Of course, I could be completely wrong. It could be the projections that have performed poorly in the past, such as CBS and Rotowire, could throw off the numbers to the point that they create more harm than good. The only way to know for sure is to test it out. Which is exactly what I plan on doing this season.
In the mean time, we can highlight where my projections differ most from 'the market'. This is a good sanity check. If I can't come up with a logical reason why my numbers should be vastly different from the consensus, then they probably shouldn't be. Below I list 50 players, 20 where I'm higher, 20 where I'm lower and 10 that are roughly the same overall but different across categories. This is the same approach I took last year when challenging Talented Mr. Roto to a 'projection-off' (there's gotta be a cooler word for that..wait it's projecting NBA player stats that we're talking about here. It doesn't much uncooler than that. Good thing I'm happily married, I doubt I'd have much luck with the ladies by telling them I'm the premier free fantasy basketball prognosticator on the internet.), which wasn't much of a challenge at all (I won 36-14). I suspect the consensus projections will provide much stiffer competition.
Aldridge seems like a no-brainer for a breakout season. He doesn't really hurt you in any category for a big man. His assists are non-existent, but he offsets that will very low turnover numbers. In 9-cat leagues, he could easily be a top-35 player. I feel safe with my projections. If anything, they may be a little conservative.
Ariza has a good opportunity to see a big boost in minutes this year in Orlando, either as a starter or as a key reserve. There's not a whole lot of depth to the Magic line-up -- just Howard, Lewis, Jameer and the Redick/Turkoglu/Ariza/Bogans four-headed monster. Even if he doesn't start, Ariza should see enough minutes to be a fringe-fantasy player.
Armstrong has played pretty well in the preseason. Good enough for me to feel comfortable giving him an increased role with the Hornets. Probably still not enough to make a blip on the fantasy radar, however.
Blake performed very well for the Nuggets last year and parlayed that into a contract with the Blazers. I don't see him having the same kind of fantasy value in Portland, but I think he will see decent minutes coming off the bench or even challenging Jarrett Jack. He's only worth owning if he's starting.
It looks like Brewer has the starting SG position to lose in Utah. The Jazz haven't had a fantasy-worthy SG for years. Brewer provides value in FGP and STLs. He's put up very good offensive numbers in the preseason, don't expect that to continue once Boozer gets up to full speed. 11-12 ppg seems like a reasonable number.
I originally had Carroll lower, but I think he will be able to sustain some of the value he had last year. I thought Walter Herrmann would step right up with Sean May out, but it hasn't happened yet in the preseason. Carroll is another fringe fantasy player if he's getting decent minutes.
Honestly, I don't know what to expect from Conley. He showed last year that he's a very savvy point guard. But the Grizzlies have a number of other options at guard. Having former Suns assistant Mike Iavoroni as his coach seems like the perfect fit for Conley to do some serious damage. Even though I'm ahead of the consensus on this one, Conley is not a guy I'm targeting and he seems to go much earlier in drafts than my numbers would indicate.
I talked about Hill in my previous post. It looks like he will have new life in Phoenix as a hired gun. And you'll probably see a career high in 3PM and 3PA. One thing that other projections seemed to have missed is that Phoenix doesn't shoot a lot of free throws. I have Hill's FT attempts going down significantly.
Others are projecting a slower comeback trail for Nenad. I'm a little more aggressive, but still 2% below where he performed last year. He looked surprisingly good in his first preseason action last night.
Who knows what to expect from Kenyon this year. My numbers are 20% below his fantasy production from two years ago and 45% less than his peak season in 2003-04. Seems conservative enough. He's not someone I'd be targeting on draft day.
Maxiell should see an increased role with Detroit this year. I'm still not sold that it translates to running out and picking him up off the wire. The biggest difference between my numbers and others is in FTA and FTP. I'm simply projecting that he doesn't hurt you quite as much.
Remember how smooth this guy was in college? Seems like a long, long time ago. McCants shot 35% last year in 37 injury-plagued games. That's probably weighing down his consensue projections. I think he can bounce back closer to the percentages he had in 2005-06. Minnesota is very crowded right now with all of the guys Danny Ainge pawned off on his good buddy Kevin McHale. I can't see any reason why guys like Juwan Howard and Ricky Davis don't get traded at some point. This could create a very interesting situation if the T-Wolves go with the youth movement right out of the gate. Wow, are they going to be bad this year.
[Note: After Adam Morrison's season ending injury, I swapped out Morrison for Rudy Gay] I think Rudy Gay is quickly becoming one of those guys who you might pass up drafting in the 7th round, then instantly regret it when someone else picks him 3-4 slots later. I think he is poised for a breakout season.
See Trevor Ariza above. I hate Redick, but the minutes are there for the taking.
