Danny Granger has shown signs of breaking out of his slump and should be in starting lineups this week, despite the Pacers having just three games. Darren Collison, Roy Hibbert, David West and Paul George are all starting possibilities, depending on your options, while I’d plan on leaving George Hill and Tyler Hansbrough on fantasy benches this week.
Chris Paul is awaiting MRI results on his hamstring injury as I write this, which is tough news given the upcoming five-game week for the Clippers. He was just starting to turn it on and was fantastic before going down late in Saturday’s win over the Lakers. My guess is he’ll be OK, but could miss Monday's game against the Nets. But if he’ll only miss that game, he’s obviously a must-start. Unfortunately, you’re probably going to have to set your lineup before we have more definitive information on Paul’s status, unless the MRI brings back terrible news (and it didn't). Weigh your options carefully before starting him. Mo Williams is day-to-day with a foot injury, so get him on your bench, while Chauncey Billups is expected to go on Monday despite a tight back. Billups, Blake Griffin, Caron Butler and DeAndre Jordan are must-starts in most leagues with five games this week. And Billups could have a monster week if Paul is out.
My personal take on Kobe Bryant’s wrist has been that he’ll play through it all season, and owners that attempted to sell high are struggling to sleep at night after he’s posted at least 40 points in four straight games. Yes, the wrist is a concern, but he’s Kobe freakin’ Bryant, and will play through it. The Lakers have four games this week, making Bryant, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum must-starts, but that’s where things screech to a halt for the Lakers. Metta World Peace, Matt Barnes and Derek Fisher are all worth consideration in most leagues, but I bet you can find better production off the waiver wire. Steve Blake is out for several weeks with a rib injury, which is the only reason Fisher even gets a mention here.
Marreese Speights has been hit or miss thus far as Zach Randolph’s replacement, but I think owners should exercise patience with him. The Grizzlies play four games this week, making Speights a tough call. Mike Conley, Rudy Gay and Marc Gasol are all must-starts, while Tony Allen, O.J. Mayo and Speights can be started, depending on options. Mayo has been playing well off the bench and is worth a close look in most leagues.
Dwyane Wade’s ankle is a problem and despite the fact he was “moving well” Sunday, he didn’t practice and is very iffy for Tuesday. He is basically the blood and guts of my 30-team league team and I will be rolling him out there in that one. But I also own him in several normal leagues, and as of now, will bench him unless we get good news prior to Monday’s games. James Jones, Norris Cole and Shane Battier will all pick up his slack if he’s out, but none are worth starting in most leagues. No Wade would mean big things for LeBron James this week. Mario Chalmers has been very good thus far and is worth a start in most leagues, while Chris Bosh remains a must-start player for the Heat. Mike Miller is close to a return, but I’d ignore him for now, even with Wade’s injury. Udonis Haslem had 12 points and 11 rebounds on Friday, but as long as Bosh is healthy, I’d be scared to put him in fantasy lineups. Just keep an eye on him.
Andrew Bogut is expected to play through his concussion symptoms on Monday so get him in your lineup until further notice. Rookie power forward Jon Leuer has started in two straight games and could continue to do so with Luc Richard Mbah a Moute out, but is a low-end fantasy option after his dud on Friday. The Bucks play four games this week and Brandon Jennings, Bogut, Carlos Delfino and Stephen Jackson look like must-start players for now.
Ricky Rubio is now starting at point guard and balling, and is must-start in all formats, along with Kevin Love. I was quite wrong about Rubio, and am as surprised as anyone at how quickly he’s adapted to the NBA. He appears to be playing better right now than at any point in his life. Luke Ridnour is now the starting shooting guard in Minnesota, and deserves a look in all leagues, while Michael Beasley, Darko Milicic, Wes Johnson, Derrick Williams, Wayne Ellington, Anthony Randolph and Anthony Tolliver are simply worth keeping an eye on from here on out.
Deron Williams blew up on Friday for 35 points and six treys, and should be starting in all formats this week with four games. Anthony Morrow scored just 12 on Saturday, but is also nearly must-start, while MarShon Brooks, Kris Humprhies and Mehmet Okur are all worth a look. I’m going to start Brooks in the leagues where I own him, but Okur is a pretty shaky fantasy starter right now.
Jarrett Jack is an automatic fantasy starter with four games, while guys like Marco Belinelli, Emeka Okafor, Chris Kaman and Carl Landry all deserve consideration. The big men were pretty bad on Saturday, and I would be leery of starting any of them this week, despite the four games. Jason Smith came out of nowhere for a double-double on Saturday, but he belongs on watch lists, and not on fantasy rosters unless he does big things in Week 4.
Iman Shumpert is struggling a bit, but the minutes are there and he’s going to be worth a shot in most leagues with four games again this week. The Knicks play four times a week until the All-Star break, so plan on riding Shumpert as long as you can. Baron Davis should be practicing soon and could be back by the end of January, but Shumpert would likely slide to shooting guard once Davis is healthy enough to start. Amare Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler look like must-starts, but Carmelo Anthony is iffy with injuries to his wrist and ankle. The ankle is the big concern, but late news on Sunday was that he is ready to play through it on Monday against the Magic. I’m planning on playing Melo this week, and you should too. Mike Bibby, Bill Walker, Landry Fields, Josh Harrellson and Toney Douglas are all worth a brief thought in deeper leagues, but chances are they will not come through.