For the fantasy leagues that have not yet concluded, it’s going to be an interesting next 10 days of activity.
We’re in the season of random DNP’s, injury concerns and evaluations leading to some seriously whacky rotations, and it’s an absolute must to mine your league’s waiver wire if you’re still trying to win.
With that in mind, this week’s column focuses on three guys who should be readily available in the majority of formats, but it’s unlikely any of these guys will still be floating by the time the week concludes.
Bismack Biyombo, C Charlotte Hornets: Blocks
Al Jefferson (knee, groin, breaking down in general) is staring a shutdown right in the face. Meanwhile, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (ankle) is going to be out for at least the next couple of games, while Cody Zeller (shoulder), who has not participated in a game since March 20, was already being listed as questionable for Tuesday’s affair when he was ruled out on Saturday (April 4) against the Philadelphia 76ers. In other words, after taking one look at the injuries across the frontline and the depth behind the walking wounded, it’s pretty easy to see why Bismack Biyombo should be owned in every single format right now.
With just organic oatmeal-raw Noah Vonleh and crusted veteran Jason Maxiell behind BB, Biyombo is going to get all of the minutes he can possibly handle so long as his broken nose doesn’t cost him any time. Over 15 starts this season in the middle, Biyombo is averaging a very solid 7.1 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.6 blocks on 56.5 percent shooting. That’s pretty good production for a player who wasn’t deemed fit to play in the rotation earlier this season, and Biyombo currently has nothing but opportunity in front of him so long as Jefferson remains on the sidelines. With Charlotte’s playoff bid on life support, any minutes Big Al does manage to squeak out of his body at this point in the season are going to be in limited bursts, meaning there is still going to be a clear path for Biyombo even if Jefferson is somehow able to stay on the floor.
Since April began, the former No. 7 overall pick has come on strong with averages of 9.0 points, 9.3 rebounds and 2.7 blocks on 57.1 percent shooting, and he’s doing so while seeing just 26 minutes per game. There’s a real chance that Biyombo is pressed into playing larger-than-life minutes considering Vonleh is not a center and has had virtually no real experience this season, and while Maxiell has been a solid locker room presence and a nice story making the team out of training camp, he really has no business being on the court unless it’s in a blowout.
Discounting Biyombo would be foolish, and it doesn’t make a lot of sense for owners in need of a key statistic to let him needlessly float on the waiver wire.
Randy Foye, G Denver Nuggets: Three-Pointers
Ty Lawson (forearm) was a last-second scratch on Saturday because of an injury that he apparently sustained in Friday’s contest, but every time an injury pops up unexpectedly in Denver this season, it’s met with a firm side eye considering what’s been going on with that front office. Jameer Nelson was supposed to replace Lawson in the starting five, but he departed Saturday’s contest after just 12.5 minutes with a hip injury that’s been an issue for a while, and it doesn’t sound like a quick return is in the cards for the veteran point guard.
With Nelson perhaps looking at a multi-game absence Lawson’s status up in the air, forgotten man Randy Foye is in a great position to play difference-maker in some fantasy leagues down the stretch. Although rookie Erick Green is technically the next man up on the point guard depth chart, Foye is more than capable of holding his own in that role as a legitimate combo guard, and he’s poised to have even more responsibility with the injuries piling up. The Villanova product saw 35 minutes on Saturday, his most since March 19, and he responded with 14 points, five rebounds, five assists, a steal, a block and three triples. That might not be spectacular production, but that doesn’t mean it’s not real, and it certainly doesn’t mean that those numbers can’t help your squad cross the finish line.
Denver isn’t playing for anything beyond the next two weeks, and the although the Nuggets could turn to guys like Will Barton and Gary Harris as the season winds down and they evaluate the future, none of the guys who could see more time can play point guard, and that’s one major reason why Foye is an appealing waiver-wire addition where the pickings are between slim and none. Foye’s addition is admittedly a gamble considering the uncertain state of both Lawson and Nelson, but I’m fine rolling those dice right now considering what’s at stake.
Shane Larkin, PG New York Knicks: Steals, Opportunity
Jose Calderon (Achilles) is out for the season even if the Knicks want to throw it back to the pre-Phil Jackson era and not announce as much. Alexey Shved? He was a miracle for fantasy owners upon being handed big minutes at the point guard position, but his rib injury is going to cost him the remainder of the campaign, as well. And Langston Galloway? He’s just not a point guard no matter how many times someone wants to try and make him one.
Despite the Knicks deciding to decline Larkin’s option for next season very early in this year, the Miami product has seen at least 31 minutes in every game since March 20, and although he’ll continue to battle inconsistency along the way, we want guys with nothing but opportunity ahead, and that’s what Larkin has right now as evidenced by Sunday’s performance against the Philadelphia 76ers, where the third-year man got a whopping 41.5 minutes of playing time and churned out 15 points, 11 rebounds, seven dimes and a steal on a tidy 4-of-8 shooting.
Larkin also has at least one steal in all but two contests over that stretch of time, and he’s averaging better than a steal per contest in his new role as New York’s point guard of the (short-term) future. Because Larkin will toss in a handful of helpers on his good nights, he’s worth taking a chance on just to see what he’s capable of doing.
As his most recent Rotoworld blurb reads, Larkins’ “sky-high playing time is his greatest asset.” With about 10 days remaining in the season and titles still being decided, that is certainly the case.