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.
Jeremy Lin, G, NY – After getting waived by two different teams during training camp and getting shipped to the D-League early in the season, absolutely no one saw this coming; but “Linsanity” has officially taken over the NBA. Over his past three games, Lin has averaged 25.3 points, 8.3 assists, 3.7 rebounds and 1.7 steals. He has been handed the keys to the Knicks’ starting point guard job, and as long as he keeps on putting up ridiculous stat lines, he’ll remain in the driver’s seat. This run might not last all season, but it’s well worth the risk to add Lin to your fantasy squad for now, even in the shallowest of formats.
Maurice Williams, G, LAC – With Chauncey Billups (torn Achilles) sidelined for the rest of the season, Williams will be called upon to assume a bigger role for the Clippers. Williams will remain in the sixth man role, but his playing time off the bench should see a bit of a bump. Currently, Williams is averaging 28 minutes per game. In the Clippers’ first game without Billups, Williams saw his playing time rise to over 34 minutes. The extra 4-to-6 minutes per game will result in added production. Williams is coming off back-to-back games where he struggled from the floor, so try to buy-low on him now before his value shoots through the roof.
Randy Foye, G, LAC – Foye is the other Clipper who will see a significant boost in value in Billups’ absence. It’s Foye, not Williams, who has actually taken over as the starting shooting guard. In seven starts this season Foye has averaged 11.3 points, 4.0 assists, 1.7 steals, 1.1 blocks and 2.1 treys in 32 mpg. With the starting job now in hand for the foreseeable future, Foye is worth grabbing in all but the shallowest of formats.
Stephen Jackson, G, MIL – After being stuck in Bucks coach Scott Skiles’ doghouse for nearly two weeks, Jackson has found his way back into the team’s rotation. He has averaged 14.5 points, 3.5 assists, 3.0 rebounds and 2.0 threes in 31 mpg over the past two contests. He’s still coming off the bench, but the Bucks’ lack of offensive firepower should mean plenty of run for Jackson going forward. If another owner lost patience with Jackson and dumped him to the waiver wire, feel free to scoop him up.
Reggie Williams, G/F, CHA – Williams has exploded for the Bobcats over the past two games, averaging 21 points, 5.5 assists, 5.0 rebounds and 2.0 three-pointers while serving as the starting shooting guard. After a preseason knee injury sidelined him for the first 21 games, Williams became a forgotten man in Charlotte. Now healthy, he’s taking advantage of the extra playing time made available due to injuries to several teammates. Both D.J Augustin (toe) and Corey Maggette (hamstring) will be returning soon, but Williams should still play a sizable role in Charlotte’s rotation. He’s worth a look if you need help in scoring, assists or three-pointers.
Trevor Booker, F, WAS – Booker has established himself as the best fantasy option in the Wizards’ frontcourt since Andray Blatche went down with a calf injury late last month. In three games since being promoted to the starting lineup, Booker has averaged 13.3 points, 5.0 rebounds, 1.7 blocks and 1.3 steals. His box score lines won’t wow you all the time and there will be plenty of inconsistency, but Booker’s ability to compile defensive stats make him worth a look while Blatche is on the shelf for the next month or so.
Rudy Fernandez, G/F, DEN – Fernandez is another player who has seen a boost in value due to a teammate’s injury. For Fernandez, he’ll benefit due to Danilo Gallinari’s fractured foot. With Galo expected to miss about a month, Fernandez will be asked to take on a bigger role for the Nuggets. The results have been good so far, as Fernandez has averaged 15.5 points, 1.5 threes and 1.0 steals in 32 mpg over the past two contests. Fernandez will have a good chance to see over 30 mpg while Gallinari is sidelined, giving him plenty of opportunity to put together one of the better stretches of his career. He’ll mainly provide fantasy teams with solid scoring, threes and steals, but Fernandez has flashed quality playmaking ability in the past, so he could be a sneaky source of assists as well.
