October 31, 2017, 2:05 am
We are about 6-7 games deep for each team now and this is the time that fantasy owners should be living for.
Whether it’s The Wire and its excess amount of assets due to overreaction season, or the typical flow of emerging players, or the small sample sizes that make the trade market such a volatile (and profitable) place – this is where the aggressive owner makes a killing.
And when you factor in that any move you make lasts you a full season, there is so much money in the middle of the table.
And before we get into it, if you haven’t seen it yet, we have an insane deal with Draft Kings that gives you our Premium Membership for free if you deposit $5 with them as a new user. You have to follow the instructions on this page but it takes just three minutes and they even throw in $3 as a bonus. Click here to get access.
Now without further delay, the Dish/Breakdown….
KAWHI WON’T YOU RETURN FASTER
The Spurs have been pretty tight-lipped about Kawhi Leonard’s timetable and as I said on Twitter I don’t know anything, but there was some commentary locally that they didn’t think he’d play against the Warriors on Thursday. That’s the first of six home games for the Spurs and that’s about as good as it gets for dropping an injured cornerstone into the mix.
It would be sort of Pop-like to go against the grain and bring him back on Thursday, or at least that’s what those of us who drafted him at a discount are hoping.
Until then they’re a fairly stable fantasy situation, with LaMarcus Aldridge (11 points, five boards, one steal, one block) leading the way, and Pau Gasol (11 points, eight rebounds, four assists, one steal, one three) showing up sporadically to remind us he’s alive. That wasn’t good enough to go into Boston and get a win as the Spurs fell 108-94 and dropped to 4-3 on the year.
Danny Green (seven points, two boards, two threes, one steal) showed the mark of a good fantasy asset getting those three money counters, whereas much-ballyhooed point guard Dejounte Murray (10 points, five boards, four assists, two steals) has been the inverse of that most of the time this season.
Murray is bringing back low-end value in 16-18 team leagues and that’s because he hasn’t hit a three this year and averages just 1.2 defensive stats per game. Green, on the other hand, has received about half the hype and has been a top-75 play this year. When Leonard returns he’ll settle somewhere in the top 90-125 range (9/8 cat).
TWO SHIPS PASSING IN THE NIGHT
The kids have been alright for the Celtics and Jayson Tatum has been rocking top-50 value this season so far. The No. 3 overall pick has averaged 33.1 minutes, 14.0 points, 1.4 treys, 7.0 boards, 1.7 assists, 0.9 steals and 1.1 blocks while averaging 48.4 percent from the field and 83.9 percent from the line.
This is some serious sell high territory. With just Marcus Morris’ return left to really impact the rotation, there are legitimate reasons for optimism about Tatum’s rest-of-season value. Over the summer he looked to me like a guy whose best seasons might be within the first three years of his career, while he’s athletic and bouncy, though my concerns over his athleticism have been somewhat put to rest.
The Celtics really need both he and Jaylen Brown to play big roles this year for both now and also to develop them for the future, so it’s not hard to see them both playing big minutes all year.
In last night’s win he led the team in minutes (35) and was somewhat quiet with seven points on 2-of-7 shooting (including two treys), 11 boards, two assists and three blocks. The things working against him is the fact he hit just 45.1 percent of his shots in college and expecting him to beat that at the NBA level is a fairly rough bet, and this is the time of year that good rookies can sneak up on sleepy squads.
As the year goes on scouting reports kick in and teams start trying a lot harder. If Morris’ return stunts him a bit and he loses a bit here and there he could start to slide back toward the middle and late rounds pretty easily.
That’s a pretty good spot for him considering we practically ignored him in drafts and he was mostly a late-round selection. If you own him you have to be feeling pretty damn good.
As for Brown things aren’t quite as good. He has played to good reviews but the fantasy stat set just isn’t there. He’s averaging 33.3 mpg and 15.4 points, 1.6 treys, 5.9 boards and 1.0 steals, but everything else is in the dumps and especially the 42.9 percent mark from the field and 63.3 percent mark from the line on 4.3 attempts per game.
