In fantasy basketball, you have to be quick to react to events that alter team's lineups, like injuries or suspensions. It didn't take long for owners to gobble up Indiana's Fred Jones after Ron Artest was suspended for the season for going after a fan in the stands. After all, when it comes to fantasy value, playing time is key. So don't be surprised if there's another rush in your league to add Utah's Matt Harpring, who stands to benefit from a knee injury to Andrei Kirilenko that could sideline AK47 up to a month. Here is my list of six players widely available in Yahoo! leagues that deserve your attention, Harpring included:
Bob Sura, Hou, SG
Sura didn't start in his first game back from a back injury this past week, but it shouldn't be long before he is running the point for Yao Ming, Tracy McGrady and company. Even if Houston wasn't already dinged up in the backcourt, you could assume that Sura would move to the front of the line. After all, it was his averages of 14.7 points, 8.3 rebounds and 5.3 assists in 27 games for the Atlanta Hawks last season that had Houston scrambling for his services this offseason. It is unlikely that Sura will have the kind of free reign that he had in talent-depleted Atlanta, but he should post nice assist numbers to go with viable scoring, rebounding and steals.
Doug Christie, Sac, SG
Fantasy owners seem to be putting too much stock into Christie's slow start, as the Sacramento shooting guard is widely available in Yahoo! leagues. This a player who used to put up roto numbers on par with the top 40 players in the game. You could argue that the last couple years his numbers have dropped him more in the 70-80 range, but the point is that he still has a place in most fantasy leagues. Christie's fantasy game has always been deceptive because none of his statistical categories ever jump out at you – with the exception of his steals of past years. But he's generally serviceable in all of them. It's hard not to be productive when you are entrenched in one of the league's top offenses. Christie was slow out of the gate in early November, but he's showed signs of turning things around of late. In his past five games, he's averaged 10.4 points, 5.6 assists, and 4.0 boards, while shooting 53 percent from the field and 100 percent from the line (12-for-12). Every fantasy team can use a jack-of-all-trades type like Christie.
Matt Harpring, Utah, SF
In 109 games with the Utah Jazz prior to this season, Harpring posted averages of 17.2 points, 7.0 boards and a .499 field goal percentage. He accrued those numbers primarily as a starter, something he hasn't been able to do this season as he is parked behind Andrei Kirilenko on the depth chart. But a ligament injury to Kirilenko's knee has opened the door for Harpring's return to the starting lineup, at least for the 2-4 weeks that Kirilenko is expected to be sidelined. Harpring is a hard-nosed player who does well on the glass and is also efficient from the field and foul line. While he's a starter (or at least logging starter's minutes), he'll have no problem producing fantasy-relevant numbers.
James Jones, Ind, SF
If your fantasy team is Jones-ing for some treys, well, Jones is your man. Since taking over a starting role in the aftermath of the Motown melee, Jones is averaging 3.0 three-pointers. But his fantasy value hasn't been limited to his long-range prowess. As a starter he's also putting up 15.8 points and 6.8 boards to go with a .538 field goal percentage and a .889 free throw percentage. Jones is likely to continue to see at least 35-40 minutes a night until sometime in late January when Jermaine O'Neal and Stephen Jackson return from their suspensions.
Andre Iguodala, Phi, SG/SF
Iguodala is a sleeping giant. You can see it just by watching him. His talent is like the sub-surface of Mt. St. Helen's crater. It is liable to explode at any moment. Already a stellar defender, Iguodala just needs to develop his offensive game to take the next step. His prowess on defense is rewarding fantasy owners with solid rebounds, steals and blocks. And he's shooting 40 percent beyond the arc, showing that he's at least a capable outside shooter, one of his knocks coming into the draft. It looks like those Scottie Pippen, Doug Christie comparisons aren't far off. Iguodala can do everything, and he can jump out of the gym. If he ever gets more aggressive on offense, watch out. I'm content to let him ride on my bench and hope that day comes soon rather than later.
Brendan Haywood, Was, C
As long as Kwame Brown and Etan Thomas are out of the lineup, fantasy owners shouldn't hesitate to look to Haywood for center help. In his past eight games, Haywood has been turning shots away at a pace of just under three per game. And with averages of 10.7 points, 8.2 boards, 0.9 steals and a shooting percentage north of .500, it can be argued that Haywood has been producing like a top 15 center. In Yahoo! default leagues where two centers are required, it's hard to believe that Haywood would still be available, even if Brown and Thomas threaten his playing time in the near future.