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Fantasy Basketball Dynasty Risers - Week 3

Welcome back to our second edition of Dynasty Risers for the 2020-21 season!

In this weekly column, I will be highlighting four players whose dynasty stock has risen over the past week. It will include both young players breaking out and veterans who are fighting off father time and keeping their fantasy relevance alive.

While dynasty formats are the primary focus of this piece, the rise of each of the four players covered each week should also be noted by fantasy gamers in season-long leagues. So whether or not your league rolls over from year to year, this piece should still have plenty to offer on a weekly basis.

Editor's Note: Our incredible team of writers received five total writing awards and 13 award nominations by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association, tops in the industry! Congrats to all the award winners and nominees including NBA Writer of the Year, Best NFL Series, MLB Series, PGA Writer and Player Notes writer of the year. Be sure to follow their analysis, rankings and advice all year long, and win big with RotoBaller! Read More!

 

Franz Wagner (SG/SF, ORL)

Coming out of the University of Michigan this past year, the main skill set that attracted NBA scouts and general managers to forward Franz Wagner was his defensive versatility. Wagner was a ball hawk and a stellar all-around defender in his two years as a Wolverine. Last year, he averaged 1.3 steals and 1.0 blocks per game and was widely regarded as one of the top defenders in the Big 10.

Wagner’s offensive game, meanwhile, was a bit of a question going into the 2021 NBA Draft. He averaged just 12.5 points per game while shooting 34.3% from three-point range, an uninspiring percentage by NCAA standards.

Well, so far, through two weeks of his NBA career, Wagner looks like a completely different player on the offensive side of the ball. Over his first eight NBA games, he’s averaging 15.6 points and 2.4 three-pointers per game while shooting 50.5% from the field and 46.3% from three-point range. He’s been remarkably consistent, scoring in double figures each game he’s played while being a mainstay in the Magic’s starting lineup.

He’s been shooting the ball extremely well from outside, but he’s also been scoring in a variety of ways while showing off his athleticism, as seen here in this throw-down against the Timberwolves on Monday:

The Magic have had two key players sidelined by injuries to start the year: Markelle Fultz and Jonathan Isaac. However, neither of those players should affect Wagner’s playing time upon their return. At this point, there’s no reason to believe that Wagner will be conceding his starting spot. The Magic are a young team and they are going nowhere this year, so they will benefit most from allowing their best young players to see as much action as possible. Wagner should be a fixture on rosters in all fantasy leagues and he may even be a sleeper Rookie of the Year candidate if he can keep this production up.

 

Anfernee Simons (G, POR)

Despite being a four-year veteran, Portland Trail Blazers guard Anfernee Simons remains just 22 years young and won’t turn 23 until next summer. Translation: there’s still plenty of room for the former first round pick to grow.

Through the first two weeks of the season, Simons has been one of the Blazers’ most productive offensive players. He’s averaging 14.1 points per game (fourth on the team) and 2.9 three-pointers made per game (second on the team) while shooting 50.7% from the field and 44.4% from beyond the arc.

There’s been no question over the past few years that Simons has tremendous upside as a point-scorer. He can create for himself well and he’s got picture perfect form on his outside shot.

However, he’s struggled to find consistency and efficiency shooting the ball. He had a 39.9% field goal percentage in 2019-20 and he shot 41.9% from the field last year. Outside of points and three-pointers, Simons doesn’t have a ton to offer from a fantasy perspective at this point, so he really needs to remain efficient in order for his fantasy value to continue rising. If he can keep shooting the ball at a reasonable clip, he could materialize into a Jamal Crawford or Lou Williams type of player. And his usage rate could go up astronomically if the team winds up moving Damian Lillard or C.J. McCollum (or both).

 

P.J. Washington (PF/C, CHA)

Charlotte Hornets power forward/center P.J. Washington gave us a bit of a scare in the opening week of the season. He was sidelined for the team’s first two games of the year with a knee injury, then went on to struggle in his first games back. Over his first three games this year, he shot just 6-for-21 from the field and 2-for-10 from three-point range while averaging 6.0 points per game.

Lately, it’s been a different story for the former Kentucky Wildcat. Over his last two games, he’s been remarkably effective and efficient despite seeing under 20 minutes per contest. He’s shot 14-for-17 from the field (82.4%) while averaging 17.5 points, 1.5 threes and 2.0 blocks per game. Of course he won’t keep that gaudy field goal percentage up, but the last two games have been just a taste of what he can bring to the team, especially on the offensive end and in the shot-blocking department.

First-year Hornet Mason Plumlee has been dominating the center minutes for the team so far. He’s started each of the team’s eight games and he’s played about 28 minutes per game. He had a few big games early on, but he’s really struggled lately, especially on the offensive end. He’s scored just seven total points over his last three games while shooting 3-for-10 from the field.

Washington is a great fit for the Hornets’ exciting young offense. His ability to knock down outside shots at a solid clip allows him to be a great floor-stretching center or power forward to match with LaMelo Ball. He can also score on the inside and protect the rim, both of which on full display here:

Look for Washington’s minutes to go up as the season goes on while Plumlee’s minutes likely decline. Washington should be a strong all-around contributor for fantasy managers with a chance to be a top-50 type of asset in dynasty leagues by the season’s end.

 

Montrezl Harrell (PF/C, WAS)

This week’s long-time veteran looking to fight off the anti-veteran stigma all of us dynasty league fantasy managers are crippled by is Washington Wizards power forward/center Montrezl Harrell.

The 27-year-old saw his fantasy value take a massive dip during his lone season with the Los Angeles Lakers last year. He averaged just 13.5 points and 6.2 rebounds per game last year while seeing only about 23 minutes per game. Despite that limited playing time, he managed to be extremely efficient offensively as he shot 62.2% from the field.

This year so far, he’s been seeing about 32 minutes per contest and that increased playing time has proven to be all he needed to regain strong fantasy relevance. In fact, he’s been more productive from a fantasy perspective than he’s ever been before by most measures so far this year. Through seven games, he’s averaging 18.4 points, 9.9 rebounds and 1.0 blocks per game while shooting 59.7% from the field and 81.8% from the line.

Harrell has been coming off the bench for the team when starting center Daniel Gafford has been healthy, but he’s logging much more playing time than Gafford, who is averaging just 17.0 minutes per game. The 23-year-old Gafford is the better rim protector of the two (2.2 blocks per game this year), but Harrell has Gafford beat in just about every other area. Harrell could see his playing time take a hit when Rui Hachimura and Thomas Bryant return at some point this year (it’s very unclear when that will be for either player). However, if Harrell continues balling out like he has been, it’ll be hard for the team to reduce his minutes too drastically.

 



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