Fantasy Basketball Drop Candidates: Minutes limit means Al Horford could be expendable

Jaden McDaniels #3 of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Sam Hodde/Getty Images)

By Nick Whalen, RotoWire

Special to Yahoo Sports

We’ve seen some big names in fantasy basketball go down with injuries lately. One of the most notable is Desmond Bane (ankle) being out for at least the next six weeks. As fantasy managers look to add some of the hot options off the waiver wire, here are some players to consider dropping to make room for them.

Al Horford, Boston Celtics (53% rostered)

Horford can still produce valuable stat lines. With Jaylen Brown (knee) out Monday against the Raptors, he posted 10 points, 11 rebounds and one steal over 35 minutes. He also hit two three-pointers in the matchup and is shooting 40.2% from behind the arc for the season.

The problem with Horford is nights like that are few and far between. For the season, he has only averaged 7.8 points, 6.9 rebounds and 2.9 assists over 27 minutes per game. The Celtics are trying to limit his minutes to keep him healthy for the playoffs, so he will likely need someone to be hurt to get added playing time in a particular game. Since he can’t be counted on to be a nightly contributor, it’s OK to drop him for someone who has a higher upside.

Wendell Carter Jr., Orlando Magic (49% rostered)

Carter recently missed five straight games with a knee injury. He made his return Monday against the Knicks and scored 17 points off the bench. However, he logged only 19 minutes, which contributed to him hauling in just three rebounds. Since being moved to the second unit, he has played 24 minutes or fewer in each of his last four games.

With his playing time dwindling, Carter only averaged 12.3 points and 4.3 rebounds over that four-game span. He’s dealt with injury issues throughout his career, never playing in more than 62 games in a season. The Magic have other quality options at center in Goga Bitadze and Moritz Wagner, so they don’t need Carter to log a ton of minutes to be successful. He’s not playing enough right now to be worth rostering in 10-team leagues and is even worth dropping in 12-team formats.

Jaden McDaniels, Minnesota Timberwolves (45% rostered)

McDaniels logged 31 minutes per game last season, but has averaged only 28 minutes per game this season. That has been trending upwards, though, with him averaging 31 minutes over the Timberwolves’ last eight games. The problem is, he produced modest averages of 10.0 points, 2.9 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.3 3-pointers during that span.

From a fantasy perspective, the issue with McDaniels is that he has only a 15.8% usage rate this season. That is identical to his mark from last season. With Anthony Edwards and Karl-Anthony Towns leading the way, McDaniels’ role isn’t likely to expand anytime soon. Add in his limited contributions in terms of rebounds and assists, and there’s not much upside that comes with having McDaniels on a fantasy roster.

Mitchell Robinson, New York Knicks (42% rostered)

Injuries have been a problem for Robinson throughout his career. He has played in 66 games or fewer in all but one season since he joined the league. He made it through only 21 games this season before suffering an ankle injury that required surgery. Initially, it was expected that he would miss the remainder of the season, making him someone to drop in all redraft leagues.

There is a glimmer of hope now with Robinson after the NBA denied the Knicks’ application for a Disabled Player Exception. There is a possibility that Robinson could return this season, which is why it was turned down. Even if he does return, it will likely be much further down the road. Considering how long he has been out, he would also likely be on a minutes restriction when he does come back. Don’t hold onto Robinson with the hope that he can make an impact down the stretch.

Josh Hart, New York Knicks (39% rostered)

Hart is one of the better rebounders in the league for his size. Entering this season, he had averaged at least 7.2 rebounds in three straight campaigns. He has also proven to be a good passer, dishing out 4.1 and 3.8 assists per game, respectively, in the last two seasons.

Hart is an important depth piece for the Knicks, but that doesn’t make him a viable fantasy option. He is averaging only 7.2 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game this season. He has also struggled with his efficiency, shooting just 44.0% from the field after shooting at least 50.4% in both of the last two seasons. Those may have been anomalies, though, given his career 46.3% mark from the field. With his usage rate sitting at just 12.0%, Hart should continue to struggle to score. The Knicks are looking to improve their depth further leading up to the trade deadline, which means that Hart likely won’t move into an expanded role anytime soon.