Pickup of the Day: Jodie Meeks


(AP Photo / Ross D. Franklin)

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 Monday, December 23 is Jodie Meeks. He’s owned in 26% of Yahoo! Leagues and 13.8% of ESPN Leagues. Much more press following Kobe Bryant’s injury has been given to Xavier Henry playing the point, Jordan Farmar’s return, and Nick Young’s general swagginess, but Meeks has quietly outperformed all non-Pau Gasol Lakers lately with a combination of threes, good percentages, and steals.

It’s been eight days since we’ve recommended a player based on his previous night’s performance, but here’s a look at Meeks’s line last night against Phoenix:
20131223 Jodie Meeks

Meeks’s value collapsed during Kobe’s six-game return, but he was excellent before and now becoming excellent again now that Kobe will be wearing his custom Boswell suits on the bench for six weeks.

Here’s a breakdown of Meeks’s numbers before, during, and after Kobe:

20131223 Jodie Chart

A lot of his recent value has been due to the fact that he’s played a lot more than his usual number of minutes with injuries decimating the Lakers, but there was clearly a huge dropoff in his production when Kobe was in the line-up. Before Kobe, however, this was a guy who shot 50% from the field, 83.7% from the line and hit 2.3 threes in under 30 mpg. I don’t know if he can keep up his most recent streak of steals, but Meeks is a solid SG prospect that should become even better when a real PG, like Jordan Farmar, is setting up his shots.

Other Notable Players: Here’s the argument why Khris Middleton isn’t the Pickup: he is averaging an astounding 45 mpg over his last four games, three of which went into overtime. He also dropped 29 points in another overtime game on Dec. 6, but in those five games in between? 7.8 pts, 3.4 reb, 1.4 ast, 0.2 stl, 0.8 3pm on 36.8% FG in 28 mpg.

I’m desperately scrambling in one of my leagues after losing Brook Lopez for the year, so please excuse some fawning over mediocre or fluky big man performances possibly for the rest of the year (Re: Jordan Hill). That being said, Cody Zeller had his best game of his professional career so far last night in that overtime win against the Bucks, dropping 12-7-4-0-2 in 22 min. Somehow, Charlotte is currently the six-seed in a putrid Eastern Conference, but if their season collapses later in the year, we may see more of him. Right now, he’s not a threat to steal minutes away from either Josh McRoberts or Al Jefferson.

By the way, Lopez is actually still owned in 60% of Yahoo! Leagues despite being done for the season. Give or take a few percentage points for people who just refuse to believe news and hold out for his return, ownership percentages for guys like him, who at one point were 100% owned, are a good indicator of how many fantasy managers are mostly or completely inactive. Another example: Derrick Rose is still owned in 36% of Yahoo! leagues despite being declared out for the season a month ago. In ESPN leagues, BroLo and D-Rose are at 41.3% and 16.5% respectively, so those managers might be more active.

Another strong game for Glen Davis, while Victor Oladipo continues tumbling. Whether or not Jameer Nelson or Arron Afflalo are traded, at some point this year Oladipo will take back the reins. In the meantime, Big Baby seems like he’s the bigger staple in the line-up.

It says a lot that Lou Williams couldn’t produce in 34 minutes of an OT game. And what do we think about DeMarre Carroll’s 8-4-2-1-1 with 2 3pm? As much as I rave about Wes Johnson, I need to mention that Carroll has been a better version of him.

Brooklyn is just a terrible team, but I find it interesting that Mirza Teletovic played 30 min. 31 mpg over his last two including one with BroLo, though Teletovic is anything but consistent with his production so far.

Brandan Wright fell off, but Vince Carter stacked two nice games each around a goose egg on Dec. 20. 14.8 pts, 3.8 reb, 5.8 ast, 1.0 stl, 1.8 3pm on 57.1% FG and 80.0% FT in those four games overall.

Jeremy Lin came back, but Aaron Brooks still pushed 30 min and was good, as predicted. What’s also interesting is Terrence Jones also played 30 min, his most minutes in 10 days. He’s fallen off hard for almost two weeks now, but he was so good before that you at least need to keep an eye on him if not add him.

Kosta Koufos, Jon Leuer and Ed Davis were all so subpar that coach Dave Joerger gave 33 min to James Johnson? Johnson’s value disappears when Tayshaun Prince returns, but a return to the starting line-up might mean Koufos can once again become a double-double + blocks machine.

Just when I thought John Salmons might overtake Terrence Ross, Ross comes out, drops 23 points on 62.5% FG, and makes me look like a fool. Although once again he didn’t do more than get points and threes.

Mediocre big man alert: Timofey Mozgov dropped a double-double, but it was with Kenneth Faried out. Coach Brian Shaw expects Faried to play Friday.

Drop Jordan Hill. Some people might still believe in him, but his recent numbers indicate that coach Mike D’Antoni has no interest in playing his second-best big man consistently regardless of matchups. Also, Chris Kaman is no good again now that Gasol’s back.

