• Welcome to the first-ever edition of the Hoop Ball Huddle.

    This will be a weekly column where I address some of the most pressing fantasy basketball questions that are pressing on the minds of the community. There’s a forum thread set up for the HooB regulars, readers and subscribers to post their questions. I’ve also crowdsourced some questions via Facebook from some of the fantasy basketball groups that I’m in. You can also reach me via Twitter: @FantasyHoopla

    I’ve found over the years that there are many “common” concerns that befuddle or bother many managers. Even if it’s a player-specific concern or a trade, these scenarios revolve around the fluctuation of value and about finding the right spots to take advantage of peaks and valleys.

    Question: Do I drop Deandre Ayton? I’m in a 16-team league with no IL (via Facebook)

    Answer: This is a tough situation. I can relate, having played in multiple leagues with no IL spots and that also have daily roster changes. It’s brutal. Simply put, if you hold onto Ayton, your team will have one dead roster spot and you’d be playing at a disadvantage for roughly eight weeks – the amount of time he will miss assuming he serves the full 25-game suspension slapped on him by the league.

    I will answer you with my own approach. I own Marvin Bagley who is out for 4-6 weeks, the maximum of which is just two weeks removed from Ayton’s absence. Look at your team. Are you heavily dependent on counting stats for your category wins every week? Are your other players strong in the shooting percentages? If so, then try to weather the storm and hope to only lose by 4-5 and win some 5-4.

    Now if you’re losing too heavily, so much so that it jeopardizes the possibility of a comeback by your team, then yes, you may just have to drop your fantasy stud. If you’re sure you cannot hold, then drop him ASAP. Firstly, the rest of the league will not be rushing to burn waiver positions for him. You can win 4-5 weeks then pick him up again.

    The middle-ground move is to, of course, trade Ayton/Bagley/Zion. If you can find some value in return, which may not equate to what they deliver when healthy, it still might be enough to keep you competitive. Be open-minded and don’t peg your player to his “healthy value.”

    Question: What are your thoughts on Otto Porter Jr. (load management)? Do I hold or trade him? (via Forums and Facebook)

    Answer: I must admit, I was somewhat surprised when I read about the 24-minute placed on OPJ on Friday night.  And as a Porter owner myself, I was also bummed out by his poor showing vs. Grizzlies (four points, three rebounds, one trey, one steal).

    For now, I’d hold. Remember, Porter Jr. was spectacular in his first few games as a Bull, post-trade last season. He’s still in there. Somewhere.  He could just be off to a slow-ish start and the Bulls are taking it easy on him. He’s still a top-50 guy in my book. If you look at the fantasy landscape, there’s a plethora of normally dependable studs who are in the midst of sluggish starts.

    On the other hand, he hasn’t been the most durable player throughout the course of his career, so I can understand if you want to exit your position with him. If you’re adamant, you can wait until he strings together a few good games, which I am confident he eventually will, and then sell on a high. It’s quite frankly too early in the season to act on panic after just a handful of games.

    Question: What are your thoughts on Dinwiddie’s value?  Is Kyrie/Caris going to squeeze him out of relevance? Can he put up 15 & 5 coming off the bench? (via Forums)

    Answer: Yes, Kyrie Irving and Caris LeVert are threats to his potential explosiveness as a fantasy asset. That said, if all you’re after from him is 15 & 5, that’s well within his range. He will fluctuate, threading the top-100 needle with some high variance, but he’s still mostly a reliable source of points, threes and some assists.

    Question: Should I trade or drop Mike Conley? Or wait for about 10 games? (via Facebook)

    Answer: Conley’s output has definitely been fugly to start the season. I actually own him in a $ league where I’m competing against our very own Aaron Bruski. Am I worried? Yes, a little. He’s adjusting to his new team by taking a backseat to the emergent Donovan Mitchell. While that’s good, from I’ll be a “nice new teammate” kind of way, the results show that it’s not winning the Jazz any games in convincing fashion. They’re not the dangerous and deep team everyone thought they’d be, emerging from the offseason.

    I’d wait a while. I’m sure the coaching staff will nudge Conley to be more assertive and take more of a co-leadership role with Mitchell. It just might take some time for the two guards to develop the right balance and chemistry.

    Definitely, DO NOT DROP Conley. You can and should at least wait for 5-7 games, then reassess from there.

    Question: In a deep league 14 or more h2h 9-cat. What is the best way to stay afloat until playoffs come? Concentrate on strengths of 5 to 6 cats or try to increase other stats but sacrifice some of your strengths? (via Facebook)

    Answer: Stay afloat? I imagine that the person asking this is dealing with some injuries. Again, I go with my go-to prescription for “staying afloat,” and that’s to focus on shooting percentages. Trade or work the wire to pivot to these strengths. They’re more injury-resilient, because they’re not dependent on the number of games played. Given that we’re in an era of load management being commonplace, percentages is the way to go.

    Question: Would you accept a trade of Bacon for Dedmon? What do you think of Dedmon this year (Roto)? (via Twitter)

    Answer: I like Bacon for his upside and that’s also an umbrella impression I have for the Hornets’ young players like Miles Bridges and P.J. Washington. Dedmon, off the top, won’t be as good as he was in Atlanta last season. Still, he’s a roto-friendly player capable of giving you a 1-1-1 line while not really hurting you anywhere. That said, Dedmon will also get pressure from Richaun Holmes, Harry Giles (to a much lesser extent) and will have to share the paint with a once-thriving Marvin Bagley, when he eventually returns.

    Question: CP3 production, will this be the trend? (via Facebook)

    Answer: Chris Paul’s not motivated, especially considering he’s in the Twilight of his NBA career. He’s doing the bare minimum to get by and let Shai Gilgeous-Alexander thrive instead. That said, he won’t stay outside of the top-200 for long. It’s too small a sample size of games to make that generalization. I’d suggest to hold for now and let him get a few more games under his belt.

    Question: How can the Grizzlies manage the frontcourt of Jonas Valanciunas, Jaren Jackson Jr., and Brandon Clarke. (via Facebook)

    Answer: The Grizzlies are currently taking it easy on Valanciunas and that’s where they’re finding minutes for Clarke, who has been responding quite well. That said, I’m projecting JV to deal with his own fair share of load management throughout the season, considering his busy offseason, playing in the FIBA World Cup. I don’t think it’s going to be a huge issue for the trio of bigs because there’s simply enough playing to go around. Clarke doesn’t need a lot of time on the floor to provide top-150 value, as he displayed in Summer League. If anyone worries me the most, it’s Valanciunas. He might be a drag on teams in shallower leagues.

    Question: How to tell if a hot streak is a trend or a mirage? Do you sell high players with fast starts for players of higher value with slow starts? (via Facebook) 

    Answer: This is a very high-level question and a broad one at that. There’s no quick-and-easy way to answer it. The best advice I can give you, is that coming from my own experience, the way to go is to dig deep into CONTEXT.  What are the player(s) current situations? Are they only producing due to their being a fill-in for an injured star? For how long? Are they an emerging talent? – but this is what you’re looking for, I assume. I’d say at the moment it’s too early to tell, but my gut tells me someone like Devonté Graham (CHA) is someone who is coming into his own and is a true rising star in a talent-starved (apparently not so much) team. The short answer to the second part of your question is “Yes.” Again, we go back to context. Assess that correctly, then you can make the right moves, whether it by trades or working the wire.

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