SleepersNovember 10, 2009

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Sleeper Watch

By Phil Londen

With eight percent of the season done and gone, it is time to reevaluate your team and search the waiver wire for players on the upswing. It’s never to early to be thinking about your next roster tweak and some of these players may be just what your team needs to take it to the next level.


The “Sleeper” class of players are guys that are owned in less than 40% of Yahoo! leagues. Most competitive fantasy leagues already have these guys rostered, but sometimes players slip through the cracks so it is worth taking an extra look to be sure.

Quentin Richardson (SG/SF – 35%) — Currently ranked 68th in overall per game value according to Basketball Monster, Q has been a vital part of the Heat’s starting lineup. With Richardson playing for a contract, look for him to stay on the court and keep bombing the treys. For fantasy managers, the threes, points and rebounds do not come as a surprise. However, the .481 field goal percentage is a huge surprise (career .398 percent) and will easily go down as his best season from the field if he can keep it up all year long.

Kelenna Azubuike (SG/SF – 31%) — It pretty much goes without saying these days that all Golden State Warriors should be picked up at your own risk; Don Nelson is still the Coach in GS (for now). You’ve been forewarned. After a slow start, Kelenna found himself on the waiver wire in many leagues. Over his last couple of outings, Azubuike has been starting to warm up and provide the production we expected in the offseason. Over his last two games, KA averaged 13.0 points on .471/.700 percent shooting, 1.5 threes, 7.0 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 0.5 steals, 1.5 blocks and 0 turnovers. Azubuike is a really nice addition to big ball teams, as he provides good rebounds and defensive productions from the SG/SF positions.

Carl Landry (SF/PF – 28%) — Another player that has had a really strong last couple of games is Rockets forward Carl Landry. Over the past two, Landry has been absolutely scorching from the field averaging 20.5 points on .708/.778 percent shooting, 0.0 threes, 8.5 rebounds, 0.5 assists, 0.5 blocks, 1.0 turnovers. Carl’s biggest knock has always been his lack of defensive production but otherwise you can expect solid points and boards on good percentages with low turnovers.

Deeper Sleepers

The “Deeper Sleeper” class of players are guys that are owned in less than 25% of Yahoo! leagues. These players are rostered in some deep fantasy leagues, but are also players that should be on everyone’s watch list, regardless of league size.

Ben Wallace (PF/C – 24%) — It looks like Big Ben has some gas left in his tank after all. At this point in his career, there shouldn’t be any surprises with Wallace. The lack of scoring is what really turns a lot of managers off of him but if you can get past that Wallace has the potential to be a nice fourth center for fantasy teams (especially if your league counts offensive rebounds). For evidence of his production, take a look at his latest line: 2 points on .000/.500 percent shooting, 0 threes, 16 rebounds, 0 assists, 3 steals, 3 blocks and 2 turnovers.

Chuck Hayes (SF/PF/C – 23%) — Another player that gets downgraded for lack of scoring is Chuck Hayes. Actually, Hayes gets downgraded for being a 6′6″ starting center that does all the “little things” but some managers are warming up to Hayes. And for good reason too. According to Basketball Monster, Hayes is currently ranked 39th overall in per game value. Stop and let that sink in. Chuck Hayes is ranked inside the top fifty. That sound you just heard was hell freezing over. Hayes’ main sources of fantasy value comes from his steals and to a lesser extent his field goal percentage, low turnovers and rebounds.

Beno Udrih (PG – 20%) — With Kevin Martin joining teammate Francisco Garcia on the inactive list, the entire team dynamic has changed. As a result, rookie guard Tyreke Evans has slid over to shooting guard to fill K-Mart’s role allowing Udrih to take control of the starting point guard spot. Both players have flourished. Over the four games the Kings played in the past week, Udrih is ranked 67th in per game value, averaging 16.3 points on .551/.857 percent shooting, 1.3 threes, 2.5 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 0.5 steals, 0.0 blocks and 1.5 turnovers. Even more importantly, the Kings have won the last two games (longest winning streak of the season) picking up W’s on the Jazz and hapless Warriors. Udrih is a must-add in all formats for the indefinite future.

Keeper Sleepers

The “Keeper Sleeper” class of players are guys that are owned in 10% or less of Yahoo! leagues. This group of players should be more adequately be described as dynasty sleepers or extremely deep sleepers as opposed to keeper sleepers, but these names lack the aesthetic quality of Keeper Sleeper.

Tyler Hansbrough (SF/PF – 10%) — After being limited by a calf injury this summer, Tyler Hansbrough finally made his debut for the Pacers. The timing couldn’t have been better. Indiana’s Jeff Foster and Troy Murphy have both been hobbled by injuries early this season opening up time for Psycho-T to stake claim to a rotation spot. The other main competitor for minutes is Solomon Jones, formerly of the Atlanta Hawks. In his NBA debut, Tyler put up 13 points on .429/.700 percent shooting, 5.0 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 0 steals, 0 blocks and 0 turnovers. Although initially lacking in the hustle categories, Hansbrough’s college resume indicates that he should be able to provide moderate production in steals and blocks. For now Hansbrough is probably rosterable only in the deepest of leagues but is definitely a player to add to watch lists.

Thabo Sefolosha (SG/SF – 6%) — No disrespect to lottery pick James Harden, but Thabo is the perfect player to start at the off guard position for the Oklahoma City Thunder. Thabo is a real life glue guy, doing a little bit of everything while also playing solid defense. Harden is more likely to be a sixth man for the young squad out of Oklahoma City, allowing Sefolosha to expel his energy defending and hustling alongside the first unit. With minutes, Sefolosha has produced, averaging 7.8 points on .531/.625 percent shooting, 1.3 threes, 4.5 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.3 steals, 0.5 blocks and 1.3 turnovers in six games so far this season. Although unspectacular, Thabo provides solid across the board production that is rosterable in many leagues (ranked 96th overall in per game value).

Omri Casspi (SF/PF – 5%) — Similar to Udrih, Casspi is another player who has a chance to succeed as a result of increased minutes in the wake of K-Mart’s unfortunate injury. However, unlike Beno, the rookie forward Casspi faces more competition for minutes from veterans Andres Nocioni and the newly-signed Ime Udoka. In Omri’s last game, he got tons of run and ended up posting a very nice line. In nearly 36 minutes of action, Casspi accumulated 12 points on .667/.000 percent shooting, 4 threes, 10 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals, and 3 turnovers. What is really nice to see from the young rookie is that the multi-category production. If Omri continues to get big minutes, he will definitely be worth an add in most formats. Keep a close eye on the situation.

<i>Phil Londen is one of a growing number of fantasy experts who write for the Cafe. You can also find Phil's work at Basketball Free For All. You can catch up with Phil in the Cafe's forums where he posts under the name of</i> plonden.
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