Working the Wire: CDR worth picking up
Quick pep-talk time: the novelty of the early season has faded, and now is the time to remain diligent in your roster modifications as several players who will end the season as fantasy darlings are still available in most leagues. Don't get lazy and lulled by Turkey Day, keep monitoring box scores, scouring the waiver wire and adjusting your lineup. No, let's talk about some notable players available in most leagues.
Chris Douglas-Roberts, SG/SF, Nets (43.9 percent owned): All the Nets do is lose, but all CDR does is impress in his sophomore campaign. The versatile guard (both statistically and considering his dual eligibility) is averaging 17.4 points, 5.7 rebounds, 1.1 steals and 0.4 3s this season, including averages of 29 points, 11 rebounds and two steals in his past two contests, proving he's fully recovered from his bout with H1N1. He's earning more minutes than any other Net right now, and is responsible for generating much of the offense, especially with Devin Harris still sidelined. I wish he shot more 3s, and the fact he doesn't limits his value a bit, but he's posting fantastic overall numbers and is so clearly a primary option for the Nets that the big games will keep coming and he's worth adding in all formats.
Brendan Haywood, C, Wizards (43.9 percent owned): Haywood is averaging 10.4 points, 11.7 rebounds and 3.1 blocks in seven November contests, the clear No. 1 center of the Wizards is shooting up the most-added list, and for good reason. He's always had the ability to contribute in rebounds and blocks on a per-minute basis, but has been plagued by injuries and constantly involved in time-shares. Now he's getting as many minutes as his foul total will allow, and will continue to mop up on the boards and reject shots at a high rate. If you have any need for a center, or boards and blocks, Haywood is the first name to look for on your waiver wire.
Peja Stojakovic, SF, Hornets (15.6 percent owned): With Chris Paul sidelined, and the rest of the Hornets' backcourt a nightmare, Peja has shouldered the offensive load for the Hornets as they try to stay afloat without their best player. He turned heads with a 25-point, 13-rebound (!), seven-3 showing Thursday night, and will be among the top performers in 3s during this stint of increased responsibility. The 13 boards were an aberration, and with Peja you're looking at tons of 3s, with points and near-perfect free throw percentage and not much else. Still, when it's around three 3s per game, which is attainable for Peja if he's the No. 1 option offensively, that's a number that's helpful to all fantasy teams.
Ben Wallace, PF/C, Pistons (8.0 percent owned): Big Ben is averaging nine boards and 1.7 blocks per game this month, both above-average contributions for a fantasy forward. With Wallace, you know what you're getting -- boards and blocks -- and what you're not (points -- you can't afford to add Wallace if you're struggling in that category). With the fickle categories of rebounds and blocks, I like plugging a non-flashy, dependable player like Wallace into my lineup and taking risks elsewhere.
Anthony Morrow, SG, Warriors (12.3 percent owned): After leading the league in 3-point percentage last season, Morrow's accuracy from downtown is bordering on prolific, as he's averaging 50 percent from behind the arc this season. Now that more playing time has opened up in the Bay with Stephen Jackson eschewed, Morrow should average about 30 minutes with two 3s and a steal, and won't hurt your field goal percentage like many long-range specialists as my colleague John Cregan pointed out. No matter the format, you should add him if you need 3s, and I'll spend all week thinking of a reason to give him the nickname "Bone Morrow." I liked that one better than 3-Morrow. Ok, I'll stop now.
Jared Dudley, SF, Suns (1.8 percent owned): If you're into barrel-scraping and scrappy players, Dudley is your style. He's averaging 10.3 points, 1.3 steals, and two 3s in about 23 minutes per game this month, and the 3s and steals are for real. He averaged 0.9 steals per game in just 21 minutes last season, and has shown the improved touch on his 3-point shot commonly caused by playing for the Suns. It'd take an injury for him to relevant in most formats, but this one is for all you deep leaguers who need steals and 3s.
