By Alex Barutha, RotoWire
Special to Yahoo Sports
As we all predicted at the beginning of the season, Gerald Green is balling for a job on a non-guaranteed deal with the Rockets, while Michael Beasley has become the second option on the Knicks behind Kristaps Porzingis. Both have ascended to fantasy relevance lately and are featured below. Also included are the likes of Tyus Jones, Trey Lyles and Delon Wright.
If I refer to a player’s fantasy ranking, it’s for standard, eight-category formats that don’t account for turnovers.
Tyus Jones, Timberwolves (23 percent owned)
With starting point guard Jeff Teague (knee) expected to be out until sometime in mid-January, Jones has absorbed the bulk of the workload at the position, garnering 31.5 minutes per game in the four contests Teague has missed. Most of his production hasn’t been anything to write home about, as he’s averaging just 7.0 points, 4.3 assists and 2.3 rebounds while shooting 41.7 percent from the field on 6.0 attempts per game. However, in head-to-head formats, his 3.0 steals per game makes him worthy of ownership.
It’s also helping to carry his value in rotisserie formats, as he’s been the 91st-ranked player over the past week. It may be misguided to bank on Jones to improve those numbers while Teague is out, considering his low field-goal attempts and 12.6 percent usage rate, but his steals production is certainly not a fluke, as he’s averaged 2.5 per 36 minutes this season and 2.3 per 36 minutes for his career.
Gerald Green, Rockets (26 percent owned)
Green was picked out of free agency just four games ago and has established himself as the 86th-ranked player over the past week — and that includes his zero-point, one-rebound effort in 11 minutes during his first game with the team. With James Harden (hamstring) now sidelined for what could be up to six weeks, it appears Green will continue to have an easy pathway to significant minutes. That could change once Luc Mbah a Moute (shoulder) comes back, but he remains out indefinitely and could miss a couple more weeks.
Over his past three games, Green has averaged 18.3 points, 4.3 threes, 3.7 rebounds and 1.3 steals across 25.7 minutes per game. While his 59.4 percent success rate from the field and 65.0 percent mark from deep over that stretch is unsustainable, he’s taking 10.7 field goal attempts and 6.7 three-point attempts per game. That’s a high enough volume for Green to remain an impact scorer once his percentages come back down to Earth.
Trey Lyles, Nuggets (41 percent owned)
Lyles began seeing extended run when Nikola Jokic went down with injury and hasn’t given up those minutes since. Prior to Dec. 10, Lyles was posting just 5.5 points and 3.3 rebounds across 12.8 minutes per game. Since then, he’s averaged 16.6 points, 7.1 rebounds and 2.5 threes across 28.7 minutes per game, which has helped lead him to become the 78th-ranked player over the past two weeks and 85th best player over the past 30 days.
While his 56.9 percent mark from the field and 50.0 percent clip from three over the past 12 games probably isn’t sustainable, he’s been highly efficient for long enough to conclude that he’s improved his touch. Overall, Lyles has simply been too productive for too long to be less than 50 percent owned across all leagues. His role will probably be reduced once Paul Millsap (wrist) returns, though that might not be until late February or early March.
Delon Wright, Raptors (15 percent owned)
Wright is coming off a career game Wednesday against the Bulls, dropping 25 points, 13 rebounds, five assists, four steals, four triples and one block in 30 minutes. While that’s what’s prompted me to put him in this week’s article, it’s not exactly why he’s featured.
Wright demonstrated his upside Wednesday, but it’s hard to imagine a clear path to consistent playing time, and touches, behind Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. However, despite seeing just 20.9 minutes per game, he’s surprisingly the 104th-ranked player this season, making him a viable bench option in many leagues and a viable option overall in deeper formats.
None of Wright’s numbers jump off the page — rather, his fantasy value comes from how balanced his stats are. On the year, he’s posting 8.8 points (50.3 percent from the field), 2.8 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.2 steals, 0.8 threes and 0.6 blocks per game.
Michael Beasley, Knicks (36 percent owned)
Tim Hardaway’s (leg) injury has opened up the door for Beasley to emerge as the other go-to scoring option for the Knicks besides Kristaps Porzingis. Since Dec. 12, Beasley has averaged 17.6 points (51.8 percent), 6.8 rebounds and 2.0 assists across 24.3 minutes per game. That production has helped him become the 62nd-ranked fantasy player over the past 14 days.
In his last 12 games, he’s slipped into single-digit field-goal attempts just twice. He’s also had a pair of 30-point efforts and a pair of double-doubles. There continues to be little new information on Hardaway’s recovery, though we know he hasn’t resumed running yet, so it seems safe to pick Beasley off the waiver wire as more than just an immediate, short-term option. Plus, it’s hard to imagine Beasley’s role will completely fall to the wayside once Hardaway laces up again, especially with the Knicks chasing the playoffs.