Big Baby, Perkins becoming useful
Seeing as we're nearing the home stretch, let's stick with last week's theme of looking at players who are available in most leagues and should be owned in most, if not all, of them.
These guys are not going to headline any rosters, but they are players who are useful now and should continue to be useful over the coming weeks (or, in some cases, continue to improve). As I've said before, at this point in the season, any advantage is worth exploring. You don't have much to lose trying out someone new if someone on your roster simply isn't cutting the mustard. Beyond that, if you can afford to sacrifice certain stats for other stats you need more, you'll want to target players who specialize in the categories you need, even if they aren't as good in terms of all-around fantasy value.
You won't find these guys in the upper regions of the Player Rater, but based on what they're likely to produce over the rest of the season, they certainly could be.[+] EnlargeNoah Graham/NBAE/Getty ImagesGlen Davis will pick up more time in the middle for the Celtics, especially with both Shaquille and Jermaine O'Neal still injured.
Glen Davis, PF, Boston Celtics: Davis is available in more leagues than he should be after missing a few games recently. He's been back now for two games, and he's averaging 12.5 points and 10.5 rebounds over that stretch. With Kendrick Perkins gone, and Nenad Krstic showing he's human with a terrible performance against the New Jersey Nets after a string of good ones, Big Baby is now the most reliable big man the C's have outside of Kevin Garnett. He's going to get big minutes until the Shaquille O'Neal and Jermaine O'Neal return to action, and he'll probably get enough minutes to be useful after that as well.
Kendrick Perkins, C, Oklahoma City Thunder: Speaking of Perkins, he's finally back in the lineup for the Thunder, and in his debut finished with six points, nine rebounds and two assists in just 20 minutes of action. He's always going to shoot an extremely high percentage, and hopefully in the 25-30 minutes that he'll probably play most nights, he'll find his stride as a shotblocker alongside Serge Ibaka. He got a lot of easy looks on offense for the Celtics, but given the offensive talent around him in Oklahoma City, those looks should still be there. He's never going to be a top-50 fantasy player, but if he can block more than one shot per game and average 10 points and seven rebounds with his usual high-percentage shooting, he'll be worth owning in all fantasy leagues.
Kenyon Martin, PF, Denver Nuggets: Given the way the Nuggets have been playing lately (and the attention they've been getting), I was extremely surprised to see that Martin is owned in less than 20 percent of ESPN.com fantasy leagues. Martin is a key player on this iteration of the Nuggets, and he's playing like it, averaging an extremely well-rounded 10 points, six rebounds, four assists, and nearly two steals over his past five games. He's doing all of that in just under 30 minutes per game, so it's not like his numbers are being inflated by a spike in playing time. Martin is always useful for his ability to accumulate decent numbers in blocks, steals, and rebounds, and he'll continue doing those things over the coming weeks.
Francisco Garcia, SG/SF, Sacramento Kings: Garcia has played in six games since returning to the Kings lineup, and in his past five games he's averaging 11.8 points, 1.2 3-pointers, 1.2 blocks, and 1.4 steals per game. This is nothing new for Garcia; when he's healthy he's great at putting up numbers in almost every category across the board, while shooting a decent percentage from the floor and a phenomenal percentage from the line. Players who can knock down 3s while providing defensive stats are of extra value because there are so few of them, and now that Garcia has solidified his role (at least until Tyreke Evans returns to the lineup), he belongs on fantasy rosters.
Ryan Anderson, PF, Orlando Magic: Perhaps people are ignoring Anderson because it seems like he's nothing more than a 3-point shooter, but he's been doing a lot more than knocking down 3s of late, and it's looking more and more like he's going to continue to be a key member of Orlando's rotation down the stretch. At 6-foot-10, Anderson clearly has value as power forward who can make two 3s per game on a regular basis, but he's also a great free throw shooter, a good rebounder, and an improving shotblocker. For example, his rebound rate is comparable to guys like LaMarcus Aldridge, Kenyon Martin, Paul Millsap, and Chris Bosh, and his 1.6 blocks per game over his past five games would put him in the top 20 if he could keep it up over a full season. He's available in more than 75 percent of ESPN.com leagues, and should definitely be owned in all of them.
Paul George, SG/SF, Indiana Pacers: George has a lottery-pick pedigree, and though he's shown flashes of that talent all season, the fact that he didn't go to a high-profile college (Fresno State) means most people are only starting to pay attention to him now. Beyond that, his recent fantasy numbers haven't exactly been lighting the world on fire; he's averaging 7.0 points and 5.2 rebounds over his past five games. On the other hand, George has only been starting for the Pacers for a few games, so there's an argument to be made that he's still getting his feet wet. He's averaging 2.0 steals per game over the past five games, too, so with slight boosts to his scoring and rebounding, we could be looking at a pretty valuable fantasy player in the next week or two. He's a good pick up right now if you're looking for a little extra upside (which, of course, always comes with a little more risk). With 10 steals in five games, he certainly could help you make a move in that category, though.
Seth Landman is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.
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