Pickup of the Day: Timofey Mozgov

(Nathaniel S. Butler / NBAE via 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 Tuesday, December 3 is Timofey Mozgov. He’s owned in 10% of Yahoo! Leagues and 0.8% of ESPN Leagues. He’s Yahoo!’s most added player so far today, but his massive production these past two games require a lot of perspective.

Here’s a look at his line last night against Brooklyn:
20131203 Timofey Mozgov

17-20-1-1-2 is a monstrous line, even better than the 16-15-1-2-2 that Mozgov put up the previous night against Toronto. Earlier in the year, he also put up a huge 23-9-0-0-4 against the Lakers. What do these three games have in common? Three things: A. JaVale McGee was injured for all of them (and is still out indefinitely). B. Starting center J.J. Hickson didn’t play more than 17.5 minutes in any of them. C. Each team features a legit 7-foot tall center with post moves that the 6’9″ Hickson could not defend. The Lakers have Pau Gasol, Toronto has Jonas Valanciunas and Brooklyn has Brook Lopez.

In fact, Hickson is just a terrible defensive center in general, as other centers like Dwight Howard, Nikola Pekovic, Andrea Bargnani and Joakim Noah have all blown up against him as well. Hickson only managed to hold his own against Dallas and Oklahoma City, two teams that don’t look to their centers to score.

Does Hickson’s struggles and Mozgov’s two monster games signal a shift in roles in Denver? Probably not yet, which means Mozgov isn’t close to a must-add. Outside of his three big games, he’s only averaging 6.5 points and 4.5 rebounds in 16.5 minutes. However, taking a look at Denver’s upcoming schedule, here are the next four centers that Hickson/Mozgov will face:

  • Andrew Bynum (Huge Advantage: Mozgov)
  • Jared Sullinger (Advantage: Hickson)
  • Spencer Hawes (Advantage: Mozgov)
  • Marcin Gortat (Advantage: Mozgov)
  • Derrick Favors (Slight Advantage: Hickson)

When I say advantage, I don’t mean who will defend better, because Hickson is an all-around terrible defender while Mozgov is actually pretty decent. I just mean Hickson is almost assured his regular minutes against Boston and Utah, while Mozgov has a chance to steal the show again against Cleveland, Philly and Washington. That is unless coach Brian Shaw decides simply to play his better center. For the moment, it’s worth hanging on to Mozgov to see if that happens.

Other Notable Players: I told you Glen Davis would have another opportunity at a big night with Nikola Vucevic back, and he delivered in a huge way, dropping 33-3-3-2-0 in 50 minutes. Unfortunately, E’Twaun Moore couldn’t do the same even with Jameer Nelson out and Ronnie Price his only other competition for minutes…James Anderson and Hollis Thompson are both likely to be serviceable but uninspiring as long as Thompson is starting…Don’t get too used to the Bucks’ rotation. They started integrating Ersan Ilyasova back into the rotation last night, and they’ve still got Caron Butler and Larry Sanders to go. Their backcourt finally seems set with O.J. Mayo and Brandon Knight though…This might be the last time we can talk about Brandon Bass for a while, who’s now 38% owned and will likely push back up past 40% today. We’ll see what happens when Kelly Olynyk returns though…Michael Beasley. He’s been scoring well and staying out of trouble. Just put him on your radar. If one of the Big Three is forced to miss extended time (we’re talking about Dwyane Wade obviously), Beasley may not become the starter but could regularly see 30 min like he did tonight…Alan Anderson got the start for the injured Paul Pierce but was limited in his contributions. Still, he should get plenty of playing time now. Tyshawn Taylor continued starting over Shaun Livingston, but both are becoming non-newsworthy…Gerald Green did not do well at all in his return to the bench. He’ll be better than 1-for-8 normally and was indeed still productive the last time Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe were both starting…And now Marcus Morris is the better twin again. This Jekyll-and-Hyde routine he’s playing with Markieff Morris is making both unrosterable…With both Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph out last night, literally all the backup Memphis bigs had great games against Phoenix: Kosta Koufos (14-12-2-1-2), Ed Davis (21-12-1-0-2), and even Jon Leuer (23-9-1-0-3). The three shot a combined 25-of-36 (69.4%) from the field, a huge indictment of how awful Phoenix’s big men were on defense. Unless Randolph misses more time, though, Koufos is still the only useful player for fantasy. Davis would be in the mix if Randolph were to miss more. Leuer? Not so much…Josh McRoberts picked his game back up, but the assists and threes still aren’t back yet…It’s not even worth discussing Reggie Jackson or Jeremy Lamb’s performances except to mention that coach Scott Brooks is trusting them both more and more. The current OKC roster configuration is still looking for a James Harden/Kevin Martin-type to step up, but neither Jackson nor Lamb have fulfilled the role yet…Jason Thompson had a nice 10-10-2-0-2 line with DeMarcus Cousins out, but I’d still rather have Derrick Williams despite his barren line last night (13-0-0-1-0)…Even after replacing Amir Johnson in the starting line-up, Tyler Hansbrough has been nowhere close to useful. Johnson blew up for 16-10-1-1-1 last night, so coach Dwane Casey might even consider him properly motivated enough to put back into the starting line-up…

