Yesterday, I highlighted five potential buy-low targets for fantasy basketball owners in need of a roster upgrade. Today, let’s look at the inverse: players who fantasy owners should consider trading away before their value comes plummeting back to earth.
While you shouldn’t sell high on every hot-starter on your roster—in no way should you be letting go of guys like Paul Millsap, Draymond Green or Brandon Knight—certain players are likely doomed to regress to their career means. Whether due to injury risk, the impending return of a teammate or an unreasonably high share of early-season minutes, these players’ value will likely never be higher than it is right now.
The following five players, in particular, are worth attempting to sell high on, as they’re likely to begin providing lower value than what they have to date. If you can convince an owner in need of immediate help to buy high on them, it may hurt your team in the short term but should pay dividends in the long run.
Eric Gordon, SG, New Orleans Pelicans
With Tyreke Evans sidelined following knee surgery and Jrue Holiday still under a minutes restriction, Eric Gordon has been a boon to any owners who scooped him up with a late-round pick. Through 14 games, he’s averaging 18.5 points, 3.2 assists, a career-high 2.9 treys, 2.6 rebounds and 1.2 steals in 36.2 minutes per game, which has him ranked 42nd on ESPN’s Player Rater.
Seeing as you likely grabbed him in the ninth or 10th round, based on his ADP of 97.0, he’s providing far greater value than his draft-day price. That said, Evans could be back as early as Wednesday, per John Reid of the Times-Picayune, and Holiday’s minutes restriction should be lifted by January. Throw in Gordon’s injury history—he’s missed 136 of a possible 312 games over the past four seasons—and you’d be wise to cash out before his fantasy value begins to plummet.
Mo Williams, PG, Cleveland Cavaliers
Did you scoop up Mo Williams with one of your final picks, knowing you’d get early- to mid-round value on him so long as Kyrie Irving remained sidelined due to his fractured left kneecap? Congratulations! You were absolutely right to do so. His time of being a reliable fantasy contributor could soon be coming to an end, though, as Irving appears to be nearing a return to the court, per ESPN.com’s Dave McMenamin.
In all likelihood, your fellow owners will also be aware of Irving’s impending return and won’t give you top-75 value for Williams, even though he’s currently 74th on ESPN’s Player Rater. Seeing as he’s likely soon to plummet outside of the top-100, that’s completely reasonable. If you’re able to convince a frustrated owner to flip someone like D’Angelo Russell, Goran Dragic or Jrue Holiday for Williams, you shouldn’t hesitate to pull the trigger.
Evan Fournier, SG, Orlando Magic
Evan Fournier is easily one of the biggest surprises from the first month of the season, both in real life and fantasy. After averaging 12.0 points, 2.6 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.5 treys in 28.6 minutes per game for Orlando last year, he’s up to 18.8 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 2.5 triples in 37.1 minutes per game in 2015-16. That last number is perhaps the most important when considering Fournier’s rest-of-season value, as he’s playing the third-most minutes of anyone thus far.
In theory, new Magic head coach Scott Skiles could continue running Fournier into the ground, as he’s only 23 years old. Then again, considering the depth Orlando has at the position—Aaron Gordon and Mario Hezonja are both lurking—Fournier’s playing time is likely to dip incrementally as the season goes on. If someone is willing to flip a top-50 value for Fournier—he’s ranked 30th currently on ESPN’s Player Rater—make that deal ASAP.
T.J. McConnell, PG, Philadelphia 76ers
Did anyone expect a real-life undrafted free agent to rank among the top 50 fantasy values this year? Because that’s exactly what Philadelphia 76ers point guard T.J. McConnell is doing at the moment. Since taking over as the Sixers’ starting floor general, the Arizona product is averaging 7.6 points on 48.3 percent shooting, 6.5 assists, 5.3 boards, 1.2 steals and 0.6 treys in 29.3 minutes per game, giving him well-rounded fantasy impact at the moment.
However, McConnell’s time in the starting lineup is likely to end within the next few weeks. Kendall Marshall is due back in early December, per Tom Moore of the Intelligencer, while Tony Wroten appears to be targeting a Dec. 11 return. This next week is likely your last chance to get anything of value in return for McConnell, as he’ll be lucky to play 20 minutes per game once Marshall and Wroten are back in the Sixers’ rotation.
Deron Williams, PG, Dallas Mavericks
A change of scenery has brought Deron Williams back into fantasy relevance. Though his per-game averages aren’t much different from his Brooklyn days—he’s averaging 14.3 points, 5.6 assists, 2.8 rebounds, 1.5 steals and 1.3 treys in 31.2 minutes per game—his shooting percentages are up across the board (.438/.395/.953). As a result, he’s currently 39th on ESPN’s Player Rater.
With no imminent threat to his playing time, what makes him a sell-high? Given his previous injury history, he’s a ticking time bomb. A calf injury cost him the entire preseason, and though he’s stayed ailment-free since the regular season began, he’s also missed 47 games over the previous four seasons. The odds of D-Will staying healthy and maintaining top-50 value throughout the entire year are virtually nil, so you should use him to acquire a big fish while his value is still sky-high.