NBA Skinny: Bullish on Sweetney

1st Chair: Joe Smith
2nd Chair: Andrew Bogut
Skinny: Smith has started in favor of Bogut the past two games, and Bucks coach Terry Stotts appears to now be making good on his preseason intentions to bring Bogut off the bench during the regular season – a Smith injury had put those plans on hold. Bogut has averaged just 17 minutes in the past three games, and his fantasy value could take a serious hit if the current arrangement continues. This coming week's four games could be very telling for the long run – keep an eye on Smith and Bogut's minutes.
1st Chair: Josh Childress
2nd Chair: Marvin Williams, Josh Smith
Skinny: The Hawks are 0-9 and desperate for the right combination of players that will lead to a win. Josh Childress has continued to contribute practically nothing – he has scored no more than two points in four straight games – yet has been in the starting lineup for every game, most recently at shooting guard. The Hawks tried Marvin Williams at small forward on Friday, and he responded with no points and five fouls in 19 minutes. Josh Smith continues to come off of the bench, but has played more than 30 minutes in three of the past four games, and could be back in a starting role very soon – that's where the Hawks truly need him.
1st Chair: Joel Przybilla
2nd Chair: Theo Ratliff
Skinny: This platoon situation may stay warm for the entirety of the season – Przybilla continues to get the starts, and Ratliff continues to get the slight edge in minutes. The two have effectively kept each other's fantasy value to a bare minimum. Blazers coach Nate McMillan appears content with the current rotation, although Ratliff has played more minutes than Przybilla in five of the past six games. There have been trade rumors associated with Ratliff, and that appears to be the only way that this will work itself out from a fantasy perspective.
1st Chair: Erick Dampier
2nd Chair: DeSanga Diop
Skinny: It's amazing what Dampier can get done when he feels like contributing. For whatever reason, he followed up back-to-back scoreless nights against Denver and Atlanta with 16 points, 14 rebounds, and 2two blocks against Detroit in Dallas' 119-82 win. He had more points and blocks against the formerly undefeated Pistons than he had in his previous four games combined and more rebounds than his previous three games combined, facing the likes of the Hawks, Hornets, and Bobcats along the way. A game like that should buy Dampier a fairly sizeable amount of time before he needs to assert himself again, so Diop will likely not be a blip on the fantasy radar again for some time.

This is the week for giving thanks, and it's time to reflect on blessings and good fortune that have come our way. Some things fantasy owners can be thankful for at this point in the season: You should give thanks if you drafted Marcus Camby this season. You should give thanks if you did not draft Carlos Boozer. You should give thanks if Alonzo Mourning was one of your free agent pickups. You should give thanks if you don't currently have an inactive player atrophying on your bench. You should give thanks if, unlike me, Joel Przybilla and Stromile Swift didn't seem to end up on every one of your rosters. That's just to name a few of the many possible reasons – Happy Thanksgiving and let's get to The Skinny.

WEEKEND UPDATE: Need-to-know info from the past few days

Remember when back spasms were supposed to keep Tracy McGrady out of action for up to three weeks, but he ended up coming back after only three games and one week off? Maybe T-Mac's early return, which seemed too good to be true at the time for his fantasy owners, was just that. There were some ominous developments over the weekend, as T-Mac sat out the fourth quarter of Friday's loss to the Pistons and did not play last night as the Rockets lost to the Pacers. After Friday's game, McGrady said that he had tried to loosen up his back to no avail and that he was in pain for the entire game. McGrady could end up paying for that early return, and his fantasy owners should prepare for the worst. The floundering Rockets and T-Mac face a tough decision over the next few days – the team has today off and then have four games over the next five days.

Last week it was LeBron James, and this week Dwight Howard became the youngest player to reach a milestone – in Howard's case becoming the youngest to record 20 points and 20 rebounds in the same game, accomplishing the feat at 19 years and 342 days old. He scored 21 and grabbed 20 boards in the Magic's 85-77 win over the Bobcats last Tuesday. Howard has been an absolute monster on the boards this year – his season average of 12.7 is second only to Marcus Camby, and he's averaged 17.0 over his past four games. He's made strides on offense, too, and his scoring average is up from 12.0 last year to 15.7 so far this season. Howard has as much fantasy upside as any player in the game, and all that remains to be seen is how soon it is realized.

