The players we'll discuss this week seem to include a common "bust" label so far in their careers. A few were extremely high draft picks who still haven't lived up to the hype that made them so. So should they be written off and ignored in the fantasy world? Absolutely not. Keep in mind some of these players are still young and find themselves entering their prime or finally in a good position to get playing time. Now that the season is in full swing, I've got some backups to discuss who should be ready to step up with a teammate on the mend from an early injury.
I promise I won't bring this up every week as I know it will get old quickly, but the big news early this week has to be the Heat's 5-3 start. I pointed out my pessimism about their defense in the paint during the preseason, and I've seen nothing to change my mind so far. Including Paul Millsap impersonating Reggie Miller over the final 29 seconds Tuesday, the Heat gave up 72 points in the second half. The paint is not Miami's only concern as there seems to be a developing trend of difficulty against teams with good point guards. The Heat have now lost to Deron Williams, Rajon Rondo and Chris Paul -- just some food for thought.
Each week we'll look at players who have received increased minutes. An uptick in minutes doesn't always translate into improved fantasy stats but at the very least offers some players to put on your radar.
Reggie Williams, G, GS – Williams is the likely beneficiary of Monta Ellis' lower back strain, which should keep him out about a week. A quick refresher on Williams in case you forgot: He's in his second season out of VMI where he led the NCAA in scoring for consecutive seasons. After college he played in France before starring for Sioux Falls Skyforce in the NBA Development League early last season. The Warriors then signed him in March for the remainder of the season, and he played 24 games for them, averaging 15.2 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.4 three-pointers made. Even more impressive, he shot just less than 50 percent from the floor despite attempting 99 three-pointers. He has good upside and is a nice play while Ellis is sidelined.
Ryan Gomes, F, LAC – Gomes has averaged a whopping 35 minutes a contest while the Clippers work out some injuries and rotations in their lineup. The unfortunate problem here is he's done little in the world of fantasy basketball even though he's had plenty of opportunity. The silver lining is that Gomes should drastically improve his 30.0 field goal percentage, so he could become fantasy relevant if his hefty minutes continue.
C.J. Miles, F, UTA – Miles has come on as of late after a slow start. The youngest player ever signed by the Jazz, there's a good chance Miles at 23 could be coming into his own after being drafted out of high school. After playing 29 total minutes in the first two games, Miles is consistently getting at least 25 minutes a night. He's an option in deep leagues since he has small forward eligibility and contributes with both blocks and steals.
Xavier Henry, G, MEM – Henry's a pretty deep pick here, but there's a lot of potential to like. A native of Belgium, Henry was second in scoring at Kansas last year with a 13.4-points-per-game average. He has excellent size for a shooting guard at 6-foot-6 and can hit the three. Henry is really a darkhorse at this point but bears keeping an eye on after logging 25 minutes on Monday night.
Each week we'll look at certain players who can help your fantasy team in the nine categories most leagues use. Remember, while each player highlighted can help you in a certain category, there's no guarantee they will contribute in other areas.
Goran Dragic, G, PHO – Here is the eventual point-guard heir in Phoenix. Dragic has received minimal playing time so far, averaging 16.0 minutes per game. So why does he deserve a mention here? First, he's behind Steve Nash who will be 37 by season's end, which makes him a great target in keeper leagues. Although he's held up well physically, Nash could wear down as the season goes on, or the Suns could give Dragic more of his playing time to keep Nash fresh. The most promising stat that bodes well for Dragic's future prospects is his 11.1 assists per 48 minutes average, good for 10th in the league. Be ready to grab him if something happens to Nash or if the Suns start giving him more playing time.
Sebastian Telfair, G, MIN – Luke Ridnour's injury gives Telfair a shot at some big minutes over the next week. The cousin of Stephon Marbury is considered to be one of the bigger busts in recent memory, though there's a long shot he could become a decent contributor at only 25. A hopeful sign of things to come was his 13 points, nine assists and five rebounds Tuesday night when he played a game-high 39 minutes as a starter. Keep in mind that Ridnour is only expected to be sidelined roughly a week, so Telfair's fantasy value lies only as long as he's out.
Darko Milicic, C, MIN – Darko was something of an interesting sleeper this preseason, moving to a team with a glaring need at center. A big letdown, it's hard to believe in retrospect that the Pistons drafted him over Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade. Darko has done little to take advantage of his new surroundings, looking lost on the offensive end to this point. Fortunately, he's been able to do what he's always done: block shots. He's now recorded at least two blocks in his last four games and appears he could be on his way out of his slump. On Tuesday night he finished with 11 points, seven rebounds, two assists, two steals and two blocks. Just keep in mind that blocks could be the only category to which he consistently contributes.
Anthony Randolph, F, NY – He's owned in roughly three-quarters of all leagues, but if he isn't in yours, scoop him up now. The Knicks have brought him along slowly, and now it looks like he won't have any limitations after playing a team-high 28 minutes Tuesday. He could thrive into a fantasy monster under D'Antoni's system and should build on last year's 1.5 blocks per game.
Tyson Chandler, C, DAL – Chandler is a perfect fit for the Mavericks; a solid defender in the paint who is a nice complement for a team who has plenty of scorers. A member of the U.S. national team, Chandler has appeared to win the lion's share of minutes over teammate Brendan Haywood. He'll have to continue to play well to stay as the better half of that timeshare and will be a good source of rebounds and blocks.
Always check your league's eligibility rules to make sure a player qualifies.
Carmelo Anthony, DEN – Gained power forward eligibility