Fantasy Forecast: The Injury Bug Hits
Another week goes by in the NBA and another set of injuries wreak havoc on fantasy line-ups. Hawks PG Jeff Teague sprained his ankle and was almost immediately ruled out for the upcoming 2-game road-trip. The good news is that the x-rays came back negative, but the bad news is just when Teague had a good game (23 points on 7-for-14 shooting, 5 assists, and 3 steals) he went down for a few games. Maybe the extra rest will help, but it could also do the exact opposite and make his 41.5 percent shooting this season sink even further.
Shelvin Mack will take over PG duties for the Hawks while Teague is out. With the Hawks also letting Lou Williams handle the ball off the bench, I don’t see Mack as anything more than a weak option for those in the deepest of leagues.
Celtics SG Avery Bradley is also dealing with an ankle injury, but his is expected to keep him out a few weeks. Bradley is having a career year with averages of 14.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 1.0 steals a night in nearly 31 MPG. Chris Johnson and Philip Pressey will see extra minutes with Bradley out and Rajon Rondo on a minutes limit. To borrow a term from baseball, they will likely form a platoon and en up canceling each other’s fantasy value out. I’d leave them alone unless in a deep league.
Andrea Bargnani is out indefinitely with a torn ligament in his left elbow. The Knicks are already hurting with Amare Stoudemire and Kenyon Martin out with ankle injuries, so they will push Carmelo Anthony to PF and J.R. Smith to SF and make do that way. Melo responded to his new role by setting a Knicks and Madison Square Garden record with 62 points on Friday, and Smith is a must-start player once again (as long as he can stay out of Mike Woodson’s doghouse).
Spurs SF Kawhi Leonard has a fractured fourth metacarpal in his right hand and is expected to miss 3-4 weeks. Anyone who owns a Spurs player not named Tim Duncan or Tony Parker knows the fantasy wows of Gregg Popovich. While he is a magician in the NBA, his match-up based line-up means it will be hard to pin one player as the guy to pick up. Boris Diaw has played the best over the last three games, averaging 16.7 points, 3.0 rebounds, and 2.7 assists. If you are looking for a waiver wire player to add, Diaw should provide you some decent numbers when he plays.
D.J. Augustin – PG Bulls: It’s not often that a guy coming off the bench in the NBA is a must-own player in fantasy basketball, but that is exactly what Augustin is. Despite being owned in 51 percent of Yahoo leagues, Augustin is averaging 14.7 points, 5.9 assists, and 1.2 steals a night over the past month. Those stats rank him 38th overall on Yahoo in that time! Why is this man on 49 percent of the waiver wires? Go grab him and throw him into your line-up right now if you own a player that should be cut like Eric Bledsoe (69 percent owned), O.J. Mayo (61 percent owned), or Al Horford (52 percent owned).
Courtney Lee – SG Grizzlies: With Tony Allen out, Lee has stepped up and has given the Grizzlies coaching staff something to think about when Allen returns. Over the past two weeks Lee is averaging 16.9 points on 58.1 percent shooting from the field. The problem for fantasy owners is he does little else to help with just 2.3 rebounds, 1.4 assists, and less than a block or steal a night. Still, 17 points and 58 percent shooting off the waiver wire is nothing to scoff at as we get closer to the All-Star break. If you need help on your bench, Lee will provide some scoring while also helping the FG percentage. Keep an eye on how things shake out though once Allen is back.
Terrence Ross – SF Raptors: One of the hardest things in fantasy sports to do is jump on a player after one good game. But, it is also hard to ignore a guy who goes out and drops 51 points and grabs 9 rebounds against the Clippers too. And with DeMar DeRozan not traveling with the team for Monday’s game with foot and ankle injuries, Ross really becomes a must-add player just because we know what he has in him now. The downside to Ross though is his poor FG percentage (41.8 this season) and lack of peripheral stats (3.3 rebounds, 0.8 assists, 0.7 steals, and 0.3 blocks per-night averages). He will only help in points and 3’s, but should provide enough to justify the pick-up for now.
Taj Gibson – PF Bulls:Gibson is starting to heat up for the Bulls as Carlos Boozer is showing his age at 32-years-old. Over the past six games Gibson is averaging 14.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks a night. Boozer on the other hand now has three (3) DNP’s this month and is currently ranked 147th for Yahoo overall in totals, and 150th overall in season average. The Bulls could be preparing for life after Boozer, making Gibson an interesting pick-up (43 percent owned) right now for those in need of a PF.
Boris Diaw – PF/C Spurs: As I said above, there isn’t a clear winner in the Spurs injury replacement raffle, but Diaw is as close as it gets right now. And, with center being the hardest position in fantasy basketball to replace, Diaw is an interesting addition for those weak at the position. He will be up and down because the Spurs play the match-ups, but if you can get 14 points, 5 rebounds, and a steal or a block thrown in some nights at center and off the waiver wire, you have to view that as a win in fantasy basketball.
Kendall Marshall – PG Lakers: Marshall has without a doubt been a waiver wire gem since taking over after Jordan Farmar and Steve Blake were both injured. Over the past month he is averaging and insane 10.9 assists-per-game, 2nd in the NBA. He also adds 11.6 points a night with 2.2 3-pointers. However, despite how good he has been with the assists, the Lakers play just two games this week. And as I always say, a player can’t provide any fantasy help while at home or in the practice facility.
Randy Foye – SG Nuggets: Foye has proved that the pre-season rankings on Yahoo mean little to nothing at all. Yahoo had him pre-ranked #145 before the fantasy draft, but over the past month he has managed a #43 ranking when looking at average stats. But, like the Lakers, the Nuggets play just two games this week and with them being against the Raptors (4th lowest points allowed at 96.9 PPG) and Bobcats (6th lowest at 97.2 PPG), I would try and find other options at SG in daily and weekly transaction leagues.
Nicolas Batum – SF Trail Blazers: Batum is owned in virtually every league in fantasy basketball because he provides owners with rebounds, assists, steals, 3’s, and low-end teen points. His 10.1 points, 7.3 rebounds, 6.6 assists, and 0.9 steals a night average over the past month help across the board. But, the Blazers plays just two games this week and owners in daily and weekly transaction leagues can find better options at SF in guys like Ross, James Johnson, or even Mike Dunleavy. Now is not a bad time to float Batum out there in a few trade offers to see if you can improve your situation based on Batum’s name. He isn’t in a slump or anything, but I do think he is a little overrated in fantasy owners’ minds.
Josh McRoberts – PF Bobcats: That website that Yahoo uses for their fantasy advice (can be found when you click on the player news next to their name) said on Wednesday that McRoberts was heating up again after putting up 13 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists. The problem is that was actually the end of his recent hot streak as he put up a total of 12 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists over the next two games. The danger in chasing stats is the same as chasing gains in the stock market; once something shoots up, you end up buying high and selling low. McRoberts is one of the streakiest players in fantasy basketball and this headache is best left for someone else. Let that site deal with him while you hold what you have.
Chris Bosh – C Heat: Bosh has had a pretty good 6-game stretch as he has averaged 24.0 points and 6.5 rebounds per-game. I do own Bosh in a handful of my leagues, but I prefer centers that get me closer to 10 rebounds and 2-plus blocks over a guy that scores 16.7 points and grabs just 6.7 rebounds as Bosh has averaged this season. He is still ranked in the top 30 overall players this season, so my bias is more my bias than you needing to avoid him. With that said, the Heat play just two games this week and there is a good chance that Bosh cools down with the extra days off to rest. I would sell high in daily leagues and find other options in weekly transaction leagues if you have them on your bench.
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.