Fantasy Forecast: Getting Set For Christmas Week
The injury bug leaves a lump of coal in fantasy stockings this year
Kobe Bryant, Brook Lopez and Patrick Beverly all go down with lengthy injuries in week 8.
Christmas week is upon us, and that means there are several teams with players that will do more harm than good for those in daily cap or weekly transaction leagues. The Celtics play just one game this week, while the Timberwolves, Wizards, 76ers, Trail Blazers, Bulls, and Pacers play just two games. On the other side of that coin, the Rockets play a grueling five-game schedule this holiday week, and another eight teams play three-game schedules.
In news around the NBA, Kobe Bryant broke the hearts of Lakers fans’ around the world as he fractured his left knee and will miss at least the next six weeks. Bryant has often shown he will push his body as hard as anyone in the NBA to get back on the court, but at 35-years-old, and 17 seasons played, you have to wonder what he will do if the Lakers continue to lose as they have been. As smart as Kobe is, I can’t believe that his ego is so big that he would risk living his retirement years out in a wheelchair to play a season where it is obvious they have no chance to win the NBA title.
Nets center Brook Lopez fractured his foot and is done for the remainder of the 2013-14 season. The only real player of interest in fantasy leagues right now should be Andray Blatche. He is averaging 11.8 points and 5.9 rebounds a night this season, and is one of the more consistent players on the Nets roster right now. Mirza Teletovic could see a bump in value as well, but I wouldn’t grab him right now unless you are in a deeper league.
Rajon Rondo has been rumored to look well in workouts and scrimmages, but when asked if January was a realistic timetable for his return Rondo simply said “no.” Fantasy owners need to really consider what is best with Rondo at this point as he is just wasting a spot on your roster when someone else could be putting up stats for you in the meantime. There is the possibility/probability that as soon as you cut him someone else will grab him and just stash him. But, then one of your competitors will be wasting a spot while you are gaining stats.
Rockets PG Patrick Beverley was diagnosed with a fracture to his right fourth metacarpal and is expected to be out 4-6 weeks. Jeremy Lin says he will play against the Mavericks on Monday, so those who picked up Aaron Brooks in the hopes of him starting may be disappointed. I would hold on to Brooks if you can to see if he develops into a sixth-man kind of player, but I doubt he overtakes Lin as the starting PG wile Beverly is out.
Isaiah Thomas – PG Kings: Thomas is now the undisputed starter for the Kings and he has been making the most of it averaging 20.9 points, 7.4 assists and 1.4 steals a night over the last two weeks. On top of that, Thomas is adding 2.3 3-pointers a night while shooting 47.2 percent from the field. The Kings play three games this week and Thomas is putting up top 25 numbers when looking at average, and top 10 when looking at the last two weeks as a whole. He’s owned in 83 percent of Yahoo leagues and he won’t come cheap in daily cap leagues, but it is because he is one of the hottest players in the game right now.
Jeremy Lin – PG Rockets: With Beverly out, I am putting my money on the Rockets inserting Lin into the starting line-up and Brooks taking on a reserve role off the bench. So far this season he is averaging 14.3 points, 4.2 assists, and 1.2 steals a night. The good news is he is keeping the turnovers in check with an average of 2.8 TOPG. Lin’s owned in 78 percent of Yahoo leagues, so I’d check and make sure he isn’t on your wire. And, I would also float a quick trade offer to his owner to see if you can buy low on him.
Nick Young – SG Lakers: Swaggy-P (as Young likes to be called) is about as close as you can get to fantasy value these days on the Lakers roster. Bryant is out, Pau Gasol missed Saturday’s game with an upper respiratory infection, Steve Nash is out at least another month, and Steve Blake is out 4-6 weeks. Add all that up and it spells plenty of chances for Young to shoot the ball. Over the past week he is averaging 21.5 points, 3.3 3-pointers, 4.8 free-throws, and 3.5 rebounds per night. And, he isn’t killing you with the FG percentage as he is shooting 47.4 percent from the field over that time. Young is owned in 48 percent of Yahoo leagues, so go check your waiver wire now if you need SG help.
