Pickup of the Day: Terrence Jones


(Soobum Im / 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 Wednesday, December 25–#NBAXmas–is Terrence Jones. After a strong stretch earlier in the season, his numbers took a huge dive during and following a bout with the flu this month, to the point where his ownership dropped to 35% in Yahoo! Leagues and 28.6% in ESPN Leagues. It was never clear why Jones declined so much even after recovering from his illness, but last night’s game showed he’s still got the mojo he had earlier this year.

Here’s a look at his line last night against San Antonio:
20131225 Terrence Jones

Still got it! This is by far his best game since he dropped 16 points, 13 reb, 2 stl, 5 blk and 2 3pm against Orlando on Dec. 8. In the seven games between that game and last night’s, however, he was terrible. Here’s a comparison of how he did in those seven games against his other 15 starts this season:

20131225 Terrence Chart

Right now, we can only speculate as to whether his play was due to the after-effects of the flu or something more persistent, but his near across-the-board contributions (albeit with disappointing FT%) when he is playing well makes him worth the gamble. If he’s back on track, you need to get him back into your rotation or at least on your bench so you can monitor him.

Other Notable Players: If the Bulls ever trade either Luol Deng or Carlos Boozer, grab Taj Gibson immediately. Here’s a look at Gibson’s numbers with and without Deng in the line-up this season:

20131226 Taj Chart

Gibson’s numbers seem decent even overall, but he scored in single digits in nine of his first 13 games before Boozer slipped in production for three games. Then Gibson went off, culminating in a 26-14 and 5 blk in a triple-OT affair on Dec. 2. After that, Boozer got productive again, but Deng went out, so Gibson was able to keep his numbers up until Deng returned on Dec. 14. Gibson looked to be heading back to his early-season levels of unproductivity at that point, until Deng missed the last three games. Now Gibson is playing strong again, but this will end again as soon as Deng returns.

What to do with Gibson then? If you have a free roster spot, stash him. This is a guy who plays the extremely valuable PF/C position who is getting more opportunities this year than any since his rookie season before Boozer arrived in Chicago.

Another notable event in Chicago was the return of Kirk Hinrich to the starting line-up, though he only managed 20 min and D.J. Augustin outplayed him in his 33 min. Hinrich has gotten a lot of minutes at PG this year with Derrick Rose out, though possibly undeservedly considering he’s shooting a career-low 34.5% FG. Augustin has definitely outplayed Hinrich recently, but this is likely to become a timeshare that sinks both players’ values.

So Brooklyn still sucks, but Mirza Teletovic put up 17 pts, 2 blk, and 3 3pm in 19 min. As Rotoworld’s Aaron Bruski noted, those are Andrea Bargnani numbers when Bargnani is actually good (not last night). Anything is a possible in a post-Brook Lopez world. Speaking of whom, his anticipated successor Andray Blatche has been subpar in both games since Lopez’s season ended, but Blatche is going to receive too many opportunities to ignore.

As far as that other crappy team in the boroughs, there was plenty of notable fantasy pickup news with Raymond Felton and Carmelo Anthony both sitting on the bench looking like this. Beno Udrih was awful, which is bad news considering both Felton and Pablo Prigioni are still expected to be out a while longer. Another PG option to which the Knicks may turn is rookie Tim Hardaway Jr., who put in an efficient 10 points on 4-of-8 FG in the first half and then a more J.R. Smith-esque 11 points on 4-of-11 FG in the second. You would expect a noted defender like him to get more steals, but he doesn’t. Amar’e Stoudemire scoring 22 points in last night’s blowout was nice, but he hadn’t scored in double-digits or played 20 min in his previous four games.

The Lakers actually played the Heat pretty tightly last night, considering the blowouts that preceded their game. Jodie Meeks was excellent, dropping 17-4-3-2-0 with 4 3pm on 50.0% FG. You’re welcome, 1.5 people who picked him up because of Tuesday’s column. I still like him way more than I like Nick Young, who scored a little more last night (20 pts) but got no steals and shot 38.9% FG.

Jordan Hill looked great against the weak Miami frontline, going 7-5-1-3-2 in his 12 min in the first half. He wasn’t as good with 2-5-0-1-1 in his 12 min in the second. Somehow, coach Mike D’Antoni still managed to keep his minutes limited even without playing either Chris Kaman or Robert Sacre. Considering Pau Gasol is now day-to-day, one would expect D’Antoni would have no choice but to play Hill 30+ min. It seems like a lock, but D’Antoni has become a savant at finding ways to jerk Hill’s minutes around.

The big news should’ve been that Jordan Farmar returned and played over 32 min, but he only managed a paltry 3-5-2-0-0 while missing six of his seven shots and committing four turnovers. He did not look aggressive at all, but this should change as he gets more comfortable with his recovering hamstring. Also, as noted before in this blog, the Heat are an absolutely brutal matchup for opposing point guards. “Backup PG” Xavier Henry didn’t do too badly, going 14-5-2-2-0, but he’s destined for a deeper bench role now.

