Late in fantasy drafts you should be looking for three things – sleepers, shooters and replacement starters for injured players to start the year.
What if I told you Rodney Hood is all three? You know, this guy?
Okay, sure, Hood starts at shooting guard so he’s not merely a replacement, but with Joe Johnson playing a nearly identical role to fill in for the injured Gordon Hayward, Hood will reach a new level of usage. Both of these guys are larger wings who can stretch the floor, but look for the younger, left-handed Hood to lead the Jazz in shot attempts, threes and overall scoring over the first month of the season. Good ole’ Joe might not torch anyone for 30 this season, but you should be considering him any time in the later rounds of your fantasy draft. Johnson’s bound to be a great source for shooting and can produce for some surprise value. The most useful aspect of adding Iso Joe on your fantasy team is that you can drop him with comfort in 8-10 team leagues after Hayward returns, to stream his open spot afterwards, and if Denver’s Gary Harris is healthy, he is a viable option to replace that shooting production.
Stock Down – Kris Dunn
Don’t draft Dunn. Let someone else do it. The Providence guard has been subpar to expectations this preseason, and future backcourt counterpart Zach LaVine has been dominant. Dunn has failed to fill the cup effectively shooting 9-41 (21.9 FG%) from the field in his first three pre-season games. He’s also been prone to fouling (16 fouls in 99 minutes) and has looked overmatched by teams with weak benches. Again, it’s five games, and preseason nonetheless, but he had a little margin for error in the preseason. Especially, if he wanted a significant contributing role from the get-go on Thibodeau’s new Wolves team. And with pure point guard Tyus Jones’ summer league breakout, he’s officially on the Wolves radar as a role player. Don’t expect Dunn to break out until at LEAST midway through the season, especially if his shot isn’t falling.
Stock Up – Devin Booker
In a fairly anticipated move, Brandon Knight was moved to the bench in favor of the 19-year-old Booker, who stepped into an enlarged role when injuries struck the Suns last season. Booker’s draft range should be anywhere from 25 to 40 in all leagues. Booker has proven himself worthy by flashing this on the nightly:
Everyone in the basketball world knows he’s not merely a shooter. Booker gets into the lane as well as any other guard drafted in the lottery presumably can. His smooth stroke simply sucks defenders out to the arc, and he flashes a much more versatile game than expected. Booker was the NBA’s youngest player last year, and flashed the potential to be a top 3 shooting guard in both fantasy and “real life”. Booker was recently voted by the NBA’s General Managers as the player most likely to have a breakout season. Expect Booker to be one of your best scorers this season barring injury (please, knock on wood).
Stock Down – All the 76ers big men
The minutes aren’t there for anyone and everyone. It seems like the organization is favoring center Joel Embiid to be their franchise centerpiece, who is coming out of a two-year chasm after suffering a slew of serious injuries to his back and foot. The healthiest of the three, Nerlens Noel, recently voiced his disdain in regards to the positional logjam with last year’s #2 pick in the draft, Jahlil Okafor, who is coming off of arthroscopic knee surgery in March. Each of the three are too good to have one come off the bench, let alone two. None of these guys are getting the minutes they deserve. Economically, this is a classic form of true opportunity cost for fantasy. Too much talent cancels itself out statistically.
So how do you establish a real direction? Having one high ceiling, high floor big man creates a solid window of opportunity. But three? How can you maneuver the style of the team when so few future cornerstones are set? What if you pick the wrong one, and another goes on to contribute healthily as an All-Star elsewhere? And what if the one you choose can’t stay healthy? Perhaps dismissed GM Sam Hinkie gave the Sixers a blessing in disguise by giving new man in town Bryan Colangelo three elite prospects at the same position, allowing him to personalize the Philadelphia paint like his own canvas. Do you build with the old school, back-to-basket bruiser in Okafor, the lean but defensively versatile Noel, or the all around, do it all freak in Embiid?
For the time being, avoid Noel’s fantasy purposes before Round 5 in your fantasy draft, and make sure you’re cautious when taking Embiid or Okafor. Both are injury prone, and obviously are restricted by their own minutes limit atop of the fact they’re competing between one another for those exact minutes once they’re healthy.