By Alex Barutha, RotoWire
Special to Yahoo Sports
After examining the safest, most underrated and most overrated players likely to come off the board in Rounds 1 through 3 earlier this week, it’s time to shift focus to Rounds 4, 5 and 6.
Utilizing Yahoo ADP data, here are the players to target for the best value, as well as some to consider avoiding in the upper-middle rounds:
Safest Pick: DeMar DeRozan, San Antonio Spurs (ADP: 44)
While DeRozan may not provide the upside of some other Round 4 options, he’s held a high floor for the majority of his career. His worst fantasy finish over the past four seasons is 45th overall, and he’s played at least 74 games in each of those campaigns. While the Spurs will be getting Dejounte Murray back from a torn ACL, he shouldn’t threaten DeRozan’s touches enough to drop him out of Round 4 consideration. DeRozan also reached career highs in assists (6.2) and rebounds (6.0) per game last season, indicating that we shouldn’t be expecting a significant decline heading into his age-30 season.
Underrated Pick: Clint Capela, Houston Rockets (ADP: 46)
Maybe the addition of noted rebound-stealer Russell Westbrook will eat into Capela’s 12.6 boards per game from last season, but he still figures to be among the top fantasy centers. Capela also averaged 16.6 points on 64.8 percent shooting a year ago, plus 1.5 blocks and over half-a-steal. While his free-throw percentage (63.6%) leaves plenty to be desired, he’s improved it in every season he’s been in the league. Overall, Capela was the 28th-ranked fantasy player last season, and that shouldn’t waver dramatically.
Overrated Pick: Khris Middleton, Milwaukee Bucks (ADP: 47)
The only two seasons in which Middleton has cracked the top-50 have come when he averaged more than 36 minutes per game. Mike Budenholzer made a concerted effort to bring Middleton’s workload down last season, playing him just 31.1 minutes per game. While it’s possible the departure of Malcolm Brogdon opens up some extra minutes — and perhaps some extra usage — for Middleton, it could just as easily go to Eric Bledsoe, Giannis Antetokounmpo, George Hill or Wesley Matthews. Middleton was an All-Star last season, but he barely cracked the top 60 overall (57th). This time around, it may be best to wait until Round 5.
Safest Pick: Kyle Lowry, Toronto Raptors (ADP: 55)
Lowry’s injury history isn’t spotless, but he cannot be left on the board after the fifth round — and perhaps even the fourth round. Over the past four years, Lowry’s lowest fantasy rank is 28th, and he even finished in the overall top-10 in 2015-16. He provided outstanding value as a passer last season (8.7 APG) and hit at least 2.4 threes per game for a fourth straight year.
Lowry also packs defensive upside, with a career mark of 1.6 steals per 36 minutes. Entering his age-33 season, the Raptors may try to scale back Lowry’s workload. But at the same time, the departures of Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green mean Lowry could see an uptick in usage, and it’s possible he’ll have no choice but to re-emerge as more of an aggressive scorer.
Underrated Pick: Zach LaVine, Chicago Bulls (ADP: 53)
In his first full year back from an ACL tear, LaVine checked in as the 32nd-ranked fantasy player. He hit career highs in points (23.7), rebounds (4.7), assists (4.7) and field-goal percentage (46.7), asserting himself as the Bulls’ primary offensive option. That shouldn’t change this season, as the free agents Chicago brought in — Tomas Satoransky and Thaddeus Young — are both low-usage role players. If LaVine can stay healthy and continue his upward trajectory, second-round value isn’t out of the question.
Overrated Pick: Victor Oladipo, Indiana Pacers (ADP: 63)
There’s no reason for Oladipo to come off the board in the late-fifth/early sixth round, but it’s been happening in early drafts. Injury aside, he took a step back last season before getting hurt, ranking as the 50th overall fantasy player over his 36 games. Drafting Oladipo in the fifth round assumes that he’ll come back at full strength as early as December and that he’ll immediately be back to his old self.
As things stand in early October, the most likely outcome is that he’ll be rusty, is eased back into action, and takes nights off when needed. Given that information, it makes sense to draft Oladipo in the seventh or eighth round, where the risk of a poor season, or a longer-than-expected recovery, would be less damaging.
Safest Pick: Malcolm Brogdon, Indiana Pacers (ADP: 66)
Brogdon joined the elite 50/40/90 club last season in a low-usage role for the Bucks. Still, he managed to put up solid counting stats, averaging 15.6 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3.2 assists, and 1.6 threes in just 28.6 minutes per game. In joining the Pacers, Brogdon will presumably be the driving force of the offense so long as Oladipo remains out. That will almost certainly result in a boost in minutes, as well as usage rate. Considering he ranked 75th overall last season, it’s a virtual given that Brogdon will return more value this year, provided he stays mostly healthy. Maybe his efficiency will suffer outside of the Bucks’ system, but it shouldn’t affect his rank dramatically.
Underrated Pick: Steven Adams, Oklahoma City Thunder (ADP: 68)
Adams has averaged 30-plus minutes per game in each of the past two seasons, resulting in an average rank of 73rd overall. While that’s on the cusp of sixth-round value, the loss of Russell Westbrook and Paul George could be beneficial to Adams’ production. Consider that Adams averaged 3.1 more rebounds per 36 with George off the court last season, and 0.9 more rebounds with Westbrook off the court. That alone should boost Adams’ value beyond the sixth round, and the hope is that working in tandem with one of the best pick-and-roll point guards in NBA history will lead to a bump in scoring, as well.
Overrated Pick: Larry Nance, Cleveland Cavaliers (ADP: 72)
Nance quietly had an impressive 2018-19 season, ranking as the 68th-best player in fantasy. However, that was largely fueled by key absences in the Cavs’ frontcourt, as Tristan Thompson and Kevin Love played a combined 65 games, while neither averaged more than 27.9 minutes per contest.
While on paper there’s little incentive for Cleveland to hand out significant minutes to Thompson and Love in the middle of a rebuild, both are established players who will command significant workloads when healthy. Plus, the Cavs get John Henson back from a wrist injury that prevented him from ever suiting up following a trade from Milwaukee.
With all of that said, Nance should still garner around 20 minutes per night, but unless injuries strike again or the Cavs opt to move on from Love at some point, it will be difficult for Nance to crack the top-100, let alone the top-75.