January 07, 2010

Happy New Year everyone!

As coaches tinker with their lineups in the second third of the season, a few opportunities have opened up on the waiver wire. Let's take a look at some names you should be considering.

Yi Jianlian, Nets (61% owned in Yahoo! leagues): Yi returned to action on Dec. 23, and in 6 games since he's averaged 20.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, 1.3 steals, and 1.2 blocks on 49% FG shooting. He even made 4 treys in a game, although he won't be a reliable source of threes. Still, Yi is playing with a ton of confidence right now and he's getting lots of playing time. He should now be owned in almost every league, so grab him NOW if he's still available.

Omri Casspi, Kings (30% owned): Why in the world are people ignoring this guy? Over his last 5 games, Casspi is averaging 20.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 2.6 treys, and just 1.2 turnovers on 52% shooting. He's now made a three in 15 straight games, and his 47.1% three-point shooting ranks fourth in the league. Kevin Martin is still a few weeks away from returning, but even then, Casspi should have value because the guy simply knows how to play. If he's still available, consider dropping guys like Larry Hughes, Delonte West, Ronnie Brewer, and even Leandro Barbosa for him.

Roy Hibbert, Pacers (50% owned): Hibbert is back in the starting lineup and has value while Troy Murphy is out at least another week. The second-year center followed up a 25-point (9-10 FT), 13-rebound performance last Wednesday with 21 points (19-18 FG), 7 boards, and 3 blocks on Saturday, and then registered a career-high 26 points to go along with 8 boards and 4 blocks against Dwight Howard on Tuesday. Go grab him NOW if you need center help, because he should get more steady minutes as the season goes along (and the Pacers lose more games). He'll be a little inconsistent but his upside is fantastic. Consider dropping veterans like Ben Wallace, Rasheed Wallace, Tyson Chandler, Brad Miller, and Shaquille O'Neal for the talented 23-year old.

Quentin Richardson, Heat (18% owned): Q-Rich followed up a donut on New Year's Eve with 20 points, 5 boards, and 6 treys on Dec. 2. Surely these inconsistent performances are what's turned off fantasy owners, but if you need threes and are willing to spot start him, then Q-Rich is worth a look. The guy ranks eighth in threes per game, he's gotten 30-plus minutes in five of Miami's last seven games, and the Heat have a slew of four-game weeks coming up. If you're holding onto guys like Steve Blake or Rasual Butler, it makes sense to replace them with Q.

Matt Barnes, Magic (14% owned): Barnes has started the last four games for Orlando, averaging 15.8 points, 7 boards, 1.5 threes, and .5 blocks in those contests. As long as he's getting 30-plus minutes Barnes is worth owning, as he's capable of filling the stat sheet in every category. Struggling small forwards who I recommend dropping for Barnes include: Grant Hill, Ryan Gomes, Andres Nocioni, C.J. Miles, Al Thornton, and maybe even Tayshaun Prince and Marvin Williams.

Luther Head, Pacers (15% owned): Head has always been a competent shooter/scorer, and now he's starting for the Pacers. In his last five games, Head is averaging 19.4 points and 1.8 threes on 47% FG and 90% FT shooting. He's also dishing out a fair amount of assists while keeping his turnovers low, and will continue to get decent playing time as long as Danny Granger is hurt and T.J. Ford is out of the rotation. If you're in an ultra-deep league, Head should be added immediately.

Eric Maynor, Thunder (2% owned): Fantasy owners have been slow to add the rookie, despite the fact that he's dropped 16 dimes grabbed 6 steals, blocked 3 shots, and nailed 4 treys in his last four games. The rookie can play, and he fits in perfectly with the Thunder's young and talented squad. Maynor isn't getting as many minutes as Minnesota's Ramon Sessions, but his overall numbers are superior. Pick him up if you need assists in really deep leagues.

Wayne Ellington, Timberwolves (1% owned): Ellington has shown flashes of his talent before, but he's still owned in only a handful of leagues. The rookie has quietly scored 42 points, pulled down 14 boards, and made 6 treys in his last three games. He finally has confidence in his shot, which is a very good thing for a shooter. With Minnesota bringing up the rear in the Western Conference, the T'wolves may as well give their rookies big minutes, so watch for Wayne's minutes to rise as the season goes on.

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