Non-Pickups of the Day: The Phoenix Suns


(Jennifer Stewart / USA TODAY Sports)

There is no Sneaky Fantasy Basketball Pickup for Thursday, December 12. Check the Top Five for whom you should pick up.

As promised, however, we’re going to review Phoenix’s rotation and see if we can’t parse something out of the mess among Channing Frye, Markieff Morris, P.J. Tucker and Marcus Morris. While Eric Bledsoe was out, Frye and Gerald Green were the fantasy beasts to own. However, since his return, things have gotten more muddled.

Here’s a look at their main rotation’s fantasy output in the six games since Bledsoe’s return, sorted by their Yahoo! rankings:
Phoenix20131213

Bledsoe and Goran Dragic are both studs, so we’ll ignore them. Archie Goodwin is the last man in their regular rotation, and Green has fallen off the map since Bledsoe’s return, so we’ll ignore them as well.

That leaves Frye, Tucker, the two Morris twins, and surprisingly also Miles Plumlee, whose minutes and value have declined despite there being no other players even resembling a traditional center on the active roster (Emeka Okafor and Alex Len are both injured).

Unfortunately, what this chart tells us is mostly what we already know: that those five Phoenix players are cannibalizing each other’s values. If I had to recommend one, it’d be Tucker, who is averaging the most minutes and provides a serviceable number of rebounds and threes to go with a solid 1.8 steals. His FG% isn’t great, but he averages a low number of turnovers for nine-cat leagues. However, Phoenix plays him so many minutes because he’s a good defender, but he has a very low upside.

After him, though, I’m at a loss. Frye was a multi-cat monster in threes, steals, blocks and percentages while Bledsoe was out, but he’s tapered off quite a bit since then. Plumlee is putting up the type of numbers that Taj Gibson did before Gibson was useful for fantasy teams. Markieff has been the third-leading scorer on the team and gets rebounds, FG% and not a bad FT%, but he gives you nothing in the peripheral stats and averaged 3.0 TO in those six games. He alternates being productive with his brother Marcus, who has big games once in a while but in the long run has only been reliable for threes.

Who does that leave to pick up? If you need low-end value at the wings, Tucker. If you’re looking for upside or consistency, nobody at this point. It’s frustrating reading box scores for this team and seeing Marcus drop 22 points on 13 shots, Tucker put up an 18-13-3 with two threes, or Markieff a 25-11 (with no steals, blocks or threes) and know that one game later they might score four or eight points.

Until someone out of this group establishes themselves again, it’s not worth hanging on to any of them. If you’re in a deep league and must own one (and hopefully not more than that), be sure to check out the Suns Fantasy Scouting Report to read up on whom to play.

Other Notable Players: Frustratingly, Brook Lopez sprained the same left ankle last night that kept him out several games before. Andray Blatche took advantage and posted a 21-9-3 playing the exact same number of minutes (27:43) that Lopez did. Lopez will miss tonight’s game, but, if he misses more, Blatche is definitely worth rostering again…Jeremy Lin returned to Houston’s line-up last night a little rusty but should begin putting up fantasy-quality stats again soon. Meanwhile, no one should’ve still been playing either Patrick Beverley or Aaron Brooks given how awful both have been in the six games that Lin was out. Beverley still has value even with Lin in the line-up, though he hasn’t done anything to justify playing him lately. Brooks got a “Did Not Play – Coach’s Decision” last night, and that speaks for itself.

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

1. Kosta Koufos (36%)
2. Glen Davis (39%)
3. Marvin Williams (10%)
4. Al-Farouq Aminu (17%)
5. Jason Smith (22%)

The Top Five remains unchanged, but Glen Davis might see a bump back if Tobias Harris’s second return this season cuts into his value.

Hindsight: Perhaps it was too early to pull the trigger on Greivis Vasquez. According to the New York Daily News, worst-Knicks-owner-in-franchise-history James Dolan blocked the trade for Kyle Lowry because he was furious over news of the deal leaking to the press and was afraid he was getting fleeced for a third time by Raptors GM Masai Ujiri. If you somehow wormed Isiah Thomas into that story, it’d be the most James Dolan thing I’d heard in 2013. Meanwhile, the Nets are in the mix for Lowry as well but are balking at including their 2020 first-round pick. The Raptors had also inquired about the Knicks’ 2018 first-rounder, which should give you an idea of how bleak the futures of the two highest-payrolled NBA franchises are right now.

