Keep or cut?
Who's worth dropping to pick up latest waiver-wire stars?
As early season games unfold and surprise fantasy value emerges from the box scores, every waiver-wire decision is two-fold: whom to add, and sometimes more difficult to determine, whom to drop? As I mentioned last week, it's important to have fluidity with your bench spots early in the season to capitalize upon available value, but at what point is it safe to drop a player who initially was viewed as a key cog in your fantasy rotation?
Of the top 100 players on the final 2011-12 Player Rater, 70 of them had an average draft position of 100 or better. Thus, 30 percent of players drafted to be part of a starting fantasy lineup did not finish in the top 100 overall.
Looking at this season, then, as a general rule it makes sense for us to hold onto about 70 percent of players drafted in the top 100, or your first seven picks in a 10-team league. Unless the player to be added is irresistible, either dripping with upside or worth starting immediately, hold onto players you drafted as unquestionable starters until we have a larger sample size with which to evaluate their season-long prospects. Among those in the lower echelon of the top 100, though, here are players I'd either hold or consider dropping, depending on your roster and league size:
Drop: Samuel Dalembert, Tony Allen, Rodney Stuckey, Elton Brand, Jared Dudley, Ben Gordon, Trevor Ariza, Shawn Marion, Jason Kidd, Jose Calderon, Kris Humphries, Mario Chalmers, Spencer Hawes, Harrison Barnes, Jason Richardson
Cutting somebody special is tough. I often play my cassette single of "It's So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday" while making roster cuts to affect the mood accordingly. It gets weird around here sometimes. On the bright side, let's take a look at some shiny new faces that are widely available and worth considering as waiver-wire additions:
E'Twaun Moore, SG, Orlando Magic (38.1 percent owned): With injuries to Jameer Nelson and Hedo Turkoglu, Arron Afflalo has been playing the 3, and Moore, with his excellent jumper, has responded impressively in the starting lineup, averaging 13.8 points with 4.5 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 1.8 3-pointers and 1.0 steals per game. He had a stellar preseason, averaging 11.4 points with 2.9 3s per game, and averaged 18.0 points with 2.1 3s and 1.2 steals in his senior season at Purdue. The all-around production should drop off some once playmakers Nelson and Turkoglu return, but the shooting is legit, as he shot 40 percent from downtown in college. He's developing his point guard abilities, and has good basic facilitation skills but needs to continue to grow in that area to play the point in the NBA for an extended period of time. Despite his mediocre athleticism, he's capable defensively, has a winner's mentality, and should continue seeing minutes and shine as a spot-up shooter all season.
Byron Mullens, PF/C, Charlotte Bobcats (35.4 percent owned): His preseason 3-point shooting barrage was a hot topic, then he started the season slowly from downtown until exploding for 6-for-10 shooting from behind the arc Wednesday. He is primed to contribute heavily in the category. He extended his range to long 2-pointers in his mini-breakout campaign last season, and now that he's draining 3s, his fantasy value has a new potential as he's primed to put up Channing Frye-esque stats. Despite the 8.3 rebounds per game so far, he's a poor rebounder for his size, and will provide subpar defensive stats from a center, but will give you nice out-of-position stats and is an ideal complementary piece if you have a guard like Dwyane Wade or Rajon Rondo who doesn't nail 3s and need to compensate elsewhere on your roster.
Danny Green, SG, San Antonio Spurs (24.5 percent owned): My favorite aspect of Green's college stats is his 1.5 3s, 1.8 steals and 1.3 blocks per game his senior season at North Carolina. That type of combo is rare from a shooting guard, and although it took him a few years to get going, he flashed that skill set in 23.1 minutes per game last season, averaging 1.5 3s, 0.7 steals and 0.9 blocks per game. The biggest difference this year is minutes, as he's starting and averaging 30.2 minutes, with 2.4 3s, 0.8 steals and 0.6 blocks per game. He can score, too, and although his percentages are average, he never turns the ball over. Those "glue" stats he provides are typically reserved to small forwards or power forwards, so Green has extra value providing them from the shooting guard slot and is worth adding in all leagues.
