Some guys need to start in order to be fantasy relevant. All season, fantasy players lamented John Henson‘s and Jared Sullinger‘s bench roles until, finally, their coaches gave in and inserted them into the lineup. Now, both are very hot fantasy commodities who should be owned in all leagues.
On the other hand, some guys can produce enough off the bench to be fantasy relevant. Although Nate Robinson and Andray Blatche play limited minutes, both have been able to be highly effective when seeing the court. Ultimately, though, the guys with 30+ minutes will always be more consistent than bench players who see fluctuating playing time.
Let’s take a look at some starters definitely worth picking up and some hot bench players worth taking a flier on.
John Henson (Owned in 37 percent of Yahoo leagues): After Larry Drew resisted inserting Henson into the starting lineup all season, he finally pulled the trigger on Saturday. Henson answered the call with 13 points, 13 rebounds, three blocks, and three assists on a season-high 34 minutes. On the season, Henson is averaging a terrific 15 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 3.2 blocks per 36 minutes and should produce that kind of stat line regularly if he continues to play 30+ minutes per game. Last season, Henson was impressive in his rookie campaign, albeit on limited time, averaging 16.5 points, 12.9 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks per 36 minutes.
Channing Frye (46 percent): Frye has been great over his last few weeks and is definitely worth starting in any league while he’s this hot. Over his last six games, the big man is averaging 17.5 points, 5.8 rebounds, 1.3 steals, 1.0 block, and 3.3 three-pointers per game while shooting an excellent 59 percent from the floor. He can come crashing back down if he loses minutes but, for now, he should be owned universally.
Nate Robinson (28 percent): Robinson isn’t playing a lot of minutes so it’ll be hard to sustain his current level of production but Nate is the quintessential waiver wire floater. You pick him up while he’s hot, then you drop him when he falls back down to earth. Then you keep an eye on him and snatch him right back up once he gets going again, that’s the kind of player he is. He’s hot now, putting up double-digit points in seven consecutive games despite averaging just 19.5 minutes per game. Over his last six, Robinson is averaging 15.3 points, 3.0 assists, 2.5 three-pointers, and a steal per game. He’s shooting a strong 49 percent from the floor and a phenomenal 50 percent from downtown over that stretch.
Brandon Knight (49 percent): Knight has been dealing with injuries and poor production all season but his last couple of games could be a sign that Knight is returning to form. Over his last two games, Knight has put up 37 points, 10 assists, 11 rebounds, four threes, and three steals while shooting a strong 56 percent from the floor and 67 percent from downtown. That percentage certainly won’t stay high but starting point guards are in high demand and Knight may be worth taking a flier on if you’re not overly concerned about game-to-game consistency.
Marvin Williams (17 percent): Williams has moved into the starting rotation and is running with the opportunity. Over his last seven games, Williams is averaging 14.6 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.1 threes, and a steal per game on 50.6 percent shooting. Over three games since moving into the lineup, Williams is averaging 16.3 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 2.3 three-pointers on 55.6 percent shooting. As long as he’s in the starting lineup, Williams should be a steady contributor of threes and rebounds.
Jared Sullinger (44 percent): In seven games since being named the starter, Sully is averaging 15.4 points, 9.9 rebounds, and 1.3 three-pointers per game while shooting a solid 48.4 percent. He’s averaging over 30 minutes per game since moving into the lineup and should remain a steady contributor as long as the minutes are there.
Andray Blatche (21 percent): Blatche has been featured in this column just about every week and, despite the return of Brook Lopez, remains a very solid fantasy contributor. After playing just 10 minutes on Friday due to an ankle injury, Blatche bounced back on Saturday with 21 points, eight rebounds, a block, a steal, and three longballs. The Nets are dealing with enough injuries to keep Blatche very fantasy relevant so he’s very ownable in most leagues until he proves otherwise.
Martell Webster (63 percent): Like Blatche, Wesbter has been featured here weekly and remains a must-have until Bradley Beal returns, maybe even beyond. In 10 games since moving into the lineup, first because of Trevor Ariza‘s injury and then because of Beal’s, Webster is averaging 16 points, 5.9 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.3 steals, 3.3 three-pointers, and shooting a solid 47 percent. He helps a bit everywhere and there’s no guarantee that Beal will be healed up in his two-week timetable.