By Alex Barutha, RotoWire
Special to Yahoo Sports
Between last week’s and this week’s waiver wire column, two massive injuries have occurred. Paul Millsap underwent surgery to repair a torn ligament in his wrist, which will likely keep him out three months, and Blake Griffin sprained his left MCL, sidelining him for about two months.
John Wall also suffered a more minor injury, but still one that will probably keep him out for the better part of two weeks after receiving injections in his knee. However, it would not be surprising if the Wizards played it extremely cautiously and extended that timeline a bit. At the moment, the Wizards are seemingly still trying to figure out how to proceed at the point guard position, with neither Tim Frazier nor Tomas Satoransky stepping directly into Wall’s vacated role. For that reason, neither of those two players make the following list, though they should be on your radar.
News also broke Wednesday that the Hawks’ starting center Dewayne Dedmon will be out 3-6 weeks while nursing a stress reaction in his tibia. John Collins should see a boost in his already-significant workload. Miles Plumlee and Mike Muscala should also see expanded roles, though it’s hard to tell if either of them will be fantasy-relevant over the next month. They are worth keeping an eye on, however.
If one (hopefully not multiple) of those players is on your fantasy team, this week’s article is especially for you. Among other players, it features replacement options from both the Nuggets and Clippers.
Wesley Johnson (21% owned) or Sam Dekker, Clippers (8% owned)
With the news that Blake Griffin will be out possibly two months with a sprained left MCL, some fantasy value has opened up on the Clippers’ roster. After all, Griffin’s 35.8 minutes per game have to go somewhere. Recently, with Danilo Gallinari (hip) out, Wesley Johnson has been the beneficiary, averaging 12.2 points, 3.7 rebounds, 2.5 threes, 1.7 blocks and 1.5 steals across the past six contests. It seems like a strong possibility that when Gallinari returns (which will likely be mid-December), he ends up starting at power forward in the void created by Griffin’s absence. That would leave small forward open for Johnson to remain a starter and continue seeing the run he has been as of late.
If Johnson has already been snatched up in your fantasy league, Sam Dekker could make for a decent consolation prize. Dekker has shown ability to play both small forward and some small-ball power forward, making him a candidate to see sixth-man minutes off the bench. Picking him up carries some risk, as coach Doc Rivers is yet to demonstrate overt faith in Dekker, deploying him for just 13.3 minutes per game over the past seven contests. At this point, however, the third-year wing may just need to be on the floor out of necessity. With that in mind, Dekker may only be truly valuable in deeper leagues, as he’s far from a stat-sheet stuffer. Per-36 minutes for his career, the Wisconsin product has averaged 12.6 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.4 threes and a combined 1.5 steals and blocks.
Kenneth Faried, Nuggets (16% owned)
This suggestion comes with a massive disclaimer that I have no idea what coach Mike Malone’s plan is regarding the power forward position while Paul Millsap (wrist) is out, though I’m not sure he knows either. In the four games Millsap has been sidelined, Malone has dished out four different starting lineups. Faried has drawn the start in three of them. However, in an odd development, he collected a DNP-CD in the game he didn’t start.
While I’m not sure how to dissect that, what I can tell you is that Faried has posted 10.3 points and 8.0 rebounds across 24.3 minutes per game in his past three appearances. If your fantasy team is short on rebounds, Faried should be on your radar. He boasts a career per-36-minute rebounding average of 11.9. His lack of long-range shooting touch is a known issue for the Nuggets’ floor spacing. But, with a myriad of three-point shooters on the roster, there’s a strong chance they can figure out situations to utilize Faried’s talent.
Larry Nance, Jr., Lakers (46% owned)
Nance missed 11 straight games while nursing a broken thumb but returned Monday to compile nine points, eight rebounds, four steals and one block in 30 minutes against the Clippers. Then, most recently, he dropped five assists, four rebounds, four steals and one block in 22 minutes on the Warriors. While his season averages of 9.4 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.9 steals aren’t eye-popping, his stat profile is a rarity in the NBA this season and it’s safe to say he’s outperforming his ADP. Only two other players in the NBA (Russell Westbrook and Ben Simmons) are averaging those same points, rebounds and steals benchmarks. And, despite the emergence of Kyle Kuzma and the impressive play of Julius Randle in limited action, it appears Nance’s workload is safe.
Luc Mbah a Moute, Rockets (5% owned)
What Mbah a Moute lacks in some categories, he dramatically makes up for in others. While his scoring (7.9), rebounding (3.5) and passing (1.0) are far from impressive, he ecompasses the definition of a three-and-D player. Over his past 14 appearances, the forward is averaging 1.4 threes and 1.7 steals per game. There are only nine other players in the league who match those numbers, and Mbah a Moute carries a safe, long-term role in the Rockets’ rotation (26.5 minutes per game). Coach Mike D’Antoni is also known for running a small rotation, nearly ensuring that if the likes of Ryan Anderson or P.J. Tucker miss time, Mbah a Moute would be the one to absorb their minutes.