It’s increasingly difficult to see the big picture in fantasy hoops.
With DFS allowing us to wipe the slate clean on our fantasy lineups (and emotional commitment) each day, it's harder and harder to commit to a long-term relationship with the players on your squad.
A two-game skid is time for panic. Three bad games mean you smash your laptop. A five-game slump and a you’re bulldozing the walls of your home.
I understand all of that.
At the same time, I’m here to say that we all need to reign it in a little bit, and evaluate some of these situations with the big picture in mind.
In the spirit of patience, clarity and the long-term vision, here are 10 players we wrote off too soon:
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Why we wrote him off: Years of disappointment
When we wrote him off: Some time in the last five years
What he’s done lately: 25.9 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 3.6 apg, 0.7 spg, 1.1 bpg and 2.4 3s (47.8 FG / 73.6 FT / 1.5 TOs) in 11 games this season.
I’d like to take you back to this time three years ago. November 2016. A 21-year-old Wiggins is averaging 27.4 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 2.5 apg, 0.5 spg, 0.6 bpg and 2.1 3s through exactly 11 games — the same number he has played so far this season. The binge included explosions of 36, 47 and 35 points, and it appeared Wiggins — the No. 1 pick in the 2014 Draft — was on his way to a full-blown breakout.
He was 73rd overall at the time, but finished 114th in 9-category leagues that year. And that’s actually been the best finish of his career. The others: 130th, 115th, 159th and 171st.
Fast forward to now. We’ve once again seen an outstanding 11-game run from Wiggins to start the year. Is it different this time around? Right now, Wiggins is actually 25th overall in 9-category leagues, with a stat line that suggests, at age 24, that he’s finally putting it all together.
And that’s exactly why he may be the ultimate sell-high of this fantasy hoops season. The very fact that we’re thinking Andrew Wiggins might be figuring it out sets up the ideal opportunity to trade him. That doubt in your mind (should I trade him, or keep him?) means someone else might be interested in taking him on.
If you’re wondering where I land on it, I tend to be the ultimate optimist, but Wiggins has made me a skeptic — especially when it comes to fantasy. Again, in five full years in the league, he has finished 130th, 115th, 114th, 159th and 171st. Is it realistic to think that he can somehow sustain this leap into the top 25? Can he keep averaging career-highs in points (25.9), 3s (2.4), rebounds (5.1), assists (3.6), blocks (1.1) and FG percentage (47.8)? Maybe. But that’s a whole lot that has to keep going right. If i have to choose one side of it, I’m trading Wiggins away without much hesitation.
Why we wrote him off: We’re impatient
When we wrote him off: After eight games (including three DNPs)
What he’s done lately: 14.3 ppg, 14.0 rpg, 3.0 apg, 1.3 spg, 1.0 bpg in his last three games, including a 20-20 line on Thursday night.
If you just awakened to Favors’ season numbers — 9.1 ppg, 9.5 rpg, 2.1 apg, 0.6 spg and 0.5 bpg — you wouldn’t be that mad about writing him off. However, those season stats don't tell the full story, as the Favors we hoped for is walking through the front door.
Ultimately, this may be the most striking example of our impatience. Favors went from big-upside fantasy asset (Yahoo ADP: 63.0) to waiver wire material in some leagues very quickly. It's certainly possible to be too loyal to the players we draft. With Favors, we went way too far in the other direction.
Why we wrote him off: His coach refused to play him big minutes, then he was concussed
When we wrote him off: See above
What he’s done lately: 16 points, eight boards and a block in his first game back on Thursday
Ryan Knaus told me on the podcast the other day that someone outright dropped Robinson in one of his leagues. That’s insane, and it’s just one person, but it still speaks to how frustrating he’s been for those of us who cashed in early-round picks on him.
On Thursday evening, we got a much-needed reminder of Mitchell’s upside, but still not an all-out Mitch Rob explosion. It’s almost the perfect scenario if you want to try to trade for him at what should still be a mild discount, before the blocks start coming in droves. You probably don’t need me to remind you, but after the All-Star break, he averaged 9.5 ppg, 9.4 rpg, 0.9 spg and 3.0 bpg.
4. Mike Conley
Why we wrote him off: 30-something in a new town who started out the season horrendously
When we wrote him off: After he shot 20.0 percent from the field (with 7.8 ppg and 4.3 apg) through his first four games
What he’s done lately: 18.7 ppg, 3.9 apg, 1.1 spg and 2.7 3s on 44.8 percent shooting his last seven games
In fairness, a lot of us actually didn’t write Conley off. But I have to imagine he was traded for a fraction of what he’s worth in a lot of leagues during his early-season struggles, which included 1-for-16 and 0-for-7 performances. That’s all in the past now, though I do still have one complaint: the assists. Conley has never been a monster assist guy — his career-high is 6.5 — but 4.0 from an early-round PG is really not going to cut it. My concern is that we may not see a dramatic correction given how much playmaking is done by Donovan Mitchell (4.1 apg). Either way, we can live with 18 and 4 if we have to, and above all else, it’s a relief to see that Conley is no longer a complete disaster.