Aaron Brooks seemed good in his first game playing behind Jeremy Lin, but he was horrible last night. Unlike many fantasy prognosticators, I am still fully on-board with Brooks’s value. Houston won’t likely play him like they did Patrick Beverley, where both Lin and Beverley often saw the court together at the end of games, but Brooks hopefully will get chances to come in as a scorer and playmaker off the bench much the same way that Isaiah Thomas did earlier this year for Sacramento.

Both Jared Dudley and Matt Barnes put up duds last night after alternating good games for the previous two, and that’s all the news from the only marquee matchup on Christmas.

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

1. Terrence Jones (35%)
2. Giannis Antetokounmpo (19%)
2. Jordan Farmar (18%)
3. Reggie Jackson (39%)
4. Glen Davis (38%)

Jones takes the top spot, and Augustin falls off. I’m not worried for Antetokounmpo’s value with news that Larry Sanders is probable to return this Friday. Sanders is more likely to affect John Henson and Miroslav Raduljica’s values, though he was miserable earlier this season and will have to work even harder to get back to the level at which he was playing last year under a different coach.

That does it for Sneaky Fantasy Basketball Pickups for 2013. I am out of the country until the second week of January, where I’ll have many, many games and much, much player news on which to catch up and report to you. In the mean time, follow @sneakyfantasybb on Twitter to catch any brief up-to-date news I may need to report.

Enjoy the rest of your holiday season, and have a happy new year!

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No New Pickup

There is no new Pickup from last night’s brief slate of games. Check out the Top Five below to see who you should pick up in general.

Other Notable Players: Matt Barnes didn’t get a chance to have a second good game as he got ejected for a flagrant two foul. Jared Dudley was unremarkable but serviceable (15-4-0-4-0, 1 3pm) in his absence…Raptors coach Dwane Casey went with John Salmons down the stretch in last night’s win over Oklahoma City, including all of the fourth quarter. Though Salmons’ contributions weren’t substantial (15-3-2-2-0, 1 3pm), he is a more versatile player than starter Terrence Ross. Let’s see where this goes…If, like me, you’re still holding on to Greivis Vasquez, your outlook isn’t looking good. Not only have the Kyle Lowry rumors died off to the point of conjecture, but Lowry has looked fantastic lately, dropping 19.7 pts, 5.3 reb, 7.0 ast, 2.3 stl and 3.0 3pm last week…Danny Granger looked better in his second game. Lance Stephenson dropped a triple-double. I’m not concerned about either of them.

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

1. Jon Leuer (20%)
2. Giannis Antetokounmpo (18%)
3. Jordan Farmar (9%)
4. Reggie Jackson (38%)
5. Glen Davis (37%)

Not concerned about all about Jackson’s 1-for-11 game last night. Bad games happen to everyone. Tonight we’ll see exactly how brilliant/idiotic I’ve been for clinging on to Leuer for the top spot.

Pickup of the Day: Aaron Brooks


(AP Photo / Pat Sullivan)

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 Saturday, December 21 is Aaron Brooks. He’s owned in 8% of Yahoo! Leagues and 0.9% of ESPN Leagues, but he is the the most added player in Yahoo! Leagues today because Patrick Beverley is out for 4-6 weeks with a broken hand. That just opened up 31 and a half minutes for Houston point guards, of which Aaron Brooks happens to be the only healthy one.

Ignoring the crazy rumors that Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik are being packaged to the Nets or Lakers (not even Prokhorov would pay $30 mil for one year of both…would he?), we should note Lin is hopeful to return on Monday. Even if he does, Brooks should still be pushing 30 mpg as the backup PG. If he doesn’t, watch out.

The biggest concern with Brooks is his recent abysmal FG%. He is averaging a horrific 28.6% FG over his past two weeks, but, when given more regular playing time over seven games in late November and early December, he shot 46.2% FG while averaging 13.9 pts, 2.6 reb, 4.1 ast, 2.0 stl and 2.6 3pm. Those are phenomenal numbers for a PG averaging 24 mpg off the bench, and now he may not have any competition ahead of him. Though the 2.3 TO he averaged during that seven-game stretch would also increase in nine-category leagues, the assists, steals and threes should more than compensate for that.