Unlike Tatum we have had bigger concerns about the stat set for Brown and those concerns look to be playing out. There’s a lot more going for his name than his fantasy game right now and owners should be planning accordingly.
GETTING IT FIGURED OUT
The Nuggets still aren’t on the right track and as usual it appears the roles are driving the discussion, though they did see a few different guys get back on track so it wasn’t all bad. Losing to the Knicks on the other hand, and the 2-of-13 shooting for Paul Millsap and 1-of-3 mark for Wilson Chandler would say otherwise.
Nikola Jokic was a fantasy force with 28 points on 9-of-15 shooting, six treys, eight boards, two assists, one steal and one block in 30 minutes. He hasn’t really recovered from some stinkers but he has shown enough spunk for owners to not panic over the first round price just yet.
Millsap finished with eight points, 10 boards, four assists, two steals, one block and two treys, and the versatility might have been more important than the scoring as he has had a light stat set so far this year. Now if he can get the 41.6 percent shooting from the field and 70.4 percent from the line figured out he’ll be back in owners’ good graces. He’s a great buy low candidate.
Jamal Murray got on the board again with 20 points on 8-of-16 shooting (2-of-9 3PTs) with three rebounds, two assists and one steal. This is actually the type of line I envisioned him having on his good nights but as you can see it’s much too light and sporadic to justify the fantasy hype. He’s averaging 12.3 points, 0.9 treys, 2.4 boards, 3.1 assists, 0.6 steals and 0.3 blocks while hitting 37.1 percent from the field.
As he improves he’ll score more and hit for a better percentage, as well as slowly earn more minutes, but where he’s going to improve from this current top-175 rank is a very real question. Projecting him to be more than a late-rounder this year is pretty optimistic.
Kristaps Porzingis outplayed Nikola Jokic significantly, even on a night in which Jokic went off statistically, and the Knicks got a win to pull even at 3-3. The man with many nicknames scored a career-high 38 points on 14-of-26 shooting with four treys, seven boards, two assists, three blocks and a perfect six trips to the line. There’s a lot of hype after tonight but he’s right where he needs to be with top-20 returns right now.
Enes Kanter keeps plugging along his mid-round pace after scored 12 points with nine rebounds, two assists and a block last night. It’s not surprising to see him take the lead in the frontcourt, but the 1.5 combined steals and blocks per game is a bit of an eye-opener. If he can do anything similar for the rest of the season he will obliterate his ADP.
Of course, Willy Hernangomez played three minutes. Kyle O’Quinn saw 21 minutes and had a nice game, scoring 15 points to go with 12 boards, five blocks and 9-of-10 makes from the charity stripe.
This could be an elaborate setup to get some interest on the trade market in Kyle O’Quinn, with the side benefit of tweaking Hernangomez into some defense and also being a reminder to Porzingis about who is in charge. It’s also possible that O’Quinn is just outplaying Hernangomez and Jeff Hornacek is harnessing that play and leveraging it against Hernangomez like any coach would.
Still, one would think the Knicks get tired of the slow track with Hernangomez’s development. A game like this tested my patience and it should probably test yours, too. Unlike some other hold guys around here his upside isn’t quite as high as the others — probably in the top-75 range in most reasonable scenarios.
When one starts factoring in complications you want to see things move in the right direction sooner rather than later. In deeper 12-team leagues I think you want to hold and if you can afford to I think you want to hold. But as the needle starts moving toward more shallow leagues I think you can move on for a mid-to-high level free agent.
Frank Ntilikina (five points, two boards, one assist, one three, two steals, 16 minutes) didn’t do enough to get added in most standard leagues but he continues to get steals and threes. That was a big question mark about his value so I’m encouraged about his long-term potential. If he starts to get minutes this season owners should be ready to move.
