Pickup of the Day: Andray Blatche

(Al Bello / 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 Friday, December 20 is once again Andray Blatche, and this time it’s not even close. He’s owned in 36% of Yahoo! Leagues and 22.3% of ESPN Leagues, but he should be close to 100% owned for the rest of the season. In fact, if you own Brook Lopez, go get him right now. If you haven’t heard why yet, it’s got nothing to do with the 6-3-2 that Blatche dropped last night and everything to do with the news that Lopez has broken his foot and is likely done for the season.

Having previously lived in Washington, D.C. and closely followed the Gilbert Arenas-era Wizards, I’m surprised that I’d ever feel so fervently about Andray Blatche, the guy who slept in the Verizon Center for several nights as a rookie because he blew all his substantial paychecks and couldn’t pay rent. Yet, he’s not been the same player since moving to Brooklyn. As previously mentioned, he averaged 17.9 pts, 9.3 reb, 1.5 ast and 1.8 stl in 30.5 mpg in eight starts for Lopez last season.

Blatche hasn’t started as much this season as the Nets have a deeper bench and thus have also rotated guys like Kevin Garnett, Reggie Evans and Mirza Teletovic in the starting line-up (KG is technically a regular starter, but injuries have rotated him in and out). Still, Blatche’s numbers in his nine games without Brook Lopez aren’t much worse: 17.6 pts, 6.4 reb, 1.1 ast, 1.3 stl, 0.8 blk on excellent 56.1% FG and 82.9% FT in 27.6 mpg.

Of all the players who stand to benefit from Lopez’s 31+ mpg that just opened up every night–Blatche, Evans, Teletovic and rookie Mason Plumlee–Blatche has been by far the most productive both in reality and in fantasy. He may have a little more competition for minutes than he did last year, but he’s the Nets’ best option. That’s saying a lot for a guy who once couldn’t pay rent on an NBA salary.

As for Brook Lopez himself, the official word is that he’s only “likely” to miss the rest of the season. He will be further evaluated in the upcoming days, and surgery will be likely. We may not know his actual timetable until the end of next week, but I have a hard time believing this will be like Marc Gasol’s timetable shifting from 6-8 weeks to 3-4 weeks. The expectation is that it’s season-ending, so at best you’re looking at a return close to the playoffs. If Blatche or someone else prominent is available in your leagues (somehow Paul Pierce and Spencer Hawes were available in some of my leagues), drop Lopez and grab them right now. If you’re in a deeper league without many notable options in your free agents pool, I understand if you want to hold on to him just a bit longer, but there’s likely no light at the end of this tunnel.

