Read below for points-league rankings and reaction.
Points-league rankings and reaction
The greatest piece of advice for competing in points formats is to ignore nuance. Head-to-head formats and roto leagues are often driven by eight or nine statistical categories. Such setups demand statistical balance from your roster to compete, which means we must pursue a diversity of production.
None of this applies in points leagues, where volume is king and a block is just as valuable as a rebound. While we know blocks and steals are inherently more scarce and difficult to source than scoring points or grabbing an uncontested defensive rebound, ESPN's points-league scoring equates all contributions, thus we should ignore the specialists (save for the rare volume-driven rebounder or scorer) and instead covet opportunity rates.
For instance, Klay Thompson can fuel a roto roster in 3-point production for the entire season, but without great rebounding or assist rates, he's found at 87th in points per game in ESPN points scoring.
Is Will Barton a more valuable basketball player in the general sense than Thompson? Of course not, but in points leagues, his busier usage rate and overall sum of production is greater, thus he's more valued in this format.
With voluminous production in mind, how do managers of Rudy Gobert react to his multi-week injury? I often direct you to the league's player-tracking index in such scenarios, and again I'll advise you peruse the rebounding opportunity leaderboard and sort by recent results (say the past five games). You'll find names such as Milwaukee's John Henson, Chicago's Bobby Portis (who is currently 24th in fantasy points per game!) and Charlotte's Cody Zeller populate the list alongside proven veterans. You can't just replace a player like Gobert in a single click on the waiver wire, but I do think if you grind for widely available glass-cleaners such as the aforementioned trio, you can at least approximate the production to a degree.
While we're starting to see influential injuries affect the market, we can also turn to the wave of players on the mend. The Hornets have Nicolas Batum on the mend and likely to return in the next week, a move that could deflate Jeremy Lamb's strong start. The Bulls have two notable producers returning soon, with Nikola Mirotic ramping towards a return and Zach LaVine, who could quickly become a big scoring threat once he's back in the mix.
I try to account for all of these shifts in the market in this week's edition of updated points ranks. As always, the idea is to curate these with respect to rest-of-season value.
Damian Lillard is on the ascent, given he's maintaining an awesome production level that appears maintainable with notable improvements as a distributor for an already elite scoring weapon.
John Wall endured a slow shooting start but his touches per game and volume support top-10 value going forward. Both of these super guards have earned fixed spots in the top 10, given the sustainability of their usage and production patterns. Chris Paul's return is looming, so I've cautiously bumped him up, considering how rewarding the pace-and-space environment in Houston can prove.
Past the elite tier at the position, I find value in Reggie Jackson's ball-dominant role with Detroit. It's not always aesthetically pleasing basketball, but Jackson is a production magnet, since he orchestrates the pick-and-roll so often. I'd be happy to buy on Jackson in points leagues, given his busy role on a winning team.
Even while facing a 32.2 percent dip in scoring production, Jimmy Butler is 32nd in fantasy points per game, thanks to rich rebounding and assist rates. It's likely a great time to trade for Butler, as his scoring production and shooting efficiency are due for a sizable positive correction.
Doing his best Jamal Crawford impersonation, Lou Williams is thriving as the scoring microwave for the Clippers. In this volume-centric format, Williams is 67th in points per game and is likely undervalued in your trade market.
I'd also stash LaVine for similar reasons, as he could easily loft more than seven shots per game from beyond the arc upon his return, driving a fairly high-scoring ceiling.
Andrew Wiggins has added small forward eligibility on ESPN and is 40th in fantasy points per game. I doubt the marketplace is appropriately valuing him at the moment, thus making him an interesting trade target.
Another scoring maestro likely flying under the radar is TJ Warren of the Phoenix Suns. If I told you Warren is 41st in fantasy points per game in this format, just ahead of Draymond Green, would you believe me? You probably would now that I've told you, but the point is clear that Warren is out-producing his reputation and could continue this level of production, thanks to the Suns' high pace and need for scoring pop. I tend to fade scoring specialists in category formats, since the market often overvalues them like the baseball crowd might overpay for a guy with a high, if hollow, batting average. In this format, however, scoring specialists such as Wiggins and Warren are welcomed contributors.
The biggest riser in all of the ranks this week goes to Tyreke Evans of the Memphis Grizzlies. Posting career-bests in shooting rates across the board has buoyed a strong start for the versatile forward, and a thin wing depth chart in Memphis seems to support value going forward. Congrats to those who added this gem on the waiver wire earlier in the season.
Al-Farouq Aminu is a surprising inclusion in the top 100 this week, but the do-everything glue guy for the Trail Blazers is 92nd in fantasy points per game and enjoying a career high in minutes this season.
On the other end of the value spectrum, I'd market Serge Ibaka if he has a few big box scores in the coming weeks; his block and usage rates are nearing career lows, and he simply doesn't rebound much anymore, as he's down to just 5.6 pulls per game.
I was unabashedly high on Mirotic heading into the season and still think he can become a top-100 contributor in the months ahead, but it's clear Portis has adapted his game as a stretch forward ideal for Fred Hoiberg's system. I'd be fine moving Ibaka for Portis, even if that appears to be poor value based on reputation.
Myles Turner takes a bit of a dive in the rankings, given the enduring presence of elite rebounder Domantas Sabonis. Last season, Turner averaged 15.6 rebounding chances and is now down to 12.2 over the past five games, a 21.8 percent dip in opportunity rate on the glass. Like I discussed in the introduction, players whose value is driven by prominence in scarce stats such as blocks, as Turner is, tend to get hurt in points formats because of the demand for volume above all else. It's quite possible Turner increases his efficiency on the boards, but I think Sabonis is the team's best defensive rebounder.
You might want to sit down for this, but Joel Embiid played 36 minutes against the Clippers this past Monday night. Now that his minutes restriction appears increasingly hypothetical, Embiid is unleashing his brand of bully ball on the league's centers and is now 13th overall in fantasy points per game. Now I might have to sit down, as there are currently two 76ers players in the top 18 (including Ben Simmons) in fantasy production. This is what it's all about for fantasy managers: seeing elite prospects such as Philly's tandem making the leap.