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Pickup of the Day: Channing Frye


(Kim Klement / 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, November 26 is Channing Frye. He didn’t play tonight, but there were no significant performances, so I dug deeper in into the free agents pool to find someone under-owned and came up with three PF/C’s, all with caveats.

John Henson has been a fantastic source of blocks and boards and also has been fairly resilient to coach Larry Drew’s befuddling rotations so far, but Milwaukee is a mess. I’m recommending everyone to avoid that entire situation for the time being. Brandon Bass has also seen consistent production again with Kelly Olynyk out of the line-up for two weeks, but he has the lowest upside. That leaves Frye, who is 20% owned in Yahoo! Leagues and 5.5% owned in ESPN Leagues.

Here’s a look at his line Monday night against Miami:
20131126 Channing Frye

This was a solid game, and, as previously mentioned, he averaged 12.8 pts, 5.0 reb, 1.4 blk and 2.4 3′s in the five games beforehand. What muddles up this productivity is that all but one of these games came with Eric Bledsoe out of the line-up. Bledsoe doesn’t play Frye’s position and shouldn’t affect Frye’s minutes, but the offense does run through Bledsoe when he’s on the floor. Most of Frye’s games alongside Bledsoe have been awful, though the sample size is too small even to argue a correlation at this point.

Frye could well be playing himself back into shape after missing all of last season to undergo heart surgery. I’m much less worried about his value dropping than I am about Gerald Green’s when Bledsoe returns. Therein lies yet another problem. Who knows when Bledsoe will be back? He tested his shin in pre-game the last two games and didn’t play either. After initial reports that he’d be back tomorrow, now even that has dropped back to a maybe. Either way, you should keep both Frye and Green in your line-ups until you actually see Bledsoe’s name next to some minutes in the box score.

Is he legit? In the last seven days, no other NBA player is averaging over 2.5 threes and 1.0 blocks per game except Channing Frye (2.8 3’s, 1.2 blk). That is a sweet, sweet pair of stats to go with 13.4 pts, 5.6 reb, and 1.2 stl. Before his surgery, Frye actually was playing even better, though his mpg has fallen every year since 2011. If he can sustain this level of play with both Bledsoe and Goran Dragic in the line-up, he will rocket up the Top 5 List, and I’ll have to kick Danny Green off my own fantasy boat.

Other Notable Players: Steve Blake wasn’t bad tonight (15-3-5, 2 3’s in 30 min), but Jordan Farmar (22-2-8-1, 3 3’s in 26 min) was just better. Nick Young also seems to have displaced Jodie Meeks as the Lakers’ three-point gunner, or maybe Meeks isn’t getting as many looks as a starter while Young has always bombed away without conscience. Expectedly, Young’s FG% is much worse…Another strong game for Andray Blatche (24-5-0-2-2) and another disappointingly uneven one for Shaun Livingston (5-6-7-2). It’s as if that dunk in traffic last week sapped the rest of Livingston’s offense for the entire season…Glen Davis’s value was in trouble for about one game. Tobias Harris was deactivated again today after feeling pain in his ankle. To make things even more interesting, Mo Harkless only played 11 min, giving Davis (32 min), E’Twaun Moore (30) and Andrew Nicholson (25) all extra playing time. Big Baby was underwhelming, but both Moore and Nicholson had good games off the bench. There’s been a lot of back-and-forth in the Magic rotation recently, so it’s worth waiting to see how this turns out…Jermaine O’Neal turned back the hands of time and posted an 18-8 against the Pelicans, but his large share of the minutes only came due to a one-game suspension to Andrew Bogut.

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

1. Kosta Koufos (24%)
2. Jared Sullinger (34%)
3. Marvin Williams (6%)
4. Glen Davis (32%)
5. Patrick Beverley (31%)

Hindsight: Did I panic over Big Baby’s value one day after recommending him when Harris returned? Naaah, that couldn’t have been me.

Pickup of the Day: Markieff Morris

(AP Photo / Rick Scuteri)

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 Friday, November 8 is Markieff Morris. He is currently owned in 28% of Yahoo! Fantasy Leagues, and, after two scintillating nights, that number is likely to leap quite a bit by tomorrow morning.

