As we do every Saturday afternoon, let’s examine the lessons from the Week That Was, review our Depth Chart Updates, the Upcoming Schedule and make our picks of Sits and Starts for the upcoming week.
This week we welcome back some stars who returned ahead of schedule (Kevin Love, Nene Hilario and Kyle Lowry), update on some of the more intriguing injury situations (Andrew Bynum, Brandon Roy and Andrew Bogut) and give some pointers on how to evaluate your team’s disappointments.
The Week That Was
Lesson #1: Welcome back Kevin Love, Nene Hilario and Kyle Lowry
Injuries are very frustrating in fantasy because they add a ton of uncertainty. Not only are timelines mysterious and frequently filled with setbacks, but we are often unsure of how the player will perform on their return. This uncertainty almost always leads to bad decisions in fantasy. We might take a risk on a player who may never play or struggles on return. We might hold on for too long. We might pass on a player because of fear. We might drop a player we shouldn’t. We might overvalue a replacement. Last week we learned of some these bad decisions.
Kevin Love returned at least two weeks before expected and showed no ill effects. If you had the chance to acquire him at a discount and passed, you are definitely kicking yourself today. He ended up only missing 10 games or 12% of the season whereas most were discounting him by at least 20%. The gap between him the fifth best player heading into the draft (Russell Westbrook) was large enough that at just a 12% discount, Love is projected to still outpoint Westbrook over the course of the season. Yet he was routinely going in the second round. The lesson we have to take is to treat elite players differently from the rest and be aggressive if you have the opportunity to acquire one.
On the flip side, Love’s return kills any value Derrick Williams and Dante Cunningham may have had. Be sure to thank them for their fill-in production but drop them and move on.
One final note on Love’s return, the announcement was made so close to game time that many an owner likely missed it and had him on the bench for that first game. It may cost them several categories in H2H this week. I missed it too, until one of our twitter followers asked about starting him. Keep those questions coming as we learn from you, too!
Nene’s return is very different from Love’s. Nene is not an elite player and hardly a star player anymore. He also has a much longer history injury and his foot injury is chronic (likely to recur) versus traumatic (a one time thing). In standard leagues, in particular H2H, he was and should have been dropped. His return like Love’s was before we expected – there was actually little in the way of a timeline ever provided – but for the wrong reasons; his team is desperate and needs him even if he isn’t fully healed. Nene started off the bench and played 20 minutes. He was clearly limited and only pulled down 1 rebound but he did get to the line making 8 of 10 free throws.
He makes a great speculative add given his historical production when healthy but fantasy owners shouldn’t expect the type of production from his heyday in Denver given his decline and the likely carryover effects of a foot injury on a big man – Andrew Bogut is a fair warning when it comes to players returning from a foot injury too soon.
The players most likely to suffer from his return are Trevor Booker and Jan Vesely, whose early season performances didn’t warrant owning even in deeper formats.
Unlike the two above, Lowry wasn’t injured on draft day and only a fool would have dropped him following his ankle sprain given the initial short timeline. The timeline was being pushed out until he suddenly dressed for a game. Like Nene, Lowry’s first game was off the bench but he started the next night and has shown no ill effects. The lesson here is in overvaluing his replacement, Jose Calderon, a player we discussed in detail last week. Calderon was a popular add following Lowry’s injury, was very successful with his time as starter and still retains value as a reserve but you must temper your expectations. His minutes already fell to 16 in just Lowry’s third game back and his usage, in particular the assists, have fallen dramatically, too. Don’t hold Calderon expecting a lighter version of him as a starter, look at his numbers coming off the bench this year and base your decision on those: 7.3pts-3asts-1.3 3pms.