Garbage time. That magical point when games are out of reach, and coaches empty the bench, giving those poor guys whose only mention in the average box score is the dreaded DNP-CD the opportunity to snap off the warm-ups and break a sweat.
Of course, the concept of garbage time applies just as well to seasons - both for teams that are locked into playoff position and those for whom the playoffs are a purely theoretical concept. When a season enters garbage time, lineup decisions are made that can have very interesting implications for fantasy players.
Take the Knicks, for example. New York has been deep up in garbage time since November. Of 2007. But they've only really embraced the idea recently. Tracy McGrady's minutes are being scaled back, and Eddie House and Wilson Chandler could be shut down for the year as they recover from injuries. In their place, we'll be seeing heavy minutes for Toney Douglas, Bill Walker, Sergio Rodriguez and possibly even J.R. Giddens.
Douglas and Walker have already established themselves as worthy of roster spots in most fantasy formats.
Meanwhile, in Washington Shaun Livingston has already been elevated from 10-day contract status to starting point guard, as the Wizards get an extended look at a player who - before destroying his knee - was considered one of the best young points in the league.
Look for other teams to make similar moves as they play out the string.
The Most Added
The most popular adds in ESPN NBA.com leagues this week:
The Most Dropped
Picks for the Week:
The first set of picks is for players in standard leagues - guys who will typically 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 ESPN NBA.com Fantasy Basketball - your mileage may vary.
Leandro Barbosa (32.3% owned) - Barbosa returned to action on Tuesday, playing just 16 minutes and scoring seven points.
Larry Hughes (11.6% owned) - Could be cleared to play this week - and with the Bobcats paper-thin at the two and three spots, he could become a valuable sub.
Terrence Williams (3.5% owned) - Williams is starting to show real potential - averaging 14.1 points, 6.6 boards and just under five assists in eight March games. He's been elevated to the starting small forward spot, and there's no reason to think the Nets won't give the rookie an extended look there.
Dahntay Jones (9.6% owned) - Back in the starting lineup in place of Danny Granger. Jones put up surprisingly good numbers playing in Granger's place earlier this season.