It's still very early in a long Fantasy season, but some statistical trends are starting to take shape. For those of you in category-specific formats, here are some notable factoids that might help you gain an edge in areas of need. Obviously, the information at this point is based on small sample sizes, but we'll continue to validate and debunk trends on a weekly basis in this column going forward.
(All stats up to date through Nov. 5 games. Info provided by NBA.com and Teamrankings.com)
The Clippers, Lakers, Wizards, 76ers and Mavericks are giving up the most points per game so far this year -- all allowing opponents to score at least 106 points per contest. ... Aaron Afflolo could be in line for a nice scoring game Wednesday night against the Clippers, who've given up 26 to Xavier Henry, 38 to Stephen Curry and 29 to Isaiah Thomas already. ... The third and fifth worst defensive teams play each other next week, which should give players on the Wizards and Mavericks a slight scoring boost November 12. ... Trevor Ariza is averaging 17.7 points per game but has never averaged more than 14.9 for an entire season. His unusually high scoring can be attributed to the fact that he's averaging 15 field goal attempts per game -- tied for 27th in the league with Chris Paul. ... Alec Burks' 16.8 points per game seem much more sustainable -- and available, being a free agent in 29 percent of leagues. He'll still have a role in the offense when Trey Burke returns, but you should grab him now to maximize his value.
Field goal percentage
Carlos Boozer has been on fire to start the season, averaging nine made field goals per game while shooting 65.9 percent from the field. Only LaMarcus Aldridge is making more field goals per game, but Boozer is still making 13 percent more of his attempts than Aldridge. ... The Wizards are allowing a league-leading 55.3 points in the paint per game -- good news if you're thinking of starting a post player from the 76ers, Nets or Thunder this week. ... Dion Waiters is shooting an abysmal 33 percent from the field, while only averaging 9.5 points, 1.8 rebounds and 1 assist per game. He's owned in 80 percent of leagues, but he's hard to start in Roto if he's not delivering in the one area you'd hope he would. ... Conversely, Andre Miller (34 percent owned) continues to be an intriguing Roto play. He's shooting 63.2 percent from the field while averaging 9.3 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game. He's only played in three games, but his value could rise if Ty Lawson misses any time with injury or if the Nuggets decide to end the Nate Robinson experiment (shooting 32.3 percent from the field), in which case that assist number will go up. ... Lance Stephenson has been a Roto beast so far, shooting 53.1 percent from the field and averaging 16.8 points, 6.5 rebounds and 4.8 assists and 2.8 made threes per game. Not sure he can maintain this lights-out efficiency, but you have to start him while he's this hot.
Omri Casspi showed off immense Roto potential Monday night, grabbing nine rebounds to go along with 19 points (including a trio of three-pointers), four assists and two steals while shooting 50 percent from the floor. He's averaging close to six rebounds per game and is only owned in 11 percent of leagues. Casspi's short-term value gets a boost in weekly formats, as the Rockets play four times this week and next. ... P.J. Tucker is another three-point specialist who's been rebounding well in the early going. He's averaging 5.0 per game, making him a strong option if you have a need in both categories. ... When you're in desperate need for rebounds, take a look at fringe options whose schedules include the Heat or the Bucks, who have the worst rebounding rate so far. ... At the same time, you might want to avoid the Raptors as only Al Horford has been able to grab double-digit rebounds against them. They currently lead the league in rebounding percentage and are second in offensive rebounds per game.
Josh McRoberts has been sneakily productive so far, starting for the Bobcats. If you don't count LeBron James, which we hardly ever do for earthly comparisons, McRoberts is third among power forwards at 3.7 assists per game. Cody Zeller will eventually take his minutes, so make use of McBob's skillset while he's still seeing the floor. ... Bucks rookie Nate Wolters is currently 16th in assists per game averaging 6.7 a night. His horrid shooting percentage is keeping him off rosters right now, but if he can somehow find his stroke, he'll be able to help out until Brandon Knight returns (which could be tonight). ... Mario Chalmers' 5.2 assists per game would be a career-best if he keeps it up. Combine that with his 3.0 steals and 2.2 made threes per game, and you might find yourself snagging Rio with the hope that he can somehow maintain these numbers. ... Greivis Vasquez has been a disappointment so far, averaging only 3.8 assists per game. This number should pick up as he becomes more comfortable with his new team, but it's safe to assume he probably won't get close to leading the NBA in total assists like he did last year.
Free throw percentage
Zaza Pachulia is not only leading the Bucks in scoring, he's also their best free throw shooter so far. Of centers averaging more than three free throw attempts per game, he's first in the NBA in percentage having gone a perfect 11 for 11 from the line. ... Carlos Boozer is also perfect from the charity stripe, despite averaging 4.3 attempts per game. ... John Wall, Michael Carter-Williams and Kyle Lowry have all been off at the line so far – shooting and 71, 70 and 60 percent respectively – among the worst at the point guard position.
Again, don't expect Trevor Ariza to keep this up. He's currently fifth in the league averaging 3.3 made threes per game. This number is inflated by the improbable six he made in the Wizards' opener. ... Francisco Garcia, on the other hand, is actually known for this aspect of his game. He's making the most of the spot left behind by Carlos Delfino by averaging 2.8 made threes and 11.8 points per game for the Rockets. ... The 76ers, Lakers and Bulls are each giving up at least 10 made threes per game, so keep that in mind when shopping for spot-start shooters. Meanwhile, the Celtics and Bucks are each allowing fewer than five made threes per game so far. ... Andre Iguodala is averaging 2.5 made threes per game after averaging only 1.1 last year. His percentage won't be great, but it's not a stretch to think this pace can be maintained as the Warriors lead the NBA in three point attempts per game and likely will for the rest of the year. Golden state is putting up almost ten more threes per game than Denver did last year, so Iguodala could be a nice surprise in the long range column this season.
Nobody wants to pick up Kris Humphries, but blocks are hard to come by, and he's averaging 2.0 per game to go with 8.0 points, 9.0 rebounds and a 75% field goal percentage. You could do worse -- maybe. ... The Magic and the Bobcats are getting blocked more than eight times per game each, so look for shot blockers who play them to try and catch up in that category. ... Andrew Bynum's only averaging 12.5 minutes per game, but he's still found a way to block 1.7 shots a contest. Maybe it's time to throw him out there if you're behind in the swattage department. ... Wesley Johnson is first among shooting guards, and ahead of DeAndre Jordan, Dwight Howard and Joakim Noah overall with 1.8 blocks per game to start the season.
Michael Carter-Williams flirted with a quadruple-double by securing nine steals in his NBA debut. The 76ers look like they're poised to play lots of zone defense this year, which Carter-Williams thrived in last year at Syracuse. When you combine his speed and wingspan with Philadelphia's need to get out and run, Carter-Williams should be a good source of steals all season long. ... It's safe to say that Derrick Rose's point guard skills are a tad rusty, as he's currently averaging more turnovers (5.7) than assists (4.3) per contest. It might be smart to pair him with J.J. Reddick (71 percent owned), who's scoring 17.3 points per game and has only turned the ball over twice in four games. ... The Celtics, Warriors, Jazz, Pacers, Rockets and 76ers are all averaging at least 19 turnovers per game, making them prime targets if you're playing catchup in steals. ... DeJuan Blair is first among centers with 2.8 steals per game to go along with his 9.5 points, 7.3 rebounds, 0.8 blocks and 1.3 turnovers per game. Not too shabby for a guy only getting 20 minutes a night.