Other Notable Players: The question for fantasy owners looking at the Kings is no longer how good Derrick Williams can be, but can we trust Jason Thompson? I say no…As predicted, Tobias Harris stayed in the starting line-up, but it was the young gun Victor Oladipo that got pushed out and not the veteran Glen Davis. This keeps Baby’s value steadier than I thought it’d become…Terrence Jones is now back under 40% owned, and his recent collapse in playing time and role suggests the number should be lower than that…Neither Anthony Tolliver nor Chris Douglas-Roberts stepped up in the first game with the Bobhornets missing both Jeff Taylor and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist…As well as D.J. Augustin, Tony Snell and Taj Gibson all played last night, it is really hard to trust them with Kirk Hinrich, Jimmy Butler and Luol Deng all out. Both Snell and Gibson have proven to be unreliable when both Butler and Deng are in the line-up. It’s questionable whether Augustin will still be useful after Hinrich returns, although “after Hinrich returns” has been a refrain for a long time. Hinrich did go through shootaround before last night’s game, but Augustin’s assist totals are tempting…Khris Middleton answered my challenge about his low FG% by shooting 73.3% on 15 FGA (literally answered it, he found me at a bar after the game and said “How you like them apples?”). He’s been decent lately except for his FG%, but his FG% for the season is better than what it’s been. Caron Butler also had a fantastic game in his return, and it’s notable that the extra minutes for him pushed O.J. Mayo’s minutes back more than they did Giannis Antetokounmpo’s. Keep in mind, though, that this was all done with John Henson sitting out, but his return is most likely just to sink Ekpe Udoh and Miroslav Raduljica’s minutes. Then again, you can never rely on anything with coach Larry Drew…Marco Belinelli pushed Boris Diaw out of the Spurs’ starting line-up and had his second good game in a row, this time with Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili all active. Let’s see where this goes…Okay, now I am paying attention to Brandan Wright, who is averaging 13.8 pts, 5.0 reb and 2.3 blk in his four games this season and has negated both DeJuan Blair and Samuel Dalembert’s values…And last night it was Channing Frye, P.J. Tucker and Gerald Green, while Miles Plumlee and the Morrises Markieff and Marcus disappointed. Of that group, only Frye is trustworthy right now…Told you Nick Young’s poor FG% was going to catch up with him eventually, but last night was brutal (5-for-18). Chris Kaman had a nice 10-17-3 blk line on almost as brutal FG% (5-for-17). He got the start because Pau Gasol was out with an upper respiratory infection. Gasol is questionable for Monday, but don’t assign even short-term value to Kaman just yet. Those of you who kept playing Jordan Hill were rewarded with a 14-10, but he still only saw 20 min of playing time. Unless there’s some type of secret injury that the Lakers are hiding, it just seems like coach Mike D’Antoni refuses to give him regular minutes despite an utter lack of better options. Finally, we should note that Wes Johnson played more minutes than any other player in last night’s game, and he might’ve finished with a decent night if he didn’t miss all seven of his FGs. I still say keep an eye on him, because his ceiling is high and he’s one of the few Lakers whose playing time doesn’t seem to be in question…Matt Barnes returned for the Clippers, which just reminded me that the Clippers have both Barnes and Jared Dudley. Why? They are virtually the same player. Barnes did post a nice 13-3-3-2-3 and 3 3pm last night though. He put a stop to Dudley’s recently solid play, and Barnes could post some nice numbers if he takes over Dudley’s spot. At least until J.J. Redick returns.

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

1. Jon Leuer (21%)
2. Giannis Antetokounmpo (17%)
3. Jordan Farmar (8%)
4. Reggie Jackson (38%)
5. Glen Davis (37%)

We knew Andray Blatche wouldn’t last long on this list with Brook Lopez confirmed to be done for the season today, and he indeed graduated to 40% owned. Meanwhile, I’m keeping my deathgrip on Leuer like I did on Kosta Koufos, and Davis makes his return after showing he can keep his own deathgrip on that starting PF position in Orlando.

Pickups of the Day: Figuring Out the Los Angeles Lakers

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.

There is no clear Sneaky Fantasy Basketball Pickup for Sunday, December 1. If you put a suitcase of cash in my hands and forced me to pick (I prefer that analogy to the one about a gun to my head), I’d say it’s Wesley Johnson. He’s owned in 13% of Yahoo! Leagues and 8.2% of ESPN leagues. However, I don’t want to talk just about Wesley Johnson. There is far more that needs to be said about the entire fantasy mess and goodness that is the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Lakers play the fourth fastest pace in the league, which spreads extra value around to all their players. It might be spread a little thin, though, as only two players average over 30 mpg for the year, followed by nine others averaging over 17 mpg. For the past two weeks, the Lakers are one of only two teams that have eight players in the Top 120 of Yahoo! rankings (tied for first with Houston, three teams are tied for second with six each, and Cleveland is the worst and only team with just one–Anderson Varejao at #114 ). Those eight Top 120 players don’t even include former stud Pickups Xavier Henry and Jordan Hill or starting PG Steve Nash.

Let’s break down the team by sections to see how recent events are affecting each.

Big Men: The big story two weeks ago was how Jordan Hill had become a revelation for the Lakers, averaging 18.8 pts, 12.0 reb and 1.8 blk while shooting 61.7% FG and 89.5% FT on 19 FTs in four games. Chris Kaman got pushed back to the bench, and coach Mike D’Antoni had finally found a mobile, energetic big man to play alongside Pau Gasol, who was expected to be a dominant fantasy player sans Kobe but instead has suffered through career lows in FG% and FTA.

