Here we go again. It seems like the injury report is growing in size and scope with each passing day, and I'm starting to have flashbacks to last season, when it seemed like you were lucky to simply not have a big-name player on the inactive list at any given time. What fantasy owners should remember at times like these is that they should not be afraid to make bold moves relative to injuries or playing time. Obviously, most of the injuries that the high-level players are dealing with currently aren't enough to even consider cutting them, but just keep in mind that reluctance to act on a gut instinct now can cost you in the standings later. A personal example – I held on to T.J. Ford in my only H-2-H league for WAY too long, costing me a shot at a number of matchups as I dealt with other injuries on the same roster (Tracy McGrady, for one). I waffled and now I'm much further down the standings than I would like to be, and I've got nobody to blame but myself. Lesson learned.
WEEKEND UPDATE: Need-to-know info from the past few days
• Reports are surfacing that Chris Webber's joining the Warriors is imminent after Don Nelson essentially said over the weekend they won't contend without him. "I'm afraid if we don't get him here, our teams not strong enough to be a playoff team," said Nellie. "I think he has the chance to make some of our players better and make our team better." Nelson added that Webber fills two team needs, in that he's a big man and has passing skills. What he will also do is slow the team's pace if he's to be involved in the offense at all and take minutes away from at least a few players. Baron Davis' role obviously isn't changing. It's doubtful that Nellie favorite Stephen Jackson will get bumped from the lineup, despite his shooting woes (38 percent in January). And Monta Ellis and Andris Biedrins have been playing too well to move to the bench. That leaves Al Harrington – who has already digressed into something of a three-point specialist – as the logical choice to get bumped from the starting five and become the sixth man, but Nelson doesn't usually use conventional wisdom to determine lineup configurations. All Biedrins and Ellis' fantasy owners can hope is that Webber doesn't bump one of them from the starting five. He'll need time to get up to speed, and it's doubtful that he'll start right away anyway, but he could eventually end up in the neighborhood of 25 minutes per game, with 10 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists the ceiling for consistent production. And, of course, Webber and Nelson's once-acrimonious relationship is an X-factor in all of this …
• Jason Kidd had breakfast alone on Sunday – something one teammate called "a first" – amid new rumors that he's demanded a trade, according to The Star-Ledger. It's a messy situation and there are plenty of unsubstantiated rumors, but Dallas, Cleveland, and the Lakers are the consensus as the teams that would be most interested. After finishing 11th in season rank in 2006-07, Kidd's value has taken a tumble this season thanks to career-low 37 percent shooting and full turnover more (3.7) than last season (2.7). Kidd's days as a top-15 fantasy player may be behind him now, but a fresh start at 34 could help him rebound a bit this season, and he would certainly shake up whichever team brought him aboard. If Kidd were to be moved, Marcus Williams would seem to be a no-brainer pickup, although he's still not 100 percent back from a broken foot.
• Damon Stoudamire is done in Memphis, and it looks like he'll sign with one of three teams in the coming days. Stoudamire and the Grizzlies agreed to a buyout over the weekend and he's expected to clear waivers on Wednesday – according to the Memphis Commercial Appeal, Boston is his desired location, with Toronto and Phoenix also in the mix. The Celtics are a virtual lock to bring in a veteran PG to back up Rajon Rondo at some point, with KG's former teammate Sam Cassell another possibility. Stoudamire isn't a sure thing to play more than 20 minutes for any of his three potential new teams, barring an injury situation, but his fantasy relevance improves somewhat now that the 34-year-old veteran is no longer with the Grizzlies.
• Kevin Garnett missed his first game of the season on Sunday, and since this is KG we're talking about, it's news. Garnett himself wanted to play through the abdominal strain that caused him to be inactive for the 96-93 loss to the Magic, according to the Boston Globe, but Celtics coach Doc Rivers wouldn't have it. "That muscle in the stomach is not anything you play with," said Rivers. "He may play Tuesday – may. But I doubt that." The injury doesn't appear to be serious, but it's worth noting that Garnett also had to sit for a portion of the fourth quarter on Friday after feeling a "sharp pain" that felt like he got "sniped from the rafters or something." Be looking for game-time updates on Tuesday, but figure that it's doubtful that KG plays – you know KG will try his best sales pitch to get back on the court, but it's an unnecessary risk for him to test the injury against the 9-33 Heat. The Celtics play just one more game this week (Thursday vs DAL), so those of you setting your weekly lineups may want to consider another option if it can get you three or four games of stats.
