Every week, we'll use this space to track players whose fantasy value is improving, declining, or uncertain. We're not particularly concerned with hot or cold streaks - all players toss up a 2-for-10 game every now and then - unless they are extreme or seem to indicate an underlying problem or injury. Instead, we'll be looking at changes in playing time, rotation role, or performance.
Paul Millsap, F, UTA – Millsap had his coming out party Tuesday night, scoring a career-high 46 points while leading the Jazz to a comeback win over the Heat. In seven games, Millsap is averaging 24 points, 10.9 rebounds, 3.0 assists, and 1.1 steals while posting solid percentages (62.5 FG, 71.4 FT). Millsap showed flashes of this potential in his past while filling in as a starter for injured teammates; but now that the starting gig is all his, expect the increased production to continue.
Kyle Lowry, G, HOU – With Aaron Brooks (see Stock Down) expected to miss 4-to-6 weeks due to a sprained ankle, Lowry is in line for a big boost in playing time. Lowry is dealing with a back injury of his own, but he was able to return to the court Wednesday. Once he gets back to full speed, look for Lowry to log the majority of minutes at the point for Houston. Rookie Ishmael Smith will also see increased playing time, but Lowry is the player with more upside.
Amir Johnson, F, TOR – After seeing minimal playing time the first week of the season, Johnson has played over 22 minutes in each of the past three games. Over that stretch, he has averaging 10.3 points, 9.0 rebounds, and 1.0 blocks. There has not been any indication Johnson is working his way closer to a starting spot, but as long as he is able to avoid foul trouble and play over 20 minutes per night, Johnson can hold value as a bench player.
Jonny Flynn, G, MIN – Flynn (hip) returned to full practices last week and is expected to start playing in games sometime over the next three weeks. Teammate Luke Ridnour (hamstring) is currently dealing with an injury of his own, so the door is open for Flynn to take over as the Timberwolves’ starting point guard if he returns quick enough. Don’t hesitate to grab Flynn off waivers and stash him on your bench.
Brandon Rush, G, IND – Rush made his season debut Tuesday after serving a five-game suspension for violating of the NBA's drug policy. In 30 minutes off the bench, Rush totaled 16 points (6-of-11 FG, 2-of-5 3Pt, 2-of-2 FT) and seven rebounds. He appears locked in as a reserve but will also be the Pacers’ first wing player off the bench. Rush will receive enough minutes to make an impact in mid to deep-sized leagues.
Toney Douglas, G, NY – Through seven games, Douglas has emerged as one of the more explosive sixth men in the Association. The Knicks guard has made the most of his 27 minutes per game, averaging 15 points, 1.9 three-pointers, and 2.1 steals. Douglas is a perfect fit for Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni’s fast-paced offense and deserves a look in all formats.
Francisco Garcia, G/F, SAC – Despite coming off the bench in five straight games since starting the season opener, Garcia’s fantasy value is holding strong. The swingman out of Louisville is averaging a career-high 14.3 points while providing valuable contributions in threes (2.0), steals (1.2) and blocks (1.0). Garcia was written off in many leagues after an injury-riddled season last year, but he looks to have returned to the form we saw from him during the 2007-08 and 2008-09 seasons.
Daniel Gibson, G, CLE – Gibson appears to be Cavs coach Byron Scott’s favorite option off the bench. He predictably posted strong stats in the first four games of the season while Maurice Williams was sidelined, but those numbers have surprisingly gone up since Williams’ return. In those three contests, Gibson is averaging 17.7 points, 3.3 assists, and 2.7 treys. Scott seems comfortable running a backcourt of Williams and Gibson for significant portions of the game, which should allow Gibson to keep being productive going forward.
DeAndre Jordan, C, LAC – With Chris Kaman (ankle) expected to miss an extended period, Jordan should get a shot at the starting center spot for the Clippers. In 25 career starts, Jordan has averaged 8.2 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks. In all likelihood, Jordan’s value will end up being temporary, but he will be well worth a roster add for at least the next few weeks.
