We start the New Year off with disappointing news about one of the NBA’s and fantasy’s best players. The Cavs announced on New Year’s Day that LeBron James would miss the next two weeks with knee and back strains, an absence that could reach as many at 10 games. The Cavs are hopeful that the two weeks of treatment, which will include anti-inflammatories, will help get James back to 100% and prevent further injury. James has been a durable player his whole career, never missing more than five straight games so the news is definitely rare.

You’re not going to find a replacement for James off waivers and will just have to wait out the two weeks until your star player is hopefully healthy and back in the lineup. For the Cavs, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love will see upticks in fantasy value, as they are asked to carry more of the offensive load.

Love missed Wednesday’s game against the Bucks with back spasms, but is expected to return to the lineup on Friday against the Hornets. This could be a monster game for Love and Irving, as the Hornets won’t have Al Jefferson or Lance Stephenson (more on them later).

Sticking with the Cavaliers, they were granted an injury exception for the season-ending injury to Anderson Varejao. The Cavs will have $4.9 million to sign or trade for one player, whose salary does not exceed that amount. This is important because it could adversely affect Tristan Thompson’s value. He’s starting and playing big minutes now (15.3 ppg and 12.3 rpg over the last three games), but could see those diminish if the Cavs make a move for another big man.

The Cavs still have another trade exception from trading Keith Bogans back in September, which they still haven’t used. So while they’ve been granted another trade exception, there’s nothing to report yet. This is a situation to watch, as it could affect fantasy values in Cleveland.

The Charlotte Hornets have also announced that they’ll be without their best player for a couple weeks as well. Center Al Jefferson has strained his adductor muscle in his groin and will sit out a minimum of four weeks with the injury. Big Al will have plenty of time to lay on his gargantuan bed in the meantime.

Jefferson was Charlotte’s leading scorer and off to a great start in fantasy this season (18 ppg, 8.2 rpg and 1.1 bpg). He will be greatly missed on the Hornets, who are already missing Lance Stephenson, who has missed the team’s last seven games with a pelvic strain. Unfortunately, the Hornets have yet to provide a timetable for his return.

Bismack Biyombo will start for Jefferson, but does not have the same offensive skills as Jefferson. Biyombo put up 9 points, 7 rebounds and 3 blocks in a start on the last day of 2014. This is the type of line we can expect from Biyombo. He started nine games last season, averaging 4.7 ppg, 8.2 rpg, and 1.3 bpg. There’s value to be had in blocks, but he just doesn’t score or shoot well enough from the line (career 50% FT shooter) to be a must own player.

Since Biyombo lacks the offensive production to replace Jefferson, the Hornets will ask Kemba Walker, Gerald Henderson, and Cody Zeller to carry the team on offense.

Kemba has really stepped up his game in the last couple weeks. He’s had eight 20-point games in the last twelve, including a 42-point explosion. The field goal percentage will always leave something to be desired, but he’s contributing across the board. With plays like this, he’s even averaging 0.5 bpg as a point guard!

Walker is already owned, leaving Gerald Henderson as a strong pickup in leagues. He doesn’t shoot threes well, but has been a back end fantasy player in the past, averaging 14 ppg, 4 rpg, and 2.6 apg in 32 mpg as recent as last year. With Jefferson out for four weeks, Henderson should approach these numbers. He already put up 19/4/5 and 16/4/2 lines in the last two games.

For deeper leagues, Cody Zeller is a guy to keep an eye on. He was already starting prior to Big Al’s injury, but should see his minutes increase. In the past two games, he’s averaged 6 ppg, 6 rpg, 2 apg, 2 spg, and 1.5 bpg. Zeller won’t be dominant in any one category, but can provide all-around production, like his brother Tyler Zeller in Boston.

Lastly, guard Alec Burks will miss the remainder of the season, after undergoing should surgery this week. Part of the Jazz rebuilding plan, Burks was off to a solid start, averaging 13.9 ppg, 4.2 rpg, and 3 apg. He can be safely dropped in redraft leagues, but at 23, remains a back end fantasy keeper in dynasty leagues.

The Jazz will insert Rodney Hood into the starting lineup in Burks’ place, but isn’t a recommended option, except in the deepest of leagues. He’s averaging 6 ppg, 4.5 rpg, and 3 apg in the last four starts.

Owned in 68% of Yahoo leagues, point guard Trey Burke should be the biggest beneficiary of the injury. He’s not shooting the ball well (36% from the field), but put up a 26/4/6 line against the Timberwolves. It’s this kind of potential for production that makes him the biggest pickup of the week.

  1. Joe says:
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    Are any of these trade offer ideas advisable and feasible in a 10-team, h2h, 11-man 9-cat? I’m willing to overpay a bit to trade Melo for something useful before he may get shut down. These may be aspirational, but I could use feedback, even in a vacuum.

