There was a clear top five in most fantasy formats this season, but one player didn’t care much for others’ opinions. He was a former number one lock in fantasy leagues until repeated injury-shortened seasons caused fantasy managers from Perth to Boston to push him down their draft boards. They said Karl-Anthony Towns was a newer, better and healthier version. They said Harden, Curry, Durant and Westbrook were all going to be more reliable.
Anthony Davis paid no attention. Instead, in the Pelicans’ season opener, he reminded everyone why he should still be considered one of the pre-eminent talents in basketball and then, for good measure, he did it again.
Davis was the talk of the league after pouring in 50 points, 16 rebounds, five assists, seven steals and four blocks, just narrowly missing a 5×5 night. He also made 16-of-17 free throws to get his owners off to a great start in free throw percentage, while hitting an impressive 17-of-34 field goals. He then backed that up with 45 points, 17 rebounds, three assists, two steals, two blocks and a triple against the Dubs yesterday.
If you weren’t bold enough to draft Davis, don’t worry. There have been plenty of other massive lines to open the new season, including Russell Westbrook’s insane 51 points as part of a triple-double (13 rebounds, 10 assists) which followed a near trip-dub (32, 12 and nine) in his previous game. There was also DeMar DeRozan’s 40 points, Damian Lillard’s 39 points, LeBron James’ triple-double, Kawhi Leonard’s 35-point, five-steal demolition of the Warriors, James Harden’s 17 assists and Myles Turner’s 30, 16 and four statement game.
It’s certainly looking like an exciting season is ahead of us, so buckle up cos it’s going to be one helluva ride and I’m glad to be back to assist you again.
The action gets even thicker in Week 2 as the schedule expands. Most teams will have played six or seven games by the time Week 2 concludes, so it’s vital to maximise games played already and get off to a good start in head-to-head formats. If you drafted well, you should be getting value from those players right away but, if you’re underwhelmed so far, be patient until they find their groove unless they’re totally out of the rotation.
If you’re no longer clear if you got it right on draft night then, unlike the Brow, you best pay attention as Downtown is back listening to the Music of the Traffic to help you become the talk of your league.
Week 2 (Oct. 31 – Nov. 6)
5 games: SAC
4 games: ATL, CHI, DEN, LAC, LAL, MEM, MIL, NYK, PHO, POR, TOR, UTA
3 games: BOS, BKN, CLE, DAL, DET, GSW, HOU, IND, MIN, NOR, OKC, ORL, PHI, SAS, WAS
2 games: CHA, MIA
The Week 2 schedule is much bigger compared to opening week, with 13 of the 30 teams playing at least four games. The Hornets and Heat play only two games after their three-game opener, but their schedules get better soon after, so if you really think you need to own Dion Waiters while he’s starting, I won’t stop you.
The following players may be available in standard 10- or 12-team leagues.
Bojan Bogdanovic (G/F, BKN): After an impressive tournament for Croatia in Rio, big things were expected from Bogdanovic on the gutted Nets this season. However, a very underwhelming preseason as well as some talk that he may not start scared a lot of people off on draft night. Well, not only did Bo-Bogs start on opening night, he led the Nets in scoring with 21 points, hitting three triples and adding five rebounds and a steal for good measure. He struggled a little yesterday but that scoring potential is there. He’s available in over 50 percent of Yahoo leagues and barely owned in ESPN, but that could change quickly if he continues to fill the role we all expected coming into training camp. The Nets’ schedule isn’t great to start the season, but it’s also not awful, so give him a look in 12-team formats.
Cody Zeller (F/C, CHA): An injury-interrupted preseason gave Roy Hibbert a clear path to the starting five-man role for Steve Clifford, but Zeller reminded everyone on opening night why he has more upside, despite Hibbert’s strong opener. Zeller went for 15 points in 14 minutes off the bench, going 5-of-6 from both the field and the line, while adding two blocks and three boards. Yesterday, Zeller played 23 minutes after Hibbert left with a knee injury and Cody delivered another 10 points, two steals and one block. His playing time should continue to increase and he may eventually supplant Hibbert as the starting centre (especially if Roy is out a few games), but either way, he’s worth a look in 12-team leagues and is widely available. Just be aware the Hornets have only two games in Week 2, so he’s more of a stash until Week 3 when their schedule gets meatier.
Will Barton (G/F, DEN): I wrote about Barton in my season preview as a player I wasn’t sure what to expect from. In the opening game, the People’s Champ gave us a reminder why we all loved him so much last year with 22 points, five rebounds, two assists and two three-pointers. Some of this is inflated by Gary Harris’ absence and Jamal Murray’s inexperience, but Barton knows how to get it done, especially down the stretch, and Michael Malone loves that about him. “I think you either have it or you don’t,” Barton told Altitude Sports Radio post-game about his confidence to make big plays down the stretch. That confidence will be with him whether he’s starting or in a sixth-man role and should allow him to continue to play close to 30 minutes a game and deliver consistent fantasy value. Grab him while you can.
