The Cheat Sheet
By Eric Yearian
Over the past two weeks, the Spurs ran off 12 consecutive wins --looking very impressive-- while the Hornets have come back down to earth a little bit and even shook up their roster by way of trade. The HEAT’s struggles have continued and they’ve added to their injury woes as Udonis Haslem suffered an injury that is expected to keep him out for a long time. The Mavericks have become the giant killers in the league, ending the winning streaks of the Hornets and Spurs, before reminding the league that the aforementioned HEAT are less than giants. The question is, how does all of this effect fantasy owners? With an emphasis on these teams, let’s look at how fantasy is impacted by their play of late.
Shawn Marion: If you have Marion on your roster, you’ve noticed that “The Matrix” is putting up some good fantasy totals lately, as the Mavs keep streaking. This has no doubt helped not only the Mavs defeat the league’s best teams, but also helped his fantasy owners if they’ve had him active. The problem with Marion, however, is that he tends to be inconsistent, which is not what you want from your fantasy players. Also, you have to keep in mind that he has played well over a short time span, and while there is nothing wrong with riding a hot hand for a couple of weeks, you must remember that this is a small sample size and will most likely not continue. One of the major philosophies I suggest for all fantasy owners is to always looks at a player’s history and expect their numbers to always average out, meaning if a player is playing out of his mind for a few weeks, he’ll most likely play poorly later on to make his numbers average out. If you’ve got Marion, now would be a good time to unload him.
Jarrett Jack: Jack, the first member of the Toronto/New Orleans trade to be mentioned here, made his debut for his new team on Monday night. He played well in limited minutes. The key here is the “limited minutes”. It doesn’t matter how well he plays for fantasy owners if he spends much of his time on the bench. He’s playing behind one of the league’s best point guards, meaning it will be hard to find minutes for him in New Orleans. He can slide over to shooting guard and play alongside Paul, but that reduces the opportunity for him to get assists, and he won’t score or rebound enough on a regular basis to help your fantasy team. If Paul goes down he’ll become an attractive option, but as of right now he has extremely limited value in fantasy. If you have Paul you might want to have Jack on your bench as a “handcuff” option similar to in fantasy football, but otherwise it would probably be best to start looking for alternative options, because he won’t have the same opportunity for playing time that he had in Toronto.
Richard Jefferson: I’m not sure I’ve seen anything like it before. Jefferson has returned to the electrifying form he had in New Jersey this season. He’s averaging around 15 points per game and contributing rebounds and a couple of assists each game, making him a very viable fantasy contributor. However, despite playing on one of the league’s best teams, he hasn’t gotten a lot of attention. He struggled for most of last season, and got all kinds of attention for that, but now that he is playing well, he’s still overshadowed by Tim Duncan, Mau Ginobili, and Tony Parker (especially now that Parker’s social life is in the media). It’s rare that somebody playing this well will be in the Buy Low section of The Cheat Sheet, but due to the fact that he’s contributing so much while being under the radar, you might be able to capitalize on the perception that he’s underperforming, even though in this instance perception and reality couldn’t be more different.
Beno Udrih: Lately, Udrih’s minutes have been reduced due to his play not being up the standard he set early in the year. There have even been trade rumors that Sacramento is in the market for a new point guard. Usually, if a player is having his minutes reduced and there is talk of being replaced via trade, you don’t want to rely on him in fantasy, but this is a special circumstance. If you need help at guard, you might want to go get him. The Kings don’t have the reserve guards to limit Udrih’s minutes for long, as he is their next best guard after Tyreke Evans. Despite his recent struggles, he’s still averaging 12 points, just under 5 assists, and about 4 rebounds per contest. For me, what makes him so appealing are the trade rumors. What that tells me is that Sacramento knows they don’t have a better option, and more importantly, are hesitant to install Evans as the point guard, meaning unless they find a good point guard (which will be hard to do) they will have little choice but to return Udrih to heavy minutes and a chance to contribute.
Players you should avoid:
Peja Stojakovic: Peja was shipped to Toronto in the league’s first major deal of the season. He should get the chance to play, and possibly even become the starter at small forward for the team. However, he won’t put up consistently good numbers and is a very fragile player these days. The Raptors are not about to take a chance on him picking up a significant injury because they will be looking to ship his huge, expiring, and oh-so-valuable contract to another team for more than a couple of backups like the Hornets did. Leave him on the waiver wire until he proves his game is as valuable as his contract.
Players you should be looking to pick up:
Jerryd Bayless: Bayless wasn’t getting an opportunity to play in Portland, so they shipped him to New Orleans. He didn’t get a chance to play in New Orleans, so they shipped him to Toronto. If he doesn’t get a chance to play in guard-needy Toronto, his career may be over before it really starts. Jose Calderon is not the answer for the Raptors, as he lacks athleticism and is a major liability on the defensive end. Bayless isn’t known as a good defender, but he is athletic enough that he should still be an upgrade over Calderon. Also, with Leandro Barbosa struggling, it will open the door for Bayless for even more minutes. Bayless will see minutes at both guard spots and the former lottery pick should produce when given the opportunity.
Full Disclosure from last column: How did the players mentioned in the last column fare in the last since then?
Sell High: Rudy Gay, Daniel Gibson
Gay has continued to play well, although his rebounding is going down as of late. The team has decided to bring O.J. Mayo off the bench, which could make life a little bit tougher for Gay as opposing defense can key on him to begin the game, but Gay continues to play well. Gibson’s scoring has plummeted and his assists and rebounds haven’t come close to making up for the difference in scoring output. Fantasy owners were never going to get a great player in return for him, but now owners may have to simply release him on to the waiver wire. Final Verdict: Correct
Buy Low: Brandon Roy, Baron Davis
Both of these were suggested pickups that will pay dividends later in the year, while sacrificing the short term. Both are suffering from injuries, meaning this one will have to wait for a final verdict. Final Verdict: Up in the Air
Player to avoid: Ishmael Smith
Despite injuries in their backcourt, the Rockets have given Smith only limited minutes, and he hasn’t done much in those minutes. He has no value in fantasy. Final Verdict: Correct
Player to pick up: Mike Dunleavy Jr.
Dunleavy has been consistently scoring double digits, and even recorded a double-double against the Thunder. He has been contributing rebounds and a few assists each game to go with his scoring. He remains a viable option for fantasy owners, especially as a bench player. Final Verdict: Correct