With the trade deadline of most Fantasy leagues approaching, GM’s will surely be scouring rosters top to bottom, seeking anything they might deem as good value before the clock hits zero. Good enough Managers also realize the importance of nitpicking their own rosters in an attempt to dial in on any aspect that might be considered a weakness down the stretch.
While ensuring you’re comfortable with your rest-of-season roster is paramount to winning now, most people also want to know they have a bit of upside for the future as well. Achieving a championship in Fantasy is great. But three-peating in a league against some of your close friends is one of life’s most joyous treasures.
Note: Most of the ideas and advice in this article are primarily cautionary. We’re looking ahead and predicting future roster makeups for these teams. Don’t “@” me if these ideas fail to come to fruition. That being said, they all very much hold enough merit to warrant serious consideration.
Sell! Sell! Sell!
Otto Porter Jr.
Porter might have a hard time finding his way back to being the top 25 stud he was in recent years. That’s not to say he can’t be a great fantasy contributor, but the 30-50 range might be where he makes his bed soon enough. He finds himself here because even that ranking might be a stretch after his new team drafts in the very early lottery this Summer. With so many Wings/Forwards expected to be taken in that range, Otto’s team fit is in question. Zion Williamson, R.J. Barrett, Cam Reddish, Nassir Little – these are all high-upside near-future rookies that the Bulls will want to play as much as possible. Porter’s only path out of exile is if Chicago’s pick falls somewhere between 2 and 5, and they choose to go with Ja Morant, as opposed to one of the other names mentioned above. Plus, OPJ’s best position seems to be the 4, where Lauri Markkanen has worked lately.
Dennis Smith Jr.
The Knicks’ front office feels pretty confident they can land a couple of stars in the upcoming Free Agency period. Their primary targets seem to be Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. Dennis Smith Jr. has shown some improvement as an off-ball option this season. However, he should still be considered a lower-usage detriment. As a standard league non-factor when playing behind a more elite ball-handling option (much less two), Smith could quickly fall off the Fantasy map in a scenario like that. Even if New York fails to land the two super-studs mentioned above, Knicks management will inevitably throw a huge contract in the faces of other, more experienced players in an effort to justify their case for trading away former franchise big man, Kristaps Porzingis. Admittedly, I’m torn on the young, athletic Point Guard at hand. I certainly would not be surprised if DSJ experiences a breakout season in 2019-20. Such a feat would be undeniably difficult to occur if these predictions come to life though.
I’ve discussed my concerns about Prince numerous times in previous articles and podcasts. For the most part, they’re effectively the same as Otto Porter’s above. To summarize my qualms, one of two scenarios have a strong chance of occurring. First, Atlanta already put him on the trade market prior to this past trade deadline. Prince, if moved to another team this Summer, would likely see his value dip a bit. Best case scenario – his value remains steady. A very marginal standard league play on the brink of falling to strictly deeper-league territory just doesn’t get the juices flowing. One reason the Hawks might have pondered ditching Prince in the first place is because of the projected talent available in the coming draft. As mentioned in Otto Porter’s section, the lottery will be chocked full of other Wing/Forward options. Assuming Kevin Huerter and John Collins have their roles locked up on this team, Prince could become the odd man out if Atlanta drafts young upside on the Wing. Maybe Prince owners get lucky and see the Hawks draft a big man like Bol Bol instead.
This one may seem obvious to savvy Fantasy vets. In a very short sample size over his last 2 games, Parker ranks #15 in Fantasy. During that time, he’s averaged 13.5 points, 8 rebounds, 7.5 assists, 2 steals, and 1.5 blocks, with a .571 FG% and swishing 100% from the charity stripe. If you can find a single GM in your league who believes Parker can maintain something even remotely close to that, you better take them for a ride ASAP. A case can be made to hold onto Parker, especially considering Washington possesses one of the two best Fantasy playoff schedules. Nonetheless, it’s very difficult to believe Jabari’s recent strong play is anything but an aberration: one that was particularly fueled by Jeff Green’s absence.
Update: Well, Parker completely bombed in his third game as a Wizard. In just about 20 minutes against the Pistons, he posted a ghastly 0 points, 5 boards, 2 dimes, 0% FG, and 0% FT, with no stocks. If there was any hope of selling high early, it’s obliterated. In addition to not wanting to erase a whole section, I’m keeping him here because there could be some semblance of a small sliver of a chance that he could string together another small handful of decent games, which would allow you another chance to sell him for at least something more than absolutely nothing.
(Bonus Sell Candidate)
I’ll admit I’d be hesitant to sell a high-upside guy like Robinson unless it’s for a surefire future top 70-ish player at the least. This one is labeled a ‘bonus’ because it’s a loose, speculative theory that I’m preaching a word of caution for. The reason he finds himself on the sell side of the list is vague with a largely unpredictable outcome. You see, current Knicks starting Center, DeAndre Jordan is one of Kevin Durant’s best friends… the same Kevin Durant that New York will be pulling out all the stops to acquire this Summer. The fact that they didn’t buy Jordan out after receiving him in the Porzingis trade goes a long way in this conspiracy theory. They may want to hold onto DJ, and even try to re-sign him at a discount in Free Agency. With Jordan in-hand, GM Scott Perry could believe he’s taken a strong step in recruiting Durant. And if DJ stays, MitchRob will likely remain the backup next season.