Marcus Morris (SF/PF, DET): He broke through to fantasy relevance last season in Motown but there were doubts about Stanley Johnson being hot on his heels coming into this season. Well, that hasn’t happened yet and through the first two games, Morris has averaged 17 points, 8.5 rebounds, three assists and two triples, while hitting a handy .452 clip from the field. He’s owned in just 36 percent of ESPN and 56 percent of Yahoo leagues, so he could be a difference-maker for you.
Marcus Morris drops the 🔨 https://t.co/ExxoGdTZrd
— NBA TV (@NBATV) October 29, 2016
T.J. Warren (SF, PHO): Entering his third season, Warren has finally established himself in this league. He started to show his value last season, improving his long-range shooting, before foot surgery ended his season early. He’s now starting for Earl Watson and the results so far have been beyond all expectations. Fourteen points, five rebounds and two steals in the opener followed by a career-high 30 points (13-of-18 field goals), nine rebounds and three steals in an overtime loss versus OKC. Warren is logging big minutes and certainly emerging as a third scoring option for the Suns’ starting unit. If he keeps scoring in the teens or better, he could emerge with top-80 value on the season. Still widely available, T.J. needs to be owned in all formats right now.
Allen Crabbe (SG, POR): He was a popular add last season as he got hot down the stretch, but Crabbe is owned in just 36 percent of Yahoo and 18 percent of ESPN leagues to start this season. He had a nice line on opening night with 18 points, four triples, three rebounds and three assists, and while he struggled to replicate that against the Clippers, his minutes are what have grabbed my attention. Twenty-nine in the opener and 32 in game two, meaning he is locked in as the primary bench scorer. He’s a good source of points, threes and a few dimes and has four games in Week 2 with which to impress you. Give him a look in 12-14-team leagues.
Mason Plumlee (F/C, POR): Owned in about 64 percent of leagues across ESPN and Yahoo, Crabbe’s teammate Plumlee was one of my favourite late-round draft targets this year. I drafted him in three different leagues and he put his skillset on full display against the Clippers on Friday with 17 points (7-of-9 field goals), eight rebounds, four assists and three blocks. It made up for the egg he laid on opening night, and that’s the kind of versatility I expected when I grabbed him in those leagues. The Blazers have a healthy four-game week coming up and the Plum is coming into his own this season, so if you’re in one of the 36 percent of leagues where he’s available, you’d be wise to grab him too.
— NBA (@NBA) October 26, 2016
Joe Johnson (G/F, UTA): I missed on Iso-Joe in a deeper league and while his preseason was underwhelming, he reminded everyone on opening night why he’s a seven-time All-Star. His game of 29 points (12-of-16 field goals), three triples, four rebounds, one assist and a steal was a thing of beauty. Despite being a bit quieter yesterday (11 points, six rebounds, two assists, one three-pointer), with Gordon Hayward sidelined for a few more weeks, Johnson needs to be owned. The Jazz have a tasty four-game week on tap, so don’t delay.
Ones to Watch:
Sean Kilpatrick (G/F, BKN): On his third team in three seasons, Kilpatrick seems to have finally found a home in the Barclays Center. He’s averaged 15.5 points with 4.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 2.5 triples in 23.5 minutes across the Nets’ first two games. He’s also now scored in double digits in 21 of his past 25 games and if he can keep up the three-point shooting, then he could have some outside value in deeper leagues. Watch this space.
Timofey Mozgov (C, LAL): His contract was laughed at during free agency and he was quiet during the preseason, but Mozzer laced them up for the Lakers’ first game and gave Mitch Kupchak exactly what he’d hoped for when he handed out that cash in July. Twelve points, eight rebounds and a big presence inside was enough to help L.A. get its season off to a winning start. He backed that up with eight points, six rebounds and two blocks and he could do the same for your team if you need another big man. Give him a look in 14-teamers and keep an eye on him in 12-team leagues.
Maurice Harkless (SF, POR): After an invisible first game, you’d be forgiven for asking “Hark, who goes there?” Two nights later though, he turned in his highest scoring output ever as a Blazer against the Clippers on Friday. He was hot, going 10-of-15 from the field on his way to 23 points, eight rebounds, three assists and a triple in 32 minutes. He’s locked in as the starting small forward right now, with Terry Stotts preferring to bring Evan Turner off the bench. If Harkless can use this as momentum, he could be worth a look with the Blazers having four games in Week 2.
You may just need some short-term help until an injured player returns or you may have passed on one of these guys on draft night given uncertainty around their role, but they should have real value this season. So if you have any lingering doubts, it’s safe to kick those concerns to the curb and grab one of these guys. Get your season off to a hot start like AD by making some small adjustments and maximising games early.
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