Each week we'll look at players who have received increased minutes. An uptick in minutes doesn't always translate into improved fantasy stats but it at least offers some players to put on the radar.
Ekpe Udoh, C, GS – Udoh made this column a couple of weeks ago as a solid source of blocks while Andris Biedrins was out. It was speculated at that time that the former first-round pick could leapfrog Biedrins with his stellar play, which is exactly what happened. Now with the starting gig, Udoh should play 28-plus minutes and could be of fantasy value for teams needing blocks. His offensive game is still developing (he won't have 17 points every game like Monday), but he has a block in 13 consecutive games, averaging 2.7 during that time. Definitely grab him if you're looking for a speculative add to your bench. He's even more attractive if you need blocks.
Derrick Williams, F, MIN – Considering he was the No. 2 overall pick in last year's draft, it's nice to see Williams get a little more run with the Wolves lately. Granted, his increase in minutes was partially due to the recent absence of Kevin Love, and it's hard to predict exactly how much playing time he will receive. However, Williams showed a lot of upside over the last week, averaging 14.6 points and 5.8 rebounds. At 6-foot-9, 250, Williams has the potential to play outside and inside, which could translate into fantasy value across the board. Playing in Minnesota is a two-sided coin; Kevin Love is the main scoring option yet playing with one of the league's up-and-coming point guards in Ricky Rubio will help. If nothing else, remember Williams' name during the mid-to-late rounds of drafts next season, especially if Minnesota trades Michael Beasley.
Kenneth Faried, F, DEN – Faried is another repeat offender in this column, this time for filling in admirably while teammate Nene Hilario was on the mend. In his last three games, playing 34, 29 and 30 minutes, he averaged 15.7 points, 9.3 rebounds and two blocks. The bad news for Faried's owners is that Hilario is expected to return to the lineup Wednesday night. Obviously, that will cut into Faried's minutes, but keep in mind Hilario isn't the most durable player in the NBA. Keep an eye on the status of Hilario before making a decision on whether to grab Faried.
Each week we'll look at players who can help your fantasy team in the standard nine categories. Remember, while each player highlighted can help in a certain category, there's no guarantee he will contribute in other areas.
Josh Howard, F, UTA – Howard's ownership is hovering around 50 percent, so he's included here in case he's not owned in your league. Howard has put together a nice seven-game run in which he's scored in double figures in each of those games. The averages during that run look like this: 13.4 points, 6.7 rebounds, two assists and 1.3 steals. Howard provides even more value in leagues that require a small forward, which might be the shallowest positions in fantasy. Howard has been consistently getting at least 26 minutes a contest and should be a nightly double-digit scoring threat if he continues to see that kind of playing time.
Steve Novak, F, NY – Novak has carved himself a nice role with the Knicks as their long-range specialist. After sitting out the first three games in February, he averaged 3.2 three-pointers made per game for the month and has 18 made in his last four games. He's shooting 47.5 percent from beyond the arc (why wasn't he in the three-point contest?) and has his teammates looking for him trailing on the fast break. It's easy to forget he made a Final Four run his freshman year playing alongside Dwyane Wade and Travis Diener at Marquette and has historically shot more than 90 percent from the free-throw line. Grab him if you need the long ball.
Bismack Biyombo, F, CHA – Starter Boris Diaw is begging to leave the abysmal Bobcats with the team at a league-worst 4-31. To put that in perspective, the team with the second-worst record, New Orleans, has more than twice as many wins as Charlotte with nine. If Diaw leaves town, Biyombo should get plenty of minutes the rest of the season. He was given the starting nod Tuesday night and responded with a monster line of 15 points, 10 rebounds, seven blocks and a steal. Biyombo has shown a penchant to get into foul trouble, but if he can get the lion's share of time at the four or five, he showed what he can due Tuesday night. Keep tabs on the situation in Charlotte and be ready to snag if him if you need big-man help.
Tony Allen, G, MEM – Allen has steadily received more minutes for the Grizzlies who likely will welcome back Zach Randolph in the near future. The good news for Allen's owners is that he saw his playing time increase from 24.9 minutes per game to 30.4 minutes per game from January to February. During February, Allen averaged 4.5 rebounds and recorded 10-plus points in eight of the 11 contests he played. Allen recorded at least one steal over the final nine games in February and has averaged 1.8 per game the last two seasons. He's the guy if your fantasy team needs some thievery.
Always check your league's eligibility rules to make sure a player qualifies.
Lavoy Allen, PHI – Now eligible at center
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