By Shannon McKeown
RotoWire Staff Writer
Surprising Fantasy Depth in Utah
Entering the season, Utah had two fantasy studs (Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer), one solid producer with rare three-point range at the center position (Mehmet Okur), a declining but steady defensive force (Andrei Kirilenko), a reliable three-point gunner off the bench (Kyle Korver) and an upcoming third-year shooting guard who provided fantasy value with his thievery last season (Ronnie Brewer).
Injuries hit the Jazz hard, causing Williams, Boozer, Okur, Korver and Kirilenko all to miss time. The rash of injuries forced the Jazz to insert the likes of C.J. Miles, Ronnie Price and Paul Millsap into expanded roles. These three players along with the maturing Brewer all became important cogs in the Jazz's rotation and made themselves valuable in the realm of fantasy. Let's take a look at their fantasy perspectives now that the Jazz are starting to heal up:
Now that we have the Jazz out of the way, let's take a look around the rest of the Association. Around the League
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.
Mike Miller (MIN) - Moving to "The Land of 10,000 Lakes" hasn't exactly been a boon to Miller's fantasy value as the 10-year vet is averaging his lowest point total (11.5) since the 2003-04 season. One of the main reasons for his decline has been a career-low 9.3 field goal attempts per game, but with Corey Brewer sustaining a season-ending knee injury, Miller is about to see an increase in playing time. Coach Randy Wittman will continue to start Ryan Gomes at small forward, but he plans to give Miller some run at the three as well. In the first game without Brewer, Miller racked up 19 points, 10 rebounds and five three-pointers. Buy low now before it's too late.
David Lee (NYK) - The Zach Randolph trade has opened up the doors for Lee to take over on the block for the Knicks. In five starts since the trade, Lee is averaging 20.2 points, 14.6 rebounds and 1.6 steals. If the increase in production wasn't enough, the ex-Gator is also has eligible at small forward, power forward and center in most leagues.
C.J. Watson (GS) - Coach Don Nelson's rotations are always in flux, resulting in a different Warrior to see his stock go up each week. The current flavor-of-the-week in Golden State is Watson. The undrafted guard is still coming off the bench, but he is the only reserve on the Warriors seeing consistent minutes. Watson has averaged 16 points, 4.3 boards and 3.3 assists in the past three games. The Warriors up-tempo offense is conducive to fantasy production, so if Watson continues to see the minutes, he will be useful in most settings.
Luther Head (HOU) - The absence of Tracy McGrady (knee) has led to Head's promotion to the starting lineup. Head has had one great outing (21 points, five rebounds, four assists and two treys) and one stinker (three points, four rebounds and four assists), but the important thing is that he is seeing the minutes. McGrady's knee has been bothering him all season and he hasn't done anything to prove that the problem with disappear in the near future. The Rockets should continue to look Head's direction and fantasy owners in need of points and threes should do the same.
Kendrick Perkins (BOS) - The Celtics have been destroying their competition all season and one of the unsung heroes has been Perkins. At 6-10, 280, Perkins is a big body who clogs up the lane and cleans the glass. He has a propensity to pick up fouls at an alarming rate, resulting in some disappointing outings, but with averages of 9.6 boards and two blocks in the past five games, Perkins can help any squad in need of big-man stats.
J.R. Smith (DEN) - Each week, Smith could find himself in a different section of the Barometer. The much-maligned Nugget is constantly battling his coach and his own immaturity, and it often results in inconsistent playing time and erratic production. Smith blew up for 37 points, including five three-pointers last week, but he was a DNP-CD the game prior and played only seven minutes the night after his outburst. His talent is unquestioned, but until Smith gets his noggin put on straight, he will be a frustration for owners.
Kevin Martin (SAC) - The Kings are expecting Martin (ankle) to return to action on Tuesday against Utah. He will likely some off the bench for a game or two, but with John Salmons nursing a groin injury look for Martin to resume his role as the Kings' primary scorer right off the bat.
Josh Smith (ATL) - J-Smoove is eyeing a return from an ankle injury on Wednesday against the Grizzlies. If he returns on Wednesday, expect him to be a little rusty after missing 12 games.
Josh Howard (DAL) - After missing five games with an ankle injury, Howard took part in a full practice on Monday and hopes to return for Tuesday's tilt against the Clippers. The team will monitor the swelling in his ankle before the game, so make sure he is playing before throwing him in your lineup.
Cuttino Mobley (NYK) - The Knicks' medical staff is still running tests on Mobley's heart and He hasn't suited up since being traded. No timetable has been released on when he might see the court with his new team.
Samuel Dalembert (PHI) - The lanky center has posted inconsistent lines all season, and the usual foul trouble excuse is starting to wear thin. In the past four games, Dalembert is averaging four points, 5.5 boards and one block in 23 mpg. Until he starts seeing closer to last year's run of 33 mpg, look for Dalembert to continue posting disappointing lines.
Allen Iverson (DET) - The Answer hasn't been able to find his grove since being traded to Motown. In 12 games with the Pistons, Iverson is averaging 17.6 points and 5.3 points. His shooting percentage is hovering around 39 percent, but the main problem is his lack of attempts from the floor - he is averaging a career-low 14.1 shots. Unless the Pistons change the team-first identity of their squad and give Iverson a green light, he will continue to average well below his career scoring average of 27.6 ppg.
Grant Hill (PHO) - In his second season in the desert, Hill has been relegated to bench duty. He has only started five games this season and is averaging a career-low 8.1 ppg. At 36, Hill is starting to show his age and it's unlikely that he will bounce back to his fantasy value of last season unless more minutes become available.
Earl Watson (OKC) - Interim coach Scott Brooks has put forth a youth movement in Oklahoma City, and Watson is one of the causalities. Russell Westbrook has been inserted into the starting lineup in place of Watson and Brooks doesn't plan on giving Watson the job back anytime soon.
Article first appeared on 12/2/08