Pickup of the Day: Trevor Booker

(Kevin C. Cox / Getty Images)

This season I will highlight a notable player, based on the games played each night, who’s owned in less than 40% of Yahoo! Fantasy Basketball leagues.

The Sneaky Fantasy Basketball Pickups for Friday the 13th of December is Trevor Booker. He’s owned in 5% of Yahoo! Leagues and 2.3% of ESPN Leagues, and quite frankly he might only have one game left of value. On the other hand, it’s very slow right now for pickups, and I can’t keep telling you to pick up Terrence Ross day after day (although I have).

Here’s a look at Booker’s line last night against Atlanta:
20131213 Trevor Booker

Booker’s contributions can be summed up in three words: Nene is injured. That’s not to say Booker isn’t a good player. He’s serviceable, but he’s gotten opportunities in the past and hasn’t been spectacular. He started 14 games last year and 32 two years ago and wasn’t great over the long run in either season. He’s undersized, doesn’t usually get blocks and is a poor FT shooter.

Still, he’s a bull, and he’s most valuable in temporary spurts like this when Nene is suffering from a minor Achille’s injury and will just miss a few games. Nene isn’t playing tonight against the Clippers, and Booker has averaged 18.0 pts, 13.0 reb and 1.5 blk on 56.7% FG in his last two starts for Nene. If a guy you don’t really use, like Ed Davis or Kelly Olynyk, is languishing at the end of your bench, you may want to consider picking up Booker and riding the hot streak.

Other Notable Players: Jeff Taylor is still getting the minutes but not delivering on the production. His 20-point night against Philly is starting to look like a mirage created by the Sixers’ league-leading pace….On the night Tobias Harris returned, it was Andrew Nicholson who heavily outplayed Glen Davis. Eventually, Harris is going to get the starting PF spot back, which means Big Baby’s value is about to get less secure…It’s a broken record now, but just keep playing Tony Wroten. There is still no time table for Michael Carter-Williams’s return…Terrence Ross dropped a nice 24-5-0-1-1 line with another four threes. He’s going to get the minutes over John Salmons, but he may not do much other than score and hit triples…I reserve the right to talk about Amar’e Stoudemire even though he’s not under 40% owned, because he really should be. He set yet another season-high in minutes last night for the injury-riddled Knicks, as well as a season-high in points. This will not last; Tyson Chandler’s return will sink his value if his knees don’t do it themselves. Still, as a fan of basketball and not the just the fantasy kind, this is definitely something I’m following and rooting for (the only thing I’m following and rooting for on the Knicks, aside from the hope that James Dolan one day soon is arrested for some grievous felony and ousted from MSG)…In news more indicative of the Knicks’ actual status, there is somehow not a single guard on the team worth owning right now. Last night made it clearer than ever that they need Kyle Lowry…Kelly Olynyk returned, which could mark the end of Brandon Bass’s productivity. Jared Sullinger should not be affected, and Olynyk himself isn’t useful enough to own…Brook Lopez sat and Andray Blatche ruled. Always play Blatche when Lopez is out. Mirza Teletovic showed some signs of life, but he’s not likely to consistently produce on what’s supposedly a deep roster…Both Ed Davis and Zach Randolph played, and yet Jon Leuer was still productive at the expense of Kosta Koufos. Koufos has been fantastic in Marc Gasol’s absence but has also suffered from some foul trouble lately and isn’t an offensive threat. He should still continue to get the lion’s share of minutes at center, but if this turns into a timeshare with Leuer, nobody wins…One game after both Al-Farouq Aminu and Jason Smith put up silly stats, both crash back to earth. Luckily for Aminu, Tyreke Evans apparently rushed back too soon from his left ankle sprain, as he sprained the same ankle again last night. Same as before, Anthony Morrow might also benefit from Evans’s absence…The Lakers are a mess since Kobe Bryant’s return. The surprisingly stable one through all of this? Nick Young, though his mediocre FG% and poor FT% prevents him from ranking higher. Wes Johnson did finally put up a nice 13-3-1-2-1 reminiscent of what he did pre-Kobe last night, and Jodie Meeks got up 16 shots even if he missed 13 of them…You’ve got to respect Reggie Jackson now. He’s fulfilling that sixth man role that made Kevin Martin and James Harden so successful in OKC…Jimmy Butler returned for Chicago, but instead of Mike Dunleavy who took the hit, it was Taj Gibson. When Luol Deng returns, both will suffer…Can’t wait for the Bucks to reach the tanking part of their season, so we can see much more Giannis Antetokounmpko (whose name I can now almost spell from memory). In the meantime, their rotation outside of John Henson is still too erratic to trust…Just say yes to Marco Belinelli, who really has taken over what Danny Green did last year…Marvin Williams is back, so get him back into your line-ups even though he hasn’t been good yet. Enes Kanter obviously suffered, though Alec Burks may suffer, too, from the renewed depth like he did last night. Jeremy Evans had a surprisingly nice game, and Richard Jefferson has actually been consistent, putting up 15.0 pts and 2.3 3pm on 58.3% FG and 81.8% FT in the last four games. He’s essentially taken over what Williams did, but I wouldn’t expect that to continue now that Williams is back…Rudy Gay’s arrival seemed to have pushed Jason Thompson deeper into the rotation, and not Derrick Williams, who still got over 30 min. Hang on to Williams, but let’s see another game before we anoint him the winner…I just want to note that Dwight Howard hit a three and went a perfect 7-for-7 from the FT line last night. Whaaaaattt…Marreese Speights, 16-9 in 15:34. He’s been teasing us with his potential since he was still in Philly. It’s not going to happen here.

Top Five Sneaky Pickups (owned in under 40% of Yahoo! Leagues):

1. Kosta Koufos (33%)
2. Al-Farouq Aminu (18%)
3. Marvin Williams (12%)
4. Glen Davis (38%)
5. Tony Wroten (23%)

Should’ve never bumped Wroten. He bumps Smith, but Aminu actually rises because of Evans’s injury. Davis falls because of Harris’s return.