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

1. Kosta Koufos (29%)
2. Glen Davis (35%)
3. Marvin Williams (18%)
4. Brandon Bass (38%)
5. Wesley Johnson (13%)

The fact that Brandon Bass was left off this list the past few days was a big oversight on my part. Meanwhile, Koufos and Davis move ahead on account of their big nights, and Johnson beats Robinson out for the last spot after a wrist injury derailed Robinson’s night.

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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: 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.

Pickup of the Day: Terrence Jones

i
(Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

This season I will 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 Thursday, November 14 is Terrence Jones. He’s owned in 11% of Yahoo! Leagues and 4.7% of ESPN Leagues. He hasn’t had an eye-opening game yet, but he’s getting all sorts of opportunities to play.

Here’s a look at his line tonight against New York:
20131114 Terrence Jones

No, he didn’t have a great game at all, but he’s been averaging 34 and a half minutes in his last three games after not even seeing seven minutes in the four games before that. Meanwhile, Omer Asik has seen his minutes in his last three games go from 18:49 to 4:22 to 0:00. This was especially notable tonight after coach Kevin McHale took Dwight out towards the end to avoid the Hack-a-Howard and let Jones futilely try to guard Andrea Bargnani while Asik, a phenomenal post defender, kept the bench warm.

Asik desperately wants to be traded, and Houston seems to have no interest in trading him. On the other hand, they also don’t want to play him while he’s sulking. I have no idea how this situation will end, but right now it means Jones is going to get a lot of opportunities to play PF. In even more bad-for-Houston/great-for-Jones news, backup C Greg Smith sprained his LCL and will be out for an extended period of time, so Jones can also expect to see a lot of minutes at backup C like he did tonight (and hopefully get C-eligibility for it). Houston does frequently go small with a Lin-Beverley-Harden-Parsons-Howard line-up, but right now Jones may be a lock for 30+ min every night.

Is he legit? Eh. Terrence Jones still looks a lot like the same player he was at Kentucky, where he often dominated simply by being much bigger and more talented than everyone else. He is still huge, but not against a guy like Bargnani, who had no trouble with him. He is still talented, but he doesn’t possess that single, elite NBA-level skill. He might get you double-digit rebounds. He might block a lot of shots. He might drain some threes. Yet you can’t rely on him to do any of those things on any given night. Pick him up if you can afford to take a chance on a forward who will get a lot of minutes, but it’s going to be a surprise every time you check his stat line.

Other Notable Players: I love the way Reggie Jackson plays. He is just fearless. Without any hesitation, he’ll take it directly into the chest of a guy like Jermaine O’Neal, and he’ll make that shot, too. As much as the Thunder are trying to make Jeremy Lamb work, Jackson keeps outplaying him and ending up on the court with Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant at the end of games. Jackson’s 12-5-3 tonight (on 55.6% FG and 100% FT) was solid, but he is just not getting consistent enough playing time to be reliable. He is definitely this year’s version of last year’s Eric Bledsoe.

Top 5 Sneaky Pickups (owned in under 40% of Yahoo! Leagues):
1. Jordan Hill (33%)
2. Steve Blake (38%)
3. Martell Webster (19%)
4. Corey Brewer (36%)
5. Josh McRoberts (13%)

Hindsight: Metta World Peace, Steven Adams, and Omri Casspi — man, those were some bad calls. Iman Shumpert and Francisco Garcia — I told you they were no good! Why don’t you ever listen to me?!?

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: Reggie Jackson


(AP Photo / Matt York)

This season I will try to highlight a notable player, based on the games played each night, who’s available in at least 60% of Yahoo! Fantasy Basketball leagues.

The Sneaky Fantasy Basketball Pickup for Monday, November 4 is Reggie Jackson. This pickup is unlike all others that I’ve recommended so far in that he didn’t have an eye-opening game last night. In fact, he didn’t play at all. He’s tonight’s pickup because he finally dropped below 40% owned in Yahoo! Leagues. He’s at 39% right now, but that number is quickly dropping.

