Avoiding your draft’s potential pitfalls is more critical than nailing your early picks towards the beginning of your draft. Sure, hitting on your sleepers will help to offset the damage done by your busts. But it’s generally always better to avoid those risky players towards the top since that’s the easiest way to crush your season before it even begins. To prevent you from starting off your fantasy campaign on the wrong foot, we’ve got our featured pundits around to help you identify several players who will likely fail to meet expectations. Here’s who you should avoid.
Q. What one player inside the top 65 are you avoiding this year and why?
Devin Booker (SG/SF/PG – PHO): Consensus Rank – 30th Overall
“I’ll be avoiding Devin Booker this season at his current consensus ranking of 30 overall. In 2019-20, he finished 29th on a per-game basis in nine-category head-to-head leagues. That season, Booker averaged his typical 26.6 points, 4.2 rebounds, 0.7 steals, and 0.3 blocks, but he also averaged 6.5 assists per game. Then the Suns traded for Chris Paul ahead of the 2020-21 season, and Booker’s assists numbers fell dramatically to just 4.3 per game. That stat line last season led Booker to finish just 75th on a per-game basis, and that’s with high-efficiency scoring. It’ll be tough for Booker to crack the top 40 so long as he’s sharing a backcourt with CP3.”
– Adam Koffler (FantasyPros)
“I’m more than happy to profess my disdain for Julius Randle as a bust inside the top 30 (as I’ve seen his rank/ADP on multiple sites), however, he’s ranked at No. 38 in our latest ECR, and I think that’s totally appropriate. So I’ll pivot to a guy who’s ranked a bit higher than he should be — Devin Booker. Booker finished as the 12th ranked player in per-game average in 2019-20 but fell back to earth a season ago as the 50th ranked player. The change? Chris Paul. With Paul on the roster, Booker’s assists fell from 6.5 to 4.3 — a precipitous drop-off. Booker’s free-throw attempts also fell from 7.3 to 5.9 while his efficiency in that category waned. He’s still worth a look around pick 40 or later, but I can’t see what changes for him this season from last that would boost his value up to No. 30. I’ll be avoiding him at his overinflated ranking/draft price.”
– Zachary Hanshew (FantasyPros)
Chris Paul (PG – PHO): Consensus Rank – 22nd Overall
Russell Westbrook (PG – LAL): Consensus Rank – 51st Overall
“I’m going to make mention of two players here for very different reasons: Chris Paul (ADP 38) and Russell Westbrook (ADP 19). Fantasy formats play a huge role in this equation as well. If you play in a points league, Westbrook gets a bump because he will always compile gaudy triple-double numbers. Conversely, in rotisserie/H2H leagues, Paul gets a bump because he’s ultra-efficient and has no flaws in his fantasy game. However, at age 36, and with declining rates in steals and three-pointers along with a less-than-stellar track record in the durability department, I’d much prefer De’Aaron Fox, Fred VanVleet, or Jrue Holiday over the Point God. With Westbrook, there’s simply no denying that he will handle the ball less in LAL alongside LeBron James. When Chris Bosh joined James in Miami from Toronto, his numbers went down. When Kevin Love joined James in Cleveland from Minnesota, his numbers went down. Westbrook will surely suffer the same fate, which is worsened by the fact that he has become a very inefficient fantasy player with below-average FG% and FT% (at high volumes to make matters worse) and a turnover rate amongst the worst in the league.”
– Lucas Spence (Pitcher List)
Zion Williamson (PF – NOR): Consensus Rank – 39th Overall
“I don’t want any shares of Williamson inside the top 40. He is a limited fantasy basketball player to begin with — his best category is FG%, and while he’s strong in points, he doesn’t contribute much anywhere else and necessitates a punt FT% build. Beyond his fantasy game, he had offseason surgery to repair a fractured foot (still waiting on test results and a timetable to resume practicing), which may require load management during the season and has flare-up potential. He’s an exciting real-life basketball player, but inside the top 40, I’m avoiding Williamson in fantasy drafts this year due to injury concerns and his one-dimensional fantasy game.”
– Michael Grant (BasketBlogBoy)
Kyrie Irving (PG/SG – BKN): Consensus Rank – 63rd Overall
“You couldn’t pay me enough money to draft Irving inside the top 50. Despite ranking sixth in fantasy on a per-game basis, the 29-year-old was a headache for fantasy managers all last season, dealing with both injuries and personal absences, which limited him to 54 games. It sounds like this season could be more of the same concerning potential absences for the former Duke Blue Devil as Nets head coach Steve Nash recently indicated that Brooklyn is preparing to be without Irving for home games. Do your fantasy team and sanity a favor and put the 11-year veteran on your ‘do not draft’ list.”
– Jacob W. Dunne (New Life Fantasy)
LeBron James (PG/SG/SF/PF – LAL): Consensus Rank – 28th Overall
“I’m staying clear of James’ current ECR at 28. He’s entering his 19th year in the league, and his average minutes per game (MPG) has decreased each of the previous five seasons. Injuries limited James to 45 games last season, and with Russell Westbrook now in LA, I project James’ usage rate, assists, and rebounds to regress. ‘The King’ isn’t worth the price of admission in 2021.”
– Dan Titus (Sports Gambling Podcast Network)
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (PG/SG – OKC): Consensus Rank – 30th Overall
“He’s a great young player, but I’m not sure he’s worthy of being drafted this high. While the fact that he is the sole point scorer on his team might seem like a benefit, I think the extremely high usage will lead to low efficiency and ultimately missed games. Gilgeous-Alexander has a high ceiling, but his floor is low enough to make me think twice about drafting him.”
– Ethan Masel (The Fantasy Bulletin)
Thank you to the experts for naming their players to avoid for the 2021-2022 NBA season. Be sure to give them a follow on Twitter for more advice all year long.