Well in the six games since Hill’s breakout week, he’s averaged 6.0 pts, 8.7 reb and 0.8 blk while shooting 38.6% FG and 100% FT on just 2 FTs. Things got worse for Hill last Friday as he sprained his ankle. Though he still played tonight, he was limited to just 15 min. The Lakers could’ve used more, though, as Gasol was limited by a right ankle injury of his own and will undergo an MRI tomorrow. Where was Kaman through all this? Sitting through his fourth straight “Did Not Play – Coach’s Decision” since returning from a back injury.

Who did that leave to take advantage of the opening at center? The Ragin’ Cajun Robert Sacre, who posted an eye-popping 12-7-4-2-3 line on 62.5% FG and 100% FT in a season-high 23 min. This was notably the best game by far of Sacre’s career. Another player who might’ve taken more advantage had he not fouled out tonight was opening day starting PF Shawne Williams. In the previous game when Hill sustained his injury, Williams posted an excellent 20-9-3-2-1 line with six threes.

If Gasol’s MRI results cause him to miss time, Jordan Hill will reap the biggest benefit. However, while he’s still hobbled and Kaman is in D’Antoni’s doghouse, there are definitely openings for both Sacre and Williams. Whether Hill starts at PF or C, one of the two will start alongside him and the other is bound to be the first big off the bench.

Point Guards: Of the eight Lakers in Yahoo!’s Top 120 for the past two weeks, who was the highest ranked? Surprisingly, Jordan Farmar, who averaged 14.6 pts, 3.0 reb, 5.0 ast, 1.2 stl, 0.6 blk and 2.6 3pm in just under 22 mpg in the five games before last night. This despite him being the backup PG to Steve Blake, who’s already a backup PG himself to the injured Steve Nash. Farmar has been so good that he’s still the Lakers’ top-ranked player of the last two weeks even after playing less than a minute last night before leaving the game with a hamstring injury.

Farmar is expected back by the Lakers’ next game on Friday, and even Nash is expected to practice on Tuesday and could also return by Friday. Yet right now Blake is the only healthy PG on the entire team, unless they decide to call Andrew Goudelock back from Russia. Blake remains the PG to own on the Lakers, especially since Farmar’s stock just got a little riskier.

Swingmen: This is where the biggest glut of fantasy value lies with the Lakers. Wesley Johnson, Jodie Meeks, Nick Young and Xavier Henry all have taken turns being the best Laker swingman of the week, and, yes, all of them are under 40% owned. Though one Laker swingman, who’s 98% owned despite not playing a single minute this year, looms over all of them. That would be Kobe Bryant, and he could return as early as Friday, although Sunday is more likely. Bringing back a player who commands that much of the offense (a polite way of saying he hogs the ball) is destined to have an impact on every player’s value, but the party is especially over for the other swingmen.

So why pick up Johnson over the others? Ignore the fact that he’s the highest Yahoo! ranked Laker of the entire season and that he’s played the most minutes of every Laker except Gasol in the past week. As I said, Kobe will change everything when he returns, so Johnson’s current accomplishments must be discounted. However, there are two main reasons to think that Johnson will still retain his value.

The first is his position. Johnson has been the Lakers’ starting SF since November 12. He should stay in the line-up when Kobe reclaims the starting SG spot, and he’s most likely to keep seeing a similar number of minutes. Second is how Johnson gets his value. Meeks, Young and Henry all get their value from scoring and threes. While Johnson also makes threes, a large part of his production is in averaging over a steal and a block per game for the year. Plus he’s a better rebounder than the other three.

When Kobe (who averaged 20.4 FGA last year even when he still had to share the ball with Dwight Howard) returns, shots will become scarce, but defensive stats will still be readily available. As long as Johnson can hit the spot-up three regularly, he can be the prototypical “3 & D” guy who’d be the perfect fit next to Kobe. That’s why he’s today’s honorary Pickup.

