This week's column takes a (very) early look at fantasy values, listing top-200 players for standard category leagues. An eagle-eye view of player production through the first few weeks of the season can be helpful even if you're not playing in 8-cat or 9-cat, as it allows easy identification of players who are over- or under-performing. Evan Fournier is inside the top-15 for overall value? That's not going to last, and neither is Darren Collison hovering inside the top-40 with career numbers in most categories, or Al-Farouq Aminu out-performing Jimmy Butler in 9-cat. The list goes on.
If you're in a points league or a more 'exotic' category league, your best bet for detailed, customized player values will be the Rotoworld Season Pass. The sheer volume of scoring systems prohibits me from listing them all, but in the Season Pass you can tailor the rankings to your specific league(s). Getting back to this analysis, however, we see names jumping out left and right.
DeMarcus Cousins is edging out Giannis Antetokounmpo for the No. 1 spot in most formats. Eric Gordon has taken advantage of Chris Paul's knee injury to flirt with mid-round value, Steven Adams is on a tear, etc. The rankings below also take a look at what changes when you punt FT%. Andre Drummond continues to defy expectations with a 70.0% mark at the line, but he's been trending down after a red-hot start at the line (his 70.0% mark also isn't hurting much because he's taken just 2.5 FTs per game, compared to 4.4 last season).
Dwight Howard has gone the other direction this year, shooting a horrific 35.7 percent on 8.0 attempts -- as we'll see, that drags him down to dead-last in the top-200 ranks for 8-cat and 9-cat value. When we toss out his FT%, however, he leaps all the way into the top-50. Before looking at the entire top-200 lists, let's quickly review the methodology.
To qualify, a player must have appeared in at least four games while averaging at least 17.0 minutes per game. The games qualification already knocks out some elite players. Myles Turner continues to recover from a concussion suffered on opening night, but he's in the league's official protocol and is creeping closer to a return. Despite having already been ruled out for Wednesday, Turner is no longer suffering headaches and he's been leaving his hotel room more often this week -- bright lights and loud sounds can exacerbate the effects of a concussion, so it's good to see him out and about. He’s reportedly hopeful to play Friday.
Hassan Whiteside has also been out since suffering a bone bruise in his left knee during Miami's opener. He went through a full shootaround on Monday and should be back any day now, which is welcome news for owners losing blocks, boards and FG% because of his early absence. If you've been enjoying Kelly Olynyk's production with Whiteside sidelined, I'd still hold tight -- he'll get minutes at both PF and C, and should hold standard league value in the 24-28 minute range.
Beyond awful season-ending injuries to Gordon Hayward and Jeremy Lin, the long-term injury with the most fantasy impact might be Chris Paul's bruised left knee. He hurt himself in mid-October by bumping knees with Mario Chalmers, and obviously wasn't healthy in Houston's season opener. He said on Nov. 28 that he's making progress but has "no clue" when he might return, and his absence is being measured in weeks. The Rockets' focus is having CP3 healthy and rolling for the stretch run and the playoffs, so they're not going to rush him back at less than 100 percent. Owners have no choice but to stay patient and rack up DNPs, assuming the IR isn't an option. Eric Gordon has been the biggest beneficiary with CP on the shelf, and it's deferred questions about how James Harden's stats will be impacted alongside a ball-dominant point guard.
JaMychal Green (left ankle) was expected to miss roughly 3-4 weeks after his injury on Oct. 18, so hopefully we'll see him in mid-Nov. Seth Curry (stress reaction in left tibia) is also on a week-to-week timetable -- the struggling Mavs can't get him back soon enough, but they also won't risk having his stress reaction become a full-blown fracture. A handful of other players missed the games-played cut due to injuries (Elfrid Payton, Jonas Valanciunas, Milos Teodosic, Kris Dunn) or DNP-CDs (Eric Bledsoe, Jahlil Okafor). And you won't find Zach LaVine, Isaiah Thomas or Jabari Parker on this list, obviously.
The minutes-played cutoff was also interesting. Gone are Gorgui Dieng (13.6 minutes per game), Frank Ntilikina (15.5), Greg Monroe (15.9), Kenneth Faried (9.8), Chandler Parsons (16.7), Willy Hernangomez (7.9), Caleb Swanigan (10.9). Parsons has shown signs of life lately, but the Grizzlies are being extra cautious with his playing time, and I'm going nowhere near him in any format. Of the list above, only Willy Hernangomez, Frank Ntilikina and Gorgui Dieng strike me as having enough rest-of-season upside to cling to...barring a trade involving Faried or Monroe, etc.
I would typically make the cut-off an even 20 minutes, but at this early stage I opted for 17.0 minutes, to preserve some intriguing guys whose minutes could easily increase going forward, such as Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson, Nerlens Noel and Marquese Chriss.
This left a population of 230 players, which I sorted by overall 8-cat value and trimmed to create a top-200 list. Dead last on the list was Lance Stephenson, so he was first to go. Among players who have appeared in at least four games and averaged 17.0 minutes, Markelle Fultz was the second-worst, just ahead of Lance at No. 229 out of 230. Other players on the chopping block included Matthew Dellavedova, Bam Adebayo, Malik Monk, Dario Saric, Paul Zipser, Mario Chalmers and a platoon of Cavaliers -- J.R. Smith, Tristan Thompson, Jae Crowder and Iman Shumpert. Surprisingly (to me, at least), we also bid farewell to stalwarts Manu Ginobili and Andre Iguodala.
In the coming weeks, I will re-calculate these values and include an 'impact analysis' on a category-by-category basis. Kelly Oubre has been a surprising top-100 value in nearly all formats, not because he's been dominant in a few areas, but because he's doing a little bit of everything with solid percentages (whether it will last with Markieff Morris returning is another question). Justin Holiday on the other hand, is helping owners with volume 3-pointers, but hasn't offered much else through five games. There will also be DFS values, analysis of which teams are the best to target (both for specific categories, and by position), and much more. If there's a particular 'Numbers Game' column you've found helpful in past years, and would like to see updated, just let me know! Good luck this week.
|Name||8-cat Value||Rank (8-cat)||8-cat (PUNT FT%)||9-cat Value|
|Tim Hardaway Jr.||-2.41||138||-2.55||-2.04|
|Luc Mbah a Moute||-2.47||141||-2.65||-2.35|
|Dennis Smith Jr./td>-4.64198-2.06-5.98|