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Tuesday, March 25th, 2008 at 12:32 pm  |  25 responses

Fantasy Week 22: It’s Playoff Time

Dirk’s bad timing, and plenty of waiver players for the stretch run

By Emry DowningHall

Did you catch that clip of Mark Cuban looking extra salty after the Spurs defeated the Mavericks on Sunday? His expression is the NET result of a blockbuster trade that’s yielded an 0-8 record against above .500 teams, combined with watching his franchise player crumble on the floor after attempting to pin a layup.

Dirk’s MRI has confirmed previous reports that he suffered a knee and high ankle sprain and is going to miss at least two weeks of action.

I own Dirk in a daily league, and although it’s going to be a painful drop, owners are left with little choice considering the best case scenario is a comeback in the final week of the season.

In Dirk’s absence, Brandon Bass will see extended minutes and Jerry Stackhouse will step into an increased role in the offense. Stackhouse has been playing well and should be picked up if he’s available on your waiver wire, while Bass will have an opportunity to average 10 points and 8 rebounds with the extra minutes.

Gilbert Arenas has been toying with the emotions of fantasy owners all season and the saga may have reached its climax on Sunday. Reports surfaced that Arenas was likely to suit up for the Wizards’ nationally televised game against the Pistons. The Wizards doctors apparently didn’t get the memo, and Arenas wasn’t cleared to play. A visibly frustrated Arenas said, “Ya’ll don’t have to write any more. I’m not coming back this season.”

Arenas’s reaction was the result of an emotional letdown after hoping he would be cleared to return. Eddie Jordan stated, and Arenas later confirmed, that the knee will be re-evaluated next week and he still may play this season. I don’t shoot craps, so I’m not rolling the dice by holding a player who might return for 8 games.

However, if you’re a top seed and were awarded a bye this week it doesn’t hurt to stash Arenas and hope he’s cleared by next week’s lineup deadline.

The Pacers announced this weekend that Jamaal Tinsley will be shutting it down for the remainder of the season, news which came as a surprise to absolutely no one who remotely follows basketball. As per the norm, Tinsley’s 2007-2008 season showed signs of brilliance blended with a propensity for injury and controversy.

Fantasy owners who gambled with Tinsley earlier in the year enjoyed monster assists totals and hopefully moved him while he was hot. I feel like I’m taking a high percentage shot when I predict Jamaal won’t be suiting up in a Pacers uniform next season.

The Pacers also announced that Jermaine O’Neal’s knee has responded extremely well to treatment and he could return to the team within a week. If O’Neal was dropped in your league, and you can afford to stash him, now is a good time to swoop him up. Even if his offense is limited, his rebounding and blocks will make solid contributions for any playoff push.

For many fantasy formats, week 22 marks the start of the postseason. The fantasy playoff format is a bit backwards, in that the best players are prepping for the actual playoffs, and minutes and production are much harder to figure out.

As frustrating as that can be, owners are also forced to deal with phantom injuries – How’s your back feeling Shawn Marion? – and pre-mature shutdowns from contributors on teams looking to get their franchise logo on a few more ping pong balls.

With that on the table, let’s take a look at some guys who are primed to contribute for their teams in the final weeks of the season.

Bonzi Wells – With every game that passes, Wells looks more comfortable in New Orleans. On Saturday night he broke out for an amazing 8 steals, and performed well offensively in week 21. Byron Scott is going to need Bonzi’s toughness in the playoffs, and I expect him to get the majority of the minutes at the two spot the rest of the way. If you’re toying with a roster spot, I think Wells is a terrific addition for his ability to score, steal, and rebound.

Luke Ridnour – Earl Watson banged up his right calf last night and his inability to stay healthy has opened the door for Luke Ridnour in Seattle. Although there hasn’t been an injury report on Watson as of yet, he missed last nights game and could be out longer. If he’s going to miss extended time with injury, Ridnour will instantly become a must add player.