Other Notable Players: A few days ago, I asked when we’d finally see the Summer League MVP version of Jonas Valanciunas again. As is the case with many opposing big men, salvation came in the form of the Denver Nuggets. Valanciunas physically dominated J.J. Hickson, who only saw 14 minutes while the much larger Timofey Mozgov played 31 min and posted an awesome 16-15-1-2-2 on 50.0% FG and 66.7% FT. It was a big day overall for Mozgov, as Rudy Gay tried to Mozgov him but ended up getting LeBron’d. Hickson is a liability on defense, but–matchups aside–it’s unlikely to see him lose the start…Speaking of Denver’s bench mob, Nate Robinson has scored in double-digits in seven games in a row now, despite only once playing over 24 min (24:04 on Nov. 21). Over that time span, he’s averaging 14.6 pts, 1.4 reb, 2.7 ast, 1.0 stl and 2.3 3pm on 50.0% FG and 88.9% FT. He was in this same position as a bench scorer last year for the Bulls, except they were the 26th ranked team in pace, while the Nuggets this year are third in paceRookie Hollis Thompson started today while both James Anderson and Tony Wroten came off the bench. This change is likely going to stick. Thompson didn’t do much, but he does sink the fantasy values of both Anderson and Wroten…J.J. Redick will be out for the next 6-8 weeks with hand and elbow injuries, but no successor revealed himself yesterday in his absence. It certainly wasn’t Jared Dudley, who played his second-fewest minutes of his season, or Willie Green, who started in Redick’s place. If anything, it just looks like Jamal Crawford’s role will expand again…Sacramento also went bench mob on Golden State yesterday, as Isaiah Thomas, Marcus Thornton and Patrick Patterson led a furious fourth-quarter rally for the Kings. Notably, Patterson and Jason Thompson, who spent a lot of time playing with the bench unit, both outperformed previous Pickup Derrick Williams. It’s only his second game, but Williams is already experiencing why many panned this trade: there are way too many forwards on the Kings. Tonight, Williams, Patterson, Thompson, John Salmons and Chuck Hayes all played over 20 min, and that’s with Travis Outlaw on the bench and Carl Landry still to return. Though coach Mike Malone made a commitment to start and play Williams heavily at SF in his first game, it remains to be seen whether he keeps it up…Oh Reggie Jackson, you know I want to (18-5-4, 1 3pm), but I know you too well (24 min)…New Orleans fans, fantasy basketball owners, and plain old enjoyers of great NBA basketball cried in horror today as Anthony Davis fractured his left hand. There is no timetable yet for his return. Ryan Anderson joined the starting line-up coming out of the halftime break and is the obvious winner fantasy-wise. It gets cloudier after that, however. Fantasy owners would like starting center Jason Smith, who’s a superb midrange shooter and has had productive stretches this year, to gain more value, but he didn’t show that today. On the other hand, Al-Farouq Aminu sat out the entire first half but got a lot of run in the second. Right now, both are worth watching, but neither is worth adding.

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

1. Marvin Williams (15%)
2. Kosta Koufos (26%)
3. Glen Davis (36%)
4. John Henson (35%)
5. Nate Robinson (26%)

As expected, we say goodbye to Jared Sullinger (42%) and Channing Frye (43%) tonight, as both graduate to the 40% owned club. Nate Robinson just edges out Marco Belinelli for the final spot on account of having been productive for longer.

Hindsight: I was completely wrong about Al Jefferson’s effect on Josh McRoberts. Despite playing well in his initial games next to Jefferson, McBob has seen his numbers drop across the board. That includes his already abysmal FG% and his life-saving assists and threes. This is simply a case of Jefferson taking over shots and possessions. McRoberts is droppable in all but the deepest formats…On the day I made Mo Williams the Pickup, he posted a 12-5-6-3-2 in 31 min. Since then, he hasn’t scored in double-digits or topped 24 min. Looking at his numbers before and after his five productive games in mid-November seems to tell me I fell for a fluke.

Pickup of the Day: Brandon Bass


(Jared Wickerham / 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 Pickup for Wednesday, November 27 is Brandon Bass. He’s owned in 35% of Yahoo! Leagues and 23.5% of ESPN Leagues. On a night with available pickups who’ve had far more explosive games recently (i.e. Jordan Farmar and Aaron Brooks, see Other Notable Players), I’m choosing certainty over upside with our Pickup.

Here’s a look at Bass’s line last night against Memphis:
20131127 Brandon Bass

Bass’s line (6-13-1-0-4) was downright Kosta Koufos-esque (7-13-1-1-3), but his shooting is usually better than this. In the three games since Kelly Olynyk sprained his right ankle, Bass has averaged 13.0 pts, 8.3 reb and 2.3 blk on 50.0% FG and a perfect 11-for-11 from the line. Olynyk was supposed to be out two weeks from the time of his injury on Nov. 23, but he was spotted in a walking boot tonight while his prognosis still seems to be two weeks from now. Keep Bass in your line-up until you see Olynyk playing and cutting into Bass’s value.

Is he legit? Bass had a fast start to this season and quickly rose above 40% before I had a chance to recommend him (plus there was the whole embarrassing part about me being enamored with Vitor Faverani). Boston then decided they’d rather see more of Olynyk and Jared Sullinger, and Bass saw his minutes slip to around 20 a game and lost his starting spot for two games before Olynyk’s injury. Now he seems determined to prove he deserves the minutes, even out-performing himself from earlier in the year. Bass was expected to be the veteran leader and defensive anchor for the Celtics coming into this season. Now he’s finally playing like he is.

