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 every now and again - unless they're extreme or seem to indicate an underlying problem or injury. Instead, we'll be looking at changes in playing time, role or skill level.
Kwame Brown, F/C, CHA – Brown has been the big man who has stepped up for the Bobcats following Tyrus Thomas’ knee injury. In the four games since Thomas was sidelined, Brown has averaged 9.5 points and 10.0 rebounds in 25 minutes per contest. The former first-round pick has always been inconsistent, but his playing time will remain high enough while Thomas is out to offer a decent source of rebounds for the next month or two.
Randy Foye, G, LAC – With Eric Gordon (wrist) expected to miss up to a month, Foye has taken over as the Clippers’ starting shooting guard. In his first two games subbing in for Gordon, Foye has averaged 17.5 points and 2.0 threes. He’s leaving the playmaking to Baron Davis and doesn’t provide much on the defensive end of the court, but Foye is worth a look for fantasy squads in need of help in the scoring departments.
Carlos Delfino, G/F, MIL – Delfino returned from post-concussion syndrome on Jan. 21. He was expected to be brought along slowly, but has already seen 30 or more minutes in each of his past three games. He’s still shaking off some rust from his 32-game absence, but with the minutes already there, he should return to being a solid source of points, threes and steals in short order.
Anthony Morrow, G/F, NJ – Morrow is another player who has returned from injury recently and is beginning to find his rhythm. The three-point shooting specialist missed 17 games with a hamstring injury, but his averages of 17.5 points and 2.0 treys over the past two contests show that he’s ready to produce again for fantasy squads. He’s also expected to rejoin the Nets’ starting lineup soon, so an additional boost in playing time and long-term value is looming. Grab him off waivers now before other owners catch on.
Mike Miller, G/F, MIA – After seeing minimal playing time in his first 14 games back from a thumb injury, Miller finally proved his worth to the Heat with a 32-point outburst Saturday night against the Raptors. His performance was aided by Dwyane Wade (migraines) and Chris Bosh (ankle) missing the game, but it seems likely that Heat coach Erik Spoelstra will start doing a better job of finding playing time for Miller going forward. Once Miller starts receiving consistent playing time, he’ll offer fantasy owners a solid source of threes while also contributing decent rebounding and assist numbers from a swingman.
Marcin Gortat, C, PHO – Gortat has teased fantasy owners a couple of times since his trade to Phoenix, but he’s finally starting to cement his place in the rotation. Over the past five games, Gortat has averaged 11.6 points, 9.6 rebounds and 1.2 blocks. Suns coach Alvin Gentry recently stated that he plans to remain with his current rotation, so while that means Gortat will continue coming off the bench, it also means the big man from Poland will continue to see the majority of playing time over starter Robin Lopez.
Brandon Jennings, G, MIL – Jennings (broken foot) has been ramping up his activity at practice recently and could be returning to action as soon as this weekend. The 21-year-old point guard will test out his foot again Friday and if all goes well he could return Saturday against the Nets. Get your final buy-low offers out now.
Rodney Stuckey, G, DET – Stuckey left Wednesday’s loss to the Nuggets in the first quarter with a shoulder injury. The injury was originally feared to be a separation, but X-rays came back negative and he has been diagnosed with a bruised shoulder. He’ll travel with the team to Miami, but his status for Friday’s tilt is still unknown.
Chris Bosh, F/C, MIA – Bosh, who has been nursing a high-ankle sprain since Jan. 15, still doesn’t have a timetable for a return. The Heat want Bosh to log a full practice before returning to action, but with the team playing four games in five days starting Wednesday, there won’t be much time to practice. If Miami holds its stance to have Bosh practice, his earliest return date would be Feb. 3 against the Magic. Keep him on your bench until the team releases a concrete return date.
Deron Williams, G, UTA – Williams missed Thursday’s practice with a hyper-extended wrist and will be a game-time decision for Friday’s tilt against the Timberwolves. The All-Star point guard has dealt with other ailments this season, but he has been able to fight through pain or illness to appear in all 46 games for the Jazz. We’re optimistic he’ll play, but make sure to double-check his status before committing him to your lineup this weekend.
Nene Hilario, C, DEN – Nene suffered a right calf injury in Tuesday’s win over the Wizards, forcing him to sit out Wednesday’s game against Detroit. The extent of the injury is still unknown, so move the Brazilian big man to your bench until more details surface.
Eric Gordon, G, LAC – Gordon is expected to miss the next three to four weeks with a sprained right wrist and a small bone chip fracture. That likely puts Gordon on the shelf until after the All-Star break. The third-year guard was in the midst of a career year, averaging 24.1 points, 3.1 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 2.0 threes and 1.2 steals. Those totals make him too valuable to drop in most leagues, as his return will be soon enough to help for a last-minute playoff push in head-to-head formats.
Brook Lopez, C, NJ – Lopez’s struggles with rebounding this season have been well-documented, but we never thought the problem would reach the depths seen in January. He hasn’t reached double digits in rebounding in a single game this month and is averaging just 4.7 boards per contest. His scoring, defensive stats and percentages are still well worth a roster spot in even the shallowest of leagues, but Lopez will need to be paired with multiple high-rebounding players going forward.
Paul Millsap, F, UTA – After lighting the fantasy world on fire over the first two months of the season, Millsap has seen a drop in production the past couple of weeks. Since Jan. 14, Millsap is averaging 10.9 points, 5.9 rebounds, 0.7 steals and 0.5 blocks. He has seen a dip in playing time over that stretch, eclipsing 30 minutes just twice in seven games. To make matters worse, the 26-year-old forward is now dealing with a thumb injury. We’re not giving up on Millsap, but we also wouldn’t be shy about dealing him away to an owner willing to pay for his early-season success.
Linas Kleiza, F, TOR – Kleiza has sat out five of the past six games with a lingering knee injury. There still isn’t a concrete timetable for the Lithuanian forward, but Raptors coach Jay Triano said Kleiza isn’t close to a return. While Kleiza has shown flashes of production this season, numerous lower-body ailments have limited his long-term value. Feel free to keep him stashed in deeper formats, but shallower leagues should be looking for a healthier and more consistent replacement.
Brandon Rush, G/F, IND – Rush suffered a sprained ankle Wednesday night that will keep him sidelined for the next two weeks. The third-year swingman had recently dropped behind Paul George in the rotation. George will have even more opportunities the next two weeks to prove he deserves playing time, giving Rush an even bigger hole to dig himself out of after returning from injury. He can be dumped in most formats.