Chris Quinn – Pat Riley announced that Jason Williams will be inactive for at least a week with a cast of his hand leaving the point guard duties to Chris Quinn. On Monday night Quinn had 24 points, 4 assists and 4 steals and should continue to produce the rest of the way. He’s a must-add guy for the week and if Williams shuts down, for the season.

Spencer Hawes – The Kings’ season is a wrap and with Brad Miller dealing with an injury to his elbow it makes sense to limit his run and develop Hawes. The rook has shown flashes of brilliance this season and put up 19 points, 12 boards, and 3 swats on Saturday night. There’s no reason he shouldn’t see extended minutes the rest of the way and be able to contribute for fantasy owners in need a big fella. Monitor Brad Miller’s health and if Hawes sees consistent minutes, add him right away.

John Salmons – Here’s another King who stands to benefit from an injury to a starter. If Ron Artest goes out for multiple games, pick up Salmons immediately. He was a DNP on Saturday night and may continue to rack them up the rest of the way. Salmons was a beast at the start of the season and adding a player of his caliber in the right situation is exactly the kind of move that wins fantasy leagues. If Salmons is already owned, Francisco Garcia would also benefit from long term absence of Artest.

Darko Milicic – He’s been as inconsistent as anyone in fantasy hoops this year but Darko has played well lately and is always a solid source of blocks. Memphis has been a guessing game all season but owners in need of a boost to their frontline would be wise to add the Serbian Assassin.

Nenad Krstic – I’ve given you three options at the 5 spot this week and I’ll be the first to admit they’re far from guarantees. Krstic is the best center in New Jersey but his tick has been limited this season with injuries and conditioning problems. He played 34 minutes on Saturday and if that trend continues his value will be fantastic the rest of the way. He’s worth adding or at the very least monitoring his minutes, if he gets over 30 again, pick him up.

Mardy Collins – My Temple bias may be showing on this one, but Collins can really play and when given the opportunity he’s performed quite well. Nate Robinson missed another game on Monday with knee soreness, and with Isiah Thomas mixing things up in New York Collins may once again finish the season on a high note. He doesn’t shoot a good percentage but will wrack up the rebounds, assists and steals.

Flip Murray – He should already be owned in your league but if he’s available pick him up. His shooting can be erratic but he’s versatile enough to produce in other categories and is also a great source of steals.

Jeff Green – 23 points, 7 rebounds and 3 dimes in 34 minutes on Saturday combined with 4 games this week makes Green a very solid add to fantasy rosters. He’s been up and down this season but should be getting all the minutes he can handle the rest of the way and producing in all formats.

Good luck in the playoffs and remember the ultimate goal is to survive this week into the next. If that means dropping someone like Gilbert Arenas, Elton Brand, or Dirk you’re better off making those moves sooner rather than later. However, in the case of Brand, the Clippers are now saying he’s 100% healthy and could be available for the final six games of the season.

The Magic are the only team playing 2 games this week so if you’re holding onto fringe players like Maurice Evans or Keith Bogans in deep leagues, part ways for one of the players listed above.

I’ve received a bunch of emails from readers in Yahoo formats asking me what system Yahoo uses to break ties in head to head leagues. If this applies to you, this will explain everything.

As always, thanks for reading and please leave any questions in the comments section and I will get back to you as soon as possible.

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  • needingadvice

    hey emry i am holding on to gil but was wondering is it worth it to drop him and pick up jermaine oneal off the waivers

  • bergs father

    as always good column…..What have you heard about zach randolph? I am in the playoffs and cannot afford isiah to ruin my quest for the title by hitting him w. the constant DNP…what is your advice regarding randolph?

  • Carlos Booser

    Thanks for the waiver guys, very helpful. I’m going to add Krstic, Salmons and add/drop Collins and maybe Quinn…. or should I add Quinn first?

