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.
Ed Davis, F/C, TOR – The rookie out of North Carolina erupted for 17 points, 12 rebounds, three blocks and three steals Tuesday against the Mavericks. He benefited from Andrea Bargnani’s (calf) absence, but those in deep leagues should still be enamored with Davis’ potential. If you have the extra roster space to stash a young big man with upside, Davis is worth a look.
Martell Webster, G/F, MIN – After a preseason back injury sidelined Webster for the first 24 games of the season, he has quietly returned to post career-best numbers. The 24-year-old swingman has reached double figures in scoring in seven of his nine appearances, resulting in a career-high average of 14.1 ppg. He has settled into the role of Minnesota’s scoring guard and long-range threat off the bench and should continue to see 25-30 minutes per night. Teams in need of scoring and/or three-pointers should look Webster’s direction.
D.J. Augustin, G, CHA – New Bobcats coach Paul Silas has ditched Larry Brown’s slow-paced offense in favor of a more up-tempo system. While the Bobcats have only played two games under their new coach, Augustin appears to be thriving in the faster-paced offense. The speedy guard has averaged 27.5 points, 5.0 assists and 4.5 threes since the coaching switch. His shooting will eventually cool off, but there’s no denying that Augustin has looked much more comfortable these past two games.
Nicolas Batum, F, POR – With Brandon Roy (knee) still out, Batum has seen an uptick in value recently, averaging 12.3 points, 6.0 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 1.3 treys in his last four games. Batum’s value has been up-and-down all season, but he remains an intriguing fantasy option due to his ability to average 1+ steal, block and three-pointer per game. At the very least, Batum is worth a look while the Blazers are dealing with injuries.
Andrew Bynum, C, LAL – After a three-game losing streak, head coach Phil Jackson promoted Bynum to the starting lineup Wednesday night to spark the team. The 23-year-old big man responded with 18 points, six rebounds and a block while playing over 30 minutes for the first time this season. Bynum has averaged 13.1 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.7 blocks in 194 starts in his career. As long as he is healthy, Bynum should be a permanent fixture in the Lakers’ starting five going forward. Make any last ditch buy-low offers now.
Chris Wilcox, F/C, DET – Wilcox has been limited to garbage time minutes for the majority of his stint with the Pistons, but he has managed to force his way into the rotation recently. Over the past two games, Wilcox has averaged 12.5 points, 8.0 rebounds, 2.0 steals and 2.0 blocks in 25 minutes per contest. Pistons coach John Kuester has been happy with Wilcox’s energy and appears willing to give him a chance at sticking in the rotation. Kuester employs one of the deepest rotations in the league and hasn’t worried about being consistent when handing out minutes; so while there is plenty of risk involved, Wilcox is worth a flyer in deeper formats.
Mikael Pietrus, G/F, PHO – Pietrus appears to be the latest player to see a boost in value by playing alongside Steve Nash. The 27-year-old swingman has averaged 14.0 points and 2.7 threes through his first three games with the Suns. Pietrus has shown flashes in the past, but he has always been too inconsistent to warrant consideration in most formats. Now that he has Nash setting him up, Pietrus should be able to put up decent numbers more consistently.
Andre Iguodala, G/F, PHI – Iggy has missed back-to-back games with right Achilles tendonitis. Iguodala's Achilles has been bothering him on-and-off all season, so owners will want double check his status with each lineup submission.
Dirk Nowitzki, F, DAL – Nowitzki is set to miss his second consecutive game Thursday after suffering a minor knee sprain earlier this week. He Is already feeling better, so don’t be surprise if Nowitzki makes a quick return.
Maurice Williams, G, CLE – Williams sat out Wednesday’s loss to the Bobcats with a hip flexor injury. The injury was reportedly sustained during Tuesday’s loss against Orlando, but it is a bit of a concern since Williams already dealt with hip issues earlier this season. Owners will want to keep tabs on this situation to see if Williams’ hip problems continue to linger.
Tyrus Thomas, F, CHA – Thomas missed Wednesday’s with a wrist injury. The severity of Thomas’ wrist injury is still unclear, but he’s expected to undergo an MRI sometime soon. Keep an eye out for the results.
Rajon Rondo, G, BOS – Rondo appears to be nearing a return from his ankle injury. The league’s leading assist man worked out Tuesday and could be back on the hardwood for Friday’s game against the Hornets.
Kevin Garnett, F, BOS – Garnett had to leave Wednesday’s loss to the Pistons after suffering a lower leg injury. The injury does not sound too serious, but he is still expected to miss a couple weeks. His downgrade comes because the Celtics will likely opt to be cautious with Garnett after he returns, giving him extra days off and less playing time to help keep him healthy for the playoffs.
Lamar Odon, F, LAL – Odom was moved to the bench Wednesday night in favor of Andrew Bynum. He still managed to pour in 24 points off the bench Wednesday, but the demotion to a reserve role will have a negative impact on Odom’s value in the long run. Last season, Odom averaged 9.5 points, 8.2 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 44 games as a reserve. While those numbers are playable in almost any format, it’s quite a drop from Odom’s current production of 15.8 points, 9.6 rebounds and 3.1 assists. Don’t be shy about trading Odom if an owner is willing to pay for the stats he put up over the first 32 games of the season.
Jodie Meeks, G, PHI – Meeks was a hot free agent pickup when he was inserted into Philadelphia’s starting five at the start of December, but his inconsistent production throughout the month should have him headed back to the waiver wire in all but the deepest of leagues. Meeks has failed to reach double digits in scoring in eight of his 14 starts and doesn’t produce enough in any categories outside of points or threes to hold much overall value.
Kyle Lowry, G, HOU – With Aaron Brooks rounding into shape, Lowry’s value is starting to decline. The 24-year-old guard is still starting, but he has been outscored by Brooks each of the past two games and will likely move back to a reserve role soon. Lowry has been a steady producer as a reserve in the past and will still hold value in deeper leagues, but those in shallower formats should be looking to sell him off to an unsuspecting owner or be shopping for replacements among the available free agents.
Reggie Williams, G, GS – With Stephen Curry now back from his ankle injury, Williams can be tossed to the waiver wire in most formats. In the three games since Curry returned, Williams is averaging 6.0 points, 2.0 rebounds and 1.0 assists in 19 minutes per contest. He will remain an option down the line if the Warriors’ backcourt suffers another injury, but Williams won’t offer much to owners while Curry and Monta Ellis are healthy.
Darren Collison, G, IND – Collison continues to underachieve in his first season as the Pacers’ starting point guard. After being hailed as a future star fantasy point guard in the preseason, Collison has averaged a disappointing 12.8 points, 4.1 assists and 0.4 three-pointers. His production has even decreased throughout the season, leading to averages of 11.6 points, 3.0 rebounds and 3.9 assists through 14 December games. Pacers coach Jim O’Brien is still reluctant to fully hand the reins over to his young point guard, so fantasy owners might have to give up holding out hope that we see the type of stellar production Collison put up while filling in for an injured Chris Paul in New Orleans last year.