This was a very big week for the Thunder. They got both of their superstars back in a matter of days.

Russell Westbrook returned on Friday night, putting up 32 points, 7 rebounds, and 8 assists in only 24 minutes of clock. Now owners may be concerned with the lack of minutes, but know that Westbrook wasn’t on a minutes’ restriction. Instead, Westbrook, along with the rest of the starters, were pulled early since the Thunder were up 32 late in the game. They were playing the New York Knicks after all.

A few days later, Kevin Durant returned to score 27 points on Tuesday night. He showed little rust on the court, shooting 9-18 from twos, 3-8 from downtown, and 6-7 from the line. Durant didn’t do much else outside of the scoring, but those numbers will happen in due time. The important thing is that Westbrook and Durant are both back and healthy.

Westbrook and Durant immediately regain their statuses as two of the top ten fantasy producers. At the same time, their return also hurts the guys filling in for them. Reggie Jackson’s statistics will take a hit, as he won’t be needed as much as an offensive producer. In the two games since Westbrook returned, Jackson had his two lowest usage rates of the season and saw his field goal attempts decrease to 11 FGA per game (down from 17.9 without Durant and Westbrook). Now there is still value to be had with Jackson, since he’ll be getting around 30 minutes a night, but don’t expect the same numbers he was providing early in the season.

Serge Ibaka will also see his offensive numbers dip a little, but this doesn’t affect his overall fantasy value as much, like it does Jackson. His shot attempts will go down, but having Durant and Westbrook back will provide Ibaka with better looks at the basket. His career low 44.5 field goal percentage will surely rise, while the blocks, rebounds, and threes should remain close to their current season averages.

The other Thunder players, Jeremy Lamb and Anthony Morrow, will also see their numbers and minutes decrease. Lamb and Morrow have the ability to provide the occasional good game, but only remain rosterable in deeper leagues, due to their inconsistent play.

While the Thunder got their starters back, the Rockets are missing a bunch of players from their starting lineup. Dwight Howard has been nursing a knee injury. He strained his knee in mid-November and now has missed 7 straight games. The bad news is that Howard will likely be held out through the weekend, with hopes of returning next Wednesday.

Averaging 2.3 blocks a game this season, Howard is a tough guy to replace on the waiver wire. Tarik Black replaces Howard in the Rockets lineup, but shouldn’t be the replacement in yours. Black won’t block shots and doesn’t offer much upside. He’ll give you 7-10 points and rebounds a game, but little else.

Fellow teammate, Donatas Motiejunas is a better option. DoMo won’t give you blocks, but he’s scored in double figures in five of the last six games, while averaging 14.8 ppg, 7.6 rpg, and 2.3 apg. With Terrence Jones still out indefinitely, Motiejunas should remain a fixture in the starting lineup even when Howard returns.

In addition to Jones and Howard, point guard Patrick Beverly has missed five straight games with a hamstring injury. He was “very limted” in Tuesday’s practice and sat out Wednesday’s game. Beverly’s backup, Isaiah Canaan, is also hurt, dealing with an ankle injury. With both of those guys hurting, 37-year-old Jason Terry has started the last two games at point. Some how he’s turned back the hands of time and produced 17 ppg, 4.5 rpg, and 5 apg in those two games. Nearly available in all leagues (6% ownership in Yahoo), Terry should remain a solid play for points, threes, and assists, as long as he’s starting.

Point guard Isaiah Thomas has missed the Suns’ last four games with an ankle bruise. He had a MRI on Tuesday, but it came back negative. Thomas should be considered day-to-day with the hope that he’s back in the lineup within a game or two. In the meantime, Goran Dragic, Eric Bledsoe, and even Gerald Green should see more offensive opportunities.  Too bad Green can’t get an assist for this off the backboard alley oop.

