Top 2011-12 fantasy disappointments
Last week, we looked at this season's biggest positive surprises so far on the Player Rater, but there have been plenty of players who haven't fared as well. This week, we'll look at the players who have been the biggest disappointments (excepting those players who have disappointed only because of missed time due to injury), and see whether there might be brighter days on the horizon for their fantasy owners. For the sake of the article, I'm going to avoid talking about guys you should avoid owning in fantasy leagues at this point (Stephen Jackson, Lamar Odom, and Andray Blatche, for instance) in the interest of talking about guys who still maintain at least a little of the value they once had.
(Player Rater ranking in parentheses)
Carmelo Anthony, SF, New York Knicks (66): Yes, Anthony has missed 10 games due to injury, but that's only a small piece of the reason he hasn't lived up to his average draft position of 12.3 in ESPN.com fantasy drafts. No matter how you look at it, this has been the worst season of Anthony's entire career even when he's managed to get into the lineup. His ranking only moves up to 52nd if you look at his per-game averages; he's averaging fewer points than ever, and his rebounding average of 6.0 is his lowest since 2006-07. Anthony is one of my favorite players, but there's little reason for optimism here. His post-All-Star-break numbers are actually worse than his numbers on the season as a whole, and the Knicks have been better without him most of the time. I hope he turns it around, but one of the most interesting questions heading into next season in fantasy leagues will be where to draft Melo. In fact, that question also goes for his teammate Amare Stoudemire, who certainly belongs on a list like this, but will be out for the next few weeks with a back injury.
Rajon Rondo, PG, Boston Celtics (94): Like Anthony, Rondo has missed 10 games due to injury, and also like Anthony, that's not the major reason why he's slipped so far down in the rankings. Rondo has managed to get more assertive this season in terms of looking for his own shot, but that's cost him in his field goal percentage and means he's killing your free-throw shooting more than he ever has. Additionally, he's down from 2.3 steals per game last season to 1.7 this season. For a point guard who doesn't make 3-pointers, Rondo is starting to run out of things he can do to help you in fantasy leagues besides his innate ability to rack up assists. In his 20 games since the All-star break, things have only gotten weirder. He's averaging just 9.7 points (after averaging a career-high 14.8 to that point) on 40.9 percent shooting from the floor, but he's also averaging a ludicrous 12.7 assists per game over that stretch. If he keeps up that sort of stat line for the last few weeks of the season, it's going to be hard to justify another top-50 pick on him (his ranking based on his per-game numbers only climbs to 65th, so the 10 games missed can't be entirely to blame for this) next season.
Tyreke Evans, PG/SG/SF, Sacramento Kings (48): His ranking might not seem that terrible for a guy who was drafted 30th on average in most leagues, but there was a consensus heading into this season that Evans was going to bounce back from last season's dismal performance and show some of the talent that allowed him to average better than 20 points, five rebounds and five assists as a rookie. That hasn't been the case. Instead, he's starting to look like a man without a position. Rookie Isaiah Thomas looks a better point guard, Marcus Thornton looks like a better shooting guard, and Evans has shown little of the superstar potential that made him so exciting in the past. He hasn't had a 30-point game once this season, and has recorded just one double-double (though that did come in a game against the Miami Heat). It feels like ages, but it was just two off-seasons ago that we were having serious debates about whether Evans or Derrick Rose had better potential as a fantasy player; those debates aren't happening any more, and while Evans is a good player, he's no longer someone I'm excited to have on my roster.
Jrue Holiday, PG, Philadelphia 76ers (63): Holiday, like Evans, was supposed to become an elite player at some point this season, and it simply hasn't happened. The 76ers have been great, and Holiday is certainly a capable player and an important part of their success, but his game seems to have hit a lull as he's rebounding less, finding his teammates less, getting to the line less, and shooting the ball worse than he did last season. Considering the fact that he was drafted ahead of guys like Ty Lawson, Kyle Lowry and Brandon Jennings, one would have expected a third-year player like Holiday to make the sort of leaps those players have made. Instead, he's become an afterthought, ranked 20th among point guards on the Player Rater, behind guys like Jeff Teague, Luke Ridnour, Mario Chalmers and Jarrett Jack. There's nothing in his recent numbers that suggest this phenomenon is changing, either; it would appear that Holiday might only be as good as he is right now, and that means he certainly shouldn't be a top-50 pick again next season.
Devin Harris, PG, Utah Jazz (93): Amazingly, Harris has actually been healthier this season than he's been in years. If he keeps going at this pace (unlikely, actually, as he's questionable for Wednesday night's game against the Phoenix Suns), he'll play more games in this shortened season than he has in most of his full NBA seasons. And part of the blame, to be sure, is due to the fact that he's playing the fewest minutes since 2006-07, but it should also be noted that his decreased play time is in large part due to his decreased basketball skill. While he's actually shooting the ball as well as he has in years, he's also posting one of the lowest usage rates of his career (certainly his lowest since he became a full-time starting point guard). To put it simply, he's less assertive. Harris' best skill for years was his ability to dart into the lane and earn himself trips to the foul line, and part of the reason he's staying healthier this year might be the fact that he's shooting only about half as many free throws per game as he has in the past three seasons. Overall, he's still a useful player, but the days of his being a feared offensive weapon and important fantasy option are over.