Working the Wire: Top targets after Week 1
Working the wire is a cutthroat business. In most leagues, it's first-come, first-served, the early bird gets the worm, and whatever other clichés you want to throw out there. If you don't make quick and swift decisions, you might be stuck with a guy like Mike Conley, who has yet to get himself on the court in two professional games.
Many of the first week flames such as Hedo Turkoglu (75.3 percent owned, up 63.9), Mike Dunleavy (86.4 percent owned, up 62.3), John Salmons (82.2 percent owned, up 81.3), Martell Webster (74.6 percent owned, up 65.4), Damien Wilkins (70.2 percent owned, up 69.6) and Ronnie Brewer (93.7 percent owned, up 67.9) have likely already been claimed off your free-agent list. If you weren't able to get your hands on any of the players mentioned above, it's not the end of the world. There are still plenty of solid pickups hanging around out there. Before we get into this week's list of pickups, let's get some quick comments on all of the first-week additions.
If you read last week, you already know I'm high on Turkoglu, Salmons, Webster and Brewer. For overall value, I'd rank them in this order: Turkoglu, Brewer, Webster, Salmons. Of course, Salmons could be the best of this group over the next two months. He's last here because his long-term value takes a hit once Mike Bibby returns to action for the Kings.
As for Wilkins and Dunleavy? Well, you can view my thoughts on Dunleavy here, and I've been a huge fan of Wilkins since my colleague Josh Whitling turned me onto him a few years back. In the past, Wilkins had only been a solid fantasy producer in spurts, but that had a lot more to do with a lack of minutes than anything else. The potential has always been there, the minutes have not. To get a better gauge of what we should expect from the late-blooming 27-year-old, we should check out his numbers in 31 starts last season: 12.7 points, 3.2 rebounds, 1.5 steals and 1.1 3-pointers in 33.1 minutes. That's solid stuff, and those numbers make his current averages of 18.3 points, 7.0 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 2.0 3s look a lot more realistic, don't they? Expect Wilkins to settle into averages of around 14-15 points, 5-6 rebounds, 1.4 steals and 1.1 3-pointers per game, and definitely add him to your squad if he's still available.
Cuttino Mobley, SG, Clippers (50.1 percent owned): I'm really not sure why Mobley is available in nearly half of ESPN fantasy leagues, but I won't complain if I see him hanging around on my free-agent list. Mobley's fantasy stock has plummeted in recent years, but the Elton Brand injury has made him relevant again due to the lack of scoring options in L.A. As such, Mobley is already paying dividends for those who tabbed him as a sleeper with averages of 19.0 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.0 steals and 1.5 3-pointers in the Clippers' first two games of the season.
Brendan Haywood, C, Wizards (40.3 percent owned): With Etan Thomas out for the season, many expected Haywood to finally break out of his shell. So far he has done just that with three consecutive double-doubles and averages of 10.0 points, 13.6 rebounds and 3.0 blocks per game. You may be wary of Haywood because of his previous disappointing seasons, and that's OK, but that shouldn't stop you from adding him to your roster. He's going to be a force in the paint, and there's not much competition for playing time in the paint for the Wizards other than the inexperienced Andray Blatche.
Rashad McCants, SG, Timberwolves (53.0 percent owned): McCants came out of the gates on fire, putting up 23 points with a steal and three treys in the Wolves' opener. He didn't fare as well in his second game (13 points, three 3-pointers), but we'll give him a pass; he was limited because of foul problems all night long. Undoubtedly one of the main beneficiaries of the Ricky Davis trade, McCants is looking like a solid bet to make good on his newfound opportunity for increased minutes. Clearly ahead of Corey Brewer and Gerald Green on the depth chart, McCants should be a very nice option for points, 3-pointers and steals -- as long as he can keep himself healthy.
Daniel Gibson, PG/SG, Cavaliers (48.8 percent owned): Gibson may be the starting point guard for the Cavs, but he acts much more like a shooting guard. His fantasy game is a simple one: if you need 3s, you need Gibson on your roster. Sure, he'll contribute modestly in points and steals, and he'll even throw in a few assists for good measure, but his main selling point in fantasy will be his long-distance shooting ability. With LeBron drawing opposing defenders, "Boobie" is going to see a ton of open shots from downtown, just as he has in his first two contests in which he's put up 16.0 points and 3.0 3-pointers per game.
Francisco Garcia, SG/SF, Kings (11.7 percent owned): A member of the "If You're Hardcore" section last week, Garcia makes the jump into the big leagues with averages of 16.7 points, 4.4 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.3 3-pointers in his first week. Garcia is a versatile player both in real life and in fantasy, and his steals/blocks/3s potential is particularly attractive for fantasy leaguers. It's still hard to say how he'll produce when Ron Artest and Bibby return to the lineup, but his ability to put up numbers in multiple categories is hard to ignore right now.
Kelenna Azubuike, SG, Warriors (37.9 percent owned): After putting up 20.3 points, 3.6 rebounds, 1.0 steals and 1.7 3-pointers in his first three games, Azubuike has been a hot topic in fantasy circles. I like him for now, but I can't help but think that he'll take a hit in value once Stephen Jackson returns from his 7-game suspension next week. Still, both he and Mickael Pietrus have looked good early on, and both deserve our fantasy attention, especially considering they'll have nice value whenever injury strikes the Warriors.
Mike Conley has been banished to the bench in Memphis, leaving just Kyle Lowry and Damon Stoudamire to battle it out for point guard minutes. It's a battle I fully expect Lowry to win (at some point), so be ready to reap the benefits when the time comes. For now, both Lowry and Stoudamire are useful in deeper fantasy formats, but Lowry is already showing more upside with 13.5 points, 4.0 boards, 5.0 assists and a steal in his first two contests. Given his ball-hawking style on the defensive end, anyone needing steals should give my man Lowry a good look.
Two shot-blocking specialists, DeSagana Diop and Theo Ratliff, are looking quite good in the early going. Diop, who is averaging 8.0 boards and 3.3 blocks through three games, is going to be huge with the boards and blocks at least until Erick Dampier returns (if not longer). Ratliff on the other hand, has some value for now, but his hold on the starting job is tenuous; I'd expect the 'Wolves to slide Al Jefferson over to the 5 spot in an effort to get Craig Smith in the game as the season moves along.
Speedster Jose Juan Barea filled in nicely for the injured Devin Harris on Saturday night with 25 points, 5 assists and 4 3-pointers. Harris isn't expected to miss any more time with his injured quad, but Barea showed some nice promise in his absence. We could be looking at a nice sleeper here if Harris ever gets injured for an extended period of time.
After being banished to the bench in preseason play, Carlos Delfino has surprisingly seen 30-plus minutes in each of the Raptors first three contests. He's not scoring much, but he is creating a ton of steals (2.3 per game) and knocking down jumpers from downtown (1.7 per game). With those kind of minutes, he's looking like an intriguing pickup for sure, especially given his upside in 3s and steals.
That's all I have for you this week. I'll leave you with one last name, just for kicks. Jason Maxiell. Take a good look at him, and take note of his big 15-point, 8-rebound, 4-block effort Sunday night.
Brian McKitish is a fantasy baseball and basketball analyst for ESPN.com. He can be reached at Littlemac@TalentedMrRoto.com.
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