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Brand injury hurts his owners, but not necessarily the Sixers

12/18/2008

Fantasy owners who were merely disappointed by Elton Brand's first season in Philadelphia are now devastated.

Brand is expected to miss a month after dislocating his shoulder during Wednesday's victory over the Bucks. He exited the contest with 7:23 left in the third quarter after falling on Milwaukee's Luc Richard Mbah a Moute. An MRI after the game revealed the dislocation. The good news: According to the Sixers' team physician, surgery is not needed at this time, so Brand can start rehab immediately.

I don't want to sound flippant about Brand's injury, but you can help your team. First, check into Thaddeus Young's availability. It's crazy, I know, but Young is unowned in 20 percent of ESPN.com leagues. To me, Young's owners have the most to gain from Brand's absence. The 21-year-old has come off the bench the past four games, but he figures to claim -- make that reclaim -- the starting power forward position. Yes, Young is only 6-foot-8, and the Sixers are small with him at the 4, but he did make 28 starts at the position in the 2007-08 regular season and postseason. If Young plays 30 minutes a night, he should give you at least 15 points, five rebounds, a 3-pointer and a steal.

As for Brand, this past summer's biggest free-agent signing, he has had some trouble adapting to the Sixers. His scoring (15.9 points) and shooting (44.7 percent) are well short of his 20-plus-point and 50 percent career averages. Moreover, the Sixers have had even more trouble adapting to Brand and his paint-dominating ways.

That brings me to Samuel Dalembert. The 6-foot-11 center's stats have tanked this season in part because Brand's post presence has forced Dalembert to the weak side. Dalembert has knee problems and was nowhere to be found in the two games Brand missed thanks to a hamstring injury earlier this month. But Dalembert has hit some waiver wires of late and is a free agent in 21 percent of ESPN.com standard leagues. If you have an expendable part, plant Dalembert on your roster and see what happens.

In those earlier games without Brand, Andre Miller and Andre Iguodala put up decent but not great numbers. However, expect the two Andres to take on a larger scoring load going forward. And with more shots available thanks to Brand's absence, Lou Williams becomes an attractive pickup. The 96 percent-unowned Williams doesn't do much other than score, but he has done that well (17.6 points) in his past six games. And starting Friday at Washington, the Sixers will play 16 times in the next 32 days. In a deeper league with daily lineup options, you will have opportunities to use him.

I'll save the last words for Marreese Speights. Although the 6-foot-10 rookie delivered when Brand went down against Milwaukee -- 12 points and seven rebounds in 19 minutes -- don't get too excited. Speights will get minutes, but in limited action so far, he has used his court time primarily for hacking, averaging about eight fouls per 48 minutes. Speights can do some positive things, but he'll have nights when he checks out quickly.

Neil Tardy is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.