Usually when guys miss games, it’s due to a rather significant physical injury (unless you play for the Spurs, then you get rested for being old). Sacramento Kings big man DeMarcus Cousins has been ruled out for the weekend due to a viral infection. After missing his third game in a row, Cousins was admitted to the hospital on Tuesday for further evaluation. The earliest we will see Cousins is next Monday night, but even that’s not a guarantee.

Cousins has been an absolute beast this year so it’s a big blow to fantasy lineups. Backup Reggie Evans is the biggest beneficiary of the minutes, as he has put up 27 points and 27 rebounds in 30+ minutes in the last two games Cousins sat. Evans is a great rebounder, but doesn’t offer owners much else. Rudy Gay sees a slight bump in his usage rate and offensive numbers, but pending a setback, I expect to see Cousins back on the court sometime next week.

Breakout fantasy star Nikola Vucevic sat out two games this week due to back spasms. Kyle O’Quinn replaced him in the lineup, but the team is hopeful that Vucci Mane will return on Friday. O’Quinn followed up a poor performance against the Clippers, with a 21/11 double double and could be a decent streamer, if Vucevic continues to sit.

Carmelo Anthony is also suffering from back spasms, but only missed two games around Thanksgiving. He played in games this week, but it’s something to monitor.

Another week of disappointing news for David Lee. He suffered a setback in his return to the court and is expected to need another week or two to rest his hamstring.  Meanwhile, Draymond Green had a precautionary MRI and x-rays on his thumb Tuesday, but the results came back negative and he was able to play Thursday night.

Dirk Nowitzki missed Wednesday’s game against the Bucks. He suffered a minor back injury on Tuesday, but the more likely reason for his absence in the lineup is that the Mavs wanted to give him some rest on the second night of a back-to-back. Look for him to return to the lineup on Friday.

Just when Ersan Ilyasova was starting to heat things up with 8 straight double-digit scoring games, he suffered a minor concussion and nasal fracture on Tuesday. He sat out on Wednesday and will miss the next three games at the very least. The earliest that Ilyaosva can return is the Bucks’ game with the Clippers on December 13th.

  1. Wen says:
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    Hi Peter, Paul Pierce is dropped in my league. Should I drop J.J. Redick, Courtney Lee or Kelly Olynyk for him? I am leaning towards Kelly Olynyk. Thanks for advice.

    • kisses says:
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      @Wen: Olynyk is listed as a C, but doesn’t get blocks or rebounds like you would want from that position. Depending on who your other PF/C are, Olynyk or Lee are your drops there.

      • Peter Kap

        Peter Kap says:
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        @kisses: I agree with Kisses. If you want Pierce, dropping Olynyk or Lee is a fine move. I’d probably lean towards Olynyk since he’s been the colder of the two players lately.

  2. kisses says:
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    I have had Boogie out since last week and Vucevic might be out again tonight. I need to fill that PF/C slot, otherwise I would be picking up Terry to go again LaVine tonight. Do I pick up O’Quinn or Reggie Evans (both are going against each other tomorrow night if Vucevic is out). Thanks.

    • Peter Kap

      Peter Kap says:
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      @kisses: In fantasy, it doesn’t matter to me if guys play each other. There are some good defensive teams that will stop even the best producers (Spurs, Bulls, etc.), but for the most part matchups don’t really matter. As far as the pickup goes, it depends on what stats you need this week. If you only need rebounds, grab Evans, but if you need more points, blocks, or rebounds, then grab O’Quinn.

  3. asdfasdf says:
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    Hey, is Burks droppablein a H2H points league? He isn’t having surgery, but hasn’t been that good this season and I already have Derozan on my IR spot. Thanks

    • Peter Kap

      Peter Kap says:
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      @asdfasdf: He’s definitely droppable in leagues, but I would disagree that he’s not been that good this season. 13 ppg, 4.5 rpg, and 3 apg are pretty solid numbers for a late round pick. Yahoo reports that Burks could return in two weeks so if there are better options out there in the meantime, then feel free to grab a replacement for now.

