Remember how grand your sports life was in October? (Fill in college football team that eventually faltered) was looking like a strong national title contender, you hopped on the bandwagon of either the Cubs or Royals and dipped onto this site long enough to actually identify and talk about the strengths and weaknesses of a particular player, and your Fantasy basketball draft went so well that you were already basking in the glow of money and praise before the season lifted off.
So….it’s January. You’re 0 of 3, and while there’s nothing you can do for your college football and baseball fortunes, there’s still a faint pulse in your Fantasy hoops team despite ignoring the warnings and reaching for a declining big man with a second round pick along with cruising full steam into those sure-fire snipers that would add to your scoring punch. And, oh, let’s not forget the sinking feeling you now have in the wake of your sleeper pick that remains permanently attached to his pillow.
With almost half the season still on the docket, let’s peek and see which Fantasy busts have the potential to salvage your expectations:
LaMarcus Aldridge, F/C, Spurs (ADP: 19.3)
We voiced our concerns about how many touches Aldridge would get in a loaded Spurs lineup, yet the flip of the calendar has also seen the Aldridge who was a solid late first round pick when he was with the Trail Blazers. Aldridge is averaging 20.6 points and 10.6 rebounds in five games this month while also shooting 55.4 percent from the field. He’s rewarded DFS players with 37.1 Fantasy points per game over his last ten outings, which includes five double-doubles. With the Spurs likely to continue their trend of sitting down Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker on occasion, Aldridge becomes the second scoring option behind Kawhi Leonard in San Antonio. He’s not going to recoup his ADP for his owners, yet Aldridge, ranked 54th in standard leagues, can offer enough production to at least wean his way into the 45-50 range by season’s end. His recent spurt also makes him a sell-high candidate to owners who may feel Aldridge’s rise is more fluke than fact.
Victor Oladipo, G, Magic (ADP: 31.7)
Many of us were banking this would be a breakout for Oladipo, so much so that reaching for him in the early third round seemed justified. At this point of the season, only Jeb Bush’s support represents the more disappointing numbers coming out of Florida, as Oladipo entered Thursday shooting just 40.1 percent from the field while averaging a paltry 13.1 points per game. Ranked 75th in standard leagues, he, like Aldridge, is attempting to turn the curve this month, as Oladipo has had three 20-point games in his last ten starts while also pushing his rebounds per game average to 4.8 per game. Keep in mind that Oladipo is currently running the point in the wake of starter Elfrid Payton’s sprained ankle and should return at the two now that Payton has recovered. He’s hovering at average with a 14.9 PER, and while he’ll get above-average, this season will see more regression before a breakout next year, so if you’re an Oladipo owner, now would be a good time to test the waters on his trade value.
Nerlens Noel, F/C, 76ers (ADP: 30.3)
After averaging a double-double after the All-Star Break last season, Noel entered this year as a strong breakout candidate who would also be an asset in blocked shots. Instead, we’ve seen a Noel that looks disinterested and lethargic, as he is averaging just 10.6 points and 8.2 rebounds per game. Yes, it’s the Sixers, but Noel should be more effective than his rank of 109th in standard leagues suggest. For a big man who makes his living in the paint, Noel should be shooting much better than 50.5 percent from the field, while his 59.5 percent mark from the free throw line is an albatross for his owners. Most DFS players are aware of the risks that come with investing in Noel, but his recent run of blocked shots (2.2 per game over his last ten) gives a mild glow that he’ll come around as the season progresses.
Danny Green, G/F, Spurs (ADP: 54.3)
What. The. (trust me, whatever explicit comment works well)? Green is the promising blind date whose looks made you fall head over heels only to discover (s)he’s as compatible with you as wine and a Texas-sized chicken fried steak with all the trimmings. Of all the players we’ll discuss, Green is the one facing the longest odds of rebounding, and with averages of 7.6 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.9 assists, it’s a mild miracle that he’s ranked 166th overall. Green has yet to score more than 18 points in a game this season and has just seven games of double-double scoring production. With a just-above freezing 36.5 percent field goal percentage (33.5 from beyond the arc), it’s also surprising that he’s still owned in almost three-fourths of standard leagues. Why, oh why? You keep waiting on Green to break out while I’ll sit on my patio awaiting the good people of Publisher’s Clearing House. We’ll see who’ll benefit most from milking the pigeon.
Chandler Parsons, F, Mavericks (ADP: 61.3)
As bad as things have been at times this season for the Rockets, I’m sure general manager Darryl Morey takes a moment of his time daily to chuckle about the fortunes of Parsons, who went up Interstate 45 North only to become an injury-plagued void in the Mavericks lineup. Parsons had micro-fracture surgery on his knee and has played in just 98 games in his season-plus with the Mavs. While his 46.7 percent shooting is acceptable, the fact this supposed steal of the draft is averaging 9.8 points and 3.7 rebounds while playing just over 25 minutes has left his owners feeling quite fraudulent. I can’t honestly suggest trading for him, as he remains a walking game time decision.
Kenneth Faried, F, Nuggets (ADP: 55)
I’m beginning to buy into the belief that what you see is what you get with Faried, and while 12.1 points and 8.8 rebounds certainly isn’t kitty litter, we should accept that this is the real Faried, who ranks 131st overall. Not only does his pathetic free throw percentage (53.5) hurt his cause, but the inconsistency is frustrating. I’d trade Faried now if I owned him, more so considering that Danilo Gallinari and breakout Fantasy star Will Barton are better options. The glut of bigs in Denver also works against him and once rookie guard Emmanuel Mudiay settles in, his value will be further decreased. It wouldn’t shock me if the Nuggets made a bid to send him to a new address before next month’s deadline.
Derrick Rose, G, Bulls (ADP: 69)
You will see such names as Dewayne Deadmon, Pablo Prigioni and Cameron Payne ranked ahead of Rose, who sits in the 264th spot in standard leagues. As magical as 2011 was for some of us, we’re never going back to those breathtaking moments, and neither will Rose. On pace to a career-low points per game average, Rose is now just a spectator on a Bulls team driven by Jimmy Butler and Pau Gasol. He’s also on pace for a fourth straight season of less than five assists per game while also hovering at or under 40 percent shooting for a third consecutive campaign. The sprained left patella isn’t going to heal quickly, adding yet another injury that has diminished the skills of a player we all thought would become one of the Association’s flagship performers. Only a foolish speculator would risk much in obtaining Rose, and his numbers surely scare the hell out of DFS players.
Clearing the Bench