We are at the point in the year where most owners are at least semi-content with their rosters and are looking to make minor adjustments to get an edge in their weekly matchups. You will likely find dozens of fantasy columns devoted to obvious information like “Start Michael Redd,” or to “Sit Andrei Kirilenko, he’s hurt,” but you won’t hear it here.
I’m all about the research baby, and here are six sleeper pickups in standard 12-team leagues that you can stash on your bench and watch as they blossom before your eyes.
Andris Beidrins, Center, Golden State Warriors: A little late on this one – I know – but he’s not getting the major burn yet (24.5 minutes per game), and has a few hurdles to leap before people really jump on him.
Beidrins has shown a high level of competence in his first meaningful bit of playing time with the Warriors, putting up 8.5 points per game, 7.25 rebounds per game and 2.12 blocks per game.
Watch for injured forward/center Ike Diogu (ankle) to come back and steal some minutes from the 6’11” Latvian center, but chances are he’ll continue starting due to an excellent first couple of weeks.
Nick Collison, Forward, Seattle Supersonics: Projected starting center Robert Swift went down early in the year, unclogging the front court logjam and effectively giving Collison a chance to shine.
Now, in his third year, the former Kansas Jayhawk is putting up a career high 6.38 rpg, exactly one block per night, and scoring a pedestrian 6.75 ppg through eight games.
His playing time has ranged from 18-34 minutes per game, but over the last five he’s been on the court for nearly 31 – a sure sign that coach Bob Hill is gaining confidence in him. Higher rebounding and scoring totals are sure to follow, so stop reading this, pick him up, then come back.
Tyronn Lue, Guard, Atlanta Hawks: Currently, Lue is an excellent injury replacement for Speedy Claxton (knee), but his exceptional play should keep him on the court for around 25 minutes a night, which is enough to do some damage.
Over his last four games, Lue has scored 18.25 ppg and dished 7.5 dimes a night, proving his worth in a very tangible way.
Continuing at this clip is impossible when the incumbent Claxton returns, but he may be the better scoring option and has opened some eyes in Hot-Lanta.
Jeff Foster, Center, Indiana Pacers: An decent option in most rotisserie leagues, Foster has shown his rebounding prowess for years, but seems lost in the shuffle after the acquisition of Al Harrington this past summer.
Despite the decreased playing time – just 18.1 minutes a game this year, down from 25 in 2005-06 – the reserve center is still pumping out stats, grabbing 7.3 boards, collecting 1.6 steals, and swatting nearly one shot a game this year.
At this point, it would seem the seven-year veteran Foster is stuck behind Harrington, Granger and O’Neal, but stash him on your bench and play the matchups. He’ll get most of his playing time versus bigger teams and reward you with good “big man” stats.
Lawrence Roberts, Forward, Memphis Grizzlies: The NBA sophomore Roberts is getting a chance to play with Pau Gasol out, and may unseat Stromile Swift and Hakim Warrick before long.
Averaging just 20.7 mpg, Roberts has sparkled off the bench to the tune of 7.2 rebounds, one block, and one steal per night. He’s not scoring like you’d hope, but he has made 75 percent of his free throws and is shooting 44 percent from the field, which can be considered respectable numbers.
Freddie Jones, Guard, Toronto Raptors: It’s time to snag this guy before all your friends find out Morris Peterson isn’t starting anymore.
Jones has proven he can handle a starting role in the past with the Pacers, but was stuck behind the likes of Stephen Jackson, so he never got the PT to do it on a regular basis.
Now, in Toronto, he’ll get the minutes and the shots as the second scoring option behind uber-stud Chris Bosh. Expect increases across the board from the athletic third year guard. Something in the neighborhood of 14 points, four rebounds, three assists, and a steal per game aren’t out of reach.
Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you all next week.
Jamaal Gilbert is an aspiring sportswriter who contributes regularly and is one of a growing number of fantasy experts who write for the Cafe. You can catch up with Jamaal in the Cafe's forums where he posts under the name of jamastaballa. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org with feedback on any article he writes. Except for the bad ones.
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