By Shannon McKeown
RotoWire Staff Writer
Around the League
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 or role or skill level.
Terrence Williams, G/F, NJ - After a lengthy stint as a productive reserve to start off the month of March, Williams was promoted to the Nets starting lineup last week. The rookie swingman has showcased his all-around game this month, averaging 13.5 points, 6.9 rebounds and 4.7 assists. He'll still hurt you with his field-goal percentage (38.8), but Williams is worth a look in most formats, even with Monday's minor ankle injury.
Reggie Williams, G, GS - The Warriors signed Williams for the remainder of the season on Monday. The former D-Leaguer is averaging 14.2 points and 1.6 threes in 12 appearances with Golden State. Golden State is still ravaged by injuries, so Williams will continue to see ample playing time. And as fantasy owners know, any player getting significant minutes under Warriors coach Don Nelson is worth a look.
Anthony Tolliver, F/C, GS - Here's another Warrior who's looking like a strong play down the stretch. Tolliver is averaging 13.1 points, 7.2 rebounds, 1.8 treys, 1.1 steals and 1.2 blocks for the month of March. He has started 11 of the past 12 games, and with multiple injuries to the Warriors' frontcourt, his starting spot appears safe. It's hard to find a center eligible player capable of posting averages of 1-plus steal, block and three-pointer, so go grab Tolliver and plug him into your lineup.
Chase Budinger, G/F, HOU - With Shane Battier (knee) out for the next week or two, Budinger is in a position to help out fantasy squads. Budinger has averaged 11 points and 1.5 threes in the two games Battier has missed this season. He also managed to pour in 18 points the night Battier suffered his knee injury. In all likelihood, the Rockets will be knocked out of playoff contention soon, and when that happens, it wouldn't be a surprise to see Budinger get extra run.
Yi Jianlian, F, NJ - Yi returned from a six-game absence on Saturday. He has averaged an uninspiring 6.5 points in his first two games back, but the important thing to note is that the big man from China has started both games. When healthy, Yi has been a useful player in fantasy. The minutes will be there, so as soon as he rounds into shape, look for his production to pick up.
Jason Maxiell, F/C, DET - Mad Max has been a strong fantasy play for the past couple weeks, but that run seemed to have ended when Ben Wallace returned from his knee injury last week. Well, Big Ben tweaked his injury in his first game back, and it's uncertain when he'll return to action again. Maxiell is a nightly double-double threat while Wallace is on the shelf, so make sure he's not floating around on the waiver wire.
James Johnson, F, CHI - With Luol Deng (calf) on the shelf, Johnson has started six of the past seven games for the Bulls at small forward. The rookie out of Wake Forest is averaging 11 points, 4.7 rebounds, one steal and 1.3 blocks in seven starts this season. His production has been inconsistent, but with Deng possibly out for the remainder of the regular season, Johnson is worth a look in deeper formats.
Tyreke Evans, G, SAC - The Rookie of the Year favorite suffered a concussion in Friday's loss to Milwaukee and will be sidelined for the Kings next two games. While owners are happy the injury wasn't as severe as the original reports that had Evans suffering a broken jaw, they're not completely out of the woods yet. Concussions can be tricky, and there's a chance Evans misses more time than expected, so keep a close eye on his recovery.
Thaddeus Young, F, PHI - Young has missed the past four games with a right thumb fracture. The third-year forward could make a return on Wednesday, but don't expect a final decision to come until closer to tip-off.
Louis Williams, G, PHI - Williams is another Sixer who's banged up right now. He has missed two of the past five games with a back injury, including Monday's loss to Orlando. The high-scoring reserve has been extremely limited in the three appearances he did make this past week, so be wary of starting him when he does return to the lineup.
Andrei Kirilenko, F, UTA - AK47 has been in and out of the Jazz's lineup since March 12 with a calf injury. He's listed as day-to-day and will likely be a frustration for owners as a game-time decision in the short term.
Carmelo Anthony, F, DEN - Anthony suffered a sprained right ring finger in Saturday's game against the Bucks. He managed to play through the injury and finished with 29 points, but his 10-for-29 performance from the floor indicates that the injury affected his shot a bit. The injury doesn't sound serious, but anytime a player of Melo's caliber suffers a bump or bruise, owners should take notice.
Darren Collison, G, NOH - With Chris Paul returning from his knee injury on Monday, Collison was moved back to a reserve role. Collison's prolonged success over the past two months has earned him steady playing time for the remainder of the season, but his move to the bench still knocks his fantasy value down a notch. Look for Collison to be worth a roster spot in most formats - just don't expect his production to be at the levels it was while CP3 was on the sidelines.
Andre Iguodala, G/F, PHI - Iguodala revealed on Monday that he has been playing through a bout of plantar fasciitis. The injury hasn't hurt him too much, but his averages for the month of March (16 points, 5.7 rebounds, 5.1 assists) are some of his worst of the season. As Joakim Noah owners know too well, plantar fasciitis can have a big impact on a player's productivity. For the time being, Iggy plans to play through the injury, but given the Sixers status near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, he's just one minor setback away from being lost for the season.
Andrew Bynum, C, LAL - Bynum suffered a strained left Achilles' tendon in a game against the Timberwolves last week. An MRI came back clean, but the Lakers big man still isn't expected back in the lineup until sometime in April. He'll be re-evaluated next week, but early indications are Bynum won't be much help for your fantasy playoffs. Lamar Odom will be the Laker to benefit the most from Bynum's absence.
Shane Battier, F, HOU - Battier suffered a sprained MCL in his left knee over the weekend that will keep him out for the at least the next 10 days. He was already seeing less minutes, and that won't change once he returns. Start shopping for a replacement.
Luol Deng, F, CHI - As previously mentioned, Deng is on the shelf with a calf injury. He hasn't played since March 9, and a setback last week has put the remainder of his regular season in jeopardy. Deng has been a boon for fantasy owners this year, but it's time to find a healthy replacement.
Wilson Chandler, G/F, NY - Chandler is another player whose season is now in jeopardy. The Knicks versatile forward has missed the past three games with a groin injury, and it's uncertain when he'll return. Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni has that Chandler could be shut down for the remainder of the season, so owners shouldn't be shy about finding a replacement.
Article first appeared on 3/23/10