Now that we’ve highlighted some of the best breakouts and sleepers to target during fantasy basketball drafts, let’s turn to the other side of the coin: players who aren’t likely to live up to their average draft position.
These so-called busts won’t all be completely useless; in fact, many will be productive players in their own right. They earn the “bust” moniker solely because they’re going to offer negative value in terms of where you have to draft them. If you’re forced to select the 50th-best fantasy player in Round 3, he’ll still be an asset for your team, but you could have better maximized that pick.
For the following players (and the honorable mentions at the bottom), I’d advise drafting them only if you can get them at least a round or two later than their ADP would suggest. Otherwise, steer clear and target other players in that draft range, as they’ll be far more likely to return positive value relative to draft position.
Carmelo Anthony, SF, New York Knicks (ADP: 24.3)
Let’s get this straight: Carmelo Anthony, who finished as the 35th-best fantasy player on a per-game basis last year, is going to jump a full round despite having to share touches with Derrick Rose, Courtney Lee, Brandon Jennings and Joakim Noah? Sure, Anthony’s field-goal percentage figures to rise now that he’s surrounded by legitimate NBA-caliber teammates, but his usage rate could plunge to a career low. The one hope for Melo returning top-25 value would be head coach Jeff Hornacek allowing him to bomb away from deep—he’s averaging 3.3 three-point attempts in 22.3 minutes across four preseason games—but even that may not be enough to justify his draft-day price. I’d prefer Al Horford, Brook Lopez, Eric Bledsoe and LaMarcus Aldridge ahead of Anthony in that range.
Andre Drummond, C, Detroit Pistons (ADP: 28.0)
For owners in head-to-head leagues who are willing to punt free-throw percentage, Andre Drummond’s ADP is completely reasonable. Those in roto leagues, however, can’t begin to consider him anywhere near this price, despite the benefits he’ll provide as a rebounder. Thanks to his comically poor free-throw shooting (35.5 percent last year), Drummond finished as the 95th-best fantasy player despite averaging 16.2 points on 52.1 percent shooting, a league-best 14.8 rebounds and 1.4 blocks while missing only one game. He will single-handedly sink your roster’s free-throw percentage like an eight-ton boulder, and unlike DeAndre Jordan, he doesn’t make up for it with a huge number of blocks or a dazzling field-goal percentage. Stay away at this price range unless you’re able and willing to punt FT%.
Andrew Wiggins, SF, Minnesota Timberwolves (ADP: 38.0)
Under new Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Tom Thibodeau, Andrew Wiggins appears poised for a breakout season in 2016-17. Considering he averaged 20.7 points on 45.9 percent shooting, 3.6 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.0 steals and 0.7 treys last year, there’s seemingly no limit on his upside with Thibodeau guiding him this year, right? Well, considering he finished last season as the 78th-best player in fantasy despite only missing one game, his lack of contributions outside of scoring hinder his value. Unless Wiggins suddenly begins chipping in more rebounds, assists, steals and treys—something he’s shown no signs of doing during the preseason—it’ll be an uphill climb to crack the top 50, making him a reach in the fourth round.
Rajon Rondo, PG, Chicago Bulls (ADP: 50.3)
Dwyane Wade, SG, Chicago Bulls (ADP: 57.3)
Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade are being lumped together here for the same reason: You’re relying on a perfect confluence of events for them to return value on their respective ADPs. Rondo, who finished as the 48th-ranked player in fantasy last season while averaging 11.9 points, a league-high 11.7 assists and 6.0 rebounds in 35.2 minutes, suddenly has Michael Carter-Williams breathing down his neck for playing time rather than the unproven Jerian Grant. Wade, who finished 85th last year despite missing only eight games and averaging 19.0 points, 4.6 assists and 4.1 rebounds, is no sure bet to stay healthy. I’d advise waiting at least one additional round on each player compared to his ADP.
Nerlens Noel, C, Philadelphia 76ers (ADP: 68.3)
It pains me to write this, but Nerlens Noel can’t be counted on as a reliable fantasy asset after bursting onto the scene as a rookie. Last year, despite missing 15 games, Noel finished as the 62nd-ranked player in fantasy, averaging 11.1 points on 52.1 percent shooting, 8.1 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.8 steals and 1.5 blocks in just 29.3 minutes, but expecting a repeat performance may be too much to ask. For one, he’s currently dealing with a groin ailment that is likely to keep him out for opening night if not longer. Additionally, he’ll now have to jostle for minutes with Jahlil Okafor and Joel Embiid, who has displayed impressive flashes throughout the preseason. Unless Noel gets traded, his fantasy value is likely to plunge this year.
