Fantasy Basketball

Fantasy Basketball 2013-14: In The Bonus – Waiver Targets Week 8 – Stay Focused

Every week in my column, I try to hammer home one philosophy, and that is: “All eyes on the championship.” That’s because there are a lot of deterring factors over the course of the season, making it easy to lose focus on the long term goal. This week I have to hit on something that most fantasy GMs are guilty of and that’s over-stressing every week’s matchup. Sure, we’d all like to win each and every week no matter the opponent, even if with a 5-4 outcome, but in March you’re never going to look back and say to your buddy “Remember when I beat you 5-4 in week 8?” It’s really irrelevant unless you’re getting beaten badly every week to the extent you can’t make a comeback. Whether you end up being the one seed or four seed truly doesn’t matter; you just need to be in the dance.

With that in mind, making a transaction that takes away stats from your team for this week but will help you out in the long term is the correct decision for your team. One specific example would be Larry Sanders, who is still only owned in 31% of leagues. I know the common owner’s thought process is believing you can wait another few days and accumulate numbers from a lesser player or streaming and grabbing Sanders later on, but still before he comes back. That is the kind of greedy decision-making that will leave you out of the playoffs, or at least not as strong when the time comes. You may think he’s flying under the radar— and obviously he still is—but all it takes to miss out on him is for one of your league mates to see a forthcoming news update before you do. Suddenly you’ve missed out on a big time C upgrade. Furthermore, you’d be letting a league foe grab an addition of 30-40 rebounds and 9-12 blocks per week.

There’s no way the worst player on your roster is going to help your team enough over the next few days to risk missing out on Sanders. His rebounding and blocks can give your team a gigantic boost from the time he returns all the way until you hopefully hoist that imaginary championship belt above your head. Don’t hesitate to make a move that can benefit your team for the majority of the season when you have a chance like this sitting in your lap. Be willing to lose a week 3-6 or 2-7 and fall to fifth or sixth in the standings and then before you freak out, realize that you still have over three months to make up that gap with the top teams.

Here are this week’s waiver targets:

Miles Plumlee (owned in 50.4% of leagues) – Plumlee started this year off with a bang and was quickly swooped up in over 90% of leagues. Since then, he has cooled off a little bit in terms of scoring but is still delivering solid contributions to your rebounds and blocks categories. In December, he’s averaging a lowly 8.7 points, but on the plus side, 8.9 boards (three straight double-digit rebound nights), 2.0 blocks and 0.9 steals. Plumlee is a fine source of big-man stats to the degree that the lack of double digit points most nights isn’t that big of a deal. I own Plumlee in my only 10-teamer (albeit a somewhat deep team), and he should absolutely be owned in more than just half of leagues. Only six players have averaged two or more blocks and eight boards over the last 30 days, Plumlee is on that short list. Compare Ibaka and Plum’s numbers over the last month and you’ll be surprised: besides FT% and six points a night, they’re right on par.

Giannis Antetokounmpo (4.8%) – Giannis, or as most are referring to him, “The Alphabet,” is a rookie who wasn’t expected to get much playing time this early in the season. Yet, here I am mentioning him in a week 8 waiver column as a definite 12-teamer add and a sure watch-and-see in shallower leagues. Giannis was mentioned a couple of weeks ago in my colleague Sam’s values column that hit on “The Greek Freak” and his potential to breakout at some point this season. He is a very raw player, and I think he’ll be very inconsistent for a bit, but there’s no denying he has real talent. He just needs to find his comfort zone in the offense to bring out his true potential. With all of the Bucks’ wingman injuries, Giannis was able to get more minutes early on, and now we’ll see what he can really do as he’s currently starting for the Bucks. Just temper your expectations for now as “GA” is going to certainly have some nice games but probably be frustrating at times for his owners as well. For now, look at him as a mix of a Wesley Johnson and Al-Farouq Aminu: solid rebounds, decent points, but mostly useful for his steal and block upside.

Danny Granger (59.8%) – I’m not sure I can even get through this Granger write-up before he is back on the IR, but here it goes anyways. There is no way of knowing if he can stay healthy or not, but he’s got to be worth watching and even adding in most formats simply based on what we know he can do. Obviously Indiana is a much different team than when Granger was their face of the franchise just a couple of years ago, but he can still serve a nice role on the team and be a positive fantasy player even in lesser minutes than he used to play. He’ll likely keep coming off of the pine for the Pacers, who love their starting rotation, but Granger should take all of Rasual Butler‘s minutes and give Lance Stephenson and Paul George more much-needed breaks. If somehow Granger can stay on the court, I can really see him thriving in a bench role, contributing quality points and treys with decent steals and the occasional block. I assume he’ll be eased back into the mix; he played 22 minutes in his first game back on Friday, but it’s unknown if his minutes will vary, or even if he’ll sit back-to-backs. He’s worth a grab in 12+ team leagues and if you need threes and want to take a shot that he’ll stay healthy, grab him in your standard league and see how it goes over the next week or so.

Mario Chalmers (37%) – Super Mario is exactly the kind of low-end bench guy that fantasy teams need to win titles. He’s not a dependable scorer, although he does go on some scoring hot streaks from time to time. Generally though, you can pencil him in for about nine points a night. Chalmers is a nice option to boost your team in treys and especially steals. He went cold from deep for a bit, but he has hit seven in his last four games and has also come through with at least two steals in seven straight. Mario also will pitch in a noble four to five dimes a night. He should be owned in all 12-teamers and up and is not at all out of the question to 10-team league GMs if he fits your teams needs.

Vince Carter (10.6%) – Another type of player often overlooked in fantasy leagues are those who are many years past their prime. Vinsanity is not going to attract any trade interest from your league mates but that’s totally fine, because he can stay as a solid role player for your team all the way home. Let’s take a quick look at a comparison over the last 30 days (averages):

Player Points Rebounds Assists Steals Treys
Vince Carter 10.4 4.1 3.4 0.9 1.4
Player B 10.9 4.5 3.8 1.4 1.5

Carter holds about even across the board yet is owned in 85% less of leagues than “Player B.” Player B is George Hill who is surprisingly, even to myself, only averaging three less points and one less assist than his numbers from last season. In your head, he’s done a lot better but there’s that name value I was talking about. Hill is younger and on a good team, plus we all saw his great play in last year’s playoffs, so he’s fresher in our minds than an end-of-the-road Carter. Facts are facts though, and this comparison shows that not only is Hill owned in too many leagues but VC isn’t owned in enough.

Beno Udrih (0.8%) – Beno is a guy I always like to use, especially as a stream play when opportunity presents itself for him. In this case, Ray Felton and Pablo Prigioni are both going to be sidelined for a few weeks, and Udrih should get the starts in the mean time. Don’t count on him to do what he did vs. Milwaukee on Wednesday, as that was a double-overtime game, but he should still pony up reasonable points, dimes, threes and steals. He’s definitely worth rostering in 12-team leagues and is worth a look in shallower leagues if you need point guard help for a stint.

All percentages were gathered fromESPN.com

If you don’t already, please follow me @BigZack44 for more NBA analysis and to answer any fantasy hoops questions you may have.

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