Fantasy basketball is home to probably the most volatile waiver wire in all of the fantasy sports. In football, the backup running back starting in place of an injured first-stringer isn’t guaranteed production.
In basketball, if a key player is injured, another player will pick up the additional minutes and, more times than not, those minutes will equate into fantasy gold. You must follow the minutes in order to succeed at fantasy basketball. It’s a simpler yet vicious cycle that requires meticulous attention and keen decisiveness.
To start the season, some players will find themselves with a healthier portion of minutes which, in turn, elevates their value and will help your fantasy basketball team get off to a quick start.
Derrick Favors (UTA-PF,C)
Before we get into the ways in which you’ll fall in love with Derrick Favors, you’ll have to pay dearly on draft day to acquire him. He’s currently ranked 61st by Yahoo! and 60th by ESPN.
The departures of Al Jefferson to Charlotte and Paul Millsap to Atlanta immediately skyrocketed Favors’ value heading into the season. In 23.2 minutes-per-game last season, Favors scored 9.8 points, pulled down 7.1 rebounds and blocked 1.7 shots.
Only 37 players in the entire league blocked more than one shot per game last season. Blocks are a scarce category in fantasy basketball and Favors, with his increased minutes, could be among the league leaders in blocks at season’s end. Pay for the block party and stay for the double-doubles with savory field goal percentages.
2013-14 projections: 15.3 PPG, 47% FG, 67 FT%,11.5 REB, 1.9 AST, 1.0 STL, 2.7 BLK, 2.3 TO
Tobias Harris (ORL-SF,PF)
Continuing our theme of increased minutes leading to increased production, Tobias Harris is a prime example of a player benefiting from a minutes boost.
During his two years with the Milwaukee Bucks, Harris never averaged more than 12 minutes per game. He was swiftly shipped off to the Orlando Magic where he got his first taste of starting minutes. Granted, this is a small sample, Harris showcased some promising skills in 27 games last season. Harris averaged 17.1 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.1 assists in an overwhelming 36.1 minutes per game. The pride of Long Island also contributed 1.4 blocks, a three-pointer and 0.9 steals for the Magic.
Harris is likely to still see starting minutes in Orlando while Glen “Big Baby” Davis recovers from a broken foot. Harris’ ability to hit multiple categories along with uncontested minutes makes for a wise investment on draft day. Yahoo! has Harris ranked 81st while ESPN values him a bit higher, ranking him at 67th overall.
2013-14 projections: 18.2 PPG, 43.2% FG, 79 FT%, 1.2 3PTM, 8.4 REB, 1.9 AST, 1.0 STL, 1.3 BLK, 2.9 TO
Reggie Jackson (OKC-PG)
While Favors and Harris may hold value over the entirety of the season, Reggie Jackson figures to be fantasy relevant until Russell Westbrook returns from injury. In the meantime, Jackson is the Thunder’s starting point guard and he played particularly well in the postseason in Westbrook’s absence. Jackson averaged 13.9 points, 4.9 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.2 three-pointers in 11 playoff games.
Draft Jackson with the intention to start him immediately but have alternate plans at point guard for when Westbrook returns. If Jackson is able to retain minutes as a sixth man, he could yield value in assists, steals and three-pointers. Jackson is ranked 264th by Yahoo! and 141st by ESPN.
2013-14 projections: 9.6 PPG, 44.2% FG, 84 FT%, 1.0 3PTM, 3.4 REB, 4.2 AST, 1.0 STL, 1.9 TO
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