Anybody can get off to a hot start in fantasy basketball. Don’t be fooled, though. A couple of stat-stuffing games don’t mean you should make the mistake of wasting a waiver-wire pickup on a player who won’t be able to keep it up.
Rushing to snatch up a player like Mike Dunleavy or Vince Carter, as thousands of you have already done, is the surest way to tank your fantasy season. Before you know it, you’ll have left these guys in your lineup for a week, hoping they’ll rediscover the fluky form they showed in the season’s first handful of games. And guess what? They never will.
That’s how you kill a fantasy season.
Before we get to the list of scalding early-season starters you must ignore, there are a couple of guidelines to touch on.
First, all of the guys we’ll discuss are probably still largely available on your league’s waiver wire. But second, they’re being added like crazy in Yahoo! and ESPN fantasy leagues. They’re all within the top 25 “most added” over the past couple of days.
So before you go crazy and throw away your ever-so-valuable waiver priority on one of these guys, let us save you the trouble.
Here are 10 hot starters who are bound to cool off.
Mike Dunleavy is being added at a very high rate in the early going this fantasy season.After starting predictably, he dropped a line of 29 points, 12 rebounds and six assists in the Milwaukee Bucks’ second contest.
Dunleavy’s career averages of 12.1 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.4 assists tell us that he’s unlikely to put up another game like the one he did on Nov. 3. More than that, he’s probably not going to register 29 points or 12 rebounds in a game for the rest of the season.
His season highs a year ago were both below those totals.
Take Dunleavy’s monster game and overall hot start for what it really is: an aberration. He’s not starting for the Bucks, he’s 32 years old and he’s no better than the fourth offensive option on the roster.
He’s a solid sub in real life, but he doesn’t belong on your fantasy team.
The most beloved (and hated) man on Tobacco Road is scorching the nets for the Orlando Magic in the early going this season. J.J. Redick has topped 20 points off the bench in both of the Magic’s contests this year.
As usual, he’s done it by burying jumpers from all over the floor and from beyond the arc. Even Redick can’t keep shooting 64 percent overall and 75 percent on threes, though. He’s never shot better than 44 percent from the field in his career. What’s even more unsustainable is Redick’s average of six assists per game.
Somebody is going to have to put up numbers for Orlando, but right now Redick has just about doubled his career-high averages in points and assists. Even if he’s likely to see more minutes and shots this season, there’s no way he sustains his current pace.
He’s definitely due for a major regression. Avoid him.
Can you name the last wing player for the Spurs (other than Manu Ginobili) to put up decent fantasy stats? We can’t either.
Danny Green’s job, like all Spurs’ role players, is to defend and hit corner threes. He does both exceptionally well, but his touches will always be limited, and there aren’t any stats for excellent help defense.
That’s why his current 13.3 points per game on 57 percent shooting should be taken with a grain of salt.
Sure, Green’s getting a career-high 32 minutes per game so far, but he just doesn’t figure to continue playing such a major statistical role over the long haul.
Like everyone on the Spurs, Gregg Popovich uses him in a very limited and specific way. As a result, he’s an awesome guy to have on a real-life roster, but he's not nearly as useful in fantasy land.
Enjoy what he does to help San Antonio win, but let him do it for someone else’s fantasy squad.
Nate Robinson appears to be the leader of the Chicago Bulls’ second unit. He’s found himself with the ball in his hands an awful lot so far, as the Bulls simply don’t have many scoring options without Derrick Rose.
Robinson is putting up stats that are just a tick above the ones he posted in Golden State last year, but don’t expect that to continue—he’s shooting 48 percent from the field, which would be a career high (by a mile) for Robinson.
As he’s forced to take increasingly tougher shots on a Bulls team that struggles to create offensive opportunities, that field-goal rate will dip down into the low 40s, which means he’s unlikely to keep his scoring totals in double digits.
Robinson has always been a low-percentage player, and his career averages of 2.8 assists and 2.5 rebounds don’t help enough to make him a viable fantasy option.
Leave him on the waiver wire.
Just because the Toronto Raptors decided DeMar DeRozan was worth paying $40 million to keep around, it doesn’t mean you should make him part of your team.
DeRozan has started hot this year, tallying 19 points and five rebounds per game through the Raptors’ first three contests. He’s even made a few threes, which isn’t bad for a career 21 percent three-point shooter.
