The most recent winner of the NBA's never-ending injury sweepstakes is Pelicans guard Brian Roberts, who went from utter irrelevance to the most-added player in CBSSports.com Fantasy leagues over the last week thanks to Jrue Holiday's stress fracture injury.
Holiday's injury is likely to cost him a month or so of action, and Roberts will be the primary recipient. In the first four games following Holiday's absence, Roberts has been thrust into a starting role and 30.0 minutes per game in that role. His production hasn't been fantastic yet, averaging just 11.3 points, 4.3 assists and 3.8 rebounds per game in that span, but those are certainly numbers worth owning in most Fantasy formats.
There is some evidence that Roberts might be able to do even more than that down the road, as he thrived in a five-game cameo as a starter last season. In those five games, he averaged 12.6 points and 10.0 assists per game, albeit in 41.7 minutes per game. Still, he has shown some upside in a starting role, and he has one of the league's premiere pick-and-roll big men in Anthony Davis to help him rack up easy assists.
Austin Rivers is also seeing a bump in his playing time, topping 20 minutes in each game since Holiday's injury. He has cut into Roberts' assist totals a bit, but Rivers could return to his previously smaller role once Tyreke Evans returns from an ankle injury. While Evans will be the team's primary playmaker when healthy, he is also a more potent offensive force than Rivers, giving Roberts just one more option when it comes to racking up assists.
Roberts might not be the sexiest Fantasy option around, being a 28-year-old with limited success at the NBA level on his resume. Still, assists are the rarest commodity in the game, and Roberts is in prime position to provide a bump there. Fantasy owners have made Roberts the most-added player this week, but he is still sitting at just 40-percent ownership. Given his role and the likelihood for an increase in production, Roberts is worth adding in most deeper formats, and should top 50 percent before long.
Randy Foye, G, Nuggets: Foye has been shooting the ball incredibly well recently, and that is pretty much the entire reason he is the second-most added player in our leagues. He is averaging 19.2 points on just 11.6 field-goal attempts per game over the last five, and is doing that without getting to the free-throw line much. His increased value has not come from some change in his approach to the game; he is just shooting and making more shots than usual. Foye is a solid shooter, but he is making 55.2 percent of his field-goal attempts over the last five and 53.8 percent over the last 10. If you are adding Foye with the expectation that he is going to score in the high-teens like he has been recently, you are in for a world of disappointment. However, Foye has plenty of value in category-based Fantasy formats given his high-volume three-point shooting. (56 percent owned; +27 percent)
Kris Humphries, F, Celtics: Last week, I referred to Humphries as "the definition of waiver-wire fodder", and my opinion hasn't changed much despite another significant jump in his ownership this week. One thing has changed since we last looked at Humphries, and it might be enough to make his current ownership level stick. Humphries started his fifth game at center Wednesday against the Raptors, giving him center eligibility in CBSSports.com leagues for the remainder of the season. While his 9.8-point, 9.0-rebound averages in eight January games are pretty mediocre for the forward position, it does make him a borderline starting candidate at center. You probably shouldn't expect much in the way of secondary statistics, but if he can remain near a double-double while playing 25-30 minutes, Humphries has a place on many Fantasy rosters. (56 percent owned; +24 percent)
Patrick Patterson, F, Raptors: Like Foye, Patterson's rise is fueled more by a hot shooting stretch than anything else. Patterson has the ability to be one of the better stretch-fours in the game, but he was shockingly cold to open the season with the Kings. Since a trade to Toronto, however, he is connecting on 50.4 percent of his field-goal attempts and 48.0 percent from three-point range. Patterson isn't really taking better shots since the trade; 61.4 percent of his shots came within five feet of the rim or beyond three-point range prior to the trade, compared to just 50.4 percent since. Patterson's true talent level likely lies somewhere between his slow start with the Kings and his blazing run with the Raptors, and neither outcome points to a useful Fantasy option beyond deeper leagues. (27 percent owned; +11 percent)
Shaun Livingston, G, Nets: Livingston has been playing more recently due to Deron Williams' continued ankle concerns, averaging 36.5 minutes per game in the month of January. Even with that big increase in playing time, Livingston is averaging 10.5 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game over that span, hardly numbers that should make Fantasy owners run out and grab him. With Williams likely to return within the next few games, there is little reason for anyone who already hasn't snagged Livingston to do so. (27 percent owned; +16 percent)
Ryan Anderson, F, Pelicans: Anderson has been diagnosed with a herniated disc in his back as a result of a collision with Gerald Wallace, and this one very well could cost him the remainder of the season. As things stand, Anderson is out two months at least, and is not willing to rule out the possibility of undergoing season-ending surgery. Given his timeline, and the very real possibility he will need to go under the knife, it is hard to justify keeping Anderson around. I've already dropped him in one league, and would not think twice about doing so in the vast majority of yearly Fantasy leagues. (82 percent owned; -14 percent)
Trevor Booker, F, Wizards: Booker looked like a sold Fantasy option when he first joined the starting lineup, averaging 9.7 points and 9.5 rebounds per game in his first 10 starts. He has slowed significantly since then, picking up double-digit points or rebounds in just two games each over the last eight. His slump has pushed Nene back into the starting lineup and left Booker scrounging for minutes, averaging 22.7 per game over the last eight. Booker is just a borderline Fantasy-relevant player at the best of times, and can be completely ignored otherwise. Drop him in all but the very deepest of leagues. 16 percent owned; -13 percent)
Flavors of next week
-- by Joe Polito (@JoePo89)
We've already written ad nauseam about J.J. Redick and Jodie Meeks, and my colleague Chris Towers has already covered Randy Foye. I can only assume the reason you haven't added them is because you're all set at guard. Well here's a forward that demands some attention from the Fantasy masses: James Johnson of the Grizzlies. At 29 percent owned, he's probably the free agent forward with the most potential -- especially in category formats.