Hindsight: What’d I tell you about the Suns? Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe are studs, and everyone else cannibalizes each other’s values. Though Miles Plumlee put up a loaded 12-9-2-4-3 line that pushed him back up to 40% owned today from 39% last night. Otherwise, he’d be today’s Pickup. When I put up one of those lines (points-rebounds-assists-steals-blocks), and both of the last two numbers are above two, that’s a good fantasy night barring only an apocalyptic shooting percentage.

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Pickup of the Day: Greivis Vasquez

(Stephen Dunn / Getty Images)

This season I will highlight a notable player, based on the games played each night, who’s owned in less than 40% of Yahoo! Fantasy Basketball leagues.

Today, however,we’re going to throw that rule out the back door and make the Sneaky Fantasy Basketball Pickup for Wednesday, December 11 the newly Canadian visa-approved Greivis Vasquez. He’s owned in 62% of Yahoo! Leagues and 56.8% of ESPN Leagues, despite averaging just 9.8 pts, 5.3 ast and not much else this season. However, a few situations changed today that should change his market value drastically.

Those who follow NBA news should know that he was recently traded from Sacramento to Toronto as part of the Rudy Gay trade. That was great news for Isaiah Thomas owners, who are now seeing their firecracker PG flourish in a starting role. The underperforming Vasquez, on the other hand, seemed like he was destined to languish behind Kyle Lowry on Toronto’s roster, but now the news is that Toronto is shopping Lowry to the Knicks.

That would open up the starting PG spot for Vasquez, though Toronto may also take back the injured Raymond Felton. Felton is out for 2-3 weeks, which is likely why New York is moving so quickly on a trade. Thus there’s no guarantee yet that Vasquez will have a clearer role in Toronto than he did in Sacramento, where Thomas was favored. However, the reports from Raptors beat reporter Josh Lewenberg about Vasquez have all been extremely positive so far. If Lowry gets traded, I don’t see Felton or anyone else the Raptors get in return pushing Vasquez out of getting the most minutes from the PG position.

In fact, I’m counting on it. I picked up Vasquez in all my leagues, but it wasn’t just because of the speculation on Lowry’s trade. I also happened to own Steve Blake in all my leagues. Blake is now going to miss at least six weeks after an MRI revealed he tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. He’d actually soldiered through the injury for several games now because Steve Nash and Jordan Farmar were both unavailable, but the injury must have gotten too severe. Farmar is still at least two weeks away, while Nash may or may not retire, so the Lakers are basically left with Kobe Bryant as their PG unless they sign someone else (fantasy owners should keep an eye on whomever they do).

So how will fantasy owners replace the whopping 9.4 apg in the past month (second only to Chris Paul) that Blake gave them? How about with a guy who averaged 9.0 apg last season in New Orleans? While it may be unrealistic to expect that level of production from Vasquez on a new team, and certainly not while Lowry is still in Toronto, he’s your best gamble for replacing Blake. If he’s available.

Other Notable Players: Since we’re already breaking the under 40% owned rule, we also have to discuss 43%-owned Amar’e Stoudemire’s mini-resurgence. He’s averaging 14.3 pts, 5.0 reb and 1.3 blk on 70.6% FG and 69.2% FT over his last four. I mentioned yesterday that he was getting minutes with Kenyon Martin out. Well Martin played 35 min last night, and Stoudemire still hit 29:40, his most minutes of the season, and dropped 14-9-1-2-1. Obviously, that’s still a long way from the Amar’e who set a Knicks record three years ago on this day after his eighth straight 30-pt game, but he’s certainly better than the one we’ve seen in recent years who’s been defined more by terms like “minutes cap” and “uninsurable contract” than anything he’s done on the court. I don’t think he’ll continue this, and Tyson Chandler should return this month, but now this is becoming an interesting story. I’m not going to fault anyone for picking Stoudemire up and putting a personal investment into it (but I still don’t take back what I said yesterday about the people owning him still living in 2010)…Nikola Vucevic returned to the line-up and pushed Andrew Nicholson back deep onto the bench. Glen Davis continued to have value and be criminally underowned though. When healthy, Orlando’s rotation is quite consistent, so you can trust the players that produce…Josh McRoberts is making another run at respectability, but Jeff Taylor was worse in his second start. This was Taylor’s first game back after his heel injury, and he still played 31 min, so don’t give up on him yet. However, you should keep in mind that the Bobcats just signed Chris Douglas-Roberts, who plays the same position as Taylor and the injured Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Also, I need to get a cool hyphenated last name…With Tyreke Evans limited off an ankle injury that was supposed to have knocked him out for 1-2 weeks, Al-Farouq Aminu got a lot of burn and put up a 11-14-4-1-2 line that showed off his versatility. Jason Smith also came through with a strong 22-16-1-0-2 line. Both have been tremendous in the four games since Anthony Davis broke his hand, with Aminu averaging 12.0 pts, 13.3 reb, 2.3 ast, 1.8 stl, 0.5 blk and only 1.8 TO, while Smith is averaging 12.5 pts, 12.8 reb, 1.0 ast, 0.3 stl, 1.0 blk and only 1.0 TO. Neither shoots a strong percentage either from the field or the line, but both are contributing enough elsewhere that they should be rostered…Last night’s Bucks game against the Spurs reminds us of another reason why we shouldn’t trust Milwaukee players. When they’re getting blown out, which happens pretty often, coach Larry Drew throws in the towel fast. None of the starters other than O.J. Mayo played more than 21 minutes, and recent stud John Henson and contributor Brandon Knight both flopped. On the bright side, we got to see rooks Giannis Antetokounmpo and Nate Wolters both get some run, as Alphabet posted 15-8-0-2-1 and Wolters 18-1-7-2-1. Don’t expect either to do that regularly until we get to late March…Tony Wroten bounced back last night, and I’m going to keep repeating the mantra that you should keep him in your line-up until Michael Carter-Williams is absolutely confirmed to start. James Anderson (remember him?) actually had a good game again, too, but he’s a mirage…Mike Dunleavy lit up the box score last night with a 20-8-3-3-1 and 3 3pm, albeit on a horrid 29.4% of 24 FGA. He’s been a stud with Luol Deng out injured, though he’s only got a few more games of this left before Deng returns, which could occur as early as tomorrow. Still, if he doesn’t return, you could be in for two more strong Dunleavy performances this week as the Bulls play both Friday and Saturday…As reported above, Ray Felton will be out 2-3 weeks, and Pablo Prigioni got the start over both Tim Hardaway Jr. and Beno Udrih but didn’t do too much with it…Ed Davis was out again last night, and Jon Leuer dropped 17-6-2-2-2 with 2 3pm. Like clockwork. Davis is targeting a return tomorrow…It was the return we’d all been waiting for: Marvin Williams. He wasn’t too impressive in his return (neither was Kobe), but he did push Enes Kanter back way down in the rotation despite some decent games while Williams was gone (all of which the Jazz lost). It should be safe to get Williams back into your line-ups…Let’s see what Derrick Williams and Jason Thompson are like when Rudy Gay is playing before we decide whether to pick them up.