There are two things you should never expect DeRozan to do: live up to his ridiculous contract or score efficiently.
Once he cools off (and he will), he’ll get you a decent scoring average, but he’ll kill your percentages—especially from three. And he definitely won’t help you in the assist or rebound department; he’s averaged just 1.5 helpers and 3.4 boards in his career.
Because he’s bound to get plenty of minutes, DeRozan is probably the most addable player on this list. But that’s not saying much.
Somehow, Dorrell Wright makes his way into an awful lot of conversations about underrated NBA players. Really, he’s perfectly rated.
The guy’s a remarkably average player.
So far this season, he’s putting up 13 points and 8.3 rebounds per game. Those numbers have, for some reason, led to a ton of waiver-wire pickups in fantasy leagues.
The eight rebounds look nice, but Wright’s career average is only 4.2, and he doesn’t help in any other categories.
The Sixers are full of wing players, so Wright is never going to see more than the 38 minutes per game he averaged for the Warriors two years ago. In fact, he’ll be lucky to keep his average above 30 this year.
Sometimes, “average” is just fine. But there aren’t any fantasy trophies for mediocre teams. Adding Wright after his better-than-average start is a sure way to bring your team down to the middle of the pack.
If you’re noticing a trend involving shooters who don’t do anything else to help their teams, congratulations. You’re very perceptive.
Somehow, the fantasy masses aren’t as sharp, though.
Richard Hamilton, who is averaging 14 points and nothing else worth mentioning, is being picked up in fantasy leagues at an alarming rate. Sure, he’s made about 45 percent of his shots (which is right at his career average), but he’s not going to play big minutes, and he isn’t getting any younger.
Don’t follow the crowd on this one. Hamilton’s start hasn’t even been that hot, aside from a totally meaningless 100 percent from the free-throw line. So it’s hard to figure why he’s increasingly ending up on fantasy rosters in the early stages this year.
Leave him off of yours.
Are we missing something? How on earth is Metta World Peace being added to fantasy rosters?
Maybe this is a “buy low” situation. Looking at it that way, MWP’s stock couldn’t possibly have dropped any more than it did after the season’s first two games. He did put up 18 points against the Detroit Pistons in his fourth contest, but everybody on the Lakers went crazy against the Pistons, so that hardly explains it.
Every one of MWP’s meaningful stats have been on a three-year downward trend. He can’t shoot, turns the ball over way too often and isn’t a good enough defender anymore to justify leaving him on the court for long stretches.
If you’re one of the inexplicably large number of people who added MWP after his one good game, you may need to see a medical professional.
The artist formerly known as Ron Artest hasn’t been a worthwhile fantasy option since 2008, and that’s not going to change now.
It’s pretty hard to knock Jamal Crawford, who’s currently averaging 24 points per game, but we’re willing to try.
Crawford has shot with an efficiency light years beyond his career norms so far this season, but don’t be taken in by his shiny 53 percent shooting. Look closer at his career numbers, and you’ll see that he’s barely even a 40 percent shooter.
Besides his lengthy track record of inaccuracy from the field, Crawford has never been a stat stuffer in any other category. In the last three seasons, he hasn’t topped 3.2 assists or 2.5 rebounds per game.
Once he cools off, he’ll see his scoring average drop by at least 10 points. Because he’s playing with Chris Paul, his limited ball-handling opportunities will mean he’s headed for a career low in assists.
If you had him for his hot start, consider yourself fortunate. But if he’s still on your waiver wire, don’t bother picking him up. His best stretch is already behind him.
Anytime you’re referred to as “the lesser Lopez,” you probably don’t belong on a fantasy roster.
Robin Lopez, twin brother of the Brooklyn Nets’ more productive Brook, is doing a pretty good impression of his bro this year. But there’s no way it continues.
The New Orleans Hornets’ center has never averaged more than 6.4 points or 3.3 rebounds in any season. Yet now, he’s being picked up all over the place because he’s put up 14.3 points and 7.7 rebounds per game for the surprising Hornets.
It’s been three games, folks. Lopez has some pretty serious offensive limitations, and he’s benefitted from Anthony Davis playing a total of 14 minutes in the last two contests. Davis will be back soon, and when he is, all those rebounds and touches on offense will again belong to him.
Besides, Lopez has weird hair. For fantasy purposes, forget about him.