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.
Kyle Lowry, G, HOU – Lowry has been one of the best free-agent pickups in fantasy this season, but he has took his game to another level since the trade deadline. With Aaron Brooks no longer breathing down his neck, Lowry is averaging 22.8 points, 8.0 assists, 4.2 rebounds, 4.0 threes and 1.4 steals in five games this month. Those scoring numbers are boosted from a hot shooting streak, but owners should get used to steady production from Lowry for the remainder of the season.
Hakim Warrick, F, PHO – Following a shoulder injury to Channing Frye (see “Stock Down”), Warrick was re-inserted into the Suns starting lineup Tuesday. He played over 40 minutes for the first time this season, finishing with 32 points, eight rebounds and four assists in a win over the Rockets. While we don’t expect that type of performance from Warrick on a regular basis, his averages of 14.9 points and 6.5 rebounds in 90 career starts hold value in plenty of formats. He’s one of the hottest additions in fantasy leagues this week, so run to your waiver wire to snag him.
Jordan Crawford, G, WAS – Crawford is starting to carve out a nice chunk of playing time with the Wizards. Over the past three games, Crawford has averaged 12.3 points, 1.7 steals and 1.0 treys in 23 minutes per game. The Wizards are near the cellar in the Eastern Conference and will likely give the rookie shooting guard plenty of playing time down the stretch. Crawford doesn’t have a well-rounded game at this stage of his career, but he has a scorer’s mentality and the ability to hit shots from downtown. Owners looking for a rookie to breakout down the stretch should give Crawford some consideration.
Tyler Hansbrough, F, IND – Hansbrough is starting to translate the skills that made him a superstar in college to the next level. Through his past six games, Hansbrough is averaging 17.3 points, 7.7 rebounds and 1.3 steals in 29 mpg. He was promoted to the Pacers’ starting lineup Wednesday and responded with 21 points, 10 rebounds and three steals while spending a career-high 36:22 minutes on the court. His field-goal percentage (44.4) is a bit worrisome for a power forward, but Hansbrough will be a decent source of points and rebounds while playing heavy minutes.
Jarrett Jack, G, NOR – With Chris Paul suffering a concussion Sunday, Jack is in line to take over as the Hornets’ starting point guard. Jack has averaged 13.0 points, 5.0 assists and 1.1 steals in 210 career starts. There’s still no timetable for Paul’s return, but Jack is worth at least a short-term add.
Rodney Stuckey, G, DET – Pistons coach John Kuester has officially taken over as the coach with the most frustrating rotation in the NBA. Kuester inexplicably removed Stuckey from the starting five Wednesday night, reinserting Tracy McGrady as the starting point guard. Stuckey was coming off one of the best stretches of his career, averaging 20.8 points, 8.0 assists and 6.0 rebounds in the previous four games. The fourth-year guard only saw 16 minutes of action Wednesday, finishing with three points and one assist. Kuester didn’t give any concrete reasons for the demotion, but he hinted the situation would be fluid going forward. Owners will want to monitor the situation each game, with Stuckey's status as a starter being the determining factor on whether or not to activate him for the night.
Chris Paul, G, NOR – Paul was taken off the court on a stretcher during Sunday’s game against the Cavaliers after colliding with Ramon Sessions. The All-Star point guard appears to have avoided serious injury, but he has been diagnosed with a concussion. He sat out Wednesday’s game against the Mavericks and no timetable has been established for his return yet. The aforementioned Jarrett Jack is worth a look in most formats while CP3 is sidelined.
Kendrick Perkins, C, OKC – Perkins, who has been sidelined with a minor knee sprain since before the trading deadline, is close to making his debut with the Thunder. The official timetable has a return listed as 2-9 days. Oklahoma City has already handed Perkins a contract extension without even seeing him play with his new teammates, showing that the team has big plans for him. He’ll be a great source of rebounds and blocks once he returns, so keep a close eye on his rehab.
Tyrus Thomas, F/C, CHR – Thomas (knee) is another big man nearing a return to the hardwood. He suffered a minor setback earlier this week, but a return still looks imminent. While Thomas is known as a fantasy tease in most circles, his upside is undeniable, especially given the Bobcats’ lack of depth in the frontcourt. At the very least, Thomas will be a great source of defensive stats upon his return.
Luis Scola, F, HOU – Scola (knee) had a streak of 311 consecutive games played snapped Tuesday. The 29-year-old power forward is officially listed as day-to-day with a strained left knee. He has been one of the most durable players in the NBA the past four seasons and always plays through bumps and bruises, so we expect a quick return here.
Andray Blatche, F, WAS – Blatche is listed as day-to-day with a right shoulder strain. He suffered the injury during Tuesday’s loss to the Bucks and was unable to return to action. Owners will want to double-check his status before Saturday’s game against the Clippers.
Paul Millsap, F, UTA – Millsap has been dealing with a knee injury for the past week, but he didn’t miss his first game until Wednesday. The fifth-year power forward said the only way for him to get better is to rest, so we could be looking at Millsap missing a couple more games.
Channing Frye, F, PHO – Frye is expected to miss 2-3 weeks after suffering a dislocated right shoulder during Sunday’s loss to the Thunder. That timetable means Frye could miss about half of the Suns remaining 20 games. He has been a great source of three-pointers this season, but owners needing help in the first round of the playoffs will have to look to the waiver wire for a replacement.
Eric Gordon, G, LAC – Gordon is slated to miss at least 7-10 days after re-injuring his wrist in his return to the court last week. He’s scheduled to be re-evaluated next week, at which point a concrete timetable for his return will hopefully be announced. Given the Clippers are already locked into the lottery, the team could very well decide it’s not worth the risk of having Gordon return to action, especially with the way his wrist problems have lingered. Owners might want to wait until after next week’s re-evaluation before making a roster decision on Gordon, but it wouldn’t hurt to start planning for the worst. As we saw earlier this season, Randy Foye will be a great option while Gordon is on the shelf.
Andrew Bogut, C, MIL – Bogut admitted earlier this week that he plans to undergo arthroscopic surgery after the season. The 26-year-old center has been a great source of rebounds and the best shot blocker in fantasy this season, but his lingering elbow problems have clearly hurt his offensive production. As long as he’s playing, Bogut is worth a starting spot in your fantasy lineup, but his season could end early if the Bucks drop out of playoff contention. Montior the Bucks position in the standings closely, so you don’t get hung out to dry for the final week or two of the regular season.
Al Harrington, F, DEN – The big Carmelo Anthony trade has turned Denver into one of the deepest teams in the Association. In six games since Raymond Felton, Wilson Chandler and Danillo Galinari joined the Nuggets, Harrington is averaging less than 15 minutes per contest. Barring an injury to a teammate, Harrington will have trouble getting the 25-30 minutes necessary for him to provide much fantasy value.