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2015-16 Fantasy Basketball: 10 Busts to Dodge in Drafts

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Now that we’ve taken a look at some high-upside flyers to target later in drafts, it’s time to tackle the flip side of that equation: players whose draft ranking will only leave you disappointed.

By comparing FantasyPros.com’s Expert Consensus Rankings to the Average Draft Position of players on Yahoo, CBS and ESPN, you can start to get a sense of which players the industry is higher or lower on than an average drafter. From there, you can begin to build your own list of busts to avoid.

Using ECR as a baseline, we’ve highlighted 10 such busts — two at each position — whose ranking is at least one round too high. In eight-category head-to-head leagues, you shouldn’t necessarily avoid these players altogether, but you should exercise extreme caution in drafting them where their ADP and ECR suggest. Grab them later in your draft if they tumble, but don’t go reaching for them.

PG: Jrue Holiday, New Orleans Pelicans (ECR: 50)

In all likelihood, Holiday’s ECR doesn’t factor in the news that he’ll be on a significant minutes limit until January. I personally had him just outside my top 10 point guards until that news emerged; now, with him on a minutes limit for the first three months of the season, he’s nowhere to be found in my top 100 overall players.

Holiday admittedly looks like his old self during the preseason, but he simply won’t have a chance to make a significant fantasy impact until the All-Star break. Considering he’s played just 74 of a possible 164 games over the past two seasons due to recurring issues with stress reactions in his legs, there’s simply no way you can justify spending a mid-round pick on Holiday this season.

PG: Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls (ECR: 45)

Speaking of injury-prone point guards, let’s jump to Mr. Rose, who already suffered a left orbital fracture during the first week of training camp that’s jeopardizing his availability for opening night. Though the fracture shouldn’t be a long-term concern — he’ll simply wear a mask to protect his face until it fully heals — it’s a solemn reminder of his lengthy injury history and the riskiness of drafting him with a mid-round pick.

Even at the peak of his MVP powers, Rose wasn’t a true fantasy superstar, as he’s a high-volume, low-efficiency shooter who doesn’t contribute much in terms of steals or blocks. In the 51 games he played last season, he averaged 17.7 points on 40.5 percent shooting, just 4.9 assists, 3.2 rebounds and 0.7 steals in 30.0 minutes. With Jimmy Butler planning on taking over a larger share of the playmaking duties this season, the Bulls’ new uptempo system isn’t enough to salvage Rose’s fantasy value.

SG: Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat (ECR: 61)

If Wade stays healthy through the 2015-16 campaign, he’ll well exceed his ECR in terms of his fantasy returns, as he was the 67th-best player in eight-category leagues last season despite missing 20 games. Unfortunately, that’s a huge “if” for a 33-year-old who played a career-low 31.8 minutes per game last season, which makes investing a late sixth- or early seventh-round pick in him a huge gamble.

When Wade is on the court, he’s liable to stuff the stat sheet in every category aside from three-pointers, having averaged 21.5 points, 4.8 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 1.2 steals last season. Between his limitations as a three-point shooter, his declining takeaways — those 1.2 steals were also a career low  — and the injury risks, you’d be far better off investing a mid-round pick in a specialist like Danny Green or Kyle Korver.

SG: DeMar DeRozan, Toronto Raptors (ECR: 58)

Unless you’re in a points league, you want no part of DeMar DeRozan with a late sixth- or early seventh-round pick, as his contributions outside of that category are negligible for a wing player. Ideally, you’re looking for significant help in three-pointers and steals from your top 2-guard, but through his six-year NBA career, DeRozan has yet to top 0.8 treys or 1.3 thefts per game in a single season.

What he will give you is points, having topped the 20-point-per-game threshold in each of the past two seasons (albeit on a career-low 41.3 percent shooting last year). And though his rebounding and assist totals are on the high end for 2-guards — he averaged 4.7 boards and 3.6 dimes in 2014-15 — the lack of production in three-pointers and steals is simply too difficult to overlook, particularly when guys like Korver and Green are likely to be available a round or two later.

SF: Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers (ECR: 81)

Like Wade, Bryant would blow past his ECR if he were guaranteed to remain healthy and play all 82 games this upcoming season. Instead, the Mamba is set to be on a hard minutes limit this year, per Bill Oram of the Orange County Register, and isn’t likely to play many, if any, back-to-backs, severely depleting his fantasy upside for anyone looking to grab him with a mid-round pick.

Bryant still put up ridiculous numbers last season before tearing his rotator cuff, averaging 22.3 points (on a career-low 37.3 percent shooting), 5.7 rebounds, 5.6 assists, 1.5 treys and 1.3 steals in 34.5 minutes per game. Considering his minutes are likely to plunge this season, however, he’s nothing more than a late-round gamble for an owner who isn’t averse to cutting bait if Kobe is more limited than anticipated in the early going.

