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.
Rudy Fernandez, G, POR – With Brandon Roy (knee) on the shelf, Fernandez has taken on a bigger role in the Blazers’ rotation. The 25-year-old Spanish shooting guard has averaged 19.3 points, 6.3 assists, 2.7 threes and 2.0 steals over the past three games. Roy is expected to be sidelined for at least another three games, and he could wind up missing an extended period if his knee injury continues to linger. Fernandez is worth a short-term play in all formats and could easily develop into a long-term option if Roy doesn’t return to full strength. Go grab him.
Ben Gordon, G, DET – Gordon was promoted to the starting lineup Sunday after Richard Hamilton came down with a stomach ailment. He responded to the promotion by pouring in 25 points and hitting a season-high four three-pointers. Despite Hamilton’s return to action Wednesday, Pistons coach John Kuester has opted to keep Gordon in the starting lineup. With averages of 17.0 points, 4.2 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.0 treys in five starts this season, Gordon should be owned in most formats.
Marcin Gortat, C, PHO – Of all the players who were traded away from Orlando this past weekend, Gortat stands to see the biggest increase in value. Gortat will start off his stint with the Suns as a reserve, but the former backup to Dwight Howard should have a much larger role with his new squad, possibly even earning the starting job at center down the line. His per-36 minute averages sit at 10.1 points, 11.8 rebounds and 2.3 blocks, so there’s Gortat will be plenty valuable once he starts seeing the minutes.
Hidayet Turkoglu, F, ORL – After disappointing stints with the Raptors and Suns the last couple seasons, Turkoglu was traded back to the Magic last week. Turkoglu shined in his first go-around with the team and will reassume the point forward role he previously held in the Magic’s offense. Turkoglu struggled with his shooting in his first two games back in Orlando, but he did take to his new role by dishing out eight assists Tuesday night. Once his shots start falling, Turkoglu will be a solid all-around performer for any fantasy squad.
J.J. Redick, G, ORL – Redick appears to be one of the Magic’s holdovers that will benefit most from the recent trades. The former Duke Blue Devil was inserted into the starting lineup Tuesday and responded with 21 points in 37 minutes of action. Newly acquired Gilbert Arenas could eventually replace him in the starting lineup, but Redick is worth a look for as long as he holds onto the starting gig.
Nick Young, G, WAS – In the three games since Gilbert Arenas was sent to Orlando, Young has averaged 24.3 points and 2.7 threes. Young will likely be moved to a reserve role once John Wall (knee) returns to action, but he’ll still see plenty of minutes as part of the Wizards’ three-guard rotation. He doesn’t help much outside of scoring and three-point shooting, but Young is explosive enough in both of those categories to deserve a look.
Kirk Hinrich, G, WAS – Like Nick Young, Hinrich has seen a significant boost in production since Arenas left town. In those three contests Hinrich has averaged 16.7 points, 10.7 assists, 5.7 rebounds and 2.0 steals, Hinrich will also assume less of a role once John Wall returns, but his overall value will remain strong with Arenas gone.
Sasha Vujacic, G, NJ – Many pundits viewed Vujacic as a throw-in player in the three-team swap between the Lakers, Rockets and Nets last week, but New Jersey evidently had other plans. In four games with the Nets, Vujacic has averaged 11.0 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.5 treys in over 26 minutes per night. His minutes will likely drop when Anthony Morrow (hamstring) returns in a couple weeks, but Vujacic is a decent short-term option for those in deep leagues in need of a three-point shooter.
Keyon Dooling, G, MIL – With Brandon Jennings (foot) expected to miss the next 4-to-6 weeks, Dooling has assumed the starting point guard spot for the Bucks. He has averaged 10.0 points, 5.0 assists, 1.0 threes and 1.0 steals through his first two starts. While his numbers won’t blow you away, Dooling should put up enough production to warrant consideration in most competitive leagues for the next month or so.
Tyrus Thomas, F/C, CHA – The Bobcats and Larry Brown parted ways Wednesday, and one of the changes we expect the new coaching staff to make is giving more playing time to the criminally under-utilized Thomas. The 24-year-old big man was able to post quality stats (11.3 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.5 blocks) despite seeing only 20 minutes per game under Brown. Bobcats owner Michael Jordan handed Thomas a $40-million contract this offseason, so look for the new coaching staff to appease their boss and start playing one of their most important players more often. Buy low on Thomas now before his playing time starts to increase.
Jamal Crawford, G, ATL – Crawford missed his fifth consecutive game Wednesday with a sore back. The Hawks are hopeful that Crawford will be able to return to the lineup after Christmas, so be sure to check his status before setting your lineups next week.
Marcus Camby, C, POR – Camby has sat out back-to-back games with a sore right shoulder. He is expected to join the Blazers on their three-game road trip that tips off on Christmas, so there’s a good chance he’ll be back in action soon.
John Wall, G, WAS – The aforementioned Wall has missed six of the past seven games with a bone bruise below his right knee. The Wizards still don’t have a concrete timetable for Wall’s return, but now that his injury has been diagnosed as a bruise and not tendinitis, he should be on the road to recovery.
Mehmet Okur, C, UTA – Okur suffered a minor ankle injury earlier this week that has sidelined him for the past two games. There’s a good chance he’ll return after Christmas, but owners will want to keep Okur on the bench until he proves he can handle significant minutes.
Stephen Curry, G, GS – Curry is looking to give his owners a Christmas present by returning from his ankle injury Saturday against the Blazers. Those in daily leagues will want to keep a close eye on his status before setting off to enjoy holiday festivities with family and friends.
DeMarcus Cousins, F/C, SAC – Cousins was fined and benched after taunting the Warriors during Tuesday’s overtime loss. Chalk this up as another instance where Cousins has shown his immaturity. Kings coach Paul Westphal said Cousins would remain on the bench until he “exemplifies the kind of professionalism we expect.” While the demotion won’t be permanent, it’s definitely a blow to Cousins’ short-term value. Samuel Dalembert will take over at starting center for the rookie.
Richard Hamilton, G, DET – The promotion of Gordon to the Pistons’ starting lineup pushed Hamilton to a reserve role. Rip responded with a season-high 35 points in his first game off the bench, but don’t be fooled by one night of hot shooting: Hamilton’s role will be smaller now that he’s a reserve. Hamilton will still hold value in deeper formats, but his playing time will be too inconsistent going forward to rely on him in shallower leagues.
Al Thornton, F, WAS – Following the Wizards’ acquisition of Rashard Lewis in the Arenas trade, Thornton is expected to eventually move to a reserve role. Even if Thornton is able to hold on to the starting gig in the short term, Lewis will eat into his minutes too much for Thornton to remain a fantasy factor.
Brandon Jennings, G, MIL – Jennings is expected to miss 4-to-6 weeks after suffering a fractured fifth metatarsal in his left foot. The sophomore point guard will return with enough time left in the season to keep on your bench; so don’t cut him loose unless you’re in an extremely shallow league with great options on the waiver wire.
Brandon Roy, G, POR – Roy makes his second straight appearance on “Stock Down” due to his lingering knee problems. The All-Star guard is expected to sit out at least the Blazers’ next three games, but the team is hopeful the extra rest will help Roy get over his knee issues. Still, anyone who has watched him play this season knows that this situation doesn’t look good. Portland hasn’t considered shutting down Roy just yet, but it’s pretty clear this injury isn’t going away.
Yao Ming, C, HOU – Yao will miss the remainder of the season with a stress fracture in his left foot. There’s even some concern this latest setback could end his career, so the big man can be dispatched to the waiver wire in keeper leagues, too.