I desperately wanted to name this the “Cor Repor” but it doesn’t really work and I’m far less funny than Stephen Colbert, though we both have degrees from the same school. I’ll let you speculate.
We’re just a shade under 1/10th of the way through the season, which is not at all a marker but something to think about, I guess. Overreactions abound during this time as owners of players who start hot begin designing their customized championship t-shirts and owners of under-performing players make poor choices by cutting the line far too early. It’s only week two, everyone just CALM DOWN!
One thing is for certain: We’re starting to get an idea about which teams are for real and which ones aren’t all that good. And there have been some surprises. In fantasy, it’s key to start looking right now at the struggling teams. Why? They’re far more likely to shake things up than a team that is groovin along. That means player values will shift and there’s space in there for a savvy fantasy manager to gain some value.
Here’s the league’s struggling teams that have some fantasy gold in them (40% or lower win percentage):
It’s far too early in the season to start thinking “tank mode” but some things are likely to change on these teams. It could be as simple as a lineup shift or returning player, or something as big as a trade or coaching change. Either way, the fans ask for more so you better deliver, yo!
**If a player isn’t mentioned, you can safely assume they are a hold and will continue to produce their current value.**
1. Detroit Pistons (1-5)
The Pistons are off to a terrible start, which isn’t really a surprise to anyone if we’re being honest but it is a bummer. Since expectations weren’t too high to begin with, coach Dwane Casey is probably safe for now. However, there are some roster changes coming down the line that could be accelerated and have big fantasy impact.
Blake Griffin (Move him if you can)
First and foremost, there is Blake Griffin who is a 31-year-old veteran being featured on a bad and mostly young team. I predicted before the season started that he’d be traded and the Detroit fan base has come around on that idea. He has a player option for next year that he’s sure to pick up in the neighborhood of $39 million which may make this tough, but if they can find a way to make the money work it behooves them to move the veteran in order to feature 2o-year-old Sekou Doumbouya and see what this kid has.
Until then, the Pistons seem content to trot the older Griffin out there and showcase his talents. Griffin should have solid fantasy value until then, but if he is moved it’s likely game over for his fantasy value as he’s unlikely to find himself in as fantasy-friendly a spot as he has right now in Detroit. Sell high on him while you can.
Derrick Rose (Move him if you can)
You probably shouldn’t have Derrick Rose on your roster, but if you do it’s time to wait for a nice game or two and try to trade him to an unsuspecting owner. Similar to Griffin, Rose is 32 and not in the future plans of the Pistons presumably. He’s also directly in the way of their most promising prospect, Killian Hayes.
Rose is on an expiring contract that is very cap friendly, so the likelihood that he is moved is sky-high. He’s still a good player, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see him join a contender where he’ll be relegated to being a role player and have almost no fantasy value.
Delon Wright (Roster him everywhere)
Delon Wright hasn’t been super consistent this season, but he did have some very solid back-to-back outings already this season where he scored 19 and 18 points while chipping in 4 assists each game. His role is safe, and if I’m right about the above guys moving he will be tasked with carrying a greater offensive load sooner rather than later. He’s worth a roster spot to see if he can figure it out and become the solid contributor we all know he can be. He’s only rostered in 37% of Yahoo! leagues, so if you need a guard that can score and dish, look his way.
Mason Plumlee (Move him if you can)
Mason Plumlee’s playing very well and it’s not wild to think he’ll continue to produce value on a very mediocre team, but Isaiah Stewart has been playing well in limited minutes and those minutes should climb as the season progresses. It may not be time to move Mason Plumlee right this second, but if the right price is being paid, go for it. This is likely to develop into a straight-up timeshare at best.
Killian Hayes (Solid stash)
Killian Hayes is a nice floor stash as he’s already playing 22 minutes per game and that number can only climb. He hasn’t shot the ball great, but the assist to turnover ratio is nice and the shooting will come around. With Rose likely heading out of town, he should have a lot of usage and minutes coming his way as the Pistons play for ping pong balls.
