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.


Pickup of the Day: Derrick Williams

(AP Photo / Rich Pedroncelli)

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 Friday, November 29 is Derrick Williams. He’s owned in 12% of Yahoo! Leagues and 19.0% of ESPN Leagues, but many fantasy owners are ready to embrace his career second-chance now that he’s been traded to Sacramento.

Here’s a look at Williams’s line tonight against the Clippers:
20131129 Derrick Williams

Rather than argue for him myself, I’m going lazy/plagiarist and pasting Matt Stroup’s excellent analysis from Rotoworld before tonight’s game:

Go get Derrick Williams. It’s not clear how much Williams will play in Sacramento, but with only John Salmons/Travis Outlaw ahead of him at SF, and Jason Thompson/Patrick Patterson ahead of him at PF, it’s possible the answer is “a lot.” That wouldn’t necessarily result in standout numbers, as we’ve seen Williams get extended minutes before, with somewhat mediocre results (14.5 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 0.9 3s and a weak 0.7 spg / 0.5 bpg in his final 40 games last year). With that said, this is the No. 2 overall pick from 2011 who’s still just 22 years old and has a chance to get a lot of minutes on a bad team. I can nitpick about a lack of defensive stats, but changes of scenery like this don’t pop up this early in the season all that often. Owned in just 10 percent of Yahoo leagues as of Friday morning, Williams is well worth a low-risk, 8-10 game trial if you’ve got room.

Is he legit? He’s not Anthony Bennett, but Derrick Williams has had a disappointing career so far in Minnesota, especially considering it was once debatable whether he or Kyrie Irving should’ve been the first pick of the 2011 draft. A change of scenery was bound to increase his value, except Sacramento’s very problem for years has been its glut of power forwards. However, for some reason, coach Mike Malone is determined to make Williams his starting SF. While there’s no telling yet what will happen when Carl Landry returns, he’s still out for another two months. Williams has Malone’s confidence, so he should have yours as well.

Other Notable Players: Brandon Knight dropped 17-3-2-2 in 30 min tonight with only two turnovers (15 in his last three) and an excellent 7-for-11 from the field (18.5% in last three). As I said when he was Pickup of the Day, the Bucks expect him to be their PG of the future. Unfortunately in the present, they are officially the second-worst team in the NBA and unofficially the worst rotation in fantasy basketball…In other barely worth mentioning news (i.e. Milwaukee Bucks news), Khris Middleton dropped a serviceable 9-5-3-3-2 with one three, and John Henson hit six blocks to go with an otherwise underwhelming 7-5-3 line…Jose Calderon injured his right ankle tonight and didn’t return. Shane Larkin looked bad replacing him. I’d put my faith in Vince Carter instead…Impressive 9-18 line from DeJuan Blair tonight, but no steals. The rebounds are an outlier for a player who only averages 20 mpg like Blair. The steals are his real value add…Bad news for two Lakers starters who had been lighting it up recently. Jordan Hill sprained his ankle after only playing 13 min and did not return to the game. Both Wesley Johnson (27-6-2-0-3, 6 3’s) and Shawne Williams (20-9-3-2-1, 6 3’s) had stellar games in his absence, but don’t expect that to continue as Hill will likely be back on Sunday. Steve Blake’s situation is actually a little more worrisome. He and Jordan Farmar both played almost exactly 24 min each tonight. While Blake still contributed 10 assists tonight, his poor shooting (1-for-6), five turnovers and defensive liability caused him to split time almost evenly with Farmar (13-5-3-1, 2 3’s) at 24 min each. Farmar has been fantastic in his past five games and should be rostered, but the Lakers’ rotation is one of the most unreliable for such a productive fantasy squad…The Rockets blew out the Nets, and both teams pulled out their starters early, which is why you saw such great games from Tyshawn Taylor, Mirza Teletovic, Aaron Brooks, Francisco Garcia and Omri Casspi. This game is not representative of what anything we can expect from these players going forward, except for Brooks who should be in line for more minutes with Jeremy Lin out for two weeks. This was especially disappointing for Andray Blatche, who went 0-for-6 in 10 awful minutes despite Kevin Garnett sitting this one out. With Brook Lopez now returned to the line-up, Blatche’s value is in steep decline…Tony Wroten: 24 points in not even as many minutes. Is he back? No. The End…Speaking of unreliable but productive fantasy squads, Phoenix has become a crapshoot in trying to determine who amongst Channing Frye, Markieff Morris and Marcus Morris will be productive. Tonight’s winner was Markieff, as Eric Bledsoe finally returned after so many false starts and reduced both Frye and Gerald Green’s roles…Darren Collison got the start and 40 min tonight with Chris Paul out with a hamstring injury. Collison was underwhelming in Dallas last year, and Jamal Crawford was the far better PG for the Clippers tonight, but Paul is questionable for Sunday, and Collison could have value again.

