Pickup of the Day: Giannis Antetokounmpo


(Jerome Miron / USA TODAY Sports)

This season I will highlight a notable player, based on the games played each night, who’s owned in less than 40% of Yahoo! Fantasy Basketball leagues.

The Sneaky Fantasy Basketball Pickup for Tuesday, December 17 is Giannis Antetokounmpo, and I’d been practicing spelling that name for a long time in anticipation of this moment, even though I may be jumping the gun. He’s owned in 9% of Yahoo! Leagues and 0.6% of ESPN Leagues, but he is by far the no. 1 pickup today across Yahoo leagues. He’ll likely be available for longer in ESPN leagues because, quite frankly, ESPN has an awful interface that requires you to either spell “Antetokounmpo” perfectly or browse through all players until you find him.

He didn’t play last night, but his averages over the last three games are 12.0 pts, 8.7 reb, 1.7 ast, 0.7 stl, 0.7 blk and 0.3 TO on 47.6 FG% on 7.0 FGA and 80.0% FT on 6.7 FTA in 30 mpg. That FT shooting is a sneakily healthy boost, but otherwise his numbers don’t really stand out. Marvin Williams could do that.

Williams is actually an interesting comparison. As an incredible physical specimen drafted no. 2 overall above Chris Paul and Deron Williams in the 2005 NBA draft, expectations for him were sky high, and he’s now considered a bust despite some solid work for Utah this season. Antetokounmpo, another incredible physical specimen, was drafted 15th this year in what is largely considered the worst draft class since 2000. There were no expectations for him this year, but he has lit the blogosphere on fire, dominating headlines even as fellow Buck John Henson is putting up insanely good career numbers.

Antetokounmpo is getting his first start tonight because O.J. Mayo is out attending his grandmother’s funeral (condolences to Mayo), so this may not be a permanent move. As I mentioned many times before, he’s eventually going to get lots of minutes this season when the Buck give up and commit to playing their young guys, but it’s only mid-December. I don’t think the tanking is happening just yet, even if they are the worst team in the league right now.

Antetokounmpo’s potential is undeniable, though, and not just on the floor. Here’s a translated excerpt from his Greek blog that won me over completely:

It was an amazing experience, the game vs the Heat. Until of course the next day and the game vs the Thunder. I have said many times that Durant is my idol. He is the player I watch the most. When I came out on the court for a workout, he was already there, shooting. Working. I stopped and watched him. He was deadly serious. I could see it in his face. He was not relaxed. He was warming up with tension. I felt a satisfaction, when I saw my idol, approaching basketball with such determination.

 

In the span of just two days I found myself against two superstars like LeBron and Durant and I got the biggest lessons. Two of the biggest and most recognizable basketball players, with huge bank accounts, working hard, like they have something to prove, while in reality they have nothing to prove. LeBron is a two-time champion and four-time MVP. They have both played in so many All Star Games. Even so, work never stops. They do not rest in their glory. They are after perfection.

 

At the same time I saw right in front of my eyes what the combination of talent and hard work can offer to an athlete.

I read something like that from a 19-year old kid, and I can’t help but think this kid just gets it. I’ve only thought that about one other NBA rookie, and I see the same insight and determination in Antetokounmpo, if not necessarily the same polished skill set, as I did in his idol.

If you really need your bench guys to give you something, then I think you might be a little early pulling the trigger on the Alphabet Soup. Otherwise, he’s worth a roster spot just to be able to follow him more closely every day.