Kevin Seraphin, PF/C, Washington Wizards (24.2 percent owned): We got a glimpse of Seraphin's potential in April, when he averaged 15.5 points, 7.0 rebounds, 1.7 blocks and 0.6 steals in 15 games. He scores efficiently by keeping his attempts close to the rim, as he averaged just 0.7 shots from beyond 10 feet last year, so the 22-year-old not only provides blocks, he produces points and a solid field goal percentage. He had an impressive run in the Olympics with the French national team, averaging 1.3 blocks per game. With Nene out, he should get plenty of opportunity to produce, and is clearly a future part of this franchise.
Taj Gibson, PF, Chicago Bulls (15.5 percent owned): With the Bulls extending Gibson's contract and Omer Asik out of the picture, logic dictates that his minutes at some point will increase into the upper 20's, a threshold he hasn't hit since his rookie year. His per-minute defensive stats are stellar (6.2 rebounds, 1.3 blocks, 0.5 steals in 23.2 minutes per game in his career), and he's on a shot-blocking spree to start the season, averaging 2.5 in just 19.5 minutes per game. This is more of a speculative add. Until he gets more minutes, his production will be inconsistent, but he's too productive per-minute and tied to the Bulls' long-term plan to not eventually earn more playing time. When he does, you'll be pleased if he's on your fantasy roster.
Larry Sanders, PF/C, Milwaukee Bucks (14.7 percent owned): Like Gibson, Sanders has been a per-minute stud so far in his career, and now he's getting more run, more than doubling his minutes from 12.4 last season to 26.0 in three games this year, averaging 3.0 blocks per game. It's a small sample size and the Bucks' frontcourt is convoluted with Ersan Ilyasova, Drew Gooden, Samuel Dalembert and Ekpe Udoh soaking up minutes, but he's separating himself with impressive raw skills. I wouldn't expect double-digit scoring, although he should be efficient, as most of his baskets are around the rim, and he should be a regular on the "SportsCenter" top plays with his elite athleticism. Where he makes his money is on the defensive end, as Sanders could average 2.5 blocks and 1.0 steals per game if his minutes stay in the mid 20's.
Steve Blake, PG, Los Angeles Lakers (3.2 percent owned): There's nothing exciting about Blake other than the fact that for the next month, he's the starting point guard for a team loaded with offensive options, and he should provide modest assists, steals and 3s. Blake struggled from downtown last season, averaging just 33.5 percent on 3-point attempts, a number that's jumped up to 43.8 percent this season. He's averaging 3.6 assists, 1.6 steals and 1.4 3s thus far, and will be a dependable 3-category player until Steve Nash returns.
Randy Foye, PG/SG, Utah Jazz (3.1 percent owned): He's bound to be erratic in the sixth man role for the Jazz, although has shown throughout his career capable of scoring as well as providing 3s and steals. No longer attempting to be a do-it-all combo guard, he's settled in as a scoring and 3-point specialist, which has improved his productivity. He's scored in double figures in four of Utah's five games, and should provide double-digit scoring with about two 3s per game, similar numbers to his career year last season, and worthy of a spot for teams in deeper leagues that need 3s.
Jonas Jerebko, SF/PF, Detroit Pistons (0.3 percent owned): Like Seraphin, Gibson and Sanders, Jerebko deserves to play more, and once he does, helpful fantasy stats should follow. He has a nice-looking stroke on his outside shot, can be effective in the high post, and provides energy to a team lacking dynamism. He won't wow in any category but has the potential to be an above-average, across-the-board contributor with nice percentages, and his counting stats should flirt with one 3, one steal and half a block if he gets his minutes in the upper 20's. Another speculative add for deeper leagues who could click as rotations shake out.
For more about potential pickups and other fantasy analysis during the week, follow me on Twitter, and as always be sure to watch plenty of actual basketball, the best way to pick up on player trends that don't show up in the box scores.