SF: Tobias Harris, Orlando Magic (ECR: 49)

It’s easy to understand why the fantasy community is optimistic about Harris’s prospects this year, as he’s fresh off signing a big four-year deal, ensuring his place as a long-term building block in Orlando. He also smashed his career-highs in points (17.1), assists (1.8), treys (1.3) and steals (1.0) last season while chipping in 6.3 rebounds and 0.5 blocks a night.

That said, Harris could see a slight reduction in playing time this year, as Aaron Gordon and Mario Hezonja could theoretically steal some spot minutes at the 3. With the defensive-minded Scott Skiles having taken over as head coach, the Magic are running at one of the slowest paces in the league this preseason, too, which only figures to diminish the fantasy upside of all Orlando players. Harris won’t be a total bust, but he shouldn’t be drafted in the top 50 because of those concerns.

PF: LaMarcus Aldridge, San Antonio Spurs (ECR: 16)

Anyone who grabs Aldridge with a top 20 pick is setting themselves up for disappointment, as he’s highly unlikely to replicate his Portland production with the Spurs. Last year, the former Texas Longhorn averaged 23.4 points, 10.2 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.0 blocks, 0.7 steals and a career-high 0.5 treys in 35.4 minutes per game, but a personal-best usage rate of 30.2 percent had much to do with that.

In San Antonio, meanwhile, no player averaged more than 31.8 minutes per game (Kawhi Leonard) or had a usage rate above 24.5 percent (Tony Parker) in 2014-15, as head coach Gregg Popovich religiously limits the minutes of his studs while emphasizing a heavy dose of ball movement. Aldridge simply isn’t going to receive as many touches in San Antonio, both due to a reduction in playing time and the Spurs system, setting him up for a notable decline in fantasy production.

PF: Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks (ECR: 47)

When DeAndre Jordan pulled his free-agency about-face on the Mavericks, the burden once again fell on Nowitzki to carry this team into respectability. The only problem is, two of Dallas’ projected five starters may not be ready by opening night (Chandler Parsons and Wes Matthews), which gives opponents leeway to sell out defensively against the 37-year-old German sharpshooter.

In an effort to preserve Nowitzki for a postseason run, the Mavericks limited him to just 29.6 minutes per game last season — the lowest mark since his rookie year — which resulted in across-the-board decreases in his statistical production. While Dirk may be forced into slightly additional playing time this year because of Dallas’ injury situation, his production is only likely to continue declining as Father Time inches ever closer to ending his Hall of Fame career.

C: Pau Gasol, Chicago Bulls (ECR: 31)

After struggling through his final two years with the Los Angeles Lakers, Gasol experienced a career renaissance during his first season with the Bulls, averaging 18.5 points on 49.4 percent shooting, a career-high 11.8 rebounds and 1.9 blocks in 34.4 minutes a night. That enabled him to finish as the 10th-best player at any position in eight-category leagues, making him one of the top draft-day values of the 2014-15 campaign.

Though new head coach Fred Hoiberg has implemented an uptempo system that figures to benefit the fantasy stock of Jimmy Butler, in particular, Gasol isn’t likely to be so lucky. A clogged frontcourt rotation only added another member in Bobby Portis, which means Gasol’s playing time should see a slight dip in 2015-16, taking his fantasy production slightly down accordingly.

C: Jahlil Okafor, Philadelphia 76ers (ECR: 96)

For those in points or five-category leagues, there’s a lot to like about Jahlil Okafor. Those in eight- or nine-category head-to-head or roto leagues, meanwhile, should be fading the Sixers rookie center, as he’s not likely to provide considerable help in a number of traditional big man categories, limiting his fantasy upside.

Though you can likely pencil Okafor in for somewhere around 15 points and eight rebounds a night, he doesn’t figure to be a prolific shot-blocker, and it’ll be a minor miracle if he gets his field goal percentage above 50 percent. As the team’s No. 1 offensive option, opponents will throw double-teams his way relentlessly until he proves he’s enough of a passing threat to deter that strategy, and his struggles scoring with his left hand certainly won’t help him in the FG% category, either. Stay far, far away from Okafor at his draft price unless you’re in a keeper league.

Honorable Mentions

All of these players have an ECR of 100 or lower, making them less risky than the above players, but I’d take them at least one full round below their ECR in head-to-head leagues.

PG: Darren Collison, Sacramento Kings (ECR: 112)

SG: Mario Hezonja, Orlando Magic (ECR: 142)

SF: Luol Deng, Miami Heat (ECR: 101)

PF: David West, San Antonio Spurs (ECR: 111)

C: Andrew Bogut, Golden State Warriors (ECR: 118)

All ECR information is via FantasyPros.com and is current as of Sept. 29. All player rater rankings come from ESPN.com and are for eight-category leagues.

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