Big Picture: Playing hurt

It seems like everyone is nicked up right now – I started feeling bad for myself in the Friends and Family League because I’ve been stuck with Devin Harris and Shawn Marion all week (weekly lineups), but then I started clicking around and was reminded that it’s pretty common to be down a player or two right now. We’ve got a litany of players dealing with sprains and strains as everyone is re-adjusting to the grind of the regular season – all you can do at this point is keep your chin up and hope that it doesn’t affect your squad disproportionately to the rest of your league-mates.

Stat Tracking

Dwight Howard’s personal goal for the current season is to lead the league in both boards and blocks and he’s the clear early favorite in both categories, particularly in the wake of his 19 rebounds and 10 blocks on Wednesday. Let’s look at the numbers to this point and handicap the races:

REB: Andris Biedrins has been a rebounding machine since the outset, and he’s currently nipping at D12’s heels thanks to a career-high 36 minutes per game. On a per-48 minute basis, the race is even closer, with Howard leading by the slimmest of margins (19.3 to 19.2). Zach Randolph will finish among the league’s leaders thanks to an opportunity-rich system, but he’ll have to build on his strong November (17.7 per 48) to break into the top two. Marcus Camby is an X-factor (17.5 per 48, 18.0 last season), but he’s got health concerns, a new system, and a new position working against him. The dark horse in the race is Tyson Chandler (14.3 per 48, 16.0 last season) but he seems more likely to finish closer to 11 per game than 13.

BLK: As I mentioned in Wednesday night’s Court Report, Andrew Bynum could be your best bet to challenge Howard here. He’s blocking 3.0 per game despite just under 30 minutes per game, keeping up on a per-48 basis (4.97 to D12’s 5.64). Camby is right back to his shot-blocking ways with the Clips (2.8 per game, 5.28 per 48) and will be in the mix despite his new surroundings. Josh Smith will be among the leaders, provided he plays enough games to qualify, but he probably is going to finish behind a few players. If Ronny Turiaf (6.08 per 48) or Chris Andersen (5.28 per 48) played starters’ minutes, they’d be squarely in the mix. The dark horse is Greg Oden, but his mention here comes with the obvious major qualifiers (health, playing time).

We could be seeing a pattern developing here. In the three games that Josh Smith has missed thus far, Al Horford has totaled 13 blocked shots – this after totaling three in the season’s first four games. Smith missed one game last season (Nov 16) and Horford blocked five shots in that game but had more than two in just two of his other 80 games played.

Top 10 players in assist-to-turnover ratio (minimum 25 minutes per game): Jose Calderon (5.14:1), Chris Duhon (4.91:1), Andre Miller (4.50:1), Chauncey Billups (4.13:1), Jason Kidd (3.94:1), Baron Davis (3.79:1), Chris Paul (3.77:1), Steve Blake (3.75:1), Mike Miller (3.63:1) and Antawn Jamison (3.33:1).

Top 10 players in threes-plus-steals-plus-blocks per game: Josh Smith (5.8), Dwight Howard (5.4), Jason Kidd (5.1), Dwyane Wade (5.1), Danny Granger (5.0), Rasheed Wallace (4.7), Nate Robinson (4.5), Ron Artest (4.5), Gerald Wallace (4.3) and Jamal Crawford (4.3).

Names not appearing above among the leaders on a per-48 minute basis (minimum 15 minutes per game): Trevor Ariza (7.0, third), Thabo Sefolosha (7.0, fourth), Rudy Fernandez (6.9, seventh), Ronny Turiaf (6.8, ninth), Chris Quinn (6.7, 10th), Marcus Camby (6.7, 11th), Rasual Butler (6.6, 13th), Spencer Hawes (6.6, 14th) and Troy Murphy (6.6, 15th).

Top 10 players in points-plus-rebounds-plus-assists per game: LeBron James (45.0), Dwyane Wade (41.8), Dwight Howard (40.4), Chris Paul (39.9), Tim Duncan (38.6), Chris Bosh (37.8), Tony Parker (36.2), Carmelo Anthony (34.8), Al Jefferson (34.7) and Joe Johnson (34.0).

