Monday marks the worst week of the Fantasy Basketball season, with no teams playing more than twice as we head into the All-Star break. I know that some owners are looking at this week as a bit of a break from the daily grind, but owners in leagues who don’t split this short week as an add-on to the following week can pick up a tough loss in a blink.
My colleague Jake Ceily broke the short week down in his schedule piece. He made a lot of great points in maximizing your games played. The other key to winning the week is following the injury buzz. For example, you have Paul Pierce who is dealing with an injured left foot. On Monday, Pierce was scheduled to get an MRI on said foot, and while it’s expected that his MRI will come back negative, it’s likely that the Celtics will sit Pierce on Wednesday as a precautionary measure.
The Celtics will suit up once this week, against the Nets on Wednesday, which is the kind of game Boston can win without their team captain. In this case, you want to look at Von Wafer as a pick-and-plug option for Wednesday. The Celtics are already short at the small forward position, with Marquis Daniels out for the next six-to-eight weeks. If Pierce is also sitting on the bench in street clothes, the Celtics would have no choice other than to give Wafer significant minutes. We saw him in action on Sunday, playing 13 minutes and scoring 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting with two threes and two steals. He’s Nick Young-lite, a scoring wing who does little else. You won’t get assists, rebounds or blocks from Wafer, but in this short week any numbers you can get could help you in winning this short week.
A few other studs you want to be careful with this week are Amar’e Stoudemire (toe) and Zach Randolph (ankle), who both only play once. While the All-Star break is for celebrating the best of the first-half of the season, it’s also a chance for teams to give their run-down stars a breather and prepare them for a run at the playoffs.
Another significant date looming is Feb. 24, which marks the trade deadline. Everyone continues to talk about Carmelo Anthony being moved, and rightfully so. I’m in the camp who believes that this posturing only means that Anthony is certainly going to be moved by the deadline. I’m also one of those believers who thinks that he is without a doubt going to be a Knick when all is said and done.
It’s true that Anthony may not end up being traded to the Knicks by the deadline, but that doesn’t mean he won’t sign with them this summer. The Knicks know that Anthony wants to play in New York, so they aren’t going to offer up the moon to get this star. The Nuggets know that Anthony would likely sign with the Knicks this summer if he gets to the open market, so the options for Denver is to trade him for 50 cents on the dollar or watch him walk this summer for nothing. Again, that’s not to say Anthony won’t be moved to another team. Think about teams like Dallas or Houston who have no problem renting Melo for the remainder of the season.
Enough with the editorializing. Let’s talk about what the deadline means for the Fantasy Hoops world. As far as Anthony is concerned, it’s tough to speculate on where he’ll end up at the deadline. We also likely won’t upgrade or downgrade Anthony’s value if moved. He’s a superstar and will remain as such no matter where he plays. So don’t worry about his Fantasy value. The other main players in the trade aren’t worth concerning yourself with either. Wilson Chandler is a popular name to be moved, but he’s not available in your league. Same goes for Danilo Gallinari, Chauncey Billups and Raymond Felton. And we can’t advocate for Ty Lawson just yet, since one of the rumors with legs has Felton heading to Denver. So who can we look to add based on deadline rumors we’re hearing? That’s not so simple to speculate, but we can at least talk about some of the hot rumors out there.
Steve Nash (PG, PHO)
Nash will maintain his value wherever he goes, but a trade including Nash which doesn’t add another point guard in return would mean that deeper leagues should look at Zabian Dowdell as a nice add. He’s a very good defensive player, already averaging a steal per 11 minutes. He also can dish the ball, yet don’t expect much from the scoring side.
Troy Murphy (PF/C, NJN)
I’ve added Murphy in a speculative move. He’s among the hot names to be traded, widely available in Fantasy leagues and still one of the top 25 Fantasy players, should he get the minutes. What we know about Murphy is this: he’s a top rebounder, top 3-point shooter and buried in New Jersey where he’s hated by his head coach. A move somewhere, even to Denver, would mean that you can add a huge boost in the middle to your roster. Take a look at Murphy in your league. If he’s not moved by the deadline, cut him.
Mo Williams (PG, CLE)
Williams returned to the basketball court this week with a bang. In his first game in nearly a month, Williams came off the bench to score 17 points and dish 14 dimes in 30 minutes, helping the Cavs to their first victory in 27 games. Williams, a former All-Star, has a chance to being moved, especially since the Cavs have valuable point guards in tow, namely Ramon Sessions and Daniel Gibson. It’s likely that Williams is not available in your league, but I would hold onto Sessions for now. If Williams does get moved, Sessions becomes a must-own in all formats.
Aaron Brooks (PG, HOU)
Brooks is another hot name right now. He’s fallen out of favor in Houston and his replacement, Kyle Lowry, is playing great basketball, which means that he’s not likely to find himself back in the starting lineup as a Rocket. Brooks, if moved, would see his value rise instantly. I would hold onto him until the deadline. There’s no use in selling low on Brooks, especially if his value will rise with a trade.
Gerald Wallace (SF, CHA)
Again, you can’t add Wallace, but with his name being tossed around in many trade rumors, you might want to see where you can pick up some value. One rumor we heard was Wallace going to the Lakers for Ron Artest. I’m not of a fan of Artest, but in Charlotte he could have serious value. He’d be among the team’s top defenders, rebounders and even scorers. The Bobcats are thin up front, which would require Artest to log serious minutes, unlike his situation in Los Angeles. I don’t suggest you making a speculative add, but keep an eye out for any movement. Artest actually has a lot of value, especially in H2H leagues where you can punt FG% and pick up a ton of steals.
O.J. Mayo (SG, MEM)
I’ve been a Mayo apologist all season long. When he was moved to the bench in favor of Xavier Henry I was fine with the move, saying that Mayo now becomes another Jamal Crawford or Jason Terry. Boy was I wrong. And now that he’s been suspended, he’s allowed Sam young to develop into a starter, which hurts his value. Mayo could be moved, with a team like the Knicks possibly looking to add him at the price of someone like Chandler. If he is moved to a more friendly situation, Mayo becomes a must-add, knowing just how good he can be. I’m going to pick him up speculatively in weekly leagues, where the roster spot on the bench doesn’t mean as much. I suggest you think about doing the same.
Anthony Randolph (PF, NYK)
Will he be moved to Minnesota or Houston? Those seem to be the two teams most closely associated in the Randolph trade talks with the Knicks. Either way, he should be picked up promptly if he is in fact moved. Randolph has the tools to be a useful big, in the same mold as Tyrus Thomas. Yes, that means many disappointing games in his future, but it also means big defensive numbers. I know we’ve been burned many times by Randolph in the past, but it’s better to add and drop than to never had added at all.
*All stats as of Monday, Feb. 14 (prior to the start of Monday night’s action).
Tom was a Finalist for 2010 FSWA Basketball Writer of the Year. You can contact Tom at Lorenzo@RotoExperts.com. Send him your Fantasy questions and he’ll make sure to get back to you in no time.