Around the League
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 or role or skill level.
Andre Iguodala, G/F, PHI – After struggling through an Achilles injury for the first few months of the season, Iguodala finally seems to be finding his groove. The talented swingman has taken over as the Sixers’ primary playmaker, leading to an average of 8.6 assists over the past five games. Over that stretch, he’s also providing steady value with his scoring (16.0), rebounding (4.8) and defensive stats (2.0 combined steals and blocks). Iggy was always miscast as the Sixers’ No. 1 scoring option, but he should continue to thrive setting up teammates. Take advantage of the effect his early-season struggles had on his overall line and get your buy-low offers out now.
Baron Davis, G, LAC – Injuries and inconsistency have always plagued Davis, but when he’s healthy and motivated, he has been one of the more productive point guards in fantasy for the better part of the past decade. Playing alongside the electric Blake Griffin, Davis sure seems to be motivated of late and his health seems to be at a peak right now as he’s coming off his first 40-minute game of the season. In five games this month, Davis is averaging 17.4 points, 4.2 rebounds, 9.2 assists, 2.0 steals and 2.8 threes in 36 minutes per game. Some of that production will likely drop off once Eric Gordon returns from his wrist injury in a couple weeks, but owners should feel confident about starting Davis until then.
Brandon Jennings, G, MIL – Bucks coach Scott Skiles has brought Jennings along slowly after the young point guard returned from a broken foot, but that leash appears to be loosening. Jennings eclipsed 30 minutes for the first time since his return Wednesday night, pouring in 20 points while grabbing five boards and dishing out four assists. With that type of playing time going forward, Jennings shouldn’t have any problem replicating his production from last season. His owners may be down on him after the injury and slow return, so try acquiring him on a discount before his value starts to rise.
John Salmons, G/F, MIL – Salmons is another member of the Bucks who was brought back slowly from an injury and is now starting to shake off the rust. The 31-year-old swingman was reinserted into the starting five for the past two games and has responded with a scoring average of 15.5 points. His production has been down all season, but the Bucks will continue to look his way to spark a lackluster offense. He’s another prime example of a buy-low candidate.
Derrick Favors, F, NJ – Nets coach Avery Johnson recently announced his plans to give Favors an increase in playing time for the team’s final 15-20 games. Johnson would like to give Favors 30-plus minutes over that stretch, even if the rookie gets into his usual early foul trouble. Given his lack of production this season, expectations should be tempered, but when a player of Favors pedigree receives ample playing time, the statistics usually follow. He’s worth a speculative grab in deep leagues.
Wesley Johnson, G/F, MIN – Johnson is another rookie who should see a boost in playing time as the season winds down. Like Favors, Johnson is playing on a team that has absolutely no hopes of making the playoffs and would be wise to give extra minutes to their young players. The Timberwolves have also been rumored to be shopping around Corey Brewer, which would open up playing time for Johnson. He’s available in most in a lot of shallower formats and should be considered a legit option going forward.
Brandon Roy, G/F, POR – Less than a month after undergoing surgery on both of his knees, Roy appears to be nearing a return. The former All-Star was originally eying a return as soon as this weekend, but the Blazers’ brass will do the smart thing and hold him out a little longer. Portland doesn’t want to announce a timetable on his return to game action yet, but he could be back on the court sometime next week if all continues to go well at practice. While Roy shouldn’t be expected to put up the type of stats we’ve seen from him in past seasons, he’ll still be a viable option in most formats. He was cut loose by many of his owners when news of his surgery surfaced last month, so go check your waiver wire to see if he’s available.
Maurice Williams, G, CLE – Williams, who has been sidelined with a hip injury since Jan. 15, is another former All-Star who is nearing a return. He was able to participate in practice earlier this week and could suit up for game action this weekend. His status for Friday’s tilt against the Clippers is officially doubtful, but owners will double check to see if that changes before tip-off.
Al Horford, F/C, ATL – Horford has sat out back-to-back games with a bruised back and he doesn’t plan to return in time for Saturday’s tilt against the Bobcats. He often has to matchup against bigger centers on the defensive end of the court and the extra strain going up those big bodies appears to be wearing on him physically. Look for the Hawks to be cautious with this one.
Rudy Gay, F, MEM – Gay sat out Tuesday’s win over the Thunder with a sprained right big toe. Details have been scarce on this injury, so owners will want to keep their eyes peeled. Tony Allen started in place of Gay on Tuesday and could hold some value if the injury turns out to be more serious than expected.
Jrue Holiday, G, PHI – As a result of Iguodala handling the ball more for the Sixers, Holiday has seen his production drop off significantly. The sophomore point guard is averaging just 6.5 points and 2.8 assists over the past four games. Philadelphia also allows Evan Turner and Lou Williams to handle the ball at times, so there’s a good chance Holiday’s production doesn’t trend back up to the breakout levels we saw early this season. He’s still worth a roster spot in most formats, but we wouldn’t be shy about trying to find an owner who’s interested in trading a valuable piece for him.
Charlie Villanueva, F, DET – Villanueva was a steady performer for the Pistons through the first two months of the season, but he has seen his role diminish this month as the team starts to turn to young players like Austin Daye and Greg Monroe in the frontcourt. Through five games in February, Charlie V has been limited to 5.4 points and 1.6 rebounds in 14 minutes per contest. Deep leagues should keep Villanueva benched with hopes he starts to see more playing time soon, while shallower formats should be looking for stronger options via trade or on the waiver wire.
Rashard Lewis, F, WAS – A trade to Washington in December sparked Lewis to start playing better than we’ve seen the past couple years, but a lingering knee appears to have put a halt to his resurgence. The 31-year-old forward has averaged just 7.8 points, 5.0 rebounds and 0.5 treys in four games this month. He plans to play through the injury, but it could have a negative impact on his numbers. Owners would be wise to him on the bench or package him in trade offers.
Ersan Ilyasova, F, MIL – With Jennings and Salmons back to carrying the offensive load for Milwaukee, Ilyasova has seen his shot attempts dip the past couple games. After launching 51 shots over a three-game stretch, Ilyasova has attempted just 16 shots from the floor the past two contests. He will continue to put up the occasional solid scoring night, but the consistency we saw from Ilyasova in late January and early February is likely a thing of the past.
Aaron Brooks, G, HOU – Frustrated after being yanked from Saturday’s game in the fourth quarter, Brooks walked off the floor and went directly to the locker room instead of taking a seat on the Rockets bench. The Rockets disciplined Brooks by slapping him with a one-game suspension, which he served Monday. The 26-year-old point guard has since apologized and returned to action Tuesday night against the Timberwolves. He only saw 20 minutes of run in his return, finishing with five points and one assist. Brooks will receive more playing time once he starts playing better, but it’s looking rather unlikely he’ll unseat Kylle Lowry in the starting five anytime soon. There’s still value here, unfortunately it won’t be at the level expected when owners grabbed Brooks in the middle rounds of their drafts.