Names not appearing above among the leaders on a per-48 minute basis (minimum 15 minutes per game): Zach Randolph (46.02, eighth), Shaquille O’Neal (45.91, ninth), Kobe Bryant (45.8, 10th), Andris Biedrins (43.8, 13th), and Dirk Nowitzki (43.1, 15th).

Prime Pickups: Top players available in 50 percent of Yahoo! leagues

Nick Young (Was – SG, SF) 31 percent owned
Young is your guy if you need scoring punch. He’s averaged 16.6 points in five November games (29 minutes) and the 1-5 Wizards are desperate for his offensive output. Right now he’s helping fantasy teams in points (15.5), field goal percentage (.515), and free throw percentage (.920), with marginal supporting stats (2 boards, 1.7 assists, 0.7 steals, 0.8 blocks). His low turnovers (1.3) should be seen as a plus, however, and it should only be a matter of time before the threes start falling, as he made 40 percent of his attempts from long range last season. Bias: roto Schedule: 4,3,4

JaVale McGee (Was – PF, C) 5 percent owned
McGee, like Young, is providing a spark for a desperate Wizards team. He’s posted two double-doubles in the past three games and has blocked six shots in the past four contests. With Andray Blatche starting to look like a lost cause and starter Etan Thomas only being able to handle limited minutes, McGee will have every opportunity to build on his recent success. Now is the time to get on board. Bias: none Schedule: 4,3,4

Anderson Varejao (Cle – PF, C) 31 percent owned
Over the past three games, starter Ben Wallace has totaled seven points, eight rebounds, two steals and three blocks in 65 minutes played. At the same time, Varejao has totaled 44 points, 22 rebounds, four steals and five blocks in 82 minutes. Even though Wallace starts, Varejao has been averaging more minutes and his 26 per game is currently fifth on the team. At this stage of his career, Wallace’s presence on the court is often a net loss for his team. Even if a move to the bench isn’t imminent, Varejao will push him for the lion’s share of the minutes. Bias: none Schedule: 3,4,3

Jason Thompson (Sac – PF, C) 36 percent owned
Thompson’s percent-owned number fell since his appearance in last week’s column (from 46 percent), thanks to a tough two-game stretch once Brad Miller returned (combined 9 points, 9 boards, 30 minutes). Kevin Martin’s ankle injury has once again opened the door for the rookie, however – he’s been in the starting lineup for the past two games, totaling 31 points and 20 rebounds while averaging 37 minutes played. The Kings’ depth rotation will once again be in flux when Martin and Francisco Garcia return (roughly a week), but Thompson has been productive and shown versatility. Thinking long-term, you have to imagine he’ll move ahead of Mikki Moore if he continues to consistently outplay him. Bias: h2h Schedule: 4,4,2

Brandan Wright (GS – SF, PF) 19 percent owned
Wright made this list last week, as well, and his percent-owned number is up from just five percent. Over the past four games (three starts), he’s averaged 12 points on 56 percent shooting, 6.5 boards, 1.0 steals and 2.3 blocks in 28 minutes per game. He’s the starter in a fantasy-friendly system, so he’s rosterable until that changes (whether because of Don Nelson’s whims or an Al Harrington trade that nets a new starting PF). Bias: none Schedule: 3,4,3

Andrea Bargnani (Tor – PF, C) 42 percent owned
Bargnani’s game log is a maddening display of inconsistency, but what fantasy owners should concentrate on when looking at his overall numbers is that his field percentage is way up (.536) and he’s blocking shots at a good clip (1.6 per game). You’ll want on board if/when he starts to show consistency – in his four “good” games this season, he’s averaged 16 points on 68 percent shooting, 1.8 threes, 4.8 boards and 2.3 blocks in 27 minutes. Bias: none Schedule: 4,3,3

Trevor Ariza (LAL – SF) 17 percent owned
Ariza doesn’t constitute a sexy pickup but his line to this point (10 points on 50 percent shooting, 0.9 threes, 5 boards, 2 steals and 0.7 turnovers) has netted out to a per-game rank of 81st in the Yahoo! game. The Lakers run a deep rotation but Ariza has carved out a consistent role and is currently sixth on the team in minutes. His incremental numbers will play much better in roto, much like Jamario Moon’s impact last season. Bias: roto Schedule: 4,3,4