Top Five Sneaky Pickups (owned in under 40% of Yahoo! Leagues):

1. Kosta Koufos (36%)
2. Glen Davis (38%)
3. Marvin Williams (9%)
4. Al-Farouq Aminu (18%)
5. Jason Smith (22%)

After seeing that Williams will be starting again and Kanter will be stuck back on the bench, I need to move him up given what he’s done in the past. I still believe in Reggie Jackson, Jeff Taylor and Tony Wroten, but I couldn’t continue leaving Aminu and Smith off this list given their monster numbers lately.

Hindsight: You’ll notice that, while their numbers are eye-popping, Aminu and Smith actually have pretty low Yahoo! rankings. This is partially because their percentages have been pretty lousy, but it also reflects a quirk in Yahoo!’s ranking system. Basically, Yahoo! loves the peripheral stats: threes, steals, blocks and percentages. They are right to do so because those stats are hard to get consistently, but I believe they put way too much emphasis on them.

Danny Green is the ultimate example of this. For the year, he averages 7.9 pts, 3.2 reb, 1.4 ast, 1.2 stl, 0.9 blk, 1.7 3pm and only 1.0 TO on 44.3% FG and 100% FT in 23 mpg. The FT% is a mirage, however, as he only takes 0.3 FTA a game, making that contribution negligible. Now 1.7 3pm, 1.2 stl and 0.9 blk are useful stats, and he doesn’t hurt you in FG% or turnovers.

Do those make him the 75th best fantasy player though? Would you rather have him than Manu Ginobili (77th), Evan Turner (95th), Joe Johnson (99th), Corey Brewer (104th) or Jeff Green (116th)?

Those are just some of the players who play Green’s position. There are also guys like Brandon Jennings (79th), David Lee (81st), Jeff Teague (96th), Greg Monroe (101st), Nikola Pekovic (109th), Pau Gasol (111th), Kyrie Irving (118th) and Tony Parker (123rd) who all rank below Green.

Yes, I have definitely used Yahoo! rankings as part of my argument. They are a good reference point and indicator that a player might be weak or strong in an area you may not have noticed, but ultimately you need to be looking at the numbers themselves and how they help your team.

No Pickup of the Day

Once again, there is no Pickup of the Day today. Check out the Top 5 below to see whom we recommend from already discussed players.

Other Notable Players: Tony Wroten did start again and got 36 min, but missed 10 of his 12 shots. He till finished with 10 rebounds and seven assists though. Michael Carter-Williams is still unsure of when he’ll return, so keep playing Wroten…Nate Robinson filled it up last night with a 16-3-2-4-0 and one 3pm. Outside of scoring and a three, he’s not giving you much per game, however…Glen Rice, Jr. filled in for the injured Martell Webster. Nothing to see here. They don’t play again until Friday, and Webster may even be back by then…Jeff Taylor failed to build on his solid first start for Michael Kidd-Gilchrist when he sat out last night with a bruised heel injury. Anthony Tolliver took over the start and did nothing with it. Josh McRoberts had a nice 11-10-6-1-1 and one 3pm though. He’s put himself back on the map with 8.3 pts, 9.3 reb, 4.3 ast and 2.0 stl in his past three games, though don’t trust him until you see more…Andrew Nicholson has started the last three games with Nikola Vucevic out and Jason Maxiell demoted to the bench. He finally broke through in his best game of the year last night, dropping 19 pts, 11 reb, 4 blk and 2 3pm in 37 min. Vucevic is questionable for tomorrow’s game, so Nicholson still has value for now…I told you if Ed Davis, Zach Randolph or both are out, play Jon Leuer. (Actually I said Leuer’s value collapses when both Davis and Randolph play, then tried to pretend like I said he’s a great play when either sits–calling myself out!) At least until Marc Gasol returns…Jerryd Bayless took over the start for Quincy Pondexter, who’s done for the season, but Bayless didn’t do much. Tony Allen could be back as soon as tomorrow, so this isn’t worth following…Jeremy Evans got the start with Derrick Favors out, but he didn’t do much either. He’s versatile though, and his return pushed Rudy Gobert out of the rotation…Alec Burks looks legit again, but remember he doesn’t get you any peripheral stats, only the meat and potatoes. Over his last seven, he’s averaged 16.6 pts, 3.7 reb, 2.9 ast, 0.3 stl, 0.1 blk, 0.9 3pm, 50.6% FG on 11.6 FGA and 84.8% FT on 4.7 FTA…Derrick Williams blew up for a career-high 31 pts to go with 5 reb, 5 stl and 3 3pm, but remember this was without Rudy Gay in the line-up. Even though he was our Pickup before, Williams’s stock might be even lower now than it was then, as this huge game won’t matter when Gay takes over the starting SF spot. Williams still has to beat out Jason Thompson for most of the minutes at PF to have value, and it’s unclear whether he can yet.

