Thursday, February 28, 2008

Injury Impact: With Andris Biedrins and Brandon Roy Out, Who's In?

NBA injuries are piling up so fast that we at FSE are being forced to start stacking multiple guys into injury analysis columns just to get by! Let's take a look at the recent injuries to Golden State center Andris Biedrins and Portland guard Brandon Roy with a focus on the underlying fantasy impact it will have on the rest of the guys on the roster.

Brandon Roy

Roy has been forced to miss the last two Blazer games with a sprained right ankle that has bothered him for much of the season. MRI results came back to reveal only a sprain and no structural damage, so Roy is being listed as day to day for the time being. There was some speculation he could return for Friday night's tilt with the Lakers, but he has all been ruled out for that game. Roy could return next week, however, he will most likely have to play with through this injury the rest of the season.

Fantasy Impact

Roy contributes in so many ways for the Blazers that in his absence it takes a small army of players to make up for his output. Roy is averaging nearly 20 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assists and a steal a game on the season and is the unquestioned leader of the young Blazers team. When Roy is out of the lineup, look for increased scoring by Travis Outlaw, Jarrett Jack and Martell Webster as well as more assists for Steve Blake who assumes more of the point guard responsibilities.

Outlaw is the main beneficiary of Roy's injury as he slides into the starting lineup at power forward and is almost guaranteed 30+ minutes a night. Outlaw has 20 point potential and can grab a few boards as well making him a pretty good play in Roy's absence. Jarrett Jack and Steve Blake will each see legitimate minutes at point guard, however, Jack will be a source of consistent points while Blake can offer fantasy owners help in assists. Both can also help a bit in steals and threes.

Among all of the young Blazers, sharpshooter Martell Webster is the guy to keep an eye on when Roy is out. He has seen the biggest playing time increase in the past two games, playing well over 30 minutes in both games as a starter with Nate McMillan shuffling the lineup. Webster is getting increased offensive touches and can be an excellent contributor in three pointers and points to a lesser extent. Webster can also help out on the boards, averaging four a game on the season.

Andris Biedrins 

Biedrins had an emergency appendectomy performed last Thursday and is out indefinitely. Based on past players that have had to miss time due to appendicitis, I would expect Biedrins to be out 2-3 weeks.

Fantasy Impact

With Biedrins' nearly 10 points and 10 boards out of the lineup, Don Nelson will look to a number of different players to fill the void in the middle. The hot name has been rookie Brandon Wright who has played a more significant role the last two games in Biedrins' absence to mixed results. On Friday against the Atlanta, Wright came off the bench to put up 8 points, 8 rebounds, 2 blocks and 1 highlight reel dunk in a losing effort. Tuesday, Wright got his second start of the season, but only played 9 minutes scoring 2 points and grabbing 3 boards. Nellie has always kept a short leash on rookies and Wright will be no exception. I don't expect much in the form of consistent production from the youngster during Biedrins stay on the sidelines.

Other guys who will see additional minutes are Mickael Pietrus, Austin Croshere and former lineup staple Matt Barnes. Out of the three, Barnes has a chance to provide the best contributions. Also keep in mind that Nellie recently admitted that the Chris Webber experiment isn't really working out. That has been clearly reflected in C-Webb's diminished playing time of late and I don't see him being fantasy-relevant going forward.

So in Golden State's situation, I would merely give slight upgrades to three guys from the regular starting lineup Don Nelson truly trusts - Stephen Jackson, Monta Ellis and Baron Davis. The absence of the Warriors' pseudo-center will have them using their small lineup and running more than ever. These three should see even more offensive looks and post some consistently impressive numbers during this stretch. Conversely, the one Warriors' starter I would downgrade a bit is Al Harrington as he will be forced to play out of position at center more often with Biedrins out.

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