In this post, we will look at three players whose fantasy stock will rise in the next month and three whose fantasy stock will fall.
This is not simply an add/drop column, however.
Players in the Up category could be moving from waiver fodder to rosterable or they could be moving from fringe player to star. Players in the Down category could be moving from the fringe to droppable or simply from great to good.
In any case, let's start March's stock watch by taking a retrospective look at the players I highlighted in February.
Aaron Gordon (Orlando Magic, PF)
Predicted to go Up in February, ownership change -1.4%
An injury and coaching change which combined to all but eliminate Gordon's spot in the rotation also eliminated any chance Gordon had to be a fantasy relevant player. He doesn't seem to have much of a chance of turning it around since he's averaged just 12.2 minutes per game since the coaching change. Big miss on my part.
Jason Smith (New York Knicks, PF/C)
Predicted to go Up in February, ownership change +2.9%
Smith was never a sexy pick, but he has had some solid games with a pair of double-doubles and a 25 point outing over his last 6. He's only relevant in 12+ team leagues, but he has the potential to provide some decent scoring and rebounding numbers with nice percentages as long as he's getting playing time.
Andrew Wiggins (Minnesota Timberwolves, SG/SF)
Predicted to go Up in February, ownership change +0.4%
We can't really analyze this pick by the change in ownership as Wiggins was already a widely owned player. In February, Wiggins continued to log heavy minutes despite the return of Kevin Martin and Ricky Rubio. He also put up 9 blocks in 9 games, hinting at his future 1-1-1 potential, and improved in many advanced metrics as well such as +/- and defensive rating. Unfortunately, he also showed that he is still a rookie shooting 18% from deep. Perhaps it was optimistic saying his stock will rise any more this year, but he's certainly looking like one of the rising stars in the NBA.
Tobias Harris (Orlando Magic, SF)
Predicted to go Down in February, ownership change -2.8%
An injury is the main culprit for the drop in ownership percentage. With the firing of Jacque Vaughn, it seems like Harris will continue to receive his full complement of minutes when healthy. Now, of course, if only he could stay healthy.
Gorgui Dieng (Minnesota Timberwolves, PF/C)
Predicted to go Down in February, ownership change -13.4%
Dieng's ownership dropped into the 30s for a period just before the deadline when owners got impatient waiting for the trade deadline to arrive. The Wolves did end up moving Thad Young which is likely the next best thing for Dieng owners hoping that Nikola Pekovic would disappear. Dieng has averaged 30 minutes since the Young trade, but one of those 3 games was a 38 minute outing in which Kevin Garnett had not yet arrived and Anthony Bennet left the game with an injury midway through the 1st. Dieng looks to be in line for minutes in the mid-to-high 20s which won't give him the value that he had in December and January, but still makes him valuable in 10+ team leagues.
Tyson Chandler (Dallas Mavericks, C)
Predicted to go Down in February, ownership change -1.6%
When I first looked at the monthly splits, I thought that the Mavericks had, like I predicted, started to curb Chandler's minutes. His minutes were down 12% between January and February and his points, rebounds, and blocks averages were all their lowest of any month this season. Then, I remembered that he had a game where he left in the first quarter with an injury. When you remove that game, you see that he was the same Tyson Chandler in February that he's been all year despite missing a couple games due to injury. I still think, however, that as the season winds down and the Mavs start preparing for the playoffs, Chandler's minutes will be reduced a bit.
March Stock Predictions
P.J. Tucker (Phoenix Suns, SG/SF)
Tucker was already receiving increased minutes before the all-star break and, fortunately for him, the players they did bring in at the trade deadline are primarily backcourt players which allows Tucker to continue to take minutes at the wing. He's not a heavy scorer, but like known fantasy commodity DeMarre Carroll, he can produce in several categories while not hurting you in any which makes him great for roto, but mediocre for head-to-head. Tucker should be targeted in 10+ team leagues.
He is currently owned in 21.7% of ESPN leagues.
James Johnson (Toronto Raptors, SF/PF)
Johnson has taken over a starting role in Toronto and has seen a little over 26 minutes per game since becoming the starter. Granted, the minutes have been highly volatile as he's seen two games above 34 minutes and two games below 20 in that same stretch. Even if he doesn't see more playing time going forward, if he follows his career per-minute rates, 26 minutes is enough for him to put up 1.1 steals and 1.5 blocks per game. Considering this and his newfound touch around the rim, he has a good chance to be a valuable piece even if he doesn't receive increased minutes. In addition, he's shown flashes of his brilliant upside recently including a 27 point, 4 steal, 4 block game against Houston on the 21st of February. Johnson has value in roto leagues due to his ability to efficiently provide defensive stats and in head to head leagues as an out-of-position blocks specialist due to his SF eligibility.
He is currently owned in 13.1% of ESPN leagues.
Nerlens Noel (Philadelphia 76ers, PF/C)
Many people, including yours truly, had very high hopes for Noel early in the year. The patience of many owners wore thin as Noel put up dud after dud, so Noel could possibly be found on the wire in leagues as deep as 12 teams just a couple weeks ago. Recently, Noel has very quietly improved his free throw percentage and has further stepped up his game on the defensive end. As a result, he shot over 75% from the line nearly averaged a steal and a half and three blocks in February. These types of numbers should not be left on the wire in any league, so if he's still out there in your league, go scoop him up. If Noel can provide these massive defensive numbers without being a free throw albatross, he could easily turn into a top-30 pick next year.
He is currently owned in 59.5% of ESPN leagues.
Wesley Matthews (Portland Trail Blazers, SG/SF)
While Matthews' minutes will likely remain close to identical, I think the addition of Arron Afllalo will take a bit out of his shots. Afflalo and Matthews are in direct competition for shots and minutes at the 2-guard. While it seems like the Blazers will opt for a short 8-man rotation instead of reducing any of their starter's minutes, those shots will have to come from somewhere. While Matthews should not be dropped in any leagues, he likely won't average the nearly 13 shots and 3 threes per game that he has up to this point in the year.
He is currently owned in 86% of ESPN leagues.
Danny Green (San Antonio Spurs, SG/SF)
February was a rough month for Danny Green and Coach Popovich rarely lets poor play go unpunished. Green, normally a lock to shoot around 40% from deep, shot just 26% from beyond the arc in February and also saw his steals, blocks, and assist rates all go down. Pop has noticed this slump and has played Green more than 22 minutes just once in the last 4 games. The shooting will in all likelihood come back, but Pop's trust will be much slower to return.
He's currently owned in 56.2% of ESPN Leagues.
Roy Hibbert (Indiana Pacers, C)
I was a defender of Hibbert early in the year when he got out to his hot start. I knew he wasn't a superstar, but I knew he had value because he could be a source of blocks who wouldn't hurt your percentages. In February, however, Hibbert has posted just 11 blocks in 249 minutes, good for a per-36 rate of 1.6 which would put him around 60th in the league. For a guy who is on your roster specifically to be a blocks specialist, this is not acceptable. It's time to cut ties with Hibbert and take a chance on one of the many beneficiaries of the trade deadline or of teams preparing for next season.
He is owned in 65.3% of ESPN leagues.
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