Other Notable Players: Some more Nets notes first from their overtime barn-burner against the Sixers last night. Pierce has clearly shaken off the rust from his injury, but Alan Anderson managed to drop 26-5-2-1-1 and 5 3pm last night. The 26 points were more than he scored in his previous four games combined, however. Still untrustworthy. Meanwhile Mirza Teletovic got the start for Garnett and dropped six threes to go with four rebounds, two assists and a block. He’s been an interesting source of points and threes for three of his past four games, but, in that fourth game, he posted a 0-0-0-1-1. Unfortunately, the Nets have absolutely no incentive to tank as they don’t even own their own first-round pick until 2019, so don’t expect them to give up and start playing their young prospects like Teletovic or Mason Plumlee any time soon. It’ll be interesting to see what they do the rest of the year, but most likely what they’ll do is suck very hard…Michael Carter-Williams finally returned from injury, but Tony Wroten still managed a decent 19-3-3 and 2 3pm game, though his turnover problems continued with four last night. He played less than 24 min last night, however, and he doesn’t look any closer to supplanting Hollis Thompson in the starting line-up. There isn’t much benefit to be gained from keeping him on your roster at this point, unless you’re waiting for the next MCW injury…Drop Marvin Williams if you haven’t already. Enes Kanter is on his way to reclaiming the starting PF spot, and even Jeremy Evans is outplaying Williams. Alec Burks continues looking like an interesting pickup, although his lack of peripheral stats (outside points-rebounds-assists) still makes him a limited asset…Lou Williams got most of his 25 points in garbage time, and he scored seven points total in his previous two games. He’s at least averaging out to what I expected he’d be getting when I made him the Pickup, but this wasn’t what I was hoping for…O.J. Mayo returned but came off the bench behind Giannis Antetokounmpo. However, Mayo was great, while Alphabet Soup was underwhelming. Like I said before, we’re too early on Antetokounmpo at this point, but his time is coming. He’s still worth a stash but not a play yet. On the other hand, Khris Middleton would be a more interesting play if he wasn’t averaging 36.0% FG over his past seven games…Mediocre PG alert: Jarrett Jack is averaging 14.3 pts, 4.7 reb, 4.3 ast and 1.0 3pm over his last three…Isaiah Thomas isn’t anywhere near our radar as a potential pickup, but I’m pointing out his subpar performance last night as an example of Miami’s formidable defense against point guards. Matchups don’t matter in fantasy basketball nearly as much as they do in fantasy football, but Miami has been the worst team for opposing point guards for years now…Danny Granger returned for the Pacers, which helps them a lot as a team but won’t matter nearly as much in fantasy. There is no reason he needs to be 55% owned, and Lance Stephenson owners should have no reason to fear. If the Paul George owner in your league is actually nervous about this, he or she is probably also dumb enough to get suckered into a lopsided trade for George…Terrence Ross continued doing what he does, which is not much, and Greivis Vasquez’s stock continues to plummet as we get further removed from the Kyle Lowry trade rumors…Not buying this Brandan Wright thing yet…It was the bench mob’s turn in Phoenix last night, as Markieff Morris, Gerald Green and Marcus Morris produced while P.J. Tucker, Channing Frye and Miles Plumlee mainly disappointed. Frye was especially disappointing as he topped 20 points in his two previous games before dropping three last night. Meanwhile, Markieff filled up the stat line with 25-6-2-3-3, 2 3pm and 73.3% of a whopping 15 FTA. He is averaging a solid 1.2 stl and 1.2 blk over his last five, but Frye’s fantastic 2.6 3pm and better FG% still makes him more valuable. Obviously all the Phoenix players mentioned here are erratic from game-to-game, but Plumlee, Frye and Markieff flatten out to useful averages in the longer run…Remember when Corey Brewer was a useful fantasy player?…The big winners of the first of many Kobe Bryant-less Lakers game last night were Jodie Meeks, Xavier Henry and Nick Young. Henry got the start at PG with mixed results, but he’ll own that spot until Jordan Farmar returns if you can stomach the low FG% and turnovers. I still believe Meeks has the most room to improve his stats, but the night obviously belonged to Swaggy P, another former Wizard who was abysmal in D.C. but has found new life with his new squad. I was too late to jump on his bandwagon, as he’s already up to 45% owned (I’m still stupidly refusing to drop Lopez for him), but he’s been a shockingly strong source of points and threes, though I’d expect his FG% to drop closer to his career 42.8%…On the other hand, I have no idea what coach Mike D’Antoni is doing with Jordan Hill, who only played 14 min last night despite a clear lack of big man options behind him on the Lakers’ bench. Even if he struggles again tonight, what are we to make out of this situation? Is D’Antoni really planning to rotate four guys through that PF position in every game?…Jon Leuer has now had two disappointing games in a row. I’m not sure what’s happening there, but neither Ed Davis nor Kosta Koufos did anything too inspiring. Leuer is averaging 14.0 pts, 5.7 reb and 2.0 3pm on 56.3% FG over his last three even after two stinkers, just to show you how strong a player he’s been. I wouldn’t give up on him yet, but something strange has been happening…Beno Udrih couldn’t keep his decent-to-good streak of games up to three, so he’s not worth owning now that Raymond Felton is targeting a Monday return. I’m seeing flashes of Patrick Beverley in Tim Hardaway Jr., which is not a good thing for fantasy purposes.

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

1. Andray Blatche (36%)
2. Jon Leuer (23%)
3. Giannis Antetokounmpo (18%)
4. Jordan Farmar (8%)
5. Reggie Jackson (37%)

GET. BLATCHE. NOW.

Hindsight: Well, former Pickup Jeff Taylor goes from disappointing to more clearly disappointing. He’s done for the year with a ruptured Achilles.

Pickup of the Day: Andray Blatche

(Richard Mackson / USA TODAY Sports)

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 Saturday, November 16 is Andray Blatche. He’s owned in 5% of Yahoo! Leagues and 0.3% of ESPN Leagues. Fantasy owners who were lucky enough to get him on their fantasy teams last year when he filled in for Brook Lopez can attest to his upside, and he’s about to get the same opportunity again with Lopez limping around on a bum ankle.