  • http://www.slamonline.com Emry DowningHall

    BF: I think you’ve told me you’re in a 12 team league, if I’m mistaken and it’s a shallower league, there may be better options on your wire but… assuming it’s a standard 12, you’ve got to put up with Isiah’s lineup changes and hang onto Z-Bo. He played him at the center slot last night and although it wasn’t a monster game his production was solid. Basically my advice is to hang onto him unless you hear he’s going to shut it down. The DNP-CDs are disturbing when a guy makes that much money, but these are the Knicks and that’s how they roll.

  • Ol’ Marty-Mar

    Solid waiver suggestions, Em. Respect.
    We’ve talked before about players out there with the mindset – “Gets Mines!” I think at the end of the season we see an awful lot of this, especially players on bad teams, who are singin Kanye when they step out on the floor [I go for mine, I got to shine.] Ricky Davis is an obvious example. I think John Salmons would be a really good example of this if he can see some more tick the rest of the way. Is there anyone else you can think of?

  • http://www.slamonline.com Emry DowningHall

    Haha, that’s hilarious… The “Gets Mines” team should erect statues to Eddie House in his 6th man role back in the day with the Suns. He’s slowed down a bit but still has a place on that team. Nate Robinson likes to let them fly, Tim Thomas, Wally S. is definitely getting his, if Arenas comes back for the final 6 games or so, even if he only plays 20 minutes… he’ll be squeezing. Antoine Walker on the Celtics got his. Glen Robinson, Bucks, Jason Terry on the Hawks… Rick Berry got his.

  • Ol’ Marty-Mar

    hahaha, oh you’re dipping back into the day! Well if you wanna go there then i’m gonna have to say that Pistol Pete Gots His!!

  • http://www.slamonline.com Emry DowningHall

    I never saw Pistol play but, he likely got his too. The thing is, he’s as much renowned for his passing as scoring ‘cept his teams were always bunz. Dominique Wilkins got his, Sasha Vujacic, JR Smith might be a captain, How can I forget Jamal Crawford, Stephen Jackson, Ben Gordon, Z-Bo, on the fence about Rashad McCants…

  • Ken

    Hey Emry. Great column as usual. I have a bye this week in my league, and there’s lots of good players on the waiver. I feel like the weakest links on my team going into the playoffs are Kaman (injuries, but I’ll wait on him), Moon, Udrih (injuries), Dampier, Bonzi and Devin Harris. Would you recommend dumping any of them for any of the following people who are available? Pietrus, Flip, Kendrick Perkins, Salmons, Gooden, Skip, Scola, Ronnie Brewer or Warrick.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Emry DowningHall

    Ken, appreciate the love. I’m jealous of your waiver wire man. Since you have a bye it’s smart to wait on Kaveman, he’s getting healthy. I would rather have Warrick, Scola, Gooden, Skipover Udrih, Moon, Bonzi. Warrick has been big lately and Udrih is injured. Moon is rebounding well but Scola/Warrick/Gooden are better options. If you’re looking for a PG Skip is doing his thing. Hang onto Harris, and Dampier for sure. But Bonzi could be dropped for those guys as well. Leave Pietrus, Perkins, Brewer alone…

  • phunkykarma

    All-NBA Injured team :
    5-YAO
    4-Elton Brand
    3-Dirk
    2-Gil
    1-Shan Livingston.

  • Ken

    Thanks for the advice. Given that I need a SG, who would you recommend between Bonzi and Flip Murray?

  • http://www.another48minutes.blogspot.com Gerard Himself

    Dropped Travis Outlaw and Charlie V. (was sucking once again), got Brendan Haywood and Hakim Warrick (once again). But I still have Ricky Davis on my roster, and can’t find a decent enough guard who can shoot 3′s. Of the names you named Murray is interesting, but too inconsistent, and that basically is the same thing with Salmons or Green. Salmons is interesting, but who knows if he’ll play 10 minutes and score 2, or play 40 and score 20? I like Bonzi Wells, always did, but I’m not too sure about him if he only had one very good week. I’m searching the waiver wire, checking my options, but it’s just not there at the moment.

