Read what our fantasy NBA expert Mark Deeks has to say about tonight’s slate. With just five games on, you’ll want to check out his picks before setting your line ups.
Point guard – Tyus Jones, Minnesota Timberwolves: $6.6 million
We suggested Jones as a fantasy value pick before the last Timberwolves game, so it was vindicating to watch him have a career night.
The point guard added a remarkable seven steals and two blocks to go alongside nine points, seven assists and four rebounds, recording a whopping 51.3 fantasy points overall. He has an average of 42.5 over his last two games.
His limitations in the halfcourt offence could see him revert to being a near-nothing in fantasy at any time, but his recent sample makes him obscenely good value at this price.
Point guard – Tim Frazier, Washington Wizards: $8.4 million
Since being acquired in the offseason to be the primary backup point guard, Frazier has struggled badly. He is never an efficient scorer, but is particularly bad this year, and his uptick in turnovers numbers has been notable considering his narrow margins for success. Combine that with being ineffective defensively and Frazier has not helped much at all.
Nevertheless, Frazier is about to get plenty of opportunity, with John Wall to miss at least the next two weeks (knee inflammation).
This also makes gives some low end fantasy value to third string point guard Tomas Satoransky. In the first game without Wall, Frazier started and posted 11 points, 2 steals and 18.6 fantasy points in 28 minutes, while Satoransky had 4 points, 4 assists, 3 rebounds and 13.6 fantasy points in 15 minutes.
Shooting guard – Antonio Blakeney, Chicago Bulls: $6.0 million
Despite being on a two-way contract, Blakeney has cracked the Bulls’ rotation by being able to get past the first line of the defence and create his own shot off the bounce.
With Bulls coaches exasperated by an offence bogged down by wings, Quincy Pondexter and Paul Zipser (who cannot run the court, get into the paint, or do anything when there) and guards who can’t create, Blakeney, a natural scorer with speed and touch, is getting his opportunity. So far he’s managed to contribute a little as a sparkplug off the bench.
Averaging 12.2 fantasy points over the past six games, Blakeney will lose his rotation spot when the injured players return, but for now, the Bulls are only playing nine players, and he is one of them.
Shooting guard – Wayne Ellington, Miami Heat: $7.5 million
Shooting is cyclical, as streaky as any part of the game. The risk with drafting bench shooting is that a bad night will always result be a wasted fantasy pick. And any night can be that night. But Ellington has shot consistently well of late, hitting 20 of his last 35 three-pointers over the past four games and with a 44.4% outside shooting clip on the season. He is doing as-near-as-is-nothing other than shoot these threes, but that’s OK. And what is definitely OK is the 23.6 fantasy point average he has over that span.
Small forward – Denzel Valentine, Chicago Bulls: $9.9 million
Again, shooting is cyclical, and Valentine is a shooter. With the shortened rotation, he is getting big minutes, including 39 in the last game.
In that outing, he flanked his 14 points with 13 rebounds and 7 assists. It all amounted to a giant 41.1 fantasy point night, and raised his average to 26.2 points over the last five games, which should not be available for less than $10 million.
Small forward – Juancho Hernangomez, Denver Nuggets: $6.3 million
Having missed the start of the season with illness, Hernangomez is back and playing, mostly well, if not consistently.
He figures to be one of the minute beneficiaries of starting power forward Paul Millsap’s prolonged injury absence. To add to that, the struggling Wilson Chandler might not even play due to a back injury, enlarging Hernangomez’s role at both forward spots.
Power forward – Kenneth Faried, Denver Nuggets: $8.8 million
Faried has started two of the last three games, but was benched entirely for the one in between. It is hard to know how the Nuggets’ power forward rotation will be handled in Millsap’s absence given head coach Mike Malone doesn’t seem to really know yet.
It appears Faried will be the primary option, however sporadic of one he will be. While it is hard to entirely value someone whose status in the rotation can change nightly, Faried got no worse as a player from his former productive self. His role just changed. The variance here is high, but the price isn’t, and Faried should be considered.
Power forward – Derrick Favors, Utah Jazz: $14.0 million
The move to centre in Rudy Gobert’s absence has reawakened Favors’ previously moribund numbers. In six games without the Frenchman, Favors has averaged 15.7 points, 8.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.7 blocks per game, massively improved from his first month’s performance.
From a fantasy point of view, this has meant a 36.7 fantasy point average over that span. In Gobert’s absence and the concurrent move to the starting line-up of Donovan Mitchell and Jonas Jerebko – both shooters – the Jazz have a spaced floor now, and Favors is a beneficiary of this. It will likely stay this way for a while.
Centre – Willie Cauley-Stein, Sacramento Kings: $12.5 million
Losing his starting spot seems to have truly galvanised Cauley-Stein, who is playing some of the most engaged and energetic ball of his NBA career.
Over his last six games, he has recorded five nights of between 32.5 and 42.0 fantasy points. The other was a mere 7.0, but it seems that is now the outlier, and it also seems as though Cauley-Stein will likely yield a return in the 30s. That is worth buying at this price.
Centre – John Henson, Milwaukee Bucks: $11.8 million
There is the occasional goose egg and the obvious injury concerns, but nothing about Henson ever has been or likely ever will be predictable.
Nonetheless, he has started ten games in a row, averaging 8.8 points, 7.6 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.3 blocks per game in doing so. His starting job looks to be under no great threat, thus he remains a value pick for now.
DO NOT PICK DUE TO INJURY/ABSENCE/SUSPENSION: David Nwaba, Nikola Mirotic, Zach LaVine, Cameron Payne (Chicago), Isaiah Thomas, Tristan Thompson, Derrick Rose (Cleveland), Wilson Chandler, Paul Millsap, Mason Plumlee (Denver), Okaro White, Rodney McGruder (Miami), Jabari Parker, Matthew Dellavedova, Mirza Teletovic (Milwaukee), Justin Patton (Minnesota), Brandon Knight, Davon Reed, Alan Williams (Phoenix), Joe Johnson, Dante Exum, Rudy Gobert (Utah), John Wall, Sheldon Mac (Washington)