Wondering if there's any fantasy gold to be found in the Toronto Raptors' this season? Reader and fantasy basketball master, Jamie Bennett gives his take on the Dinos' fantasy hopes this season...
Raptors Fantasy Forecast: Murky...
Given that the top 6 or 7 players on horrendous teams such as this year's Toronto Raptors usually accumulate far more playing time, and therefore more stats than they should, drafting them is often wise. However, even in leagues where your counterparts overvalue real life talent (a common mistake in fantasy leagues), there are not that many Raptors that you want to be targeting before the late rounds of the draft.
With several new players and a new head coach coming in, it is hard to determine exactly what Toronto's rotation will look like. The smart money seems to be on some pretty heavy time sharing. So the value of most players is going to be capped for the time being. The only two that I would promise 30 plus minutes for, and lots of scoring opportunities are DeRozan
Players on the Rise: Ed Davis and Jerryd Bayless.
Ed Davis was injured for much of his rookie season, but still managed to put up some solid per game numbers. He is line for more minutes this year, and may even start beside Bargnani. The 7 boards a game and the block a game that Ed managed last year are his floor, with his ceiling being much higher. I am predicting close to a double-double to go along with 1.5 plus blocks a game. He is a terrible free throw shooter, but does not touch the ball enough to hurt you that much in the cat.
While Jose Calderon will probably begin the season as the starting point guard, do not be shocked if Jerryd Bayless takes over by the end of the year. The Raptors are rebuilding and want to give Bayless every opportunity to succeed. Plus the Raptors new coach loves defense, and Bayless far exceeds Calderon when it comes to guarding opposing playmakers. When starting last year, Bayless put up very useful fantasy numbers. Even if Bayless does not start, look for the Raptors to give Bayless close to 30 minutes as a combo guard off of the bench.
You may be asking why omitted James Johnson from this group? I certainly think he will be worthy of a fantasy roster spot, but I am not convinced that James Johnson will see more than 25 minutes a night, and he will usually be the 4th or 5th option on the floor.
The safe bets to get into your lineup: Andrea Bargnani and DeMar DeRozan.
Everybody knows that Bargnani does not rebound at all or block many shots, but as the most talented offensive player on the team and somebody who touches the ball almost every possession, you can count on him to produce somewhere in the range of what he did last season. Even if the team limits his minutes this year, it is safe to say that he is going to get his looks.
DeMar DeRozan is the only other sure fire starter. He is continuing to grow as a player. I would expect modest growth in most statistical categories. There are rumblings that he has added a three point shot. Even if Derozan hit a three every other game this year, his value would go up considerably.
Very likely to produce numbers that warrant being in your fantasy lineup: Amir Johnson and Jose Calderon.
Amir produced great per minute stats last year, and has excellent percentages for a big man, but I would not go reaching too high for him. First off, Amir may still not be 100% healthy after his ankle surgery. More importantly, Ed Davis could end up with a much bigger role this season. Plus the team added Jamal Magloire and Aaron Gray who should both see some minutes every night. So Amir owners should be happy if he gets as much playing time as he did last year.
There will likely be owners in your league reaching for Calderon, don't be one of them! Sure his numbers were great last year, but he is far from a lock to repeat. In fact, I would bet against it. As mentioned earlier, Bayless is likely to eat into Calderon's playing time.
Others to watch: Leandro Barbosa, Gary Forbes, and Kleiza.
With the Raptors looking to see what players like Bayless, Forbes and James Johnson are capable of free-agent to be Barbosa is unlikely to contribute enough to warrant much fantasy attention. However, he is a guy that could end up traded to a contender. If this were to happen, he could have a renaissance.
Gary Forbes is somebody that intrigues me. With James Johnson as his main competition he could carve out a nice role for himself in Toronto.
Kleiza is still recovering from surgery and is not worth owning at the moment, but he is someone to keep an eye on.