Under the Radar
Now that the season is in full swing and players are getting struck by the injury bug or finally getting the opportunity to showcase their talents, let me reiterate the point of this article. Each week I'll highlight some players who are available in your league.
The players in the Minutes section have gotten newfound minutes due to their performance or an injury to a teammate. Some of these players may be seeing the court, but not doing much. Others may have made the most of their time recently, but have diluted averages after playing scarcely earlier in the season.
The Categories section is extremely important. By now, the standings in your league should be a clearer indication as to what area(s) your team is lacking. Do you need blocks? Three-pointers? Assists? You might find a player here you did not realize could help you.
Lastly, I try to point out realistic pickups. I talked about Joakim Noah, Brandon Jennings, Anthony Morrow, Andray Blatche and Channing Frye before the season started. That's when you had a realistic chance to pick up these guys. So this week you will not hear names like Tyreke Evans or Kelenna Azubuike - outside of six-team leagues, they're gone. Instead we'll delve a bit deeper as to who else you can pick up or start to keep tabs on.
Now onto our weekly look at player minutes, different roto categories that players on your waiver wire can help you with, and new position eligibility.
Dahntay Jones, G, IND - Jones is playing almost 33 minutes through the first five games for the Pacers. Known as a defensive specialist, Jones has found his shooting touch, averaging 16 points a contest. Throw in solid FG (47.5 percent), FT (80 percent) and five rebounds a night, and you've got a serviceable option. The Pacers play a fantasy-friendly style of basketball and have four games next week for those in weekly leagues. Don't be afraid to take a chance on him if you have an average play with only three games next week.
Matt Barnes, F, ORL - Barnes has seen a big bump in playing time with Vince Carter still nursing an ankle injury. He has made the most of his 34.2 MPG average over the last four contests, averaging 12 points, eight rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.25 steals. The bad news is that Carter is expected back soon, so this time increase may come to a screeching halt shortly. The good news is Barnes has most likely played himself into a more significant role even after VC comes back. Don't hesitate to pick up the former UCLA Bruin if you've got an available spot on your bench and see what pans out over the next few games.
Raja Bell, G, CHA - Bell has decided to forego surgery for time being and try to play through a partially torn ligament in his wrist. After a forgettable debut against the Nets, Bell has averaged 33 minutes over his last three games. During that span he's averaged 15.3 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 2.3 threes made and one steal. Numbers like that are serviceable, especially in leagues that make you fill a shooting guard or multiple guard positions. Just be wary of the wrist; my guess is that it will not hold up for the entire season.
Will Bynum, G, DET - Bynum seems to be one of those players you find yourself thinking "what if he had more playing time." Well, that's happened lately in Detroit, as Bynum has averaged more than 30 minutes during the last week. One of those games included a crazy 8s line, when he scored eight points, eight rebounds and eight assists. Like Marrese Speights in Philadelphia, he seems better suited to be the main guy with the second team than run on the first team. He's not a bad option as long as Rip Hamilton is sidelined; just keep in mind he'll be back to 20-24 minutes a night when he returns.
Here are some players who can help your fantasy squad in specific categories.
Corey Maggette, F, GS - While people are drooling over players who have been called on to fill the void due to injuries, don't forget about Maggette. He's scored 20 points twice in his last four games and was not called upon to log significant minutes in Monday's blowout. Ronny Turiaf and Andris Biedrins are battling injuries, and Stephen Jackson will likely be traded sooner rather than later. Maggette is 66 percent owned, which I believe is a legit stat due to his slow start, so grab him now if he's available.
J.J. Barea, G, DAL - Barea has done an admirable job handing out dimes, averaging 6.67 over his last three games. He plays alongside many scoring weapons to dish the ball to - Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Terry and Shawn Marion. Believe it or not, through seven games, his 9.7 PPG is better than starter Jason Kidd's 6.4 PPG. A 12-assist night against the Raptors last Saturday gave a glimpse to the potential for the 25-year-old Puerto Rico native. He can also shoot the three, as evidenced by his 7-for-17 (41.2 percent) start from beyond the arc. The return of Josh Howard will eat into his minutes off the bench, but don't be surprised if Barea steals some of Kidd's time as the season goes on.
Kendrick Perkins, C, BOS - One of the most underrated big men in the league, Perkins has done a solid job in the middle for the Celtics. He's averaged 11.3 points, 7.7 rebounds and 2.3 blocks over his last three contests. Perkins can rebound, but should really be looked at by teams needing blocks. He's had one in every game, and had at least three in four games already. If he ever leaves Boston, it would be very interesting to see what he could do on a team as the second or third scoring option.
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.
Wilson Chandler - Now eligible at power forward
Beno Udrih - Now eligible at shooting guard
Steve Blake - Now eligible at shooting guard
Stephen Curry - Now eligible at shooting guard
Chris Douglas-Roberts - Now eligible at small forward
Chuck Hayes - Now eligible at center
Article first appeared on 11/12/09