Fantasy basketball draft prep season is in full effect, with the NBA season just two weeks away. At this point in the preseason, you’re likely making a list of players to target or fade when it’s your turn to draft. To help you avoid potential missteps, this week I’ll break down some of the players I’m fading by position — starting with none other than guards.
Every part of me wanted to include Ben Simmons here, but with an ADP outside of the top 120 and three-position eligibility, I don’t hate him! Anyway, back to the fades.
Harden had another elite fantasy campaign last season, finishing 17th in per-game value and was one of three players to average at least 20 points with 10 assists. Clearly, he’s still an All-Star caliber player and for fantasy, his high free-throw percentage, threes and steals further cement his standing as one of the best guards in points, roto or category leagues.
So why fade him? “Daryl Morey is a liar,” and he wants out of Philly.
The problem here is not that he wants out of Philly; it’s that fantasy managers can’t trust a disgruntled James Harden. Harden’s done this before — He forced his way out of two franchises, the Houston Rockets and Brooklyn Nets — and now he’s ready to complete the trifecta, demanding to be traded from the Sixers to the Clippers. He’s voiced his displeasure with Sixers president Daryl Morey numerous times in the offseason, and despite reporting to training camp (not in a fat suit this time), he hasn’t changed his stance on wanting out of Philadelphia.
If this situation drags on, it could turn into fines, missed games or him just completely checking out. As a fantasy manager, this is trending to be an annoying situation, especially considering there’s no traction on a potential deal.
If he does fish his wish and lands on the Clippers, I’d expect his usage to take a hit because he’d be playing with Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and Russell Westbrook. That’s a lot of star power to contend with, and for fantasy, Harden’s best option is to play out his contract in Philly — even though it doesn’t look like that will happen.
The Grizzlies and fantasy managers will be without Morant for the first 25 games of the season, as he serves out his suspension from last season’s off-the-court events. Availability is one of the most important factors in fantasy basketball, and investing in a star player who will miss a significant portion of the season is risky business. Those 25 games amount to 30% of the fantasy basketball season, which is a huge red flag, no matter which format you play in.
Another reason I’d pass on Ja is his propensity to miss games. Whether by injury or poor decision-making, it’s resulted in him missing 46 contests over the past two seasons or 28% of games over that span.
And because he’s suspended, he’s not eligible to be placed in the IL or IL+ spots, so he’ll take up valuable roster space until Dec. 21 (Week 9). I can’t get behind Morant’s ADP at 75; that’s a seventh-round grade for a guy with a lot of question marks heading into the season. If you’re playing in a nine-category league, his underwhelming FT percentage and high turnover rate tank his value. He’s only finished inside the top 50 in per-game value once in his four-year career. The other finishes? 95, 206 and 135.
Morant’s fantasy skillset is preferred for points and eight-category leagues, but still, with his upcoming suspension and injury history, I wouldn’t feel comfortable selecting him anywhere near the seventh round this season.
Rick Carlisle is making changes to the starting lineup, and unfortunately, the first notable player to be demoted was Hield. Hield’s in the midst of a contractual dispute with the Pacers — he wants an extension, and the Pacers aren’t willing to meet his expectations. Thus, Hield is on the trade block on top of being passed by Bennedict Mathurin on the depth chart.
Hield is an assassin from three-point range. He finished second in the NBA in threes made last season and also produced one of his best fantasy basketball seasons to date, finishing 50th in per-game value in 9-category leagues. The good thing about Hield is that he’s a category specialist in threes made, and he rarely misses games. He’s missed a grand total of six games in his seven-year career. That’s wild, considering we’re squarely in the load management era.
However, with Hield’s diminishing role and no resolution on his contract situation, I’m fading his ADP at 79. The Pacers have a considerable amount of depth in their backcourt, and while Hield is taking his new role in stride, it’ll be a detriment to his ability to rack up counting stats in other areas outside of scoring. Hield’s numbers as a reserve last year were 13.9 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.9 assists. The assists are a bit high relative to his career numbers, so I’d expect that to regress while his scoring and rebounding are consistent when playing between 24-28 minutes per night.
Few players in a bench role are coming off the board in the seventh round of drafts, so I’m fading the cost more than the player. The eighth or ninth round is where I’d want to add Hield.
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