Jodie Meeks, SG, Detroit – Reports had all been negative until a surprise update this morning. Previously being reported as out until February, Keith Langlois now reports he may play as soon as Friday. This changes everything. For one, there goes the inflated stock of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who had been scoring at a nice clip (12.5 points per game with 1.9 three pointers made per game) with no competition for the starting shooting guard (SG) role. The return of Meeks certainly hurts his cause. Meeks, one of my preseason sleepers pre-injury, now gets a chance to carve out a role himself. The good news for Meeks is that Caldwell-Pope has shot a miserable 37 percent from the field this season. Meeks, in his breakout 2013-14 season, shot 46.3 percent and made 2.1 three pointers per game (3PM) en route to 15.7 points per game (PPG). Right now, this team is relying on the poor outside shooting of Brandon Jennings, Josh Smith and Caldwell-Pope to spread the floor. Spoiler alert: it has not worked well because the team currently sits at 3-18. Stan Van Gundy will likely thoroughly enjoy a competent shooter from the outside. He needs someone he can trust and Meeks will fit the bill, earning him a large chunk of minutes. He’s a must-stash in most formats due to his elite three-point shooting upside. I’m very curious to see what he can do in this new situation.
Rudy Gay/Reggie Evans, F/C, Sacramento – DeMarcus Cousins could be out until January, which leaves a large void in terms of production to be made up. Enter two likely candidates to benefit in the short-term: Rudy Gay and Reggie Evans. Gay leads the team in usage rate while Cousins is not on the floor (28.8 percent) followed by Darren Collison (25.9 percent) and Derrick Williams (25.6 percent). By comparison, Gay’s usage rate is more than three percentage points lower with Cousins on the floor (25.2). Meanwhile, Evans has played at least 25 minutes in four of the last five games (and at least 30 in three of those). He has put up at least seven rebounds in all of the games in which he played 25-plus minutes, including 13 and 20 rebound efforts. Fouls occasionally give him problems but these two have clear cut roles without Cousins. Most of the offense runs through Gay, while Evans does most of the cleaning up on the boards. Until the Kings get their superstar back, do not expect this to change. Evans is perfect for those needing a rebounding specialist in 12-team leagues or larger.
Mirza Teletovic, PF, Brooklyn – Yet again, Brook Lopez is scheduled to miss time. This time, Lopez is dealing with a lower back strain and will miss at least the next week. Unfortunately, Mirza himself was injured in Monday’s loss to the Cavaliers, so he needs to be approached with caution and is better in daily formats. However, if he’s pronounced active he will have some nice value. For his career, Teletovic averages 3.2 3PM per-36 minutes (3PP36). He also averages 7.8 rebounds per-36 (RP36) and 15.8 points per-36 (PP36). Essentially, when given the minutes he’s a similar player to Ryan Anderson. Without Lopez in the picture more minutes will be there. Follow the injury reports closely for his next few games because he will be worth a spot start if he in fact returns from the hip pointer he suffered Monday.
Tyson Chandler, C, Dallas – Only eight players that have played over 400 minutes so far this season have registered a higher player efficiency rating (PER) than Tyson Chandler. Sunday’s game marked the first in his last six that he did not register double-digit rebounds. Chandler is averaging a ridiculous 70 percent FG in 22 games played (GP) this season. He is tied for seventh in the league in double-doubles along with Kevin Love, Ty Lawson and Zach Randolph. The only players above them are Nikola Vucevic, Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins, Pau Gasol, Chris Paul and John Wall. Basically, he is in elite company with just about all the former (and likely going to be this season) All-Stars. Arguably, the best part of his 2014-15 line is an eight year high in blocks per game (BPG) to this point. He’s basically rejuvenated in his new situation and is as solid as they come for Fantasy C2’s; even at age 32. If this production continues, he will produce the best season of his career in his 13th NBA season.
Stock Holding Steady
Paul Millsap, PF, Atlanta – Paul Millsap has possessed All-Star talent since he walked into the league. Despite playing just 3,174 minutes combined in his first two seasons, he was already producing his trademark well-rounded lines on a per-minute basis. His next four years in Utah resulted in stat lines that included just about everything aside from a steady diet of 3PM. Since joining Atlanta last season, Millsap has rewarded his owners by developing that outside shot. Despite consistently falling short of 20 PPG and 10 RPG, he makes up for it with the new and improved three-point shot (averaging 1.1 3PM this season), awesome FG percentage, solid FT percentage and a healthy dose of assists (AST), steals (STL) and blocks (BLK). In fact, his steals are up to an elite level this season considering he currently leads the league (2.4 SPG). Though he may not have been drafted in the Top 20, he needs to be valued as a Top 20 player moving forward. He just does everything well and, for that reason, he fits well on every single Fantasy team.
Kyle Korver, SF, Atlanta – Building on a productive year last year, Korver has actually mastered his craft even better this season. In 20 games (all starts), Korver is posting an offensive rating of 133, easily the best of his career. The 3.0 3PM to this point would also be a career high to his point despite fewer shooting attempts per game than last season. The reason: he’s shooting a bonkers 55.1 percent from beyond the arc. Due to the fact he is scoring under 14.0 PPG and not averaging either one full block or steal per game, Korver might be putting up the most quiet Top 25 season in recent memory (he currently ranks #21 on CBS). There is plenty to be said for elite three-point shooting combined with elite free throw shooting and a nice mix of REB and AST. If you drafted Korver, enjoy it because he will continue to be one of the largest profits in terms of final standing compared to ADP. You found yourself a gem.
Goran Dragic, PG, Phoenix – No Isaiah Thomas has meant additional time and production for Goran Dragic. Do not confuse this small sample with long-term reality. Thomas has hurt Dragic’s cause, when they are both healthy. Dragic’s usage rate with Thomas off the court is 22.5 percent this season compared to 20.0 when Thomas plays. By comparison, Dragic’s USG for the whole 2013-14 season was 24.5 so even the number without Thomas is down. Although he has made due in the short term, Thomas is slated to return at some point this week. Considering Dragic has scored 17-plus in four of his last five and had at least six assists in all of his last three, now is an excellent time to sell. Remember, Dragic was sitting around 13 and three AST when Thomas was healthy earlier this season. They are not a great mix, and although Dragic is viable even when the team is at full strength, he’s not as good as his numbers currently show.
Kenneth Faried, PF, Denver – Faried’s 2013-14 numbers improved vastly after the All-Star break last season, and he will need the same uptick to make this season respectable. After 13.6 PPG, 8.6 REB and nearly one STL and BLK each per game last season, he’s down to 11.1 PPG, 6.7 REB and nowhere near one STL or BLK this season. These numbers are in the ballpark of what he averaged last year pre All-Star and here is what he did after the break:
18.8 PPG on 54.6 percent FG, 69.7 percent FT, 10.1 REB, 1.6 AST, 1.1 STL and 0.7 BLK
The upside is there. For that reason, selling low is difficult to do. However, now dealing with a back ailment, he’s certainly showing all the signs of a letdown season so far this year. The numbers are down, his minutes are down in his last 10 games and now this injury is clouding the situation. At this point, if your team is competitive, selling low on him may be the best option to stay in immediate contention. All top 75 players should at least be considered and you should take it on a case-by-case basis with your team on whether or not to deal away Faried.
All stats are accurate as of Dec. 9 before the start of games.