Saddiq Bey (Stash)
Saddiq Bey looks like the guy to target if Blake Griffin heads out of town. He has already reached 30 minutes in two games this season and stepped into a larger role when Blake was recently out going through the concussion protocol. Bey is a stronger stash in points leagues as he’s really only good for three-pointers and scoring, but with a larger role he’ll get those auxiliary stats as well.
Isaiah Stewart (Deep league stash)
Isaiah Stewart doesn’t produce much except rebounds and some blocks here and there, but that makes him a very solid add in deep leagues with the assumption that his minutes will climb as he gets acclimated to the NBA game.
Sekou Doumbouya (Deep league stash)
I was high on Sekou Doumbouya to start the season as a stash, but with the emergence of Bey my expectations have been tempered a bit. He should still see some increased opportunity down the stretch as the Pistons look to the future or trade away Blake Griffin.
2. Toronto Raptors (1-4)
An awful, awful start for the Raptors, but you’d have to think they’re confident they can right the ship. Nick Nurse just won the Coach of the Year award last season and he’s likely safe, but this record is likely a product of some under-performing players which we’ll look at here.
Pascal Siakam (Trade for him)
If you have Pascal Siakam on your team, I’m here to tell you to breathe. It will be okay. His stats are still pretty much on par with his stats from last season outside of the shooting, which will most certainly normalize as the season progresses. If you don’t own Siakam, it’s time to float the owner that does a few trades to see if you can snag him for a guy you’re not so keen on. Fans are placing the blame for the slow start squarely on the young forward’s shoulders, but he’ll turn it around. He’s under contract through 2023-24 on a pretty friendly contract, so he’s not going anywhere despite the recent rumors and clamoring.
Chris Boucher (Roster him everywhere)
This is the guy I’d be looking to if it came to a roster shakeup for the struggling Raptors. Chris Boucher is a per-minute stud and he’s already had some really nice games early on this season with a 22 point and 24 point outing, including 7 blocks in a contest against the Spurs. Boucher is only rostered in 61% of Yahoo! leagues, which is far too low. If he’s available in your league, run to snag him as there’s a real possibility he replaces Baynes in the starting lineup or at least eats into the other big man’s minutes. There was a four-minute dud this season as the narrative was that Nick Nurse didn’t want to play him against actually talented centers, but that narrative was largely debunked as he played 28 minutes against the frontcourt of Zion Williamson and Steven Adams on January 2nd.
Aron Baynes (Drop)
Aron Baynes doesn’t do much in the box score except score points and grab boards and his value really is deflated as he doesn’t really block shots from the center position. He has exactly 0 blocks through the Raptors’ first 5 games and only 1 steal. He shouldn’t be on your roster anyways, but if he is you can surely do better unless you’re in a deep league. If he is on your roster, and you’re stuck with him or think he’s giving you good value, the slow start should make you worry as well as he’s the most likely player to be replaced.
3. Washington Wizards (2-5)
The Washington Wizards started 0-5 but were able to string together a few good wins recently. They’re pretty much locked into the backcourt duo of Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal for the foreseeable future due to contracts, and as such they’ll be looking to build a competitive roster around those guys. They have some nice young pieces but it just hasn’t clicked yet. The fanbase has been on top of coach Scott Brooks like rabid dogs already this season and he’s been on the hot seat for years. A coaching change may be in order if they don’t turn this thing around.
Deni Avdija (Roster him everywhere)
It’s no secret that the Washington Wizards are high on Deni Avdija. He just turned 20 years old and he’ll have his ups and downs, but he’s been scoring the ball efficiently, rebound, and chip in some steals. As the season progresses, he’ll be leaned on more and more, especially if it’s looking like another lost season for the Wiz.
Davis Bertans (Trade for him)
Davis Bertans is still finding his rhythm, and the door may have already shut on his small “buy low” window as he logged 30 minutes in the Wizards’ last game. It’s still worthwhile to float out some guys you aren’t crazy about or guys you have that are overperforming to see if you can wrangle the Latvian Lazer from their current owner. He’s going to be featured prominently in their offense no matter who the coach is or what the record is.
