Fantasy Forecast: Week 17
With the midpoint of the season upon us and All-Star weekend just a few short days away, everyone is on a short game schedule this week as 22 trams with two games and eight teams with one game. So, rather than tell you who to play for those two games, why don’t we go through some of the fantasy studs and fantasy duds so far. As always, I’m going to skip the “stud” elite players and get right down to the guys you probably took in the middle rounds but have performed like top five round talent.
* Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins was kicked off the team flight to Phoenix due to an altercation with Donte Green. It is still unclear what, if any, punishment Cousins will face because of this. But, one thing is for certain, the concerns NBA GMs had before the draft are now effecting his NBA career. Keep a close eye on this news as Cousins is owned 81 percent of leagues and a suspension is more than likely coming down the pipes from the Kings.
PG – Raymond Felton: Felton was taken at the top of the sixth round in most drafts, yet he has managed to average 17.2 points, 9.0 assists and 1.8 steals a night while shooting a modest 42.4 percent from the field. There is a rumor floating out there that Felton could be headed to Denver in the Melo Sweepstakes, but it is a longshot and his chemistry with the Knicks has propelled him to being a top-5 fantasy PG.
PG Runner-up – Luke Ridnour: Ridnour has a string of games due to personal reasons, but that doesn’t take away from the 11.6 points, 5.7 assists and 1.3 steals a night he has been averaging this season. He is only owned in 51 percent of all leagues, so if you need a cheap PG and have someone to cut, give Ridnour a serious look in the second half of the season.
SG – Dorell Wright: If you can get someone off the waiver wire that can average 16.5 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.5 steals in 39:07 MPG, you got yourself a steal! That is just what owners are getting from Wright who went largely undrafted in fantasy leagues yet sits at the #3 spot for SGs’ right now. To put that in perspective, that ranks him (in overall stats averaged) above guys like Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, Ray Allen and Monta Ellis!
SG Runner-up - Aaron Afflalo: Playing in Denver these days can’t be easy since all the talk is centered on Carmelo Anthony and his possible trade. But, Afflalo has made a name for himself despite the lack of attention as he has managed to score 13.1 points a night on 51.1 percent shooting from the field and 44.7 percent shooting from 3-point land. All he does is score, but 51.1 percent is ridiculous for a guy playing just over 35 MPG.
SF – Wilson Chandler: The Knicks are possibly one year off from being truly good, but all that could change if Melo does indeed go there. However, that hasn’t let Chandler get disgruntled as he is averaging 16.4 points, 6.0 rebounds, 1.4 blocks and a solid 45.8 percent shooting from the field. Not bad from a guy taken with the 120th pick in your draft.
SF Runner-up – Shane Battier: Battier is quietly having a nice fantasy season, but only about 56 percent of owners notice it. While he is only averaging 8.5 points, 4.9 rebounds and 1.1 blocks, he has the ability to double-digits in points and rebounds on any given night. He isn’t a must-own, but he is probably better overall than someone on your team right now.
PF – Kevin Love: I am putting Love in here because he wasn’t taken until the 42nd pick, yet he is the #1 fantasy PF right now. Love is putting up monster numbers with the Wolves this season, averaging 21.3 points and 15.5 rebounds. Why he only made the All-Star team as a backup is beyond me.
PF Runner-up – Elton Brand: The guy who was at the top of my “Do Not Draft” list is actually ranked inside the top 35 fantasy players this season. Brand is averaging 15.3 points, 8.7 rebounds, 1.2 steals and 1.1 block per-game this season, proving to those like me that he still has something left in the tank after all.
C – Tyson Chandler: Chandler isn’t someone that I am all that high on, and it is only fitting that he plays for the same team as Jason Kidd. It has nothing to do with the Mavericks, as I grew up in a town right outside of Dallas. On the season Chandler is averaging 10.5 points and 9.4 rebounds while adding 1.2 blocks nightly. He isn’t flashy, but he just gets the job done and is available in 20 percent of leagues.
C Runner-up – Serge Ibaka: Ibaka is putting up 9.4 points and 6.9 rebounds a night for the Thunder, but it is his 2.1 BPG that has owners excited. Ibaka isn’t consistent and his minutes fluctuate from time-to-time, but any time you can get top 15 stats from a guy you picked up off the waiver wire, you got yourself a steal.