Other Notable Players: Many people caught last night’s thrilling point guard battle between elite PGs Kyrie Irving and Damian Lillard, but how many of you caught the backup battle between mediocre PGs Jarrett Jack and Slo Mo Williams? Jack has averaged 12.0 pts, 3.5 reb, 3.8 ast and 1.0 3pm in his last four, and Williams has 11.0 pts, 2.5 reb, 5.0 ast and 1.8 3pm over his last four…In each game since his 31-point game, Derrick Williams has played in fewer minutes than the last, culminating in last night’s 22 min in which he dropped a 5-0-1-1-0. I was skeptical of his ability to push Jason Thompson out of the line-up after Rudy Gay got there. Should’ve stayed skeptical. This is a timeshare…Jordan Hill isn’t injured. He just picked up four fouls in seven and a half minutes. Don’t worry, Larry Sanders does this kind of stuff all the time and look how well he’s–er, nevermind…An update on Lakers guards: Nick Young is still unbelievably most consistent, Jodie Meeks is regaining his value, Wes Johnson finally put up another weirdly useful line 7-5-6-1-1 in 32 min, and I jumped the gun on Jordan Farmar (see Hindsight below)…Mike Conley sat out last night, and Jerryd Bayless was ehh, just okay. Oh, and if anybody asks, I totally had Jon Leuer at the top of my Top Five Pickups for the last two weeks, but I’d been misspelling his name as “Kosta Koufos“…After 10 games averaging 15.3 pts, 3.7 reb, 2.8 ast and 1.2 3pm in 27 min, Reggie Jackson has averaged just 9-3-3.5 plus no threes in 21 min in his last two games. Some might blame Thabo Sefolosha’s return, but Jackson has been getting steady minutes long before Sefolosha sat for three games. I’m not worried yet. Jackson’s numbers will be up-and-down, but he’s been pretty locked into sixth man minutes for a while now…Al-Farouq Aminu didn’t exactly stuff the stat sheet, but he prodded it from many angles with a 10-8-2-1-2 line. He got even fewer minutes than megabust Austin Rivers, who seems to be the one benefiting the most from Tyreke Evans’s absence. I call Rivers a megabust, but a Twitter commenter did note that Rivers has outplayed max contract-owner Eric Gordon in the last two games, so who’s the real megabust lately?…Andre Iguodala returned last night, and, though he did very little, you can now safely bench Harrison Barnes. If you didn’t drop Draymond Green weeks ago, then A. you can definitely do it now and B. you’re probably paying way too much attention to silly things like your job or your family. Stop neglecting your fantasy basketball team!

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

1. Jon Leuer (25%)
2. Jordan Hill (33%)
4. Marvin Williams (15%)
5. Jordan Farmar (7%)
5. Giannis Antetokounmpo (9%)

Clearly I’m not worried about Hill, although I also ignored the signs for him and Koufos before. Might regret not bumping Glen Davis back up. On the other hand, the bad news on Farmar drops him down, but not too far (see hindsight below). Michael Carter-Williams’s probable return on Friday means Wroten’s value as a starter for your fantasy team is probably done for the moment. Honestly, I’m not sure that Wroten’s less valuable than Antetokounmpo moving forward in the short-term, but the Alphabet Soup is to me what RG3 was to Matthew Berry last year. I can’t speak about him objectively.

Hindsight: All that optimism for a Friday return for Jordan Farmar is gone. Looks like he’s out at least another week, but if he’s back by Christmas, you’ll still be glad you stashed him…Over the All-Star break, when there are no games, I’m going to do a list of my best and worst pickups. Jeff Taylor will definitely be on my list of worst. This guy’s shooting just fell off a cliff this year.

Pickup of the Day: Lou Williams


(Kevin Liles / USA TODAY Sports)

This season I will highlight a notable player, based on the games played each night, who’s owned in less than 40% of Yahoo! Fantasy Basketball leagues.

The Sneaky Fantasy Basketball Pickups for Saturday, December 14 is Lou Williams. He’s owned in 23% of Yahoo! Leagues and 11.7% of ESPN Leagues, which is a surprisingly high amount considering his minimal contributions so far this year. I’d wager it’s mostly people who drafted him based on Yahoo!’s preseason ranking, which was based on his productive season last year as a scorer off the bench for Atlanta. Last night proved he can still be that guy.

Here’s a look at his line last night against New York:
20131214 Lou Williams

Williams just had a minutes restriction due to his knee surgery lifted on Dec. 10, although it’s unclear what that limit was as he’s still only averaging 23:40 since then. Nonetheless, this is good news for his future value, as Williams put up 14.1 pts, 2.1 reb, 3.6 ast, 1.1 stl and 1.8 3pm off the bench for the Hawks last year. However, this year the Hawks have turned to Shelvin Mack a lot more for his playmaking, so Williams will have more competition for minutes behind Jeff Teague and Kyle Korver, who are both firmly in place as the starters.

He’s not a perfect Pickup, but last night showed he can still light it up off the bench when given the right opportunity.