Other Notable Players: Glen Davis really produced tonight, but the bigger news is that Jameer Nelson sprained his left foot and did not return. E’Twaun Moore took over and will be in line for more minutes and likely the start, though Victor Oladipo is the real winner here. Still, Moore averaged 11.0 pts, 3.4 reb, 4.9 ast and 1.4 3’s in 21 starts last season…Ed Davis and Jerryd Bayless both had their best games of the year. Marc Gasol’s injury may have opened up opportunities for more than just Kosta Koufos, but wait and see on those two…Kirk Hinrich and Tony Snell both fared much better in their second start together, while Mike Dunleavy dropped off significantly. Hinrich is still the best add here (assuming Jimmy Butler is already gone in your league), but I’m not ready to put Snell ahead of Dunleavy yet…Despite my misgivings about his game, it’s getting hard to ignore Nick Young when he drops 26 points with four threes tonight after averaging 14.7 pts, 1.3 stl and 2.0 3’s in his previous three games. Meanwhile, Jordan Farmar continues lighting it up off the bench. His hyper-productivity in limited minutes (21 mpg in past four) doesn’t seem sustainable, but he’s the 6th ranked Yahoo! player in the past seven days after factoring in tonight’s 15-4-3-2-2 with FIVE threes. Sneaky Steve Blake’s not in any trouble at all, but if you’ve got the roster space, Farmar’s worth a speculative add…Wish I could say the same about Shaun Livingston, but this is his fifth straight single-digit scoring effort, and Alan Anderson outplayed him tonight…Aaron Brooks, who had a great game four nights ago in James Harden’s first night sitting out, had another solid game tonight as Jeremy Lin suffered a right knee contusion. Either Brooks or Francisco Garcia will take over the starting spot if Lin misses time, though that’s also contingent on when James Harden returns. If I had to choose one, I’d pick the more multidimensional Brooks, though this should be Patrick Beverley’s time to prove he can put up more than just defense…Remember when I said Caron Butler was back and Khris Middleton would become useless? Just kidding! Almost tempted to recommend picking up Middleton, since he’s averaging 15.7 pts, 5.3 reb, 2.0 ast and 1.7 3’s on stellar percentages over his last three, but I still refuse to recommend any Bucks. Also, remember when I said John Henson was the only Buck resistant to coach Larry Drew’s mad rotations? Just kidding again!…Nate Robinson: 13.3 pts, 2.0 reb, 2.8 ast, 2.5 3’s over his last four. He’s starting to find his groove off the bench for the Nuggets and was extremely productive in this role last year for the Bulls, though that team was far more offensively challenged…Check out Reggie Jackson with the 23-4-2 game on 71.4% FG and 100% FT! And that’s with Russell Westbrook in the line-up! At 14.0 pts, 5.0 reb, 3.5 ast and 1.0 stl over his last four, he’s a much more versatile weapon off the bench than Jeremy Lamb is. Unlike Robinson, however, I don’t see Jackson’s value as rising so much as fluctuating. I love Jackson’s talent, but he’ll have to exhibit much more consistency playing with Westbrook in the line-up before I trust him again…Samuel Dalembert returned to the starting line-up, but DeJuan Blair stayed productive with a 10-9-2 (stl). Unfortunately, he’s averaging only 19:16 mpg over his last four games while he saw 24:25 mpg over his first four, although his stats haven’t dropped by much. Still a sneaky source of steals from the C-spot…Channing Frye25-9-2-1-2, 3 triples, 83.3% FG, 100% FT. After Big Baby and Brandon Knight, I really needed a Pickup to pan out. The running joke is still that Eric Bledsoe was going to play and then didn’t, and that joke will continue on Friday. Regardless, if Frye is still available in your league, his upside is too high to let Bledsoe’s return worry you…Markieff Morris dropped back below 40% owned, but Marcus Morris has actually been the more productive twin recently with a better FG% and more threes. Markieff had the better game tonight yet somehow finished with a +/- of 0 while Marcus finished with +29 despite both coming off the bench. Wonder if that’s a Yahoo! typo…Raymond Felton returned to the line-up, and Beno Udrih plummeted from 31 min to three. Well, it was frustratingly inconsistent while it lasted…Matt Barnes remained out, but Jared Dudley did not deliver, even while playing 35 min. Usually he does enough small things to still be valuable when he’s not scoring, but he doesn’t seem to be having those opportunities on the Clippers. 

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

1. Channing Frye (25%)
2. Jared Sullinger (35%)
3. Marvin Williams (7%)
4. Glen Davis (32%)
5. Kosta Koufos (25%)

Remember how I told you not to sweat Bledsoe coming back and to pick up Frye with confidence because he’s balling out of this world? I’m taking my own advice. Frye’s been held off this list for way too long. Meanwhile, Beverley needs to prove he has more fantasy value than Aaron Brooks before I’ll consider putting him back. Had to push Sullinger up after a strong performance tonight, while Koufos’s lack of scoring and FG% are troubling.

