Fantasy Forecast: The Year In Review
The final week of the fantasy season is here, and a lucky few are still playing to win it all and take home summer’s worth of bragging rights. Some of us drafted the perfect team and were able to navigate the regular season with a handful of waiver wire moves for injured players and busts. Others were dependant on the waiver wire as their sole source of production after missing their draft and getting stuck with a computer generated line-up that featured guys like Rashard Lewis, Andrew Bogut and Lamar Odom.
Since the season is all but over, this is a look back at the winners and losers in the fantasy world. However, since the season is still going for one more week, I will give you a few hints for the final push.
3 Games: The Bobcats, Cavaliers, Bucks, 76ers, Spurs and Wizards all play three times this week. Guys like Ersan Ilyasova, Danny Green and Kevin Seraphin will have great value to finish out the season. Ilyasova has been up and down the last few games, but he came back strong with a 17 point, 17 rebound effort on Saturday; Seraphin has been strong for a while, and is averaging 16.1 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.7 blocks a night over the last two weeks; Green is more of a deep league pick, but he has scored in double-digits in 5 of his last 7 games and he chips in with 4-5 rebounds and a steal or block nightly.
1 Game: The Rockets, Lakers, Mavericks and Timberwolves all play just once in the league’s final week. Fantasy teams that banked their whole season on Kobe Bryant, Dirk Nowitzki and Kevin Love better hope they built up enough of a lead in the final round to sustain the lack of production.
Now let’s look at who the winners and losers were for the 2011-’12 fantasy season.
PG - Goran Dragic: Even though Dragic has only been starting for six week, he has managed to climb all the way up to a No. 15 ranking at the PG position in 9-cat scoring formats. That is incredible when you consider how far behind the rest of the field he was when he started his first game on March 10. At the end of week 17 of the NBA season, Dragic is averaging 11.7 points, 5.2 assists and 1.3 steals per-game.
* Ricky Rubio: Before Rubio’s knee injury, he was averaging 10.6 points, 8.2 assists and 2.2 steals a night. Rubio and Love look like the next Stockton/Malone duo and I am excited to see what the future holds with these two on the front lines.
SG - Paul George: If you remember, George was my sleeper pick at SG before the season started. I spent some time with him at Danny Granger’s basketball camp last summer and his attitude was that of someone ready to step up and solidify his role on the team. He is putting up 11.9 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.6 steals a night, while shooting 44.6 percent from the field. He will have to bring up his 79.8 percent shooting from the free-throw line, but George is currently ranked No. 22 in Yahoo leagues for all fantasy players.
* Luke Ridnour: Ridnour was a sneaky fantasy player for those in 14-team or deeper leagues this season with his 12.1 points and 4.8 rebounds a night. He isn’t someone to own in standard 12-team leagues, but those of us who play in deeper leagues are well aware of the value he provides in the later rounds of the draft.
SF - Kawhi Leonard: Leonard wasn’t an unknown by any stretch entering the season. But, when someone who went undrafted and is currently ranked in the top 55 players in the NBA this fantasy season, you got fantasy gold on the waiver wire. Leonard is averaging 8.3 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.2 steals a night over the last month. He will provide solid mid-round value in future seasons with the Spurs.
PF – Ryan Anderson: Anderson is someone that never gets the attention he deserves because he plays in the shadow of Dwight Howard. However, his owners were able to sneak him onto their squad in the 10th/11th round of their draft and he rewarded them with top 10 fantasy production this season. That’s right… TOP 10 PRODUCTION! The man is averaging 15.8 points, 7.6 rebounds and 2.7 3-pointers a night so far this season.
* Kevin Love: Love was a top 5 pre-ranked player this season and he lived up to every bit of that with his 26.0 points and 13.3 rebounds a night. Love played in beast-mode all season long and will enter next season as another top 5 pick.
C – Tyson Chandler: Center is such a thin position, that guys like Chandler aren’t thought about as “quality” when the draft is going on. The fact is that even though he was drafted at the top of the 8th round, Chandler is providing top 35 production with his 11.3 points, 10.0 rebounds and 1.4 blocks a night. Players like this are exactly why you need to do your homework before the draft, and not just winging it with names during the draft.
*Nikola Pekovic: Pekovic went undrafted in all but the deepest of deep formats and anyone who says they drafted him are bold faced liars! He took full advantage of Darko Milicic’s struggles and ended up averaging 13.6 points and 7.1 rebounds a night. I would like to see more than 0.6 blocks-per-game, but I picked him up off the waiver wire in all 26 leagues I played in this season and was very pleased with what I got from him overall.
SG - Eric Gordon: Gordon was a pre-season top 40 fantasy player according to Yahoo and ESPN rankings. But, Gordon missed all but 8 games due to knee and back problems and that caused him to rank in the No. 320 range this season. Gordon was drafted with the 27th pick on average, and that hurt a lot of fantasy teams as they wasted a 3rd round pick for a guy that didn’t hit double digits for games played.
SF - Lamar Odom: The train wreck that is Lamar Odom finally came to an end when he reached an agreement with the Mavericks to end his season back on April 9. Odom was taken in the middle of the 6th round this season, but he provided his owners with just 6.6 points and 4.2 rebounds a night. The league’s reining Sixth Man would have been near the end of a mediocre college team’s bench with numbers like he put up this season!
* Derrick Williams and Michael Beasley: Beasley’s 11.6 points a night look good on paper; but since that is all he provides, his fantasy value is extremely limited to 16-team or deeper leagues. Williams isn’t really big enough to play the PF position, but he then has trouble covering SFs around the league. He never found his groove this season and finishes the fantasy season with 9.0 points and 4.8 rebounds a night while playing in all 64 games to-date.
PG - Stephen Curry: Curry entered this season as a must-have at the PG position due to his shooting ability. But, after playing in just 26 games this season and averaging 14.7 points, 5.3 assists and 2.1 3-pointers a night, Curry is currently ranked 160th for all fantasy players this season.
PF - Amare Stoudemire: Amare isn’t someone I was high on entering the season, but my concerns were due to his team’s ability to work together. At the time of this article he has managed to score just 770 points and grab 346 rebounds this season. What that breaks down to is 17.5 points, 7.9 rebounds and just 0.9 blocks a night this season. Those numbers rank him in the #125 range for fantasy players this season.
C – Dwight Howard: I am glad the season is over just because I am tired of the drama that is Dwight Howard. As if hearing about him wanting a trade, then wanting to stay, then demanding out, only to sign an extension to stay wasn’t bad enough, but then I had to deal with his fantasy debacle all season long. His 20.6 points, 14.5 rebounds and 2.1 blocks a night look sexy, but you also have to look at the 10-games he missed this season and the 49.1 percent shooting from the charity stripe. His FT shooting is so low that is equals a good FG percentage by most other players, and his 175 turnovers lead the league at the center position. Howard finishes ranking in the No. 261 range this season.
Well, there you have it fantasy nuts, the winners and losers for your fantasy basketball season. It has been a wild ride with a shortened season, but it is finally over and hopefully you took my advice and won a league title. I’ve enjoyed talking to all the Timberwolves fans this season and I want you all to remember one thing: 2nd place is just the first loser!
For more Fantasy advice, follow James Morris on Twitter or on Facebook and tune into SiriusXM channel 87 and Sirius channel 210 every Thursday at 9:30 a.m. CT when he talks NBA fantasy hoops.