Fantasy Basketball Rankings 2011-12: Top Sleepers That You Need to Target
The top sleepers for fantasy basketball owners to target for the 2011-12 NBA season are a group of guys nobody should be hitting the snooze button on this year.
Owners should be looking to take advantage of situations where players are looking at major minutes and unchallenged roles in the rotation, as consistency can be one key toward achieving success.
In a shortened season and a fast-paced schedule of play, there will be some guys turning heads early on in the year, and it's imperative to have a leg up on the competition.
There is a fair amount of depth at positions like point guard and center where there had previously been a lack of quality talent, and these are sleepers for owners in leagues with 12 (or more) teams to explore after some of the "bigger" names are off the board.
10. Gary Neal, G San Antonio Spurs
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George Hill was traded to the Indiana Pacers during the draft, opening the door for Neal to secure a major role for the Spurs.
Although his recent appendectomy will knock him out of action temporarily, it shouldn't be an extended absence, and he's ticketed for a sizable role behind two veteran guards in Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili.
With the expedited schedule and Ginobili far from a lock to make it through the regular season unscathed, Neal is an intriguing flier at the back end of the draft.
9. Carlos Delfino, G/F Milwaukee Bucks
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Delfino ended last season poorly due to ongoing issues from a concussion he sustained, but he was lighting it up for Milwaukee prior to going down.
He was hitting a plethora of three-point shots (105 in just 49 games), and now that he's returned to full health, Delfino should see a lot of action at small forward for the Bucks.
With rookie Tobias Harris and Darington Hobson (coming off of two hip surgeries) behind him in the pecking order, Delfino should be a lock for 30-plus minutes nightly.
8. Anthony Morrow, G/F New Jersey Nets
Morrow is known as a knock-down shooter from behind the arc, and he was true to that title last season for owners despite missing some time during the regular season.
He doesn't offer much for owners outside his ability to sink the deep ball, but he should average double-digit scoring to pair with his dynamite attack from outside.
While Morrow definitely won't do much on the glass or in terms of dishing the rock, he is a nice specialty player for owners looking to bolster the stats from deep at the end of the draft.
7. Evan Turner, SG Philadelphia 76ers
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There's no question that Turner was a disappointment during his rookie season for both the Sixers and his owners, but that's a trend he's about to buck emphatically.
By all accounts, Turner has come into this season with a completely different attitude after spending the summer working with shot doctor Herb Magee, and he's going to play a really nice role for Philadelphia this season.
Even if Jodie Meeks starts at shooting guard for the Sixers, Turner should play early and often for the team, and his versatility across the stat sheet will be a welcome sight for those who can stomach an inconsistent field-goal percentage.
6. Jared Dudley, G/F Phoenix Suns
Dudley started 16 games for the Suns down the stretch last season and averaged 16.3 points, 5.9 rebounds, 2.1 steals and 1.7 three-pointers made over that stretch.
In other words, there's serious appeal here for owners who like to get production in a multitude of areas from the players on their roster, and it isn't going to suddenly stop going forward.
The Boston College product only had to fend off Shannon Brown to keep his starting role, and on a Suns team that likes to run, Dudley should be a very sound value pick for the duration of the season.
5. Anderson Varejao, F/C Cleveland Cavaliers
Varejao missed significant time last season after an ankle injury ended his campaign earlier than expected, but he's back to full health and will have to contribute on a roster that just doesn't have a lot of talent.
The Cavs are going to need the big man to produce in a prolific manner consistently as there is a definitive lack of size on the roster, and that translates to major minutes for Varejao.
It might not be the "sexy" choice to roster Varejao, but for any time owners have a chance to pick up a big man who averaged a near double-double (9.1 points, 9.7 rebounds, 1.2 blocks) last season on the cheap, it's a move worth making.
4. Paul George, G/F Indiana Pacers
George actually grew two inches during the offseason from 6'8" to 6'10", so as if he wasn't already a matchup nightmare for opposing defenders, it's about to get even worse.
The Pacers don't have a lot of options on the wing, and George is slated for a major role as the starting shooting guard in his second NBA season.
He didn't do much for owners last season, but he never really got a chance to do so. This year, it's a different story.
Look for George to double his output from last season, and possibly even go beyond that.
3. Boris Diaw, F/C Charlotte Bobcats
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Diaw doesn't get enough credit for his versatility, and that's something that fantasy owners need to embrace as a very real asset going forward.
There's just not a lot of talent on the Charlotte roster, and the team is especially hurting in the big-man department, and that projects to a lot of playing time for Diaw.
With Bismack Biyombo, Melvin Ely, Tyrus Thomas and DeSagana Diop as alternatives beneath the basket for Charlotte, Diaw is going to be on the court very often serving in a variety of roles.
His positional flexibility paired with the prospect of a major role makes him an extremely enticing option.
2. Jeff Teague, PG Atlanta Hawks
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Teague is getting a considerable amount of preseason hype, so if owners are looking to land him, it might require a slight reach in order to do so.
Don't be hesitant in pulling the trigger, as this is one young point guard who is firmly on the rise.
Larry Drew wants his team to run the ball this season, and Teague is an ideal candidate to increase the tempo of play considering how fast he is on the court.
He's not going to be a reliable source of big numbers in the assists department, but he will score, dish the rock, shoot well from the foul line and even nab some steals.
Bottom line: there's just too much upside here for owners not to roll the dice.
1. Roy Hibbert, C Indiana Pacers
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Hibbert is poised to enjoy a full-fledged breakout season, and I'm driving this bandwagon to the finish line.
The promising center averaged 12.7 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.8 blocks for the Pacers last season, but expect those numbers to be on the rise this time around.
He is being taken inexplicably low in drafts thus far, and he's played in 81 games in back-to-back seasons for the Pacers since participating in just 70 during his inaugural campaign.
Hibbert has shown solid improvement and garnered an increased role during that span. As long as he can remain out of foul trouble, he should see both his playing time and numbers move up once again.
He spent the extended offseason studying Tim Duncan's low-post game and even worked with him, so owners shouldn't be surprised when he unleashes a fury in the paint in his fourth year.