Under the Radar
I sat Steve Nash in favor of Jason Williams. I played Matt Barnes over Danny Granger. Crazy, right? Not totally. In weekly leagues I've discussed the importance of schedule and the amount of games played to be critical for success in said leagues. Last week, I pointed out that the Magic had three games this week while more than a handful of teams only played one. So while Nash and Granger are fantasy studs, the numbers didn't make sense to play them over the mentioned players. As I write this, Nash and Granger are done for the week, while Barnes and Williams still have a meeting with Lebron James in Cleveland Thursday night. So let's look at what each player has done for the week to this point:
So White Chocolate has Nash basically beat across the board except assists. Barnes is a little behind Granger but that was actually Danny's best fantasy performance in the last four weeks. As stated earlier, the Magic still have another game of stats to add to their totals also. My point here is the importance of the number of games a player has in a given week. When choosing between a three- or four-game starter for a week, the numbers may be closer than you think. Always take a look at available waiver-wire players as well as your bench when you make your lineup decisions. Your next chance to capitalize on a favorable schedule happens soon, as I'll discuss below.
This week there seemed to be many intriguing players available in most standard leagues. It shouldn't come as a surprise, as many bench players saw action with starters getting extended rest before the All-Star break and coaches judging team depth as the trade deadline nears. Over the next couple of weeks you should be monitoring trade rumors and sizing up your fantasy squad's chances of a title. If things don't look good, hit the waiver-wire and heat up the trade offers. Over the next few days owners have no nightly box scores to check, so they'll be more apt to check out any trade offers you conjure.
Now onto our weekly look at player minutes, roto categories that waiver-wire players can help with and new position eligibility.
Donte Greene, F, SAC - Greene once again makes his way back into this column, perhaps for the last time. I've talked in the past about his crazy athleticism - he's 6-foot-10 and trapped in a shooting guard's body a la Dirk Nowitzki. (Speaking of which, if there was ever a time to buy-low on Dirk, it's now. Point out to his owner that he's in a mini-slump headed into the All-Star Break and neglect to mention it was a result of foul trouble, against Golden State, and a blowout, against Denver.) Let's get back to talking about Greene now. There's an old saying that you should play so good you're coach can't afford to keep you on the bench. That's exactly what Greene has done, forcing Paul Westphal's hand to the tune of 34.4 minutes over his last four games. During this spurt he's averaged 20 points, 5.7 rebounds and 10 three-pointers made. Greene's gotten time even with the return of Kevin Martin to the lineup, which bodes well for the second half of the season. Pick him up and realize he has the ability to fill the stat sheet with his size and shooting touch if he continues to see 30-plus minutes a contest.
Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, F, MIL - Luc has played exceptionally well for the Bucks this last week and averaged 38.3 minutes per game. Over that time he's shot a ridiculous 70.8 percent from the floor, averaging 14.3 points, 9.3 rebounds and 1.3 blocks a contest. He's not going to keep up the torrid shooting, but it's possible he's found his niche in his second professional season. Also, in weekly leagues take note of the Bucks upcoming schedule below. The small forward position isn't too deep to take a gander if your league requires that you start one.
Brad Miller, C, CHI - Joakim Noah's plantar fasciitis sidelined him over the last week, giving Miller some extra court time. Miller's averaged 33.8 minutes over the last four games and responded with averages of 11 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.5 steals. Noah's return is uncertain; he could be back as soon as Feb. 16 depending on how he responds to treatment. Look at Miller as an option if you need a No. 2 center if it's determined that Noah will be out longer.
Ersan Ilysova, F, Charlie Bell, G, MIL - Both typically get decent playing time for the Bucks, but both become viable options the week of Feb. 22 - the week the Bucks have five games. For those of us in weekly leagues you'll get 52 points and 31 boards that week from Ersan if you go by his year-to-date averages. Going with Bell's averages over his last seven games (he played less earlier this year with Michael Redd around) you'll get 65 points, 13 rebounds, nine assists and nine three-pointers made. Check to see if your three-game starters for that week will produce that much; if not take a flier on these guys.
Here are some players who can help your fantasy squad in specific categories.
Tayshaun Prince, F, DET - Prince has been back for a couple of weeks, yet he's still available in most leagues. He's scored double-digits in the last seven games he's played at least 30 minutes and historically has posted decent rebounding and assist numbers. Prince's second-half should be promising; he averaged more than 37 minutes a game last year and could be in a big scoring role with Ben Gordon battling a nagging groin. He's also a small forward but I won't beat Mr. Ed on that point.
Anthony Morrow, G, GS - One of my biggest pet peeves of fellow fantasy writers is recommending a player when it's not feasible that you'll find them on the waiver-wire. Morrow likely isn't on yours after his performance on Monday, so why am I going against my own beliefs? I think that after the break you'll see Ellis and Maggette back in the lineup playing big minutes for the Warriors. It's at that time Morrow's current owner will drop him for some other guy who's doing well. Depending on the size of your bench, that's when you snag him. Monta Ellis has had a great year, but there's a lot of mileage on his tires for only one season. He ranks second in the NBA with 41.8 minutes per game, a drastic increase after he was limited to only 892 total minutes last season following the "Sweet Chuck" incident. Maggette is having an incredible season too but he has been called on a lot also (a season-high 36.4 minutes per game in January). Both players were given extended time off before the break, so would it be too surprising to see them both shut down early with Golden State playing for lotto balls? In summation, keep an eye on you waiver-wire for Morrow, he may have an important role late in the season when your league title is on the line.
Chris Duhon, G, NYK - Duhon went from starter, to the pine and back to starter in less than a week. He's had an interesting last four games, which not surprisingly his stats have reflected. In two games of 13 and 18 minutes, he's managed a total of five assists. In two games of 30 and 37 minutes he's handed out 17 dimes. What may really help his second-half fantasy prospects is the possibility of Tracy McGrady heading to the Big Apple. Even if Nate Robinson and his expiring contract stick around, Duhon would appear to be the better backcourt fit with T-Mac rather than Nate. Just remember Duhon scores very little but can be counted on for assists and steals.
Nazr Mohammed, C, CHA - Mohammed has been a beast on the boards, recording at least 10 rebounds in five of his last seven games. Teammate Tyson Chandler has returned from injury but Mohammed's 21-point, 20-rebound effort on Wednesday night suggests he may not be slowing down. It's possible this has been a fruitful audition for the Bobcats as the trade deadline looms, so look at him as another No. 2 center if you need rebounds.
Every league has different rules regarding eligibility. Always check your rules to make sure your league recognizes the new position a player may be eligible to play.
Troy Murphy, IND - Now eligible at power forward and center
Article first appeared on 2/11/10