Fantasy Doctor, NBA / Dec 13, 2011 / 11:00 am

Top 20 Sleepers In 2011-12 Fantasy Basketball

Gerald Henderson

Gerald Henderson (photo. Nicky Woo)

Let’s be honest: Drafting the sleepers you want in the round you want is one of the most satisfying feelings in fantasy basketball. That said, sleepers are a dangerous breed. Like fair trades in the NBA these days, sleepers are not sure things and can sometimes burn you if you pounce too early on them. To help sort out the sleepers you should be eyeing in your fantasy basketball drafts this year, here’s a list of players who are napping, dozing and comatose (assuming nine categories).

Napping (sleepers in a loose sense of the word, because just about everyone knows it):

Arron Afflalo (SG, TBA): Wherever he lands, Afflalo will be asked to shoulder a bigger portion of the load this season. He doesn’t hurt you in a single statistical category, which makes him a low-risk asset. (Target in rounds 6-7)

Jared Dudley (SG/SF, Suns): Vince Carter‘s gone, which means the starting SG spot is all Dudley’s. From Dec. 2, 2010, through the end of the last season, Dudley played in 65 games (15 starts, 50 off the bench) where he returned top 80 value. Like Afflalo, you’d be hard-pressed to find a statistical category where Dudley will hurt you. He’ll be an especially solid source of threes and steals. (Target in rounds 6-7)

Jeff Teague (PG/SG, Hawks): Kirk Hinrich is going to miss the beginning of the season as he recovers from shoulder surgery, which means Teague will get the reins of the offense right away. The young point guard showed off his skills in the first five games of the Hawks’ six-game playoff series against the Bulls (the last one was a blowout): During this stretch, Teague shot 56 percent from the field and averaged 17.0 points, 3.0 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.0 turnover per game, matching up against Derrick Rose no less. That said, he should still be viewed as a mostly untested player who doesn’t hit many threes. (Target in rounds 8-9)

DeAndre Jordan (PF/C, Clippers): This one’s only for those in head-to-head formats. Jordan, freshly re-signed with the Clippers, shoots a high percentage from the field (68.6 percent last season), blocks a lot of shots (1.8 per game last season) and rebounds the ball pretty well (7.2 per game last season). The downsides are that he’s awful from the free-throw line (45.2 percent last season) and still has Chris Kaman to contend with – for now. If Kaman’s banished from the Clippers, as expected, Jordan’s stock goes even higher. For now, he’s a raw big man who can help you in some categories. It would be exciting to see how high his ceiling is if he’s given the lion’s share of minutes at center for the Clippers this season. (Target in rounds 9-10)

Dozing (these guys aren’t going to sneak up on you, but you might be underestimating their values):

Tony Allen (SG/SF, Grizzlies): He eagerly tweeted a welcome to two new teammates in what was believed to be a trade sending O.J. Mayo to the Pacers before calling it a “false alarm,” but that doesn’t change the fact that Allen will be a great value pick in drafts this season. He proved last year that he’s capable of doing a lot when given around 28-29 minutes a game, and if Mayo is dealt away, Allen should have no problem notching that much playing time. Regardless, Allen is a thieving machine who also shoots a high percentage from the field. Keep a close eye on the Mayo situation, as it can tip the scales hugely in favor of Allen’s fantasy prospects. (Target in rounds 8-10)

C.J. Miles (SG/SF, Jazz): Miles had a breakout campaign last season. Though he struggled with his field-goal percentage, he was a helper with threes and chipped in well-rounded lines. He’s 15 pounds lighter than he was last season and is in better overall shape, which is a bonus. Expect him to start at SG or SF for the Jazz this season and average around 15/3.5/2 along with around 1.5 threes a game. (Target in rounds 7-8)

Austin Daye (SF/PF, Pistons): He had a sleeper tag put on him last season but never fulfilled those expectations. Daye will be a big part of the youth movement in Detroit and should start for his team this season. In 16 starts in 2010-11, he averaged 11.4 points, 4.4 rebounds, 0.9 assists, 0.4 steals, 0.4 blocks and 1.7 threes per game. While he shot at a solid clip from the charity stripe (87.1 percent in those starts), Daye struggled from the field (42.6 percent in those starts, 41.0 percent for the whole season). He’s got a high ceiling and should offer great returns for owners fortunate enough to nab him at the right spot this year. (Target in rounds 8-9)

Paul George (SG/SF, Pacers): George had a solid rookie campaign last season. His averages per 36 minutes were 13.5 points, 6.4 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.8 steals, 0.7 blocks and 1.2 threes. With more muscle on his frame and a starting SG spot with his name on it, George will have plenty of opportunities to build on his all-around appeal from 2010-11. If, however, the Pacers acquire another productive shooting guard (e.g., Mayo), George’s appeal will fall a bit. Don’t spring too soon on him in your drafts, but don’t let him fall too low, either. (Target in rounds 10-12)

