3 Players to Target (01/13/16)

By Tom W. Brewer @Tom_W_Brewer
NBA DFS - Three Players to Target Due to Injury

I don't know if you've noticed, but this NBA season has been riddled with injuries. I don't have the official numbers on this, but I'm fairly certain there are more injured NBA players this week than there were think pieces about the violent circus that was the Bengals/Steelers game. Every time I flip on NBA TV, it seems like yet another player is having a knee scoped or is diagnosed with a separated shoulder. It's dizzying.

Not only do all the ripped ligaments and torn muscles hurt your favorite team's chance to win, but they also wreak havoc on your Daily Fantasy play. It's a numbers game: Fewer available players means fewer opportunities for different lineups, which means fewer chances to win. It's hard to get an edge, but don't worry. We've got your back with some players that have been on the rise since their teammates have gone down.

Before we get down to brass tax, let's talk strategy. There was a time when you could say, “This team's starter at this position is out, so the next guy on the depth chart is a good fantasy play,” and be done with it. But those were the pre-LeBron, pre-Warriors days when positions weren't so blurry and offensive sets were offensive sets regardless of who was on the floor. In today's NBA, more time doesn't necessarily mean more fantasy points. To see a real-life example of this, look no further than the Toronto Raptors.

Just last week, the Raps announced that small forward DeMarre Carroll was having arthroscopic surgery on a right knee that's been troubling him all season long. Bad news for a Toronto team that has their eyes on a championship. Logic would dictate that Terrence Ross and James Johnson, the next threes on the bench, would fill a fantasy void now that they are getting more playing time. But that hasn't been the case. In an admittedly small sample of games, the difference in their offensive output has been negligible, and that's true for almost the entire roster. Only point guard Kyle Lowry has shown a noticeable fantasy uptick. Even in Lowry's case, he's not scoring more, but he is picking up the slack in terms of assists, steals, and rebounds. In the future, it's likely that either Ross or Johnson will rise to the opportunity, but you aren't playing DFS in the future you're playing it now, so here are some tips you can use today.

1. Brandon Knight – SG/PG, Phoenix Suns

Suns' PG Eric Bledsoe's season ended on December 27 thanks to a torn meniscus, and the Phoenix offense has leaned heavily on Knight ever since. He's scored under 25 fantasy points just once since Bledsoe's injury, and he's putting up almost 9 more “real” PPG in January than he did in December. With or without Bledsoe, the Suns play fast. We rank them as one of the top ten teams in possessions per game, and many of those possessions are ending with Brandon Knight putting up fantasy numbers.

2. Garrett Temple – SG, Washington Wizards

Rotoworld and other outlets are reporting that Bradley Beal might be close to returning to action after being out since December 9 with a right fibula injury. That's good news for the Wiz, but doesn't do much for your fantasy lineup. Like Washington, you should turn to five-year vet Garrett Temple in Beal's absence. Temple has stepped up, particularly since 2016 began. This month, he's averaging 12.5 points per game compared to 8.3 PPG in December, and he's dishing out one more dime per game as well. Over his last five, Temple's scoring about 20 fantasy points per game, making him a worthy play.

3. Chris Paul – PG, Los Angeles Clippers

Before you get all indignant and bent out of shape about an amazing player like CP3 being on this list, hear me out. Ever since Blake Griffin injured his left quad back in late December, Cliff Paul's alter ego has been even more spectacular than usual. His points, assists, and rebounds are all up significantly. Just compare these lines.
  • December: 18.4 points-3.4 rebounds-9.9 assists-2.3 steals
  • January: 21.5 points-5.3 rebounds-12.8 assists-1.8 steals

Since Griffin's been out of the Lob City lineup, Paul's gone from All-World to other worldly. His usage rate is up to 30% from 26%, and until Blake's back, expect Paul to be the key cog in the Clippers' offense.

Remember that a team's injuries at one position sometimes mean that players at other spots will up their game. Pay attention to how injuries affect lineups with our Next Man Up tool to play smart and get money.