Top Five Sneaky Pickups (owned in under 40% of Yahoo! Leagues):

1. Kosta Koufos (36%)
2. Glen Davis (37%)
4. Jeffery Taylor (4%)
3. Kirk Hinrich (36%)
5. Tony Wroten (16%)

No change in these parts either, except a one percent increase for Tony Wroten. Sixteen teams and eight games are on the slate tonight though, so we’ll see if anything shakes up.

Pickup of the Day: Channing Frye


(Kim Klement / USA TODAY Sports)

This season I will highlight a notable player, based on the games played each night, who’s owned in less than 40% of Yahoo! Fantasy Basketball leagues.

The Sneaky Fantasy Basketball Pickup for Tuesday, November 26 is Channing Frye. He didn’t play tonight, but there were no significant performances, so I dug deeper in into the free agents pool to find someone under-owned and came up with three PF/C’s, all with caveats.

John Henson has been a fantastic source of blocks and boards and also has been fairly resilient to coach Larry Drew’s befuddling rotations so far, but Milwaukee is a mess. I’m recommending everyone to avoid that entire situation for the time being. Brandon Bass has also seen consistent production again with Kelly Olynyk out of the line-up for two weeks, but he has the lowest upside. That leaves Frye, who is 20% owned in Yahoo! Leagues and 5.5% owned in ESPN Leagues.

Here’s a look at his line Monday night against Miami:
20131126 Channing Frye

This was a solid game, and, as previously mentioned, he averaged 12.8 pts, 5.0 reb, 1.4 blk and 2.4 3′s in the five games beforehand. What muddles up this productivity is that all but one of these games came with Eric Bledsoe out of the line-up. Bledsoe doesn’t play Frye’s position and shouldn’t affect Frye’s minutes, but the offense does run through Bledsoe when he’s on the floor. Most of Frye’s games alongside Bledsoe have been awful, though the sample size is too small even to argue a correlation at this point.

Frye could well be playing himself back into shape after missing all of last season to undergo heart surgery. I’m much less worried about his value dropping than I am about Gerald Green’s when Bledsoe returns. Therein lies yet another problem. Who knows when Bledsoe will be back? He tested his shin in pre-game the last two games and didn’t play either. After initial reports that he’d be back tomorrow, now even that has dropped back to a maybe. Either way, you should keep both Frye and Green in your line-ups until you actually see Bledsoe’s name next to some minutes in the box score.

Is he legit? In the last seven days, no other NBA player is averaging over 2.5 threes and 1.0 blocks per game except Channing Frye (2.8 3’s, 1.2 blk). That is a sweet, sweet pair of stats to go with 13.4 pts, 5.6 reb, and 1.2 stl. Before his surgery, Frye actually was playing even better, though his mpg has fallen every year since 2011. If he can sustain this level of play with both Bledsoe and Goran Dragic in the line-up, he will rocket up the Top 5 List, and I’ll have to kick Danny Green off my own fantasy boat.

Other Notable Players: Steve Blake wasn’t bad tonight (15-3-5, 2 3’s in 30 min), but Jordan Farmar (22-2-8-1, 3 3’s in 26 min) was just better. Nick Young also seems to have displaced Jodie Meeks as the Lakers’ three-point gunner, or maybe Meeks isn’t getting as many looks as a starter while Young has always bombed away without conscience. Expectedly, Young’s FG% is much worse…Another strong game for Andray Blatche (24-5-0-2-2) and another disappointingly uneven one for Shaun Livingston (5-6-7-2). It’s as if that dunk in traffic last week sapped the rest of Livingston’s offense for the entire season…Glen Davis’s value was in trouble for about one game. Tobias Harris was deactivated again today after feeling pain in his ankle. To make things even more interesting, Mo Harkless only played 11 min, giving Davis (32 min), E’Twaun Moore (30) and Andrew Nicholson (25) all extra playing time. Big Baby was underwhelming, but both Moore and Nicholson had good games off the bench. There’s been a lot of back-and-forth in the Magic rotation recently, so it’s worth waiting to see how this turns out…Jermaine O’Neal turned back the hands of time and posted an 18-8 against the Pelicans, but his large share of the minutes only came due to a one-game suspension to Andrew Bogut.

Top 5 Sneaky Pickups (owned in under 40% of Yahoo! Leagues):

1. Kosta Koufos (24%)
2. Jared Sullinger (34%)
3. Marvin Williams (6%)
4. Glen Davis (32%)
5. Patrick Beverley (31%)

Hindsight: Did I panic over Big Baby’s value one day after recommending him when Harris returned? Naaah, that couldn’t have been me.

Pickup of the Day: Brandon Knight

(AP Photo / Morry Gash)

This season I will highlight a notable player, based on the games played each night, who’s owned in less than 40% of Yahoo! Fantasy Basketball leagues.

The Sneaky Fantasy Basketball Pickup for Sunday, November 24 is Brandon Knight. He’s owned in 38% of Yahoo! Leagues and 39.1% of ESPN Leagues. He was heavily mentioned in last night’s column, but, being as he’s still under 40% owned, fantasy owners in need of a PG should get on it and pick him ASAP.

Here’s a look at his line last night against Charlotte:
20131124 Brandon Knight

No, it’s not an impressive line, and it highlights two of his major flaws: poor shooting and turnovers. However, as previously mentioned, he is the point guard of the future in Milwaukee. He was the key piece the Bucks got in return for the sign-and-trade of Brandon Jennings to the Pistons, though a lot of that had to do with the Bucks’ unwillingness to pay Jennings.

Knight and Luke Ridnour’s injuries allowed the other PG’s on the team, Nate Wolters and Gary Neal, to establish some value. However, now that Knight and Ridnour are both back, they should become the starter and backup respectively for the time being.

Is he legit? Knight was coming along and improving in Detroit last year, where he started all 75 games he played and averaged 13.3 pts, 3.3 reb, 4.0 ast and 1.6 3’s while sharing point guard duties with Jose Calderon, Rodney Stuckey and Will Bynum. Those numbers came erratically, though, as he had 20 games scoring in the 20’s and 30’s and 25 games scoring in single digits.