Chris Quinn (Mia – PG, SG) 10 percent owned
With Mario Chalmers’ nine-steal game now a bit further in the rear-view mirror, the rest of his numbers are coming into focus. Over the past four games, Chalmers has averaged 5.0 points on 33-percent shooting, 3.3 assists and 1.0 steals in 29 minutes. Over the same four games, Quinn has averaged 12 points on 54 percent shooting, 2.8 threes, 2.5 assists, and 0.8 steals in 23 minutes. He could emerge as a reliable source of threes, with a few assists, if he replaces a struggling Chalmers in the starting lineup. Bias: none Schedule: 3,4,3

Darrell Arthur (Mem – SF, PF) 31 percent owned
The Grizzlies are in a bit of a bind in that they need to improve on both offense and defense. Arthur has been starting and clearly brings more to the table defensively than Hakim Warrick, but the latter has much more offensive polish. We’re only nine games into the season, so this is still a developing situation. What is clear for fantasy purposes is that if Arthur were to start supplementing his defensive numbers (7.2 boards, 1.2 steals, 1.6 blocks in 23 minutes) with better offense (7.3 points, .378 FG%), he’d be a very popular roster addition. Bias: h2h Schedule: 3,4,3

Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (Mil – SF, PF) 17 percent owned
Mbah a Moute got the start Wednesday and Scott Skiles at least intimated that it’s going to stick for now. With consistent playing time, the rookie has shown the ability to provide a few numbers – over the past six games, he’s averaged 11.5 points on 57 percent shooting, 8.0 boards, and 0.5 blocks in 32 minutes. Bias: none Schedule: 4,4,3

Bias: Notes when a player’s nine-cat line is more favorable in roto or h2h leagues; if “none,” the player’s overall impact is relatively even in both. Schedule: The number of games the players’ team has scheduled for the upcoming three weeks.

Eddy Curry Line Update: The Eddy Curry Line was originally established to put a spotlight on how truly anemic Curry’s overall fantasy line is. It can be used to help establish which players are among the best and worst, in terms of efficiency of production, for fantasy basketball. The standard: a player must average more turnovers than assists, steals and blocks combined. In order to qualify, a player must have appeared in at least half of his team’s games and averaged at least 25 minutes of playing time.

Jason Thompson 9 25.0 16 17 0.94:1 -0.73
Elton Brand 8 35.9 27 28 0.96:1 +0.24
Bobby Simmons 7 26.4 10 10 1.00:1 +0.50
Tim Thomas 7 25.4 11 11 1.00:1 +0.18
Samuel Dalembert 8 28.4 17 17 1.00:1 +0.29
Thaddues Young 8 32.5 19 19 1.00:1 +0.27
Marc Gasol 9 29.1 23 22 1.05:1 -0.08
Rudy Gay 9 37.1 35 33 1.06:1 +0.06
Desmond Mason 8 26.3 16 15 1.07:1 -0.06
Emeka Okafor 7 35.6 15 14 1.07:1 +0.57
Marcus Camby 5 26.0 23 3 7.67:1 NA
Antawn Jamison 6 38.0 20 3 6.67:1 NA
Chris Duhon 8 36.8 66 11 6.00:1 +2.00
Chauncey Billups 5 35.0 46 8 5.75:1 +1.00
Jose Calderon 8 36.3 78 14 5.57:1 +1.13
Jason Kidd 7 35.7 86 16 5.38:1 -6.37
Andrew Bynum 7 29.6 37 7 5.29:1 +2.29
Andre Miller 8 33.0 51 10 5.10:1 +0.60
Chris Paul 7 33.0 106 22 4.82:1 +0.45
Rasheed Wallace 7 35.1 38 8 4.75:1 +0.75

GP = games played
MPG = minutes played per game
POS = positive stats accumulated to-date (assists + steals + blocks)
NEG = turnovers to-date
RATIO = amount of positive stats per turnover
DIFF = difference in ratio since previous update

Matt Buser is a Yahoo! Sports fantasy expert. Follow him on Twitter. Send Matt a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.
Updated Friday, Nov 14, 2008