Fantasy Forecast: Monday, March 18, 2013

For many leagues the fantasy basketball playoffs kick off in Week 21 of the NBA season. What that means is all your hard work and dedication throughout the first 20 weeks of the season all boils down to the few games we have left this season. It is more important now than ever to know how many games your players have each week so that you can make the best possible line-up decisions based on the match-ups, as well as be up-to-date on any injuries that occur.

Injuries

Kevin Love
left the door open to not return this season on Friday, but admitted that he hasn’t made a decision yet. In fantasy terms, I’d leave Love on the waiver wire until we know one way or the other about him returning to the court this season.

Kobe Bryant tried playing through the pain for his sprained ankle, but lasted just 12 minutes on Friday. Bryant is known for playing through injuries, so it is impossible to count him out of a game until the team puts it on paper and makes it official. The best thing I can tell you is to play Bryant as if he were in the line-up, because the reality is we won’t know anything until after shootaround before the game.

Carmelo Anthony had his knee drained on Thursday, and as a result missed Sunday’s game against the Clippers. Coach Mike Woodson said he wasn’t sure about Melo’s availability for Monday’s game when asked, but my guess is he won’t miss more than is absolutely necessary. I’d feel comfortable playing Anthony this week.

Kevin Garnett is considered day-to-day with a strained adductor. Coach Doc Rivers called the injury a “one” on a scale of 1-10, which means he is unlikely to miss much, if any, time.

Tony Parker is getting support from teammates on the notion that he could return prior to his original four-week timetable. Those who own Parker need to keep him in a holding pattern as there has never been any doubt in him returning this season and gearing up for a playoff run.

Kyrie Irving is expected to miss 3-4 weeks with a sprained left shoulder. The reality is that a return in three weeks would leave him with 10 games to play, and coach Byron Scott has already said Irving could miss the remainder of the season. With nothing to play for this year, I don’t see the Cavs running Irving out there to possibly reinjure himself. I’d cut him loose and get a hot FA off the waiver wire.

Danny Granger was again shut down with knee problems, and it is safe to go ahead and cut him in all formats except dynasty leagues. Even if he does return before the season is over, he is highly unlikely to play a significant enough role to have fantasy value.

Start ‘em

Mario Chalmers – PG Heat:
The problem with Chalmers is his inconsistent play. He scored a combined 40 points on Sunday and Monday of last week, then totaled just 14 points on Wednesday and Friday. The good news is he does provide a sneaky source of 3-pointers, steals and can get you 4-5 assists most nights. He isn’t someone I would want anywhere near my starting PG spot, but as a utility player I use just for 3’s, steals and a few assists, why not?

Gerald Henderson – SG Bobcats: Henderson is having himself an impressive March thanks to his 18.5 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 2.8 assist average over the last two weeks. The Bobcats play four games this week and Henderson is owned in just 47 percent of Yahoo leagues right now. He is a great addition for his points and free-throw shooting (93.5 percent last two weeks), and will contribute a few peripheral stats to help out each night. He isn’t a savior, but he is just what some stagnant fantasy teams need to get them over the hump.

Martell Webster – SF Wizards: Webster is on a tear over his last five games, averaging 21.8 points and 4.8 3-pointers a night. The catch is he doesn’t do much in the rebounds (3.6 RPG over that span) or assists (1.8 APG). But, if you are looking for a SG/SF that can score and hit the 3-ball, Webster is your man as the Wizards are running him out on the court for an average of 36.2 MPG over the past five-game stretch. Points and 3’s in the fantasy playoffs could be the difference between and win and a loss, and Webster is owned in just 38 percent of all Yahoo leagues.

Derrick Favors – PF Jazz: With Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson both nursing injuries, Favors has stay steady in the mid 20’s the last two weeks. His main contributions come in rebounds and blocks, to which he is averaging 8.4 and 3.1 respectively over the past two weeks. He doesn’t put up many points (9.4 PPG last two weeks), but the rebounds and blocks are a welcomed stat at this point of the season, and his 50.9 percent shooting from the field can only help. Right now Favors is owned in 65 percent of Yahoo leagues, so make sure yours isn’t one of the 35 percent right now.

Spencer Hawes – C 76ers: Hawes has had himself an incredible two week period of play in the NBA, to which he has averaged 14.0 points, 9.5 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.8 blocks a night. He topped it all off on Saturday when he flirted with a quadruple-double against the Pacers, finishing just shy with 18 points, 16 rebounds, 8 assists, and 7 blocks. Ride the bandwagon while he is hot and make sure he isn’t available on your waiver wire now (61 percent owned).

Sit ‘em

Steve Nash – PG Lakers:
When people drafted Nash this season they were hoping that he would somehow join Kobe, Pau Gasol, and Dwight Howard to form a dream team and be a fantasy beast from the PG position. What people failed to take into consideration is that Nash is 39-years-old, and there are only so many shots to go around. Nash has lost a step or two, and he just isn’t the player anyone wants him to be. Over the last two weeks he has averaged 14.4 points, 4.9 assists and 0.5 steals a night, while shooting 45.7 percent from the field and maintaining his stellar free-throw shooting at the 95.5 percent mark. The Lakers play just two games this week and Nash isn’t much help outside of his 14 points and 5 assists, both of which you could do better on if you are in a cap or a weekly transaction league.

Manu Ginobili – SG Spurs: Ginobili has suffered with the loss of Parker, despite being labeled as a must-start player by one big-box fantasy website. The reality with him is that he ranks out as Yahoo’s 180th ranked player over the last two weeks in 9-cat scoring leagues. His 13.0 points and 5.6 assists a night are good, but the 40.8 percent shooting from the field, 76.0 percent shooting from the free-throw line, and 2.9 turnovers a night drain his fantasy value. With Parker out, his stats are taking a hit, but the big-box websites have blinders on because of his star status.

Michael Beasley – SF Suns: I normally wouldn’t put someone like Beasley on here because I simply don’t think he is worth owning. But, 54 percent of Yahoo owners do have him on their roster and I saw a big-box fantasy website get all excited because he scored 21 points on Saturday. The problem with that is 1) It was against the Wizards. And 2) He took 12 shots, which is abnormal for him. The reality is Beasley scores in double-digits because he takes poor shots (43.6 percent shooting over the last two weeks), and his free-throw shooting doesn’t help owners (72.7 percent). And to make it worse, he’s turned the ball over 15 times over the last two weeks, which ranks him as the ninth worst for SFs. I’d let someone else take Beasley and get themselves a handful of fools gold.

Gerald Wallace – PF Nets: Wallace has been one of the more disappointing fantasy players this season, currently ranking out No. 157 in Yahoo 9-cat scoring leagues. Over the past month he has managed to put up just 6.6 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.4 steals in his 28:04 minutes a night. He should only be owned in the deepest of leagues, and played as a last resort option to finish the season out.

Al Jefferson – C Jazz: And on the other side of the Jazz band we have Jefferson, who has managed to average just 13.6 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.0 blocks a night in his 29:24 minutes over the last two weeks. To make it worse, he is shooting 44.9 percent from the field and 54.5 percent from the free-throw line, both horrible numbers that kill fantasy value. Maybe we will see Jefferson shake off the ankle sprain and try to carry the Jazz on his back as they are a half-game behind the Lakers at the time of this article. On the other hand, he could continue to sink even further down the fantasy ladder should the Jazz fall completely out of the playoff picture. The risk is real, and I don’t want to take it in the fantasy playoffs.


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.