Hindsight: Josh McRoberts has been terrible lately, but I wasn’t lying about his FG% playing next to Al Jefferson. 50.0% in five games with Jefferson, 31.9% in five games without. The problem is he’s averaging only 6.8 FGA since Jefferson’s return…Harrison Barnes was definitely the guy who took over for Iguodala, while Draymond Green has gotten worse after bumping up to sixth man…Mo Williams, he is not back.

There are no games tomorrow night, so have a Happy Thanksgiving and see you all on Friday!

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: Glen Davis

(Steve Mitchell / 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 Saturday, November 23 is Glen Davis. He’s owned in 14% of Yahoo! Leagues and 0.1% of ESPN Leagues, although his Yahoo! ownership already rose 4% as I wrote this entry. As for ESPN, I really wonder if they’re just a bunch of 8 and 10 team leagues, as there are an astounding number of solid waiver wire players who are literally under 1% owned.

Anyway, here’s a look at Big Baby’s line tonight against Miami:
20131123 Glen Davis

First of all, if you need a PG, your Pickup tonight should be Brandon Knight. I tell you this because he’s already owned in 38% of Yahoo! Leagues and is thus harder to acquire than Big Baby. He doesn’t get the top spot tonight because he’s never been great at getting assists (the premium stat that you want from your PG), his shooting has always been poor, and I imagine him initially to be in more of a timeshare with Luke Ridnour. Still, he is talented, and the Bucks were willing to let Brandon Jennings go to have Knight and his rookie salary instead.

On the other hand, Davis is not part of Orlando’s future. I expect him to displace mis-positioned Moe Harkless as the starting PF, but Harkless is part of Orlando’s future, so the team may want to keep him in as a starter for continuity. Coach Jacque Vaughn wouldn’t even commit to starting Tobias Harris, a better player than either Davis or Harkless, over Harkless when Harris returns from injury.

So why do I believe in Glen Davis? In two words: Arron Afflalo. In five: Arron Afflalo and Jameer Nelson. Neither of these players are part of Orlando’s future either, but Afflalo is averaging 36 mpg (and having a career year) while Nelson is getting 31 mpg (and looking like he should be a backup). The common belief is that Orlando is shopping these two players and thus letting other teams get a good look at them play, which may explain why Afflalo is playing out of position at SF while Nelson and Victor Oladipo try to mesh in the backcourt despite the Magic announcing they wanted to try Oladipo at PG.

That’s why I believe the Magic will put Big Baby in the starting line-up and give him the same treatment, letting him increase his own trade value as much as possible. Obviously, there’s no way to predict what Afflalo, Nelson and Davis’s values will be if and when they get traded, but, for now, Orlando seems content to let them run amok.

Other Notable Players: Patrick Patterson put up an effective 21-7 line with Jason Thompson limited to only 10 min with foul trouble. Neither had actually been too effective even in more minutes previously, though Patterson is better at avoiding fouls. No action should be taken yet for Patterson…Jared Dudley only posted 11-2-2, albeit with 3 3’s, but his value is on the rise with Barnes still out for two weeks with a retinal tear…The starters in Philly got the green light to chuck the ball up tonight with both Thaddeus Young and Spencer Hawes out. Take James Anderson for instance, who launched 10 threes and only connected on one. He finished with a decent 13-5-1-3-1 line if you ignore the abysmal 4 for 18 shooting. Daniel Orton continued to start in place of Young, but, with Hawes also out, he actually played 35 min (most of his career) and posted a 10-10-1-0-2 (also his first career double-double). The former Kentucky teammate of DeMarcus Cousins and John Wall was annihilated by Roy Hibbert, however, and posted the lowest +/- of anyone in the game (-21). The Sixers will continue favoring Lavoy Allen over him, but neither Young (personal reasons) nor Hawes (sore knee) are expected out much longer…The big winner of Raymond Felton’s injury in New York seems to be absolutely no one. After posting a 19 pts & 8 ast in his last game, Beno Udrih came way back to earth with 6 pts & 3 ast. Iman Shumpert, Pablo Prigioni and Tim Hardaway Jr. all also failed to step up as the lowly Knicks were spanked by the slightly less lowly Wizards. Probably could’ve used that Linsanity guy tonight…One night after I criticized his lack of assists, Jordan Crawford goes out and drops 10 dimes to go with 12 pts and 3 reb (and 4 tov). Brandon Bass, whose ownership has actually dropped down to 33%, had his first good game in his last four with Kelly Olynyk out for possibly two weeks with a sprained ankle. Seems Bass, and not Vitor Faverani, will be the one to absorb the available minutes Olynyk is leaving on the floor. Jared Sullinger’s value was unaffected…With James Harden missing tonight and Monday with a foot injury, both Patrick Beverley (17-3-2, 5 3’s) and Jeremy Lin (19-5-5-2-1, 2 3’s, 5 tov) had good games, but the real story for Houston was Aaron Brooks (26-4-5-2, 6 3’s, 4 tov) coming out of nowhere and lighting up the Wolves. He’s got a Nate Robinson feel to him, and, once upon a time (in 2010), Brooks had tremendous value for Houston and even won the Most Improved Player award. Yet tonight is likely to be his best game of this year unless Lin or Beverley also miss extended time…In the four recent games that Al Jefferson sat out, Josh McRoberts averaged 31.0% FG. In the two games with Jefferson back so far, McRoberts has shot 40.0% and 71.4%. The assists weren’t there tonight, but he is a better player next to Jefferson…Don’t look too deeply into either the Bucks’ starters having crappy games across the board or Khris Middleton and John Henson having good games off the bench. The Bucks were getting demolished. As stated above, you should just pay attention to Brandon Knight’s return, as he’s likely to clear 40% owned by tomorrow…By the same token as the Bucks game, discount any fantasy-related notions you may have from the Cleveland-San Antonio box score, as the Cavs were obliterated. The only thing you should know is that Jarrett Jack left with a neck strain and didn’t return, although that may be because the Cavs were down by 30 for most of the night…Mo Williams already had two straight bad games coming into tonight, and now he’s got three. This time, though, it was due to him being tossed for instigating a fight with Andrew Bogut. This fight also got Draymond Green and Wesley Matthews ejected. We’ll have to wait until Williams’s next game, assuming he’s not suspended, to see if his value bumps up again.