Remember how good this guy looked in the McDonald's All-American game. Seems like a really, really long time ago. In just three years, he's managed to be own by three teams that subsequently couldn't wait to get rid of him. Generally, that doesn't bode well for your fantasy prospects. JR tantalizes NBA GM's and fantasy owners alike with that athleticism and range, but he'll drive them both crazy. Avoid.
See LaMarcus Aldridge above. Seems like a no-brainer.
It looks like Ronny is going to at least compete for a starting position in the Lakers frontcourt. Win or lose, it's a good sign that he will see an increase in opportunity and production this season. Cheap source of blocks if you're desperate.
I saw Martell at the airport the day before he was drafted by the Blazers. I had no idea who he was but you it was obvious he was a baller. Even as a guy coming out of high school, the guy was just a physical specimen. I didn't even connect the dots until later that he was on the way to the draft with his mama. Usually those lottery picks are wined and dined in New York days before the draft. He was flying in the night before. He was probably just as shocked as everybody else that he was going to go 6th in the draft. Ch-Ching!
Martell's career probably hasn't progresses quite as quickly as Blazer fans would've hoped, but hey the guy won't even be able to drink legally for another two months. He has performed very well in the preseason so far. Keep a close eye on him to see if he's able to produce on a consistent basis.
Louis filled it up in the summer league and has played well in the preseason. It's all a matter of how much opportunity he's going to get with the Sixers this year.
Fantasy sleepers are all about talent and opportunity. You absolutely have to have both. For Wright, the opportunity is right there. He's basically been handed the starting SF spot on a woefully-thin Miami Heat roster. Now all he has to do is prove he's capable of doing something with those minutes. He played very well in the first few preseason games but has flattened out since. He's got the potential to be one of those 1+ steals/blocks guys. Probably worth a last-round flier pick.
People seem bullish on Allen, but I'm not sure why. Seems like the only way he's a viable fantasy option if Pierce or Ray Ray go down. I seriously doubt you'll see the Celtics tanking this year. One thing I think some people are failing to remember is that last year was a fantastically bizarro year for injuries and missed games. As a result, you saw some guys play more minutes than they would've in a 'normal' year. Projections need to take this into account.
Originally, I probably had Boozer pegged a little lower because it wasn't clear how long he was going to be out attending to his sick daughter. He's back and looks good in the preseason. Still, I have Boozer about 6% lower than last year's phenomenal numbers. With the Jazz catering to Andrei Kirilenko's every need and the emergence of Paul Millsap, I can see that having at least a small dent on Boozer. Even if I'm 100% right those are still some very solid numbers.
I like Brewer as a player but I'm not sure he's ready to take the keys in Minnesota. Again, the current roster is extremely bloated. Just like McCants, if they ever go with the full youth movement, keep an eye on him.
New York is another crowded place, especially if you're a scorer. The post is going to be a black hole with Zach Randolph and Eddy Curry down there. I saw Jamal bulked up in the offseason, which is a good sign, but how many shots is he going to get sharing the ball with Curry, Randolph, Stephon Marbury and Quentin Richardson? It's a good thing he bulked up, because he may have to wrestle them for the ball.
I like Garbajosa's scrappy play, but I simply don't see him getting the same kind of production with the emergence of Andrea Bargnani and their signing of Jason Kapono. Plus he came back from injury way too soon to play for Spain over the summer, there's no telling what impact that might have on his upcoming NBA season.
Green looks like he'll be a solid NBA player for years to come, but I'm not sure if he'll be fantasy-worthy this year. The Sonics rotation hasn't been sorted out yet, and you've got literally 12-13 guys that all could play 20+ minutes: Durant, Delonte, Ridnour, Watson, Green, Wally World, Robert Swift, Collison, Wilkins, Wilcox, Kurt Thomas, Johan Petro and Mickael Gelabale. NBA teams simply don't operate like that. You figure Szczerbiak's good for missing at least half the season, but I just don't know how the other minutes are going to shake out. To play it safe, I'm avoiding anybody on their roster not named Kevin.
Check out the following table...it shows the consensus games played and minutes for each member of the Sonics roster. Add it up and divide by 82 games and you have a total of 304 minutes. Somehow that number has to be reduced by 27% to get down to 240, unless David Stern institutes a 5th quarter.
I love Luther, but I have a hard time seeing him get the same kind of minutes with all his new backcourt friends in Houston. And a lot of Luther's numbers are inflated because he saw the biggest bump whenever Tracy McGrady's back flared up. I'm not saying T-Mac is going to stay healthy, but just that if (okay, when) he does get hurt, it won't be Luth who gets the immediate benefit. Luther is too good of a shooter not to get a spot in the rotation and reports have been positive towards his play so far in Rockets camp, but I don't see anything other than a steep drop from last year's numbers.
When it's Larry Hughes, just take the under.