Carmelo Anthony, F, NY – Anthony is currently sidelined with a strained right groin that is expected to keep him out for a week or two. Melo has dealt with a few other minor injuries this season, but he has been able to avoid sitting for long stretches. Being that this is the third time he is sitting out with an injury over the last three weeks, we wouldn’t be surprised if the Knicks err on the side of caution this time around and keep Anthony on the shelf until he’s back to full strength. Expect him to miss the full two weeks.
Baron Davis, G, NY – Davis is another Knick who is dealing with injuries. He was nearing a return from his season-long back problems before suffering an infection in his elbow last week. Davis is now expected to sit out at least another week. On top of the constant injury concerns, Davis’ role upon his return is now up in the air due to Jeremy Lin’s breakout. Continue to monitor Davis’ recovery while also keeping tabs on head coach Mike D’Antoni’s plans on how the veteran point guard will be utilized after returning.
Corey Maggette, F, CHA – Maggette, who has been sidelined since Jan. 4 with a hamstring injury, is finally getting close to returning to the hardwood. He practiced Thursday and could see game action as soon as Saturday against the Clippers. The veteran swingman isn’t as good at scoring the ball as he was during the prime of his career, but he’s still a decent source of points who will also help you at the charity stripe. He’s worth a look in most mid-to-deep sized leagues.
Spencer Hawes, C, PHI – After returning from an Achilles injury and playing in two games, Hawes is now again on the sidelines. This time it’s his back that’s ailing him. An MRI came back negative, so this doesn’t appear to be a long-term issue. That said, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the Sixers held Hawes out an extra game or two to make sure he’s at full strength. Consider him day-to-day.
Manu Ginobilli, G, SA – Ginobilli (hand) was cleared by team doctors earlier this week and appears to be nearing a return. Out since Jan. 2, he could return as soon as Saturday against the Nets. Given that he hasn’t played in over a month, the Spurs may ease Ginobilli back into the rotation, but owners should be celebrating the news of his pending return either way.
Chauncey Billups, G, LAC – Billups suffered a torn Achilles in Monday’s win over the Magic. He’s expected to miss at least eight months, which ends his current campaign and even puts a potential return next season in doubt The 34-year-old guard has already vowed to make a return, but he has an uphill battle given his age.
Chris Bosh, F, MIA – After putting together one of his better stretches as a member of the Heat in January, Bosh has taken a step back this month. In five February games, Bosh has averaged 12.0 points on 40.4 percent shooting. Bosh’s struggles coincide with the return of Dwyane Wade, who returned from injury in late January. To dig deeper, Bosh has averaged 25.7 points in the nine games Wade has sat out this season, compared to 15.8 points while Wade is active. As long as Wade is healthy, Bosh will have trouble maintaing his current scoring average of 19.2 points per game. Obviously, Bosh still holds plenty of overall value, but it wouldn’t hurt to shop him around and try to find an owner who buys the apparent improvements his stat line currently shows.
Danilo Gallinari, F, DEN –- The aforementioned Gallinari is expected to miss the 3-to-5 weeks after suffering a significant ankle sprain. A chip fracture was discovered in his foot during the X-ray, but it is actually an old injury that Galo has been playing through for his entire pro career, and it shouldn’t affect his return timetable. Gallinari has approached elite fantasy production this year, so he deserves to be stashed on benches in most formats.
Jeff Teague, G, ATL – While still the starting point guard in Atlanta, Teague’s value has taken a definite hit since the return of Kirk Hinrich. In eight games with Hinrich active, Teague has averaged 11.8 points, 3.8 assists and 0.9 steals in 28 mpg. The drop in minutes is most concerning, as Teague was seeing over 35 mpg while Hinrich was sidelined for the season’s first 18 games. Hinrich will continue to play a significant role off the Hawks’ bench, so owners would be wise to shop Teague around before his value drops any further.
Carl Landry, F, NO – Landry is expected to miss the next 3-to-4 weeks with an MCL sprain. The Hornets have numerous big men who have seen their respective roles increase since Landry went down. Chris Kaman, who was dangled as trade bait last week, is the most interesting name for fantasy purposes.