Here’s a look at Blatche’s line tonight against LA:
20131116 Andray Blatche

The Nets have been dropping like bad dubstep beats (and bad analogies!) this week, with Deron Williams going down with an ankle sprain last night and apparently infecting Brook Lopez with the same ailment today (in less severe absences, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce also sat out for what Gregg Popovich would categorize as “DNP – Old”). The big winners here are Shaun Livingston and Andray Blatche. Of the two, Blatche has the higher upside. Livingston will give you solid numbers in points, rebounds, assists and the percentages, but I’m wary of players that don’t give me anything in threes, steals, or blocks.

Both Williams and Lopez appear day-to-day, so don’t consider dropping anyone with long-term value for either Livingston or Blatche. We might be looking at a one-week rental at best, but, especially if you’ve just lost either of those Nets starters, their replacements are worthwhile fill-ins.

Is he legit? Oh yeah. In his eight starts filling in for Brook Lopez last year, Andray Blatche averaged 17.9 pts, 9.3 reb, 1.5 ast and 1.8 stl in 30.5 mpg. He’s already dropped similar numbers tonight. Remember, this is a very temporary rental, but the type of numbers Blatche can give you are difficult to find on the waiver wire.

Other Notable Players: Those of you who inserted DeJuan Blair into your line-up received a nice reward with a robust 18-5-2-2-1 line. Nothing about his role has changed in Dallas, so don’t expect this on the regular…Martell Webster didn’t have a good shooting night but still played 42 min and had a decent line. He’ll continue to have value until Trevor Ariza returns, which might be in a week…It was also a terrible shooting night for Josh McRoberts, but he did drop 9 assists and 7 rebounds. He continues to be the most surprising source of assists in fantasy basketball this year, and the fact that Cody Zeller got less than seven minutes tonight just solidifies McBob’s position…How about Shelvin Mack with the 12 pts and 12 ast! Not sure if he got additional run tonight so Jeff Teague could take a break after his monster game last night, but Teague played fine and isn’t injured, so don’t expect more like this from Mack…Tony Wroten had a third straight productive game, and MCW will be out until Wednesday at least. Darius Morris can be ignored, however, as he got all his points during garbage time of a major blowout…Derrick Rose returned, but Kirk Hinrich stayed productive? Okay, now I’m paying attention, because Rose has been anything but reliable this year…Even though I made him a Pickup of the Day, I still should’ve been higher on Terrence Jones. However, it is worth noting that Donatas Motiejunas got 16 min of playing time. Motiejunas is whom the Rockets wanted taking over that PF spot coming into the season, so there might be competition for Jones after all even with Greg Smith injured and Omer Asik sulking at the end of the bench…Dante Cunningham had a similar game to last night’s, except he shot better and added 3 ast and 5 stl. Still think he’s a non-factor though…Another horrible shooting night for Zaza Pachulia, but I am going to continue preaching patience because he’s still contributing in other areas and getting increased minutes. On the other hand, John Henson had a great game in a mere 16 min, but it would’ve been much better if he had been able to stay out of foul trouble…Shaun Livingston put up numbers but–as seems to be the trend tonight–had a disappointing shooting night. That’s not common for him, so except it to get back up above .500 soon. Along with Blatche, Mason Plumlee also took advantage of both Lopez and Garnett’s absences. He had a nice 19-6 night with a steal and a block, though he went a Dwightmarish 5 for 12 at the line. Finally, Alan Anderson and Reggie Evans also played some decent minutes, but both Pierce and Garnett should be back in the line-up by the next game.

Top 5 Sneaky Pickups (owned in under 40% of Yahoo! Leagues): Another day, and the pickings get slimmer. We bid farewell to Jordan Hill, who hit 41% owned today.

1. Martell Webster (25%)
2. Josh McRoberts (14%)
3. Jodie Meeks (23%)
4. Terrence Jones (13%)
5. Andray Blatche (5%)

Hindsight: I popped the champagne way, way too early on Jared Sullinger (and now am probably shelving him way too early to overcompensate). According to coach Brad Stevens, conditioning was the reason Sullinger only played 14 min tonight. The way Stevens is handling him is not a good sign for anyone hoping for any type of consistency. I am 100% still holding on to Sullinger, but there is a small thought creeping into my mind and wondering if I might be a year early and an offseason of intense conditioning away from his true breakout season.