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Roundball Stew

Trustworthy Teague

by Matt Stroup
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

In the wake of my most recent reckless waiver transaction (hemorrhaging a ton of fake dollars on a currently disappointing Marcus Smart), it occurred to me that there aren’t all that many players we can truly trust in fantasy leagues. And when I say trust in this case, I really don't ask a lot. Basically, the minimum baseline for holding onto my fake trust as a fake GM is to occupy a spot on my roster without making me angry every time I’m reminded that you’re on my squad. With that in mind, here’s a team-by-team look at who we can trust, who we can't, who’s on the fence and why. Today we’ll start with the Eastern Conference. Next week, we’ll hit the West.

ATLANTA

Very Trustworthy

Jeff Teague – Once inconsistent on a game-to-game basis, he has finally arrived as an elite fantasy option. Last two weeks: 21.9 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 7.3 apg, 2.6 spg and 1.4 3s.

Paul Millsap – Only thing he doesn’t do well is shoot FTs (71.7 percent)

Al Horford – A clear No. 3 behind Teague and Millsap, he’s still plenty solid. Last month: 16.1 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 3.0 apg, 0.9 spg, 1.4 bpg.

Pretty Trustworthy

Kyle Korver – He’s inconsistent on a game-to-game basis and isn’t putting up D stats like he did early in the season, but I will rarely argue with 2.9 3s per game.

DeMarre Carroll – Solid combo of points (11.4), boards (5.9), steals (1.3), 3s (1.5) and low turnovers (1.0).

On the Fence / Not Trustworthy

The Hawks are the rare team where all five starters are worth starting in fantasy leagues, so there’s no one here who really falls into the on the fence / untrustworthy categories.

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BROOKLYN

Trustworthy

Mason Plumlee – Last 30 days: 14.9 ppg, 9.2 rpg, 0.8 spg, 1.6 bpg.

Joe Johnson – Not exactly a fantasy dynamo, but points (16.6), rebounds (4.8), assists (3.8) and steals (0.8) are all up from last season.

Jarrett Jack – 15.3 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 5.3 apg, 1.2 spg in his last 10 games.

On the Fence

Brook Lopez – Worth a look in a daily league when he’s starting, but has only started two of nine games since returning from his latest injury.

Not Trustworthy

Deron Williams – Only two games of double-digit scoring since Jack took over as starter, and now he’s out with a rib injury as well.

BOSTON

Trustworthy

Jared Sullinger – After a slump in December, he’s averaging 14.7 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 0.7 spg, 1.1 bpg and 0.9 3s in his last seven games.

On the Fence

Evan Turner – His last five games look pretty good on paper (11.8 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 6.2 apg, 1.4 spg, 1.2 3s), but it doesn’t exactly look sustainable. Turner has only topped 30 minutes once in his last 12 games.

Marcus Smart – I’m not giving up on him yet, in part because I lit a lot of waiver cash on fire to get him, and in part because I still believe in his potential to rack up assists, 3s and steals later in the year.

Kelly Olynyk – Slumping right now (3.3 ppg in his last four), but had averaged 16.8 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 0.8 spg, 1.1 bpg and 1.1 3s in his previous eight games.

Not Trustworthy

Tyler Zeller – Just 9.5 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 0.5 bpg in his last six.

Avery Bradley – Disappointing so far after a mini-breakout last season. I still don’t trust him, but have noticed that he’s averaging 16.0 ppg and 1.5 3s in his last four games.

CHARLOTTE

Very Trustworthy

Kemba Walker – Last 15 games: 24.5 ppg, 5.5 apg, 1.5 spg, 0.7 bpg, 2.0 3s.

Al Jefferson – When healthy.

On the Fence

Gerald Henderson – 16.9 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 4.1 apg in his last seven, but lack of 3s/steals is frustrating.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist – Scoring and rebounding lately (12.3 ppg, 10.2 rpg in his last six games), but not doing much else (0.2 spg, 0.7 bpg during the same stretch).