Other injury updates: Elton Brand was cleared to begin heavy running and jumping after undergoing an examination on Thursday, according to the Los Angeles Times. "It's the stuff I've been waiting for," said Brand. "To push it, run, jump, and actually get on the court." Figure that he's still about a month away, but this is as good of news as could have been expected. What remains to be seen is how his body reacts to the ramped-up workouts … Pau Gasol has missed the past two games with a sore back – his status for Monday's game is uncertain, according to the Memphis Commercial Appeal, as the Grizzlies did not practice on Sunday. If Gasol sits again, Juan Carlos Navarro should have another solid game … Yao Ming missed Sunday's game because of an upper respiratory infection, won't practice on Monday, and is questionable for Tuesday, according to the Houston Chronicle … Michael Redd, who missed Sunday's game with a left knee injury, will not travel with the team for it's two-game road trip, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He hopes to return to the lineup on Saturday – Charlie Bell and Royal Ivey will see surplus minutes in his stead … Carmelo Anthony said that he'd "definitely" be back in the lineup on Monday, after coming close to trying to play on Sunday, according to The Denver Post … Luol Deng is now expected to miss anywhere between one and three weeks because of his lingering left Achilles tendinitis, according to the Associated Press. Deng's teammate Ben Gordon has missed three straight games because of the left wrist sprain, but is "definitely not ruling out" being able to play on Tuesday … Raymond Felton missed Saturday's game with a sprained ankle, and he'll be a game-time decision for the Bobcats on Monday … The Mavericks announced Monday that Devin Harris will miss two to three weeks because of a bone bruise in his left ankle. Jerry Stackhouse will get extra run in the interim … Mike Conley is expected to be out for much of this week because of the chest/rib contusion he suffered on Friday, according to the Commercial Appeal. Kyle Lowry has averaged 17.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, 6.5 assists, and a whopping 49 minutes in his two starts, and he's a strong play while Conley is out … Anderson Varejao is expected to miss at least a few weeks with a grade-2 sprain of his left ankle, according to the Akron Beacon Journal.
BARGAIN BIN: Top players available in 50 percent of Yahoo! leagues
Mark Blount (FC – Miami)
Blount has been so effective on offense (15.9 points on 63 percent shooting in eight starts) in place of the injured Shaquille O'Neal that he merits a look in some fantasy leagues. His high turnovers (2.4 as a starter) and below-average supporting stats (4.6 boards, 0.5 assists, 0.3 steals, 0.3 blocks) mean that he's not for everyone, however. He's essentially a poor man's Eddy Curry, so he's only really useful to H-2-H owners who are punting at least turnovers.
MARKET MOVERS: Charting player values
Danny Granger (F – Indiana) Granger has stepped up his game in the absence of the injured Jermaine O'Neal. He's averaging 21.5 points on 49 percent shooting, 2.5 threes, 6.8 boards, 1.3 steals, and 0.7 blocks over his past 12 games, while making 87 percent of 67 free throws.
Raja Bell (SG – Phoenix) Bell has been a disappointment for much of the season, but his play has improved dramatically over the past few weeks. He's averaged 17.1 points, 3.4 threes, 4.6 boards, 2.5 assists, and 1.2 steals over his past 11 games.
Peja Stojakovic (GF – New Orleans) Stojakovic is feeling it and fantasy owners are seeing vintage percentages – over the past 13 games, he's averaged 17.4 points on 49 percent shooting, 3.3 threes on 50 percent shooting, and connected on 92 percent of his free throws.
Corey Maggette (GF – LA Clippers) Maggette has been playing well in January and particularly well over the past five games, during which he's averaged 26.8 points on 61 percent shooting, 1.4 threes, 6.4 rebounds, 3.6 assists, and 1.8 steals, while making 84 percent of 10 free throws per game.
Kareem Rush (SG – Indiana) Rush has emerged as a solid offensive contributor in the Pacers' new small lineup – he's started the past nine games, averaging 15 points, 2.9 threes, and 1.1 steals in 32 minutes per game.
Sam Cassell (PG – LA Clippers) Cassell is playing his best ball of the season as the trade deadline approaches. Over the past seven games, he has averaged 18.9 points on 56 percent shooting, 3.3 boards, 5.4 assists, and 1.1 steals in 31 minutes per game. It's unwise to expect the 38-year-old to maintain this kind of pace, however.
Joe Smith (PF – Chicago) Smith has been struggling in recent games – 6.3 points on 31 percent shooting over the past six games – and what is at least as concerning as those numbers is the fact that he had fluid drained from his right knee on Friday. All signs point to moving on.
Kevin Durant (GF – Seattle) Durant has been struggling with his shot and his overall line is also in decline. Over his past ten games, he's made just 36 percent of 18 field goals per game, including just 19 percent of his three-point attempts, while also averaging 3.1 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 0.8 steals, 0.8 blocks, and 2.6 turnovers. Fantasy owners shouldn't forget that he's a 19-year-old kid at just past the halfway point of his first NBA season, where physical fatigue could start playing a factor (in addition to the mental fatigue that comes with consistent losses).
John Salmons (GF – Sacramento) It was a great ride, wasn't it? Salmons' numbers have taken a hit now that the Kings have a healthy roster – over the past seven games, he's averaged 6.4 points, 2.1 boards, and 2 assists in 23 minutes per game.
Rasheed Wallace (FC – Detroit) Not that it's ever been his calling card, but 'Sheed's offensive game is in a full-blown funk right now. Over the past eight games, he's averaged just 9.1 points on 38 percent shooting and 0.5 threes on 16 percent shooting.
Yahoo! Friends and Family League Update
The standings have remained remarkably consistent over the past few weeks. I've made some progress now that I've got my full complement of players and I'm hoping to make a trade (perhaps a package deal for some high-volume threes) that would give my team the shot in the arm it needs. This week's transactions included Thaddeous Young, Jeff Foster, Kurt Thomas, Mikki Moore, and Jordan Farmar, among others. We also had another trade this week, with FBC- Jonathan Tom sending Kirk Hinrich and Stephen Jackson to HoopsKLYCE for Carmelo Anthony. It will be interesting to see if Anthony can give Tom the boost in the percentage categories that he needs, while not sacrificing in any other category.