Iverson's numbers with the Nuggets were very un-AI like. 24.7 ppg playing second fiddle to Melo. Even more surprising is the free-throw problems he developed down the stretch. A lot of his benefit to your fantasy team was getting to the line 10-11 times and shooting 81% from the stripe. Knock that down to 8.7 attempts at 76% and most of the benefit is gone. I'm sure his FT numbers will migrate more towards his career averages, but you wonder if he can be as productive at age 32. At least he doesn't kill you with his FGP anymore.
Many folks are predicting the resurgence of the old Richard Jefferson, almost as if last year never happened. Count me as one of many guys who drafted Richard Jefferson in the fourth round last year that wish it did never happen. His numbers were woeful last year. We're talking about a 35% drop in fantasy production versus 2005-06. I'm expecting an uptick from last year, but I'm not willing to bet the farm on him. He's going in the sixth round on reputation alone. Never a good sign.
See Richard Jefferson above. Okay, cut Andrei some slack, it was only a 34% drop in production versus the previous year. Here's a guy who was picked early in the second round last year. With the Jazz coddling the uber-sensitive Kirilenko, I expect that he'll see a nice uptick relative to last year, just quite as high as others. The two reasons for Kirilenko's demise were the rise of Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer, and both guys are still there. However, I still believe Kirilenko is a guy you should target. A lot of fantasy owners have been burned by Kiri the last three years and don't want to bother with him. I picked him up in the 7th round of a draft earlier this week and couldn't be happier about it.
Atlanta backcourt is flooded with mediocrity. Speedy Claxton, Tyronn Lue, Salim Stoudamire. Makes you wonder why they passed on Chris Paul and Deron Williams, doesn't it? I guess some questions will never get answered. With all this mediocrity, Acie might be able to waltz in and take over. I'm just not sold on it happening right away.
I have lower numbers for Marion but still have him number one overall for 9-cat leagues. Just pray that he doesn't get traded. I honestly don't know what he's complaining about. He makes more money than anyone else on the team and he gets to play with Steve Nash, who makes Marion look like a hall of famer. What more could you ask for? The Suns are smart enough to know that their window of opportunity is limited to 2 or 3 more years with Nash, and after Nash is gone, Marion is nowhere near as valuable. At that point, you have to build around Amare or trade everybody and start from scratch. I wouldn't be locking up Marion for the post-Nash era either. Be careful what you wish for, Shawn. You were this close to moving from Phoenix to Salt Lake City.
Looking at Donyell now, it's hard to believe that this is the same guy that just four years ago averaged 14.7 points, 1.6 3PM, 1.1 steals and 1.3 blocks per game. Right now, Lebron James is probably thinking the same thing.
While we're talking about the Cavs, let me digress and get something off my chest. When did Damon Jones EVER earn the right to complain about anything? Seriously, how does Damon Jones look anyone in the eye and issue a trade demand? The guy bounced around the league for years, had one good year camping out at the line while Wade and Shaq fed the ball out to him and parlayed that into a four year, $16.1 million contract. If anyone has a right to complain, it's Cavs fans. Damon, you should sit back, shut your mouth, count your money and count your blessings that Danny Ferry is as incompetent as he is.
I like Yao as a fantasy player and have no problem picking him in the end of the first round despite his injury issues the last couple of years. The guys is a fantasy dream come true as a big man who can shoot 85% from the line. I'm still predicting very solid numbers for Yao. However, it's partly a function of how much you think T-Mac is going to play. A lot of Yao's ridiculously good games were when T-Mac was out of the lineup. Plus you've got a slew of new guards in Houston that aren't exactly known of distributors. Do you see Steve Francis passing into the post when he's on the floor for the 18 minutes a game he gets to play? Hopefully, the Adelman versus Van Gundy factor will help offset that. I'd be perfectly happy being wrong on this one.
Joel drives me crazy because I can never spell the guy's name right. Seriously, with 40+ teams, I'm constantly typing guys names in on my master spreadsheet. I can rattle off Szczerbiak in my sleep. But I always get Przybilla screwed up. Can't he just change his name legally to the Vanilla Gorilla? (why don't we have cool nicknames like this anymore? How original is R-Jeff, K-Mart, D-Will, etc? J-Kidd isn't even a nickname, it's the guy's first initial and unabbreviated last name. We can do better. I don't know whether to blame T-Mac, A-Rod or J-Lo.
Looking at V-Gorr's projections for the first time, I notice now that I have his TO's screwed up. See what happens when you only play 8-cat leagues. Of course, I could omit him from the list, fix the error and find someone else to put in his spot, but that would require too much work at this point (can you tell I have a live draft in 13 minutes?), plus you'd miss out on my nickname diatribe. Sometimes things just need to be said. I'll fix the TO's later and take the 'L'. Just use the TO's from the consensus for now. And if your fantasy hopes end up hinging on the number of turnovers Joel Przybilla gets this year, I apologize in advance.
