Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
For many years, Shaquille O'Neal was the best fantasy player in basketball. Back in his heyday, I recall in one of my fantasy leagues an owner bidding $200 out of a budget of $280 just for the superstar center. But times they are a changin'.
Getting ready to play in his 20th season, with his sixth team, O'Neal is a shell of his former self and is now a part-time player off the bench. Looking at early rankings for the 2010-11 season shows that O'Neal isn't even listed in the top-150 players.
And he shouldn't be!
Considering that he averaged just 12.0 ppg and 6.7 rpg as a starter in Cleveland last year and that he'll be coming off a crowded Boston bench, there is no reason to believe that he can even match last year's paltry numbers.
But O'Neal isn't the only fantasy superstar who's best days are behind him. He isn't even the only O'Neal on the Celtics that has fallen from fantasy stardom.
Jermaine O'Neal, once a 20-ppg, 10-rpg star in Indiana, signed to play with Boston back in mid-July. He had been playing the last two seasons in Miami where he averaged 13.6 ppg and 6.9 rpg last year. In Boston, with Shaq, Kevin Garnett, Glen Davis and Kendrick Perkins (ACL) all on the same team, none will be a great, or even a very good fantasy option.
Another once-great center, Yao Ming, is being drafted in the seventh round (ADP 83). The last time he was on the court, he was still posting good numbers (19.7 ppg, 9.9 rpg), but he hasn't played a game since the 2009 postseason and rumors are that he's still not healthy.
Then there is power forward Elton Brand, who has four "20-10" seasons on his resume, but could only muster 13.1 ppg and 6.1 rpg for Philadelphia last year. He'll be lucky to be drafted in the top-125 next season as the 76ers should be featuring all their young players during the start of a long rebuilding process under new coach Doug Collins.
When Vince Carter was carrying the Toronto Raptors on his back (1998-2004), he was a perennial first-round draft choice. His numbers were "LeBron-like" in that he helped you across the board. He has averaged as many as 27.6 ppg, 6.0 rpg and 5.1 apg during his career as well as helping in the steals and blocked shots categories. But the Carter of 2009-10, who just finished his first season in Orlando, is just an "average" shooting guard, posting pedestrian numbers of 16.6 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 3.1 apg, 0.7 spg and 0.2 bpg. It also explains why in 2010-11 there will be 100 players chosen ahead of him.
Of course, science has taught us "for every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction." While these five former superstars have fallen from the ranks of the great, new stars will always appear to take their place. The key in all fantasy sports, is knowing when the exchange will take place.