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

1. Kosta Koufos (15%)
2. Glen Davis (14%)
3. Brandon Knight (38%)
4. Jared Sullinger (32%)
5. Mo Williams (25%)

Two soon-to-be starters bum-rush their way onto list as they return from injury. Do I expect them to be better than those guys below them? Not necessarily, but Davis and Knight are proven commodities who should soon be receiving starting duties now that they’re back with their teams.

Hindsight: I don’t think you can really put too much of Metta World Peace’s disappearance on me when the entire Knicks team has turned into a black hole for fantasy.

Pickup of the Day: Mike Dunleavy

i(Doug Pensinger / 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 Pickup for Thursday, November 21 is Mike Dunleavy. He’s owned in 8% of Yahoo! Leagues and 3.0% of ESPN Leagues, although that should see a bump after he was declared Chicago’s starting SG while Jimmy Butler is out for two weeks with a broken toe.

Here’s a look at Dunleavy’s line tonight against Denver:
20131121 Mike Dunleavy

When I heard Butler would be out for two weeks, I couldn’t decide whether Dunleavy or Kirk Hinrich would be the better pick-up. I actually leaned toward Hinrich, because I thought the Bulls would start him for his defense and bring Dunleavy off the bench for his offense. After coach Tom Thibodeau announced Dunleavy would be the starter, it became clearer that Dunleavy was the better pickup.

However, it should be noted that both Dunleavy and Hinrich played a little over 31 min tonight. It’s not a given that Dunleavy will be better than Hinrich every night, but his fantasy ceiling is definitely higher.

Is he legit? Dunleavy had one borderline All-Star season in Indiana in which he averaged 19.1 pts, 5.2 reb, 3.5 ast, 1.0 stl and 2.0 3’s on good percentages in 36 mpg and played all 82 games. In every year since then, he’s just been a poor facsimile of that season, but he has been an effective weapon off the bench the past two years in Milwaukee. In fact, his value might be better in Chicago off the bench where he could be the primary scoring option à la Nate Robinson last year. As is, he actually got many of his points in garbage time tonight. Still, I’d take 15-5-2 with two threes and excellent percentages however I can get them.

Other Notable Players: As mentioned earlier, Kirk Hinrich also played over 31 min tonight. I’m not convinced Dunleavy will always be the better fantasy play, and Hinrich is the better source of steals and assists…Another player out for two weeks is Matt Barnes of the Clippers, and Jared Dudley stands to benefit the most. Dudley has been a disappointment so far this year, but he got his most minutes tonight (34) with Barnes out. He still didn’t have a good game, but he can be expected to be more productive while receiving minutes in the mid-30s instead of mid-20s…Not a useful player to have right now but a useful name to remember is Reggie Bullock, who also got his most minutes of the season (17) tonight with Barnes out. He’s the Clippers’ first-round pick this year, and they do want to see what they have in him, so expect him to get some more run later in the year if the Clippers lock in their playoff position early.

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

1. Martell Webster (38%)
2. Mo Williams (27%)
3. Jared Sullinger (29%)
4. Jodie Meeks (28%)
5. Patrick Beverley (29%)

As expected, Terrence Jones is now owned in 41% of Yahoo! Leagues and graduates off this list, making room for his Rockets teammate Beverley to push his way in with some strong three-pointer and steal numbers.

Hindsight: Although the Oklahoma City bench was excellent tonight, chipping in 35 points and 23 rebounds, no one there has gotten regular enough minutes to be valuable in fantasy. All my early-season hype for Reggie Jackson, Steven Adams and Jeremy Lamb has been way premature.