His most recent stat line is enough to probably land him among the most added players next week. He scored 15 points, grabbed six rebounds, passed out five assists, snagged two steals and swatted six shots. The range of verbs I was forced to use in that sentence shows the kind of versatility he offers. I'm hard-pressed to come up with a handful of guys who can help out in any category on any given night, and on good nights, all of them at once. He's averaged 27.3 minutes a game over his last five, and the Grizzlies have won four of them, meaning there's a good chance this could continue.
For Fantasy purposes, liken him to Terrence Jones, but with fewer rebounds (because he shares the court with Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol) and more assists. Pick him up with the hopes that the Grizzlies are ready to trust an exciting athletic 'tweener the same way the Rockets have with Jones. Johnson is averaging a ridiculous 13.0 points, 7.1 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 2.3 steals, and 2.7 blocks per 36 minutes this year. And as a bonus for Roto players, he's made 88.2 percent of his free throws on the season. He's like a more athletic Josh McRoberts, or a way, way more athletic Boris Diaw. I've already picked him up, because when you look at the rest of the Memphis roster, you can see that they're in dire need of a multi-talented player. With only 15 games under his belt this season, it's hard to trust such a small sample size. Still, if you're frustrated with the Morris twins, bored with Brandon Bass, or tired of waiting on Danilo Gallinari, then what do you really have to lose?
Enes Kanter, C, Jazz, (76 percent): We had high hopes for this Swiss big man coming into the season, so it's nice to see he's found a way to reach his potential in the new year. Kanter has scored in double figures every game since Jan. 2 and has done so with great efficiency, shooting 61.7 percent from the field during that six-game stretch. He's also recorded three of his nine double-doubles on the season over that span. The Jazz are finally utilizing him as a weapon in pick-and-roll and pick-and-pop situations. He's got the footwork and patience to be a mismatch nightmare in the post, so as long as he's getting enough minutes and rebounding, he has the potential to be one of the better centers in Fantasy. Kanter was being drafted in the ninth round, so if he's available in your league, you can grab him at great value. There are only 30 starting centers in the league, so having one of the more talented ones fall in your lap is an opportunity you can't afford to pass up -- even if Kanter slumps back into mediocrity. Consider him a must add in keeper and Roto leagues, and a good upside add in standard scoring.
Andray Blatche, C, Nets, (62 percent): If you can't get your hands on Kanter, you might take a chance on another inconsistent but talented option. Blatche became the hot pickup when Brook Lopez went down but didn't exactly blow anyone out of the water. In fact, he did quite the opposite, averaging just 8.8 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.5 assists over an eight-game stretch. But Thursday in London, Blatche put on the kind of display that warrants giving him another chance, going for 20, 14 and six against the Hawks in 27 minutes. Hopefully Blatche can gain some momentum after this start and play up to his talent level going forward. Jason Kidd has been experimenting with the Nets' lineup on a per game basis, but Blatche's size and skill set should warrant him a regular share of game time as Brooklyn establishes an identity. Because of his upside, I'd take Blatche over Amar'e Stoudemire, Jordan Hill and Kris Humphries.
Luke Ridnour, G, Bucks, (18 percent): "Flavors of next Week" couldn't be a more appropriate phrase for the fluctuating Fantasy options in Milwaukee this season. Ridnour is the latest Larry Drew darling being added in Fantasy. He's started at point guard six out of the last eight games and has run the pick and roll to the tune of 5.5 assists per game over that span. He's totaled 29 assists in his last four games and only two of those were starts. On a team full of combo guards, Ridnour is the closest thing to a point guard the Bucks have. Pick him up in standard leagues where his assist potential matters most. As long as he's getting at least 20 minutes per game, consider Ridnour a good pickup in deep head-to-head leagues.
Wesley Johnson, G/F, Lakers, (35 percent): This one's a long shot. Johnson's started the last six games for the Lakers, and he's scored in double figures and logged 30-plus minutes. The Lakers have lost all of these games, but that might be the goal going forward as their team has been decimated by injuries. This pickup is best kept for deep Roto leagues, as Johnson can help out with a few three pointers, blocks and steals. The Lakers play at a pace that can boost anyone's value, so view him as more of a situational streaming option than a player to hang on to. The second his minutes dip below 30 or he comes out of the starting five, feel free to drop him.