This week Mac and I decided we'd take a look at which players ESPN leaguers are adding and then offer our takes on some of the hot adds of the past week. ESPN's Most Added/Dropped tool on the Fantasy Basketball home page gives you a great peek at who's getting worked on the wire.
Three players immediately jumped out to us as worthy of deeper investigation. One could be called a "has-been," another a "never-was," and the last player's name is usually met with a "Who?" Antonio McDyess (+39.4 percent change from the previous week), Sebastian Telfair (+41.6 percent) and Jamario Moon (+50.3 percent) are getting love from owners this week, but we have to ask: "Are You For Real?"
Jamario Moon, F, Raptors
Mac: For Real. Unless you happen to be a Continental Basketball Association (CBA) fan, you probably have never heard of Moon until this season. Don't feel bad. I won't lie; I had never heard of the guy either. Moon toiled through several second-rate professional leagues before finally getting an opportunity in the NBA. Now after seeing this guy play, it's hard for me to imagine him not getting a shot in the NBA until now. One thing is for sure: It doesn't look as if Moon will have to bounce from league to league anymore. The 27-year-old rookie has taken the league by storm, averaging 8.7 points, 8.7 rebounds, 2.1 blocks and a steal in 34.8 minutes over his past 10 games. As you can see, he's not much of a scorer. But he's a big-time defensive presence, and he's not one of those Bruce Bowen-type defenders whose true value doesn't translate well in the fantasy game. No, Moon can get it done in the defensive categories (steals, blocks and rebounds).
One can tell that the steals and blocks are for real just by looking at him. He looks like one of those long, athletic types that has a knack for that sort of thing. Here's the best part, though: Moon's stats from his other leagues strongly suggest that his numbers this season are legit. Moon earned first-team All-CBA honors and was named the CBA Defensive Player of the Year in 2006-07, averaging 18.8 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.0 steals and 2.4 blocks per game. He also tore up the United States Basketball League to the tune of 16.7 points, 6.8 rebounds, 1.6 steals and 2.1 blocks in 22 games last spring. Obviously, we must keep in mind the competition is not the same, but it's not surprising that the steals and blocks are translating well, given his length and athleticism. Needless to say, Moon certainly looks real to me, especially considering he seems to have found a fan in head coach Sam Mitchell. The Raptors' coach loves his defense, which should guarantee Moon regular minutes.
Guy: For Real. For defensive purposes, anyway. Who doesn't love a hard-luck story of perseverance and beating the odds to reach a dream? Evil people, that's who. But fantasy basketball is no place for sentimentality. We love stories, yes, but most of all we love numbers. Moon is in the nice position of being able to offer both to fantasy owners. This former Globetrotter is dunking over more than just referees now; he is offering up facials across the league. Mac showed you what he has done over his past 10 games, but the most significant stat to me is minutes played. A guy like Moon is not going to be the focus of the offense. In fact, nobody will be the focus on a team as balanced as the Raptors. But with regular minutes, he is going to rack up numbers in three categories: steals, blocks and rebounds. The first two are harder to fill, and this is where Moon derives his value.
His minutes look as though they are going to stick. He hasn't played fewer than 32 minutes since Nov. 16, nine games ago and well before Chris Bosh's recent groin injury occurred (in practice on Nov. 27). Jorge Garbajosa's impending surgery -- he could miss the rest of the season -- means Moon should be in line for some 28-33 minutes per game the rest of the way. He provides the Raptors with a high-energy defensive force, making him a unique player for them. I feel safe predicting somewhere in the neighborhood of 10.0 points, 7.0 boards, 1.2 steals and 1.8 blocks, with the occasional 3-pointer (he has six already), the rest of the way for Moon. That's for real in all but the shallowest of leagues.
Antonio McDyess, F, Pistons
Mac: Not Real. I must say I was quite surprised when I saw McDyess was one of this week's most added players, especially with Jason Maxiell playing even better of late. Over their past five games, McDyess is averaging 11.6 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in 28.4 minutes per game compared to Maxiell's 12.8 points, 9.0 rebounds and 1.6 blocks in 27.0 minutes. Don't get me wrong; McDyess has solid numbers. But Maxiell looks like the much better pickup at the moment. Not only does Maxiell have youth and durability on his side, he also has the shot-blocking abilities that the 33-year-old McDyess sorely lacks at this stage of his career. Antonio used to be a great shot-blocker, but various injuries have robbed him of his athleticism, and he's now swatting just 0.5 shots in 29.3 minutes per game this season. I'd like to think McDyess can still block shots (he's starting to get it going), but I fear his lack of explosiveness is going to limit him on the defensive end all season long. And if that's the case, McDyess can be considered only a mediocre fantasy option, at best.