And last night it was Miles Plumlee, Gerald Green and Marcus Morris who showed up for the Suns. Plumlee’s career rebounding night shouldn’t be too much of a surprise, as numerous big men have had career nights against the Lakers this year. Green however has been good three games in a row now, averaging 21 points and 5.3 threes in 28 mpg. His biggest problem this year has been staying consistent with both Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe in the line-up, and he’s doing that now. Still, who knows if he’ll be a victim of the Suns’ carousel next game.

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

1. Giannis Antetokounmpo (18%)
2. Jordan Farmar (14%)
3. Reggie Jackson (38%)
4. Glen Davis (37%)
5. D.J. Augustin (22%)

Goodbye Jon Leuer, hello D.J. Augustin. Augustin should probably be much higher for a guy who averaged 13.7 pts, 2.3 reb, 8.0 ast, 1.7 stl and 3.0 3pm on 50.0% FG and 80.0% FT, but I still distrust what I’m seeing from him until Kirk Hinrich returns. Though he’s certainly producing a lot more than was expected from him when Chicago picked him up. The Lakers only wish they could say the same about Kendall Marshall.

Hindsight: So I was holding on to Leuer too long. He is by far the Grizzlies’ most offensively talented big man off the bench, but his streak of seven straight double-digit scoring games did correspond to six Grizzly losses…A little over a week ago, I dropped Brandon Knight to pick back up Jordan Hill. If you want to stop reading my blog forever now, I’ll understand. In my defense, I wanted another big man because BroLo couldn’t stay healthy (and now rests in peace on our waiver wire), and I thought Knight’s FG% would sink my team. I still think his FG% will drop back off, but BK — 25.0 pts, 8.8 reb, 7.8 ast, 2.8 3pm on 45.7% FG over his last four. For someone else’s team. Damn.

And with that last nugget of coal in my stocking, I’d like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. There are no games tonight, so I’ll talk to you all again the day after #NBAXmas!

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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: Steve Blake

(AFP Photo / Scott Halleran)

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

The Sneaky Fantasy Basketball Pickup for Sunday, November 10 is Steve Blake. He’s owned in 14% of Yahoo! Leagues, but his stock has been slowly rising as Steve Nash’s continues to fall.

Here’s a look at his line last night against Minnesota:
20131110 Steve Blake

Remember that weird tidbit from coach Mike D’Antoni’s introductory press conference with the Lakers last year about how he’d always wanted to coach Steve Blake and that he’d been trying to get Blake on one of his teams for 10 years?  At that point we all collectively said, “Huh, Steve Blake?”, but now it seems he might’ve been serious.

Steve Nash has been battling back pain all year and will see a doctor about it on Monday. If the 40-year old PG needs to be shut down for any amount of time, both Blake and Jordan Farmar’s values will shoot up. Originally, Farmar looked like the heir apparent here, but Blake has caught fire since hitting the game winner in Houston. He will get first crack at the starting spot if Nash is out.

Is he legit? We do have to remember this is Steve Blake we’re talking about here. He might end up getting 36 mpg, but even his per-36 min numbers haven’t looked great. He will get you threes, assists, and the occasional steal, but he doesn’t get to the FT line and his FG% has always been subpar. Still, he will be the captain of a Mike D’Antoni offense, and this is an offense that has made valuable fantasy producers out of Steve Blake’s ilk before (Holla Q-Rich, Leandro Barbosa, and Raja Bell!).

Other Notable Players: Also on the Lakers, Jodie Meeks continues to be Mr. Consistency if you’re looking for a stable source of threes. His FT% has always been good, but his .507 FG% this year is nearly 10% above his career average. Nash’s injury helps him as well, as he’s likely sliding into the starting SG spot…Jason Smith had his best game and most minutes of the season as Greg Stiemsma fell out of the rotation. His midrange shooting creates good spacing for Anthony Davis, but the Very Rich Man’s Jason Smith, aka Ryan Anderson, could be making his return as early as Tuesday…As expected, J.R. Smith returned to the line-up and took minutes away from Iman Shumpert, while Metta World Peace had the second-most playing time after Carmelo Anthony…Reggie Jackson, looking revitalized! This was more what I had in mind when I said hold on to him even after Russell Westbrook comes back, though it must be noted Westbrook was ejected from this game…Steven Adams, on the other hand, did not have a good game and didn’t play many minutes, but Kendrick Perkins continues to be ineffective and played just a smidge fewer minutes. Adams is a good guy to stash in roto leagues while we wait for him to take over Perkins’s job, but he’s not going to be a useful rotation piece in head-to-head leagues…Gerald Green still had a productive game despite Goran Dragic’s return but also saw his minutes drop to the fewest since Dragic went out. The Suns have looked good with Green in the starting line-up, but his production is likely about to get too inconsistent to keep him…The Nuggets didn’t play last night, but an opportunity is about to arise for someone with the news that JaVale McGee is out indefinitely with a broken leg. The question is who will absorb his minutes? The options are J.J. Hickson, Anthony Randolph, and Timofey Mozgov with Darrell Arthur as a longshot. None of them have played much. Arthur will likely still be buried on the bench. Mozgov might get the start but doesn’t have the talent. Randolph has the most talent but has never strung together any streak of consistency in his entire career. Hickson actually had good value last year averaging a double-double for Portland and will probably be the winner here, though will it be enough? McGee only played 16 mpg this season. If one of the above players takes all his minutes, that player will instantly become valuable. If those minutes are divvied up more evenly amongst the platoon, none of them will.

