Fantasy MVPs can come in all shapes and sizes. The high draft picks could be delivering as expected, or maybe you scooped up some value in the mid-to-late rounds of your drafts and it's paying dividends. There's also the possibility you found some gems on the waiver wire, and they're far exceeding expectations. However it happened, there's data behind which players are on the most successful teams in fantasy basketball.
Today, I will highlight some names that stand out 13 weeks into the season. Let's dive into the midseason MVPs.
The data I'll be referencing can be found here, and I've always found it helpful to figure out which players are making the greatest impact on winning each season.
The table below shows the list of the top 15 players who appear most often on the top 500 H2H (head-to-head) Public League teams.
I did some digging to understand where each of these players were drafted in the preseason and it's interesting to see the distribution of when these players were selected.
Of the top 15 players:
1st round - 1
3rd round - 3
5th round - 2
6th round - 1
7th round - 1
8th round - 2
10th round - 2
11th round - 1
Undrafted - 2
Early round hits
The only first-round pick on the list is Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. And it begs the question, should SGA be the top pick next season if he continues to be this good in fantasy hoops? He was also the most-rostered player of top teams by the end of the regular season last year.
Kawhi Leonard and Paul George cracking the top 15 as third-round picks isn't surprising, considering that both fell in drafts because of their propensity to miss games due to either injury or load management.
One of Leonard or George missed 33 of the Clippers' first 40 games last season, but compared to this season, they've only missed six total through their first 40 games.
What a difference actually playing makes.
The results speak for themselves, as Leonard and George are within the top 10 in per-game value this season for nine-category leagues. Lauri Markkanen joins them as another third-round draft pick in the top 10 in per-game value, proving that last year's breakout was not a fluke.
I didn't draft Brook Lopez anywhere because I thought his production would taper off from last season's resurgence, but he's been great, performing almost two rounds higher than his preseason ADP.
I'm still of the belief that Terry Rozier is a sell-high just based on the fact that he's never finished inside the top 20 in his career. He's been close (30th in '21-'22, 38th in '20-'21), but other than that, he's been outside the top 70 in six of his eight seasons in the league before this year. Still, he's amid a career year, and when considering his heavy minutes, I understand the reluctance to move him. Just remember, the Hornets are willing to trade anyone except for LaMelo Ball, Brandon Miller and Mark Williams.
Jalen Williams, aka J-Dub, is taking off where he left off after the All-Star break last season, averaging 19 points, over four rebounds and four assists per game with exceptional efficiency.
His steals are down a bit from last year, but he's hovering around a top-50 player, which is right around fourth-round value, exceeding his fifth-round ADP.
There's not much I can say about Derrick White — his value in real life and fantasy hoops is coming to light.
He's been one of the most lucrative picksof the season, as he's performing at the level of an early third-round pick despite being selected in the seventh round of drafts this year. The truth is, Jrue Holiday was over-drafted while White was under-drafted. White is a league-winner type of player.
With the exception of Donte DiVincenzo (4% drafted), Daniel Gafford, Jonas Valančiūnas, Mike Conley and Collin Sexton were all drafted in over 90% of leagues between rounds 8-11 in fantasy basketball.
The undrafted heroes
Isaiah Hartenstein was drafted in 5% of Yahoo leagues this year and I'm willing to bet the 5% of people who took a flier on him likely didn't hold him through December. Since then (and Mitchell Robinson's injury), Hartenstein has ranked 47th in per-game value and has been one of the best fantasy big men in the game over that span.
There is undoubtedly an argument to sell Hartenstein based on the unexpected return on investment, but here are some reasons I'd advise against it:
Minutes: Increased from 29.2 per game in December to 35.8 per game in January. Expect 34-36 minutes to be the standard in the future
Depth at the position: Who will take his minutes — Precious Achiuwa? Jericho Sims is still hurt and look at OG Anunoby out here playing 40 minutes a night. When Thibs likes you, that means you're not leaving the floor.
Elite Rebounder: Tenth in the NBA in rebounding since Dec. 1 (11.2/g).
Stocks machine: Sixth in the NBA with 69 combined steals and blocks (nice) since Dec. 1 (3.0/g).
He's too valuable at a position where stability is key, especially if your league requires you to start two centers. Hartenstein has a league-winner profile, which shows, given the success fantasy managers have with him on their teams.
Grayson Allen is also in the conversation for fantasy MVP because, per Yahoo's draft data, he wasn't drafted on any teams. It's understandable, considering how much confidence people had in Phoenix's big three (Devin Booker, Kevin Durant and Bradley Beal). However, Beal's early-season injuries allowed Allen to start consistently and become an X-factor for fantasy managers all season.
Allen's having a career year across the board:
🔺 Minutes per game
🔺 Points per game
🔺 Rebounds per game
🔺 Assists per game
🔺 FG%, eFG%, 3-point % (leads league)
He's been a top-100 player for most of the season. Now he's crept into top-70 territory, and he's here to stay. His skill set fits perfectly with the Suns, who need a reliable outside shooter on the perimeter who can also play and defend multiple positions with tenacity. His numbers are improving month over month, and with the Suns' cap and resources strapped near the deadline, their core roster is set, with Allen playing an essential role in the future.
If you have him, you got him for free, so if you have a chance to make an upgrade, take it. I'd also be completely fine riding this out.