We’re not buying O’Quinn’s numbers and in that same department is Jarrett Jack, who scored six points on 3-of-5 shooting with three rebounds, 10 assists and two steals in 32 minutes. Whatever treatment he did for his knee has been a miracle, but if you need point guard help right now obviously he’s going to be worth a short-term look.
THEY PUT A SPELL ON YOU
The Magic ripped off another win and this one was on the road against the Pellies. They saw Aaron Gordon (17 points, seven boards, two steals, three treys) play just 18 minutes due to foul trouble and they still got the win. Nikola Vucevic (20 points, eight boards, three assists, one three) outplayed DeMarcus Cousins and he’s a bit of a sell-high guy after starting on a top-20 pace.
Evan Fournier (20 points, four threes, three boards, four assists, one steal) most definitely fits that bill as he has a top-12 start on his hands. No, he’s not going to keep that up and things could get a bit crowded with all the wings once Elfrid Payton (hamstring) returns, but it’s not going to be Fournier’s minutes that get clipped. He could easily keep a mid-round pace if he continues to play well this season.
Marreese Speights hit six treys for 18 points, five rebounds and three assists. He’s not going to enjoy the late-round value he had at times for Golden State in just 15 mpg.
Jonathon Simmons scored 20 points with six rebounds, four assists, one steal, one trey and 5-of-5 makes from the foul line, and he and Terrence Ross (eight points, four rebounds, three assists, two steals, one three) will cancel each other out in standard leagues when Payton returns.
DEMARCUS COUSINS COUNTIN CASH
I haven’t had time to watch the film of last night’s Pelicans loss but seeing DeMarcus Cousins’ stat line with half of his shots coming from deep — while hitting just 5-of-14 overall with six turnovers – it wasn’t that hard to conjure.
The turnovers (5.1 per game) have kept his surging fantasy value somewhat in check in the middle of the first round, but in 8-cat leagues he’s tied for second with Giannis Antetokounmpo. It’s a great start and he has looked to be in pretty good shape, but expecting him to continue averaging 6.1 money counting stats per game is extremely optimistic.
There’s some sell-high appeal here and good luck to all the folks that think he can be as effective from the perimeter as he would be from the interior offensively. You’ll have to learn the hard way.
Anthony Davis had the big line of the box with 39 points, 10 boards, three blocks and 13-of-20 hits from the field (13-of-15 FTs). So far so good as he is ahead of ADP in the top 4-6 range. Jameer Nelson (five points, six assists, one three) hasn’t had a good game in a while and he’ll continue to be an inconsistent late-rounder until Rajon Rondo returns.
THE VOCALIZING OF THE LAMB (SINGULAR)
The Dwight Howard surge slowed in last night’s road win over the fast-starting Grizzlies, as the big man scored just two points on 1-of-9 shooting with seven rebounds and a block. At 35.7 percent foul shooting on 8.0 attempts per game, he’s actually the lowest ranked player in Roto formats.
The Jeremy Lamb tour continued as he hit 6-of-13 shots for 17 points, eight boards and a three, which wasn’t his most versatile line of the year but nobody will complain with the top-80 returns so far. He has done this in 31.3 mpg and the only thing we’re not really seeing is the rebounding, which is understandable playing next to Dwight and also understandable since he’s doing much more on offense than usual.
Look for that top-80 value to settle back in the top 100-125 range when Batum returns but there’s still enough upside if Howard or other folks get hurt. Lamb’s proving right now that he can handle more load.
Cody Zeller (knee) returned and put up a lively 11 points, eight boards and three blocks. He’s going to be a late-round center this year as long as he doesn’t miss too many games. Frank Kaminsky (illness) played and scored nine points with six boards, two assists and a three in his 23 minutes and I still don’t view him as anything but a late-round guy at best.
