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, role or skill level.
Baron Davis, G, NY – Davis, who has been out all season with back issues, returned to practice Monday. He still needs to find his rhythm and get in shape before returning to game action, but Davis is close to making his debut with the Knicks. New York currently lacks a real point guard, so Davis should be moved into the starting lineup shortly after his return. He’s nowhere near the player we saw during his prime, but Davis, like other point guards in the past, will benefit from playing in head coach Mike D’Antoni’s up-tempo offense. Go grab him now if he’s sitting on your waiver wire.
Stephen Curry, G, GS – After dealing with lingering ankle issues for the first three weeks of the season, Curry has returned to the court at full strength. In three games since his return, Curry is averaging 20.7 points, 5.0 assists, 4.7 rebounds, 3.3 treys and 2.3 steals. He has been a top-10 option in fantasy when healthy and is proving he’s still more than capable of playing at that level again. Curry’s ankle problems should draw some pause, but he managed to play in 74 games last year while dealing with a similar issue. Try snagging him on the cheap from an owner who may still be overly concerned about his injury problems resurfacing.
Jimmer Fredette, G, SAC – A thigh injury to Marcus Thornton has opened up more playing time for Fredette. The rookie out of BYU has made good on his opportunity over the past three games, averaging 17.3 points and 3.3 assists while going 11-of-18 from downtown. More importantly, he is averaging 30 mpg over that stretch. Those minutes will obviously be cut back once Thornton returns in a week or two, but if Fredette continues to showcase his elite stroke from beyond the arc, he will carve out a steady roll in the Kings’ guard rotation. Fredette has the skills to be one of the best volume three-point shooters in the league, so make a bid on him if you need help in that category.
Leandro Barbosa, G, TOR – Despite being stuck in a bench role all season, Barbosa has been the Raptors’ third leading scorer, pouring in 13.2 ppg. His scoring continues to climb as the season progresses thanks to an average of 17.2 points over the past nine games. He doesn’t help in rebounds (2.1) or assists (1.1), but Barbosa posts decent percentages (44.6 FG, 80.4 FT) for a guard and hits 1.0 three-pointers per content. The Raptors’ second unit is desperate for scoring, so they’ll continue to lean on Barbosa heavily. He’s worth a look if you need help in the scoring categories.
James Johnson, F, TOR – Johnson was promoted to the Raptors’ starting lineup last week, taking over at small forward for Rasual Butler. In five starts, Johnson is averaging 10.8 points, 5.0 rebounds, 2.6 blocks and 1.4 steals in 30 mpg. He’s erratic on offense, so expect some inconsistency at that end of the floor, but Johnson’s ability to rack up blocks and steals makes him an intriguing option in most formats. If you need help in either defensive category, Johnson will be a solid upgrade.
Tiago Splitter, C, SAN – Even with limited playing time, Splitter is finding a way to be productive for the Spurs. The seven-foot Brazilian has averaged 14.6 points and 7.4 boards in 24 mpg over the past five contests. While his 72.5 percent clip from the floor over that span is unsustainable, this is a player who has shot around 60 percent all season thanks to the vast majority of his shots coming at or near the rim. He’ll still have his occasional stinker, but Splitter is starting to prove he can be a productive piece of the Spurs’ rotation.
Andrew Bogut, C, MIL – An MRI taken Thursday revealed that Bogut suffered a fractured ankle in Wednesday’s victory over the Rockets. Bogut will likely miss at least two weeks, but he could be out much longer. Another exam done Friday will provide a better outlook on his expected absence. Wait for an update on Bogut’s status before deciding how to proceed.
Andrea Bargnani, F/C, TOR – Bargnani aggravated a left calf injury in Wednesday’s game against Utah. This is the same ailment that sidelined Bargnani for six games earlier this season. He said this injury is “much worse” than the last time he hurt himself, so we could be looking at an extended absence. An MRI is scheduled for Thursday. If Bargnani misses significant time, Ed Davis and Amir Johnson would see additional minutes.
Al Jefferson, F/C, UTA – Jefferson was a late scratch Wednesday night with an ankle injury. He sat out practice Thursday and is expected to be a game-time decision for Friday’s tilt against the Mavericks. This injury doesn’t sound like it’ll be a long-term issue, but owners will want to keep a close eye on Big Al’s status over the weekend. Derrick Favors will see an expanded role if Jefferson sits out any more games.
MarShon Brooks, G, NJ – The rookie out of Providence has sat out back-to-back games with a sore Achilles. His next chance to return to the lineup will be Friday against the Cavaliers. Don’t expect a final decision on his status until we get closer to tip. Anthony Morrow will continue to get the nod at shooting guard should Brooks miss more time.
Marcus Thornton, G, SAC – The aforementioned Thornton is expected to miss the next week or two with a bruised left thigh. Luckily, this injury shouldn’t linger beyond that timetable. Owners should find a solid replacement and slot Thornton on the bench until he’s ready to return to the lineup.
Carmelo Anthony, F, NY – Anthony has been struggling with his shot since over the past six games, hitting just 31.7 percent of his shots from the floor over the past six games. While a tough stretch like this would typically be shrugged off as a shooting slump, Anthony could still be feeling the effects from a wrist injury he dealt with earlier this year. Odds are he’ll bounce back soon, but owners will want to keep a close eye on his wrist in the short term.
Eric Gordon, G, NO – Gordon, who has appeared in just two games because of a lingering knee injury, is expected to be sidelined at least another three weeks. His knee is reportedly structurally sound, so it’s a little unclear why Gordon has taken so long to recover from a bruised knee. When healthy, Gordon has been one of the better fantasy options at shooting guard, but his injury history – he has missed 66 of a possible 264 games since joining the NBA – requires a downgrade.
Danny Granger, F, IND – Once a fixture among the top-10 ranked players in fantasy basketball, Granger has regressed this season. After averaging 23.3 ppg over the past three seasons, Granger has dipped to 16.5 ppg this year. He’s shooting a career-worst 37.0 percent from the floor, so some bounce back should be expected, but the newfound depth of Indiana’s roster will keep Granger from posting scoring averages high enough to rank among the league leaders. Put simply, the Pacers no longer need Granger to carry such a heavy load on offense. Shop him around to see if you can get another owner to pay for his past production.
Jason Richardson, G, ORL – Richardson has struggled to re-establish himself in the Magic’s rotation since returning from a knee injury. In three games since his return, Richardson is averaging 6.3 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 24 mpg. To make matters worse, J.J. Redick, who has Richardson’s main competition for playing time, has been playing well this season. While Richardson should bounce back some, he’s nowhere near as explosive of a scorer as he was earlier in his career.
Jon Leuer, F, MIL – After a six-game run as a member of the Bucks’ starting five, Leuer has returned to a spot near the end of the bench. Over the past four games, the rookie out of Wisconsin has seen just 14 minutes total. Bucks coach Scott Skiles changes up his rotation enough from game-to-game that Leuer could have a handful of solid outings going forward, but his playing time will be too inconsistent to rely on in most formats.