It’s time to improve your fantasy basketball team. How do we do that? One way to do that could be to buy low on an underachieving fantasy basketball player. Another way would be to sell high on a player overachieving on your fantasy basketball team. We can make educated guesses for the future based on historical data and educated guesses. This week we focus on a couple buy low fantasy basketball targets and a couple of fantasy basketball sell-high targets for 9-category leagues.
Fantasy Basketball Buy Low
Jakob Poeltl has played a couple of games since returning from injury. There is a worry regarding what fantasy basketball situation Poeltl will end up in as he is a trade candidate. Being that the Spurs are a tanking team and Poeltl is on an expiring contract the odds of him getting traded would be higher than most. You have to figure if another organization is giving up assets for Poeltl he’s going to still have a significant role. However, he could very well lose a few minutes of playing time. Did I worry you? Well, you show the first part of this paragraph to the managers you are attempting to acquire Poeltl from. Now for the part you keep to yourself. Jakob Poeltl is an elite role player. His rim protection and rebounding are what keep him on the floor. Last season, Poeltl was the 71st-ranked player in 9-cat on a per-game basis. This season his blocks are significantly down. He’s averaging 1BPG this season whereas in the last two seasons he was averaging 1.7 and 1.8 respectively. Maybe Poeltl doesn’t quite get back to that number, but I would guess the rest of the way we’ll see 1.5BPG which should vault his fantasy basketball value back up. Currently, he’s been the 90th-ranked fantasy basketball player on per-game stats. The rest of Poeltl’s stats look true to who he is as a player. You have to stomach the poor free-throw shooting, but that isn’t new. The categories that make him a fantasy basketball asset are blocks, field goal percentage, and rebounds. I fully expect Jakob Poeltl’s block rate to see positive regression to the mean. When that happens his fantasy basketball value will significantly increase. It’s time to buy low on Jakob Poeltl before he’s fully back to form.
It’s no secret this season isn’t going great for the outgoing rookie of the year, Scottie Barnes. It was honestly shocking to see what Scottie accomplished last season both as an NBA player and as a fantasy basketball asset. I didn’t have him on my draft board in fantasy basketball leagues last season. If you picked him up last season or are a better drafter than I am, congratulations. You finished with the 66th-ranked (per-game) fantasy basketball asset in Scottie Barnes. This season his value has been outside the top 100. I might have missed out previously, but I’d be a buyer now. No matter what the Raptors do at the trade deadline I fully expect Scottie Barnes to remain on this roster and get major minutes down the stretch. Even if they decide to tank I kind of think it’s more likely for the vets to rest or be shutdown candidates than a young player like Scottie that is still working on growing his game. Why is his fantasy basketball value down this season? The biggest reason is field goal percentage. Last season he shot roughly 49% from the floor. This season he’s at roughly 45%. That 4% was enough to swing a positive category for him into a negative one. This season Scottie’s assists are up. It helps that Fred VanVleet is the only legitimate point guard on the team. As a result, Scottie Barnes and Pascal Siakam can see more playmaking duties which inevitably push up their assists. If Fred VanVleet were to get injured again or traded those extra opportunities for assists would help Scottie. Assists are tough to find on the waiver wire so they tend to be a good driver of fantasy basketball value. Maybe we don’t see Scottie Barnes shoot 49% this season, but I’d be willing to gamble he can shoot 47% the rest of the way. I’m ready to buy low on Scottie Barnes. From now until the end of the season I’d expect him to be a top-75 fantasy basketball asset. If you can get him without giving up a top-100 player make the move.
Fantasy Basketball Sell High
I want to be on the record as saying I’m a fan of Nic Claxton. However, What he’s doing right now is absolutely absurd and unstainable. On a per-game basis, last season Claxton was barely a top-200 fantasy basketball player. This season, he’s been top 50. It does help he’s playing seven more minutes per game. His field goal percentage is now up to 74%. The only players with higher field goal percentages this season are Walker Kessler and Robert Williams. Kessler attempts under 4 shots per game and Timelord has played in a grand total of two games this season. Shooting over 70% is ridiculously hard for an entire season even if all your shots come from around the rim. We’re going to see regression in the field goal percentage for Claxton. I would also expect his blocks to come down. Maybe he’s made the leap as a rim protector, but for a guy to average 2.4BPG when he never hit 1.5 in any of his previous seasons makes me a bit dubious. What possibly could improve is Claxton’s free throw shooting. He’s at a career-low 44.4%. Luckily he doesn’t shoot too many. Even with the potential for his free-throw shooting to improve by 10%, it’s not enough to offset a real regression on both the field goal percentage and blocks. If I rostered Nic Claxton in fantasy basketball I’d be shopping him to every team in my league. If you can cash out with a reliable top-60 talent do it!
Zion Williamson is an NBA superstar and a pleasure to watch, but he’d be someone I’d be looking to unload in 9-cat leagues. He’s been the 45th-ranked player on a per-game basis this season. And per-game is something key with Zion because we know he’s injury prone. Is it a guarantee he’ll get injured again this season? No, but there’s certainly an elevated risk and I look to minimize risk where I can. While Brandon Ingram has been out, Zion’s points, rebounds, and assists have been up. So we cannot expect Zion to continue his 27.9PPG, 8.3RPG, and 6.2APG when Ingram comes back. On a per-game basis the rest of the way conservatively I see Zion Williamson in that 55-65 zone as a fantasy basketball producer (Zion ranked 68th in 2020-21). However, when you factor in potential missed games his value gets worse. Let’s not forget he missed the entire season last year. If you can get a more reliable player who is a top-60 fantasy basketball asset I’d recommend flipping Zion.
Have you successfully bought low or sold high on a fantasy basketball player this season?