PG – Aaron Brooks: Projected as a top 15 fantasy PG before the season, Brooks has managed to play his way to a ranking around #205 for all fantasy players this season. On the season Brooks is averaging 11.8 points and 4.0 assists while shooting a whopping 35.2 percent from the field. Over the past month his numbers are down even further (hard to believe) at just 10.3 points, 3.1 assists and 31.2 percent shooting. Why is he still owned in 75 percent of leagues people?
PG Runner-up - Jason Kidd: Ok, so Kidd is still ranked in the top 45 for fantasy basketball… but the guy shoots 35.9 percent from the field and scores just 8.4 points a night. His saving grace is the fact that he racks up 8.2 assists and 1.6 steals and sports a 3.623 A/T ratio. I’ll give credit where credit is due… he is an assists machine, but he kills you in the other areas at the same time.
SG - Gilbert Arenas: Arenas has got to be the one guy I will say “I told you so” about. He has been on the decline for a few seasons now and it looks like he may finally be on his way to fantasy waiver wires as he has been cut in about five percent of leagues in the last two weeks. Arenas is averaging 12.1 points and 4.7 assists a night while shooting an anemic 37.6 percent from the field and 29.7 percent from the 3-point line. Seriously, just cut him already.
SG Runner-up – O.J. Mayo: The only thing that can save Mayo’s season at this point is a trade out of Memphis. He entered the season as a top 20 SG, but is currently waiver wire fodder since he hasn’t played in a game since Jan. 26th. The Grizzlies are trying to trade him, but word is they are asking too much in return. Stay tuned as Mayo will be worth picking up once he is moved.
SF – Trevor Ariza: The guy who was supposed to show that his 2009-10 season with the Rockets was no fluke, has managed to take a blowtorch to fantasy owners’ lineups. On the season Ariza is shooting 38.8 percent from the field and 28.4 percent from 3-point land, a far cry from the 46.0 percent shooting he had with the Lakers. If you can deal with the poor shooting, there are double-digit scoring nights to be had with him.
SF Runner-up – John Salmons: Salmons has the skills to be a fantasy starter, but HC Scott Skiles isn’t doing him any favors and the Bucks are deep at the SF spot with Corey Maggette and Carlos Delfino. So far Salmons has managed to put up an empty 13.2 points while shooting 38.4 percent from the field. It will take an injury for Salmons to get back to the starting rotation in most fantasy formats.
PF – Troy Murphy: Murphy is by far the biggest fantasy bust at the PF spot. While with the Pacers Murphy was a double-double threat nightly. But, since moving to the Nets, Murphy is riding the pine and standing atop of the trading block. Murphy was taken with an average of the 51st pick and is still owned in 47 percent of leagues. The only thing that says is there are 47 percent of owners who don’t pay attention to their teams.
PF Runner-up - Antawn Jamison: If your team loses 26 straight games and sets an NBA record, you can bet there is more than one problem in the mix. Jamison isn’t having a terrible fantasy season, but his 17.6 points, 6.6 rebounds and 42.3 percent shooting from the field rank him right around #90 in fantasy terms despite his #50 pre-season ranking. PF is the one spot where the top guys are pretty much holding their value.
C – Dwight Howard: Superman hasn’t been so super this season with his overall fantasy numbers. On the surface, 22.5 points, 13.9 rebounds and 2.1 blocks a game sound more than superb. But, when you take his 3.4 turnovers-per-game, .352 A/T ratio and 57.9 percent shooting from the free-throw line into account, he is actually ranked #92 this season. If you have a good enough PG, you can take the hit on the turnovers, A/T ratio and free-throw shooting.
C Runner-up – Chris Kaman: Kaman can be a productive player when in the lineup. But, that is the big problem with drafting him is that he is one of the most injury prone players in the NBA, right behind Marcus Camby. This season he has appeared in just 10 games and is averaging just 10.5 points and 7.1 rebounds. He is someone I would look at picking up off the waiver wire for the second half of the season since he is owned in just 52 percent of leagues.
James Morris hails from Rio Rancho, N.M., and has been playing fantasy sports since 1997. In addition to writing the Timberwolves Fantasy Forecast, Morris also writes fantasy articles for the Boston Celtics, and Indiana Pacers, as well as the NFL fantasy forecast for the Cincinnati Bengals, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Arizona Cardinals. You can also find him on Twitter or get him on Facebook for all your fantasy sports updates.