Fantasy Forecast: Budinger or Brewer?

The Timberwolves have legitimate depth at the Small Forward position now with Corey Brewer, Chase Budinger, and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute. For fantasy purposes, the two you should be concerned with are Brewer and Budinger. My take on this battle is that Budinger will eventually win the starting job, perhaps after the All-Star break. For now though, Brewer is holding on to the starting spot while Budinger is on an 18 minute per-game limit for the next two weeks. For now, those who own Brewer can hold on to him, or look at the waiver wire to see if there is a sexy free agent. Those wanting Budinger should wait until he has his minutes restriction lifted, and then grab him.

Fantasy owners got happy last Friday when a report surfaced saying that Rajon Rondo was targeting a return on January 17th against the Lakers. But, that joy was cut short when Rondo said he didn’t know where that report came from, and he declined to reveal anything about his injury status. All that his owners can do at this point is stash him and wait for him to take the floor, but the return date could be close to the All-Star break (before or after).

Going around the horn of the NBA, Ryan Anderson is again out for the Pelicans, this time with a neck injury. Coach Monty Williams said on Friday that he's not going to speculate on a timetable for his return, meaning owners will just have to stash him on the bench until we hear something a little more definitive. Kevin Durant took a hard fall and left the arena with a brace on his left wrist. The injury doesn’t appear to be serious, so owners need not worry just yet. Arron Afflalo is in a walking boot and did not play against the Nuggets on Saturday. The Magic are listing him as day-to-day, so check with me for more news via Facebook or Twitter. Suns SG Eric Bledsoe's right meniscus was removed during surgery on Friday, meaning he could return again this season. For fantasy purposes, Bledsoe should be cut and Gerald Green should be scooped up in all available leagues.

Start ‘em

Darren Collison – PG Clippers: When Chris Paul went down I ran to the waiver wire and snatched Collison up in all my leagues, every single one! Over the last five games Collison has averaged 18.0 points, 6.0 assists, 3.6 rebounds and 2.0 steals a night while shooting a blistering 63.8 percent from the field. And, he has been a solid source of free-throws (18) for those in leagues who count them. With Collison owned in just 58 percent of Yahoo leagues right now, there is a decent chance he is available in your league right now. For those in daily leagues, he should still be relatively cheap for a PG.

Randy Foye – SG Nuggets: Foye has been on a hot streak the last two weeks with Andre Miller out of the line-up. Besides averaging 34:25 MPG, Foye has been putting up 16.7 points, 4.3 rebounds, 4.1 assists, and shooting 51.9 percent from the field. Those numbers are good enough for a #22 ranking overall in that span. What’s better is that Foye is owned in just 47 percent of Yahoo leagues, and he is pretty cheap in daily cap leagues. You’ll want to grab him quickly if available, but keep your eye on Miller’s status as he will eat into Foye’s playing time. Although, the Nuggets are 4-0 without Miller, so one could almost surmise that Brian Shaw could not change a thing even when Miller does return.

C.J. Miles – SG/SF Cavaliers: Ok, so I was wrong about Miles on most accounts. The trade of Luol Deng didn’t hurt him as much as I thought it would, and Miles didn’t cool off like he has in the past after a short burst of stats. Over the last six games, Miles is averaging 19.8 points and 3.5 3-pointers per game. The problem is points and 3’s is really all Miles gives you with Deng eating away his rebounds. I’m big enough to admit that I was pretty much wrong about him last week, but you should also know what you are getting into when picking him up. Miles is prone to going hot and cold, so keep a close eye on his numbers. And, he doesn’t give you hardly anything outside of points, 3’s, and a couple of free-throws. He’s only owned in 26 percent of Yahoo leagues and is dirt cheap in daily leagues, so those needing a cheap SG/SF option can give Miles a play while he’s hot.

Channing Frye – PF/C Suns: Owning Frye is like being on a rollercoaster; it’s full of ups and downs. The good news is that not only is Frye back on the uptick after scoring in single-digits in 4 out of 5 games, but he is averaging 15.2 points, 5.3 rebounds, and has hit a total of 18 3-pointers over the past six games. Frye is owned in 57 percent of Yahoo leagues, and is their #21 ranked player over the past 14 days in standard 9-cat scoring leagues. The ironic thing about Frye is that you can’t trade him to save your life. He’s better than people think, and would probably be dirt cheap in trade talks.

Patrick Patterson – PF/C Raptors: Center is one of the hardest spots to fill via the waiver wire, so guys like Frye and Patterson are actually what we call “sexy free agents”. Over the last two weeks Patterson has been averaging 12.0 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 0.9 blocks a night. With Tyler Hansbrough nursing an ankle injury, Patterson has been the go-to big-man off the bench. Hansbrough did practice on Sunday and is questionable to play against the Bucks on Monday. I’m positive there will be some sort of time-share going on with Patterson and Hansbrough, but at a thin position like Center, Pat-Pat should still hold solid value in leagues with deeper benches.

