Fantasy Forecast: Dealing With Injuries
We are now two months in the NBA season and while some things are clear in fantasy basketball, others are still just as muddy as they were when the season started. The Wolves are back to .500 as of Sunday night after a 101-93 win over the Grizzlies, and fantasy owners are seeing solid value from all five starters. Chase Budinger is traveling with the team now, although no timetable has been set for his return date. When he does get back it will still take him time to knock off the rust and find his role within the offense now that Corey Brewer has established himself as the starter at SF. Budinger’s real value lies in 3-pointers, so keep an eye on him if you are in need.
Amir Johnson took back the starting PF spot for the Raptors over the weekend. He’s now scored in double-digits in his last six games, while grabbing a total of 54 rebounds and blocked 11 shots in that span. The trade that sent Rudy Gay to Sacramento and brought in Greivis Vasquez, John Salmons, Patrick Patterson and Chuck Hayes didn’t disrupt his hot play one bit, so owners can stop worrying about his minutes. Staying in Toronto, Jonas Valanciunas looks like he is hearing footsteps behind him as he finally has put together a string of three good games. In his last three games he is averaging 13.7 points, 9.3 rebounds and 1.7 blocks. I have one reader who is a faithful emailer and I have told him each and every time to hold on to Valanciunas because I had him on my pre-season sleeper list for a reason.
The return of Kobe Bryant seems to be bitter-sweet for Lakers fans’ as he is on the court, but the team also looks lost now that they lost their only healthy PG in Steve Blake. There are rumors circling around about the Lakers and Knicks talking about trades involving Iman Shumpert and/or Tyson Chandler. Kyle Lowry is out there too, but it looks like the Lakers are going to swing for the fences in making a trade. Pau Gasol is the only name being thrown around right now for the Lakers, so we will just have to take a watch-and-wait approach on the trade front.
Reggie Jackson – PG Thunder: Jackson is someone I mentioned last week and he did not disappoint as he has scored in double digits in all but six games this season. On top of that he is averaging 12.3 PPG, 3.9 RPG, and 3.4 APG in just under 25 MPG this season. Jackson is an excellent pick-up for those looking for a boost in the G flex or utility spot. He’s owned in just 35 percent of Yahoo leagues right now.
Pablo Prigioni – PG/SG – Knicks: Raymond Felton is going to miss a few weeks with a strained hamstring, so the Knicks are turning to Prigioni to play the starting PG role. The drawback to him is that he won’t score many points (four PPG this season); but the good news is he has been averaging 5.1 assists and 1.8 steals a night over the last two weeks. His FG percentage needs to improve (42.4 percent over the last two weeks), but he hits a few 3’s per game and doesn’t turn the ball over much (0.7 TOPG this season). Remember, he’s just a short-run option for those looking to fill a gap.
Mike Dunleavy – SG/SF Bulls: Dunleavy has been battling with rookie Tony Snell for minutes, but the problem is while they play the same positions, their games are different. Snell is a defensive-minded player, whereas Dunleavy is probably one of the better offensive options for the Bulls now that Derrick Rose is done for the season. Over the last two weeks Dunleavy has averaged 16.0 points, 5.4 rebounds, 3.1 assists, and 1.1 steals a night. As icing on the cake, Dunleavy also averaged 2.3 3’s per-game over the last two weeks for those in leagues that count them. Dunleavy is likely to move back to a reserve role as the Bulls get healthy at the SG/SF positions, but I think he can retain solid value as the team looks for scoring options.
John Leuer – PF Grizzlies: The tide is shifting in Memphis and it looks like the coaching staff is favoring Leuer as their big-man. Over the last five games he is averaging 16.4 points and 8.2 rebounds, which isn’t bad off the waiver wire or for those looking to save money in daily fantasy leagues. The Grizzlies may change things at any moment and they look to find their identity down-low without Marc Gasol, so give Leuer a shot, but be ready to make a switch if things change again in Memphis.
John Henson – PF/C Bucks: You will see later on my views on the Bucks, so I won’t go into it here. But, Henson is the only Bucks player that I would recommend owning at the moment (Khris Middleton has cooled off and is worth cutting). Over the last two weeks Henson has averaged 15.3 points, 10.1 rebounds, 2.3 blocks, and 1.3 steals a night, giving him late second-round value. Even if you expand the timeframe to the past month, the ROI (Return On Investment) only drops to the mid third-round value. Henson is owned in 63 percent of Yahoo leagues right now, so you should go check and see if he is available in yours!
Greivis Vasquez – PG Raptors: Still owned in 64 percent of Yahoo leagues, Vasquez is giving back 13th round value to the people who refuse to just let him go. Over the last two weeks his ROI drops down to the middle of the 14th round. Seriously, why do you still own him? The only way Vasquez has value is if Lowry is dealt, but you are wasting PG plays, cap money, or lost stats in the meantime. It’s a calculated risk/reward scenario.
Bradley Beal – SG Wizards: Beal has been doing some on-court work at Wizards practices, but it needs to be clear that the team has given no timetable for his return. I’ve gotten too many emails from people in daily and weekly transaction leagues who want to know if they should stick Beal in yet or not. The answer is no because until he is on the court during a game, he should be considered out. Leave him where he is until we know something more definitive.
Andre Iguodala – SF Warriors: Iggy has been quoted as saying he will be back “really soon”, which has owners in a frenzy waiting for their SF to get back into their line-ups. The problem is two-fold; 1.) Warriors beat writer Rusty Simmons said on Friday that Iguodala is still "at least a week away" from playing. 2.) The Warriors play just three games in this week. If he does play at all, it is more than likely it will be close to the third game than the first, so his value in Week 8 is extremely limited. Those in cap leagues or weekly transaction leagues will need to give him one more week before sticking him in your line-up.
Ersan Ilyasova – PF Bucks: Can you believe that Ilyasova is still owned in 79 percent of Yahoo leagues? The guy is giving back 17th round value, and most leagues don’t even have a 17th round to their draft! The truth is what I’ve been saying it for weeks now, the Bucks are a train wreck and fantasy owners will have to be comfortable with highs and lows all season long if they choose to own any of their players. As for Ilyasova, he should be on your waiver wire regardless of league size or scoring format.
Kosta Koufos – C Grizzlies: I was high on Koufos when Gasol went down, and it paid off for seven of the last 10 games. But, now I see a new trend in which Leuer is coming off the bench and putting up impressive numbers as I mentioned before. Sometimes in fantasy basketball you have to be every bit as good of a surfer as you are at basketball and just ride the waves. Koufos is trending downward and it is time to hop off this ride before you fall off the board.
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 WolvesNation.com.