There are dozens of factors that can hurt a given player's fantasy value. Hundreds, even. But the one that is toughest to deal with is knuckle-headedness.
Lousy free-throw shooters we can deal with. Guys who turn the ball over too much? We can work around it. But players who hurt their own value by repeatedly landing themselves in the coach's doghouse? They can play for someone else. That means you, Andray Blatche. You too, J.R. Smith.
This season, I've been forced to add a few new names to the knucklehead list:
Terrence Williams - Loved the kid's game. Recommended him in this space two weeks ago. Hours after I did so, the Nets announced that he'd be suspended for repeatedly violating team rules. Then they sent him to the D-League, hoping a couple of games with the Springfield Armor would scare him straight. Thanks, T-Will, for making me look good.
He absolutely torched the D-League - averaging 28 points, 10.7 assists and 1.3 steals in three games. Now he's re-joining the varsity team.
Will he get enough playing time to be a factor in fantasy leagues? Certainly seems like a possibility, and the Nets could certainly use an infusion of talent on the wing. He's just 25% owned if you want to take a flyer - but I'd rather not sit around and wait for his next run-in with Avery "The Little General" Johnson.
DeMarcus Cousins - Rough year for rookies, huh? At this point, the only ones really worth owning in most formats are John Wall, Blake Griffin (technically a rook because he missed all of last year) and 39th overall pick Landry Fields. Cousins should be on that list as well - but he's developed a nasty habit of butting heads with his coach.
I own Cousins in several leagues, so obviously I'm hoping he gets it together. But I'm not super-optimistic.
Josh Smith - The biggest fantasy name on my list of shame, Smith had his best statistical season last year when he stopped taking so many threes and low-percentage twos. But this season, under new coach Larry Drew, he's falling back into the same old bad habits - and his coach is not amused.
Some have suggested the conflict between Drew and Smith will force the Hawks to make a deal before February's trade deadline. In the meantime, don't be surprised to see him playing less minutes than expected; Drew has threatened to yank Smith from games when he starts taking those bad shots.
Picks for the Week
The first set of picks is for players in standard leagues - guys who may be available in your average 10 team/15 player roster league. The second group is for owners in very deep leagues, and will be based more on speculation than actual numbers.
All "percent owned" stats are taken from Yahoo! Fantasy Basketball - your mileage may vary.
Ben Gordon (67% owned) - Pistons coach John Kuester has been using a lot of three-guard lineups with Gordon, Rodney Stuckey and Rip Hamilton on the floor together. That should mean more minutes for Gordon in particular.
Landry Fields (64% owned) - They may say "guard" when he's announced, but Fields rebounds like a power forward.
Brandon Rush (24% owned) - Jim O'Brien put Rush into the starting lineup for his defense. His offense - 26 points on 10-of-18 shooting and six threes against Toronto on Monday - may keep him there permanently.
Josh McRoberts (23% owned) - What was once a time-share between McRoberts and Tyler Hansbrough has become a "Roberts has the job and Hansbrough gets minutes in garbage time" sort of split.
Ronny Turiaf (14% owned) - Returned to the floor on Monday after missing four games with a knee injury. Turiaf will get you blocks, even coming off the bench - but the his health is a concern. He's already missed seven of the Knicks' first 22 games.
Josh Howard (9% owned) - Targeting a December 20 debut - he's missed the season to date while recovering from a knee injury.
Shawne Williams (2% owned) - This time last week, Williams was the 15th man in the Knicks' rotation. Suddenly, he's more like sixth - he's played 20-plus minutes in the Knicks' last three games (all wins) and got more playing time than any other sub in Monday's game. I don't imagine he'll continue to hit threes at this rate (10-12 from three in his last three games) but at 20 or 25 minutes per game in Mike D'Antoni's offense, he'll have value.
Earl Barron (0% owned) - Appears to be the Suns' starting center, at least until Robin Lopez is healthy.
Follow Charlie on Twitter - @charliezegers