Carlos Boozer, F, CHI – Boozer (hand) returned to the hardwood this week, but he is still not able to handle the ball. Current speculation is he won’t be ready until early December, but Boozer has stated in the past couple weeks he hopes to return before then. Keep an eye on his rehab, and hurry up with any last minute, buy-low offers you hope to send to Boozer owners.
Monta Ellis, G, GS – Ellis suffered a lower back strain after taking a hard fall in Monday’s win over Toronto. He was able to start Wednesday’s game against New York, but back injuries have a way of lingering. Keep a close eye on him going forward.
Andre Iguodala, G/F, PHI – Iguodala sat out his second consecutive game Wednesday with an Achilles’ strain. The team hopes he is ready to return for Friday’s game against the Mavericks, but his status will likely be a game-time decision.
Carlos Delfino, G/F, MIL – Delfino suffered a neck sprain earlier this week, forcing him to sit out Monday and Wednesday. He is expected to be back for Saturday’s game against the Warriors, but owners should check his status before plugging him back in the lineup.
Chris Kaman, C, LAC – The Clippers big man suffered an ankle injury in Tuesday’s game against the Hornets and is expected to miss at least three weeks. He has struggled to mesh with Blake Griffin in the early going, leading to averages of 11.4 points and 7.8 rebounds in eight games. Kaman’s expected replacement, DeAndre Jordan, is arguably a better rebounding and defensive option and could carve out a bigger role by the time Kaman returns. Owners should not give up on Kaman, but if there is a buyer out there expecting the seven-footer to return and start posting the 18-9 numbers we saw lat year, don’t hesitate to make a swap.
Brandon Roy, G, POR – Roy is experiencing swelling and discomfort in his left knee, which he has already had drained of fluid twice this season. Roy started off the preseason rather slow, leading to speculation that he wasn’t at full strength, but a strong finish during the exhibition season quelled those worries. Unfortunately it appears the naysayers were right because Roy does not look close to 100 percent. He is currently averaging 19.2 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 2.8 assists – his worst output since his rookie campaign. If Roy’s knee does not get right, look for Wes Matthews and Rudy Fernandez to pick up the slack.
Aaron Brooks, G, HOU – Brooks suffered an ankle injury Sunday and will be sidelined for the next 4-to-6 weeks. While he wasn’t producing at last year’s clip, the speedy guard was off to a solid start and is worth keeping stashed on your bench.
David Lee, F/C, GS – Lee’s move from New York to Golden State has not been a positive one for fantasy owners. In seven games with the Warriors, Lee has averaged 12.3 points and 11.4 rebounds. Those numbers are great, but not what most expected when drafting Lee in the first or second round. Lee is behind Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry in the pecking order for buckets, so it’s doubtful he will be able to bounce back and average anywhere near the 20-plus points he averaged with the Knicks last season. Expect Lee to top out closer to the 16 points he averaged during the 2008-09 season.
Chris Bosh, F/C, MIA – Bosh was the member of the Miami’s Big Three expected to sacrifice the most statistically, but few thought the drop-off would be this severe. Bosh is averaging just 14.8 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks through eight games; and instead of seeing the expected boost in field-goal percentage, Bosh is shooting just 46.7 percent from the floor. His stats will improve as the Heat continue to mesh, but it is hard to envision Bosh coming close numbers we have seen from him in the past.
Luke Ridnour, G, MIN – Ridnour is slated to sit out the next week with a hamstring injury. By the time he returns, Jonny Flynn could be ready to return and steal away the starting point guard job. Most owners were aware of Ridnour’s short-term value when they selected him with a late-round pick, but he was expected to be useful for longer than two weeks. Shallow leagues should start shopping for replacements now.
Darrell Arthur, F/C, MEM – With Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol both healthy and in the starting lineup, Arthur has been pushed back to the bench. He has averaged just 5.3 points and 6.7 boards in the three games since Randolph’s return. While that may hold some value in extremely deep leagues, Arthur can be dumped in most formats.