Every week, Chris Towers will take a look at the Fantasy landscape with either a trade values column — here’s last week’s — or a stock watch. This week, he looks at the players whose stock has risen or fallen over the past month.
We’re switching things for this seaction up a bit this week. With injuries to key players starting to pile up, Fantasy players are going to have to make some tough choices in the coming weeks. Should I wait it out on a player who isn’t living up to expectations — or even sitting out! — or do I go ahead and cut my losses as the playoffs approach?
Derrick Favors : Favors has been playing for the Jazz, but he just hasn’t been himself since a knee injury derailed the start of his season. He is still isn’t playing a full load of minutes, is sitting out his second straight game Wednesday to rest.
When he is right, Favors is an impact player for Fantasy, capable of filling up the defensive portion of the box score while contributing an efficient 15 or so points every night. However, he is shooting just 45.5 percent from the field on the season, while averaging 9.3 points in 23.3 minutes per game, his worst numbers since at least 2012-13.
It’s hard to give up on a player with Favors’ upside, and I wouldn’t do it if I was comfortable in my chances of making the playoffs because it’s hard to say that he won’t find his old form eventually. On the other hand, the Jazz seem pretty content to continue to center their team around Rudy Gobert , and with youngster Trey Lyles looming as a possible long-term replacement, Favors may not be long for Salt Lake City anyway. They seem to be getting along just fine without him, which makes it less likely Favors will return to his typical role in the long run. He is droppable.
Chris Paul : This should be pretty easy: No, you aren’t dropping Chris Paul.
He is on a 6-8 week timetable in his return from thumb surgery that still has 4-6 weeks left, which could push dangerously close to the Fantasy playoffs. If you’re on the verge of contention, it might be hard to look at that empty roster spot, but there’s some good news here: The entire league has a week off coming soon with the All-Star break. There’s no good time for an injury like this, but Paul could be back by the end of February, so you just have to remain patient. Keep him stashed.
Chandler Parsons : Parsons’ situation isn’t far off from Favors, and it’s compounded by the fact that, well, I have both in pretty much every league I’m in. Ouch.
Parsons is playing, but not every night, and not particularly well these days. He has scored just 10 points combined in his last two games, and finished the month of January averaging 7.5 points in 18.5 minutes per game. He has been above the 20-minute mark in recent games, but by a thin enough margin to where it hardly counts. The Grizzlies could still use his secondary playmaking and shooting on the wings, but they’ve taken a cautious enough approach with him so far to suggest that they may not be ready to unleash him at any point. I’m not dropping Parsons everywhere, but he’s next in line if I need help.
Jeremy Lin : Lin was given a 3-5 timetable a week ago, and he told reporters Tuesday he hopes to be back in 2-3 weeks. The Nets are off beginning Feb. 15 for the All-Star game, and don’t return until nine days later, so even in a self-described best-case scenario, Lin might play one game in the next 24 days.
Of course, the way Lin’s season has gone, there’s no such thing as a “best-case scenario.” His hamstrings have been an issue all season, limiting one of my favorite breakout candidates to just 12 of his team’s first 48 games. I still think he can contribute in a big way — he has averaged 20.0 points and 8.4 assists per-36 minutes when he has played — but the way Lin’s season has gone, it’s hard to bet on him getting back on time.
This is someone who can absolutely help you once you get to the playoffs, but there’s no guarantee he’ll even get there with you. He’s droppable.
Pau Gasol : Gasol is still owned in 93 percent of CBSSports.com leagues, which seems like an awful lot for a player without an official timetable to return and is no longer a real difference maker in Fantasy.
Gasol isn’t bad, obviously, but is 11.7 points, 7.9 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game really worth waiting for? Gasol was just the No. 74 player in Fantasy on a per-game basis before the injury and is likely to miss at least another month recovering from his fractured left hand.
Add in the fact that the Spurs are never going to be in a rush to return anyone before they are 100 percent healed — and will likely rest Gasol liberally even when he is back — and it makes sense to view Gasol as a cut candidate at this point.
Paul George : Paul George is a jump shooter. That isn’t an insult, or a criticism. It’s simply a statement of fact about his game.
