Byron Mullens intends to play tomorrow vs. Miami, and it’s time to pick him up in your league if he’s available. As of this writing, Mullens is just 23% owned in Yahoo leagues, dropped by many after his injury news came out. He carries some red flags, sure, but as I'll show below, I believe he's one of the best values you can get among the pool of free agents in your league.
At this stage of the game, it's very hard to find guys who will become long-term assets for your league. Viable free-agent pickups generally occur at this time because of an injury making a player useful in the short-term, such as Eric Bledsoe with Chris Paul out; or a pickup when you need a short-term boost in a single category. Both of these types of moves can help you win your matchup that week, but these players rarely have staying power, either because the starter returns from injury, or because single-category contributors are a long-term limitation.
Mullens, however, is a widely-available exception. Let's compare some of his averages with other guys available on the waiver wire. For these below measurements, I'm going off a free agent pool in a
standard 12-team Yahoo league I am in. The available player pool in your
league will vary, but for the sake of argument we can assume they're
pretty similar, give or take a few players.
Mullens averages 7.8 rebounds per game. The only players in my FA pool that have that topped are Anderson "Out For Season" Varejao; and Reggie "3.3 points per game" Evans. Not exactly viable fantasy options. Center is a shallow position this year, yet Mullens qualifies there and gives your team an instant jolt in rebounds that will last for the rest of the season.
Everyone knows about the unique 3PTM contribution Mullens makes from the Center position, but how does he compare to the entire available player pool as a whole? Scanning across my league's FA pool, I see some guys who hit more 3-pointers available; Steve Novak, CJ Miles, Jodie Meeks....the problem is, that's all these guys are doing. They hit 3s and score some Points, but I don't see them with 3+ totals in any other category. 3-point specialists have a place in fantasy, but they rarely stick on your team long-term. Mullens' multi-cat contribution between 3s and Rebounds makes him special compared to the rest of these guys.
Steals and Blocks
Mullens provides 0.9 steals and 0.9 blocks per game, and while that doesn't blow you away, realize that guys who can go 1-1 in both those categories are very rare. Look at your current roster--I bet most of your players can't provide both. He isn't "special" in either category, but it is special that he contributes in both, especially considering he's a freely-available player in 77% of leagues. Remember, Mullens isn't just some role player--he played 31 minutes per game while healthy. The only healthy player I see in the FA Pool near that is Alonzo Gee. Mullens will be active in games and have every opportunity to pile up defensive stats.
Yes, Mullens has an ugly .371 FG%, and it will be up to you on whether your team can absorb that hit. And it's important to note that early on he may have limited minutes or be rusty. However, when I can look at a free agent pickup and think "this is a guy that could legitimately stay on my team the rest of the season," I have to pick him up. If he isn't working out, you can always drop him, but the potential value of getting a free season-long multi-category contributor is too good to pass up. Remember, the Bobcats are bad, and will need as much as they can get out of Mullens, so he isn't going anywhere. With this guaranteed playing time, and his unique set of skills, Mullens needs picked up in your league.