With a couple notable players expected to see their first action of the season this week, I'm going to take a quick look at the potential impact of their returns.
The crazy thing about Amar'e Stoudemire's impending return, and the fact that he'll be coming off the bench, is that the Knicks already have the leading candidate for sixth man of the year (in my estimation) in J.R. Smith, which means Stoudemire will be getting paid $20 million this season to be their seventh man. Nobody of any fantasy importance should take much of a hit from his return (we're talking about guys like Kurt Thomas and Marcus Camby), but it will be interesting to see if Stoudemire is truly ready to be used as the second unit's second option. He could return as soon as Tuesday, and he's owned in the vast majority of fantasy leagues.
Avery Bradley, who will likely return to action for the Celtics on Wednesday, will have a much more fantasy-relevant impact. He was one of Boston's best players down the stretch last year, and the backcourt pairing of he and Rondo could be just what the Celtics need to return to being an elite defensive team. Obviously this will take away any value that Courtney Lee had in fantasy circles, but I think it could also impact Jason Terry, who is owned in 71 percent of Yahoo! leagues. Terry has been getting more than 30 minutes per game this season, and it's hard to see that continuing once Bradley is fully healthy. Look for Jet to return to a sixth-man role eventually and see closer to 25 minutes per game, meaning he'll be droppable in a lot of standard leagues. Bradley, on the other hand, is worth a speculative add in deep leagues. In the last month of the 2011-12 season, Bradley averaged 15.1 points, 1.2 steals and 1.2 three-pointers in 32.9 minutes per game. He won't likely get the minutes to put up those numbers again, but it shows what he is capable of.
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.
Shannon Brown, SG, Suns - I've profiled Brown here before as a player who can be of significant help if your team needs more scoring, and that should continue to be the case as long as he is seeing big minutes. Over the last two weeks, he's getting 34 minutes per game and averaging 16.3 points per game. He's not a great all-around player, but he will contribute some steals and three-point shooting and is available in 70 percent of Yahoo! leagues.
Bradley Beal, SG, Wizards - In very shallow leagues, there are probably better options than Beal available, but in mid-sized leagues, it's not time to panic on him, despite how frustrating he's been to own recently. Beal had a poor game last week against Cleveland, missing all five of his field-goal attempts in just 21 minutes, but coach Randy Wittman played him 30-plus minutes in each of the Wizards next two games. Not to mention he's played 40-plus minutes three times this month, so we know he has Wittman's confidence. He's in a bit of a shooting slump, but the minutes are there and soon the production will be too.
J.J. Barea, PG, Timberwolves - For those in deeper leagues, it's worth noting that Barea has averaged more minutes (27.2) over the past two weeks than Roy Hibbert, Paul Millsap, and Manu Ginobili, and Barea is thought of as the Timberwolves' third option at point guard. This can partially be attributed to Ricky Rubio's limited playing time since returning from last season's torn ACL, but Barea hasn't been a stiff. He's earning these minutes. Barea has scored in double figures in 13-straight games and has averaged 4.5 assists per game over that span. With Rubio now being bothered by back spasms, and struggling to perform when he has seen the court, Barea's minutes and production show no immediate signs of letting up.
Gerald Henderson, SG, Bobcats - If you missed out on Shannon Brown, Henderson is probably the next best option out there for scoring. He has struggled with his shot so far this season (shooting 40 percent from the field), but his best games are likely in front of him this season, as he should trend toward the 44 percent shooter that he has been throughout his career. He is averaging 13 points in 34.3 minutes per game over his last three contests, and he is available in 63 percent of Yahoo! leagues.
Andre Drummond, C, Pistons - I mentioned Drummond last week, but the fact remains, he's been killing it on the glass lately (11.8 boards per game over his past four contests), and he's still available in almost 75 percent of leagues. Tristan Thompson is also a solid play this week with Anderson Varejao expected to miss another week with a knee injury. Lamar Odom remains a solid play in deep leagues.
The usual suspects remain out there in Alexey Shved, Andre Miller, and Kirk Hinrich, but as I've touched on before, sometimes the best way to try to improve in assists is via a trade.
Thabo Sefolosha, SG, Thunder - Sefolosha is always regarded as a great defender, but he typically hasn't been a huge contributor in steals, averaging just one per game for his career. However, he's averaged three steals over his last four games, and while that dramatic pace won't continue, he's still worth a look in deep leagues. In standard leagues, however, I still prefer Eric Bledsoe, Tony Allen, and Matt Barnes, assuming you missed out on Kawhi Leonard.
Emeka Okafor, C, Wizards - Over his last five games, Okafor is averaging 2.4 blocks while seeing almost 30 minutes per game, and he's owned in less than 10 percent of ESPN leagues. Drummond is also a great option here.
Kyle Korver, SF, Hawks - Korver is shooting 43.8 percent from 3-point range this season, and over the past five games, he's hit 14 three-pointers and has averaged more than 30 minutes per game. One caveat about Korver is that he's the rare player who actually shoots a better percentage from beyond the arc than inside it. Shane Battier is another good option here.