As evidenced in recent columns, blocks prove to be a difficult fantasy category since they're concentrated in a relatively small group of players. They are also a 'boom-or-bust' category, in that a player tends to either block shots or not block shots -- unlike categories such as points, rebounds or steals in which most players provide at least a trickle of value.
As expected, centers and power forwards dominate the top of the list for blocks, with James Johnson (+0.7) as the only top-25 player who isn't strictly a big man. He is joined by the likes of Jarvis Varnado (+1.0), Ronny Turiaf, Bismack Biyombo, Kyle O'Quinn, Chris Andersen, Elton Brand, Gorgui Dieng, Ian Mahinmi, Larry Sanders, Andrew Bynum, Vitor Faverani and Ekpe Udoh (+0.7).
A handful of forwards make only paltry gains in blocks with additional playing time, notably Al Harrington, Ersan Ilyasova, Reggie Evans, Harrison Barnes and P.J. Tucker. Analyzing the players who gain the most and least for FG and FT values wouldn't be worth the effort but I've rolled those values into a broader analysis of eight-cat values.
Cumulative Value, adjusted for increased playing time
In this section, I take the 'adjusted' stats for our group of 247 players, assuming increased playing time, and assign them overall eight-cat fantasy values based upon the means and standard deviations for the top-216 overall players from the 2013-14 season (click here for the overall rankings). We've examined who can help or hurt you in specific categories, but now we'll get a better feel for each player's overall upside and eight-cat appeal.
During the 2013-14 season, the cut-off for top-150 value in 8-cat leagues was a cumulative fantasy 'score' of -2.03. Even with the generous playing time allotments which I've given players in today's analysis, 62 players failed to make that cut. Among that ignominious group we find some names worth pointing out...in ascending order, they include Tayshaun Prince (-4.85), Luc Mbah a Moute, Tony Snell, Tyler Hansbrough, Donatas Motiejunas, Andrei Kirilenko, Ben McLemore, John Salmons, Austin Rivers, Kendrick Perkins, Andrew Nicholson, Luke Ridnour, Derrick Williams, Leandro Barbosa, Steven Adams, Jared Dudley, Alan Anderson, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Harrison Barnes, Kent Bazemore, Nate Wolters, Dorell Wright, Matthew Dellavedova, Bismack Biyombo and Jason Thompson (-2.06).
Think long and hard before drafting any of the above players next season -- even a significant boost in playing time doesn't seem likely to thrust them into the realm of fantasy relevance (though I'll be keeping a very close eye on Steven Adams).
Russell Westbrook is easily the most valuable player to have made our list of 247 qualifying players, with an adjusted 8-cat value of 10.43. That would have made him the fourth most valuable 8-cat player last season on a per-game basis, assuming he had kept up his statistical pace while averaging 36.7 minutes. (His actual 8-cat value was 6.99, which was still good enough for 10th overall on a per-game basis).
Westbrook was followed by a trio of Spurs: Kawhi Leonard, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili, though only Kawhi is a candidate for increased playing time (and a bigger offensive role) next season. After them, we find Pau Gasol, Nikola Vucevic, Spencer Hawes, Brandan Wright, James Johnson, Andrew Bogut, Gerald Green, Derrick Favors, Jamal Crawford, Paul Pierce, Danny Green, Darren Collison, Robin Lopez, Patty Mills, Chris Kaman, Victor Oladipo, David West, Jordan Farmar and J.J. Redick.
Once again, for the sake of clarity, this does not suggest that you should draft Collison, RoLo, Mills or Kaman ahead of Oladipo, since Orlando's rising star is easily the most likely to achieve the +6 minutes he has been assigned in this 'adjusted playing time' analysis. It simply highlights the potential of players, should they find themselves in an ideal situation next season or luck into a huge role thanks to injuries, trades, etc. I've posted the entire list of players online for you to explore at your leisure.
Trivia answer: Ramon Sessions played in 83 games last season. He stayed healthy all year and picked up a bonus game after being traded from the Bobcats to the Bucks in late February. The added game wasn't the only benefit for his fantasy value, as his production surged along with his playing time in Milwaukee (from 23.7 to 32.5 minutes per game). That made him one of the few players to escape the vortex of Milwaukee's rotations under coach Larry Drew.