Here’s a look at his most recent game on Sunday against Phoenix:
20131104 Reggie Jackson

This was not an impressive game for Jackson but was notable for one reason: the successful return of Russell Westbrook, who pushed Jackson back to a bench role. In one day, Jackson’s ownership fell 8% across Yahoo! Leagues. In ESPN leagues, he is the most-dropped player of the week, plummeting from 55.6% owned last week to 26.2% now.

So why am I telling you to pick up Reggie Jackson? To answer that question, I’m going to invoke the names of Kevin Martin and James Harden, the last two players to have Jackson’s role as the first Thunder player off the bench and the only second-unit guy who can create his own offense (though Martin was more a catch-and-shoot guy). Both Martin and Harden (who I’m going to call “Marden” just to make it easy on myself) put up solid fantasy numbers coming off the bench in OKC. Jackson is somewhere between the two of them in talent and has the chance to do the same.

Critics would argue this is an apples-to-oranges comparison because Jackson plays a different position than Marden did. They’re right. Marden was a SG that could slot in between Westbrook and Durant. Jackson’s natural position is PG, but will that stop the Thunder from playing him alongside their Big Two?

You might argue playing two PG’s puts the Thunder at a defensive disadvantage. Three things: A) Both Westbrook and Jackson are big 6’3″ guards, so that disadvantage against taller SG’s isn’t quite so large. B) Marden was never a defensive ace either. C) This:


All this is just speculation obviously. I have no idea how the Thunder will actually play Jackson moving forward. I know they would prefer to have Jeremy Lamb be the one to replace Marden and to protect Jackson as their insurance policy to Westbrook, but Lamb isn’t ready yet and Jackson is. Jackson actually played more minutes in his last game with Westbrook than in his previous game without Westbrook, while Lamb played less. Though in that previous game OKC was being blown out and cleared their bench.

Jackson and Lamb may end up canceling out each other’s values this year, and Derek Fisher is somehow still out there soaking up minutes, too. Still, I can’t justify letting a talent like Jackson wallow out on the waiver wire until we see how this situation shakes out.

Is he legit? Yes, if we’re talking about talent. If we’re talking about opportunity, I’m not sure yet. Unfortunately, as Doug Kezirian would tell you, in fantasy basketball opportunity matters a lot more than talent. I’m going to invoke a third name for projecting Reggie Jackson’s future: Eric Bledsoe. What Jackson is this year is what Bledsoe was last year: by far the best backup PG in the league, but also playing behind one of the league’s best starters. What Westbrook is to Jackson, Chris Paul was to Bledsoe. Aside from some startlingly high block totals for a 6’1″ guard and a brief span when Paul was injured, Bledsoe was nearly useless for fantasy last year. Yet many fantasy owners were seduced enough by his flashes of talent–and the unpredictable games when he’d drop a line like 14-4-6-2-2 in under 20 min–to keep stashing him. And waiting. And hoping.

Unfortunately, we turned out to be one year early to the Bledsoe bandwagon. I’m telling you to bet that’s not the case for Jackson this year, but, if it is, I already know his floor: last year’s Eric Bledsoe.

Other Notable Players: Remember when I told you Omri Casspi, and not Francisco Garcia, was the Rockets bench player you wanted to pick up, just not yet? Tonight’s game was fluky because of the frenetic pace and Patrick Beverley being out, but it’s time…C.J. Miles put together a second good game but couldn’t scrape 19 min. If something happens to Dion Waiters or Jarrett Jack, he could be a cheap source of 3’s and steals…Speaking of steals, Corey Brewer is averaging 2.5 while playing over 30 mpg. Get him…You may notice Brandon Bass has slipped in the Top 5 Sneaky Pickups. Part of that is due to his past two poor games, but most of it is due to Jared Sullinger working his way back to health. At some point this season, Boston will want to see how good Sullinger can be with starter’s minutes, while Bass’s workman-like game and defense is more suited to a team with higher aspirations.

Top 5 Sneaky Pickups (owned in under 40% of Yahoo! Leagues):
1. Reggie Jackson (39%)
2. Zaza Pachulia (22%)
3. Brandon Bass (38%)
4. Alec Burks (34%)
5. Corey Brewer (13%)

Accountability: According to Jeff Hornacek, the Suns’ coach, Goran Dragic will only miss two games, which means Gerald Green could become droppable as soon as this Friday. Whatever, coach. I’ll believe it when I see it…Vitor Faverani, what are you doing?