The Hoops Lab
Andris Biedrins, GS (23.2 PER allowed): Biedrins is generally thought of as a solid defender, so I was initially surprised to see that he had such bad defensive numbers. On the other hand, the Warriors shoot so frequently (lots of defensive rebounding opportunities) and play such weak team defense in small-ball lineups that opposing big men don't have much trouble generating big double-doubles. This allows bigger centers like Yao Ming to post 36-point/19-rebound games against them, as happened this week.
Amare Stoudemire, PHO (22.9 PER allowed): Stoudamire's inclusion on this list is not a surprise at all, as he's well known as a poor defensive big man that also plays on a poor defensive team. In the Jefferson/Stoudamire match-up that I mentioned above, Jefferson countered Stoudmire's 14-for-16 shooting night with a 39-point/15-rebound effort of his own.
Eddy Curry, NY (20.3 PER allowed): Including Curry gives me three big men in my starting lineup, but no list of fantasy friendly opponents would be complete without the big guy that "anchors" the New York defense. Just ask Biedrins, who pulled down a ridiculous 26 boards in a game against the Knicks this week.
Matt Barnes, GS (22.2 PER allowed): It's not surprising that the Warriors netted two members in the starting lineup of the non-defensive team with their lack of emphasis on stopping opponents. With Barnes as a wing defender, opposing swingmen torch the Warriors regularly, a recent example of which was Vince Carter's and Richard Jefferson's combined 63 points, 13 assists and 11 boards last week.
Jameer Nelson, ORL (19.3 PER allowed): Nelson's lack of size and defensive intensity is part of the reason that Carlos Arroyo often eats into his minutes. Opposing point guards like Anthony Carter (season-high 21 points, 11 assists on January 11) seem to love going against Nelson and the Magic.
Brad Miller, SAC (20.0 PER allowed):
Mehmet Okur, UT (20.7 PER allowed):
Charlie Villanueva, MIL (22.1 PER allowed)
Carlos Delfino, TOR (20.7 PER allowed)
Darko Milicic, MEM (20.6 PER allowed)
Kyle Lowry, MEM (20.5 PER allowed)
Erick Dampier, GS (20.5 PER allowed)
Craig Smith, MIN (22.4 PER allowed)
Situations to watch
Take-over of the twenty-somethings: If you look at the player rater for the past week, you will see that it's dominated by players in their mid-20s with very few representatives of the over-30 or barely legal crowd. This is a function of the time of year, as the older vets are likely pacing themselves for a season-ending run and the youngsters are trying to get through the rookie wall. Meanwhile, the twenty-somethings are all young enough to play big minutes every night, experienced enough to have no trouble with the length of the season and generally have something to prove (e.g. that they can carry a team to the next level, contract concerns, trying to establish themselves, etc.). This trend is likely to continue up through the All-Star break, but after that the veterans and rookies are apt to re-join them at the forefront. In practical terms, this makes this time-period a good time to consider selling high on possibly over-producing twenty-somethings and buying low on vets that may pick it up down the stretch.
Flu epidemic: I thought I was the only one noticing the vast number of "DNP flu" cases recently until I read Yahoo! Sports columnist Matt Buser's thoughts on the matter. While a mandatory league-wide flu shot session might prevent this from happening in the future, what it means in the meantime to fantasy owners is that you have to be even more vigilant than ever before setting your nightly lineups. Unlike injuries, flu absences generally aren't mentioned until right before the game, so the only way to know for sure if your player is playing is to check the submitted line-up immediately before tip-off. If that's too late for your league (or just impractical given your schedule), you can still take advantage of this rash of flu absences with savvy FA pickups. Generally the flu keeps players down for a couple of days, so if you can identify the players that are most likely to benefit from the absences you can sneak them before your other league-mates do. For example, when you hear that Chris Kaman and Corey Maggette are out with the flu, be the first to jump on the waiver wire to pick up Al Thornton (33 points Wednesday night) and/or Tim Thomas (19 points/nine boards per this week). At this point in the season, with all of the absences (illness and injury) going around, some cheap production like this can be the difference between your winning a week and losing it.
Vets finding a home: Within the last week, Chris Webber and Earl Boykins have finally re-joined the NBA while Damon Stoudamire was released and looks to have a new lease on life in San Antonio. There are mega question marks about all three, but all three do have enough roto potential to make them intriguing. Webber still has some gas left in the tank, as he averaged just over 25 minutes per game in the Pistons' 16-game playoff run last year. Of course he'll have to get back in the basketball mindset and reacquainted with coach Don Nelson's style before he warrants picking up. Boykins could get on the court for the Bobcats on Friday night, and though he will be coming off the bench he may eventually prove to be the best back-court scoring option on the team and could seriously cut into Jeff McInnis' minutes. Stoudamire is expected to sign with the Spurs by Saturday, and should figure into the Spurs' plans immediately with Tony Parker out up to three weeks.
T.J. Ford practicing soon: Ford (spinal spenosis) is ready to rejoin the Raptors after spending the last two weeks working out with former NBA player John Lucas, and he could begin practicing as early as the beginning of next week. Depending on how quickly he gets up to speed, he could return to the lineup around the All-Star break in mid-February.
Elton Brand working out: With the news this week that Brand (Achilles tear) has been approved for running and jumping, it may be worth snatching and stashing him on your bench if he is still available in your league. If he returns in March, which now seems more possible, it would be like adding a high-round draft pick for the stretch run.
Randy Foye returns: Foye is back from the knee injury that kept him out for the first half of the season. He's still coming off the bench and playing himself into shape, but he is worth keeping an eye on because he looks to be the perimeter focal point in a Timberwolves offense that has made occasional fantasy stars out of replacements such as Sebastian Telfair and Marko Jaric in his absence. His return also is bad news for those still holding onto Telfair or Jaric, and it remains to be seen whether it will prove to be a positive or negative to owners of Rashad McCants.
Al Thornton (36.58% owned): Thornton is in this space for the second week in a row because he just keeps putting up solid numbers while his teammates are out injured/sick. He is coming off of a career-high 33-point performance on Wednesday night, and with the losses piling up for the Clippers you have to believe that the rookie will continue to get more time as long as he's producing like this.
Larry Hughes (20.01% owned): Hughes has teased before, but any time a player that used to be good averages almost 20 points over a four-game span he's worth taking a flyer on if your team has the roster spot.
Thabo Sefolosha (3.21% owned): Sefalosha is back in this space due to the continued decimation of the Bulls team by injury. With Luol Deng (back), Ben Gordon (wrist), and Joe Smith (knee) continuing to ail Sefalosha has gotten playing time by default. He's responded by averaging 12 points, seven boards and 2.5 combined blocks/steals over the last week.
Travis Diener (.28% owned): Diener has been taking advantage of extra playing time with Jamaal Tinsley (knee) ailing, averaging almost 14 points, five boards, two treys, and two steals over his last three games. Tinsley is expected back possibly as soon as Friday, but with his injury history and an apparently nagging knee injury, it may be worth stashing Diener on the bench in deeper leagues in case Tinsley goes out for an extended period.
Royal Ivey (.07% owned): Ivey has been starting in place of Michael Redd, who's out with an injury to the same knee that forced him out for most of last season. Ivey has been making the most of this opportunity, averaging almost 18 points, four assists, four boards and two steals over his last three games.
Article first appeared 1/31/08