Fantasy Basketball 2019: Ranking Sleepers for NBA Week 11

Maurice Moton@@MoeMotonFeatured ColumnistDecember 30, 2019

Golden State Warriors' Damion Lee plays in an NBA basketball game against the Golden State Warriors Friday, Nov 8, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
Jim Mone/Associated Press

Do you need guard help for Week 11? Well, now is an ideal time to stock up on backcourt players who can provide solid statistics for offensive and defensive categories. Even better, they're available on most waiver wires.

Sometimes, a streamer turns into a season keeper. Before the All-Star break, head coaches are open to changes in their rotations. An emerging talent can play his way into a 30-minute workload with a string of standout performances.

Going into Week 11, we'll rank five of the top deep sleepers, who are owned in fewer than 50 percent of Yahoo leagues

In terms of the ranking criteria, consider the following factors. First and foremost, production. Where can the acquisition contribute in nine-category leagues? Secondly, a player on a team that's set to play four games will list higher than someone who's on tap for a two- or three-game slate. Lastly, does this talent have a stable role or a short track record, which makes for a shaky gamble?

We'll reveal the list, starting with No. 5.


5. SG Gary Payton II, Washington Wizards (29 percent owned)

Kathy Willens/Associated Press

Gary Payton II brings some of what his Hall of Fame father (Gary Payton) provided on the court—a defensive presence. In his first three appearances this season, he's swiped 13 steals and blocked two shots.

The Washington Wizards will play four times in the upcoming week, so Payton's strong contributions in the steals category could provide a huge boost. Also, guard Bradley Beal missed Saturday's game with lower leg soreness.

Head coach Scott Brooks doesn't see Bradley's injury as a serious ailment, but Payton's ability to play both ends of the court could keep him in the rotation with Beal and Isaiah Thomas healthy. 

Last week, Payton averaged 1.7 triples, 11.7 points, 7.3 rebounds, four assists and 4.3 steals per game while shooting 56 percent from the floor.


4. PG Aaron Holiday, Indiana Pacers (30 percent owned) 

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - NOVEMBER 06:  Aaron Holiday #3 of the Indiana Pacers dribbles the ball against the Washington Wizards at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on November 06, 2019 in Indianapolis, Indiana.     NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agree
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Aaron Holiday lists one spot higher than Payton because he's held on to a prominent role for two weeks, logging at least 30 minutes of playing time in each of the last six outings. The Indiana Pacers guard is also coming off a career-high 25 points against the New Orleans Pelicans.

According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, Victor Oladipo (knee and quad) hopes to return late January. Fellow guard Malcolm Brogdon has missed the last three games with a hamstring injury.

As a result, expect Holiday to handle primary ball-distribution duties and rack up big numbers as a starter. He's opened the previous five contests with the first unit. 

Over the last week, Holiday averaged 2.8 triples, 18 points, two rebounds, six assists and a steal per game while converting about 46 percent (.464) of his field-goal attempts.


3. PF Nemanja Bjelica, Sacramento Kings (43 percent owned) 

Rich Pedroncelli/Associated Press

In fantasy basketball, productive big men emerge few and far between. So, when a power forward or center is slated for more minutes, roll the dice on him. He's more valuable than a deep sleeper at guard. 

In addition to Nemanja Bjelica's coveted position, he's comfortable in a starting role, opening with the first unit in 30 out of 33 outings. This season, the fifth-year veteran averages 26.5 minutes per contest. That number may increase in the upcoming week.

The Sacramento Kings will list forward Marvin Bagley III out for "a few games" with a mid-foot sprain. 

Bjelica led the team in scoring against the Denver Nuggets Sunday, logging 27 points on 10-of-13 shooting from the field. He knocked down five triples.

Going into his last outing, Bjelica averaged 1.8 triples, 11.3 points, six rebounds, 2.7 assists, 0.9 steals and 0.6 blocks while shooting 46 percent (.463) from the field and 90 percent from the free-throw line.


2. SG Damion Lee, Golden State Warriors (41 percent owned)

Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

Since December 15, Damion Lee has carved out a starting role at shooting guard. He's also flourished with more opportunities, logging double-digit scoring totals in five consecutive games. 

Golden State Warriors guard D'Angelo Russell suffered a shoulder contusion after a collision with Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic Saturday. He returned to action, but if the injury has lingering effects, expect head coach Steve Kerr to sit him or limit his minutes. 

Even with Russell on the court, Lee's role with the first unit seems safe. At 9-25, the Warriors will likely continue to feature their young talent. 

Lee is 27 years old, but he's been effective. The third-year veteran recorded a double-double in two of his last three outings.


1. PG Isaiah Thomas, Washington Wizards (39 percent owned) 

Matt Slocum/Associated Press

Isaiah Thomas takes the top spot for multiple reasons. 

First, he's virtually locked into a starting job, averaging 25.5 minutes per game. 

Secondly, Beal could miss some time. Without him, Thomas and Jordan McRae led the Wizards in scoring against the New York Knicks Saturday. The former will likely take on a lead role on the offensive end until the two-time All-Star guard returns from his leg injury.

Finally, as previously emphasized, the Wizards have a four-game slate, and it's a home stretch.

In Saturday's loss to the Knicks, Thomas shot poorly from the field, converting five of 21 attempts. Yet, he finished with 20 points, which included a perfect eight from the free-throw line. Expect the ninth-year veteran to maintain a high usage rate and rack up on his point, assist and triple totals for Week 11.