Bargains on the Bucks' Bench
Outside of Brandon Jennings, Monta Ellis, Ersan Ilyasova, and Samuel Dalembert (ugh), there weren't any Bucks expected to make much of a splash in fantasy this season. However, thanks to strong play from Milwaukee's bench unit in the early going, we have a couple more names from Cheese Head Territory to consider: Mike Dunleavy Jr. and Larry Sanders.
Dunleavy is a player most fantasy owners are familiar with, as he has held nice value in past seasons. Still, he remained largely overlooked in drafts due to his status as a reserve. If the first three games of the season are any indication, we made a mistake bypassing the veteran wing. Through three games, Dunleavy has averaged 15.3 points, 6.7 rebounds, 3.0 treys, and 1.7 steals as the Bucks' sixth man. That production is good enough to rank eighth overall on a per-game basis according to Yahoo's player ranker. With Stephen Jackson and Carlos Delfino no longer in town to steal away minutes, Dunleavy will continue to be a threat off the bench.
After posting averages of just 3.6 points and 3.1 rebounds last season, Sanders was rightfully neglected in drafts. The Bucks' frontcourt is crowded with the likes of Dalembert, Ilyasova, Drew Gooden, Ekpe Udoh, and rookie John Henson, making it look very unlikely that Sanders would somehow emerge as one of the better options off the bunch. Of course, that's exactly what Sanders has managed to do, posting averages of 12.3 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 3.0 blocks in 26 minutes per game.
Sanders showed this kind of promise while at Virginia Commonwealth University, but he always seemed to make too many mental mistakes and was consistently in Bucks' coach Scott Skiles' doghouse during his first two seasons. Now appearing to have matured, Sanders looks like a good breakout candidate.
Neither Dunleavy (59.3 percent) nor Sanders (70.8 percent) will continue to shoot at otherworldly clips from the floor, but both players should continue to play significant roles under Skiles. After all, this is the same coach who has made reserve players such as Rodney Rogers (PHO), Ben Gordon (CHI), and Luke Ridnour (MIL) worthy of fantasy consideration under his watch.
Every week, we'll use this space to track players whose fantasy value is improving, declining, or uncertain. We're not particularly concerned with hot or cold streaks - all players toss up a 2-for-10 game every now and then - unless they are extreme or seem to indicate an underlying problem or injury. Instead, we'll be looking at changes in playing time, rotation role, or performance.
J.J. Redick, G, ORL – Redick has got off to a scorching start this season, averaging 17.8 points, 5.0 assists, and 2.3 three-pointers per game. He's posting career-high numbers across the board thanks to a boost in playing time (31 mpg) while hitting 52.1 percent of his shots from the floor and half of his three-point attempts. His role has especially picked up since Hedo Turkoglu went on the shelf with broken left hand. Turkolglu is expected to miss at least four weeks, so make Redick one of your top priorities while shopping on the waiver wire this week.
Patrick Patterson, F, HOU – After missing much of the preseason, and the regular season opener, with a quad injury, Patterson returned to the Rockets' rotation last week. He was immediately inserted into the starting lineup and has been handed nearly 33 mpg over his three appearances. Patterson has made the most of his playing time, averaging 13.0 points, 6.0 rebounds, 1.0 steals, and 0.7 blocks. He's also managed to show off some newfound range on his jump shot, nailing three triples. The Rockets' power forward position looked to be a muddled mess prior to the season, but Patterson is making a strong case that he's the best four in Houston to own in fantasy.
Kevin Seraphin, F/C, WAS – Seraphin broke out late last season, but his fantasy value took a hit after the Wizards acquired Emeka Okafor during the offseason. Early indications are we overreacted to how much impact Okafor would have, as Seraphin is proving to be the best Wizards' big man to own. Through his first two games, Seraphin has averaged an impressive 17.5 points and eight rebounds. He's played more than twice as many minutes as Okafor over those two games and could eventually supplant the veteran as the starting center.
