January 3, 2019, 3:06 pm
The holiday season is now in the rear-view mirror, the NFL regular season is done, and NCAA Bowl games are largely wrapped up. Many big-box sports network commentators are quick to point out that this time of year marks the unofficial beginning of the NBA season for casual fans. That sentiment has always struck me as odd. Declaring a major sport to be gearing up as the season is already half over is a bit reductive. However, to an even greater extent I find it odd to think about because this time of the year tends to feel like the doldrums of the regular season for fantasy managers.
Most of the early season roller-coaster rides have turned more into merry-go-rounds. We have a pretty good sense of where players generally sit in the fantasy pecking order, and our league standings are beginning to crystalize as well. The always-tumultuous trade deadline still lies months away, and that new car smell is starting to fade from your Ferrari of a team that was CERTAIN to bring home a championship.
There are still injuries to account for, rotation questions that have yet to be settled, and the looming possibility of trades, shutdowns or rest games in the not so distant future, but for the most part things are fairly settled in comparison to the hectic start of the fantasy NBA season. Despite this time of year feeling more like a freeway drive in cruise control than the start of a drag race, there are still some important course corrections that need to be made to end up winning it all.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at players’ contributions over their last 15 games played and try to dig up some under-the-radar performers who can help out in specific categories of need, or shore up an area of strength on fantasy rosters. We will be looking particularly at players that are rostered in less than 15 percent of leagues.
Editor’s Note: Be sure to join this week’s Beat the Expert contest on DraftKings! With 100 slots (and multiple entries allowed), the top 10 finishers take home $30 apiece while second place also gets a gift bag from Hawaiian Isles Kona Coffee and the big winner gets a Hoop Ball t-shirt! You can reserve your entry for Friday’s (January 4) contest by clicking right here! Good luck!
Rodney Hood (15% rostered): 12.6 points per game – Hood has been serviceable this year as long as he can stay healthy. He should probably be rostered in 16-team team leagues, but can be a viable option for a short-term boost in points, threes and steals in shallower formats.
Jeremy Lin (9% rostered): 10.0 points per game – Lin obviously gives you more than points, so it would be unfair to call him out as a categorical specialist. However, given the scarcity of double-digit per-game scorers on the deep league wire, managers could do worse than Lin if desperate for a small edge in points.
Davis Bertans (7% rostered): 2.5 threes per game – Bertans is posting top-150 value over his last 15 games, and seems to be carving himself out an increasingly consistent role in the rotation. He can provide the occasional block, but the bulk of his value lies in his ability to knock down threes in bunches on decent efficiency. He will lose time when Rudy Gay is healthy, but he can still be a big help from deep in limited minutes.
Gerald Green (3% rostered): 2.4 threes per game – Similar to Landry Shamet below, Gerald Green has carved out a nice role in the rotation and is delivering with consistent output from beyond the arc. He is purely a 3-point specialist, but you could do far worse in 20-team leagues and deeper if you need a lift from deep.
Marco Belinelli (10% rostered): 2.1 threes per game – Belinelli has also benefited from Rudy Gay’s absence. His stat set is a bit more diverse than Bertans’, but not by much. If Bertans keeps up the solid play, he could eat into Belinelli’s role, but they both can be useful for picking up a few extra treys.
Kevin Huerter (11% rostered): 2.0 threes per game – We have covered Huerter in great depth here throughout the season here on Deep League Digging. At the moment, Huerter does most of his damage as a fantasy asset from beyond the arc, but his game is far more versatile. He should be rostered in 16-team leagues and deeper given the run that he will get and
Kyle Korver (6% rostered): 1.9 threes per game – Whether playing in Atlanta, Cleveland or Utah, some things never change – Korver gets it done from beyond the arc. That is about all he will give you though, so consider him more of a streaming option or end-of-bench option if you desperately need threes in 16-team leagues.
Iman Shumpert (14% rostered): 1.9 threes per game – Early this season I was pessimistic about Shumpert’s chances to continue his hot start and hold down any consistent value in 16-team leagues and shallower. He must be an avid Hoop-Ball reader, because he appears to be hell bent on proving me wrong at every opportunity. Shumpert won’t give you much outside of threes and steals, but if three and D is what you need, Shumps got you covered indeed.
Landry Shamet (1% rostered): 1.5 threes per game – Shamet has turned into one of the more reliable three point streaming options available to deep-leaguers. He’s slumping at the moment, but his role in the rotation is solid, so add him if you need help from deep.
Ed Davis (6% rostered): 8.7 rebounds per game – You know what I like about Ed Davis? I keep getting older and he stays the same. Okay, not literally, but Davis is probably the most reliable source of rebounds to be found on the deep-league wire.