Other Notables: Jordan Hill got over 30 min for the first time in over two weeks, so he seems like he’s over his ankle injury that’s plagued him all month. There is so little depth down low for the Lakers that he’s automatically valuable if he regains this type of regular minutes, though it’s not clear yet whether that’ll happen…Jarrett Jack has been putting up numbers like a poor man’s Reggie Jackson…While Iman Shumpert remained miserable, both Pablo Prigioni (11-1-6-4-0) and Tim Hardaway, Jr. (13-4-2-3-0) had serviceable games. Amar’e Stoudemire fell back to earth…Both starter Marquis Teague and newly signed D.J. Augustin struggled last night for the Bulls, making neither likely to have value when Kirk Hinrich returns from injury. Mike Dunleavy still contributed but played his lowest number of minutes in two weeks. His value is likely done with both Jimmy Butler and Luol Deng back, as is Taj Gibson’s…Pay no mind to Mo Williams’s 14-3-7 with three threes against Philadelphia. Portland set a record in threes last night, and playing against Philly is the team that made Jeff Taylor look like a star…Giannis Antetokounmpo played a season-high 35 min and put up a 14-9-4-0-1. I’ll keep talking about him because I love this kid, but really the Bucks aren’t ready to admit how awful they really are play him regularly yet. Alphabet just played a lot of garbage minutes last night as the Bucks were down 34 at one point…Vince Carter also put up an impressive 15-6-9-3-1 with Dirk Nowitzki out and has been an under-the-radar source of threes, assists and steals, but the big news was Brandan Wright who had an excellent 19-6 season debut in under 19 min. He mainly played at center while Samuel Dalembert got a DNP-CD, so don’t disqualify this performance too much due to Dirk’s absence. Wright is worth keeping an eye on, as he has a chance at supplementing DeJuan Blair as Dallas’s starting center.

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

1. Al-Farouq Aminu (19%)
2. Marvin Williams (13%)
3. Glen Davis (38%)
4. Kosta Koufos (30%)
5. Tony Wroten (24%)

At this point, I’d wager that Sixers are just keeping Michael Carter-Williams out on purpose to tank. Also, I had to drop Koufos and probably not even far enough, as he has been dominated by Nikola Pekovic as I write this, and the Grizzlies just started Jon Leuer in the second half. If he has a second bad game, we may have to bump Derrick Williams up here tomorrow, and the Pickup will almost certainly be Leuer.

Hindsight: Ready to admit Jeff Taylor’s one good game was a fluke. That’s what playing against the Sixers will do for you.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter at @SneakyFantasyBB for broader and more up to date NBA news!

Pickup of the Day: Taj Gibson

(Marc Serota / 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 Monday, December 2 is Taj Gibson. He’s owned in 25% of Yahoo! Leagues and 9.5% of ESPN Leagues. Though he had a career night last night, the box score must be viewed with a refined perspective when a game goes into three overtimes and guys like Ryan Anderson and Luol Deng are pushing an hour of playing time. So yes, it’s fair to put an asterisk next to Gibson’s career-high 26 points, but even his work in his previous games makes him a promising pickup.

Here’s a look at his line last night against New Orleans:
20131202 Taj Gibson

How many times can Gibson be expected to top 44 minutes this season? He did it four times last year, but, unless Carlos Boozer is injured or traded, it won’t be much more than that this year. Therein lies the rub for his value. Over his past three games, Gibson has averaged an astounding 22.3 pts, 8.7 reb, 1.0 ast and 2.0 blk on 66.7% FG and 78.6% FT. This has directly coincided with Boozer’s worst three-game stretch of the season, where he’s averaging 7.3 pts, 6.7 reb, 2.3 ast and 0.7 blk on 33.3% FG and 100% FT (on two total free throws).

Boozer is averaging 15 and 9 on the season and is likely to regress back up to the mean, but Gibson is playing his most minutes this season of any since Boozer joined the Bulls. With Rose out for yet another season, it’s very possible that the Bull may blow up the roster and start rebuilding. They’ve wanted to move Boozer for a while now, but his onerous contract ($15.3 mil this year, $16.8 mil next) makes that very difficult. Still, if a Russian oligarch was willing to pay $89 mil for Joe Johnson, moving Boozer isn’t impossible.

The Bulls clearly would rather have Gibson play a larger role in their future than Boozer (though Gibson’s contract is much more enticing albeit longer). Don’t expect many nights of 22 and eight with two blocks, but you should feel confident stashing Gibson on your bench for now.

