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Fantasy Basketball Week In Review: Week 1


Welcome to the RotoBaller NBA Recap. In this feature, we will highlight one key fantasy basketball takeaway from each night during the past week. These viewpoints can be both positive and negative and will hopefully help to provide insight into different roster moves you should consider making.

Fantasy basketball has a lot of moving pieces with all the different scoring settings that are possible to play under, so I will always do my best to spotlight where players gain or lose value in certain game types.

Without further ado, let's get right into the opening week of the season and try to figure out how to take advantage of what we saw transpire.

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Tuesday, October 22nd

The Toronto Raptors Are Not Extinct Quite Yet

I am not so sure that anyone knew quite what to make of the Toronto Raptors coming into the season. Losing Kawhi Leonard to free agency after leading your franchise to its first title in history was never going to be easy, but the team showed resolve on opening night by clawing their way to a 130-122 overtime victory over the New Orleans Pelicans.

If we use both Yahoo and ESPN ADP numbers, five players on their roster were being taken inside the top-100 selections, but only Pascal Siakam and Fred Vanvleet had substantial deviations between the two sites. Siakam, who inherited the new crown for the reigning NBA champions, was going 14th in ESPN leagues and 27th in Yahoo settings, while VanVleet just crept into the top-100 on Yahoo at an ADP of 92nd to go along with his going rate of 146th on ESPN.

Values between sites always create a fascinating dynamic since most owners tend to stick to the rankings placed before them. However, a thinking player can use that to their advantage when making both draft and trade decisions. While all that is good and well, that still doesn't help us to decipher what site was providing each to be over/undervalued.

Let's start with Siakam. Coming into the season, I would have said the 25-year-old was a much better option for those playing category leagues than point-based settings, but it appears that his new role might allow him to thrive as a top-20 talent in all environments. On the night, Siakam matched his career-high in made free throws and also set a new career-high in field goals attempted. His 18 boards had him fall just one short of tying his previous best, and it seems very clear that Siakam's new position as the man in charge of the offense will have him placed firmly in the spotlight this year. If we can continue to get this level of aggressiveness out of the Cameroon native, the sky is the limit.

As for VanVleet, it is safe to say that ESPN provided value for anyone savvy enough to scoop the former Wichita State product up during drafts. VanVleet exploded on opening night, scoring 34 points to go with five rebounds, seven assists, two steals and five three-pointers on 12-for-18 shooting from the field. That level of effectiveness will not be sustained for a player that shot just 41% last season, but as the teams' second option in go-to situations, VanVleet's aggressiveness will reward owners nicely in points-based leagues. His poor field goal percentage, middling assist total and subpar defensive statistics will reduce his value in category leagues, but it definitely seems as if Yahoo had his value closer to what was proper.

 

Wednesday, October 23rd

"This Game Has Always Been, And Will Always Be, About Buckets

Kyrie Irving went full Uncle Drew during his Barclays Center première as a member of the Brooklyn Nets, setting an NBA record for most points in a first game with a new team. His 50-point outburst topped Kiki Vandeweghe's record of 47 back in 1984, but while the game might be all about scoring buckets, the Nets ended up one basket short when Irving was unable to hit the game-winner in overtime on his 15-foot jump shot.

There were plenty of discussions during the offseason on if the Nets made the right decision in trading D'Angelo Russell away to the Golden State Warriors and signing Irving to a four-year, $141 million dollar deal, but let's be serious for a second. Despite coming up short as a team in the opening game of the year, there is a massive difference between the two men in terms of quality. Yes, Russell is a talented young player that can go through spurts of incredible production, but he is also the same member of the Nets that had to be benched during closing stretches of games last year because of his volatility. None of that is necessarily meant to be a putdown to Russell, but Irving is a six-time NBA All-Star that can carry teams on his back when push comes to shove.

Irving's debut in Brooklyn wasn't quite as raucous as it could have been because the team failed to find a victory, but with Kevin Durant a longshot to play more than a few games this regular season, Irving will be the face of the franchise and has a legitimate shot to take home league MVP honors. From a fantasy perspective, that makes the 27-year-old a first-round talent in practically all settings, although his most productive outputs will come in points leagues. If you drafted Irving this season, enjoy the ride. It should be a fun one.

Thursday, October 24th

Trae Young Sees His Value Soar Like A Hawk

I was a huge fan of Trae Young going into his sophomore season. Yahoo had him pegged at an ADP of 20th overall, while ESPN had him placed at 34th. I thought 20th was perhaps a little high, but I definitely acquired my fair share of the sharpshooting guard in ESPN leagues.

Part of my reason for optimism stemmed around his ability to produce in all scoring settings. Points league participants were able to draft him for his explosive nature and high assist numbers, and category league members didn't have too many things to gripe about. Sure, Young will drain your field goal percentage production and only provide marginal defensive numbers, but his ability for threes, points, assists, rebounds and free throw percentage made him an interesting addition to most roster constructions - especially in leagues where turnovers are not used as a counting statistic.

On Thursday, the former Oklahoma Sooner erupted for 38 points on 11-for-21 shooting from the field - adding seven rebounds, nine assists, one steal and six three-pointers during the teams' 117-110 road victory over the Detroit Pistons. It is naive to expect Young to remain that efficient from the field this year, but that general form of combustion should shine through sporadically throughout the year. It is never easy to land a player after a big performance, but players on ESPN do have a window of opportunity because of Young's perceived value coming into the year. If he doesn't replicate his output on Saturday against the Orlando Magic, you might still be able to get him for a bargain price compared to what his true value should have been.

 

Friday, October 25th

Will The Real Kemba Walker Please Stand Up?

Kemba Walker's season got off to an abysmal start on Wednesday night against the Philadelphia 76ers. The three-time All-Star was only able to provide 12 points on four of 18 shooting - adding just two rebounds and two assists. It couldn't have been a much worse debut for Walker and the Celtics, especially after Kyrie Irving exploded in his first Brooklyn Nets appearance and left Boston fans wondering "why?"

Unfortunately for the All-NBA Third Teamer in 2019, things did not get off to a much better start on Friday against the Toronto Raptors. Walker struggled mightily throughout the entire first quarter, connecting on only one of his first eight shots from the field and entered halftime with only four points. However, like any true star in this league, the former Connecticut product came to life in the fourth quarter with an 11-point onslaught in his first three minutes on the court.

Walker will have to adjust to a life of having other playmakers and scorers around him, but that is not necessarily a negative. We should expect his usage to decrease from his past standards, which will cause his scoring and three-point outputs to dwindle slightly, but an eventual uptick in efficiency should take place once he becomes acclimated to his surroundings. Add that to the fact that extra scorers around him should mean more assists, and you start building a picture of one of the best buy-low players in the league right now. If you own him, be patient. But if you don't currently have him on your squad and could use a boost in scoring or three-point potential, it wouldn't hurt to test the waters to see just how anxious his current owner might be about his slow start.

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