In case you missed my five sleepers from earlier this week, check it out here.
Emmanuel Mudiay, PG, Den – I’m as guilty as anyone getting excited about the next big thing and swinging for the fences with the unknown that comes with drafting a rookie, and Mudiay might very well be the favorite to lead all first-year players in mpg. With Ty Lawson jettisoned, Denver is going to hand him the keys to its offense on a rebuilding team right away. Still, this is a 19-year-old who’s raw with plenty of growing pains surely in store. It certainly wouldn’t surprise if a high Usage Rate results in some nice assist and steal numbers for Mudiay, but he’s going to be a major drain in FG%, FT% and turnovers, to the point of him possibly doing more harm than good for your team in 9-cat leagues. In fact, Basketball Monster doesn’t even project the rookie point guard to be a top-225 fantasy player. Mudiay has a bright future, but he’s averaged 4.8 tpg in 29.1 mpg (with a 37.0 FG%) during the preseason.
Pau Gasol, FC, Chi – After finishing No. 95 and No. 48 in fantasy value the previous two seasons, Gasol turned back the clock after joining Chicago last year, when he ranked No. 13. His 11.8 rpg were actually a career high, which is remarkable considering it was his 14th season in the league. Gasol’s Yahoo ADP of 30.1 suggests owners are expecting some regression, but even that is a bit optimistic. Gasol is 35 years old, and he missed an average of 24.0 games over the previous three seasons before last year. Moreover, Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson enter 2015/16 healthier, while Nikola Mirotic is going to see increased usage. And if Derrick Rose somehow stays healthy, this is a team with many mouths to feed.
Kyrie Irving, G, Cle – He’s obviously a fantastic fantasy player and at age 23, Irving’s best seasons are still to come. But a Yahoo ADP of 22.9 seems high for someone still without a timetable to return, which makes sense considering it hasn’t even been five months since he had surgery to repair a fractured kneecap. Even if Irving returns sooner than expected, it’s unclear how long it will take him to be back to his old self, and it’s safe to assume the Cavs will limit his minutes with the team’s main goal having him ready for a deep playoff run (Cleveland should coast to the No. 1 seed in the East barring a LeBron James injury). Put in a different way, if Irving were a top-15 fantasy player on a per-game basis yet missed 15 games or so, that would drop him to around No. 45 in total value, so he’s better suited for fantasy owners taking the risk in head-to-head leagues than rotisserie formats.
Dwight Howard, FC, Hou –He’s still plenty useful in points leagues and for those punting FT% in H2H formats, but Howard’s perceived real life value continues to be out of line with his fantasy worth, evidenced by his 61.0 Yahoo ADP. In 9-cat fantasy leagues, the big man has ranked No. 229, No. 124 and No. 154 over the past three seasons, respectively. Last year’s 10.5 rpg were his lowest mark since his rookie campaign, and his 1.3 bpg were his career low. Howard will soon turn 30, and he has a lot of mileage on his tires coming into the league straight from high school. He’s already dealing with a sore back in the preseason, and this graph paints an ugly picture of what’s to come.
Dirk Nowitzki, FC, Dal – He’s an obvious Hall of Famer, and it pains to disparage one of the greatest shooters of this generation, but Nowitzki is still commonly getting drafted in the top-50 despite clear signs further decline is in store. He’s 37 years old, and if you count the postseason, has accrued 1,405 games played. Nowitzki remains plenty capable of being efficient, but it’s safe to expect last year’s 29:37 mpg to take a further dip in 2015/16. Nowitzki is also a candidate to be shut down if the Mavericks fall out of playoff contention later in the year, which is a strong possibility.