The NBA is a player’s league, so it’s easy for some to get caught up in drafting long-time All-Stars over up-and-coming studs. Aging superstars have tons of mileage on their legs and if they play for a good team, may wind up relaxing on the bench during the fantasy playoffs.
On the flip side, you don’t want to use too high of a pick on unproven talent. Some younger players who broke out last year may not be in line for a repeat.
So who should you target? Who should you avoid? Today, the Fantasy Doctor shows you which players are in line to impress or disappoint. First, we outlined 10 overrated players. Now check out those guys who aren’t getting enough credit.
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GUYS WHO PRODUCE BETTER IN HEAD-2-HEAD LEAGUES
This includes, but is not limited to Dwight Howard, Blake Griffin, Rajon Rondo, DeMarcus Cousins and Andre Drummond. There’s no shame in punting a category in head-to-head formats, so as long as these guys are dominating in their respective areas, it’s no big deal that they miss a lot of free throws or shoot lower from the field than the average guy at their position. Yahoo! and ESPN usually use rotisserie rankings and typically rank these guys significantly lower than they deserve to be, so make sure to check your league settings before your draft and bump these guys up.
There are plenty of exciting rookies to look forward to in fantasy basketball this season, but Carter-Williams seems to be flying under the radar. Certainly, guys like Victor Oladipo and Trey Burke are more athletically gifted, but the fantasy game is just as much about situation as it is about talent. With Jrue Holiday shipped out of town, MCW should have the reigns to the offense from day one and will have all the playing time he wants to figure things out. Carter-Williams is definitely worth the late round flier.
Somebody on the 76ers has to be relied upon to put the ball in the hole, right? Young averaged a career-high 14.8 points last season, as well as career-highs in rebounds, steals and blocks. With even less pieces around him this year, Young will be in beast mode all season long in order to keep Philadelphia on the basketball map. Some of the best star producers in fantasy basketball come from bad teams.
J-Smoove has been a rock in the fantasy world over the last few seasons, but a move to Detroit has resulted in a dip in his ranking. Sure, the Pistons frontcourt is stacked, but remember, the guy getting paid will consistently be on the floor. Smith has been working with Rasheed Wallace all summer in order to improve his midrange game, and should see plenty of time at small forward, while still filling in at power forward when Greg Monroe and Drummond need some rest. Don’t be afraid of Smith losing any floor time to the young guns.
Derrick Favors is the obvious winner in Utah’s youth movement, but the departure of Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap also opens up ample opportunity for the lesser-known Enes Kanter. His per-36s from last year include 16.9 points, 10.2 rebounds, 0.9 steals and 1.1 blocks. Kanter’s most valuable fantasy asset will be his free throw percentage (80 percent last year), which is rock solid for a big man. Despite being drafted significantly later than Favors, Kanter can offer similar production.
Vasquez had a breakout season last year, but still got dogged in the rankings. His move to the Kings may prove to be difficult at first, but he will be the one running the show and will eventually figure things out with Cousins. Yahoo! has Vasquez eligible at shooting guard, which is a huge boost in value, especially if you miss out on one of the many top-flight point guards. The system he will be running in Sacramento isn’t as fantasy friendly as the one he ran in New Orleans, but expect a strong follow-up season from an emerging fantasy force.
It’s easy to dismiss the fantasy value of McGee because of all the shenanigans that result in a lead gig at “Shaqtin’ A Fool,” but this could finally be the season that he puts it all together and becomes consistently fantasy relevant. Seriously.
Denver’s new coach, Brian Shaw, seems committed to starting McGee, who was stuck sharing court time with the likes of Kosta Koufos and Timofey Mozgov under George Karl. He boasts career per-36s of 15.3 points, 10.0 rebounds and 3.3 blocks, proving that as long as he’s given the opportunity, he’s going to produce. With guys like McGee available in later rounds, there’s no sense in taking the Larry Sanders or Serge Ibakas of the world too early.
A couple injury-marred seasons have dropped Nene’s value to a career-low, but he’s still rock solid in the fantasy game. When healthy, he proved to be as scrappy as ever, grabbing double-digit rebounds and bringing his usual efficiency from the field. There is always room on my roster for guys like Nene, whose stats come from pure hustle. Night in and night out, you know they are going to bring it. Sure, I’m worried about his injuries but he’s ranked so low that he should be considered as a bargain.
The Magic have some intriguing fantasy options, whether it be a stud like Nikola Vucevic, or a late bloomer like Tobias Harris. Lost in the mix, though, is sophomore Moe Harkless. He came on strong at the end of last season, averaging 13.1 points, 4.9 rebounds, 0.8 threes, 1.7 steals and 1.0 blocks in March and April. Using that momentum, it’s feasible that Harkless can put up the famed average of a trey, a block and a steal per game. He’s definitely a late-round target.
Holiday put himself on the fantasy map last year by leading the show in Philadelphia, but most are leery about drafting him since the move to a suddenly guard-heavy Pelicans squad. I’m not sure if he can top last year’s 17.7 points, or even the 8.0 assists, but one thing Holiday can improve upon is his efficiency. He shot just 43 percent from the field last year, but with better players surrounding him now, defenders will be hard pressed to gameplan solely against him. If one thing is for sure, it’s that he’ll have a much easier time dishing to Eric Gordon and Anthony Davis than he did with Jason Richardson and Evan Turner.
Who are fantasy’s most underrated players?
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