Troy Brown Jr. (Stash)
It is no secret that Troy Brown Jr. has really struggled to find his niche on the Wizards this season. Last season, without John Wall, he had the ball in his hands a lot, which lead to some very respectable fantasy lines as he went on to average 10.4 points, 5.6 rebounds, 2.6 assists, and 1.2 steals per game. This season he’s seen his time on the court almost halved from 25.8 minutes to just 16.7 minutes per game. A coaching change may shake up the rotations enough to get TBJ back into a primary ballhandler role where he tends to thrive, to the direct detriment of Raul Neto and Ish Smith. He’s not the best stash, but he’s not a bad stash either.
4. San Antonio Spurs (2-4)
I’m actually super excited that the Spurs have started to slip, and I’m actually rooting for it. Not because I hate the Spurs (I don’t) or wish bad luck on Gregg Popovich (I love him), but because it’s going to make peeling the bandaid off on a youth movement in San Antonio all the easier to stomach. It’s not easy to see the Spurs as a young up-and-coming team, but they have the talent there and a rough start could make the transition happen sooner rather than later.
Derrick White (Roster him everywhere)
The return of Derrick White may be just what the doctor ordered for the struggling Spurs. He’s currently rostered in only 73% of leagues and that should be much higher considering his floor his mid-round value. He went on a tear in the Bubble and Popovich has already said he’s going to play two-guard lineups with White next to Dejounte Murray. The upside is there for a 26-year-old who is just hitting his groove. Since he just re-injured the same toe that has kept him out, try to float White’s owner a trade to see if they’ll bite out of frustration.
Lonnie Walker IV (Add to watchlist)
Lonnie Walker is the only Spur I’m recommending to drop if you have him and it’s directly tied to the fact that Derrick White is returning. He’s only rostered in 20% of leagues right now, so that’s only a few of you reading this. In deeper leagues, he’s worth hanging onto. If the Spurs can move DeMar DeRozan’s expiring contract, it’s Lonnie time. Walker should soak up many of those minutes and produce points and threes in bunches. He’s a better deep league option though as he only produces points and threes.
Devin Vassell (Deep league stash)
Stashing Devin Vassell if you have the space for it makes some sense. He was one of the stars of the preseason, but when the regular season he came back down to earth. Still, if the Spurs can move DeRozan’s expiring contract and commit to the youth movement, he figures to have plenty of opportunity to produce. There are better stash targets, but if the Spurs clean house he’s a guy to keep an eye on.
Keldon Johnson (Roster him everywhere)
If you were the first to the waiver wire to roster Keldon Johnson, congratulations are in order. He’s put up back-to-back stellar games with 26 points and 22 points while shooting over 60%. Yet he’s still only rostered in 63% of Yahoo! leagues as of the writing of this article. That’s absolutely critical and you should run out and snatch him up right now if he’s still available in your league. He’s done his damage with LaMarcus Aldridge on the sidelines, but if the Spurs commit to playing their young guys he will be heavily featured. It’s possible he’ll be the steal of the season for whoever gets him first.
Jakob Poeltl (Deep league add)
Jakob Poeltl is a nice adds for deep leagues as he is a decent center that puts up points and rebounds while throwing in some blocks. The blocks haven’t been there this season just yet, but he’s had some increased opportunity with LMA on the sidelines. LMA is on an expiring contract and if he gets moved it’s possible that Jakob Poeltl steps into a 30 minutes per game role on a rebuilding team, where he could easily average a double-double on nice percentages while chipping in some assists. He’s on the radar in standard leagues if the youth movement I’m predicting eventually happens.
5. Dallas Mavericks (2-4)
Luka Doncic hasn’t quite looked like the MVP candidate we all have grown to love. Kristaps Porzingis has yet to play. They’ve really put it on some good teams in the Heat and the Clippers, so there’s no panic mode quite yet, but look for the Mavericks to really start to lock it in over the next stretch of games. The Mavericks have some true holes at the small forward and center position, and it wouldn’t be surprising at all to see them make a move to address those deficiencies.
