To succeed in fantasy basketball, one must draft well and make a few solid pick-ups throughout the season. Watching box scores and every live game possible helps, as does being the first one on the waivers to get that key pick-up that will put your team over the top.
Some players are considered locks as great fantasy contributors every game, but you never know who will get injured. There are also the players who get overlooked and are drafted late. You go back and look at your draft, and you kick yourself for not selecting them.
It takes more than just knowledge of the game to predict who will set themselves apart. In some cases it’s just pure luck, but if you want to get into the science of it all, you have to consider roster changes, a player's ability to stay healthy, the system they are in, and how they will react to their teammates.
This is the list of those players who have put up numbers past their potential. They've become household names now, but you may have slept on them during your draft.
We'll start with the point guard position. My pick is a key factor to team success, the fourth piece of a "Big Three."
Rajon Rondo of the Boston Celtics is no longer being slept on, he is a wide-eyed, bright talent in the NBA. The man averages almost 12 points per game and nearly nine assists. He also is a menace when it comes to steals, as he currently sits fourth in the league in that category. Almost every stat of his has gone up since last year, and he continues to climb in every category.
Rondo can be depended upon every night; he has only missed one game this year, and that was the most recent loss to Orlando, March 8. His average draft according to Yahoo! Sports was 92nd overall, or the eighth point guard.
The shooting guard for the All-Sleeper team is a Rookie of the Year candidate: O.J. Mayo of the Memphis Grizzlies. Not a victim of the "rookie wall," he is producing huge numbers for such a youngster.
Mayo was 89th, on average, by Yahoo! Fantasy owners this year, and now people are begging to have him on their Playoff rosters. He is hitting almost two three-pointers a game, averaging almost 19 points, and has a high free-throw percentage.
He has put up 30 points or more six times this year already, and he's hit five or more threes in three different games. His numbers are far superior to what his draft stock showed back at the beginning of the season, and he will not be slept on come next season.
The last guard to make the team is one of the high-flyers of the league, and though he comes off the bench for a bad team, he makes the very most out of his time.
Nate Robinson of the New York Knicks was only drafted by only 27 percent of Yahoo! fantasy owners and was taken an average of 131st overall.
Robinson’s numbers have literally gone up in every major category from last season. The only negative is that includes turnovers, but they went up just a small margin.
He will provide almost 18 points a game but can explode for 30 any given night, and with his athletic jumping abilities, he can rebound the ball very well for a guard.
He will give you almost two steals a night and has gone for 30 or more points six times this year. Dude's also had one 40-point game.
The small forward for the All-Sleepers has made a splash in his second year in the Association. Jeff Green of the Oklahoma City Thunder has really found a home, and now that he's comfortable with his surroundings, it’s really beginning to show in his game.
Averages of 17 points and seven rebounds per game for the player who was drafted around 121st overall in most Yahoo! leagues is a great bargain. He needs to work on his free-throw percentage, but his scoring, rebounding, and consistency gave him a spot on this roster.
The next player is a well-rounded power forward, who, if you never got the memo, probably never showed up on your draft board.
Mehmet Okur of the Utah Jazz really got his time to shine this year in the absence of Carlos Boozer. His ability to play big but also sneak out to the three-point line and be a consistent shooter from the arc makes him a great fantasy player.
Numbers of 18 PPG, 8 RPG, almost 1.5 threes PG, and darn near 50 percent from the field make him a fantasy star.
The last forward on the list is a player that likes to go for 20-plus points, two or three threes, and around eight rebounds every night.
Charlie Villanueva of the Milwaukee Bucks has really shown his true potential this year as a quality NBA and fantasy player. Just like Okur, his ability to hit threes, shoot a high field goal percentage, rebound the ball, and also block the occasional shot makes him a sleeper who provides nightmares for owners who did not select him.
Villanueva was picked 107th on average overall by Yahoo! owners, just a couple spots ahead of Nick Collison, and was picked under players like Jermaine O’Neal and Michael Beasley.
The centers for the team are great examples of this team, and I saved them for last, because you have to save the best for last.
The first big man selected is a player that plays beyond his height (and his hype) every year, especially this year.
David Lee of the New York Knicks is a prime-time player who was taken by 100 percent of teams this year but fell to around 73rd overall on the average Yahoo! draft board.
Lee averages almost 12 rebounds per game tto go with his 16.4 points, and his field-goal percentage is well over 50. He has missed double figures in scoring just four times this year and has played in every game.
He has double-doubled in 11 games this season, though eight of those came in the first nine of the season.
The last player on this team is a fantasy beast this year; he started off ranked low, but now is 10th in the Yahoo! Sports standings.
Troy Murphy of the Indiana Pacers is a diamond in the rough, to say the least. He's averaging almost 12 rebounds per game and supplies almost 2.5 threes every night.
His numbers, like Nate Robinson's, have skyrocketed in every category from last year; plus, he's only missed five games all year, four of which were in December.
Murphy is tied for third in the league in rebounding (with David Lee), and he also hits more threes per game than Ben Gordon, Jason Terry and Jamal Crawford.
The players on this team aren't quite no-names; instead, they're players that really went well beyond what they did last year, or beyond what anyone thought they could do this year.
Here's the list again:
C Troy Murphy
PF Mehmet Okur
SF Jeff Green
SG O.J. Mayo
PG Rajon Rondo
C David Lee
PF Charlie Villanueva
SG Nate Robinson