Nerlens Noel: Since the All-Star break, he’s averaged 12.0 points, 8.7 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.7 steals and 3.7 blocks over six games, a span in which he’s been the No. 8 ranked fantasy player despite hitting zero three-pointers and shooting 42.3 percent from the floor. Noel is 20 years old and a rookie coming off missing an entire year while recovering from a major injury, so it’s impressive he’s been a top-10 fantasy player over the past month despite seeing a modest 31.5 mpg while playing for a Philadelphia team that has by far the worst Offensive Efficiency in the NBA (the 76ers come in at 92.0. The next lowest is Charlotte at 97.8). Noel is going to be drafted in the top 2-3 rounds next year.
Nikola Mirotic: He’s coming off a game in which he scored a career-high 29 points, which should be a sign of things to come with Taj Gibson out for at least another week with an ankle injury. Moreover, Mirotic is going to be asked to carry more of the offensive load (he attempted 23 field goals during Sunday’s game) with Jimmy Butler (and his 20.6 Usage Rate) sidelined for the next 3-to-6 weeks with a sprained elbow. Mirotic has been the No. 37 ranked fantasy player this season on a per-36 minute basis, so with a big increase in playing time forthcoming, he’s a must-add right now (he’s currently owned in just 26 percent of Yahoo leagues).
Jae Crowder: He’s averaged 15.0 points, 8.6 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 0.8 steals and 2.6 3pt over the past five games, when he’s ranked as the No. 25 fantasy player despite shooting just 41.8 percent from the field while coming off the bench. Crowder has always been a streaky player lacking consistency, and he could lose some minutes once Kelly Olynyk returns, but Jared Sullinger is out for the season, and the Celtics have the fourth-highest PACE in the league. Crowder has attempted 6.8 3pt over the past five games, a mark that would rank eighth in the NBA this season, and he’s committed just 0.4 tpg over this span. It’s crazy he’s owned in only 18 percent of Yahoo leagues.
Andrea Bargnani: He’s somehow relevant again, averaging 16.6 points, 6.4 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 0.8 blocks while shooting 45.3 percent from the field and 82.1 percent from the line over the past five games, a span in which he’s gotten 29.0 mpg and has been a top-75 fantasy asset. He plays for a terrible Knicks squad that ranks in the bottom-three in both PACE and Offensive Efficiency, but on such a depleted team, he’s suddenly New York’s No. 1 scoring option. Who knows how long he can stay healthy, especially with this increased workload, but Bargnani is worth using in the meantime, and he’s currently owned in just 23 percent of Yahoo leagues.
Jeremy Lin: He’s really turned it on since the All-Star break, averaging 17.0 points, 2.8 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 1.2 steals and 0.8 3pt while shooting 50.0 percent from the floor and committing just 0.6 turnovers over five games, a span in which he’s been the No. 36 ranked fantasy player despite seeing a modest 27.9 mpg that should only rise if he continues to play so well on such a depleted Lakers team. Lin has no doubt been a disappointment this season, but he’s been a top-100 player over the past month and is available in 32 percent of Yahoo leagues. That number should start declining soon.
Kyle Lowry: He’s rightfully owned in 100 percent of leagues, but after his biggest detriments always being either health or role, his problem lately has actually been performance, as Lowry has been in a prolonged shooting slump. After ranking as a top-20 fantasy player last year, he’s been outside the top-100 over the last two months and an abysmal No. 247 over the past month, thanks to an ugly 34.9 FG% (it’s dropped to 29.7 percent over the past two weeks). It’s probably best to recommend Lowry as a buy-low candidate as a result, but he was mysteriously rested during Monday’s game, which is something else to keep an eye on.
Rajon Rondo: Forget the recent drama fighting with Rick Carlisle, as Rondo’s demise has been long running before that. He had a nice game against his former Celtics team on Jan 2, but since then, the point guard has averaged 6.5 points in 26.5 minutes, shooting an ugly 36.9 percent from the field and an almost unfathomable 20.0 percent from the free-throw line (while committing 2.8 tpg). Rondo has done so while playing for a Dallas team that has the third-best Offensive Efficiency (108.2) in the NBA this season. He’s been the No. 336(!) ranked fantasy player over this 19-game span yet is still owned in 90 percent of Yahoo leagues.
Andrew Bogut: I’m a big fan and own him in a bunch of leagues, and Steve Kerr is utilizing him much better this year compared to last (his Assist Ratio has jumped from 18.3 to a career-high 27.6) on a Warriors team that ranks first in PACE and second in Offensive Efficiency. But Bogut’s Usage Rate is only marginally higher this year compared to last (13.1 vs. 11.9), and most importantly, his 23:49 mpg are a career-low, as Golden State is mostly concerned with Bogut being healthy during the playoffs, as the team owns the best record in the NBA. He’s owned in nearly 70 percent of Yahoo leagues but can only really help those in need of blocks while playing fewer than 24 minutes per game.
Dwight Howard: There’s no timetable for his return, and Houston has just 23 games left this season. Thanks to a 52.7 FT% and 3.1 tpg, Howard wasn’t even a top-200 fantasy player before going down. Admittedly, if you punted FT%, he’s been the No. 33 ranked player on a per-game basis this season. But unless you are unconcerned about that category and are waiting for him to return in a H2H format in the playoffs, it’s surprising to see the increasingly disappointing big man still owned in 82 percent of Yahoo leagues.
Aaron Brooks: A popular pickup after Derrick Rose went down with yet another unfortunate knee injury, Brooks has seen a minutes increase since then, albeit split with Kirk Hinrich at point guard. But Brooks hasn’t capitalized to say the least, as he’s shot 11-for-44 (25.0 percent) from the floor since then, a span in which his FG% has hurt fantasy owners more than any player other than DeMar DeRozan. In fact, over his last seven games, Brooks has shot an ugly 26.8 percent from the field.