Other Notable Players: There’s plenty to say about other potential pickups from last night’s triple-overtime extravaganza. Jason Smith (12-14-1-0-1) and Al-Farouq Aminu (14-9-1-3-0) both had value with Anthony Davis out for 4-6 weeks. Smith was more involved in the offense, though. On the Bulls side, Kirk Hinrich saw the second-most minutes after Deng (53) and posted 13-6-11 but shot horrifically (4-of-15 FG, 0-of-8 3pm). Along with Gibson, Mike Dunleavy also exploded off the bench (23-7-5-2-0, 6 3pm). Tony Snell was not productive. Of everyone, Smith and Hinrich are the safest choices as they will continue getting the most minutes and shots, though their upsides are limited. It will take a lot more than one good game for Dunleavy to re-ingratiate himself to fantasy owners after three previous games with only one FG each…Jameer Nelson missed the game, so E’Twaun Moore got the start. He was brutal, as were most of Orlando’s starters, but it’s disappointing neither he nor Glen Davis could make a better case for keeping their starting spots. Davis should get another good chance tonight though, as Nikola Vucevic had to get an X-Ray on his sprained ankle last night…The fact that DeMarre Carroll is the 88th Yahoo! ranked player for the year tells me Yahoo! still way overvalues even the slightest threes and steals. He has something like 10 good games to nine bad ones, but last night was one of the good ones. If you’re in a deep league and can afford to keep him in your line-up, he’s worth a pickup….Belineeeelliiiiiiiiiiiii is the new Ginoooobiliiiiiiiiiiiii. 14.0 pts, 2.8 reb, 2.0 ast, 1.0 stl, 2.3 3pm in the last four for Marco BelinelliFrancisco Garcia had a great game last night (13-6-2-0-4, 3 3pm) with Chandler Parsons sitting out. On the other hand, Terrence Jones had an awful game, while Omri Casspi (13-6-0-2-0, 2 3pm) took most of the PF minutes. It’s unknown if Parsons will miss more games, but Jones is not likely to continue playing this poorly, while Garcia and Casspi should see their roles diminished…Is Alec Burks, who’s already risen and fallen this year, on the rise again? 16.7 pts, 3.7 reb, 3.0 ast, 1.3 3pm, 53.1% FG, 80.0% FT over his last three. This Jazz team is much better in general with Trey Burke at the point. Though not for Enes Kanter…We need to see more, Mo Williams. More.

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

1. Marvin Williams (18%)
2. Kosta Koufos (28%)
3. Glen Davis (35%)
4. Nate Robinson (26%)
5. Wesley Johnson (13%)

Henson’s one big game starting for the Bucks apparently built a lot of buzz, as he pushes up to 40% owned. Tough choice between Wes Johnson and Gibson for that final spot. While Gibson has potential, Johnson’s been getting it done in steals (1.0), blocks (1.6) and threes (1.3) all year and has been even better recently (1.0, 1.8, 2.5 respectively over last four).

Hindsight: Dunleavy’s big game last night reminds me that he’s averaged 6.3 ppg in all his other games since I made him the Pickup. Oof…There’s a big slate of games tonight, so there’ll be plenty of time for regrets and hopefully also some gloating. Talk to you all again in a few hours!

Pickups of the Day: Figuring Out the Los Angeles Lakers

This season I will highlight a notable player, based on the games played each night, who’s owned in less than 40% of Yahoo! Fantasy Basketball leagues.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pickup of the Day: Brandon Bass


(Jared Wickerham / Getty Images)

This season I will highlight a notable player, based on the games played each night, who’s owned in less than 40% of Yahoo! Fantasy Basketball leagues.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pickup of the Day: Marvin Williams

(AP Photo / Rick Bowmer)

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, November 25 is Marvin Williams. He’s owned in 6% of Yahoo! Leagues and 5.8% of ESPN Leagues, which is the closest I’ve ever seen fantasy owners in the two formats agreeing. Unfortunately, this is a short week for Utah, which doesn’t have another game until Friday. At that point Enes Kanter will have returned to the line-up, but Williams has done enough recently to merit a roster spot.

Here’s a look at his line last night against Chicago:
20131125 Marvin Williams

That’s an above-average but not atypical line from Williams, who’s averaged 14.0 pts, 6.2 reb, 1.2 stl, 2.2 3’s and only 0.8 TO in his last five games. He’s been coming on stronger lately, first jumping over Alec Burks in the rotation to become the sixth man and then pushing Enes Kanter to the bench to become the starting PF.

Kanter missed this game with a sore ankle, which explains Williams’s 44 minutes. Rudy Gobert is the high upside pick when either Kanter or Derrick Favors misses time, but last night was the first time Gobert has even topped 16 min all season. Kanter returns this Friday, and there’s no news yet whether he or Williams starts, but Williams has been productive long enough to justify a fantasy roster spot regardless.

Is he legit? Ah, Marvin Williams. He will forever be the guy drafted ahead of Chris Paul. And Deron Williams. And Andrew Bynum. And Danny Granger, David Lee, Monta Ellis, Marcin Gortat, Ersan Ilyasova, Raymond Felton, Amir Johnson and about a half dozen other players from the 2005 draft class who turned out to be more productive NBA players than he has. Williams perfected his three-point shot this year, but otherwise he hasn’t changed much as a player, a guy who’ll score in the teens and grab 5-6 rebounds while shooting mediocre percentages. This year, Williams is shooting his best percentage yet from three and his worst from the line. He’s not an exciting player, but he’s a serviceable “3 & D” guy in the Martell Webster/Gerald Green mold.