Lance Stephenson – Awful start in Charlotte, but versatile enough to warrant a bench spot in the event he figures it out. I also won’t argue if you got fed up and dropped him.

Cody Zeller – Interesting deep league option at the moment. 10.0 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 1.3 spg, 1.3 bpg in his last six games.

CHICAGO

Very Trustworthy

Jimmy Butler – Maybe you’ve heard.

Pau Gasol – If you’re trading him because you’re worried about injuries, make sure you’re getting serious value in return.

Pretty Trustworthy

Joakim Noah – Not in the same class as Butler and Gasol this year, but Noah is starting to round into form. 6.8 ppg, 9.8 rpg, 3.2 apg, 1.7 spg, 2.5 bpg in his last six games.

On the Fence

Derrick Rose – Harsh reality: Not only is he injury prone, he’s just not a great fantasy player anymore. 16.8 ppg, 4.9 apg, 1.3 3s are respectable, but 39.7 percent shooting and 0.6 spg really undercut his value.

Taj Gibson – Fine in deeper leagues, but pretty bland in standard leagues when everyone is healthy.

Nikola Mirotic – Not a must-start in any format, but like Gibson, he’s worth owning in most leagues as a high-upside beneficiary if someone in the frontcourt gets hurt.

CLEVELAND

Very Trustworthy

LeBron James / Kyrie Irving / Kevin Love – Not a bad time to test Love’s trade value. With LeBron currently sidelined, he’s averaging 25.5 ppg, 12.5 rpg and 1.8 3s in his last four games.

On the Fence:

J.R. Smith – Ugly first game for Cleveland, but it’s easy to picture him coming to life playing alongside LeBron.

Not Trustworthy:

Tristan Thompson – Arrival of Timofey Mozgov (who I also don't trust) ushers in a center platoon that reeks of frustration.

DETROIT

Trustworthy

Andre Drummond – After a relatively slow start, has posted 14.7 ppg, 14.7 rpg, 1.5 spg and 2.0 bpg in his last 20 games.

Brandon Jennings – 19.3 ppg, 5.9 apg, 1.3 spg, 2.6 3s since Josh Smith left town.

On the Fence

Jodie Meeks – 15.8 ppg, 0.8 spg and 2.5 3s in his last eight games, but does very little else in other categories. Unrelated: There’s something wrong with my brain that makes me think of Clarence Beeks from Trading Places every time I hear or see Meeks’ name.

Greg Monroe – 15.4 ppg, 11.4 rpg, 1.3 spg since Josh Smith was released. On a less happy note, he has just 0.3 bpg during the same stretch.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope – 11.3 ppg, 1.2 spg, 1.9 3s since Meeks came back. Like Meeks he doesn’t help much outside of those categories.

INDIANA

Trustworthy

(Warning: Trustworthy on this team does not mean exciting)

David West – Despite an increased opportunity this year with Paul George gone, West has been pretty bland overall this year: 12.1 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 3.5 apg, 0.8 spg, 0.6 bpg.

On the Fence

George Hill – Injuries have been very frustrating, but I still like his prospects when healthy. Hill has averaged 14.2 ppg, 2.0 3s in just 25 min. per game through his first five games, and has the potential for more if/when he ever gets up to full speed.

Roy Hibbert – Shot-blocking (1.8 bpg) is really the only thing keeping a very frustrating option in the conversation.

Not Trustworthy

Rodney Stuckey – Occasionally posts a big line, but overall I think he’s a waste of a roster spot. Doesn’t consistently make an impact in any single category.

MIAMI

Trustworthy

Chris Bosh – Hasn’t been great since returning from calf injury, but I’d stay patient.

Dwyane Wade – Last 20 games: 24.3 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 5.1 apg. Considering his injury history, and with Miami potentially falling out of the playoff picture at some point, now would be a wise time to try to trade him.

On the Fence

Luol Deng – A pretty boring fantasy option these days, but I do see the value in deeper leagues.