After a tumultuous summer, he finally landed in Milwaukee as Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings were both on their way out. While hamstring problems have kept Knight ineffective so far, Milwaukee still hopes he is the other half of their backcourt of the future alongside O.J. Mayo. Milwaukee is going to let him play, both as the starting point guard and as off-guard when he shares the court with Luke Ridnour. I expect his FG% and assists eventually to rise while playing alongside Mayo, and, if he can stay healthy, he should have plenty of opportunities to put up gaudy totals.

Other Notable Players: Mike Dunleavy had the better scoring night while Kirk Hinrich got the assists for the Bulls. That’s probably the way it will continue to go between these two with both Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler out, though they won’t always be playing under 30 min as they’re getting blown out…Conversely, ignore Darren Collison’s productive night for the Clippers, but do keep in mind that starter Jared Dudley dropped 21 points with four threes in just 21 min. He’s been semi-productive ever since Matt Barnes has been out with a retinal tear…After an abysmal start to the season, Channing Frye has now averaged 12.8 pts, 5.0 reb, 1.4 blk and 2.4 3’s in his last five games, including a 0-1-0 stinker in the middle. I don’t know how much this is directly related to Eric Bledsoe missing the past four games, but anyone who gets you blocks and threes like that is worth a pickup…Speaking of Bledsoe being out, you should keep playing Gerald Green (20-8-2-2, 4 3’s) until you see Bledsoe back. Bledsoe has been trying out his shin before the last two games but hasn’t been able to go so far…Now both Markieff and Marcus Morris are productive? I don’t understand this situation, but, all things being equal, Marcus is the one that hits threes…It’s not Moe Harkless continuing to start. It’s not Andrew Nicholson getting more minutes and being more effective. It’s Tobias Harris returning unexpectedly early that makes me regret my Glen Davis pick last night. Still, Davis is worth holding on to until we see how Orlando’s rotation shakes out with two major pieces returning in two nights…Russell Westbrook sat out tonight just to give him a break in a long stretch without games, and Oklahoma City was blowing out Utah. That explains Reggie Jackson’s start and Jeremy Lamb and Perry Jones’s solid games, but don’t expect those to continue…Marvin Williams did not have a good game in this blowout, but he did get the start over Enes Kanter, who also injured his ankle in this game. Williams had three good games previously and now should be in line for even more…Xavier Henry is not back.

Top 5 Sneaky Pickups (owned in under 40% of Yahoo! Leagues):

1. Kosta Koufos (18%)
2. Jared Sullinger (33%)
3. Brandon Knight (38%)
4. Glen Davis (24%)
5. Mo Williams (23%)

Glen Davis drops down on this list while we wait for Orlando to figure out its rotation. Jared Sullinger edges up past Knight because I got overzealous about Knight returning yesterday and discounted Sullinger’s recent consistency. Meanwhile, Marvin Williams and Channing Frye are both knocking at the door, and another poor game by Mo Williams should let one in.

Hindsight: Jordan Crawford should’ve returned to the Top Five list yesterday, but today he’s already at 40% owned…Andray Blatche got the start tonight but didn’t produce, but he was still better than Shaun Livingston who has now had three straight terrible games despite averaging over 28 mpg and having a stellar previous week. Brook Lopez is questionable for Tuesday’s game, but Deron Williams is almost certainly out, so Livingston will get at least another chance to turn it around.

Pickup of the Day: Jarrett Jack

(AP Photo / Matt Slocum)

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 Saturday, November 9 is Jarrett Jack. He’s already up to 38% owned across Yahoo! Leagues and may be out of our Pickup range in the coming days if he keeps producing off the bench.

Here’s a look at his line last night against Philadelphia:
20131110 Jarrett Jack

Speaking of the Cavs, their fairytale rise to contention following LeBron bailing to South Beach seems to have been slightly derailed by two offseason choices that aren’t panning out. The first was signing Andrew Bynum, a calculated risk that is going bust. With the way he’s talking about retiring, I’m no longer sure Bynum’s got more left in the tank than Greg Oden. The second and far less defensible was drafting Anthony Bennett with their no. 1 overall pick, a puzzling choice even in a draft riddled with uncertainty. Bennett has been so awful to start the season, he makes Kwame Brown look like Tim Duncan.

On the other hand, signing Jack was a good choice, as he was a capable backup in Golden State last year (though he makes a lot of odd turnovers) and Kyrie Irving has missed an average of 19 games per year in his first two years. Jack’s had a smaller role in Cleveland so far, but he didn’t really get consistent minutes either last year until December.

Is he legit? Not as much as he was in Golden State. His numbers last night were inflated by the fact that the game went into two overtimes (and I don’t know if he’s ever had three blocks in a game before in his career) but I do expect his minutes to average out closer to the 29 min range he did last year. However, he’s not getting as much of a chance to run the offense playing alongside Irving and Dion Waiters as he did with Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. His per-minute assist numbers are already notably down, though the sample size is still small. Nonetheless, there aren’t many readily available point guards on the waiver wire, so Jack might still fulfill a need for you.

Other Notable Players: Andrew Nicholson got 25 min tonight, but the results were pretty Andrew Nicholson-ish…One good game and most of his value came from the FT line. I’m going to need to see more from Tyler Hansborough first…Alec Burks had a bit of a bounceback game, but until he starts dropping threes regularly, he’s a low upside pickup…Kelly Olynyk got the start over Vitor Faverani, who has completely fallen off. Neither are worth rostering. There’s still plenty of room on the Jared Sullinger bandwagon that I’m driving, but Jordan Crawford has also been quite useful since replacing Gerald Wallace in the starting line-up…Zaza Pachulia and John Henson both put up disappointing lines, but they also both continued to start while Larry Sanders sat. Caron Butler meanwhile had his biggest game of the season, but his continued poor shooting is a lead weight to fantasy teams…DeJuan Blair is just a rebounding and steals machine that also happens to brick free throws like crazy.