Sit ‘em

Jeff Teague – PG Hawks: As good as Teague has been this season (16.5 points, 7.8 assists, and 1.3 steals per-game), he has also been shooting a dismal 41.4 percent from the field this season. Condense the view down to two weeks, and the FG percentage is now at 37.5 and he is average 15.1 points and 5.9 assists. The Hawks play just one (1) game in week 12, and fantasy owners have to hope the rest will allow Teague and the coaching staff to figure out whatever is wrong with his shot so that he can stop missing 62.5 percent of the shots he takes. If he doesn’t improve the shooting, I would seriously consider trading him for a PG like Goran Dragic or Kyle Lowry if possible.

Joe Johnson – SG Nets: The good news for Johnson is that the Nets will be without Deron Williams for week 12 as he fights a sprained left ankle. The bad news is that the Nets too play just one game this week as they travel to London to play against the Hawks on Thursday. Johnson has been on a tear with D-Will out, averaging 23.3 points, 4.3 assists, and 4.0 rebounds over the past week. But, as I always say, there is very little damage a guy can do sitting at home. Those in daily leagues should consider Johnson as a solid one-game option this week, but those in weekly transaction leagues will want to put him on their benches.

Iman Shumpert SG/SF Knicks: Just a quick hitter on Shumpert. When J.R. Smith was in the doghouse for his antics, Shumpert got to see additional minutes and looks. Those extra minutes caused his numbers to inflate when filtering them by the last two weeks total. But, Smith is back in the rotation now and that is going to cause Shumpert to fall right back to where he has been all season, in a time-share. If you picked up Shumpert, it is time to drop him again if there is a better option on the FA list.

Josh Smith – SF Pistons: J-Smoove is one of those guys that got drafted too high because Yahoo foolishly put a pre-season ranking of #37 overall. Because of that, he was drafted at the start of round 4 in both auto and live drafts. He has been ok this season with an average of 15.6 points, 7.0 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 1.6 blocks, and 1.5 steals a night, and he has improved those numbers over the last two weeks with averages of 18.3 points, 10.0 rebounds, 4.7 assists, 2.0 blocks and 1.7 steals a night. He does shoot in the low 40 percent range (40.7 percent this season) though, so all is not great with owning Smith. The problem with Smith this week (outside of the shooting) is that the Pistons play just two games, leaving his upside extremely limited for week 12. The Jazz are allowing 101.9 PPG to opponents this season, while the Wizards give up 99.6 PPG. He makes for a good plug-n-play option Friday and Saturday, but those in weekly transaction leagues will really need to think about sitting him down if they have a 3 or 4-game option to play instead. Kris Humphries – PF/C Celtics: I got more than a few emails asking about Humphries now that he is averaging over 30 minutes a night at the Center position for the Celtics. The problem with Humphries is that he just isn’t very good. At best he is average on both offense and defense, and he will be exposed on both ends of the floor by the better teams in the NBA sooner rather than later. Over the last two weeks he is averaging 11.4 points, 9.4 rebounds and 2.0 blocks, but the rebounding is largely due to a 3-game stretch where he grabbed 33 rebounds. The points are about right, Humphries scores between 8-12 points most nights. The blocks are also inflated by three games where he blocked a total of 10 shots. If you are absolutely desperate at the Center position, Humphries is probably available (39 percent owned). But, you need to understand that if Jared Sullinger can stop playing defense with his hands, Humphries WILL go back to coming off the bench for the Celtics.

Nikola Vucevic – C Magic: Vucevic suffered a concussion against the Clippers back on the 6th, and has since skipped the final three road games to return to Florida and recover. That rules him out Monday against the Mavericks for sure, and puts Wednesday against the Bulls in question. Vucevic missed 10 days last season with a [mild] concussion, so there is reason to think he could miss another 10 days minimum again this time around. The best case scenario is that he misses just the one game and returns Wednesday, leaving him with a 3-game schedule in week 12. Worst case is of course that the misses the whole week as he tries to recover from this concussion. I’d personally sit him down in weekly transaction leagues and daily leagues, and let him play a game before putting him into my line-up in standard daily transaction leagues to see how his minutes are handled.

James Morris hails from Rio Rancho, NM and has been playing fantasy sports for just over 15 years. Not only does he write the Timberwolves fantasy basketball section, but he crosses over the sports boundary and writes the Miami Dolphins and Cincinnati Bengals fantasy football sections. Just send him an email and he will reply back the same day with your answer. Or, find him on Twitter (Fantasyguy23) and Facebook to get all your NFL news before it hits the national media. For more news and notes on the team follow the Minnesota Timberwolves and Mark Remme on Twitter, and join the conversation at