Players to Target Due to Injury (12/09/15)

By Tom W. Brewer @Tom_W_Brewer
Next Man Up - Players to target due to injury.

One key to NBA Daily Fantasy success is keeping an eye on the injury report. With starters peacocking in suits on the bench, rotation players are getting more playing time and an opportunity to contribute to their teams—and to your fantasy lineup.

Today, we'll have a look at some injured players and the guys on their teams you should target for your Daily Fantasy lineups.

Injured player: Harrison Barnes – Small Forward, Golden State Warriors

On paper, this is a huge loss for the undefeated champs. Barnes is a stud. He's a catch-and-shoot weapon from anywhere on the floor, a good rebounder for his size, and a tremendous defender who's knocking two percent off opposing players' field goal percentage. The guy does it all. Unfortunately, Barnes is out until at least December 13 with an ankle injury.

Replacement: Andre Iguodala

This is what makes the Warriors so damn tough. You think you get a break with Barnes out and they throw a former All-Star and last year's Finals MVP at you. No wonder they can't be stopped. Iguodala is a solid DFS play because he fills up the stat sheet. He might not get a lot of buckets, but he does a little bit of everything, and it all adds up. In fact, he's averaged north of 23 fantasy points over his last three games.

Injured player: Rudy Gobert – Center, Utah Jazz

The Stifle Tower is out indefinitely with an MCL sprain and no timetable's been set for his return. This is a major blow for an up-and-coming Jazz team who had their eyes on the playoffs. Gobert was Utah's defensive stalwart, protecting the rim like a secret service agent and averaging 2.6 blocks and almost 11 boards per game before he went down.

Replacement: Trevor Booker

The 6'8” Booker can't match Gobert's length or shot-blocking ability, but the Jazz aren't going to ask him to, so he's off the hook there. Expect Booker to spend his extended minutes staying within himself by shooting within 10 feet of the hoop and being active on the boards. So far in December (small sample size, I know) Booker's usage rate is up nearly four percent, and he's grabbing 52% of the team's offensive rebounds, which puts him in great position to score. No wonder his numbers are up—Booker is averaging 24.4 fantasy points over his last five games.

Injured player: Al Jefferson – Center, Charlotte Hornets

Bad news for Buzz City: Charlotte's Mr. Do Everything is out two-to-three weeks with a strained calf. A paint-eater with great feet and a nose for the ball, Big Al is a maestro at creating his own shot close to the basket. Steve Clifford's Hornets will miss his 13+ points and six rebounds a night.

Replacement: Nic Batum

This is one of those situations where you can't just slide the next man on the depth chart into your daily fantasy lineup. Sure, Spencer Hawes and Frank Kaminsky will get more playing time, but it's not like the offense is running through either of them. Batum, on the other hand, will be expected to pick up the slack. Here's Batum's season averages so far: 17 points, 6.6 rebounds, 4.7 assists. He's already a good fantasy play, but with Jefferson on the sidelines, he's practically a can't-miss. In fact, over his last five games Batum is almost 35 fantasy points a night on FanDuel.

Replacement: Omri Casspi

At 6'9”, Casspi has been giving the Kings defensive length off the bench, and his offensive numbers have been good, too. The six-year vet is averaging over 11 points and six rebounds this season, and putting up a respectable 21.5 DFS points. His minutes are up over his last five games, and his fantasy numbers have followed. Look for Casspi to get many of the touches that belonged to Cauley-Stein and contribute about 23 fantasy points to your lineup. Hot tip: Casspi has been ruled out of Thursday's game against Boston, so you'll have to wait to put him in your lineup.

Replacement: Ben McLemore

Here's another counterintuitive choice. You'd be forgiven if you thought I was going to devote this space to Kostas Koufos, but McLemore's benefitted the most from the hole in the Kings' rotation. The young guard is averaging almost five more minutes of court time over the team's last five contests, averaging 20 fantasy points per game in the process. If you can catch him on the road, it's a bonus: McLemore is averaging over five more fantasy points per game away from Sleep Train Arena.

Injured player: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson – Shooting Guard, Brooklyn Nets

Remember that scene in Tommy Boy when it looks like all hope is lost for Callahan Auto? Chris Farley's Tommy Callahan has failed to save the family business and the entire city of Sandusky, Ohio thanks to some underhanded business at the hands of his con-man brother-in-law. Dejected, Tommy sits on a bench next to his right-hand-man Richard and then, this happens:

The Rondae Hollis-Jefferson injury is Brooklyn's crushed bench. The rookie had been averaging 24 minutes, six points, and seven rebounds in his 14 starts, and was one of the few bright spots for the 6-15 Nets. Hollis-Jefferson is out indefinitely with an ankle fracture that requires surgery. Holy schnikes.

Replacement: Shane Larkin

Bet you thought I was going to say Bogdan Bogdanovic but no, it's Larkin who'll shine the most in RJH's absence. Right now, he's backing up Jarrett Jack at the point, but if he stays hot, Lionel Hollins is sure to play Larkin and Jack together in the back court. In his last five games, he's put up an average of, eight points, four assists, and two steals per game. All that adds up to over 20 DFS points a night. There's no way the Nets can keep Larkin off the floor right now: That would be more disappointing than Ray Zalinksy refusing to buy one million Callahan brake pads.

Daily fantasy is a game of inches—you need to be just an iota better than the competition to win big. Keep an eye on team injury reports and use our Next Man Up tool to see how one player's injury affects his teammates' fantasy numbers. It could be just the edge you need.