Top 5 Sneaky Pickups (owned in under 40% of Yahoo! Leagues):
1. Zaza Pachulia (34%)
2. Steve Blake (14%)
3. Corey Brewer (22%)
4. Metta World Peace (31%)
5. J.J. Hickson (38%)

Accountability: No regrets last night, baby! I’m feeling good about Metta, Reggie and Markieff Morris, and I’m going to keep pimping Steven Adams.

Pickup of the Day: Patrick Beverley

(AP Photo / David J. Phillip)

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 Thursday, November 7 is Patrick Beverley. He is currently owned in 28% of Yahoo! Fantasy Leagues, and he didn’t do much to inspire an uptick in that number tonight other than start. Nonetheless, there are some reasons to keep an eye on him.

Here’s a look at his line tonight against LA:
20131107 Patrick Beverley

It’s not an impressive line, but the two numbers that should stand out are the 33:49 min and 10 FGA. Yes, Beverley missed nine of those attempts, but that’s clearly not going to be the case every night. In six playoff games last year, Beverley averaged 33.3 mpg and 10.8 FGA and posted 11.8 pts, 5.5 reb, 2.8 ast, 1.2 stl and 1.3 3’s. It’s a small sample size, and the numbers aren’t tremendous, but it’s an example of what you might expect from Beverley moving forward. Though you have to take into account that Dwight Howard now commands a lot of touches on offense. Theoretically he should free up space for other players to get clearer shots like he did in Orlando, but that was not what happened last year in LA.

By the way, for those Jeremy Lin owners who were concerned about him losing the starting job to Beverley, don’t be. Lin still played 31 min off the bench and posted an excellent line. His skills are much better utilized with the second unit where he’ll be the primary ballhandler and scorer and get to go against the opposing team’s second unit guards. The Rockets also played a smallball Beverley-Lin-Harden-Parsons-Howard line-up at the end of this game, so Lin seems like he’ll still get playing time to close out games.

Is he legit? No, on a normal night with a full slate of games, Patrick Beverley would barely get a mention. He is an available player worth watching, but I’d put him only slightly above Jodie Meeks, and neither are anywhere close to my Top 5 (see below). Beverley is going to get minutes and may give you good rebounding for a PG to go with a few steals and 3’s, but Lin is still the Rockets PG you want for fantasy purposes.

Other Notable Players: What can we say about the Lakers’ guards? Not many conclusive things. Wesley Johnson is actually Yahoo!’s highest-ranked Laker at #72 (even ahead of Pau Gasol) due to some surprisingly good peripheral stats: 1.4 3’s, 1.0 stl, 1.8 (!!!) blk. Those blocks aren’t from one fluke game either; Johnson has consistently blocked shots every game. You’d have to be somewhat desperate to swallow his 8.4 ppg on 34% shooting, though that doesn’t include his 16 pts on 40% shooting from tonight. For what it’s worth, I’d rather have Jodie Meeks, who’s been by far the most consistent if not spectacular guard on this team and has already done this in stretches last year. Meanwhile, Jordan Farmar could be a useful fantasy PG if only he could get the minutes, Steve Blake and Nick Young aren’t useful at all (in fantasy, Blake’s game-winner tonight was obviously clutch in real life), and Xavier Henry has been my worst Pickup call of the season so far. Just to be thorough, Steve Nash is owned in 70% of Yahoo! leagues but ranks behind ALL of the above players except Henry…I have nothing to say about the other two games.

Top 5 Sneaky Pickups (owned in under 40% of Yahoo! Leagues):
1. Reggie Jackson (29%)
2. Metta World Peace (29%)
3. Zaza Pachulia (31%)
4. Martell Webster (17%)
5. Corey Brewer (16%)

Accountability: To be fair, Xavier Henry was our Pickup on the first day of the season, and I cautioned that it’s ridiculous to judge any player after one game…To no surprise, Larry Sanders was not charged in the bar fight for which he was being investigated. Not sure if the Bucks will suspend him for the incident, but he’ll soon be returning to the team. Zaza Pachulia is still a solid Pickup, but you have to believe the Bucks front office will eventually force coach Larry Drew to give their $44 million man as many opportunities to succeed as possible.