We’re only a few games in but there are players available in the ESPN player pool who could help your fantasy teams right away. All ten of the players listed below are under 40% owned on ESPN, and nine of the ten are under 30%. All ten are currently in the top 150 on the player rater for ESPN Basic, eight of ten are in the top 100, and two of the players are in the top 50.
(All numbers as of Sunday morning)
SF OG Anunoby, Raptors (8.3% ownership)
Anunoby, the small forward heir to the departed Kawhi Leonard, is averaging 12+ PPG and 7 RPG on 57% shooting, and he has 7 total blocks through three games. He’s 6’7”, he’s 22 years old, and the Raptors wouldn’t include him in trade deals. He and Pascal Siakam make a fearsome defensive front on the wing. Of the 42 players in the NBA who are currently averaging 12/7, OG is 37th in attempted shots per game. If he remains efficient, his shot attempts will go up. Bet on youth, fit, and defense.
SG Luke Kennard, SG, Pistons (11% ownership)
Dukie Lukie had a great first game (30 points, 6 3-pointers made), and then two very solid games. He’s averaging 19+ PPG, 2+ RPG, 2+ assists per game, and 3+ 3PM per game. Less than 40 players averaged 19/2/2, and only 7 players did that while also averaging at least three 3PM per game: James Harden, Paul George, Steph Curry, Dame Lillard, Kemba Walker, Klay Thompson, and Buddy Hield. Kennard was drafted to be a long-range gunner for the Pistons to complement Andre Drummond inside. Is Kennard blossoming into that role in his third year? He has the 15th best True Shooting percentage (67 TS%) of players averaging 30 MPG. He’s currently averaging the third-most shots on Detroit through three games; we’ll see what happens when Blake Griffin returns.
PF Davis Bertans, Wizards (1.2% ownership)
Davis Bertans is a 6’10” stretch big for the maybe not miserable Washington Wizards. He’s fourth in MPG on the Wizzle-Wazzles so far, and he’s averaging 14+ PPG with 3+ 3PM. He’s a complementary player who’s meant to spread the floor for Bradley Beal, rookie Rui Hachimura, and Isaiah Thomas, and he’s a nice option to pair with Thomas Bryant, Washington’s center. His role may change when CJ Miles returns, but Bertans was one of the Spurs’ best long distance shooters last year, and outside shooting, especially paired with minutes, is always useful in fantasy. Y’know how many people averaged 14+ PPG and 3+ 3PM last season? NINE; Harden, PG13, Curry, Dame, Kemba, Klay, Buddy, JJ Redick, and Eric Gordon. What happens if Bertans maintains these numbers for the entire season? He had a 63.2 TS% last year, which was 16th best in the NBA out of players who averaged 20+ MPG.
SF/PF P.J. Tucker, Rockets (17.3% ownership)
Tucker was the 100th best player in fantasy basketball last year, and he got the 7th most total steals in the NBA. He’s an integral part of Houston’s team, he gets you half a block a game, too, and multiple threes. Only nine players last year averaged 7+ PPG, 5+ RPG, 1+ APG, 1+ SPG, 4+ 3PA, and 0.5 Blocks per game, and PJ Tucker was one of them. He’s never averaged over 10 points per game for a season, but he’s taking more threes than he ever has before, so perhaps the points will stay in the double digits?
PF PJ Washington, Hornets (5.6% ownership)
PJ Washington already looks like the second-most important player on the Charlotte Hornets (behind Miles Bridges). He sank seven threes in his first game, and he got a double-double in his second game. Through two games, he’s averaging 18 PPG and 7 RPG. Obviously, small sample size warning, but it could also be shades of things to come. He’s barely owned and Washington should continue to get minutes and shots on this rebuilding Hornets team. Washington is averaging 12.5 FGA, which is about what Gordon Hayward is averaging. Someone has to shoot the ball in Charlotte, right?
PG Coby White, Bulls (26.1% ownership)
Well, the kid looks good. He’s going to have some hiccups along the way, but Coby White looks like the future point guard for the Chicago Bulls. If you have Tomas Satoransky, you may want to handcuff him with ChiCoby. Coby’s also grabbed 6 rebounds in the past two games, which is a nice bonus for a PG. He’s a must-own in dynasty and if he earns the starting job and gets over 30 MPG, then the stats will be worthy of redraft leagues. He’s not a guarantee, but he’s a relatively cheap bet to do well. If he doesn’t get the minutes, then I still think he’ll end the year as a top 150 player.
SG/PG Marcus Smart, Celtics (15.7% ownership)
Marcus Smart had the third-most steals in the NBA last year. He’s going to play more this year. He shot 42% from the floor last year, and 36 3PT%, which is better than you thought he did. He’ll have more minutes, and more steals, and probably more shots (he had 7 FGA per game last season, he’s averaging 9 FGA so far this season). I see absolutely no downside to having him on my team. He helps you win leagues.
PG Patrick Beverley, Clippers (16.5% ownership)
PatBev is not on your fantasy team to score points. His FGA may go up, but that’s just gravy, because Patrick Beverley is on your team to get you everything BUT points: steals, blocks, rebounds, assists, and some threes if you’re lucky. He averaged 7+ PPG and 5+ RPG last season, nothing special other than the boards from a guard. He also averaged 3+ APG, though, and less than 50 NBA players did that last year. AND, if you consider his 0.9 SPG, his 0.6 BPG, and the fact that he shot 39+ 3PT%, then all of a sudden, PatBev is on a two-man list with the Big KAT, Karl-Anthony Towns! Now, that’s filtering the data to a silly degree, but it’s still indicative of the kind of production that Patrick Beverley gives you aside from the points. Plus, it’s fair to consider that PatBev now has Kawhi Leonard and, eventually, Paul George to dish to, and to shoot off of. I think he’s going to have a really big year.
SF Taurean Prince, Nets (15% ownership)
Kevin Durant won’t play this year, so Taurean Prince gets his minutes and some of his shots. He’s averaging 13 and 8, with an assist, a steal, and a block. Who doesn’t like that kind of across the board production? I liked Prince a lot down south last year but he underperformed, and I like him even more up north this year, so this is a vote of confidence. He’s getting minutes, and he’s getting shots. His volume is the most important aspect of his player profile right now, but that could change if he takes advantage of the opportunity and starts to shine. His field goal and three point percentages have improved every year of his career.
SF Justise Winslow, Heat (37% ownership)
Winslow has dished 7 dimes in each game, and I’m reminded of him getting PG eligibility last year, and how awesome Point Winslow looked sometimes. He’s still only 23, and if he can improve his range, then I don’t see why he and Jimmy Butler shouldn’t get along. He’s averaged 18.5 FGA through two games, which is pretty healthy, though Jimmy Buckets hasn’t been there. The Heat have a bit of a weird roster, but Winslow seems to be an important part of it. Youth, experience, minutes, and shot attempts should equal a positive fantasy season. Justise is less owned than Mason Plumlee, JaVale McGee, and even his own teammate, Tyler Herro. Get real, internet! I repeat, Justise is only 23 years old! He averaged 12/5/4 last year in under 30 minutes a game! Let’s all take a deep breath and believe in the young man, okay?