We're now 12 weeks into the fantasy basketball season and 2023 is here as well. I'm going to compare some of the biggest movers from my preseason rankings to my rest-of-season rankings (ROS) this season. Rather than focus on notable players who were drafted in the first few rounds of drafts, I'm going to break down the values of some key mid-round selections instead.
Last week, I covered the big men who improved from preseason rankings. This time, I'll dive into the players who are discouragingly inconsistent and not meeting expectations.
Scottie Barnes - SF/PF, Toronto Raptors
Preseason rank: 44
ROS rank: 77
Rank differential: -33
Barnes burst onto the scene as a rookie last season, finishing 66th in per-game value with averages of 15.3 points, 7.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.8 stocks while shooting almost 50 percent from the field. He edged out Cade Cunningham and Evan Mobley in a competitive rookie class to capture Rookie of the Year honors. He showcased his versatility and potential as a playmaker while utilizing his size to rack up 13 double-doubles.
Coming into this season, industry analysts were high on Barnes, expecting him to elevate his game in Year 2. His ECR was 38.3, and I was pretty close to that, ranking him 44th in per-game value. Unfortunately, Barnes has only improved in a couple of areas for fantasy managers this season — assists (3.5 to 4.7 this year) and free-throw percentage (74% to 77% this year).
At a macro level, the Toronto Raptors have been one of the larger disappointments this season, sitting at 16-21 and 12th place in the Eastern Conference as of Wednesday. So, not all of the blame is on Barnes for his stagnant play three months into the season.
He's currently 104th in per-game value, and there is still room for him to turn things around. He teased a triple-double in his first game of 2023, so I think he's a player I'd be looking to buy low before he hits his stride. He's been 84th in per-game value over the last month and cracked the top 60 over his past two weeks.
I had to include him on this list because while I still see some opportunity for improvement, I doubt he will reach the lofty expectations of a top-45 player.
RJ Barrett - SG/SF, New York Knicks
Preseason rank: 83
ROS rank: 202
Rank differential: -119
Barrett is a fine player for points leagues because of volume scoring, but in H2H formats, he's beyond frustrating. There's no question whether he can get a bucket, but everything else is so mid.
I know I've made this comment about someone else ... oh, that's right — Dillon Brooks.
Check out how similar these players are offensively. RJ Barrett gets a slight bump in usage and shot opportunities, but the inefficiencies are eerily identical. And Dillon Brooks has never finished higher than 122nd in per-game value in his career:
Barrett had an ECR of 85 entering his third NBA season, so industry analysts expected improvements in efficiency and production across other categories. But that's remained essentially unchanged from last year outside of his free-throw percentage going up by over 4%.
Even if he weren't injured, I wouldn't recommend buying-low him; in fact, he's worth cutting in shallow H2H leagues and is on the cusp in 12-team H2H leagues. My ROS ranking is generous at 202nd, and I wouldn't be surprised if he finished outside of the top 250 by the end of the season.
Brandon Clarke - SF/PF, Memphis Grizzlies
Preseason rank: 105
ROS rank: 140
Rank differential -35
I had high hopes for Brandon Clarke heading into this season. He's had success in limited minutes off the Grizzlies' bench the past three years and was a viable streaming option whenever Jaren Jackson Jr. was injured. Here's how Clarke finished in per-game value the past three seasons:
His production won't blow you away, but he contributes to points, rebounds, field-goal percentage and stocks year over year. And with Jaren Jackson Jr. injured to start the season, I assumed Clarke would get 20-25 minutes and luck into more minutes if Santi Aldama struggled. At worst, he'd hold value as bench depth in 12+ team leagues.
I ranked Aldama 130th in the preseason but still relatively close to Clarke. But as it turned out, JJJ returned earlier than expected, and the Grizzlies are utilizing Clarke and Aldama, both around 20 minutes per contest. Clarke is steadily improving month-to-month and jumped to 87th in per-game value in December. Per Cleaning the Glass, he's seeing slightly higher usage this season despite playing fewer minutes than last year, but efficiency has never been an issue for him.
Clarke's recent play makes him worth holding onto in deeper leagues, but unless an injury occurs, he will not make a substantial climb up the rankings with so much competition in the frontcourt. He's currently 160th in per-game value heading into Wednesday, and it's reasonable to assume he'll finish within the top 150 by the end of the season. I'd also be comfortable dropping him for a more favorable streaming option on waivers.