    Melo, Conley, and Tyreke for CP3 and Monroe

    Melo, MCW, and Tyreke for Bosh and T.Parker

    Melo, MCW, Tyreke for Lebron and Deng

    Melo, Conley, MCW, Tyreke for Wall and Vucevic/Horford

    • Peter Kap

      Peter Kap says:
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      @Joe: I think it is wise to trade Carmelo and/or Tyreke Evans, but I think you might be giving up too much on your side in these trades.

      Trade 1: CP3 is injury prone as well. A better offer might be Melo and Tyreke for CP3. I think Monroe is overrated. He doesn’t do much besides score and rebound. Better real life player.

      Trade 2: I have Bosh and Carmelo similarly ranked. And I’d rather have both MCW and Tyreke than Parker.

      Trade 3: This trade is probably the best of the trades. Now is a good time to buy low on LeBron.

      Trade 4: I have Vucevic ranked similary to Melo. That makes it Conley, MCW and Evans for Wall. I’d rather have the depth. Maybe trade Melo and MCW/Evans for Wall?

      • Joe says:
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        @Peter Kap:

        I’m happily floored by your detailed responses. Thank you so much!

  2. miles proudfoot. says:
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    Hey man, thanks for the informative post. Im in first, thinking of trying to grab AlJeff off waivers and dropping GHill. Seems like an obvious move but am concerned that it will be more than four weeks and they may not rush him back if they’re out of contention. I’m down to take the gamble bc of the possible reward come playoffs. What does your gut say? Thank you!

    • Peter Kap

      Peter Kap says:
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      @miles proudfoot.: Big Al is a top 30 contributor when he’s healthy. I wouldn’t be dropping him in any league and would be rushing to grab him if he was dropped. Dropping Hill is fine for him, but without knowing the rest of your team, not sure if there is another player that would be better. I like George Hill and although he’s out for tonight’s game, he is still a must own player.

      • miles proudfoot. says:
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        @Peter Kap: he other two guys I would consider dropping are Nerlens and wiggins. Thanks a lot!

        • Peter Kap

          Peter Kap says:
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          @miles proudfoot.: In that case, I would drop Nerlens for Big Al.

  3. VamosErik88 says:
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    Looking 2 sell high on Tristan Thompson before his value will be hurt by a sign/trade from the Cavaliers.
    I’d like to pack him with Batum in order to try getting a top player.
    Who would you suggest to give a try for?
    Buying low on Kawhi may be good?
    Thanks for your time and happy new year!

    • Peter Kap

      Peter Kap says:
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      @VamosErik88: Happy New Year to you too! It might be tough to get a top talent for Thompson and Batum. Thompson doesn’t do much else other than rebound and score and Batum isn’t playing that well (at least compared to his ADP). I’m hesitant to trade for Kawhi Leonard. He’s expected to miss “extended time.” He’s a stud when he plays, but the Spurs have no problem resting their guys.

      With that being said, it’s reasonable to ask for a player like Rudy Gay, Nikola Vucevic, MCW, Ty Lawson, or Paul Millsap.

  4. KD Owner says:
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    wuddup.

    which one of these miami big men is going to get more blocks in the next 2 days: chris andersen or hassan whiteside?

    andersen has more overall value correct?

    • Peter Kap

      Peter Kap says:
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      @KD Owner: Andersen is playing more minutes and has more value, but anything can happen in 2 days.

  5. your mom says:
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    thinking of trading my injured al jeff for draymond straight up. should i do it?

    • Bye Felicia says:
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      @your mom: If you can yeah I would in a heartbeat!

      • Peter Kap

        Peter Kap says:
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        @Bye Felicia: That sounds like a pretty good deal to me. Big Al is the better player when healthy, but with the Hornets off to a bad start, they’re probably not going to rush him back. Draymond has been a monster and should continue to be even with David Lee back.

  6. Tony says:
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    Yo peter and anyone else who has time- Whats your feelings on Mason Plumlee?

    I’m in an 18 teamer, Keeper!, Fantasy Points League……got him at $15 right now, love the shituation there, Brooke’s either gonna GO or get hurt, right?

    The deal I’m looking at is:

    Give: $39 Millsap, $51 Josh Smith, $15 Plums & $7 DJ Aug
    Receive: $46 Conley, $22 Goran Dragic, $10 Robert Covington, $7 KG (trash)

    It would give me lots of cap space, and i’d most likely try to flip the $22 Goran for two players….? to a non-contender….. conley has a great playoff schedule, so does covington if he’s still a starter then haha, who knows in philly…..

    just wondering is it worth it giving up plums? I’m contending, smoove is trash to me almost, hate losing the sapper, but his playoff schedule isn’t great,….. THOUGHTS!?

    Our playoffs run 2 weeks each, 18/19, 20/21, and 22/23

    • Tony says:
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      @Tony: and never mind the guy already made another HUGE deal with another owner….. glad i typed all that up so 10 mins later he can do another deal.

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