Guy: Not Real. To echo Mac's sentiments here, what are you guys thinking, making McDyess the fourth most-added player in ESPN leagues? Look, McDyess is a fine option as a third forward in a deep league. He can score in the low double digits, grab some boards and post a nice field-goal percentage (59.6 percent). However, he is not a shot-blocker, no matter what his recent trend indicates. As Mac said, in 29.3 minutes, he is averaging just 0.5 blocks per game. Last season he blocked 0.8 in 21 minutes. Do the math. He is getting worse at blocking shots, not better. In fact, McDyess hasn't blocked more than one shot per game since the 2000-01 season, the season before he tore his left patellar tendon. We are looking at a player who has carved out a niche for himself as a role player on a high-profile, quality team. He has no upside because of his age. He is what he is, and to expect a dramatic increase in productivity is unrealistic. His stats are decent, yes, but we are just one month into the season. You should be looking for players with greater upside who, with more minutes, could pay off with much bigger numbers down the line. In other words, you should be eyeing players like Maxiell (currently owned in just 15.3 percent of ESPN leagues compared with McDyess' 56.3 percent). McDyess is solid, but Maxiell has the youth and potential to be more than that.
Sebastian Telfair, G, Timberwolves
Guy: Not Real. According to the add/drop tool, Telfair is starting to catch fire in ESPN leagues. I remain skeptical. Why the hate? His career stats (7.5 points, 3.3 assists and 39.0 percent from the field) sparkle like Christmas coal, and he has never shown the ability to produce in more than spurts. I admit that last year I thought he would have a redemptive season with the Celtics, and we all saw how that turned out. Telfair played his way into Doc Rivers' doghouse, averaging 20.1 minutes, 6.1 points and 2.8 assists, and was traded to the Timberwolves in the offseason, who subsequently made him a backup. Given his history, why are we even listing him here? Opportunity. Randy Foye remains sidelined with a stress reaction, and now Marko Jaric, who started the past 11 games at the point, is out with a sprained foot and ankle. Jaric is listed as day-to-day, but he is not known for his durability. Telfair could be starting for the next week or so. So he can be a good short-term add for teams, but nothing more unless you are in a deep league. While he is playing the best ball of his career, I doubt he'll produce much more than he is right now. If Telfair averages 30 minutes per game, and this is being more than generous if Jaric and Foye return, he will average 10.2 points, 0.7 3-pointers, 4.9 assists, 1.5 steals and 2.0 turnovers. Those are solid numbers, yes, but not "for real" enough for me. I am glad Bassie is doing better, but you can do better than him at point guard in the long run.
Mac: Not Real. I never really understood the Telfair hype. It's funny you should mention last season because we heard a lot of the same things when he first came over to Boston that we're hearing now, and as you said, we all saw how that turned out. At some point, we're all going to have to realize that the Telfair hype machine got out of control early in Telfair's career. He's a nice little player, no doubt, but he's not his cousin (Stephon Marbury) and probably never will be. I look at Telfair's career averages in 91 games as a starter -- 10.5 points, 4.8 assists, 1.0 steals and 0.7 3-pointers in 30.2 minutes -- and I see a solid player who can help out in deeper fantasy formats, but not much more than that. And that's assuming he'll get 30-plus minutes per game, which he is getting right now but probably won't once Jaric returns from injury. Jaric has been spectacular while filling in for Foye, and although he has been injury-prone in the past, the job clearly is his once he's healthy. Telfair is a solid addition for the time being, but if you're looking for a long-term investment, you might want to look in another direction.
Guy Lake and Brian McKitish are fantasy analysts for ESPN.com. Guy can be reached at GuyLake@TalentedMrRoto.com while Mac can be contacted at Littlemac@TalentedMrRoto.com.