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.
Andrew Bynum, C, LAL – Bynum made his season debut Tuesday night, finishing with seven points, four rebounds and two blocks in his return from a knee injury. The 23-year-old big man doesn’t expect to be at full strength for about a month, so his role will likely be limited in the short term. However, he will be a nightly double-double threat once he rounds into shape. Grab him now if he’s available in any of your leagues.
Greg Monroe, F/C, DET – Pistons coach John Kuester debuted a new rotation Tuesday night with Monroe slotted in as his starting power forward. The rookie scored five points and grabbed seven rebounds in 21 minutes as the Pistons beat Atlanta 103-80. Every indication points to Kuester giving his new rotation a long look, so Monroe should remain in the starting lineup for a while, if not the long haul. While still a bit raw on the offensive end, Monroe will be able to make an immediate impact in rebounds and blocks with the extra playing time.
Derrick Favors, F, NJ – Favors is another rookie big man who recently saw his stock increase. Nets coach Avery Johnson said last week that he plans to eventually plug Favors into the starting lineup. Johnson hasn’t set a specific timetable, but Favors’ promotion is expected to happen in the next month or so. The 19-year-old just posted his second double-double of the season in Tuesday’s loss to the Sixers, so the time to stash him and wait for his pending promotion is now.
Jonny Flynn, G, MIN – Flynn returned from offseason hip surgery to make his season debut Tuesday night against the Warriors. He finished with three points, four assists and two rebounds in 17 minutes. The sophomore guard felt great after the game and didn’t experience any problems with his surgically repaired hip. His role will be limited in the short term while he splits time with Luke Ridnour, but Flynn should eventually work his way back into the starting point guard role.
Chris Douglas-Roberts, G/F, MIL – CDR was promoted to the starting lineup for Wednesday’s game against the Spurs, and he responded by scoring a season-high 21 points. Douglas-Roberts started 41 games with the Nets over the past two seasons, posting averages of 12.8 points and 1.1 steals. He offered little production in threes (0.3), rebounds (4.0), assists (1.9) and blocks (0.4) as a starter, so don’t expect his across-the-board production to be too overwhelming. Still, his scoring touch and ability to swipe balls makes him worth a look in mid-sized leagues.
Ersan Ilyasova, F, MIL – Like his teammate CDR, Ilyasova joined the Bucks starting lineup Wednesday night. The Turkish forward is expected to hold onto the starting power forward gig for at least the immediate future, which is good news considering he averaged 14.0 points, 8.0 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 2.0 threes and 2.0 steals in a three-game stint in the starting lineup earlier this season. Ilyasova’s worth a look for as long as he holds onto the starting gig.
Jordan Farmar, G, NJ – Following Anthony Morrow’s knee injury Tuesday night, Farmar finds himself back in the starting lineup. Farmar averaged 22 points and 9.5 assists while filling in for an injured Devin Harris in two games earlier this season, so Farmar has proved he can be productive in a starting role. Farmar is worth grabbing in nearly all formats while Morrow is sidelined for the next few weeks.
Chauncey Billups, G, DEN – Billups is dealing with ligament damage in his right wrist. The injury already sidelined him Tuesday night and he is considered doubtful for Thursday’s tilt against Minnesota. Nuggets coach George Karl is optimistic Billups will be able return this weekend, so it doesn’t sound like owners will have to deal with the point guard’s absence for long. Look for Ty Lawson to fill in at point guard until Billups is ready to return.
Gerald Wallace, F, CHA – Wallace sat out Wednesday’s game against the Grizzlies after sustaining a left ankle strain in Tuesday’s win over Toronto. He managed to play 45 minutes Tuesday night despite suffering the injury in the first half, so we doubt this injury is too severe. His next chance to suit up will be Friday against the Hawks.
John Wall, G, WAS – Wall sat out Tuesday’s loss to the Lakers with a sore right knee, and Wizards coach Flip Saunders isn’t optimistic his star rookie will be able to return in time for Thursday’s tilt with the Nets. If Wall sits Thursday, that will mark the ninth time he has sat out in 24 games this season. While Wall has been great when on the court, his propensity to pick up minor injuries is a bit disconcerting.
Andrea Bargnani, C, TOR – Bargnani sat out Wednesday’s game against the Bulls with a sore left knee. He was scheduled to have the knee evaluated by team doctors Wednesday night, so owners will want to keep an eye out for the diagnosis.
Stephen Curry, G, GS – Curry is aiming to return from his troublesome ankle injury Saturday against the Blazers. The second-year guard has missed three consecutive games with the injury, but his ankle problems actually stem all the way back to the preseason. X-rays and MRIs continue to come back negative, but the persistent problems with his right ankle are a bit worrisome.
Joakim Noah, C, CHI – Noah is scheduled to undergo surgery on his right thumb, which could sideline him for up to 10 weeks. The energetic big man originally sustained the injury in late November, but his production didn’t start to dip until the past couple games when the injury was aggravated. There’s a small possibility the Bulls opt to delay surgery, so wait to make a final decision on Noah until the decision to go under the knife is official. Taj Gibson stands to gain the most value from Noah’s absence.
J.J. Hickson, F, CLE – After failing to breakout as a starter through the first 20 games of the season, Hickson was demoted to a bench role last week. He is averaging just 4.7 points and 3.3 rebounds in 17 minutes per game since his demotion. Cavs coach Byron Scott plans to stick with his new starting lineup for a while, so owners can feel free to dump Hickson if other attractive options are sitting on the waiver wire.
Yi Jianlian, F, WAS – Yi suffered a sprained MCL in Tuesday’s loss to the Lakers and is expected to miss the next 2-to-4 weeks. The Wizards are also without Andray Blatche (knee) right now and don’t have much depth in their frontcourt, so rookie Trevor Booker could be a short-term rebounding option until Yi or Blatche returns.
Jose Calderon, G, TOR – Raptors coach Jay Triano said Calderon, who has missed four consecutive games with a foot injury, will have to “earn his minutes” when he returns. Jerryd Bayless has taken over the starting point guard job and has done an excellent job in Calderon’s absence, so Calderon will have his work cut out for him. Don’t be surprised if Calderon’s value, after he returns, dips back to the level it was at before Jarrett Jack was shipped to New Orleans.
Brandon Roy, G/F, POR – Roy continues to be hobbled by his sore left knee. The three-time All-Star’s production has dipped to 15.1 points, 2.6 rebounds and 4.4 assists in eight December games. Any spectator can see Roy isn’t at full strength, and he’s clearly favoring his injured leg when staggering around the court. Even at less than full strength, Roy puts up better stats than a waiver-wire replacement; but owners shouldn’t be shy about shopping Roy based on his past success.
Roy Hibbert, C, IND – After a great start to the season, Hibbert’s production has started to dip since the calendar flipped to December. The Pacers big man is averaging just 10.6 points and 6.0 rebounds in 27 minutes through seven games this month. Pacers coach Jim O’Brien has been unjustly critical of Hibbert’s game, proclaiming that his seven-footer isn’t having a good season; and O’Brien’s management of Hibbert’s playing time recently only reiterates that belief. The Pacers have been at their best this season when Hibbert is playing 30+ minutes, so we expect O’Brien to eventually change his tune. Still, downgrade the third-year center slightly for the time being.