Bradley Beal, SG, Washington Wizards (ADP: 72.0)
Are you ready to bank on Bradley Beal staying healthy? If not, you can’t invest in him at his current ADP. Despite averaging 17.4 points on a career-best 44.9 percent shooting, 3.4 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.9 triples in 31.1 minutes, Beal finished last year as the 154th-ranked player in fantasy by virtue of missing 27 games. Even on a per-game basis, though, he was only 94th. Unless he can dodge the injury bug for the first time in his career and increase his scoring output along with his three-point volume, there’s little chance of him returning value as an early eighth-round pick.
Harrison Barnes, SF, Dallas Mavericks (ADP: 82.7)
I wanted to believe Harrison Barnes’ change of scenery this offseason would make him a mid-round steal in fantasy this year, but nothing he’s shown during the preseason has generated confidence in that regard. Through five games, Barnes is averaging 6.4 points on a dismal 26.2 percent shooting, 3.4 rebounds, 1.0 assists and 0.6 treys in 18.3 minutes, seemingly justifying the concerns Golden State had about handing him a larger role. While it’s too early to write Barnes off completely, anyone who expected a breakout season from him may need to pump the brakes.
Derrick Rose, PG, New York Knicks (ADP: 87.3)
Of all the players featured here, Derrick Rose is the one who I wouldn’t touch within a mile of his ADP. He’s missed all but one of the Knicks’ preseason games to tend to the civil lawsuit filed against him in Los Angeles, raising the possibility that he won’t be ready for opening night due to a lack of practice, per Jonah Ballow of the team’s website. Last year, in his healthiest season since the 2010-11 campaign, Rose averaged 16.4 points on 42.7 percent shooting, 4.7 assists and 3.4 rebounds in 31.8 minutes, finishing outside of the top 180 both in terms of per-game and total fantasy value. Combine his lack of assists, three-pointers and steals with his propensity to get injured and Rose is someone best left to another owner this fall.
Kenneth Faried, PF, Denver Nuggets (ADP: 89.7)
Anyone expecting Kenneth Faried to return top-100 value this season hasn’t been paying attention to Jusuf Nurkic, who’s emerged as the favorite to start alongside Nikola Jokic on opening night. Despite starting 64 of the 67 contests in which he appeared last season, Faried was only the 92nd-best player in fantasy on a per-game basis, as he doesn’t provide much outside of scoring, rebounding and field-goal percentage. According to ESPN.com’s Zach Lowe, the Nuggets “have been dangling Faried off and on for three years, and continue to now,” which raises the possibility of him receiving a boost in fantasy value with a trade. Fantasy owners can’t bank on that, though, making Faried untouchable until the 11th or 12th round at the earliest.
Clint Capela, C, Houston Rockets (ADP: 105.3)
If not for Houston head coach Mike D’Antoni’s inexplicable fascination with Nene, Clint Capela would be mentioned among the sleepers rather than the busts. Instead, what once looked like a shoo-in—Capela moving into the Rockets’ starting lineup to replace Dwight Hoard at the 5—is no sure thing. Regardless of whether Capela starts or comes off the bench, he should still be useful for fantasy owners in need of help with blocks, rebounds and field-goal percentage, but his free-throw percentage—he’s a career 35.9 percent shooter at the charity stripe—could do serious damage to your squad. He’s fine at this ADP for head-to-head owners willing to punt free-throw percentage, but roto owners can’t consider him here.
DeMar DeRozan, SG, Toronto Raptors (ADP: 33.0)
Nikola Vucevic, C, Orlando Magic (ADP: 39.3)
Greg Monroe, C, Milwaukee Bucks (ADP: 67.0)
Chandler Parsons, SF, Memphis Grizzlies (ADP: 75.0)
Ben Simmons, PF, Philadelphia 76ers (ADP: 88.7)
Brandon Ingram, SF, Los Angeles Lakers (ADP: 100.0)
Michael Carter-Williams, PG, Chicago Bulls (ADP: 110.7)
Tyreke Evans, SF, New Orleans Pelicans (117.3)
Tony Parker, PG, San Antonio Spurs (ADP: 117.7)
Kris Dunn, PG, Minnesaota Timberwolves (ADP: 124.0)