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.
Channing Frye, F/C, PHO – With Robin Lopez (sprained knee) expected to miss at least a month, Frye has been promoted to the Suns’ starting lineup. Since Lopez’s injury, Frye has averaged 16.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.7 treys through three games. Frye will routinely see over 35 minutes of action while Lopez is sidelined and will be able to post numbers similar to what we saw from him during his breakout in the first half of last season. Make a play on him if you need help in scoring and threes.
Brad Miller, C, HOU – Miller exploded for 20+ points twice in the past three games. The 34-year-old center is seeing extended playing time as the Rockets starting center while Yao Ming (foot) is sidelined. Miller’s playing time will surely dwindle once Yao returns, but with Yao’s health always being a question mark, there’s a good chance Miller will have other spurts like this later in the season. He’s worth picking up in deep leagues, while shallower formats should keep an eye on Yao’s health going forward and make a play on Miller whenever the Rockets’ franchise center is out.
Al-Farouq Aminu, F, LAC – Aminu has started three consecutive games for the Clippers and has averaged 12.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.0 three-pointers, and 1.0 steals while playing over 25 minutes per night. The Clippers have wisely benched the under-performing Ryan Gomes and appear committed to their 2010 lottery pick. Aminu is still a bit raw offensively and is prone to turnovers, but he is very athletic and should be able to contribute in multiple categories.
Serge Ibaka, F/C, OKC – “Sir Chewblocka” has started five of the past six games for the Thunder with Jeff Green nursing an ankle injury. In those five starts, Ibaka has averaged 15.4 points, 8.8 rebounds, and a staggering 3.2 blocks. With the way Ibaka has played, there is a chance he remains the starting center once Green returns. Even if that doesn’t happen, look for Ibaka to challenge for 30+ minutes per night off the bench. Ibaka is a double-double threat and one of the best shot blockers in the Association - he should be universally owned.
Antawn Jamison, F, CLE – After dealing with a slump and nagging injuries through the first couple weeks of the season, Jamison is starting to find his groove. The 34-year-old vet is averaging 14.5 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 1.8 threes since returning to action on November 9. Jamison’s strong play has prompted Cavs coach Byron Scott to consider moving Jamison into the starting lineup. The window to buy low is closing, so move fast if you want to make a play on Jamison.
Michael Beasley, F, MIN – Beasley is finally starting to live up to the expectations that made him the No. 2 pick in the 2008 Draft. The 21-year-old is averaging 32.6 points in his past five games, including a 42-point eruption against the Kings last week. Beasley is not a monster in any other categories, but his contributions in rebounds (5.2), threes (1.0), and steals (1.0) are more than respectable for someone who is scoring at such a high clip. Owners who took a chance on Beasley in drafts this year might end up laughing their way to a championship.
Wesley Matthews, G/F, POR – Matthews started at shooting guard for the injured Brandon Roy (knee) on Tuesday night and totaled 30 points and five three-pointers in over 42 minutes of action. Roy has already been ruled out for the remainder of the week, making Matthews a solid play for the Blazers’ next two games. An MRI on Roy’s knee came back negative; so though Matthews’ spike in value may be temporary, he is worth a speculative add in most formats.
Steve Nash, G, PHO – Nash’s status was in doubt for Wednesday’s game against the Heat thanks to a groin injury. The 36-year-old vet decided to play at the last minute, but his status for Thursday’s game is up in the air. Nash has been able to stay remarkably healthy through the years, but at some point his age will start catching up to him. Owners should keep a close eye on his status throughout the season, especially on the second night of back-to-back games.
John Wall, G, WAS – The No. 1 overall draft pick has missed the past two games with a left foot sprain. Washington will be understandably cautious with the future of their franchise, but it does not sound like Wall will be out much longer.
Darren Collison, G, IND – Collison suffered an ankle injury during Monday’s practice, which forced him to sit out Tuesday’s loss to the Hawks. He is listed as questionable for Thursday’s tilt against the Clippers, so make sure to double check his status before returning him to your lineup.
Jeff Green, F, OKC – After returning for one game earlier this weekend, Green’s lingering ankle injury forced him back to the sidelines Monday and Wednesday. Green is expected to return to the lineup as soon as Friday, but owners should keep a close eye on his status before plugging him back in their lineup.
Troy Murphy, F/C, NJ – Murphy has sat out three of the past four games with a sore foot. X-rays and an MRI came back negative, but there has yet to be any indication from the Nets as to when the three-point shooting big man will return. Murphy has not been at full strength since the start of training camp, and it shows in his stat line (20.4 mpg, 4.2 ppg, 5.2 rpg). There has been speculation that Nets coach Avery Johnson prefers Kris Humphries over Murphy, so he might not see the 30+ minutes of playing time he has customarily seen even after he returns to full strength. Murphy is still worth stashing in most formats, but extremely shallow leagues might want to explore other options if quality players are available on the waiver wire.
J.R. Smith, G, DEN – In one of the least surprising developments of the early season, Smith is once again in Nuggets coach George Karl’s doghouse. Smith received a DNP-CD on Monday and played just one minute in Tuesday’s win over the Knicks. Smith usually gets his act together and excels in the second half of the season, but those in shallow formats may want to explore more reliable options.
Andre Iguodala, G/F, PHI – Iguodala made a brief return from his Achilles’ injury last week, but he was forced back to the sidelines for the past two games. Iguodala’s absence has opened up more playing time for rookie Evan Turner, who is starting to cement a significant role in the rotation. In past seasons Philadelphia has relied on Iggy to carry the load, but with Elton Brand, Jrue Holiday, and Turner now all in the mix, Iguodala’s role won’t likely be as significant as in years past even after he returns to full strength. Don’t hesitate to deal him if another owner is willing to pay Iguodala’s early-round draft day price.
Robin Lopez, C, PHO – Lopez will miss at least a month after suffering a sprained left knee over the weekend. The seven-footer out of Stanford was having a disappointing campaign before his injury; so don’t hesitate to drop him for a solid replacement.
J.J. Hickson, F, CLE – A popular preseason sleeper, Hickson is in danger of losing his starting gig. Cavs coach Byron Scott is already toying with the idea of swapping Antawn Jamison into the starting five for Hickson after the third-year forward had back-to-back outings with just two rebounds. Cleveland isn’t very deep, so Hickson would still see plenty of run off the bench, but his value surely won’t go up. Sell high while you can.
Ryan Anderson, F, ORL – After starting four straight games, Anderson isn’t even in the rotation now – he has received a DNP-CD in each of the past three games. Anyone who rushed out and grabbed Anderson from the waiver wire when he was promoted to the starting five in early November can part ways with the three-point shooting big man.