Top 5 Sneaky Pickups (owned in under 40% of Yahoo! Leagues): We say goodbye to another Top Sneaky Pickup as Markieff Morris is now at 46% owned.

1. Zaza Pachulia (35%)
2. Martell Webster (17%)
3. Steven Adams (16%)
4. Corey Brewer (20%)
5. Metta World Peace (30%)

Accountability: Man, was I wrong about Jeremy Lin being more useful than Patrick Beverley. It’s only one game, but I’m overreacting because of Lin’s tiff with James Harden and separately with Dwight Howard. Is he running low on friends in Houston?

Pickup of the Day: Markieff Morris

(AP Photo / Rick Scuteri)

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 Friday, November 8 is Markieff Morris. He is currently owned in 28% of Yahoo! Fantasy Leagues, and, after two scintillating nights, that number is likely to leap quite a bit by tomorrow morning.

Here’s a look at his line tonight against Denver:
20131108 Markieff Morris

We’ve had eleven Pickups of the Day so far, and three of them have been Suns, proving productive players on “bad” teams are always underrated. Though “bad” is a misleading label right now with Philadelphia and Phoenix both leading their divisions at 4-2.

Markieff and Marcus Morris have both been productive for three games now, but Markieff really blew up in the last game when he dropped 23 points on 11-13 FG. He topped that tonight with a career-high 28 points on 10-13 FG and 7-8 FT. Markieff Morris will also get you strong rebounding numbers, steals, and the occasional three. He had a brief streak of games like this late last year on this team as well, but he’s hitting a new level now. Pick him up and see how far he can carry you.

Is he legit? I really don’t know. After his previous game, I thought he would eventually absorb Channing Frye’s minutes, but Frye played 30 min tonight and wasn’t horrible. Meanwhile, P.J. Tucker is looking less and less useful. At some point, I would guess Morris is replacing someone in the starting line-up and will keep getting starter’s minutes. However, we should also remember that he’s shot 84.6% and 76.9% on 13 shots his last two games, something that won’t continue. Expect his value to fall back to earth over the next few games. The only question is by how much. If he keeps up his current season stats–16 & 7 with 1.6 stl and a three every other game on solid percentages–then you’ve already got yourself a good pickup. However, those averages are skewed by some light minutes earlier in the season. We’ve seen Morris is a much stronger scorer and rebounder in heavier minutes, and his ceiling could be quite high on this motley crew of fantasy goodness.

Other Notable Players: If not for Markieff Morris, the Pickup would definitely be Steven Adams. Adams had a solid outing against Dallas on Wednesday and stepped it up even more against Detroit tonight to the tune of a 17-10 with three blocks on .700 FG% and .750 FT%, even outplaying much-hyped opposing center Andre Drummond. As OKC slowly realizes Kendrick Perkins should not be their Center of even the present, Adams will get more and more opportunities. The reason Morris beats Adams out is because I don’t expect consistent play from rookies…Al Harrington took advantage of Martell Webster’s foul trouble to steal minutes away, but Webster is still the player you want…Iman Shumpert took the minutes I expected to go to Metta World Peace, and Andrea Bargnani’s huge game didn’t help World Peace either. Unfortunately this situation will get even more muddled after J.R. Smith’s return…Bargnani didn’t qualify as a Pickup on this blog when he was 42% owned two days ago, and he definitely doesn’t now that he’s 52% owned, but I hope you were part of that lucky 10% that took a chance on him, because it’s about to get a lot harder to get him…Another impressive sub-20 min game for C.J. Miles. Wish Mike Brown would give either him or Jarrett Jack regular minutes…James Anderson and Tony Wroten are really running neck-to-neck here. Anderson is still getting the start and more minutes, but Wroten might end up with more fantasy value off the bench in a Jeremy Lin type of way…Kelly Olynyk got more minutes, but he didn’t do as much with them as Jared Sullinger did with his. 11-6-4 with 2 blk and 7-8 FT in under 20 min? The .250 FG% wasn’t good, but his time is coming…Andrew Nicholson’s time will come, too, but I’m less sure of him since he still hasn’t been able to beat out Jason Maxiell and has Tobias Harris and Glen Davis somewhere on the horizon…Steve Nash was expected to be out tonight, and Steve Blake stepped up in his place. He still only has value if Nash gives advance notice for additional missed games, but Jordan Farmar has the higher upside…Jae Crowder has been quietly gaining minutes and hitting threes for Dallas. Though he didn’t make any threes tonight, he played 32 min, his most of the year…Steph Curry was out tonight, so don’t expect a renaissance for Toney Douglas…Goran Dragic ended up not playing tonight, giving Gerald Green one more good game. The window is quickly closing, however…Just like in Phoenix’s last game, Marcus Morris also put up good numbers. Just not as good as Markieff’s. When Dragic returns, I imagine Green and Marcus suffering the biggest hits, which must feel weird as someone who has an identical twin with a bigger role on the same team…We had an Anthony Randolph sighting! The fantasy unicorn returned from a sprained ankle to post a sensational line, hitting virtually every category. Unfortunately, Randolph has no history of consistency; there’s a reason he’s 0% owned. Jordan Hamilton is the more reliable pickup here, but it’s always worth a shot putting the multi-cat monster Randolph on your watch list.

Top 5 Sneaky Pickups (owned in under 40% of Yahoo! Leagues):
1. Markieff Morris (28%)
2. Zaza Pachulia (35%)
3. Martell Webster (18%)
4. Steven Adams (8%)
5. Corey Brewer (16%)

Accountability: When I told you to hang on to Reggie Jackson, I certainly wasn’t anticipating his next two games to be one where he misses an entire half with an injury and then a 6-6-6 in 18 min. Hopefully he’s still recovering from his hip contusion, because otherwise it looks like coach Scott Brooks will play him a lot more like last year’s Eric Bledsoe than last year’s Kevin Martin. He’s not worth dropping yet unless you have a pressing need somewhere else or there’s a really hot pickup like Bargnani burning a hole on your waiver wire, but his outlook has significantly dimmed.

