Incessant churn of players on the bubble of rosters is the standard for fantasy basketball, so it is perhaps unsurprising that some of last week’s most added players appear on this week’s most dropped list. With that in mind, let me reiterate that understanding your team’s context is the key point when evaluating these moves. This is something that every coach ultimately must do for themselves, but I have a checklist of questions I ask before making any roster move:
1 – Will I have enough players at every position?
2 – Does my team have a specific stat it needs or is there a stat to avoid harming?
3 – Am I dealing from a position of strength where I should look for long-term upside, or from a position of weakness where I need high floor guys that can perform right now?
4 – Are there red flags about this player I should consider?
5 – Is the player I am dropping more valuable than the one I am adding, and if so, do I have a very good short-term reason for the move?
Questions one and four are very basic, but they matter. You never want to end up with zero eligible small forwards or pick up Andrea Bargnani and his extensive medical record when you desperately need a game on the final day of a head to head match-up. I know it sounds ridiculous, but measure twice, cut once, especially for the fat-finger crowd using their phones to make roster moves.
Context is key for questions two and three. Let’s say you’re deficient in blocks and someone just dropped Hassan Whiteside after his injury. That is an ideal fix, but make sure you can also absorb the free throw percentage. Are you lagging out of the playoff race in a H2H league because you’re holding onto long shots with high upside that are dragging your current performance down? It might be time to clip them and go for some of those boring but useful guys like Khris Middleton or Matt Barnes. Are you in first place by a mile? Gamble on guys who could come up very big for you down the stretch with your last roster spot or two.
All of this brings us to question five, which I will not answer now. Instead, I will say this: somehow, there are players who are both amongst the most added and the most dropped this week! I’ll give my opinion on that when we discuss them, and why people are definitely overreacting.
Over the last 15 days, Payton is averaging 33 mpg, 11.3 points, 6.1 assists, 4.7 rebounds, and 1.9 steals per game. He doesn’t generate threes, his free throw percentage is sub-par for a guard, and his shooting comes and goes. However, those are solid peripheral stats for a point guard, and the steals/assists/rebounds trifecta is a poor man’s Rubio. However, unlike Rubio, Payton currently has two working ankles. Orlando also has nothing to lose (other than basketball games) by playing him, so I expect them to continue to start him as they are clearly attempting to develop their young players. Verdict: Solid add.
Anyone who has been following the NBA for a while knows the deal with Mo Williams: occasional spectacular games, very checkered health history, the definition of a volatile, competent point guard. Basically, he is a less healthy Brandon Jennings who shoots a little better. If it weren’t for the fact that Rubio is nearing a return and will likely obliterate Mo’s value, I’d feel a lot more strongly here. In the short-term, if you need someone to plug in at point guard, you could do a lot worse. In the long-term, if Rubio comes back, Williams becomes a fringe guy again. Verdict: Not a long-term solution.
Mostly driven by the Yahoo side of the house, Smart has been an increasingly popular pick since Jameer Nelson was exiled to Denver. Smart is a long-term play here, but his numbers currently leave a lot to be desired. Over the past 15 days, 8.9 ppg, 4.6 assists, 2.0 three-pointers, and 1.3 steals basically means his profile is a lesser Payton with more threes. That’s not thrilling, and I will go out on a limb and suggest that Smart hasn’t looked like he can run an offense in the NBA yet, which might hold him back for the rest of the year. If Evan Turner can solve his shooting issues, he might turn out to be the more attractive add in the long-run, as he did have some value starting for the 76ers last year before being traded. Verdict: Fierce apathy.
There is a reasonable chance that if you are reading this and know what a basketball is, you are talented enough to make the 2015 New York Knicks roster. It’s gotten very ugly in New York, and I think there is a real possibility that the Knicks are the worst team in basketball by the end of the season. To that end, I can’t fault anyone for adding Galloway. While he looks like a fringe talent and a limited contributor at shooting guard, that might be better than anyone else on the Knicks. Basically, this is a giant basket of sad, but that’s the kind of situation that occasionally burps out real fantasy value as guys none of us realized were in the league suddenly end up starting and putting up huge numbers. Verdict: A long shot, but with high upside if he seizes 30+ minutes.
There is a real chance that Tony Wroten is on a plane to California to see a knee specialist while you are reading this sentence. There is no way to construe that as a good sign. Given that Wroten impacts your percentages in roughly the same way that radiation poisoning impacts the human body, I have to say he is not worth holding onto if he is severely injured. On the off chance that you are punting both percentages and have an IR spot, he is probably worthy of a stash, as he can produce counting stats in bundles. Otherwise, please form a line and exit in orderly fashion. Verdict: Cut.
Yes, Nurkic is trapped in the Brian Shaw fantasy basketball meatgrinder. Yes, he is a foul-prone young big who is going to have major ups and downs this season. Yes, if you picked him up, you are in for a rather chaotic and wild ride. Yes, JaVale McGee is coming back and could drop a nuclear bomb on his value. With all of that said, I don’t like this as a cut. If you picked him up, you probably picked him up for his long-term potential. Unless you can find a better guy out there (and there is one listed later in this article), why not hold on and see what happens? I mean, is McGee not the guy who runs the wrong way on the court and somehow manages to be less healthy than Bargnani? I think cutting Nurkic after a small slump is a move many people could regret. Verdict: Overreaction.
It was surprising to me that people had Carlos Boozer on their rosters in the first place. Verdict: Cut.
The other half of the Denver basketball atrocity. In this case, Hickson is a player who gets you two things: points and rebounds, and really, only a lot of the latter. He doesn’t play much defense, his percentages are not thrilling, and you are left with the kind of empty stat-line that is normally the domain of the shooting guard. In short, he is basically Reggie Evans without the physical comedy. In this case, his absolute ceiling is a double-double in the most common stats while contributing nothing else. That’s just not enough for me to get excited about him. Verdict: Cut.
Simultaneously Most Added and Most Dropped
Yahoo, what the hell? Somehow Whiteside managed to make the most dropped list on Yahoo because of a grade 1 ankle sprain, while simultaneously being on the most added list for ESPN. What’s next, Kevin Durant sneezes twice in the same day and everyone cuts him? I know you don’t have an IR spot in the Yahoo part of the world, but do you really drop a player who can legitimately be a top-40 value because he might miss a game or two? This is the textbook definition of overreaction, and if anyone dropped a guy who, to recap, is averaging 20 mpg, 12.0 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 2.8 blocks per game while shooting over 70 percent in his last 15 days and just seized the starting position because he has a minor ankle sprain, stop reading this and go pick him up. If he plays 30 minutes per game as a starter, you can expect roughly 13.5 points, 11.0 rebounds, and 3.8 blocks with a 60 percent plus field goal percentage. That’s worth losing a game or two of play this week to sweep him off the waiver wire. Verdict: Add. Add him so hard. And if you cut him, I have only this to say to you.
On the other hand, it’s somehow fitting that Waiters is both on the most added (ESPN) and most dropped (Yahoo) list. As divisive in fantasy as he is in real life, Waiters is the classic empty stat line at shooting guard: points, steals, threes, and absolutely nothing else. Waiters is a barren wasteland from a fantasy perspective for most roto teams, but the head to head crowd might see value here. If you have a small-ball team punting rebounds, blocks, or field goal percentage in some combination, hold your nose and consider adding Waiters. Verdict: The ultimate context-dependent player.