Redd has taken his fantasy game to another level the last two years. I still believe he's a solid fantasy player, but I have a hard betting that he'll have another 26-pt season. Milwaukee had a wacky injury-plagued year last season: Redd missed 29 games, Mo Williams 14, Andrew Bogut 16, Charlie V 43, Bobby Simmons 82. Assuming those guys are going to be back and add Yi to the mix, there's gotta be slightly less shots to go around for Redd. He's still a solid 3rd-round pick.
Even though he's on this list, I still see Josh Smith as a solid fantasy player and a guy you want to target in the 2nd or 3rd round (depending on if you count TO's or not). It's easy to look at Smith's second-half numbers the last few years and go crazy with projections for the following year. I just don't want to go overboard with my projections for Smith because of a number of factors: a) a full season of Joe Johnson, a traditional 82-gamer that's not likely to miss as many games this year and b) a very crowded Atlanta front court with Marvin Williams, Shelden Williams, Al Horford and Zaza Pachulia. I anticipate that it has to have at lease some impact on Smith's minutes and overall production.
I can't imagine Szczerbiak getting a lot of minutes on a packed Seattle roster that's destined to go 30-52 this season.
Seems like nothing more than a throw-in in the Garnett trade. Don't let the door hit you on the way out, Bassie (By the way, I want to have another son just so I can name him Sebastian and call him Bassie. That's the best shortened name ever. Of course doing so may jeopardize that whole 'happily married' thing I mentioned earlier.)
NOT BETTER OR WORSE, JUST DIFFERENT
He torched the summer league. Nellie called him a budding superstar. What's not to like. Oh wait...Nellie loved Troy Murphy and Mike Dunleavy early last year too. How did that one work out again? Belinelli likes to shoot...a lot. He can got hot and hit threes in bunches. The biggest difference here is FGP. I just don't see him shooting a very high percentage.
The biggest difference here is blocks. I have them trending down while the consensus has him going back up. He did average more blocks after Iverson left.
Probably the biggest question mark in the draft, and the biggest disparity in projections. It's clear that Durant is a future superstar, but what about this year? He gets free reign to develop (and torque) on a pretty bad Sonics team. But he'll probably see some double teams as a result. I think you'll see more than a couple 5-of-22 and 8-of-21 nights, but you'll also see some 34 pts, 8 rebounds, 4 3PM nights as well. I spent a lot of time on Durant's projection, looking at college to rookie year transitions for Carmelo Anthony in particular. Even as a rookie, the guy has a very high ceiling.
One thing I built into my projections for Indiana players is Jim O'Brien's love of the three ball. In his Boston days, they shot threes at a rate that was 40% higher than the league average. Of course, most of those were ill-advised shots by Antoine Walker, but still, O'Brien taking over for Carlisle (who wasn't shy about the 3-ball either) has to have some impact. A lot of people are pegging Granger has a breakout player in general; I'm even more aggressive due to a more 3PM.
Horford looks very good for the Hawks so far. The only question is how many minutes will he get in that crowded Atlanta frontcourt that we talked about. They need to trade one of the Williams brothers (for sale: recent top 5 draft pick).
Biggest difference here is turnovers. I have no idea what to expect from Yi. He'll look great one minute, then look in over his head the next minute. I do know if this were a league playing against stationary chairs, he'd be a sure first rounder. Enjoy that Milwaukee winter!
Just wen you think people have finally caught on that you never, ever draft Shaquille O'Neal, he goes and gets drafted in the fifth round like he did in my league tonight (By the way, here's my team. 12 team, 8-cat roto, 7th pick: Marion, Wade, Ray Ray, Caron, Mike Miller, Barbosa, Biedrins, Foye, Battier, Tyrus Thomas, Nene, Devin Harris, Haywood). The Diesel is on the slow, steady decline. If you own him, you're probably going to lose whether my projections are right or wrong.
You gotta believe Shelden is going to see at least some additional minutes this year. Plus throw Horford in the mix and I see Pachulia with significantly less minutes this year, even if he is the starter.
Ruben actually had a very good year with the Bucks as the only guy who stayed healthy all year in Milwaukee. Again, I think his numbers were inflated due to the injuries there. Of course, we've got a bunch of injuries on the Clippers as well, but I don't think he'll be the first to benefit. I see less minutes for the Kobe Stopper.
Like Shaq, a slow steady decline. The Bulls have a pretty crowded frontcourt as well, with Joakim Noah and Joe Smith. Noah looks like he'll be a serviceable back-up center (just what the Bulls need, a 5-pt, 8-rebound hustle guy. As weird as it would be to see Kobe in a Bulls uniform, can you make the deal happen Pax? Having a scrappy, competitive, hard working team that'll win 50 games and lose in the 2nd or 3rd round, is that the goal here?)
I will track these progress of these projections at a couple of points during the regular season.