When looking for fantasy players to draft one might find it easy to skip right over the Toronto Raptors roster. After all they did post the third worst record in all of basketball last season and they are certainly without any standout all-stars to bring the big name power to your fantasy squad.
Not one Raptor cracked the top 50 of my rankings last week, but four of them made it into the top 100 and I even left off one guy who most consider a top 100 player. What does this tell us about the Raptors fantasy value? It tells us that it’s a team without stars, but it’s far from void of fantasy value. The Raptors may not possess anyone who will go in the top five rounds of your drafts, but if you’re looking for some mid round potential picks, the Raptors have a handful of good ones.
Here is my quick hitting take on several of the Raptors key players fantasy value…
Andrea Bargnani, C: Here is the Raptors contribution to the top fantasy drafts top fifty last season, and the man who lands the highest in my rankings at 61st overall. I never could get behind Andrea Bargnani as a top fifty guy last season and I was quite outspoken about that fact. Drafting a Center who lacked in rebounding and shot blocking the way Bargnani does that high never worked for me.
Than last season Bargnani put a career high 21.4 PPG, but saw his rebounding and blocked shots fall to their lowest total in his three years as a starter. I’m still not sold on Bargnani because of that fact, but he is still just 26 years old and rumors have it he’s working harder than ever. At least this season it looks like you’ll be able to draft Bargnani where he should go, which is the 6th round, rather than the 4th round like last season.
Amir Johnson, PF: The lanky power forward filled with potential came in at number 80 in my rankings and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him either outplay or underplay that ranking. The potential is so tempting, but the playing time is no given and consistency has never been a strong point. If Johnson played thirty minutes per game he could be a double-double machine who averages 1.5 – 2.0 blocks per game. But with Ed Davis improving I don’t see Amir getting more than 25 minutes per game and those minutes might be coming off the bench. If you’re looking to acquire some boards and blocks in the middle rounds I love Amir, but you have to be prepared for the consequences of owning a serious boom or bust guy if you’re going to draft him. I think he’s worth the risk, but just know there is a risk.
Ed Davis, PF: Now for the guy keeping Amir Johnson from those starts minutes and perhaps the guy who is stealing the tag of “starting power forward of the future” from Johnson. An injury last season got Ed Davis off to a late and slow start, but by the end of the year Davis was starting and really beginning to take off. In eight April starts Davis averaged 12.9 points, 9 rebounds, 1 block and 0.8 steals. It’s a small sample size, but it should get you excited about what he could potentially do in a full season as a starter. I have Davis ranked a few spots lower than Johnson, but if things shake out with Davis as the starter that might change. Davis doesn’t have the athleticism of Amir Johnson, but he is a more refined post scorer and better technical rebounder. And he’s only 22 as well. Love the upside of Ed Davis.
James Johnson, SF: You won’t find Johnson on just about anybody’s top 100 list, but there is some serious sleeper potential here and deep leagues should take notice. After arriving in Toronto from Chicago, Johnson started all 25 games he played in. In those 25 games he averaged 9.2 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 3.0 APG, 1.1 BPG and 1.0 SPG. Chicago gave up on Johnson a little early and the 24 year old is just two seasons removed from being the 16th overall pick of the draft. Johnson won’t stand out in any one category, but he can contribute in a bunch and if he finds a jumper this season he could really start climbing some ranking boards. Think of a Tayshaun Prince type of player and that’s James Johnson’s potential.
DeMar DeRozan, SG: DeMar DeRozan is the guy who just missed my top 100 who you’ll find in most other analysts rankings. DeRozan surprised a lot of people last season when he broke out in his sophomore season to average 17.2 PPG. After the all-star break he put up 19.9 and in April it was 23.1 PPG. Make no mistake about it, DeMar DeDozan can score and he is the surefire number two scoring option on this team. Unfortunately his potential is tied up completely in his ability to score shoot strong FG and FT percentages. DeRozan doesn’t get assists (1.8 per game), doesn’t shoot threes (0.1 per game) and is just an ok steals guy (1 per game). It’s not as if I wouldn’t welcome DeRozan on my team, but I like guys who bring a little more variety to the table. It should be noted though that DeRozan is just 22 years old and could still expand his game, including a jumper would be a good place to start.
Jose Calderon, PG: Here’s another guy who does a couple things really well and otherwise is very average. Calderon is one of the best assist men in the NBA. Once Jarrett Jack was out of the picture, Jose Calderon averaged 9.7 assists per game as a starting point guard last season. However he really doesn’t shoot threes and he doesn’t score points. He does shoot very well from the free throw line, but he’s rarely ever there so it’s almost a moot point to make. Calderon will get somewhere between 1 – 1.5 steals per game to go with his assists, but that’s about the extent of it. Because he is an elite guy in that one category he does have more value than other one category contributors, but you should only look his way in the middle rounds if you need assists.
Jerryd Bayless, PG: This is the man I have to believe will be the point guard of the future for the Raptors, but unfortunately is not the point guard of the now. Bayless filled in for the injury prone Calderon 14 times as a starter last season. In those 14 starts he averaged 18.1 PPG, 6.7 APG, 3.6 RPG, 1.2 3PG and 1 SPG. It’s a small sample size, but it’s enough to make you want more. The downside is that Calderon will start and Bayless will be relegated to coming off the bench which will hamper his upside. The upside is that Calderon has missed exactly 14 games each of the last three seasons and only once in six seasons has he played a full season. Those in deep leagues and keeper leagues should stash Bayless on your bench and take advantage of the starts that he does get. If the Raptors start to fall off, which they likely will, Bayless will start seeing a steady increase in minutes, even if he doesn’t start.
So the story is the Raptors have a lot of potential and a lot of guys who are one or two stat stars, but not so much on the all-around games. The thing is in the middle rounds a lot of times you’re just looking to add potential or boost one or two categories that might be lacking, in which case the Raptors players are they type of players you want to have in those spots.
What do you think about the fantasy value of the Toronto Raptors core players? Am I too low or too high on any of them? Give me your thoughts.