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Jeff Stotts

Jeff Stotts works as a Certified Athletic Trainer (MAT, ATC, PES, CES). He won the 2011 Best Fantasy Football Article in Print from the Fantasy Sports Trade Association.

by Jeff Stotts
RotoWire Injury Expert

The All-Star Game is quickly approaching and fantasy standings are beginning to shake out. The season is far enough long that the sample size for statistics has improved, allowing fantasy owners to differentiate through solid trends and statistical mirages. As injuries occur it is now more important than ever to jump on the waiver wire and insure you capitalize on injuries to other players, snagging the backup with the most fantasy value.

Leandro Barbosa

Phoenix guard Leandro Barbosa will miss the next four to six weeks after undergoing surgery to excise a ganglion cyst from his right wrist, an injury that has been bothering him for months now. He initially sprained the wrist as he led the Brazilian team's gold medal campaign in the FIBA Americas Championship. He suffered extended soreness in the wrist throughout preseason and training camp and missed three games earlier in the season.

A MRI revealed a ganglion cyst had slowly formed due to the excessive amounts of synovial fluid that accumulated following the initial injury. Various treatments were originally used in an attempt to shrink the size of the cyst but surgery was finally deemed necessary when the cyst continued to bother Barbosa. The Suns expect their speedy guard back in the lineup sometime in late February or early March however fantasy owners should keep in mind that there is a minor risk of the cyst redeveloping. Suns swingman Jason Richardson should see more minutes with Barbosa out while Slovenian guard Goran Dragic should become Phoenix's number one scoring option off the bench. Dragic has recorded four consecutive double-digit scoring games since Barbosa went down and is averaging 19.3 points a game over that same stretch.

Carlos Boozer

Utah forward Carlos Boozer is battling a lower leg injury suffered in Wednesday's win over the Blazers. The injury occurred when Boozer took an awkward step while inbounding the ball. The injury was initially ruled a calf strain but a recent MRI revealed a moderate hamstring strain. When you consider the anatomy of the involved muscles, it is easy to understand why there was confusion. Every muscle has an origin and insertion. The origin is the site at which the muscle attaches to a bone or occasionally another muscle. The origin serves as an anchor and does not move when the muscle contracts. The tendon on the opposite side of the muscle is known as the insertion and attaches to the structure that moves when the muscles contracts.

The hamstring is a group of muscles responsible for flexing the knee and extending the hip. The muscles originate at the hip and insert below the knee on the lower leg bones, fibula and tibia. The calf is actually two muscles, the gastrocnemius and the soleus, and is responsible for planar flexion at the ankle (pointing the foot and toes). Both muscles originate at the distal end of the femur and upper portion of the fibula near the insertion site of the hamstring. A strain to either one muscle at this site would produce similar symptoms. Regardless of the location of the strain, treatment remains the same with Boozer using crutches to limit the weight placed on the muscle.

Boozer has already been ruled for the Jazz' next game and is expected to miss seven to 10 days. Paul Millsap will take Boozer's place in the starting lineup.

The Los Angeles Clippers

The frontcourt for the Los Angeles Clippers is beginning to look like a MASH unit. With the #1 overall draft pick Blake Grifiin already sidelined for the season with a patella fracture, both Marcus Camby and Chris Kaman are now dealing with injuries of their own. Camby is dealing with bruised ribs suffered in Wednesday's game against the New Jersey. The oft-injured center played just seven minutes in the loss after attempting to take a charge early in the first quarter. Often when a player is diagnosed with bruised ribs a contusion has been sustained to the bone as well as the intercostal muscles located between the ribs. Rib contusions can be very painful and often make it difficult for an athlete to breath. Camby is questionable for Friday's game against the Timberwolves and could miss more time if the pain is too severe. Expect Camby to wear some kind of brace or padding for additional support when he is able to return to action.

Kaman is also a question mark for Friday as he deals with a left ankle sprain. Like Camby, Kaman was injured in the loss to the Nets, turning his ankle when he came down on another player's foot. Landing on someone else's foot is a common mechanism of injury for inversion ankle sprains. The lateral ankle ligaments, in particular the anterior talofibular ligament, is extremely susceptible to spraining or tearing when the ankle is forcibly inverted while plantar flexing. It doesn't sound like Kaman's sprain is significant enough to sideline him for an extended period of time but depending on the pain and swelling, the center may be forced to sit for a game or two. With Camby and Kaman hobbled, Craig Smith and DeAndre Jordan would be the most likely candidates to join the starting lineup. Neither player holds much fantasy value for the immediate future.

Point guard Baron Davis is also nursing an injury as he fights through a sore knee. Davis developed tendonitis in his right knee earlier in the season and blamed the recent flare up on missing the team bus and failing to adequately stretch and receive the necessary treatment prior to the game in New Jersey. Knee tendonitis is a common injury in NBA players especially in veterans but is easily managed and treated. Davis has been surprisingly durable this year, failing to miss a game so it is hard to believe he will sit with this injury. He will likely be a game-time decision on Friday but shouldn't miss any significant time.

Article first appeared on 1/29/10