Other Notable Players: Back on the Brandon Bass bandwagon everybody! In the two games since reclaiming a starting spot after Kelly Olynyk sprained his ankle, Bass has posted a 17-7 and a 16-5 in over 30 min. Olynyk is out for at least another week and a half…Gerald Wallace is hovering at 40% owned right and just had a good game. His first good game in the last seven. He should be owned less…Josh McRoberts: 5-7-5-1-1, one three. Despite everything else, it’s getting hard to ignore his lack of points and awful shooting. I still argue his value is higher next to Al Jefferson, but keep an eye on him…Non-pickups news: Brandon Jennings is averaging a career-high 8.4 apg. What he was missing most of his career were people to pass it to…It’s getting hard to practice patience about ignoring the Bucks starters’ minutes during blowouts when they’re getting blown out of every game. John Henson seems to have the most stable value (15-7-1-2-2 tonight), though Khris Middleton was productive after being moved into the starting line-up over Caron Butler. You should just ignore all Bucks other than Henson until coach Larry Drew figures it out. But hang on to Brandon Knight for now…I’ve been getting warmer and warmer on him, but now I’m just telling you to go pick up Channing Frye. I’m not sure what Eric Bledsoe’s return on Wednesday will mean for him, but it should affect Gerald Green a lot more than Frye…Bench mob alert in Houston! Omri Casspi scored 16 pts and Omer Asik actually saw 21 min, his most in over two weeks. No need to pick either up, but watch how the latter might affect Terrence Jones’s value…Kosta Koufos: 8-13-2-0-2 in 30 min in his first start during Marc Gasol’s two-month hiatus. Koufos will stay at the top of the Top 5 tonight…DeJuan Blair got the start tonight, but he still couldn’t crack 20 min, his average this season. This not a permanent move, as Samuel Dalembert only didn’t start because he missed practice, but he’ll get you some surprisingly steals numbers from the C position if you can afford to keep him in your line-up…Boris Diaw had an excellent 13-5-2-1 game night as he played the Henson role of bench player with starter minutes who stays productive even in a blowout. I was ready to make him the Pickup after Tiago Splitter sprained his ankle and didn’t return, but Rotoworld is reporting that Splitter didn’t return only because it was a blowout, not because of the injury…The season just keeps getting worse for the Chicago Bulls, who lost Derrick Rose for the season after surgery this morning (Remember when Greg Oden only played 82 games in three seasons? After this season, Rose will have only played 50 in three, albeit one was lockout shortened to 66). Now the Bulls have lost to the 2-14 Utah Jazz, the team with the worst record in the league. Neither Kirk Hinrich, Mike Dunleavy, nor new starter Tony Snell could get anything going for their backcourt…And tonight Beno Udrih is good again (13-5-5-1, 3 3’s). I need to see more…Not really Pickup news because none of the players involved are under 40% owned, but important nonetheless. Some people may have dropped Martell Webster upon hearing news that Trevor Ariza is back and will return to the starting line-up. Now Bradley Beal may miss extended time after an MRI today revealed he aggravated the same leg injury that ended his rookie season last year. Pick Webster back up immediately, as he’ll become the starting SG if Beal is out. Deep leaguers may also want to keep an eye on Otto Porter Jr., the Wizards’ third overall pick this year, and Chris Singleton, who had productive games for them last year. Both returned to practice today as well.

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

1. Kosta Koufos (22%)
2. Jared Sullinger (34%)
3. Marvin Williams (6%)
4. Glen Davis (30%)
5. Patrick Beverley (31%)

Taking my own advice and avoiding Brandon Knight and all other non-Henson Bucks for the time being. Mo Williams also dropped, not because of his suspension but because, after three lousy games, I have to go with the lower-upside but also higher-downside Beverley.

Hindsight: Those last two Pickups, Glen Davis and Brandon Knight, are looking like 0-2 so far…Gerald Green and Channing Frye should’ve been in the Top 5 every day for the last two weeks, but I kept getting nervous about when Eric Bledsoe would be back to pull the trigger. Now Bledsoe is reportedly back on Wednesday, and I never got to pop off any rounds.

Pickup of the Day: Brandon Knight

(AP Photo / Morry Gash)

This season I will highlight a notable player, based on the games played each night, who’s owned in less than 40% of Yahoo! Fantasy Basketball leagues.

The Sneaky Fantasy Basketball Pickup for Sunday, November 24 is Brandon Knight. He’s owned in 38% of Yahoo! Leagues and 39.1% of ESPN Leagues. He was heavily mentioned in last night’s column, but, being as he’s still under 40% owned, fantasy owners in need of a PG should get on it and pick him ASAP.