The Grizzlies have really leveled out as an easy fantasy squad to read with Marc Gasol (10 points, seven boards, two steals, two treys, three blocks) and Mike Conley (16 points, 4-of-18 FGs, six assists, two steals) as your two main cogs.
Tyreke Evans (19 points, 10 rebounds, three assists, two threes, 6-of-17 FGs) is your classic injury-prone opportunist and fellow reserve Mario Chalmers (four points, one rebound, one assist, one steal, 1-of-7 FGs) has been soaking up very low-end production with the same type of injury risk. Neither are much more than desperation plays better suited for deeper formats.
Dillon Brooks (11 points, eight rebounds, three assists, one three, 31 minutes) is establishing his deep league creds as he hovers around the top-200 in a 28 mpg role to start the year. Not bad for the rook. Chandler Parsons (nine points, five rebounds, one trey, 19 minutes) still isn’t worth owning. JaMychal Green (ankle) is returning soon so check and see if he was dropped.
Ben Simmons has been in the hype machine lately for his big popcorn numbers and he has made a number of great plays to warrant it. He scored 24 points on 10-of-15 shooting with seven rebounds and nine assists in the Sixers’ road win against the Rockets, but did not have any money counters and hit just 4-of-9 from the foul line.
He has been a top 75-110 play (8/9 cat) so far while averaging 35 mpg and it’s pretty clear he’s going to get as much run as he can handle. Averaging 18.4 points, 9.1 boards, 7.7 assists, 1.4 steals and 0.4 blocks, it’s the free throw percentage (56.1) on 5.9 attempts per game that’s crushing his value.
It’s hard to see him keeping the current pace and I do think the league is going to figure out how to scheme him out of a lot of that production. The big development this season is that Markelle Fultz is not a great bet to severely cut into Simmons’ production anymore.
There is some sell high appeal because the market probably doesn’t recognize the negative impact of his deficient areas, but if you keep your own expectations in check it’s fair to believe he can keep the current valuation and that’s a nice place for him in relation to where he was before the Fultz implosion.
If you hadn’t seen The Wire this weekend you might not know it’s well past time to pick up Richaun Holmes in any format that doesn’t penalize you massively for slow starters. He’s probably returning Friday and there could be some speed bumps but he has top-40 upside if he finds himself in a 28-30 mpg role.
In case you hadn’t heard – some of his teammates have injury concerns – but Holmes isn’t just a replacement guy. He has shown a great stat set and he has continued to improve. There’s real talent there.
T.J. McConnell is probably past being a secret in fantasy leagues and also in reality basketball. You’re starting to see the lo-fi analysts out there pick up on it so owners will need to move a bit faster to secure his late-round services. He had 11 points, three rebounds, five assists, one steal, two blocks and three treys in 26 minutes off the bench. There will be challenges to his minutes and his value but Brett Brown will find a way to get him his 20 mpg on most nights.
HEY YOU DON’T DO THAT THING THAT I DO
The Rockets came out flat and I always think it’s funny when James Harden talks after a loss about everybody needing to play harder defense. He finished with 29 points and a full line, Eric Gordon returned to action with 25 points, five treys and not much else, and Trevor Ariza got back in the flow with seven points, three rebounds, three assists, two steals and a three.
Clint Capela continued his top 20-30 pace (9/8 cat) with 12 points, 15 boards, two assists, one steal, one block and 4-of-7 makes from the foul line. He has hit 77.8 percent of his freebies this season and that’s the difference between his current rank and my preseason ranks.
HERE WHERE I TAKE THE POSITION THAT I AM NOT DROPPING GORGUI DIENG
I’m not doing the thing where I react to every Gorgui Dieng dud this week. I’ve already issued my week-long pass for him and unlike his previous games in this one he looked irritated. That’s all I got. Taj Gibson scored seven points with four rebounds and one steal in his 31 minutes, the Wolves won in overtime and nobody in the Minny media has made a peep about Dieng not playing.
