One of the worst things that can happen to your fantasy team is injury. When a player gets injured, you feel cheated. You feel like you made a good choice in the draft, but an unfortunate event ruined your success. At least with an injury, you can place the blame on fate or some other mysterious entity instead of yourself. What’s worse than an injured player is drafting a player who manages to be disappointing while also being completely healthy. In these cases, you have no one to blame but yourself. It’s much easier to accept loss when it’s nobody’s fault.
I’ve drafted many players that fit both descriptions. I don’t think that makes me a bad owner; it just means I draft upside that doesn’t always turn out. If you drafted any of the players below this year, you’ve probably made a mistake, but I’m here to tell you that it’s all going to be ok.
Gordon Hayward was an all-star just two seasons ago. After taking a season to recover from injury, Hayward owners were hoping he could at least come close to his all-star form on the Celtics. Unfortunately, he is averaging just 11 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game. ESPN projected “Hair Gordon” for 19 points per game this season. As a result, he was taken far too early in the draft, being taken with the 40th pick on average in ESPN leagues, according to Fantasy Pros. At this point in the season, Hayward can’t be traded for anything close to his original draft value.
Dennis Smith Jr.
Coming off a productive rookie season that saw Smith average over 15 points and 5 assists a game, many fantasy owners jumped on the sky-high potential of an even bigger sophomore campaign. Hopefully you weren’t one of those people because he has taken a step backward. Now averaging just 12.6 points and 3.9 assists, it’s hard to say what caused the change. Perhaps it’s because of the rise of Luka Doncic as the Mavericks’ new floor general, or maybe it’s something else. Regardless, I still have high hopes for Smith, but I don’t expect anything to change this season.
Trey Burke has had an up-and-down NBA career. After playing on his third team in his fifth year in the league, he was moved to the G-League. After dominating there, he had an impressive stretch at the end of the season last year, shooting over 50 percent from the field. Because of that, he was on average the 89th player off the board in ESPN drafts. Unfortunately, he failed to return to that form this season, and Emmanuel Mudiay absorbed his starting role on the Knicks. In order for Burke to retain any value this season, he needs an opportunity to reclaim his spot in the starting lineup. Until then, he belongs on the waiver wire.
I’ve drafted Valanciunas a couple times, and I was disappointed both times. When Dwane Casey was the head coach of the Raptors, his minutes were inconsistent at best. Now with Nick Nurse as head coach, his minutes have taken an even larger dip. His minutes have gone down in each of the last six seasons. Even though he’s offensively talented, Valanciunas’ poor defense is keeping him out of the lineup. Now that he’s out for an extended period of time with a thumb injury, he can be safely dropped from your team. His average draft position in ESPN leagues this year was 62nd. If you drafted him this year, hopefully you’ve learned your lesson and you’ll avoid him in future drafts.