things fantasy hoops, you can reach me on twitter: @z_bodhane. Until next time Hoop Ballers!