Not Trustworthy

Mario Chalmers – In a deep league, his 1.6 spg, 4.2 apg and 0.9 3s are useful. Everywhere else, he’s not worth the headache.

MILWAUKEE

Trustworthy

Brandon Knight – No signs of slowing down (20.6 ppg in his last nine games).

Giannis Antetokounmpo – Strides he’s made this year have me very excited about his long-term prospects, and his potential for this year. Last 10 games: 11.6 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 2.8 apg, 0.7 spg, 1.9 bpg.

On the Fence

John Henson – He has scoring and playing time issues, but is averaging 2.5 bpg in his last eight games.

Not Trustworthy

Jared Dudley – Averaging just 8.6 ppg since his 10-for-10 game in late December.

NEW YORK

Yup, I skipped ‘em. Skipped the whole team. That’s what they deserve for what they’ve done this season. Let’s move on.

ORLANDO

Trustworthy

Tobias Harris / Nikola Vucevic / Victor Oladipo - Not surprisingly, Oladipo is thriving since he moved back to SG: 16.7 ppg, 4.6 apg, 2.6 spg and 0.9 3s in his last nine games.

On the Fence

Elfrid Payton – Doesn’t shoot well and doesn’t hit 3s, but has posted 7.4 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 6.8 apg and 2.0 spg in his last nine.

Not Trustworthy

Evan Fournier – 10.7 ppg, 1.4 3s and very little else since moving to the bench.

Kyle O’Quinn – I’ll only add him at this point if Vucevic gets hurt.

PHILADELPHIA

Trustworthy

Michael Carter-Williams / Tony Wroten / Robert Covington / Nerlens Noel – Four productive players with percentages ranging from bad to awful. Deploy them carefully.

On the Fence

K.J. McDaniels – Hasn’t been hitting 3s or scoring lately, so at the moment he’s tough to start outside of deeper leagues.

TORONTO

Very Trustworthy

Kyle Lowry – Career-highs in points (20.7), rebounds (4.8) and assists (7.6) this year.

Also Trustworthy

DeMar DeRozan / Jonas Valanciunas – Valanciunas is averaging 13.7 ppg and 9.0 rpg in his last 15 games, but just 0.5 bpg during that stretch. Eventually I’d expect his blocks to bounce back.

On the Fence

Lou Williams – Good source of points, 3s and FT percentage in deeper leagues, but his FG shooting, rebounds and assists are all bad.

Terrence Ross – Personally I’ve sworn him off due to too much frustration, but he’s not a bad home run threat in deeper leagues or daily formats.

Not Trustworthy

Amir Johnson – The potential is there for points, boards, steals and blocks. The reality, however, is that he has stunk: 8.1 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 0.5 spg and 0.5 bpg in his last 15 games.

WASHINGTON

Very Trustworthy

John Wall – Scoring is down (17.2), but assists (10.3), steals (2.1) and FG percentage (45.8) are all career-highs.

Also Trustworthy

Bradley Beal – Numbers are more respectable than explosive so far (15.2 ppg, 1.5 spg, 1.9 3s), but he’s capable of going on a big-time scoring binge any week now.

Marcin Gortat – Pretty boring, but quietly solid. 12.3 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 1.4 bpg even though he has scored more than 15 points just eight times in 35 games.

Not Trustworthy

Kris Humphries – Had a nice run for a minute, but has averaged 7.8 ppg, 5.5 rpg and 0.4 bpg in his last 13 games.

Nene Hilario – Averaging just 10.5 points, 4.7 boards in 23 minutes in his last 15 games.

Paul Pierce – All he does at this point is score a little bit (12.8 ppg), hit some 3s (1.4), and play limited minutes (25 or less in six of his last seven games).

Otto Porter – I mention him here because I’m keeping him on the radar for if/when Pierce misses time. Porter showed his potential on Monday with six points, seven boards, three steals and three blocks in just 20 minutes (but of course did nothing when he got a chance to start for Pierce, which is why he remains, for the foreseeable future, very firmly in the not trustworthy category).