Pickup of the Day: Zaza Pachulia

(AP Photo / Morry Gash)

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 Wednesday, November 6 is Zaza Pachulia. He is the 24th ranked fantasy player by averages, I’ve been pushing him since the Bucks’ first game this season, and yet he’s still only owned in 26% of Yahoo! leagues. However, tonight’s news about Larry Sanders makes him a must-own. In fact, screw you, Greivis Vasquez! I’m picking up Pachulia in my own league!

Here’s a look at Pachulia’s line tonight against Cleveland:
20131106 Zaza Pachulia

The 41 min tonight are a season-high for Pachulia and mainly due to two reasons outside his control. The first was that Ersan Ilyasova was out with an injury (which also gave John Henson a lot of run, see Other Notable Players below). The second was the continuing roller coaster ride that is, as the more-apt-than-ever Zach Lowe nickname goes, LARRY SANDERS!

Sanders, who is already having a disappointing start and averaging under 17 and a half minutes per game, is currently under investigation for smashing multiple champagne bottles over people’s heads at a Milwaukee nightclub. The official designation for Sanders being out in tonight’s game was a “sore thumb.” Yeah, okay. The CBS report that he’s out indefinitely sounds premature to me, but it is entirely possible that he misses even more time pending this investigation.

First of all, this is tragic. Sanders has had disciplinary problems in the past, but last year he proved to be a natural genius in the area of interior defense. The Bucks clearly believed they’d have much more of the latter than the former when they signed him to a $44 million contract this summer, but that hasn’t turned out to be the case so far. As I just waxed poetic about Metta World Peace’s career arc a few hours ago, I certainly hope Sanders gets in touch with MWP and takes a few lessons on how counseling can help him get his life and career back under control. Though I also wonder how much the organization paying him $44 million has been doing in that regard.

Commentary aside, Pachulia has already been outplaying Sanders this year, and that now looks like it will continue for a while longer.

Is he legit? Pachulia was always a productive player for the Atlanta Hawks, but he never got consistent minutes there after Al Horford joined the team. Now with opportunity beckoning in Milwaukee, we could see a better version of what he was back in 2005-07 when he was still a regular starter and averaged 12 & 8 with a steal per game. So far this year he seems to be a better passer and shooter than he was then, which has already boosted his points and assists. The Sanders situation needs monitoring–both the investigation and his struggles this season–but Pachulia will definitely benefit in the meantime.

Other Notable Players: Of course, on the same day I say Markieff and Marcus Morris are just going to devalue Plumlee and Frye without being viable fantasy starters, they both go off. Plumlee even still had a good game. Frye not so much. This rotation is a fluid situation to watch, but both Morris brothers are worth a speculative add…While, I’m atoning for sins, I also said Josh McRoberts was less likely to break out of his slump than Brandon Bass and Vitor Faverani. Wrong. Both McBob and Biddy Bass had solid games tonight. Fav was outplayed by Kelly Olynyk, but I’m not buying that yet. Still holding on to my Jared Sullinger stock though…Andrew Nicholson had a sloppy game, but he put up 16 shots and played more minutes than starters Maurice Harkless and Jason Maxiell as the Orlando bench bolstered a beastly night from Nikola Vucevic to end the Clippers’ winning streak…Going back to the Bucks, John Henson also had a great game tonight with Ersan Ilyasova out of the lineup. Henson’s going to have value all season long…Gary Neal also went off for the Bucks, though Nate Wolters started. Both got heavy minutes, but both would also be tentative pickups with Brandon Knight’s return looming…No, coach Scott Brooks is not going with Derek Fisher over Reggie Jackson. Jackson actually suffered a left hip contusion and didn’t return to the game. He’s not expected to be out long, but if it is serious, Jeremy Lamb would be a good pickup…I just realized four of the five Sixers starters are over 80% owned in Yahoo! Fantasy Leagues, and legitimately so. As a fantasy owner, you’ve got to love “bad” teams. If James Anderson can outplay Tony Wroten, which he hasn’t until tonight despite vastly out-earning him in minutes, he’d be worth a look, too…Zach Randolph only played eight minutes because his fiancée went into labor. Do not pick up Ed Davis.

Top 5 Sneaky Pickups (owned in under 40% of Yahoo! Leagues):
1. Reggie Jackson (33%)
2. Metta World Peace (27%)
3. Zaza Pachulia (26%)
4. Martell Webster (14%)
5. Corey Brewer (15%)

Accountability: I already said I was sorry for that call on McBob and the Morris twins!

Pickup of the Day: Gerald Green

7825006
(
Mark D. Smith / USA TODAY Sports)

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 Sunday, November 3 is Gerald Green. He is owned in just 3% of Yahoo! leagues right now, but he may be in line for a temporary boost.

Here’s a look at his line tonight against Oklahoma City:
20131103 Gerald Green

His value right now is based solely on the status of Goran Dragic, who left tonight’s game after aggravating an ankle he had sprained during the preseason. Until tonight, Green received only minimal playing time backing up Dragic and Eric Bledsoe. With Dragic missing an entire half, however, Green went off and dropped five 3-pointers on his way to 21 points while shooting efficiently and adding nice peripheral stats.

Though it’s still too early for a diagnosis, Dragic’s sprain seems severe, and it wouldn’t be surprising if he missed this entire upcoming week. Green had decent value when he got extended playing time during his 2012 season with the woeful New Jersey Nets, and he’d have an even bigger role on this Suns team that is sadly even worse.

Is he legit? No. Green actually did receive significant playing time for half a month at the beginning of last season with the Pacers and did virtually nothing with it. However, he’s already playing better this year. If Green moves into the starting line-up next to Bledsoe, this will be the biggest role he’s been given yet, and he’s got the multi-category potential to make an impact for your fantasy team.