Ersan Ilyasova, SF, Bucks (1.5 percent owned): I loved what he was doing before Andrew Bogut went down for two to four weeks, and now he's played 32 and 33 minutes in his past two contests, averaging 16 points, 10 rebounds, 2.5 3s, 0.5 blocks and a steal. He's got tremendous fantasy upside with his combination of 3s and blocks, and should be on everybody's radar. In deeper leagues he'll start being added after one or two more solid performances, so if you play in an active league where the players on the most-added list are always taken, Ilyasova is my guy to target this week.
Darren Collison, PG, Hornets (1.6 percent owned): The rookie is forced into action due to Paul's ankle injury, and will be a decent fill-in, but not a season-long option unless Paul's injury is problematic. For the next couple of weeks, he should average solid point guard stats; around 15 points, five assists, one steal, one 3. Collison isn't going to go off like Brandon Jennings and adding him isn't putting a super-high upside rookie on your roster. He'll be a fill-in while the best player in fantasy is sidelined, then an afterthought in all but the deepest leagues or for super-cautious Paul owners who want some insurance. He's much like Beno Udrih in Sacramento, he's benefiting from the situation more than anything, but stats are stats, and Collison's should be competent with CP3 sidelined.
Working the wire isn't always about mining every corner of the free-agent market and finding the deepest sleeper; oftentimes the player you want is staring you in the face, and the real deliberation is which player to drop from your roster. Here are some players who were drafted in most leagues that you can let go. If it was meant to be, they'll come back to you some day.
Ronnie Brewer, SG, Jazz (61.9 percent owned): I've never loved steals specialists, and I've always hated guards who don't average at least one 3 per game. It would be one thing if Brewer averaged two steals per game and the rest of his numbers were trending upward, but all of his numbers have trended downward despite increased minutes. Drop him now while there are still productive options available.
Tyson Chandler, C, Hornets (41.9 percent owned): I drafted him in my keeper league this year. Ugh. However I haven't lost faith in Wilson Chandler, even though he's started slow and been upstaged by Danilo Gallinari. Wilson's 3s-steals-blocks combo is too intriguing to ignore, and he's like Chandler from the first few seasons of "Friends." Tyson is like Chandler after he married Monica. How 'bout that '90s reference?
Leandro Barbosa, SG, Suns (53.8 percent owned): His wrist has been bothering him, he's not a starter, and he has scored in double figures just twice this month. I liked him to bounce back this year, but if he continues to earn fewer than 20 minutes per contest his value will be negligible, and you should bounce on him.
T.J. Ford, PG, Pacers (73.1 percent owned): I don't really remember a time when you didn't see the injury designation (back) next to Ford's name, although nothing can excuse 2.6 assists per game in 25 minutes. He hasn't topped five assists this month, has attempted six 3s all season, and is worth dropping if you're set at point guard. He's still in a prime situation in Indiana with little competition at point guard (Earl Watson is garbage. Sorry, Earl, but all I have left of my team is a Sonics lunchbox with you and Luke Ridnour on it, so I'm slightly bitter), so he's worth hanging onto in deeper leagues, simply because the number of starting point guards is limited.
Josh Howard, SG/SF, Mavericks (80.6 percent owned): Howard is one of my favorites historically, but I have a bad feeling he'll be burning a hole on your roster for most of the season, as his injury is bad news. If you can afford stashing him away, he'll contribute when healthy, but if you need that roster spot to contribute for your fantasy team, your best bet is finding a player on the waiver wire who can.
Shaquille O'Neal, C, Cavaliers (70.5 percent owned): Now that the injuries have begun, the Cavs will likely be especially cautious with the big man, whose 11.3 points, 6.9 boards and 1.6 blocks aren't especially impressive considering the negative impact he has upon your free throw percentage. Those numbers are in 25 minutes per game, and I see those minutes inching closer to 20 as the season progresses to ensure he's ready for the playoffs. He's no longer a fantasy option in roto leagues, and I avoid him in all formats, especially given the talent available on the wire this early in the season.
Josh Whitling is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.
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