Here’s a look at his line last night against Charlotte:
20131124 Brandon Knight

No, it’s not an impressive line, and it highlights two of his major flaws: poor shooting and turnovers. However, as previously mentioned, he is the point guard of the future in Milwaukee. He was the key piece the Bucks got in return for the sign-and-trade of Brandon Jennings to the Pistons, though a lot of that had to do with the Bucks’ unwillingness to pay Jennings.

Knight and Luke Ridnour’s injuries allowed the other PG’s on the team, Nate Wolters and Gary Neal, to establish some value. However, now that Knight and Ridnour are both back, they should become the starter and backup respectively for the time being.

Is he legit? Knight was coming along and improving in Detroit last year, where he started all 75 games he played and averaged 13.3 pts, 3.3 reb, 4.0 ast and 1.6 3’s while sharing point guard duties with Jose Calderon, Rodney Stuckey and Will Bynum. Those numbers came erratically, though, as he had 20 games scoring in the 20’s and 30’s and 25 games scoring in single digits.

After a tumultuous summer, he finally landed in Milwaukee as Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings were both on their way out. While hamstring problems have kept Knight ineffective so far, Milwaukee still hopes he is the other half of their backcourt of the future alongside O.J. Mayo. Milwaukee is going to let him play, both as the starting point guard and as off-guard when he shares the court with Luke Ridnour. I expect his FG% and assists eventually to rise while playing alongside Mayo, and, if he can stay healthy, he should have plenty of opportunities to put up gaudy totals.

Other Notable Players: Mike Dunleavy had the better scoring night while Kirk Hinrich got the assists for the Bulls. That’s probably the way it will continue to go between these two with both Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler out, though they won’t always be playing under 30 min as they’re getting blown out…Conversely, ignore Darren Collison’s productive night for the Clippers, but do keep in mind that starter Jared Dudley dropped 21 points with four threes in just 21 min. He’s been semi-productive ever since Matt Barnes has been out with a retinal tear…After an abysmal start to the season, Channing Frye has now averaged 12.8 pts, 5.0 reb, 1.4 blk and 2.4 3’s in his last five games, including a 0-1-0 stinker in the middle. I don’t know how much this is directly related to Eric Bledsoe missing the past four games, but anyone who gets you blocks and threes like that is worth a pickup…Speaking of Bledsoe being out, you should keep playing Gerald Green (20-8-2-2, 4 3’s) until you see Bledsoe back. Bledsoe has been trying out his shin before the last two games but hasn’t been able to go so far…Now both Markieff and Marcus Morris are productive? I don’t understand this situation, but, all things being equal, Marcus is the one that hits threes…It’s not Moe Harkless continuing to start. It’s not Andrew Nicholson getting more minutes and being more effective. It’s Tobias Harris returning unexpectedly early that makes me regret my Glen Davis pick last night. Still, Davis is worth holding on to until we see how Orlando’s rotation shakes out with two major pieces returning in two nights…Russell Westbrook sat out tonight just to give him a break in a long stretch without games, and Oklahoma City was blowing out Utah. That explains Reggie Jackson’s start and Jeremy Lamb and Perry Jones’s solid games, but don’t expect those to continue…Marvin Williams did not have a good game in this blowout, but he did get the start over Enes Kanter, who also injured his ankle in this game. Williams had three good games previously and now should be in line for even more…Xavier Henry is not back.

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

1. Kosta Koufos (18%)
2. Jared Sullinger (33%)
3. Brandon Knight (38%)
4. Glen Davis (24%)
5. Mo Williams (23%)

Glen Davis drops down on this list while we wait for Orlando to figure out its rotation. Jared Sullinger edges up past Knight because I got overzealous about Knight returning yesterday and discounted Sullinger’s recent consistency. Meanwhile, Marvin Williams and Channing Frye are both knocking at the door, and another poor game by Mo Williams should let one in.

Hindsight: Jordan Crawford should’ve returned to the Top Five list yesterday, but today he’s already at 40% owned…Andray Blatche got the start tonight but didn’t produce, but he was still better than Shaun Livingston who has now had three straight terrible games despite averaging over 28 mpg and having a stellar previous week. Brook Lopez is questionable for Tuesday’s game, but Deron Williams is almost certainly out, so Livingston will get at least another chance to turn it around.

Pickup of the Day: Glen Davis

(Steve Mitchell / USA TODAY Sports)

This season I will highlight a notable player, based on the games played each night, who’s owned in less than 40% of Yahoo! Fantasy Basketball leagues.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pickups of the Day: The Injury Replacements

20131122 Injured Pickups

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.

Last night was a brutal night for a few legit title contenders. First, Marc Gasol left his game with an MCL sprain in his left knee. Then Derrick Rose left with a possibly heartbreaking ACL tear in his previously healthy right knee. Finally, in the last game of the night, Andre Iguodala left after he felt his left hamstring pop. All three were scheduled to have MRIs today that will determine the extent of their damage.