  • http://www.another48minutes.blogspot.com Gerard Himself

    one final thing; Broke Back Marion is available in my League…. do you think he’ll return?

  • http://www.slamonline.com Emry DowningHall

    Ken: I would take Flip but I would add/drop between the two of them and wouldn’t be married to either guy. Meaning that, if Bonzi blows up (he played poorly tonight) a couple night, pick him up… Flip is guaranteed more minutes tho… but on Tuesday night Deiner played more than them… the best option isn’t the SG… it’s Scola and Warrick.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Emry DowningHall

    Whatsup Gerard… I don’t think Marion will return. It’s only a hunch, wait a day on him and see if he travels with the Heat on their roadtrip. If he goes, add him, if not, it’s likely a wrap on 07-08. BTW, I like that nickname for him. As for your waiver pickup… Good move with Brenda and Warrick, I agree with you on the guards, it is what it is though… slim as shawn bradley out there.

  • Be So Nasty

    i have Dirk, D-Wade, Jermaine O’Neal, Earl Watson, Hedo, Al Thornton, and Daniel Gibson… all of which are hurt. I just dropped Dirk for Stacks, and i dropped D-Wade last week for Boobie Gibson in hopes that he would be good by this week.

    I was in 4th place going into the first round, and saying that my out look is bleak is being optimistic.
    The fantasy gods are looking the other way on this one.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Emry DowningHall

    BSN: Sounds like it’s that kind of year for you, wow, that’s a lot of injuries man… suprised you don’t have Yao and Bynum to finish off that mess. Hold your head. You did well to stay in it.

  • Bird PANTS

    Hey Emry, I have a bye this week and I currently have Gilbert on my roster. Elton Brand is available and said he expects to play in the final six games of the year. My question is, should I drop Gilbert and take Brand?? Thanks

  • http://www.slamonline.com Emry DowningHall

    BP: That’s tough, how are you fixed at point guard? I like Brand because they are actually saying he might play in 8 games now. So you have that as a guarantee where as Gil is still on the shelf… I do think Gil will be back next week though. Can you add both of them? That might be risky. If you can hold out through Sunday, see what else surfaces, if you have to move now… keep in mind, the Clippers have 13 games left, so he will be out likely another week if the numbers hold. I think I would drop Gil, but more so because he’s supposed to be playing 20 minutes when he returns, which wont be tremendous benefit anyway. If you’re worried about your opponent grabbing Brand, and can survive through the DNP’s, it’s a good move.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Emry DowningHall

    Needingadvice: Sorry for the delay, your comments were awaiting moderation I guess… With either guy you’re not sure exactly when they are coming back. If you can afford to hold one of them, I think I would rather have JO at this point, just because he has stated he’s coming back, but it’s really a guessing game and although I stay in tune I don’t have any more information then’s out there. If you need a center more than a PG, go with JO, otherwise, stay with Arenas.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Emry DowningHall

    Carlos Booser: Quinn is a must add until JWill gets back, since it’s the playoffs use him now and wait and cut him if White Chocolate takes his burn.

  • http://www.youtube.com/cityleaguehoops cityleaguehoops

    Don’t worry Heat fans, Chris Quinn will be fine. Here’s some evidence of what he’s capable of.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_iZTJMEHS8A

  • T Bone

    hey Emry,
    thanks for another insightful post. gotta ask; any idea if Turk is going to be playing on friday? i am in the middle of a very tight 4-5 playoff matchup and Turk has been great for me all year, and im sure he is going to be better than some scrub of my bench….if he plays! any ideas?

  • http://www.slamonline.com Emry DowningHall

    TBone: He is listed as day to day as of Wednesday, I don’t think there will be an extensive report today but tomorrow there should be. The initial outlook on the hand are fantastic for what it could have been, I expect him to play but that’s just a hunch.

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