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.
Brandon Jennings, G, MIL - This may be the most obvious upgrade of the season after Jennings' 55-point outburst in Saturday's win over the Warriors. The rookie point guard was making waves prior to setting a new Bucks' rookie scoring record, but now he has cemented himself as the Rookie of the Year favorite. Through his first eight games, Jennings is averaging 25.5 points, 4.8 boards and 5.5 assists. While it may still be early, comparisons to a young Allen Iverson seem spot on.
Samuel Dalembert, C, PHI - The lack of love Dalembert generated during drafts this season seemed warranted through the first nine games of the season, but that's about to change. In his 10th game of the season, Dalembert grabbed 12 boards and blocked five shots. More importantly, he played over 30 minutes for just the second time this season. With teammate Marreese Speights set to miss the next six-to-eight weeks after suffering a knee injury, the increase in playing time should become a trend for Dalembert.
Rudy Fernandez, G, POR - Injuries to Travis Outlaw (foot) and Nicolas Batum (shoulder) have opened the door for Fernandez to be the Blazers top scorer off the bench. He was already worth a look in most formats due to his ability to hit threes, but Fernandez should see a boost in production across the board with the increase in floor time.
Jared Dudley, F, PHO - The former Boston College star is finally finding his niche in the NBA. After three seasons of relative obscurity, Dudley is thriving as a role player off the Suns' bench. In nine November contests, Dudley is averaging 9.9 points and 1.8 treys despite playing only 23 minutes per. Deep leagues should look his way if in need of a sneaky source of threes.
Toney Douglas, G, NY - After back-to-back solid performances off the bench, Douglas was a surprise addition to Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni's starting lineup last Wednesday. The rookie out of Florida State responded with 23 points. An illness kept him out of the starting lineup the following game, but Douglas still managed 15 points in a reserve role. It appears he'll be a fixture in the Knicks rotation going forward, making him a solid source of points and threes.
Ramon Sessions, G, MIN - Sessions took a back seat to rookie Jonny Flynn to start the season, but he's starting to carve out his role in the Timberwolves' rotation now. In the past four games, Sessions has averaged 10.3 points and 4.5 assists. Minnesota coach Kurt Rambis is even starting to play the two point guards at the same time, so Sessions should be able to hold on to his recent uptick in playing time.
O.J. Mayo, G, MEM - Now that the Allen Iverson fiasco is officially over with in Memphis, Mayo can start building on the solid rookie season he had last year. At the very least, Mayo should be able to hold steady on his current production (18.1 points, 4.7 boards, 2.7 assists, 1.3 threes), but look for him to take over as the Grizzlies' go-to scorer with the Iverson cloud no longer looming over the team.
Eric Maynor, G, UTA - The rookie out of Virginia Commonwealth proved in two spot starts last week that his college success would translate to the NBA. Unfortunately for Maynor, Utah's regular starting point guard, Deron Williams, is set to return. Still, keeper league owners who didn't have Maynor on their radar before should now.
Troy Murphy, F/C, IND - Murphy has been sidelined for the past four games with a bruised lower back, and his return is still up in the air. He's listed as questionable for Tuesday's matchup against the Nets, so hopefully the big lefty returns to the hardwood soon.
Jermaine O'Neal, C, MIA - To no one's surprise, O'Neal is already battling injury problems. His latest ailment is a bruised left hip, which thankfully doesn't appear too serious. He has responded well to the treatment and is expected to Tuesday night, so O'Neal owners can breathe easy - for now.
Kobe Bryant, G, LAL - Bryant left Sunday's loss to the Suns in the final minutes with a strained right groin. He returned to practice on Monday and doesn't plan to miss any game action, but anytime a superstar sustains an injury, it's worth checking on.
Stephen Jackson, G/F, CHA - Jackson finally got his wish on Monday when Golden State shipped him out of town. He logged over 45 minutes in his first game with the Bobcats, so look for him to be a big part of coach Larry Brown's rotation, but make sure to keep tabs on his role. While playing in Golden State, Jackson was deployed as a point-forward, allowing him to rack up significant assist totals. It's unlikely Brown will use him in the same fashion, so Jackson's all-around game may take a hit even if he is receiving ample playing time in Charlotte.
Erick Dampier, C, DAL - Dampier was a late scratch for Sunday's win over the Pistons after feeling lightheaded before the game. He was brought to a Detroit-area hospital where he was treated and released 24 hours later. The seven-footer appears fully recovered, but it's still uncertain how much longer he'll be sidelined. To complicate matters further, his replacement, Drew Gooden, put up back-to-back double-doubles with Dampier out. The two big men were jockeying for playing time before Dampier became ill, and Gooden's performance likely just made things more muddled.
Michael Redd, G, MIL - Redd, who has been sidelined since Oct. 31 with a knee injury, is inching towards a return. He's expected to resume practicing this week and could play in a game as soon as this weekend.
Chris Paul, G, NOH - A fantasy owner's nightmare came true on Friday when CP3 sustained an ankle injury in a loss to the Blazers. Luckily, tests on the ankle revealed the injury is just a sprain. There have been conflicting reports on the timetable for Paul's return, but the most likely scenario has the All-Star missing 3-to-4 weeks. Rookie Darren Collison should see a boost in value while Paul is sidelined.
Caron Butler, G/F, WAS - With Gilbert Arenas out of the picture the past two seasons, Butler transformed into a fantasy stud with his all-around game. The eighth-year forward out of UConn averaged over four assists in each of the past two campaigns, but that number is down to a measly 0.9 per this year. Butler's scoring average has also dropped from 20.8 to 16.8 ppg. To make matters worse, teammate Antawn Jamison (shoulder) is nearing a return, so Butler's stats won't likely revert back to the levels to which we've become accustomed.
Marreese Speights, F/C, PHI - Speights suffered a left knee sprain in Saturday's loss to the Bulls and is expected to miss at least the next six weeks. This puts the sophomore big man's breakout on hold for the time being, but he should slide right back into the Sixers rotation when he returns. He was averaging 13 points and 6.4 rebounds in 23.4 minutes before going down.
Kelenna Azubuike, G/F, GS - Just one week after being mentioned in our "Stock Up" section, Azubuike finds himself at the opposite end of the spectrum. He suffered a torn patella tendon in Saturday's loss to the Bucks and will undergo season-ending surgery. Look for Anthony Morrow and Corey Maggette to see increased minutes with Azubuike out of the picture.
Travis Outlaw, F, POR - The aforementioned Outlaw went down with a stress fracture in his left foot during Saturday's win over the Bobcats. His current timetable is set at six-to-eight weeks. It's worth noting that this is the same injury that sidelined teammate Martell Webster all of last season. Time to start looking for other options.
Leandro Barbosa, G, PHO - Barbosa has been nursing a wrist injury for most of the season, and it's starting to have a negative impact on his production. Through eight games, he's averaging just 11.2 points. He has topped 20 minutes just once in his past six games and will need more floor time to live up to preseason expectations.
Ryan Anderson, F, ORL - Anderson, a popular early-season pickup, returned from an ankle injury on Monday, but his value still takes a dip due to the return of Rashard Lewis from a 10-game suspension. He'll still knock down enough threes to be worth a look in deep leagues, but Anderson's move back to the bench will diminish much of his value.
Raja Bell, G, GS - Bell will have surgery to repair a partially torn ligament in his left wrist. He'll miss four or five weeks at a minimum and could miss the entire season. That he was traded to Golden State obviously means little in this context.
Article first appeared on 11/17/09