2:33pm PST Update: The Chicago Bulls are reporting that Derrick Rose tore the medial meniscus in his right knee. He is out indefinitely, but this is much better news than an ACL tear. Medial meniscus tears are even quicker to heal than lateral meniscus tears, which is the injury that kept Russell Westbrook out from April 26 to November 2. All things considered, it’s pretty good news as we have a chance of seeing him again this season.

3:00pm PST Update: USA TODAY’s Sam Amick is reporting that Andre Iguodala will not need surgery to repair his hamstring. There is no timeline for his return.

The entire playoff landscape (and one former MVP’s career) has possibly shifted in one night. The fortunes of those fantasy owners who drafted these three players may have as well. On the other hand, new opportunities have also arisen for the players behind the injured ones on their teams’ rotations.

There’s no point in posting any of these newly promoted players’ stat lines from last night, since we’re not interested in any of them for what they did but rather what they might do in the future. Again, until we hear how each MRI comes back later today, we don’t know for sure how much value each of these players actually will have. Based on the information we have now, though, here’s a look at how legit each is:

Draymond Green, GS – SF (1% owned)
Andre Iguodala said he felt a pop and “can’t even walk” following last night’s game. He also added that he “knew it was serious.” That is awful news for a team that has vastly improved its defense in large part due to Iguodala and a healthy Andrew Bogut. The biggest beneficiary of Iggy’s absence will be Harrison Barnes. At 66% owned, he’s not likely to be available in many of your leagues, but he should be 100% owned now that he’ll be a permanent fixture in the starting line-up.

However, another player in line for an increased role who is almost universally available in Yahoo! Leagues is Draymond Green. He should now be the first player off the bench until Toney Douglas returns, and then the first wing off the bench after that. Green has already been a much more efficient scorer this year than he was as a rookie last year, and he played his most minutes of the season tonight (27) with both Curry out and Iggy leaving the game.

Having Green as the first man off the bench is a huge dropoff for Golden State from last year, when their first two off the bench were Carl Landry and Jarrett Jack. Nonetheless, he’s still their best option at this point, and he could become a useful fantasy asset if he continues his upward production in more minutes.

Kosta Koufos, Mem – PF,C (13% owned)
Marc Gasol is the only one to have his diagnosis reported so far. He has a Grade 2 MCL sprain in his left knee. Estimates of how long he’ll be out range from 6-8 weeks to 10-12 weeks. For comparison, the Grizzlies lost Zach Randolph last year to a slight MCL tear for 10 weeks. Despite also trading Rudy Gay during that time frame, the Grizzlies somehow went 23-14. Such a run now would be unexpected without Gasol, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year and best post passer this side of Kevin Love (and apparently also Josh McRoberts).

Either way, Gasol will be out for a while. Kosta Koufos will start in his place, though Ed Davis is also very talented and will get some additional burn. After Barnes, Koufos has the most to gain from this promotion. As I described on Tuesday, he’s been able to put up decent stats even in limited minutes this year, and he had spurts last year in Denver where he provided a lot of value in the elusive blocks category.

Unlike Barnes, Koufos is very likely to be available in your league’s free agent pool. Pick him up with confidence and expect some good rebounding and block numbers

Kirk Hinrich, Chi – PG,SG (16% owned)
As terrible as Iguodala and Gasol’s injuries were, the most soul-crushing one of the night may have to be the one to Derrick Rose. After tearing his left ACL in the 2012 playoffs and controversially sitting out the entire 2012-13 season, the former MVP was primed to make a triumphant comeback this year. He had already been struggling to get back into form, but now there’s a possibility that he’s also torn his right ACL, which would finish him for the rest of this season as well.

This would throw the entire Bulls’ franchise plans out of whack. In the much more top-heavy Eastern Conference, the Bulls were considered an early title favorite along with the Pacers and Heat. Even THE title favorite by some fanatical sports fans with notoriously deranged logic. Now, with the possibility of a Greg Oden-like career-altering series of injuries, the Bulls may look into breaking up their team to shed salary and acquire future picks.

2:33pm PST Update: Okay, we can turn off the alarms for now. It’s a medial meniscus tear. We might see Rose back later this season.

In the meantime, we’ll take the conservative path and assume Rose will just miss some time and the roster will remain the same. In this case, Kirk Hinrich will be the biggest beneficiary. I had already previously mentioned that, while Mike Dunleavy will get the start in place of Jimmy Butler, Hinrich will also get plenty of minutes and may outplay Dunleavy. Well, he definitely did more tonight, though obviously much of that was also due to Rose’s exit.

