As the 2013-2014 Fantasy Basketball season quickly approaches, Fantasy Sports Locker Room is here to discuss some sleepers. One of the keys to drafting and having a successful season is finding the steals late in the draft that can give you an edge on your competition. Players who have great mid to late round value with the potential to provide solid fantasy numbers is the name of the game.
You should have a list of fantasy sleepers to keep an eye on during the draft, and FSLR is here to take you inside the locker room to help you develop and hone yours. Decent players who play for bad NBA teams tend to be fantasy studs, so Orlando and Utah are well represented. I left off the entire Boston Celtics roster as most of the team will be wiped out by the later part of your draft.
The following numbers beside each player below are Expert Consensus Rankings from Fantasy Pros between myself and 18 other experts.
Paul Millsap, PF, Atlanta Hawks – ECR #36
Millsap was considered somewhat of a bust last season in fantasy basketball, but now he’s suiting up for the Hawks and doesn’t have to share minutes with Derrick Favors and Al Jefferson. In fact, he has a nice new group of players in Al Horford and Jeff Teague. Millsap will see the floor plenty and should put up a similar stat line as he did in 2010-11 that saw him average 17.3 points and 7.6 rebounds per game. Millsap isn’t your typical late round sleeper, but he is a much better fantasy player this season than last. He averaged only 30 minutes a game last year compared to 34 in 2010-11. He will see more minutes in Atlanta this year.
Derrick Favors, PF/C, Utah Jazz – ECR #52
Favors will be on everybody’s fantasy radar as he is poised for a breakout year with the Jazz. Favors will take Millsap’s spot in the starting lineup and with Jefferson also out of town he has a golden chance to shine. He will get a ton of minutes and therefore pad the points, blocks and rebound stats. You won’t love his free throw shooting percentage, but he will make up for it in other categories.
Eric Bledsoe, PG/SG, Phoenix Suns – ECR #60
Beldsoe can do it all. Goran Dragic is the starting point guard in Phoenix, but Bledsoe is likely to start at the 2 spot for the Suns. Either way he doesn’t have to back-up Chris Paul anymore. Not only will Bledsoe put up points and assists he will be among the top few in steals this season. Like I said, he can do it all.
Jonas Valanciunas, C, Toronto Raptors – ECR #65
Valanciunas is in for a big year in Toronto. He is on his way to becoming a top 5 center in the NBA and has absolutely no competition for the center job in T.O. this season. In the final month of his rookie season the Lithuanian averaged 15 points, seven boards and two blocks per game. As he learns the North American game his numbers will only rise. I can see him averaging a double-double night in and night out. Round 4 and 5 might be too late to get this guy even though rounds 6-8 is more reasonable.
Andre Drummond, PF/C, Detroit Pistons – ECR #70
If you don’t care about free throws then Drummond is your guy. He makes up for it with his stellar defense. So you lose free throws… you will most likely win blocks and boards if you draft the big man. Drummond grabbed 14 boards in his last preseason game against the Wizzards to give him 50 over his last four exhibition games. He averaged 7.9 points and 7.6 boards per game in his rookie year and I expect Drummond to flirt with a double-double each game. Honestly though, he can’t hit a free throw.
Tobias Harris, SG/SF, Orlando Magic – ECR #74
When Harris was traded to the Magic last year his fantasy stock climbed considerably. He played 27 games with Orlando and averaged 17.3 points and 8.5 rebounds per game compared to only 4.9 and 2.0 respectably in Milwaukee. You can expect the Magic numbers this year as he has the starting forward position on lock down. He is battling a ankle injury, but he should be good to go once the season tips off.
Enes Kanter, C, Utah Jazz – ECR #79
With Jeferson gone, Kanter should see his minutes double from last season where he averaged only 15 a game. Kanter should also start at center for Utah which makes him even more likeable. He never scored less than 18 points and never grabbed less than eight boards when playing in more than 30 minutes a game last year. He only saw minutes that high three times, but he will have every opportunity to see the floor that much this season.
Greivis Vasquez, PG/SG, Sacramento Kings – ECR #81
It isn’t a guarantee that Vasquez will be the starting point guard come opening night, but even if Isaiah Thomas beats him out he’ll still get his fair share of assists. He finished third in the league last year in assists while averaging nine a game. Don’t expect his shooting percentage to be all that great, but if you find you need assists near the mid to later rounds of the draft grab him. Don’t count on nine a game, but he will still dish them out.
Gordon Hayward, SG/SF, Utah Jazz – ECR #82
Just because the Utah Jazz stink doesn’t mean you should let the team go undrafted. Their whole starting five could be on this 2013-14 Fantasy Basketball Sleepers list. Hayward averaged 14.1 points per game last year and he will also benefit from the loss of Jefferson and Millsap, causing his points per game to likely increase.
Wilson Chandler, SF, Denver Nuggets – ECR #98
Danilo Gallinari is recovering from ACL surgery and is going to miss a good chuck of the season leaving a great opportunity for Chandler to take on some big minutes. In eight starts last season he averaged 19 points, 6 rebounds, 1.4 steals and 2.3 triples. Keep an eye on his injury status though – he’s been bothered by a hamstring injury and has yet to suit up in the preseason.
Maurice Harkless, SF, Orlando Magic – ECR #104
Harkless is expected to start at small forward for the Magic making him a great steal in the later rounds. The 2012 15th overall pick failed to reach 10 points in a game only three times over his final 30 games last year. In nine of his last 15 games he had at least 14 a game. He is going to score points this year while adding some triples.
Reggie Jackson, PG, Oklahoma City Thunder – ECR #117
Jackson filled in nicely during the playoffs last year when Russell Westbrook went down with a torn meniscus, and averaged 13.9 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.6 assists over 11 games. Jackson has been just as good in the preseason and with Westbrook expected to be out a couple more months, he’s a nice play (for the time being at least). Even when Westbrook returns, Jackson should still play a nice role as the Thunder’s 6th man. Most likely he will be reached for in your draft.