He can’t barrel his way to the rim the way LeBron James or James Harden do. He just doesn’t have that strong a handle, or those kinds of playmaking chops. That doesn’t mean he can’t be a tremendous player, but it does influence the way he goes about impacting games, and how consistent he can be in doing so.
Consistency has been an issue for George throughout his career, largely because of this. He is a terrific jump shooter, but even the best go through peaks and valleys, times when they can’t seem to miss, followed by stretches where they look hopeless. What makes players like Harden or James relatively impervious to slumps is their ability to consistently earn high-percentage shots, but George has to rely on those 20-footers, and they can be fickle.
That has changed of late, however, and it helps explain why George has been so good. After getting to the free-throw line just 3.6 times per game through the end of November, George averaged 5.5 free-throw attempts in December, and upped that to an even 6.0 in January. His free-throw rate reached .345 in January as well, a strong rate that would just edge out his career-best mark in 2015-16. If George can continue to force the issue, the points should flow more consistently moving forward.
Nerlens Noel : We know Noel can return early-round value when he gets the opportunity, but injuries and an inconsistent role have held him back all season. This recent stretch has been a nice reminder of how good he has been. Noel has received the opportunity to start three of the past five games, and has averaged 15.7 points, 9.0 rebounds and 4.0 combined blocks and steals per game in those three starts.
Of course, Noel only gets to start when Joel Embiid is out of the lineup, which puts an obvious ceiling on his value. He usually maxes out at 21-24 minutes when Embiid plays. Embiid is dealing with a knee injury, and the 76ers are rightly being cautious with him. But you can’t count on that to keep him out too much longer.
Noel can still be a useful low-end option in Rotisserie formats when Embiid plays, but this could end up being the high-water mark of his season. It is worth noting that seven of the 76ers’ next 28 games feature back-to-backs, so Embiid is going to sit out at least one-quarter of them. That gives Noel a little bump moving forward.
Marvin Williams : Williams is an underappreciated Fantasy asset, though for a while there at the start of the season it was looking like expecting little from him was the right call. He shot just 32.3 percent from the field in November with just seven combined steals and blocks. For a player who already inspired skepticism, that was enough to ruin his Fantasy appeal.
He has bounced back in a big way, however, and January was a great month for Williams. The numbers don’t jump off the page, but they are indicative of why he is so underrated — 12.4 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.2 assists, but also nearly two 3-pointers per game, a decent amount of blocks and steals, and only 10 turnovers in 15 games.
Williams doesn’t dominate any one category, so when he goes cold, it can really hurt. But his ability to fill up the box score was super valuable in 2015-16, and he is back to those levels again.
T.J. McConnell : Some commodities are so rare in Fantasy basketball that, if you can provide them, nothing else really matters.
McConnell is a pretty hopeless shooter from long range, and his 8.7 points per game average since joining the starting lineup is hardly what you think of when you think of an impact Fantasy player. But he has been a catalyst for the 76ers, racking up 9.2 assists per game as a starter, and you really don’t need to say more. This could just be a hot stretch, but McConnell’s playmaking chops are legitimate, and the 76ers actually have enough talent to make life relatively easy for him. The fact that he has continued to rack up double-digit assists in Embiid’s absence only makes him look better.
Kent Bazemore : Once a narrative sets, it’s hard to change.
Bazemore got off to a rough start in the wake of his big contract last offseason, and struggled through an especially tough stretch in late-December and early January when he scored more than 11 points just once in 10 games. However, he dropped in 12 and 24 on back-to-back games on Jan. 13-15, and has been rolling ever since.
Bazemore is averaging 16.0 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game over his last 10, while shooting 43.1 percent from 3-point range. Those are the kind of numbers we were hoping for all season, but because he was so disappointing earlier in the season, he is just 72 percent owned in CBSSports.com leagues despite this strong stretch. That’s OK.
If he’s out there in your league, go get him before someone else realizes it.
Source: CBS Sports Headlines / Fantasy Basketball Week 15 Stock Watch: Time to give up on Derrick Favors, Chandler Parsons?