Hinrich will get you steals and assists, but his shooting has been terrible, and he doesn’t take or make as many threes as he did earlier in his career. If the Bulls really do lose Rose for the long-term, expect them to also take a good, hard look at Marquise Teague as well at PG. However, for now, Hinrich is the man.

Other Notable Players: If tonight were a normal, positive night in the NBA, Caron Butler would easily be the Pickup of the Day with his 38-8-3-3 and four 3’s night. He was already playing well before his shoulder injury and has now come back strong. Even with Ersan Ilyasova back as well, Butler has good value…James Anderson is already on a lot of fantasy rosters, but I couldn’t bring myself to trust him. However, now with Tony Wroten injured, Anderson should gain more consistency by claiming a lot of the shots that used to go to Wroten…Major dropoff game for Martell Webster, but believe he’ll usually do much better than that in 41 min. He graduates from our little camp tonight, though, as he climbs up to 41% owned…Another effective game for Terrence Ross in 24 min. Just keep an eye on him in case any of the Rudy Gay or DeMar DeRozan trade rumors come to fruition…Eric Bledsoe missed another game. Despite an inefficient night, anyone who owns Gerald Green should continue playing him until more news about Bledsoe comes out. Captain Obvious, out…In his last four games, Channing Frye has gone (in points-rebounds-threes) 20-3-5, 0-1-0, 17-9-3 and 13-5-2, and then before that were five games of single-digit scoring. I don’t think his value is necessarily tied to Bledsoe’s absence, so he’s still too unreliable for me…So Markieff Morris is the good twin again?…Josh McRoberts: 10-6-5 with two 3’s. And a stinky 40.0% FG. Of course. The adventure continues…Jordan Crawford hasn’t been mentioned in this space for a while because he’s actually been rather terrible lately, killing fantasy owners in FG% while not nearly producing as many assists to compensate. The assists still weren’t there tonight, but he made a comeback in the scoring column with 24 pts on 10/12 from the field. His six turnovers were his worst of the season, however…Coach’s pet Matt Dellavedova got the start, but Jarrett Jack produced. Even Dion Waiters chipped in…Andray Blatche didn’t play nearly as much as I expected, but he still managed to get some garbage time stats…All the Nets starters were pulled early in this blow-out by Minnesota, but my heavily touted Pickup Shaun Livingston especially stunk. He shot 0 for 7 from the floor and 1 for 2 from the line to go with 3 reb, 1 stll, 1 tov and nothing else. Obviously don’t give up on him yet because he’ll remain the starter while Deron Williams will miss Sunday’s game and isn’t likely to return soon, but two pitiful shooting games in a row is a worrying follow-up to such a strong week last week…That’s three good games in a row for Marvin Williams (avg 16.3 pts, 6.3 reb, 1.3 ast, 1.3 stl, 2.7 3’s), who suddenly has developed some three-point range…Between John Lucas III still starting and Trey Burke’s return, it looks like Diante Garrett’s opportunity at fantasy relevance is over, which is a shame because with 7 points, 8 assists, 1 three, and a perfect 3 for 3 from the field in just 16 min…While teammate Steve Blake has been blowing up since Nash left the line-up, Jordan Farmar has struggled. Until tonight. Farmar put up 14 pts, 8 ast and 2 3’s in just 19 min and played a key role, along with Nick Young (more on him in a second), in the Lakers’ bench vastly outplaying Golden State’s. Blake will continue dominating the PG position for the foreseeable future, but this should remind you that the Lakers have a competent third-string quarterback in the event that something happens to Blake…Young puts up the most skeletal scoring lines I’ve seen. Still, over his last three he is averaging 19.3 pts, 1.3 stl, 2.3 3’s, 50.0% FG, 73.3% FT and virtually nothing else. That’s a solid SG to have in your fantasy line-up. Just remember that his shot has a history of disappearing, and, when that happens, Young gives you absolutely nothing else.

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

1. Kosta Koufos (13%)
2. Mo Williams (26%)
3. Jared Sullinger (32%)
4. Jodie Meeks (27%)
5. Caron Butler (28%)

Today we have to say goodbye to Martell Webster, as he graduates to the 41% owned plateau. Meanwhile, Koufos’s high potential and new opportunity pushes him to the top of our list, and Butler’s huge game moves him into the five-spot.

Hindsight: I don’t believe in DeMarre Carroll’s talent, but the guy does keep producing…Told you all Khris Middleton’s days on your roster should be over until the next SF injury…I’m starting to feel like I just got talked into all the John Henson hype…Yes, I do still believe in Shaun Livingston, Luke Ridnour … and Zaza Pachulia (dun dun duuunnnnnn!).

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.