Fantasy rookies: Jamal Murray vs. Dario Saric staff via ESPN logo
Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, we pose a question to a rotating panel of ESPN fantasy basketball experts to gauge their thoughts on a hot topic. Today's contributors are ESPN Fantasy's Joe Kaiser and Kyle Soppe and ESPN NBA Insider Kevin Pelton.

14 games into the nascent NBA careers of Dario Saric and Jamal Murray, each has shown promise for fantasy teams. Saric has scored in double digits in five of his past six games and is averaging 9.9 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 1.8 APG and 1.3 3-PPG. Meanwhile, Murray racked up 24 points on the Bulls on Tuesday night and is averaging 9.0 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 2.1 APG and 1.6 3-PPG.

Do you think each will be a viable fantasy option the rest of the season? Do you prefer one over the other?

Joe Kaiser: Consistency worries me for any rookie, and I think ultimately these are two players who are better suited to be fantasy contributors next season than this one, but here are the things to look at:

1) Are they getting consistent minutes?

2) Do they have a good usage rate of at least 15?

3) Are they shooting at least somewhat efficiently?

Entering Wednesday, Saric is playing 26 minutes a game (check!) with a usage rate of 19.3 (check!), but he's shooting just 39.9 percent, and that's a real anchor at a forward position. Additionally, Saric's minutes will dwindle in the months ahead, once Nerlens Noel and Ben Simmons return to the court. As for Murray, he is playing 20.3 minutes a game (check!) with a usage of 19.9 (check!), but like Saric, the problem is efficiency; the former Kentucky star is shooting just 40.9 percent with a below-average PER of 12.47 and will likely see less time as Will Barton gets back to full speed and Gary Harris returns to the lineup.

Kyle Soppe: Both are interesting options in somewhat deeper formats, and I think what we've seen thus far is kind of what we can expect. Both players have the ability to score, but you're going to have to deal with plenty of poor games if you want to reap the occasional reward. I view Saric as the better to own this season, as his rebounding raises his floor enough for him to fall into fantasy value on a poor scoring night.

Murray's value is more tied to scoring, and while I think he can already do that at an NBA level (just ask the Bulls), I worry that his skill set will remain somewhat limited for the Nuggets this season. Murray's nightly ceiling is probably higher, and if I have to roll the dice on either in DFS, it'd be Murray, but if you're asking me at the end of the year, who has the more fantasy-friendly stat line, I'll take Super Dario in a close one.

Kevin Pelton: For this season, I'd say Saric has a better chance of being a viable fantasy option. Given the injuries the Nuggets have had at shooting guard (most notably Harris, a starter when healthy), this is probably about as many minutes as Murray is going to play, unless he proves capable of backing up Emmanuel Mudiay at point guard or Denver has an injury at that position.

Saric, too, is close to his peak value at this point, but Simmons isn't due back to compete with him for playing time for more than a month, so I think this kind of production is what can be expected for him for some time now.