Fantasy Basketball Buy & Sell: Week 8

by Tyler Watts
Dec 6, 2018

Zach LaVine may not be able to continue his current production for much longer

Fantasy basketball managers should take a look at the Denver Nuggets. After Wednesday’s overtime win over the Orlando Magic, the Nuggets sit atop the Western Conference with a 17-7 record. They also feature a few interesting fantasy storylines to follow at the current moment.

First, Gary Harris has a groin injury that caused him to miss Wednesday’s game. The Nuggets have been tight-lipped about it other than to say he had an MRI on Dec. 4.

The injury does not sound serious enough to sideline him for an extended period which is another reason to buy Harris. He is a career 46.6 percent field goal shooter that is hitting just 43.9 percent early this season. He has also seen dips in points, steals, and three-pointers made. Harris is only 24 years old and continues to improve, so expect the numbers to trend up when he gets healthy.

He had an ADP of 73, which is entirely too low. Expect him to return within the next 14 days and produce top-50 value the remainder of the season. Buy him with confidence. Note that the injury does add an element of risk, one that managers may be able to use to drive the price down even more.

Also, Will Barton is due to return within the next week. Barton has only played two games this season and had surgery to fix a core injury. He was a surprise top-50 player last year, so his return is important for fantasy.

Barton should have a starting role available to him even when Harris returns. The Nuggets do not have anyone to push Barton for minutes, either. He missed significant time with his injury so he will likely be eased back into action. Once he is back to full strength, Barton should produce plenty of fantasy stats.

He had an ADP of 65, and that is a fair estimate of the value he will produce the rest of the season. Trade for him after his first few games back from the injury when his value hits its low point.

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Buy

Here are two players that fantasy managers should target in a trade to help vault them up in their standings.

Jamal Murray (DEN)
The 21-year-old Murray is on pace for a breakout season that is flying under the radar slightly as of this writing. The Nuggets will soon be at full strength, and that should open up some improved shot attempts for Murray.

He is playing a career-high 34.1 minutes per game this season. The Nuggets lack a backup point guard that is going to push Murray for playing time.

He is shooting just 31.0 percent on three-pointers this season. He shot 37.8 percent last season and is a career 35.3 percent shooter. The return of his three-point stroke with some improved field goal percentage likely vaults Murray into the 18-19 points per game range.

He needs to push his steals back over 1.0 per game to see his value jump into the top-50 too. Expect that to happen and now is the perfect time to buy a bit low on the point guard. Murray should provide fantastic value for the rest of the year.

Khris Middleton (MIL)
There are two main reasons to buy Middleton right now. It starts with the narrative angle. He was benched during the Dec. 1 game against the Knicks by Coach Budenholzer. That limited him to 19 minutes. Then, he missed the Bucks last game because of a personal matter. Those only add a bit of panic to his managers.

Middleton has also seen his points per game drop to 18.5 and he is playing 5.5 fewer minutes per game than last year. That is in part due to the coaching change in Milwaukee. He is also shooting his worst field goal percentage in the last five seasons. Middleton’s steals are down too.

Managers are panicking a bit, but Middleton has been plenty valuable. His ADP was 33, but he is producing top-30 value so far. That figures only to go up as he starts hitting his shots at a more normal level. Trade for Middleton with confidence and enjoy his underrated value the rest of the year.

Sell

Here are two players fantasy managers should look to trade off their roster because their value should never be higher.

Zach LaVine (CHI)
Bulls guard Zach LaVine is having himself a season. He ranks as a top-30 player so far despite having an ADP of 63. LaVine is playing fantastic, so why sell?

He is taking 19.5 field goal attempts per game and scoring 24.5 points. Last season, only six players averaged over 19.0 per game according to Basketball-Reference. That is an absurd amount of attempts.

Now consider the Bulls have been hit hard by injuries to Lauri Markkanen, Bobby Portis, and Kris Dunn, all players who are more than deserving of shot attempts. LaVine also has a season on his ledger where he averaged 37.2 minutes per game and only took 15.1 field goal attempts. This season’s amount is unsustainable and with the attempts goes the points. Assuming the Bulls are relatively healthy the remainder of the season, LaVine likely averages less than 20 points per game.

His 0.6 blocks per game are also unsustainable. LaVine has blocked 15 shots already this season in 24 games. For his career, he has blocked 56 shots in 254 games. LaVine is two shy of his season-high already. Do not expect him to block shots the rest of the way. Zach LaVine’s value likely falls outside the top 50 from today forward, so if you can trade him away for someone inside that mark then that would be a bit of fantastic business.

Julius Randle (NO)
Randle has been superb so far this season. He is averaging 18.3 points, 9.0 rebounds, and 2.7 assists on 54.9 percent from the field and 72.2 percent on his free throws. The problem is Randle always has more perceived value than actual value.

His ADP was 50. but so far this year, he is outside the top 70 in fantasy ranks. Randle produces large numbers in the highest volume stats so people get excited. Others produce, steals, blocks, and three-pointers and surpass him in the rankings. Randle’s value likely drops slightly the rest of the year, so trade him for anyone inside the top 75 and enjoy winning that deal.

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Tyler Watts is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Tyler, follow him @tylerpwatts.

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