(AP Photo / Matt York)
This season I will try to highlight a notable player, based on the games played each night, who’s available in at least 60% of Yahoo! Fantasy Basketball leagues.
The Sneaky Fantasy Basketball Pickup for Monday, November 4 is Reggie Jackson. This pickup is unlike all others that I’ve recommended so far in that he didn’t have an eye-opening game last night. In fact, he didn’t play at all. He’s tonight’s pickup because he finally dropped below 40% owned in Yahoo! Leagues. He’s at 39% right now, but that number is quickly dropping.
This was not an impressive game for Jackson but was notable for one reason: the successful return of Russell Westbrook, who pushed Jackson back to a bench role. In one day, Jackson’s ownership fell 8% across Yahoo! Leagues. In ESPN leagues, he is the most-dropped player of the week, plummeting from 55.6% owned last week to 26.2% now.
So why am I telling you to pick up Reggie Jackson? To answer that question, I’m going to invoke the names of Kevin Martin and James Harden, the last two players to have Jackson’s role as the first Thunder player off the bench and the only second-unit guy who can create his own offense (though Martin was more a catch-and-shoot guy). Both Martin and Harden (who I’m going to call “Marden” just to make it easy on myself) put up solid fantasy numbers coming off the bench in OKC. Jackson is somewhere between the two of them in talent and has the chance to do the same.
Critics would argue this is an apples-to-oranges comparison because Jackson plays a different position than Marden did. They’re right. Marden was a SG that could slot in between Westbrook and Durant. Jackson’s natural position is PG, but will that stop the Thunder from playing him alongside their Big Two?
You might argue playing two PG’s puts the Thunder at a defensive disadvantage. Three things: A) Both Westbrook and Jackson are big 6’3″ guards, so that disadvantage against taller SG’s isn’t quite so large. B) Marden was never a defensive ace either. C) This:
All this is just speculation obviously. I have no idea how the Thunder will actually play Jackson moving forward. I know they would prefer to have Jeremy Lamb be the one to replace Marden and to protect Jackson as their insurance policy to Westbrook, but Lamb isn’t ready yet and Jackson is. Jackson actually played more minutes in his last game with Westbrook than in his previous game without Westbrook, while Lamb played less. Though in that previous game OKC was being blown out and cleared their bench.
Jackson and Lamb may end up canceling out each other’s values this year, and Derek Fisher is somehow still out there soaking up minutes, too. Still, I can’t justify letting a talent like Jackson wallow out on the waiver wire until we see how this situation shakes out.
Is he legit? Yes, if we’re talking about talent. If we’re talking about opportunity, I’m not sure yet. Unfortunately, as Doug Kezirian would tell you, in fantasy basketball opportunity matters a lot more than talent. I’m going to invoke a third name for projecting Reggie Jackson’s future: Eric Bledsoe. What Jackson is this year is what Bledsoe was last year: by far the best backup PG in the league, but also playing behind one of the league’s best starters. What Westbrook is to Jackson, Chris Paul was to Bledsoe. Aside from some startlingly high block totals for a 6’1″ guard and a brief span when Paul was injured, Bledsoe was nearly useless for fantasy last year. Yet many fantasy owners were seduced enough by his flashes of talent–and the unpredictable games when he’d drop a line like 14-4-6-2-2 in under 20 min–to keep stashing him. And waiting. And hoping.
Unfortunately, we turned out to be one year early to the Bledsoe bandwagon. I’m telling you to bet that’s not the case for Jackson this year, but, if it is, I already know his floor: last year’s Eric Bledsoe.
Other Notable Players: Remember when I told you Omri Casspi, and not Francisco Garcia, was the Rockets bench player you wanted to pick up, just not yet? Tonight’s game was fluky because of the frenetic pace and Patrick Beverley being out, but it’s time…C.J. Miles put together a second good game but couldn’t scrape 19 min. If something happens to Dion Waiters or Jarrett Jack, he could be a cheap source of 3’s and steals…Speaking of steals, Corey Brewer is averaging 2.5 while playing over 30 mpg. Get him…You may notice Brandon Bass has slipped in the Top 5 Sneaky Pickups. Part of that is due to his past two poor games, but most of it is due to Jared Sullinger working his way back to health. At some point this season, Boston will want to see how good Sullinger can be with starter’s minutes, while Bass’s workman-like game and defense is more suited to a team with higher aspirations.
Top 5 Sneaky Pickups (owned in under 40% of Yahoo! Leagues):
1. Reggie Jackson (39%)
2. Zaza Pachulia (22%)
3. Brandon Bass (38%)
4. Alec Burks (34%)
5. Corey Brewer (13%)
Accountability: According to Jeff Hornacek, the Suns’ coach, Goran Dragic will only miss two games, which means Gerald Green could become droppable as soon as this Friday. Whatever, coach. I’ll believe it when I see it…Vitor Faverani, what are you doing?