Tyson Chandler (6% rostered): 7.3 rebounds per game – Chandler is up there with Ed Davis as one of the premier rebound specialists available in 16-team leagues and deeper with the added upside of an occasional block or two.
Kevon Looney (6% rostered): 5.7 rebounds per game – At this point we have established that the Golden State center rotation is anything but fantasy friendly, but if you need boards Looney is available in plenty of deeper formats.
D.J. Wilson (1% rostered): 5.6 rebounds per game – Wilson is a likely just a short-term add given the impending return of Ersan Ilyasova, but has been solid on the glass in a stop-gap 18 minutes per game.
Wilson Chandler (5% rostered): 5.1 rebounds per game – We know who Wilson Chandler is at this point. He can give you some threes, boards and the occasional defensive stat. Rebounds can be tough to find on the wire in deep leagues, so give Chandler a look in 18-team leagues if you find your squad coming up short on the glass.
Zaza Pachulia (1% rostered): 4.9 rebounds per game – He is currently out with a leg injury, but in super deep leagues Pachulia can give you a lift in rebounds. He won’t do much else, but you could do worse in 30-team formats if you need boards.
Jamal Crawford (1% rostered): 4.5 assists per game – This is more of a “break glass in case of emergency” sort of streaming suggestion. The numbers look okay in terms of assist production, but the Suns’ guard rotation is a mess and he could go from 20 minutes to DNP on any given night.
T.J. McConnell (7% rostered): 4.5 assists per game – McConnell is more than just an assist specialist. He is actually a stronger bet for steals production (1.5 per game), but given the scarcity of assists sitting around on the deep league wire he is featured here as well.
Jose Calderon (<1% rostered): 4.1 assists per game – Calderon will continue to have short-term value as long as Ish Smith is out with a groin injury. He is one of the better options available in 30-team leagues if your squad could use a few extra dimes.
Cory Joseph (8% rostered): 3.7 assists per game – His minutes aren’t going anywhere and he should be around in plenty of 16-team leagues. We know what he can do at this point in 25 minutes per game.
Tony Parker (3% rostered): 3.3 assists per game – If more consistent options aren’t available, Parker can provide solid, albeit inconsistent assists from the bench in Charlotte.
Averaging 1.2 spg rostered in 15% or less
De’Anthony Melton (3% rostered): 1.9 steals per game – I actually like Melton as a long-term add given the way his minutes and production are trending, but he has been a prolific steals producer in limited minutes lately (2.5 steals per game in his last four). Make sure he isn’t sitting around on any waiver wires in all deep leagues.
Iman Shumpert (14% rostered): 1.4 steals per game – Shumpert is really having himself a year. He won’t keep up the top-50 production from the past week, but he should probably be rostered in 16-team leagues if you need threes and steals. (see above).
DeAndre’ Bembry (8% rostered): 1.2 steals per game – Bembry’s stat-set is fairly well rounded, but his biggest strength lies in steals. He won’t fit everyone’s team in 16-team leagues as he can do some solid damage to both percentages, but Bembry is one of the more consistent sources of steals around in deep leagues.
Ryan Arcidiacono (3% rostered): 1.2 steals per game – His run of 16-team value is over with Kris Dunn and Zach LaVine back in the rotation, but he can still serve a role as an assist and steals specialist in deeper leagues.
Averaging 0.9 blocks per game rostered in 15% or less
Nerlens Noel (12% rostered): 1.7 blocks per game – The per-minute stat production is out of this world. Even in a steady 10-15 minute role off the bench he should be rostered in 16-team leagues if you need defensive stats.
Maxi Kleber (2% rostered): 1.1 blocks per game – Kleber’s minutes will likely be inconsistent and dependent to a certain extent on Dirk’s status, but he is one of the premier blocks specialists who is likely available in 20-team formats and deeper.
Alex Len (14% rostered): 1.0 blocks per game – There are some questions about where the value is going to swing between Dewayne Dedmon, Omari Spellman and Alex Len, but as long as Len is getting around 20 minutes per night he is a safe bet to bring home a block or two.
Derrick Jones Jr. (5% rostered): 1.0 blocks per game – His minutes are all over the place lately, but the defensive stat production is there. If you can stand the hit to your free throw percentage, consider taking a flier on Jones in all deep-league formats.
Robin Lopez (1% rostered): 0.9 blocks per game – Robin Lopez may not be long for the Bulls rotation depending on what happens at the trade deadline, but until future notice Lopez is a fairly consistent source of swatted shots available in almost all leagues.