If this week continues like this I’ll probably decide early next week what I’m going to do there. It’s the top 40-60 upside in 30 mpg that you’re holding for, the relatively stable stat set and the fact that Tom Thibodeau has already handed Gibson enough Thibs minutes to kill a guy with.
Still, Gibson might stay healthy and Dieng might stay in the doghouse. Some smart team should be on the phone with Minnesota right now trying to get him on the cheap.
It took a little bit but Jeff Teague (23 points, five rebounds, 11 assists, six steals, three treys) is producing at his top 35-50 ADP after a slow start. Jimmy Butler (16 points, five boards, three assists, three steals, one three) hasn’t gotten his efficiency to where it needs to be and there is a nice buy low window right now.
Karl-Anthony Towns (20 points, 12 rebounds, one steal, three blocks, three treys, 7-of-11 FGs) is Mr. Efficient and just a hair behind his top-5 ADP.
SOUTH BEACH FANTASY DIET
The Heat haven’t played badly but they’re 2-4 to start after last night’s overtime loss to the visiting Wolves. Not having Hassan Whiteside (knee) and some sloppy play have been the culprits and the schedule hasn’t been great, but they’ll get some good news as Ira Winderman thinks Whiteside will return on Wednesday.
Kelly Olynyk (23 points, six rebounds, two assists, three treys, 9-of-12 FGs) has been great in this early season scenario that we painted as his upside scenario that got him a slot in the Hoop Ball Six. He’s bringing back top 50-60 value so far in 24 mpg and though his numbers are a bit pumped up, he has also enjoyed the Heat’s training program and looks like a great fit.
If he drops back into the top-100 range in a 24 mpg sample owners can sit on that and wait for the next surge in minutes, which will come at various points in time during the year.
James Johnson (two points, seven boards, one steal, one block, 24 minutes) had the leash tugged back last night due to sloppy play and that’s just something that needs to be done from time to time with Johnson. He’ll be fine.
Dion Waiters scored 33 points with five rebounds, four assists, three steals and a trey on 14-of-28 shooting in 39 minutes. He’s returning late-round value and that’s all you’re hoping for with him. He and Tyler Johnson (12 points, three rebounds, two assists, one block, 23 minutes) will struggle to keep their heads above water while the Heat are at full strength.
DOWN IN DALLAS
The Mavs fell to 1-7 with their loss in Utah and the very slow start means you could start to see youth development a little bit sooner, but Rick Carlisle isn’t going to let this become a circus and it’s way too early for that talk anyway.
Dirk Nowitzki scored 18 points with five boards and four treys to remain somewhat relevant, and J.J. Barea scored 17 points with three treys and not much else. Beyond that and a 15-point, six-assist effort out of Devin Harris everybody struggled.
Nerlens Noel (six points, four rebounds, one block, 22 minutes) has been quiet defensively lately and one has to wonder if he’s trying to show he can play position defense. He is still bringing back top-125 value in 19.4 mpg and as frustrating as it has been you simply have to hold with those metrics. If you can buy low with a poppy late-round guy that’s the play.
Dennis Smith saw just 17 minutes and put up two points, three rebounds and one assist. Ouch. The knee thing is concerning but the rookie learning curve and stat set issues should have been on the forefront of drafters’ minds in October. This year’s overreactions to young players may be the biggest we’ve seen in years.
The Jazz won a game they were supposed to win and with Rudy Gobert cooking the way he was last night I’m feeling good about having Utah in the playoffs. Gobert scored 17 points with 12 rebounds, six assists, two steals and six blocks, and that brought him back into the top-25 and owners have to feel pretty good about their second round pick.
It’s funny to see how analysts handle missing out on a big pick as there is ‘do not drop’ discussion surrounding Joe Ingles after his three points last night. Smokin’ Joe added six rebounds, six assists, three steals and one three to that stat line, and with top 35-40 value on the year he should be in the ‘congratulations are in order if you drafted him’ discussion. Not the drop discussion.