With all that being said though, let me again iterate that I’d be reluctant to deal Robinson for anything less than a Godfather offer. He holds a ton of upside, and, if you aren’t planning on competing next year, this idea might be largely irrelevant to you anyway.
Time to Buy!
Impressively, Grant has been a top 40 play over the past month. In that time frame, Grant has been a positive in 3’s to go along with his strong blocks, steals, FG%, and TO’s. He’s a buy candidate because his team has a monstrously expensive salary situation and tax bill. OKC will struggle to afford a difference-maker in Free Agency, outside of the few players who might consider taking a veteran’s minimum contract. Grant is still relatively young (he’ll be 25 in March), and is one of those valuable gems that don’t need a high usage to contribute. He’s here to stay.
Coach Saunders seems to have been preaching a bit more aggressiveness out of Saric lately. His recent praise over Saric’s ability to help his team in multiple ways has shown on the court. Dario is ranked 62nd overall through his last 3 games, posting averages of 16 points, 6 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 2.7 three’s, and great percentages over that span. This is what he can be if given the chance. He should start to see more of that opportunity down the stretch. Minnesota isn’t competing for the playoffs so why not play him over Taj Gibson a bit more? The defense down low might not be wonderful but who needs it when playing strictly for a higher lottery pick anyway? Saric is a valuable big man for a blocks-punting build, as he contributes in other areas instead. Two of Saric’s strengths are his nice percentages and ability to be a positive in assists, given his above-average court vision for a bigger guy. He’s been relatively hot lately, but don’t let that deter you from attempting to buy low on him. After entering the season with higher expectations, his owners might still be fatigued from the disappointment he’s posted up to this point.
Robert Williams III
I’ve made my case for Williams’ Dynasty value multiple times, like in this article about my favorite rookies to target via trade this season. The Celtics have two very different paths ahead of them. Their direction seems to lie solely in the hands of Kyrie Irving and his looming Free Agency. Should he choose to stay in Beantown, the Celtics will obviously remain a competitor. Maybe even one who trades their depth for a certain superstar. Otherwise, Boston could opt for a quick rebuild, anchored by one Jayson Tatum. Either way, the big men ahead of Williams on the depth chart are potential free agents. Daniel Theis is unrestricted while Al Horford and Aron Baynes have Player Options. Horford’s PO is a particularly lucrative one that could be hard for him to pass on (over $30 million). Regardless, the Celtics likely won’t decide on an exact direction until they know their fate this Summer. I’ll take a gamble on the Time Lord’s upside in the meantime.
This one is more for you Fantasy Fiends who are competing for a title this season. Although Hield is sitting at a higher rank than De’Aaron Fox in the rankings, Hield will be the easier target to land via trade because of age and perceived upside between these players. Most primary rotational Kings (or Wizards) you can grab should go a long way to helping you achieve post-season victory this year. Hield is still young enough to improve even further upon his recent strong play, while also being old enough to see his prime years approaching close ahead. You GM’s who like to toe the fine line between competing with vets and building a special future with youth should appreciate what Hield has to offer.
(Bonus Buy Candidate #1)
Another King to make the buy list, Barnes is in an interesting position in his new home. On the surface, the trade that saw Barnes shipped from Dallas to Sacramento might have looked like a value-tanker due to the larger number of similar-positioned options in Sactown. If we delve a little further into the analytics, we may be able to find a bright spot. Barnes thrived to a relative degree in his early years in Golden State. One aspect that separates those Warriors from the Mavericks is pace. Dallas is at the bottom in FG attempts; the Kings are a top 5 team in that category. Is it a coincidence that we’ve seen Barnes’ fantasy value plummet each of the last few years? I have Harrison in simply the bonus section because I’m still concerned about his depth chart competition. But I’ll be keeping a close eye on him ahead of my league trade deadlines to see if his new team does any justice to his value.
(Bonus Buy Candidate #2)
Due to the obvious age concerns, Green is only here for the Dynasty GM’s who are in a win-now position. Draymond’s usage rate is currently lower than it’s been in years, but there’s a saving grace. Golden State’s payroll for next season is already over the $109 million salary cap. That’s before they attempt to re-sign Durant and Klay Thompson via Bird Rights. There exists a reality where those two All-Stars are not with the Warriors next year. Even if they do remain in the Bay, that would only be a skeleton of a roster. Management would still have to fill out another half of the team with minimum-level contracts. Admittedly, KD and Klay could both re-sign there. But barring an unprecedented roster teardown, DeMarcus Cousins likely will not be able to stay. Can we really expect Boogie to take another GIGANTIC discount in Free Agency? I think not. That bodes well for Draymond’s value. If one of Durant and Thompson (or both) choose to leave, that puts the cherry on top.