Ramon Sessions, G, CHA – Sessions was an afterthought in many drafts after he lost out on the starting point guard gig to Kemba Walker, but the 26-year-old journeyman is proving to still be a fantasy asset in his reserve role. In just 28 mpg, Sessions has averaged 16.7 points, 6.0 assists, and 1.0 three, while shooting 91.3 percent from the charity stripe on 23 attempts. He's owned in just 39 percent of Yahoo! Leagues, but Sessions warrants consideration in most formats with 10 or more teams.
Byron Mullens, F/C, CHA – Say hello to this year's Ryan Anderson. Through three games, Mullens is averaging 15.3 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 2.7 three-pointers – numbers eerily similar to the production Anderson posted during his breakout campaign last season. Mullens has established himself as Charlotte's primary three-point threat, launching a ridiculous eight treys per game so far. He's an immediate must-add if you need help in the three-point category.
Jae Crowder, F, DAL – Crowder became an interesting player to watch after a strong preseason, but his limited playing time still quelled his fantasy potential. With Shawn Marion (knee) now on the shelf, Crowder has been given the opportunity to see extra run as the Mavericks' starting small forward. He managed just eight points, four rebounds, and two threes in his first start Wednesday night, but Crowder will have an opportunity to improve on that effort for as long as Marion is sidelined. The unheralded second-round pick is worth a look as an injury fill-in for deeper leagues.
Kyle Lowry, G, TOR – Lowry went down with an ankle injury Tuesday night, forcing him to miss Wednesday's loss against the Mavericks. Luckily, the injury has been diagnosed as a low ankle sprain, which means Lowry should be able to make a quick recovery. His status for Saturday's tilt against the Sixers is still up in the air. Jose Calderon started Wednesday and will continue to hold extra value if Lowry misses any more action.
Jose Barea, G, MIN – Barea suffered a mid-foot sprain in his left foot after running into the scorer's table during Wednesday's win over the Magic. He'll be re-evaluated Thursday to determine the severity of the injury. Consider him day-to-day for now.
John Wall, G, WAS – Wall has a doctors visit scheduled for Thursday, at which time we should get a clearer picture of a timetable for his return. He was previously targeting a return on Nov. 30, but that date now seems likely to pass with Wall still sporting street clothes. Keep a close eye out for the results from his visit with doctors to determine what to do with Wall going forward.
Danny Granger, F, IND – Granger's injury situation took a turn for the worse this week as he received an injection for the patellar tendinosis in his left knee, which will sideline him for the next three months. That puts a return right around the All-Star break for the Pacers' star forward. Gerald Green and Lance Stephenson will see the biggest boosts in value while Granger is out.
Emeka Okafor, C, WAS – The aforementioned Okafor has been outplayed by his backup over the past two games. As a result, Okafor has averaged just 14 mpg over that stretch. The veteran big man can still haul in rebounds and block shots at a solid rate when he's on the floor, but his value takes a big hit if he continues to get limited run. The rebuilding Wizards would be better off letting their young guys, like Seraphin, get the extra run, so fantasy owners should take that queue and look for younger options with more upside as well.
Samuel Dalembert, C, MIL – Thanks to Sanders' breakout in Milwaukee, Dalembert has lost much of the projected value he held on draft day. Dalembert is playing under 14 mpg game through the first three contests, which would mark his lowest amount of playing time since his rookie season in 2001-02. The fact Dalembert posted fantasy relevant numbers while playing just 22 mpg in Houston last season leaves us with hope he'll rebound, but he looks awfully out of place with the Bucks in the early going. The veteran big man is worth stashing on the bench in deeper formats, but shallow leagues can start shopping for a replacement.
Andrew Bogut, C, GS – The Warriors are erring on the side of caution with Bogut, limiting him to 20 mpg while also sitting him on the backend of back-to-backs as he makes his way back from last year's ankle injury. Unfortunately his fantasy production has taken a huge hit as a result. Through his first four games, Bogut has averaged six points, 3.8 rebounds and one block. He looks rusty when on the court and clearly doesn't have the explosiveness to be as disruptive of a defender as in years past. Bogut will start to perform better as the season wears on and he rounds into shape, but he's not at the necessary level to plug into your starting lineup yet. Just before submitting this to my editor, it was announced Bogut will be shelved for the next seven-to-10 days, putting his health and fantasy value even further into question.