Giannis Antetokounmpo – SF Bucks: Once upon a time Khris Middleton was the hot item to own off the waiver wire. Now it looks as if it is Antetokounmpo’s turn to be picked up in all formats. O.J. Mayo is nothing short of a complete and total fantasy bust, and it would be in the Bucks best interest to move Middleton over to SG and let Antetokounmpo start at SF from here on out. They Bucks have the worst record in the NBA and are all but playing for next season after just two months of this NBA season.
Amir Johnson – PF Raptors: There are few players hotter right now than Johnson who put up 17 points and 13 rebounds in a win over the Thunder on Sunday. In his last nine games he is averaging an impressive line of 18.0 points, 9.6 rebounds, 1.1 steals, and 1.3 blocks a night. The chances are that he is not on your waiver wire as he is owned in 83 percent of Yahoo leagues, but 83 is not 100, so go look just in case. If you do own him, you have to ride him until the wheels fall off this bandwagon because he isn’t even red hot, the guy is white hot (look it up, it is hotter) right now!
John Henson – PF/C Bucks: Henson has been money the past few weeks, averaging 13.4 points, 9.2 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks a night over the past month. What I don’t understand is why he is only owned in 68 percent of Yahoo leagues given those numbers. He was a last-second scratch for Saturday’s game against the 76ers, which means his availability for Monday’s game against the Bobcats is in question. No matter what, he should be owned in all formats right now and I is entirely possible that the Bucks gave him the night off on Saturday so he could rest up and be ready for Al Jefferson and the Bobcats on Monday.
Mike Conley – PG Grizzlies: Conley is a stud that flew under the fantasy radar for a few seasons before owners caught on. The problem I have with him right now is that he is dealing with a thigh bruise that caused him to miss two games last week. Upon his return on Saturday, he shot 4-of-18 from the field and 0-4 from the 3-point line. While he does play a 3-game schedule this week, I think daily leaguers and weekly transaction players need to think about what the thigh bruise will do to his shooting and see if they can afford to take the FG and 3PT percentage hits.
Jeff Green – SG/SF Celtics: The main problem with owning Green is that there is no real consistency in his output. Just look at his last 5 games where he scored 29 points one night, then rattled off back-to-back 8-point games, and then put up back-to-back 13-point games. Add to that the Celtics playing just one game this week and Green would have to set records for him to be worth playing in all but the standard daily transaction Yahoo or ESPN leagues. And even then, he could still hurt you by shooting 3-for-11 from the field. Be aware and beware!
Andre Iguodala – SF Warriors: Iggy is the person I have received the most questions about this week as he has been simply horrible since he returned from his hamstring injury. He’s scored 3, 6 and 2 points in each of his three games since returning, and most of his shots tonight weren't even close. Here is my answer: Iguodala is too good to cut and you just have to be patient with him for a while. Stash him on your bench until he strings a couple of good games together, but do NOT cut him.
David West – PF Pacers: West is one of those guys who has more NBA value than he does fantasy value. Over the past 10 games he is averaging 14.1 points and 6.1 rebounds, and while that may sound good it actually puts him outside of Yahoo’s top 125 players for that time span. His problem is that he doesn’t add a consistent stream of blocks (0.9 BPG this season) or steals (1.0 SPG), and turns the ball over about 2 times per-game. With Danny Granger coming back owners are going to have to take a wait-and-see approach with West, but I might be floating him out there in trade offers to see what he will bring back.
Jared Sullinger – C Celtics: I personally don’t own Sullinger in any of my leagues, but I do think he is worth picking up if you need help at Center. Over the last two weeks he has put up a total of 130 points and 53 rebounds, while knocking down nine 3-pointers and shooting 50.5 percent from the field. All those praises aside, the Celtics do play just one game this week against a Cavaliers team that held him to 12 points and 4 rebounds in their only meeting this season. With five days off before taking on the Cavs, Sullinger could either be ready to rock and roll or he could be rusty from all the time off and be a fantasy dud. He is a risk to play this week.
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.