Hey guys, welcome back to Stashables! This is still a relatively new article that I’m trying out this season, so I’m still gathering feedback from you guys to see which direction I want to take this. Starting this 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, but if you guys have any recommendations or other things you want to see in this article, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also, If you guys have fantasy questions or just need some advice, please give me a follow on Twitter and be sure to follow the rest of the Rotoworld crew!
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.) Bobby Portis (5 percent owned)- After waiting patiently for his turn, Portis saw his first significant minutes of the season on Saturday vs. the Knicks and didn’t disappoint. He had a 34.5 usage rate with 20 points, 11 rebounds, one assist, two steals and two 3-pointers in 23 minutes. It should be noted that Pau Gasol was held out for rest purposes, but coach Fred Hoiberg said after the game that the rookie’s impressive play may force him to rethink his rotations. Doug McDermott’s knee injury could force Nikola Mirotic to play some three which would be good news for Portis, but his value would skyrocket if the Bulls decide to trade either Taj Gibson or Joakim Noah. I don’t think the Bulls will completely unleash Crazy Eyes just yet, but the rookie’s time will come.
2.) Marcus Smart (45 percent owned)- He has been on the shelf since with Nov. 20 with a nagging leg injury, but Celtics president Danny Ainge hinted that we will see Smart back in action around New Year’s Day. Coach Brad Stevens said that Smart would likely return to a bench role and also added this playing time would be monitored until he gets his legs under him, so prospective owners will have to be a little patient. Smart averaged 9.8 points, 3.2 assists, 3.8 boards, 1.8 steals and 1.1 3-pointers before going down, but he will need to improve his field goal percentage (33.3) in order to really help his owners.
3.) Aaron Gordon (37 percent owned)- The second-year player is just 20 years old, but he’s one of the most improved players in the league since last season. Gordon has been tasked with guarding guys like LeBron James and Kevin Durant this season and did an admirable job, yet coach Scott Skiles is reluctant to play him big minutes. Channing Frye and Jason Smith are still getting minutes in Orlando which is just odd if you ask me, but obviously they’re doing something right since they are in sixth place in the East with a 15-11 record. The Magic look like they are bound for the playoffs, but if they start to slip up it’s possible that Gordon could be called upon to play more minutes. He’s averaging 7.1 points, 4.8 boards, 1.2 assists, 0.9 blocks and 0.6 steals in 19.3 minutes per game.
4.) Nikola Jokic (7 percent owned)- His rookie season has been hit or miss because of coach Michael Malone’s decision to constantly shuffle his rotations, but Jokic has shown that he has the potential to become a stud in this league. He has a unique skill set with a deft touch around the rim and he also has 3-point range, but the return of Jusuf Nurkic (knee) will only complicate the frontcourt rotation even more. The Nuggets are 10th in the West with a 11-15 record, so hopefully his role will grow if they fall out of playoff contention. Jokic is averaging 9.0 points, 6.0 boards, 1.6 assists, 0.4 blocks, 1.0 steals and 0.2 3-pointers in 21.2 minutes per game over his last five.
5.) Jusuf Nurkic (36 percent owned)- He’s coming off offseason knee surgery, but Nurkic has finally been cleared to participate in full practices and it sounds like we should see him back in action in early January. He was promoted to the starting center last season and averaged 8.3 points, 8.0 rebounds, 1.0 steals and 1.4 blocks in that role, so the upside is there. However, he will be eased back into action and has to compete for minutes with guys like Joffrey Lauvergne, Kenneth Faried and Nikola Jokic, so it may be a while before he makes a significant impact in fantasy leagues.
6.)Brandon Jennings (23 percent owned)- Achilles injuries are no joke, but Jennings looked pretty explosive in his D-League debut on Saturday with 11 points and 12 assists in 27 minutes. He did say that he wanted to play for the Pistons against the Heat on Tuesday, but he might be getting a little ahead of himself. Jennings will come off the bench behind Reggie Jackson, but he only has one year left on his deal and could be an excellent trade chip for Detroit. I’m skeptical of his outlook if he remains in Detroit, but I’m planning on stashing him in a few leagues in the hope that he is traded to an ideal situation. The NBA trade deadline is on Feb. 18.
7.) Kyle O’Quinn (4 percent owned)- He’s slowly earning more minutes in New York after falling out of the rotation earlier in the season. KOQ has averaged 7.6 points, 6.8 boards, 2.2 assists, 0.6 blocks and 0.4 steals in just 18.0 minutes per game over his last five, but his minutes have been creeping up into the low 20s and coach Derek Fisher is finally starting to utilize him more. Starting center Robin Lopez has been a bust and rookie Kristaps Porzingis is wearing down due to the rigors of the NBA’s 82-game schedule, so the Knicks will hopefully continue to lean on KOQ a little more.
8.) Meyers Leonard (48 percent owned)- I was pretty high on Leonard prior to the season, but he hasn’t been able to get going since returning from his shoulder injury and he admitted that he has been struggling. "Here's what I do know: I've proven and I know what I've done and what I can do. And I know I'm a starter,'' Leonard said. "Now for whatever reason, they say I don't play well with Mason [Plumlee] and I play better with Ed [Davis]. Whatever it may be. I still have that same confidence as a player and as a starter's mentality. Unfortunately, I haven't played that well.” The Blazers are sticking with Noah Vonleh in the starting lineup for now, but Leonard has missed his last 12 3-point attempts and has shot just 27.3 percent from the field in his last five games. He’s too talented to not turn things around and he’s playing for a new contract, so he’s still a solid stash in my opinion.
9.) Stanley Johnson (34 percent owned)- The rookie hasn’t played as much as I had hoped prior to the season, but he’s one injury away from massive minutes in Detroit. Johnson can play the two, three and the four, so his role will increase if Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Marcus Morris or Ersan Ilyasova goes down. Johnson’s averages of 8.0 points, 3.9 boards, 1.1 assists, 0.7 treys and 0.7 steals are modest, but he’s starting to figure things out and his minutes should be on the rise. It would help if the Pistons didn’t have a 16-12 record, though.
10.) Kelly Oubre (1 percent owned)- The rookie just recently turned 20 years old and is still very raw, but injuries to Otto Porter (thigh) and Bradley Beal (leg) have opened up some minutes on the wings. Oubre is averaging 11.3 points, 4.0 boards, 0.7 steals and 2.0 treys in 21.3 minutes per game over his last three, so it’s possible that he could stick in the rotation moving forward. The Wizards are surprisingly just 11-14 in the East, so keep in mind that his role would also grow if they can’t turn their season around.