Other Notable players: Overall, the Suns rotation is maddening. P.J. Tucker was given yet another heavy dose of minutes but disappointed, Miles Plumlee contributed almost nothing, and Channing Frye had his best game of the year. I’m still low on Tucker and high on Plumlee, but I’m keeping an eye on Frye. He could once again be a great source of blocks and 3’s if he finds a consistent role…Andrew Nicholson had his best game of the year, and he’s seeing an uptick in minutes…I’d trust Martell Webster a lot more than Trevor Ariza with the numbers of minutes and shots that Ariza is getting, but Ariza’s the one getting them right now…Although he put up kind of a hollow line tonight, Xavier Henry has finally replaced chuck-it-up all-star Nick Young in the starting line-up…Brandon Bass did not have a good game, but he came into tonight averaging more than 17 & 5 with excellent percentages and PF/C-eligibility and is only owned in 34% of leagues. In fact, he’s the reason I added the new section below.

Top Five Sneaky Pickups: This section will be a running list of the top players owned in under 40% of Yahoo! Leagues, so you have an ongoing idea of who should be picked up if they’re available in your league and I don’t need to keep mentioning them above.

Obviously, you should pick and choose from this list based on your team’s specific position and stat needs, but I will add a note if there’s a player so spectacularly above the others that he should be picked up no matter what your needs are.

My one caveat is that, if your team has no needs but does have room for an additional player, you should pick up Danilo Gallinari (36%). If he were closer to playing, he’d be no. 1 on this list (though probably also way above 40% owned) no matter what. Since he’s at least a month away, he doesn’t make the list.

For now, the Top Five Sneaky Pickups are:

1. Brandon Bass (34%)
2. Zaza Pachulia (22%)
3. Alec Burks (30%)
4. Josh McRoberts (18%)
5. Xavier Henry (23%)

Accountability: As Xavier Henry’s stock rises, Jordan Farmar’s seems to be slipping. After a promising first two games, Farmar hasn’t seen more than 19 minutes in his latest two. Steve Nash isn’t getting as much run as fantasy owners who drafted him would hope, but he is getting enough, combined with Steve Blake’s heavy workload, to push Farmar off fantasy radars.

Pickup of the Day: Miles Plumlee

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

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 Wednesday, October 30, 2013 is Miles Plumlee. He was owned in 10% of Yahoo! leagues when I started writing this, and now his ownership is at 23%! He might well become ineligible to count as a “sneaky” pick by tomorrow, so I’m posting this tonight.

Here’s a look at his line tonight vs. Portland:

This was a massive night in NBA games with 28 teams playing, and there were so many possible great performances by players eligible to be sneaky pickups that I can’t even justify wasting too much time waxing poetic about Michael Carter-Williams (79% owned) coming out of a terrible summer league and lackluster preseason to post 22 pts, 7 reb, 12 ast, 9 stl, 4 3’s, 60.0 FG%, 75.0 FT% in his first career game. I’ll just leave it at “Wow.”

So out of all the great performances tonight, why does Miles Plumlee take the prize? Opportunity. As Cody Ulm superbly wrote for SB Nation, Plumlee was the biggest winner from the Marcin Gortat trade. Channing Frye hasn’t played NBA basketball in 16 months after suffering a heart ailment, Alex Len is still recovering from double ankle surgery, and no one knows when Emeka Okafor will be back on the court.

Plumlee has the athleticism and the skills, and now he’s finally getting the minutes, too, as the Phoenix Suns’ starting center. Coming over from Indiana in the Luis Scola trade, he put up yeoman numbers in the preseason as the Suns’ coaching staff fiddled with him in the starting line-up. Now with Gortat out of town, he’s the incumbent.

It’s hard to predict his ceiling, as he never even averaged over 21 mpg at Duke, and he nearly hit 40 min tonight. The three blocks are likely a rare treat, but this is a guy who’s going to get you points and rebounds without hurting you in percentages.

How legit is he? Legit. There is nobody else on this roster I see taking minutes away from Plumlee aside from Len and Okafor. I see the Morris twins and Frye cutting into P.J. Tucker’s minutes before they do Plumlee’s. Okafor may be the better defensive player, but it’s not like the Suns will rush him back for some postseason run. Though at some point, the Suns will be so terrible that they’re going to want to see what they have in Len, I don’t envision that until after the All-Star break. Plumlee is a lock, and now he’s at 25% owned! Stop reading, and go pick him up!

Other Notables: Josh McRoberts gets the silver medal. Like Plumlee, he’s an athletic journeyman who’s won the starting job from a hyped rookie big man, in this case Cody Zeller. Zeller just seems to be a bigger threat here than Len does to Plumlee…Utah is going to be a very interesting team for fantasy this year as all sorts of unproven players get huge minutes, and Alec Burks could easily be Sixth Man of the Year if he doesn’t move into the starting line-up outright…Tim Duncan left the game tonight with a chest contusion, which means Boris Diaw could be in line for serious minutes…Trevor Ariza posted a monster line, but I don’t buy it. He’s 40% from the field in the past four years, he’s  competing with Martell Webster and Al Harrington for minutes, and I don’t trust he’ll always get his shots while sharing the ball with John Wall and Bradley Beal…Apparently Larry Sanders hasn’t gotten over his foul problems, and Zaza Pachulia will stand to benefit on nights he’s limited…Speaking of Milwaukee, Gary Neal seems to be the winner if Brandon Knight’s hamstring injury is serious…And Will Bynum is the winner in Detroit while Rodney Stuckey and Brandon Jennings are out…Here are three veterans who should just be owned in more leagues: Vince Carter, Corey Brewer, Caron ButlerAndrew Nicholson: another solid line, another game under 20 min…I’ve seen Francisco Garcia put up hollow stat lines like tonight’s his entire career. The Houston bench guy you want is Omri Casspi, and you don’t actually want him that much. Oh, and so much for Patrick Beverley taking over that PG job.

Accountability: Well, the Lakers certainly seem committed to giving Xavier Henry all the opportunities he could want to succeed, as he got 35 min while Wes Johnson, Jodie Meeks, and Nick Young all got under 25 in tonight’s historic beatdown by the Warriors. Henry’s final line didn’t look atrocious, but it really was before a full fourth quarter of garbage time. As was Jordan Farmar’s. Still, as long as Henry is playing 35 min, he’s rosterable.