Fantasy Basketball Mailbag: The best strategies for 'buy-low' players

Josh Lloyd

Some struggling players have started to turn it around, some haven’t and that causes consternation across the fantasy landscape. Before Week 6 kicks off, I took your questions from Twitter and Instagram to try and parse through what we’ve seen. Let’s get to it.

@jondestouches Is Rajon Rondo a 12-teamer now?

Rajon Rondo is one of those players that has people ride for him almost like no other unless their name is Derrick Rose. He isn’t the player he was before his ACL injury, way back in 13-14, but he always attracts a lot of fantasy attention.

So now that he is back in action after a calf strain delayed the beginning of his season, the questions are coming.

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In six games since returning, Rondo is averaging 21.97 fantasy points per game, good for 149th. That’s in just 21 minutes. In his last three games, he has averaged 24 minutes and 25.2 fantasy points. That makes him a must roster, yeah?

I’m not so sure.

Rajon Rondo, pictured playing for the Lakers, is worth only a speculative look for fantasy owners.
Rajon Rondo is little more than a curiosity as a fantasy basketball player. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

Rondo has a usage of 21% this season. The last time he was over 20 was before his ACL tear. I don’t all of a sudden think his game has changed to being an above-average usage player.

Avery Bradley also still has to return, which will have an impact on Rondo’s numbers. So, he can be used sporadically in 12 team leagues, but there are a few factors that lead me to believe he won’t regularly be a top 150 guy.

@YanayMatan Should Isaiah Thomas be dropped?

Isaiah Thomas (IT) is the Wizards’ starting point guard and people love him from his time as the 16th ranked fantasy player back in his final season in Boston.

Unfortunately, he is not, nor will he ever be that player again.

This season when he made his season debut, he looked great, averaging 29.6 fantasy points in only 21 minutes with a 36 percent usage. Since then, it’s been rough.

In Thomas’ eight starts, he has averaged just 25 minutes, 20.51 fantasy points with an 18% usage.

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Those numbers put him well outside the top 150 for the season, if we exclude his three bench games.

He hasn’t gone past 30 points once as a starter and playing alongside Bradley Beal and Thomas Bryant will have that impact. So, Given how Thomas’ last two seasons have gone, plus how he looks in an expanded role this season, using his roster spot in a 12 team league to stream through players who get short-term bumps for injury-induced opportunity is probably going to be the smarter move.

It’s sad to say that he just doesn’t have it anymore. If Beal gets injured though, I would immediately add him.

@Pedro40169831 Is OG Anunoby okay? He seems to be some kind of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde most nights.

Anunoby started out the season hot, then got poked in the eye by Kawhi Leonard and has had his struggles since.

In those four games since he came back, Anunoby has failed to crack 16 fantasy points in three of them and the other gave us a whopping 36 fantasy points, although that was against a relatively mediocre Hornets team.

So what do we make of Anunoby? His minutes have trended down in a big way with Rondae Hollis-Jefferson playing better basketball.

In his first seven games, Anunoby played over 31 minutes six times. Since then, he has gone over 30 just once in seven games.

OG Anunoby's fantasy value has been dropping, due to the improved play of teammate Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
OG Anunoby's fantasy value has been dropping, due to the improved play of teammate Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

I think he is settling in more now to who he is, rather than that start to the season and there is a reason to think it could still get worse. Anunoby, despite the low minutes, is still hitting 44 percent of his triples over his last five games, but the reason his fantasy value has fallen is that the blocks and steals have gone.

The blocks are back at the levels they were in his first two seasons, so they may never get back. In a points leagues, Anunoby is trending towards being a streamer only.

@jobsarmiento What to do if you have those buy low guys? Do you drop or sell?

I use this question to highlight one of the common misconceptions in fantasy basketball. This is not an isolated thought, as I get this sort of question all the time.

If a player is a buy-low player (and I do buy-low shows once a week highlighting who those guys are), that means his value is at a low point with indicators that would tell you that they are due to bounceback.

Think of trading in fantasy basketball as being like the stock market. Buying shares when the market dips and selling them when they peak is a solid way to make money. The same in fantasy basketball.

So when a player is thought of as a buy-low player, dropping them doesn’t make sense, as better times are around the corner and selling them at the lowest point of their value is also a poor move.

Usually, talking about buy-lows is me saying to go out and try to trade for those players, but you just apply the inverse logic if you have them on your team.

You hold them, because the offers you are going to get are going to be significantly under what their true value is. If you sold Eric Bledsoe after his slow start to the season, you lost a ton of value. If you trade away Lauri Markkanen now, no-one is paying 100 cents on the dollar.

You never want to sell low, same as you never want to buy high. Maximising value is how you win at fantasy basketball and those two approaches do the opposite of that.

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter and keep an eye out for the next mailbag tweet to gather your questions.