Injuries are the biggest concern for Fantasy owners heading into the new week. In fact, there are so many big-name guys either out with injury, dealing with a nagging injury, or other outside factors, and it has made setting lineups quite a scramble this week.
The most important injury is the groin issue for Miami Heat F LeBron James (groin). He missed the game in Portland over the weekend, and The Miami Herald reports he is doubtful for Monday’s game in Denver. The good news is that the Heat will travel home after their lengthy road trip, and have two full days off before jumping back into action Thursday against Golden State. If you’re a Fantasy owner in leagues which average points per game in a Fantasy period, start LeBron. If you’re in a Rotisserie format, ‘The King’ is also a solid play. It is unlikely he misses all four games this week. However, those in standard head-to-head formats, he is a risky play. There is no guarantee he misses just the one game in Denver, playing in the three others. However, even if he were limited to two games, it is LeBron, and he is better than most guys who are on for three or four games.
In Cleveland, the Cavaliers suspended C Andrew Bynum over the weekend for conduct detrimental to the team. The suspension is indefinitely, and they are supposed to try and deal him before his contract becomes guaranteed Jan. 7. It appears the team could hold onto him, but if and when he gets back onto the court again is uncertain. Fantasy owners certainly want him reserved in all leagues, but don’t drop him just yet. The big winners for Fantasy will be F/C Tyler Zeller and F Anthony Bennett, who are expected to be leaned upon for more minutes in head coach Mike Brown’s new rotation. Zeller is worth a look as a low-end Fantasy option in leagues of 12 or more teams, while Bennett is only worth rostering as a reserve in deeper leagues until he starts to show more consistency.
In L.A., swingman Xavier Henry (knee) left Sunday’s game due to a strained knee, and he is expected to have an MRI Monday. With the Lakers on tap for just three games this week, Henry is a very risky play. He has been stuffing the stat sheet rather nicely, filling in admirably for the injury SG Kobe Bryant (leg). However, F Wesley Johnson and G Jodie Meeks might have a little more short-term Fantasy appeal until Henry’s situation is more clear.
Finally, Oklahoma City Thunder PG Russell Westbrook (knee) is back on the shelf until at least after the All-Star break. That means PG Reggie Jackson is a must-play for Fantasy owners again. G Jeremy Lamb also showed well Sunday against Houston, but be careful not to overvalue him. Most of his production came after the game was already decided. He is not going to be seeing starter-type minutes, but he is a nice speculative pick in case another injury opens up a more prominent role.
Teams with four games (16): Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, Golden State, Indiana, L.A. Clippers, Memphis, Miami, New Orleans, Oklahoma City, Portland, Toronto, Washington
Teams with three games (12): Atlanta, Brooklyn, L.A. Lakers, Milwaukee, Minnesota, New York, Orlando, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Sacramento, San Antonio, Utah
Teams with two games (2): Detroit, Houston
TV TIME (national broadcasts in the upcoming week)
MON Chicago-Memphis (8:00pm NBATV)
TUE Portland-Oklahoma City (8:00pm NBATV)
THU Brooklyn-Oklahoma City (8:00pm NBATV)
FRI New York-Houston (8:00pm NBATV)
SUN New York-Dallas (7:30pm NBATV)
* All Times Eastern (ET)
The Charlotte Bobcats have four games in the upcoming week, but each of the matchups are on the road. Regardless of matchups or location, G Kemba Walker has proven lately that he is a must-start Fantasy option. C Al Jefferson is also a solid play, but the rest cannot be said for the remainder of the Charlotte roster.
The Philadelphia 76ers also have three road games in the upcoming week. That means good things for the Denver Nuggets, Portland Trail Blazers and Sacramento Kings, who each get the 76ers for a home game this week. The Sixers are giving up an NBA-worst 111.5 points per game. Remember that if you’re a daily Fantasy player, too.
The Detroit Pistons and Houston Rockets have just two games for the upcoming week. That’s bad news for Fantasy owners in cumulative Fantasy formats and points-based head-to-head leagues. Those in Rotisserie formats and leagues which average points per game in a scoring period will want to keep all players from those teams active. That goes double for owners of G James Harden.
We mentioned the bigger news up top, but there are a handful of other guys dealing with nagging injuries heading into the week.
Chicago Bulls swingman Jimmy Butler (toe) appears to be on track to play Monday. Even if he doesn’t go, he has four games on tap and he is close, so he will be a nice Fantasy addition if you have had him reserved. F Luol Deng (Achilles’) is not as certain, and the Chicago Tribune reports that Deng is a game-time decision. There is a lot of risk involved with Deng, so play it safe and reserve him in all formats until he can officially return and prove his health.
Minnesota Timberwolves swingman Chase Budinger (knee) is out for Monday’s game. With just three games on the upcoming slate for the T’Wolves, he should be reserved in all Fantasy formats.
New Orleans Pelicans G Eric Gordon (hip) is considered a game-time decision, according to NBA.com. While the Pelicans have four games on the schedule this week, Gordon is just not worth the risk.
If you need help in specific categories in Rotisserie Fantasy play, you’ve come to the right place. Check out these guys, who should be available in your league, to help out in certain areas.
Terrence Ross, SG, Toronto (14.4 ppg over the past nine games)
Marcus Morris, PF, Phoenix (12.3 ppg over the past nine games)
Jon Leuer, PF, Memphis (11.8 ppg over the past 10 games)
Jerryd Bayless, PG, Memphis (11.3 ppg over the past 10 games)
Trevor Booker, PF, Washington (8.8 rpg over the past eight games)
Reggie Evans, PF, Brooklyn (6.8 rpg over the past five games)
Chris Kaman, C, L.A. Lakers (6.7 rpg over the past six games)
Lavoy Allen, C, Philadelphia (6.6 rpg over the past nine games)
J.J. Barea, PG, Minnesota (4.5 apg over the past 10 games)
Beno Udrih, PG, New York (4.5 apg over the past 10 games)
Shelvin Mack, PG, Atlanta (4.3 apg over the past 10 games)
Lorenzo Brown, PG, Philadelphia (3.6 apg over the past five games)
Kenyon Martin, PF, New York (2.0 spg over the past five games)
C.J. Watson, PG, Indiana (1.8 spg over the past eight games)
Lorenzo Brown, PG, Philadelphia (1.4 spg over the past five games)
Chris Kaman, C, L.A. Lakers (1.8 bpg over the past six games)
Bismack Biyombo, C, Charlotte (1.7 bpg over the past nine games)
Ekpe Udoh, PF, Milwaukee (1.2 bpg over the past nine games)
Terrence Ross, SG, Toronto (27 3-pointers over the past nine games)
Marco Belinelli, SG, San Antonio (20 3-pointers over the past 12 games)
Richard Jefferson, SF, Utah (18 3-pointers over the past 11 games)
Marvin Williams, SF, Utah (18 3-pointers over the past 10 games)