STRIKING WHILE THE BUST IS HOT
For those unfortunate enough to own Jeremy Lin this year, there was a 48-hour window last week when you should have been sending out offers to every other owner in your league to get him off your team.
James Harden missed last Monday's game against the Mavericks with a minor ankle injury, and predictably, Lin went off, scoring 38 points with seven assists, four three-pointers, and two steals. It's not that Lin's value had significantly changed much for the rest of the season, but that' as high as his perceived value will be all year, barring a trade. The lesson here is to be aggressive and forward thinking on short notice. Now that Harden is back, Lin has returned to the disappointment that he's been all season, and your absolute best-case scenario would be to move him for a player like George Hill.
Each week this article highlights players who are widely available in standard leagues that can help in specific roto categories. However, the information is still highly relevant in points leagues and deeper leagues. Remember, while each player highlighted can help in a specific category, there's no guarantee for production in other areas.
Austin Rivers, SG, Hornets - There are a couple options out there who should be much more widely owned than they currently are in Yahoo! leagues - Jared Dudley (56 percent owned) and Rodney Stuckey (44 percent owned) - but chances are, they've been scooped up already in most serious leagues. Rivers is an interesting option because he's been downright awful at times this year, but the Hornets are intent on continuing to give him minutes, and he finally rewarded them with a career-high 27 points on 9-of-14 shooting, including five three-pointers, on Saturday. He's a high-risk, high-reward option to be sure, but he's played more than 34 minutes in each of his last three games, so it's a risk worth taking for deep-leaguers who need help with points.
Bismack Biyombo, PF, Bobcats - Last week in this space I highlighted Biyombo for his ability to help with blocked shots, and while he's averaging 1.6 blocks over his last five games, he's actually been an even more consistent rebounder, averaging 8.6 boards over that same stretch. He's available in more than 80 percent of Yahoo! leagues, and that number should be lower, given his ability to contribute in a huge way in two categories. He's also seeing almost 35 minutes per game over his last five, so he can be started with confidence for the time being. Jason Thompson and Shawn Marion are also good shallow- and standard-league options, while Jordan Hill, Andre Drummond, and Reggie Evans should be targeted in deep leagues.
Alexey Shved, SG, Timberwolves - All the usual suspects on the waiver wire, like Jarrett Jack and Andre Miller, will be steady options, even though they aren't the primary ball-handlers for their teams. Even less appealing options like Derek Fisher and Chris Duhon are out there for deep-leaguers, but why not scoop up Shved? It's certainly not likely that he continues to dole out 6.3 assists per game, like he has for the past week, now that Ricky Rubio is back, but with Shved starting, he should be added in most mid-sized leagues. And he'll be one of the best options for assists among shooting guards.
Toney Douglas, PG, Rockets - Even factoring out the five three-pointer game Douglas had when James Harden was on the shelf, he's still averaging more than two three-pointers and one steal per game over his last four contests. And with Jeremy Lin struggling to play well alongside Harden because of his inability to play off the ball, Douglas will continue to be a primary reserve for the Rockets. As long as he's seeing around 25 minutes per game, he's a solid option in deeper roto leagues, and he's currently available in 95 percent of Yahoo! leagues. Marco Belinelli and Steve Novak are also solid options, though they're closer to one-stat guys.
Eric Bledsoe, PG, Clippers - If it seems like I'm always trying to find a way to work Bledsoe into this column, it's because I am. He's one of the five most exciting players to watch in the entire league, and he doesn't even play 20 minutes per game. However, over the past two weeks, that hasn't stopped him from averaging 1.7 steals per game, while averaging almost four assists and shooting better than 50 percent from the field. Winning is pretty important in fantasy, but there's no reason winning and having fun can't go hand in hand. Owning Eric Bledsoe is a lot more fun than owning Matt Barnes, and they're equally equipped to help with steals.
Andre Drummond, C, Pistons - Over his last five games, Drummond is averaging two blocks per game, including back-to-back three-block games in his last two outings. He's still not playing the amount of minutes he probably should, but he saw 29 minutes Saturday and has managed to stay out of foul trouble, while not getting to the line a lot, thus not destroying your fantasy team's free-throw percentage. If playing more than 25 minutes per game ever becomes a trend for Drummond, he will be a must-add in most standard leagues, meaning the time to grab him in mid-sized leagues is now.
Andrew Nicholson, PF, Magic - Nicholson has attempted seven or more field goals in his last five games and is hitting at a 59-percent clip over that stretch. There will be nights when he doesn't play more than 20 minutes if Glen Davis and Nikola Vucevic are playing well, or the matchups dictate that the Magic go small, but the rookie has been really impressive in his recent run of getting legit playing time. If the Magic can trade Glen Davis, or if an injury befalls Davis or Vucevic, then Nicholson becomes a must-add in most leagues.