Toney Douglas (PG/SG, Knicks): The professional Chauncey Billups is a victim of the amnesty clause and the peg-legged Mike Bibby will don a Knicks uniform this season. The door is open for Douglas to get a solid 30 minutes a night this season. In nine games as a starter last season, Douglas averaged 52.2 percent from the field, 81.8 percent from the line, 2.4 threes, 13.9 points, 3.0 rebounds, 5.7 assists, 0.7 steals and 1.6 turnovers in 29 minutes per contest. If nothing else, Douglas will be a solid source of threes and steals on your bench. But there’s a good chance he’ll be more than that in 2011-12. (Target in rounds 8-9)

Carlos Delfino (SG/SF, Bucks): His stellar play was derailed by a pesky concussion last season, but we learned that Delfino is a three-point beast when healthy. He averaged 2.1 treys per game in 2010-11, along with 11.5 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.6 steals. Assuming he stays well in 2011-12, Delfino should have no problem asserting himself as a well-known and sought-after fantasy asset. (Target in rounds 7-8)

DeMar DeRozan (SG/SF, Raptors): DeRozan was a fantasy stud last year – if your league didn’t count three-pointers made. He says that his three-point shot is improved heading into this season, which is great news, but don’t put too much stock into it just yet. If he feels more comfortable jacking up shots from downtown and takes some time to actually connect on a healthy number of them, it could do his field-goal percentage no favors. Still, DeRozan is a promising player on a team desperate for a star, so look for him to build on his solid numbers from last season. (Target in rounds 7-8)

DeJuan Blair (PF/C, Spurs): With the veteran Tim Duncan heading into a season that will put a lot of strain on that old body of his, Blair will be looked upon to carry a heavier load this season. He’s apparently in better shape, which is good news. Blair should be able to approach double-doubles and a steal or two on a nightly basis. (Target in rounds 9-11)

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  • Simon

    I was able to pick up Afflalo and Ed Davis last night so I’m happy to see them on this list! Any idea where Afflalo is playing yet?

  • http://dimemag.com/author/the-fantasy-doctor/ The Fantasy Doctor

    @Simon: Nice work. No sure signs yet, though the Nuggets can match any offer for his services. Nene will probably be the precursor to whatever happens with Afflalo.

  • http://www.conradburry.com Conrad

    League format: assists = 2pts, all other stats = 1pt, TOs = -1 pts.

    I’ve got the 6th pick, and I’m thinking Bron, KD, Rose, CP3 will be gone, so is this a good ranking of the next couple of guys: 1. Wade, 2. Russ, 3. Deron, 4. Dwight?

    Also, with the 19th pick it seems I’ll have the choice between Dirk or Z-Bo? Which is best in my scoring format?

  • http://dimemag.com/author/the-fantasy-doctor/ The Fantasy Doctor

    @Conrad: I might go: Westbrook, D-Will, Wade and D-Ho. With the 19th, I’d lean toward Z-Bo.

  • Banny

    Austin Daye won’t be starting. Joe re signed Tayshaun, and Jerebko will be starting at the 4.

  • http://www.conradburry.com Conrad

    Thanks, Doc…any reason you dropped Wade? Think Bosh and Bron cut more into his production than KD & Co into Russ’s?

    Also, Horford or Jrue with my 3rd pick? I’m thinking about Lowry, Joe J, or Gay for my 4th…

    ps: It’s good to have you back in the fantasy bball biz! It’s been far too long!

  • http://dimemag.com/author/the-fantasy-doctor/ The Fantasy Doctor

    @Conrad: Only because assists are +2 — makes those point guards a lot more valuable. You can’t really go wrong with any of those guys though. I’d go with Horford in the third and Lowry or Gay in the fourth.

  • .K.i.n.G.

    you guys just went comatose on Greg Monroe, he’s only gonna get better!

  • http://dimemag.com/author/the-fantasy-doctor/ The Fantasy Doctor

    @.K.i.n.G.: Agreed — he should be a top 50 player this season. He, Lowry, Gortat and Lawson aren’t even sleepers at this point, at least in my book.

  • http://www.conradburry.com Conrad

    Duly noted, Doc…thanks again.

    @K.I.N.G.: they didnt go comatose; Monroe is universally seen as a #2 or #3 forward in all formats this season. that’s not exactly a sleeper-candidate.

  • .K.i.n.G.

    @Conrad: definitely, if you are a fantasy vet and an nba junkie, if you’re playing fantasy for the first time or just a noob (which is why I assume dime has a Fantasy Doctor in the first place) Greg Monroe will probably go under the radar. Just surprised he wasn’t mentioned but not disagreeing with how he should be ranked.

    Just wondering, does anyone on here plays points only style? Cause there are no solid rankings for this style of fantasy

  • Jason


    Do you think I should pull the trigger on this trade.. i’m thinking so.

    Rudy Gay and Chris Kaman for Mike Conley and Andrew Bynum.

    I have conley and bynum. I think it’d be a good deal for me- im nervous about bynum being out plus he is suspended. Do you think its good?

  • http://dimemag.com/author/the-fantasy-doctor/ The Fantasy Doctor

    @Jason: Yep, you’re getting the best player in the deal in Gay. If Kaman lands somewhere pleasant, even better — if not, you have a waiver-wire opening to use wisely.

  • http://www.conradburry.com Conrad

    @KING: Yeah, I play the CBS points-based style, and they have decent rankings there, but I’ve just gone through and made my own using there’s as a base nonetheless.

  • http://www.conradburry.com Conrad