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

1. Jared Sullinger (38%)
2. Marvin Williams (8%)
3. Glen Davis (34%)
4. Brandon Bass (37%)
5. Channing Frye (9%)

As I previously mentioned, Frye has not had a good record of keeping value while Bledsoe is also in the rotation. Bledsoe has only been back for one game so far, but it’s only validated that belief. Considering Frye’s immense value recently, though, it’s worth hanging on to him to see what happens. Otherwise, Derrick Williams is waiting to grab his spot. Meanwhile, Kosta Koufos falls off this list with news that Marc Gasol could be back in as few as 3-4 weeks.

Hindsight: None! Even Glen Davis and Brandon Knight are looking good right now!

Pickup of the Day: Alec Burks

(Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images)

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 2 is Alec Burks. He is owned in 28% of Yahoo! leagues, and that number isn’t climbing despite some consistent production and me pimping him in casual passing last Wednesday to my rabid fan base of one or zero readers.

Here’s a look at his line tonight against Houston:20131102 Alec Burks

We’re approaching the end of the first week, which means the clear-cut early waiver wire stars are disappearing (e.g. Miles Plumlee, Lance Stephenson, MCW). Thus anyone still scouring free agents to replace a poor draft pick is left to look for consistency or to stash a project in roto leagues.

Alec Burks definitely falls under the former category. He’s averaging 18 pts, 3.7 reb, and 3.0 ast in a little over 32 mpg, and his numbers have been fairly consistent from game-to-game. Like everyone in Utah, he’s getting a lot of opportunities this year because five of the top six players in mpg on last year’s team have left, replaced essentially by cap space and future draft picks.

Burks is a former Utah lottery pick that has really improved his on-ball defense and is getting rewarded with significant playing time. Based on his per-36 min numbers from past seasons, factoring in some typical third-year player improvement, and dropping in a giant dollop of flat-out guessing, I’d expect Burks to put up 18-4-2 with one steal, less than a three, and percentages that won’t kill you from the SG position moving forward.

Is he legit? He’s legit for what he is, a decent contributor in a deep league or when you need to rotate a guy in, but he’s not going to win your week for you. I think his role on this team is safe, even after Trey Burke returns. Though if he does get bumped up to the starting line-up, I can’t see his stats improving much, unless Coach Tyrone Corbin listens to this outrageous suggestion to play him at PG.

Other Notable Players: Look who’s scored 14 points in every game. None other than the Round Mound of Ratatouille: Boris Diaw. Tim Duncan played his first full game of the year, and Diaw still played his most minutes this year. Is it really worth holding on to a guy like Amare Stoudemire (58% owned) or Cody Zeller (50%) over him (5%)?…I stand by what I said about Josh McRoberts. He didn’t get much playing time last night as he was being abused by Anthony Davis, but no Charlotte starter played more than 27 min in this blowout…I’m not worried about Zaza Pachulia’s bad night, but it’s worth mentioning for the second night in a row that John Henson had a productive game. Larry Sanders’s poor play is worth monitoring, as both Pachulia and Henson have value while Sanders is sinking his…Tony Wroten (of the best-in-the-league 3-0 76ers!) is sort of a poor man’s Alec Burks right now, but with better 3-point shooting. Until he’s the one getting 33 mpg instead of James Anderson, however, he’s simply Watch List…Both Jason Thompson and Travis Outlaw put up garbage-time double-doubles as Sacramento got crushed by Golden State and DeMarcus Cousins was benched for doing DeMarcus Cousins-ish things. Thompson is likely more legit and most worth watching, as Patrick Patterson doesn’t seem to be cutting it as Carl Landry’s replacement.

Accountability: Nate Wolters turned out to be the biggest beneficiary of Brandon Knight’s injury, not Gary Neal. Oops. With the Bucks off until Wednesday and Knight likely to return then, however, neither are worth a roster spot anymore.