Fantasy Basketball stock watch: Blake Griffin rising, Markelle Fultz falling

Blake Griffin highlights this week’s look at recent fantasy risers and fallers (AP Photo/Kyusung Gong)


Blake Griffin: It’s hardly a surprise Griffin is thriving with Chris Paul out of town, but he’s off to an especially strong start, averaging a career-high 26.7 points (playing a modest 32:42, which is the second-fewest mpg of his career). Griffin is attempting a whopping 6.0 threes per game (his previous career high was last year at 1.9), making 44.4 percent of them. He’s also shooting a career best from the line (81.8%). Durability is always the biggest concern when it comes to Griffin, but he sure looks healthy now, highlighted by this monstrous dunk over Rudy Gobert. While this is a small three-game sample, his career-high Usage Rate (30.9) is here to stay with CP3 gone, and the new propensity for firing away from deep gives Griffin first round upside (he’s currently the No. 13 fantasy player). Don’t sell Griffin high but rather hold onto what looks to be an MVP-type campaign in store.

DeMarre Carroll: After back-to-back finishes as a top-55 player from 2014-2015, Carroll was a complete bust over the last two seasons in Toronto. Reunited with Kenny Atkinson now in Brooklyn (a coach whom he thrived with in Atlanta) and most importantly, seemingly back to full health, Carroll is off to a terrific start, averaging 15.3 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 1.5 spg, 0.8 bpg and 2.0 3pg while shooting 48.7 percent from the field. The Nets have the NBA’s second-highest Pace (110.9) and few mouths to feed on offense, so Carroll is in an ideal situation to get his career back on track. He’s been the No. 31 fantasy player so far yet is still available in 35 percent of Yahoo leagues. Go get him.

[Week 8 rankings: Overall | PPR | QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs | FLEX | DST | Ks]

Mike James: The undrafted rookie is suddenly starting for the Suns with Eric Bledsoe unlikely to ever suit up for the team again. It’s possible the Suns get a point guard in return when they deal Bledsoe, and Tyler Ulis looms, but the latter is 160 lbs and built better for limited minutes off the bench, and for now, James is well worth using in fantasy leagues and remains cheap in DFS. Phoenix’s Pace (108.5) ranks No. 3 in the NBA, and he’s available in 60 percent of leagues.

Lauri Markkanen: Another rookie seeing far more minutes right out of the gate than expected, Markkanen has taken full advantage, averaging 16.3 ppg, 9.3 rpg and 3.3 3pg while shooting 45.5 percent from deep (and becoming the first player ever to hit 10 three-pointers in the first three games of their career). Nikola Mirotic is out 4-6 weeks thanks to a punch from Bobby Portis that cost the latter an eight-game suspension, so Chicago’s frontcourt is all Markkanen’s for the time being. He’s been a borderline top-75 player so far, and with so few alternatives on the Bulls’ roster, expect similar production moving forward, at least until the other bigs return. Markkanen is still available in more than 30 percent of leagues.

Jayson Tatum/Jaylen Brown/Terry Rozier: The loss of Gordon Hayward to the devastating season-ending ankle injury has opened up minutes and shots for all three of these Celtics, and they have excelled given the opportunity. Tatum and Rozier have both been top-45 players, while Brown has been top-90, and while Marcus Smart’s return will cut into some of their usages, they all need to be owned in fantasy leagues. Tatum has been especially impressive, as the rookie looks like the real deal. Let’s hope Marcus Morris doesn’t knock him out of Boston’s starting five once he returns.

Here’s Kevin Durant blocking two shots while missing a shoe.

Here’s Andre Roberson air balling two shots while at the free throw line.

Here’s rookie Jordan Bell throwing himself an alley-oop off the backboard.


Markelle Fultz: While fellow rookie point guards Lonzo Ball, Dennis Smith Jr. and De’Aaron Fox (and teammate Ben Simmons) are off to terrific starts during their NBA careers, Fultz has been a disaster, not earning a starting role while playing through a shoulder injury that’s resulted in shooting free throws like this. Obviously it’s extremely early to worry too much (or maybe not), and maybe him getting shut down for the next three games will result in a healthy return, but those who picked him to win Rookie of the Year can pretty much already throw out their tickets.

Jamal Murray: There were high hopes with the sophomore entering the year as Denver’s starting point guard, but Murray is off to a cold start, shooting an ugly 25.9 percent from the floor and an almost unfathomable 14.3 percent from downtown (on 4.7 attempts per game). Last year’s No. 7 pick is sure to improve, but it’s a discouraging start to say the least.

Kawhi Leonard: It’s hardly time to push the panic button, but Leonard missed the entire preseason with a thigh injury that dates all the way back to last year, and this recent footage isn’t exactly the most encouraging for those who spent a first round pick on him.

Marvin Williams: Quietly a top-70 player each of the past two seasons, Williams has been ice cold from the floor, shooting an anemic 5-for-21 while losing minutes to Frank Kaminsky. The sluggish start is especially worrisome given that Nicolas Batum is sidelined. Fantasy owners are quickly losing patience with Williams, who’s one more bad game away from being droppable if he’s not already there.

Dirk Nowitzki: The sure-fire Hall of Famer might finally be losing the battle to father time, as Nowitzki is averaging career lows across the board while shooting 30.2 percent from the floor. It’s been a great run, but Nowitzki no longer looks like a fantasy asset, unfortunately.

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