If by some oversight Mike Sweetney happens to be available in your league, you need to grab him, and fast. He finally has cracked the starting lineup in Chicago – for some reason Darius Songaila had to first play his way out of it – and he should be well on his way to a strong season. He has posted three straight double-doubles and has averaged 19.0 points and 12.3 boards in those contests. The Bulls have some warm bodies on their roster to play power forward and center (Songaila, Othella Harrington, and Malik Allen), but none bring what Sweetney does to the table. With Tyson Chandler struggling so much on offense, Sweetney will be leaned on very heavily for low-post scoring, and should be a Zach Randolph-type contributor (with a little less scoring and a little more rebounding) for the Bulls going forward.

BARGAIN BIN: Top players available in 50 percent of Yahoo! leagues

  • Marquis Daniels, GF, Dal
    Daniels is now in the starting lineup for what could be a long time thanks to a Doug Christie ankle injury. He won't carry you in any one category, but can help you in points, steals, rebounds, and assists.
  • Kareem Rush, SG, Cha
    Rush can be inconsistent and likely won't match his career-high for points again soon – the 35 he put up versus the Pacers in a 122-90 win on 11/16 – but if your team needs are three and points, he could be worth picking up.

MARKET MOVERS: Charting player values

Allen Iverson, PG, Phi – Iverson has averaged 36.5 points, 9.0 assists, 2.5 steals, and 53 percent shooting in his past four games and is currently second in Yahoo! season-to-date rankings. Peja Stojakovic, SF, Sac – Peja has been brilliant across the board during the past week – he's averaged 21.7 points on 58 percent shooting, 2.7 threes, 5.0 assists, 4.7 rebounds, 1.0 steals, and 0.9 turnovers. Antoine Walker, F, Mia – Walker has adjusted well to his new role as sixth man – he has averaged 18.5 points, 2.8 threes, 6.5 boards, and 53 percent shooting in 29 minutes per game since his move to the bench four games ago. Ricky Davis, GF, Bos – Davis is off to a great start this season, and in his past three games he has put up 26.0 points, 8.3 assists, and 4.7 rebounds per game while shooting 59 percent from the field. Charlie Villanueva, F, Tor – Villanueva loses more detractors by the day – in his past five games he has averaged 18.4 points, 9.6 boards, and 1.8 threes, while playing 31 minutes per contest. Deron Williams, G, Utah – In three games since moving into the starting lineup, Williams has averaged 18.7 points, 2.0 threes, 5.7 assists, and 3.6 rebounds. Chris Paul, G, NO/OC – Paul is already staking a claim as one of the top guards in fantasy, and in back-to-back Hornet wins over the Hawks and Magic over the weekend, Paul averaged 23.0 points, 6.0 rebounds, 10.0 assists, and 3.5 steals. Channing Frye, C, NY – Frye appears to have cracked Larry Brown's rotation and is another rookie that is starting to come on strong – he has scored 20 or more points in three consecutive games. Sebastian Telfair, PG, Por – Telfair has been playing better as of late – he scored a season-high 20 points on Friday and surpassed that with 27 on Sunday.

Andrew Bogut, FC, Mil – Bogut hasn't scored in double figures since the second game of the season and was replaced by Joe Smith in the starting lineup two games ago. Smush Parker, G, LAL – Parker averaged 33 percent shooting, 8.8 points, and 3.0 assists in the Lakers' four games over the past seven days. Tyson Chandler, C, Chi – Chandler has been rebounding at a good rate, but scoring has been non-existent (4.7 points during the last six games) and he recently went five straight games without a blocked shot.

Number of the Week
79 – The average point total for the Rockets in the four games that Tracy McGrady has missed thus far. Yao Ming has been the team's top scorer in each contest and has averaged 21.3 points in the four games.

Yahoo! Friends and Family League Update
Strong performances by Ray Allen, Antawn Jamison, and Raef LaFrentz have pushed my team to the top of the standings, but there are a number of others within striking distance in this the early-going. Over the past week, I dropped Stephen Jackson for Boris Diaw, as his assists and across-the-board contributions are a better fit for my team, and I also waived the hobbled and struggling Rafer Alston in favor of Mike James, hoping that his recent hot stretch continues.

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