Ricky Rubio (20 points, six assists, four steals, four threes) has been great this season and though he could see some slippage from his current 43 percent shooting it’s possible a new system fits him better. Rodney Hood put up 25 points with five treys and not much else last night as he sits on top-75 returns for the season. Sell while you can because he’s not hitting 49.2 percent of his shots for long.
Derrick Favors scored 10 points with four rebounds, two assists, one steal and one three. He has struggled to return top-200 value so far this year in 27.5 mpg. There was never any upside to be had with this pick and that has played out in short order.
The Raptors ran away with Monday’s road game in Portland in the third quarter and the main guys did their thing, with Kyle Lowry posting 19 points, 10 boards, six assists and three treys, and DeMar DeRozan putting up a very normal 25-3-4 popcorn line.
The fun stuff came in the form of Lucas Nogueira, who scored 17 points with nine rebounds, two assists, two steals, five blocks and one trey after I had banished him to the wire following last week’s duds.
It doesn’t really matter – even if he does beat out Jakob Poeltl (six points, five rebounds, one block, 18 minutes) for the backup job when Jonas Valanciunas (ankle) returns there’s too much ambiguity to ride the ride like we did to top-80 value for stretches last year.
The Blazers have slowed down a bit and in particular Jusuf Nurkic has been a relative disappointment. The hyped up big man scored eight points with six rebounds and one steal in 26 minutes last night, and his 3.1 turnovers per game and 40 percent field goal shooting have torpedoed his fantasy value.
It looks like he has fallen in love with his jumpshot a little bit and the Blazers haven’t made it a top priority to get Nurkic his shots. It’s a bit of a snowball effect and it’s the type of early season situation that has a great chance of working itself out, and we know he’ll improve his shooting – though beware the traps of big men trying to improve their range at the expense of their fantasy value.
Al-Farouq Aminu was cruising at a top-20 pace in 9-cat formats prior to last night and he came back to earth in a big way, managing just four points on 2-of-8 shooting with seven rebounds, three assists and one block. Good luck selling high now but you might still have some luck. He and teammate Moe Harkless (four points, four rebounds, one block) will seesaw their way to solid late-round value.
GETTING OUT TO AN EARLY LEAD
The Warriors have lost three games and it feels like a lot more than that. Last night they took that out on the Clippers and had the game won by the start of the fourth quarter.
The early returns on Stephen Curry, our No. 1 ranked fantasy play, have been stellar – he’s currently the No. 1 fantasy play and he looks both aggressive and healthy.
While Giannis and KAT and Kevin Durant and James Harden and Russell Westbrook got all the love on draft day, Curry slid with that sweet stat set. He scored 31 points on 9-of-14 shooting with seven treys, five boards, six assists, two steals and a block, and I’m definitely not betting the house that he’s going to finish at No. 1, but it’s good to see him doing just about everything right from a fantasy perspective.
DON’T-DON’T-DON’T-DON’T-DON’T-DON’T (BELIEVE THE HYPE)
I issued the massive sell high recommendation on Blake Griffin (16 points, three rebounds, four assists, two threes) when he was putting up massive lines in Week 1 and 2, and Kenny Smith was trying to say he was an MVP candidate on the TNT broadcast. Yes, his perimeter game has improved and he appears to be more equipped to be a No. 1 scorer than any time in his career.
But that doesn’t pay the bills in fantasy and he’s already struggling with his stat set to the tune of a top 50-75 return, all while he has been putting up 23.3 points, 8.5 boards and 4.3 assists per game in 34.5 minutes per contest.
It’s hard to imagine him improving those numbers and when one factors in the injury risk, and chance for slippage if anybody gets hurt or things get inefficient for the Clips, and it’s all downhill from here. He’s probably still being evaluated at the third-round hype he was getting in draft season at other sites. Sell. Sell. Sell.