With Thanksgiving now in the rearview mirror and your fantasy football seasons likely down the drain — damn you, Tony Romo!! — it’s time to begin devoting more attention to your fantasy basketball squad. We’re at a point in the season where you can begin making genuine value judgments about players, whether they’re possible sell-highs or buy-lows.
If your roster is chock-full of guys who are smashing their ADP, take some time to evaluate whether they’re in the midst of an early-season fluke or a genuine breakout campaign. Conversely, if you’re dealing with a bevy of underachievers, examine whether they’re likely to snap out of their respective slumps or if they’re destined to become draft-day disappointments.
Here, we’ll highlight three players who’ve caught fire of late and three players whose fantasy stock is plummeting. You shouldn’t necessarily sell high on the rising players or buy low on the falling players; instead, use this to recalibrate your expectations for all of them moving forward.
Brandon Knight, PG/SG, Phoenix Suns
Burning a fourth- or fifth-round pick on Brandon Knight this year required a leap of faith, as he hardly impressed during his brief stint with the Phoenix Suns in 2014-15 prior to going down with a nagging ankle injury. Those brave enough to take the plunge have been greatly rewarded, however, as the Suns combo guard is posting career highs in points (21.9), field goal percentage (44.4 percent), assists (5.7), rebounds (4.5), treys (2.7), steals (1.6) and blocks (0.5) per game.
On the year, those sterling averages have him as the 10th-highest-ranked player on ESPN’s Player Rater, two spots ahead of his backcourt partner in crime, Eric Bledsoe. In the past 15 days, he’s been the sixth-best player, having erupted with three 30-point outings and two double-digit assist nights. So long as Knight can avoid the injury bug this time around, he’s poised to be one of the biggest draft-day steals in all of fantasy basketball.
Tony Parker, PG, San Antonio Spurs
Over the San Antonio Spurs’ first 10 games, Tony Parker mostly looked like a waste of a late-round pick. He averaged just 11.6 points, 3.8 assists, 1.6 rebounds, 0.8 steals and 0.2 treys in 26.6 minutes per game during that span, numbers not all that dissimilar to what Charlotte Hornets point guard Jeremy Lin has posted this year. Those who dumped him for a scintillating early-season waiver pickup were entirely justified in doing so.
That said, owners who didn’t cut bait on the four-time NBA champion have to be feeling pretty good about their decision, as he averaged 17.8 points on 60.3 percent shooting, 6.6 assists, 3.4 rebounds and 1.0 steals in 32.7 minutes per game over the team’s past five contests. There’s no guarantee he maintains this type of production, making him a potential sell-high candidate, although no one could blame you for wanting to keep him around in case he truly has turned the corner for good.
Robert Covington, SF/PF, Philadelphia 76ers
I’ve been a conductor on the Robert Covington train for weeks now, advising owners in leagues of all sizes to scoop him up after an early-season MCL sprain caused him to hit far too many waiver wires. His past three games, in which he’s averaged 16.7 points (on just 39.0 percent shooting), 8.7 rebounds, 3.7 steals and 2.7 treys a night, are precisely why I keep bringing him up as a must-add. (He’s owned in just 44.0 percent of ESPN.com leagues, which continues to befuddle me.)
The Philadelphia 76ers may be a farce, but a healthy Covington is a legitimate fantasy factor nevertheless. He finished 65th on ESPN’s Player Rater last season in large part due to a strong combination of triples and steals, and his recent play suggests that was no fluke. Considering how desperately the Sixers need floor spacers to pair alongside Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor, RoCo is a virtual lock for 30-plus minutes on any given night, meaning his stock should only continue to rise from here on out.
Michael Carter-Williams, PG/SG, Milwaukee Bucks
Did Michael Carter-Williams’s pace-inflated stats from his Philadelphia days convince you he’d be a fantasy monster for years to come? If so, you can’t be thrilled about the middling production you’ve received from the Milwaukee Bucks point guard to date. With per-game averages of just 11.2 points on 42.3 percent shooting, 5.0 assists, 3.1 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 0.5 treys in 29.3 minutes, MCW finds himself outside of the top 150 in ESPN’s Player Rater.
Because the Player Rater is a gauge of season-long effectiveness, MCW’s five-game absence hinders him in that regard. Over the past 15 days, however, he’s been just the 192nd-best value in eight-category leagues, as he averaged only 10.2 points, 3.8 assists, 2.2 boards and 1.0 steals in 28.0 minutes per game in that span. Those relying on him as anything more than a third point guard may need to swing a trade to help salvage their chances of winning a title down the line.
Tyson Chandler, C, Phoenix Suns
If you’re still clinging to Tyson Chandler in a 10-team league, it’s time to go shopping for an upgrade either on the waiver wire or the trade market. The 15-year veteran has unfortunately been a resounding fantasy disappointment since coming to Phoenix over the summer, as he’s averaging a paltry 5.4 points, 9.3 rebounds, 0.9 steals, 0.7 blocks and 0.4 assists in just 25.5 minutes per game.
An illness sidelined Chandler on Wednesday in the Suns’ loss to the New Orleans Pelicans, but even if he played in that game, he’d still likely be ranked outside the top 150 in ESPN’s Player Rater. He’s valuable for teams desperately in need of rebounding help, but he’s not blocking nearly enough shots or carving out a large enough share of the offensive pie to make significant contributions in any other category at the moment.
Nerlens Noel, PF/C, Philadelphia 76ers
As someone who picked Noel over Karl-Anthony Towns in a keeper league this year, it physically pains me to include the Sixers big man here. He’s left me no choice, however, as he’s been badly struggling since returning from the early-November wrist injuries that sidelined him for two games.
Prior to those injuries, Noel averaged 14.2 points on 43.1 percent shooting, 11.0 rebounds, 2.0 steals, 2.0 blocks and 1.8 assists in 34.6 minutes per game over the Sixers’ first five contests. Since his return, he’s averaged just 8.6 points on 39.4 percent shooting, 7.4 rebounds, 1.3 steals, 1.1 assists and 0.4 blocks in 31.1 minutes per game, a marked decline across the board.
Seeing as Noel built his fantasy reputation on his historic contributions in both steals and blocks as a rookie, his drop-offs in those defensive categories are particularly concerning. Unless the Kentucky product can learn to work in tandem with No. 3 overall pick Jahlil Okafor, his fantasy upside may be capped far below where owners likely drafted him this fall.