Here’s a look at his line tonight against Denver:
20131108 Markieff Morris

We’ve had eleven Pickups of the Day so far, and three of them have been Suns, proving productive players on “bad” teams are always underrated. Though “bad” is a misleading label right now with Philadelphia and Phoenix both leading their divisions at 4-2.

Markieff and Marcus Morris have both been productive for three games now, but Markieff really blew up in the last game when he dropped 23 points on 11-13 FG. He topped that tonight with a career-high 28 points on 10-13 FG and 7-8 FT. Markieff Morris will also get you strong rebounding numbers, steals, and the occasional three. He had a brief streak of games like this late last year on this team as well, but he’s hitting a new level now. Pick him up and see how far he can carry you.

Is he legit? I really don’t know. After his previous game, I thought he would eventually absorb Channing Frye’s minutes, but Frye played 30 min tonight and wasn’t horrible. Meanwhile, P.J. Tucker is looking less and less useful. At some point, I would guess Morris is replacing someone in the starting line-up and will keep getting starter’s minutes. However, we should also remember that he’s shot 84.6% and 76.9% on 13 shots his last two games, something that won’t continue. Expect his value to fall back to earth over the next few games. The only question is by how much. If he keeps up his current season stats–16 & 7 with 1.6 stl and a three every other game on solid percentages–then you’ve already got yourself a good pickup. However, those averages are skewed by some light minutes earlier in the season. We’ve seen Morris is a much stronger scorer and rebounder in heavier minutes, and his ceiling could be quite high on this motley crew of fantasy goodness.

Other Notable Players: If not for Markieff Morris, the Pickup would definitely be Steven Adams. Adams had a solid outing against Dallas on Wednesday and stepped it up even more against Detroit tonight to the tune of a 17-10 with three blocks on .700 FG% and .750 FT%, even outplaying much-hyped opposing center Andre Drummond. As OKC slowly realizes Kendrick Perkins should not be their Center of even the present, Adams will get more and more opportunities. The reason Morris beats Adams out is because I don’t expect consistent play from rookies…Al Harrington took advantage of Martell Webster’s foul trouble to steal minutes away, but Webster is still the player you want…Iman Shumpert took the minutes I expected to go to Metta World Peace, and Andrea Bargnani’s huge game didn’t help World Peace either. Unfortunately this situation will get even more muddled after J.R. Smith’s return…Bargnani didn’t qualify as a Pickup on this blog when he was 42% owned two days ago, and he definitely doesn’t now that he’s 52% owned, but I hope you were part of that lucky 10% that took a chance on him, because it’s about to get a lot harder to get him…Another impressive sub-20 min game for C.J. Miles. Wish Mike Brown would give either him or Jarrett Jack regular minutes…James Anderson and Tony Wroten are really running neck-to-neck here. Anderson is still getting the start and more minutes, but Wroten might end up with more fantasy value off the bench in a Jeremy Lin type of way…Kelly Olynyk got more minutes, but he didn’t do as much with them as Jared Sullinger did with his. 11-6-4 with 2 blk and 7-8 FT in under 20 min? The .250 FG% wasn’t good, but his time is coming…Andrew Nicholson’s time will come, too, but I’m less sure of him since he still hasn’t been able to beat out Jason Maxiell and has Tobias Harris and Glen Davis somewhere on the horizon…Steve Nash was expected to be out tonight, and Steve Blake stepped up in his place. He still only has value if Nash gives advance notice for additional missed games, but Jordan Farmar has the higher upside…Jae Crowder has been quietly gaining minutes and hitting threes for Dallas. Though he didn’t make any threes tonight, he played 32 min, his most of the year…Steph Curry was out tonight, so don’t expect a renaissance for Toney Douglas…Goran Dragic ended up not playing tonight, giving Gerald Green one more good game. The window is quickly closing, however…Just like in Phoenix’s last game, Marcus Morris also put up good numbers. Just not as good as Markieff’s. When Dragic returns, I imagine Green and Marcus suffering the biggest hits, which must feel weird as someone who has an identical twin with a bigger role on the same team…We had an Anthony Randolph sighting! The fantasy unicorn returned from a sprained ankle to post a sensational line, hitting virtually every category. Unfortunately, Randolph has no history of consistency; there’s a reason he’s 0% owned. Jordan Hamilton is the more reliable pickup here, but it’s always worth a shot putting the multi-cat monster Randolph on your watch list.