Why we wrote him off: He's a 30-something backup to Jarrett Allen
When we wrote him off: After a two-point, three-rebound season opener (in 17 minutes)
What he’s done lately: 9.0 ppg, 11.0 rpg, 3.0 apg, 0.8 spg, 1.8 bpg in his last five games
Things looked pretty bleak at the start of the season for Jordan, who initially appeared to be on the wrong side of the Brooklyn C platoon. Since then he’s looking a lot more like vintage DJ, and even on nights when he doesn’t get a ton of minutes, he’s still producing something (he had 11 boards, three dimes and a block in 17 scoreless minutes on Thursday). If that dud has an impatient fantasy owner freshly annoyed, you might be able to get a nice combo of boards and blocks relatively easily.
Why we wrote him off: Rookies can be maddening
When we wrote him off: Who said I wrote him off??!!?
What he’s done lately: 13.3 ppg, 4.7 rpg and 2.7 3s his last three games; had six steals on Thursday night vs. PHX
I’ll be honest — if I wasn’t a rabid Hawks fan, I would’ve dropped Hunter, so I can't say that anyone who did so was making a big mistake. However, I do think it’s time to run and add him if he’s out there still in your league. Hunter still isn’t shooting well (36.8 percent during this three-game run), but he missed a few relatively easy shots at the rim on Thursday night that easily could’ve put him over 20 points with a better FG percentage. And yes, I’m making excuses. The bottom line though is that Hunter is getting a ton of run right now (38 minutes a game in his last three), and is starting to look like he’s ready to assert himself, as his 15 shots on Thursday were a season-high. Hunter is only rostered in 21 percent of Yahoo leagues, so get out there and drop whoever's driving you crazy to pick him up.
7. Deandre Ayton and John Collins
Why we wrote them off: Long suspensions
When we wrote them off: When they got suspended
What they’ve done lately: Nothing
This is just a friendly reminder to try to trade for these two studs while they’re sitting there accruing resentment on someone else’s bench. For those keeping score, Ayton still has 15 games left on his suspension, and Collins has 19, which is a long time in both cases. However, if you think you can stay near the top of the standings without them — or just stay in the playoff picture at all — I really think dealing for them would pay off. Of course, it will require a ton of patience, so my guess is that very few of us will have the discipline to make it happen.
Why we wrote him off: Rookies are infuriating
When we wrote him off: While he was averaging 7.6 ppg on 29.2 percent shooting in his first seven games
What he’s done lately: 11.0 ppg, 4.0 apg, 1.8 spg and 1.0 3s on 41.0 percent shooting in his last four
If you haven’t done yourself the service/disservice of watching any Cavs games this year, take a look at these recent highlights from Garland (from his 15-point, six-assist game against the Wizards). You see the potential, right? Garland has shown the ability to more or less get where he wants on the floor, he’s made some pretty slick passes, and he has range. It’s really just a matter of keeping his FG percentage from being a disaster, which is the last major hurdle between the No. 5 overall pick and a breakout. I don’t think we’ve seen the last of his inconsistency by any stretch, but I do think the 19-year-old (22 percent rostered in Yahoo leagues) is pretty close to making some significant noise.
Why we wrote him off: He played 44 games combined the last two seasons
When we wrote him off: Sometime during the Cleveland-L.A.-Denver tour
What he’s done lately: 13.9 ppg, 6.3 apg and 2.1 3s on 44.0 percent shooting in seven games this season
It’s been fun to see Thomas looking like he’s still got something left, but I’m considering trying to trade him away in fantasy. I worry about injury and the possibility of load management, plus the lack of steals (0.3) and relatively high turnovers (2.6) are a little annoying for a guy who’s not churning out a massive amount of points and assists. He’s still startable in most leagues as a top-140 player in 9-category formats, so if you’re stuck with him, there are worse predicaments to be in.
10. Alex Len
Why we wrote him off: He averaged 4.0 ppg, 4.4 rpg (and 1.6 bpg) in his first nine games
When we wrote him off: During that
What he’s done lately: 19.0 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 0.5 bpg and 1.0 3s on 68.4 percent shooting his last two games
Earlier this week, Len moved to the bench and — voila. He suddenly looks like a completely different guy, much like the one who posted 15.6 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 0.9 bpg and 2.1 3s from March 1 onward last season. It’s pretty much Len and Damian Jones (14 points, eight boards, 2 steals, one block in 19 minutes on Thursday) at center for the Hawks, and while both are waiver wire pickups, my slight preference is for Len, who has looked sub par as a starter, but is ready to do damage when he enters the game off the bench.