Luka Doncic (Trade for him, if you can)
Luka Doncic has struggled to open the season, but there’s no real reason to worry if you’re the one that owns him. Obviously, if you don’t own him and you can somehow part with a second-round player to get him, please do so. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to float out someone like a Kawhi Leonard or LeBron James to see if you can get someone who is a better value and will play every game. Odds are that whoever owns Luka is a fanboy, but maybe they aren’t and they’re worried. His points and assists should normalize, especially his shooting from beyond the arc which is way down so far this season.
Kristaps Porzingis (Stash)
Odds are pretty good that Kristaps Porzingis is already rostered in your league, but reaching out to the owner that has him to see if they’ll part with him isn’t at all a bad idea. It’s abundantly clear that the Mavericks need his production to be successful and while they’re not necessarily rushing him back from his injury, they will not be dragging their feet either. KP will be a go-to start playing in the next week or so which will be a big win for Mavs fans.
Maxi Kleber (Drop)
See above. It wasn’t a bad idea to roster Maxi Kleber while KP was out, but now that the return is imminent it’s time to say goodbye to this dude now rather than later. Kleber is a good deep league source of threes and rebounds, but that’s about it.
James Johnson (Add to your watchlist)
Here’s my hot take. James Johnson has looked pretty good in his stretches on the floor for the Mavs and it wouldn’t be difficult for him to step into a larger role. He’s not quite averaging enough minutes just yet with just 15.4 minutes per game, but he has the ability to produce across the board and he kicks in some really nice numbers in steals and blocks. If the Mavs continue to struggle, a roster shakeup could land JJ in the starting lineup where he could mirror his 25 minute-per-game role in Minnesota last year and averaged 12 points, 4.7 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 1.4 steals, and 1.4 blocks.
Dwight Powell (Drop)
You probably don’t have Dwight Powell on your roster as he’s just rostered in 6% of fantasy leagues at the moment, but if you do for some reason please stop it. He’ll be okay to stream every once in a while but he’s too inconsistent to be relied upon despite being the starting center. He’s only really included in this list so I can opine about how the Mavericks are probably already shopping hard for a legitimate starting center. Willie Cauley-Stein and Boban Marjanovic are behind Powell and neither of these guys is too enticing in real life or in fantasy. Be on the lookout for a center to join this squad and find their way to big minutes right out the gate.
6. Denver Nuggets (2-4)
Nikola Jokic has been on fire, but the rest of the squad has pretty much been garbage so far. They’ve dropped some questionable games, but after the solid showing in last year’s playoffs you have to think they garnered enough good will to stay the course until they shake it off. Still, some roster shakeups may be in order to break out of the funk.
Jamal Murray (Trade for him, if you can)
The door may have slammed shut on the buy-low window for Jamal Murray. He has pretty much erased his slow start with a 31 point and 36 point effort in his last two games, but it’s still worth a shot to see if you can wrangle him away from a less savvy manager. Murray’s assists are way down so far this season, so floating someone that might fulfill that need for the opposing owner may be enough to let you steal a better player.
Will Barton (Roster him everywhere)
Will Barton has struggled and his numbers are down across the board, but you just have to ride this cold streak out. Eventually those numbers will normalize and he’ll be back to cruising to mid-round value as a sneaky under-the-radar fantasy stud who contributes in every category without hurting you anywhere. If he was dropped in your league as people seem to be flocking away in droves, scoop him up. You can thank me later.
JaMychal Green (Add him in deep leagues)
JaMychal Green had a nice showing on Sunday for the Denver Nuggets and it looks like he’ll eat into Paul Millsap’s minutes as well as Isaiah Hartenstein’s backup center minutes. He’s a solid add in deep leagues for a guy that is taking on a slightly increased role over last season and can score, rebound, and shoot the three. He’s worth an add to your watchlist in standard leagues too as a streaming option if Millsap or Jokic has to miss time.
Paul Millsap (Drop)
The fact that Paul Millsap is still rostered in 44% of Yahoo! leagues is laughable. He’s worth a stream here and there, but the 35-year-old’s best days are behind him. He’s basically been reduced to a three-point shooter on the Nuggets and it hasn’t worked super well so far, so a change in the lineup wouldn’t be out of the question either when Michael Porter Jr. comes back. Leave him on the waiver wire and stream for points and threes.