Top 5 Sneaky Pickups (owned in under 40% of Yahoo! Leagues):
1. Markieff Morris (28%)
2. Zaza Pachulia (35%)
3. Martell Webster (18%)
4. Steven Adams (8%)
5. Corey Brewer (16%)

Accountability: When I told you to hang on to Reggie Jackson, I certainly wasn’t anticipating his next two games to be one where he misses an entire half with an injury and then a 6-6-6 in 18 min. Hopefully he’s still recovering from his hip contusion, because otherwise it looks like coach Scott Brooks will play him a lot more like last year’s Eric Bledsoe than last year’s Kevin Martin. He’s not worth dropping yet unless you have a pressing need somewhere else or there’s a really hot pickup like Bargnani burning a hole on your waiver wire, but his outlook has significantly dimmed.

Pickup of the Day: Gerald Green

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(
Mark D. Smith / USA TODAY Sports)

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 3 is Gerald Green. He is owned in just 3% of Yahoo! leagues right now, but he may be in line for a temporary boost.

Here’s a look at his line tonight against Oklahoma City:
20131103 Gerald Green

His value right now is based solely on the status of Goran Dragic, who left tonight’s game after aggravating an ankle he had sprained during the preseason. Until tonight, Green received only minimal playing time backing up Dragic and Eric Bledsoe. With Dragic missing an entire half, however, Green went off and dropped five 3-pointers on his way to 21 points while shooting efficiently and adding nice peripheral stats.

Though it’s still too early for a diagnosis, Dragic’s sprain seems severe, and it wouldn’t be surprising if he missed this entire upcoming week. Green had decent value when he got extended playing time during his 2012 season with the woeful New Jersey Nets, and he’d have an even bigger role on this Suns team that is sadly even worse.

Is he legit? No. Green actually did receive significant playing time for half a month at the beginning of last season with the Pacers and did virtually nothing with it. However, he’s already playing better this year. If Green moves into the starting line-up next to Bledsoe, this will be the biggest role he’s been given yet, and he’s got the multi-category potential to make an impact for your fantasy team.

Other Notable players: Overall, the Suns rotation is maddening. P.J. Tucker was given yet another heavy dose of minutes but disappointed, Miles Plumlee contributed almost nothing, and Channing Frye had his best game of the year. I’m still low on Tucker and high on Plumlee, but I’m keeping an eye on Frye. He could once again be a great source of blocks and 3’s if he finds a consistent role…Andrew Nicholson had his best game of the year, and he’s seeing an uptick in minutes…I’d trust Martell Webster a lot more than Trevor Ariza with the numbers of minutes and shots that Ariza is getting, but Ariza’s the one getting them right now…Although he put up kind of a hollow line tonight, Xavier Henry has finally replaced chuck-it-up all-star Nick Young in the starting line-up…Brandon Bass did not have a good game, but he came into tonight averaging more than 17 & 5 with excellent percentages and PF/C-eligibility and is only owned in 34% of leagues. In fact, he’s the reason I added the new section below.

Top Five Sneaky Pickups: This section will be a running list of the top players owned in under 40% of Yahoo! Leagues, so you have an ongoing idea of who should be picked up if they’re available in your league and I don’t need to keep mentioning them above.

Obviously, you should pick and choose from this list based on your team’s specific position and stat needs, but I will add a note if there’s a player so spectacularly above the others that he should be picked up no matter what your needs are.

My one caveat is that, if your team has no needs but does have room for an additional player, you should pick up Danilo Gallinari (36%). If he were closer to playing, he’d be no. 1 on this list (though probably also way above 40% owned) no matter what. Since he’s at least a month away, he doesn’t make the list.

For now, the Top Five Sneaky Pickups are:

1. Brandon Bass (34%)
2. Zaza Pachulia (22%)
3. Alec Burks (30%)
4. Josh McRoberts (18%)
5. Xavier Henry (23%)

Accountability: As Xavier Henry’s stock rises, Jordan Farmar’s seems to be slipping. After a promising first two games, Farmar hasn’t seen more than 19 minutes in his latest two. Steve Nash isn’t getting as much run as fantasy owners who drafted him would hope, but he is getting enough, combined with Steve Blake’s heavy workload, to push Farmar off fantasy radars.