Hey guys, welcome back to Stashables! Each week I’m going to compile a ranked list of 10 season-long stashes who could make all the difference for your fantasy team down the stretch. This is still a relatively new article, so shoot me an email if you guys have any recommendations or other things you want to see.
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Here are the rules for this article:
1.) Each player must be owned in 50 percent or less of all Yahoo leagues, but I’ll try to keep it under 25 percent in most cases for those of you in competitive leagues.
2.) If a player graduates from this list to must-own status, I’ll be sure to mention it the following week.
3.) The players that I mention either have to be injured, on the fringe of the rotation (around 20 minutes or less), or simply just buried on the bench.
4.) I’m basing my rankings on standard 9-cat leagues.
1. Nikola Jokic (24% owned) Previous rank: 4
He had his best game of the season on Saturday vs. the Spurs with 22 points, seven boards, five assists, one block, one steal and one 3-pointer in 26 minutes off the bench, but Nuggets coach Michael Malone limited the rookie to just 17 minutes the following day against the Thunder. Malone’s rotations can be maddening, but Jokic has still managed to average 14.0 points, 6.4 boards, 3.2 assists, 0.6 steals and 0.6 3-pointers over his last five games despite averaging less than 24 minutes per game. The eventual return of Jusuf Nurkic (knee) worries me a little bit, but I’m confident that Jokic can space the floor well enough to allow them to be on the court together. The Nuggets won’t be in the playoff hunt much longer, so Jokic is now the best stash out there.
2. Meyers Leonard (48% owned) Previous rank: 8
After struggling for the majority of the season, Leonard had his best game of his 2015-16 campaign with 16 points, 11 boards, two assists and four 3-pointers in 30 minutes vs. the Kings on Sunday. He picked up some extra minutes with Ed Davis sidelined by an ankle issue, but I don’t see how he doesn’t have a larger role moving forward after this. He has scored 13 or more points in each of his last three games and has hit a total of nine 3-pointers in that span. The upside was always there, so he needs to be picked up everywhere now that his shot is falling again.
3. Bobby Portis (20% owned) Previous rank: 1
After his 20-point explosion vs. the Knicks on Dec. 19, Portis has taken a step back with averages of 5.0 points, 3.7 boards, 1.3 assists and 1.0 steals in 14.7 minutes over his last three games. Like any rookie, he will have to adjust to the NBA game on the fly, and Joakim Noah’s shoulder injury guarantees that Portis will continue to see minutes in the rotation. He is not a must-own guy right now, but one more injury in Chicago or a trade (Noah and Taj Gibson have been mentioned in several trade rumors) could really open things up for him. His upside is too high to ignore.
4. Marcus Smart (46% owned) Previous rank: 2
Smart (leg) finally returned to action on Sunday vs. the Knicks, scoring six points on 2-of-6 shooting with three boards, one assist and one 3-pointer in 13 minutes off the bench. The Celtics will limit his minutes to the teens over the next 10-14 days and he will continue to come off the bench, so his owners shouldn’t pick him up and expect immediate production. He was averaging 9.8 points, 3.8 boards, 3.2 assists, 1.8 steals and 1.1 treys before he went down with the injury, so he is worth owning as long as you don’t mind his awful field goal percentage (33.3 percent).
5. Aaron Gordon (36% owned) Previous rank: 4
I could argue that Gordon has one of the highest ceilings on this list, but he still isn’t getting nearly enough minutes in Orlando. He is averaging 4.0 points, 3.6 boards and 0.8 steals in 12.6 minutes per game over his last five, while guys like Channing Frye and Jason Smith are consistently getting minutes. It doesn’t help that the Magic are in seventh place in the Eastern Conference with a 17-13 record, so I’m starting to think that coach Scott Skiles won’t unleash him unless they fall out of the playoff hunt.
6. Alex Len (29% owned) Previous rank: N/A
With Eric Bledsoe (knee) set to miss significant time with his injury, you have to wonder if the Suns will start looking towards the future. They are currently in 11th place in the Western Conference with a 12-20 record, but they have also dropped 15 out of their last 20 games. Starting center Tyson Chandler is washed up and is having a miserable campaign, and even though Len has been inconsistent this season, he has shown flashes of brilliance. He is averaging 7.3 points, 5.9 boards and 0.9 blocks in 18.8 minutes per game on the season, and he is shooting 48.1 percent from the field and 70.4 percent from the line. His ankles are basically made of glass and the Suns play a lot of small ball, but I’m willing to bet that he will be the starting center down the stretch.
7. Jusuf Nurkic (36% owned) Previous rank: 5
The big man will likely make his return to the court in January, but the fact that the Nuggets have put minute restrictions on him during their practices suggests that they are going to ease him back into the rotation very slowly. Considering how well Nikola Jokic has played, I’m not entirely sure that Nurkic will have a significant workload until February or March. However, this is a guy who averaged 8.3 points, 8.0 boards, 1.0 assists and 1.4 blocks as a starter last season, so I’d recommend stashing him in your IR spot if you can.
8. Stanley Johnson (34% owned) Previous rank: 9
The rookie has played well over his last five games, averaging 11.8 points, 4.6 boards, 1.0 assists, 0.6 steals and 1.6 3-pointers in 25.2 minutes per game. However, the Pistons are right in the middle of the playoff hunt in the East, so his development won’t be their biggest concern just yet. If Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Marcus Morris or Ersan Ilyasova goes down, Johnson becomes a must-own player.
9. Kelly Oubre (1% owned) Previous rank: 10
Despite the return of Otto Porter on Saturday vs. the Nets, Oubre drew another start at small forward and had one of the best games of his season with 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting with six boards, one assist, one steal, one block and two treys in 32 minutes. The Wizards have won four straight games with Oubre as the starter, and he is averaging 9.5 points, 6.0 boards and 2.0 treys in that span. Coach Randy Wittman said after Saturday’s win over the Nets that he would continue to play the guys that deserve to play, so it’s possible that the rookie could stick in the first unit going forward. He should already be owned in most dynasty leagues, but he is certainly worth a stash in deeper formats to see if he can keep it going.
10. Brandon Jennings (33% owned) Previous rank: 6
Jennings still hasn’t made an appearance for the Pistons after a brief rehab stint in the D-League, but I’m only considering stashing him in the hope that he is traded out of Detroit. He has just one year left on his current deal and the Pistons already have their point guard of the future in Reggie Jackson, so I’d expect the Pistons to dangle his expiring contract in some trade talks in the coming weeks. Stan Van Gundy hinted that Jennings is still trying to get his quickness back, so his owners will have to be patient.