      • asdfasdf says:
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        @Peter Kap: Hey thanks for the response. Actually I should have specified that he hasn’t been good *in our league*, since he’s actually averaging less fantasy points (per game) than Marreese Speights 🙂

  4. Zebo says:
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    Is Ryan Anderson droppable for General Greivis or Wesley Johnson? Thanks.

    • Peter Kap

      Peter Kap says:
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      @Zebo: No, I wouldn’t drop Anderson. He’s locked into the starting lineup and is playing great. Vasquez is a good pickup while DeRozan is out, but I would drop someone else.

  5. Guidedbyvoices says:
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    Hey Pete….12 tm roto

    I give up Mosgov/Thompson for Jefferson/Collison.

    Also,H2h….any opinions n T Thompson going fwd?

    Thanks.

    • Peter Kap

      Peter Kap says:
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      @Guidedbyvoices: I’m assuming that the first Thompson you are talking about is Klay, but I would rather have the Jefferson/Collison side.

      I like Tristan Thompson as a long term add, but probably isn’t worth a pickup in 12 team leagues yet. I invested in him in a 20 team league I’m in because I don’t think Varejao will stay healthy all season. If Varejao were to go down, then I think Thompson would be a nightly double-double guy and a smart pickup.

  6. Dante Green says:
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    Dirk/parsons/wiggins for cousins/crawford/derozan, your thoughts?

    • easy says:
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      @Dante Green: cousins side of that deal no question for me

      • Peter Kap

        Peter Kap says:
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        @easy: I think it’s tough to trade for an injured player, when we don’t have a time table for his return. DeRozan apparently won’t have surgery on his groin, but the Raptors are taking a day-to-day approach. If everyone was healthy, then the Cousins side would be a no-brainer, but I’m hesitant to trade for DeRozan right now, until more is known. Cousins is the best player in the deal.

        • Dante Green says:
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          @Peter Kap: Yea i’m running after injured players lol. If an update comes up that boogey will be able to play next week i’m gonna go after him hard! As for deroza, if he’s just out a month maybe it’s good to buy low him from his owner..

          And my reason for wanting to get rid of dirk is bec his rest days are just absurd, and parsons just cant find his groove right now cos ellis is just too ball dominant. Anyway man thanks for anwering! Appreciate it.

  7. Mari says:
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    Hi Peter,
    Since they can essentially provide similar stats, who would you prefer– Amir Johnson or KJ McDaniels ?

    • Peter Kap

      Peter Kap says:
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      @Mari: Probably KJ McDaniels for the upside. He also hits threes too, something that Johnson doesn’t do as well.

  8. Tyler says:
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    Mannn. Add Brook Lopez to the infirmary.. Just cant catch a break..
    What do you suggest I should do to my team?
    3 injured players that might be out until january..

    G – cp3, rubio*, holiday, mcdaniels
    F – kawhi, hayward, draymond, tjones*
    C – horford, brolo*, rolo, sullinger, j.hill

    Available FAs:
    George Hill
    Mason Plumlee
    Mirza Teletovic
    Rasual Butler
    Tyler Zeller
    Brandan Wright
    Donatas Motiejunas
    Ed Davis

    Was thinking if I should drop TJones for someone like teletovic to handcuff BroLo or Rasual Butler who has been playing insanely well.

    • Peter Kap

      Peter Kap says:
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      @Tyler: Out of the injured guys, Jones would probably be who I would drop. Less is known of his status. However, it’s not like anyone on waivers is a can’t miss player, you just need someone healthy in your lineup. If you don’t have a pickup limit, then I would just stream and pick the guys that have the best schedule for the week. But out of those guys, I would probably go Zeller, Motiejunas, or Teletovic (in that order).

      • Tyler says:
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        @Peter Kap:
        Hey man Kawhi is now also injured bringing up my inj count to 4 out of 13 rostered players. So i guess i have no choice but to drop Jones. Btw I like Zeller too but he only has 3 games next week. What do you think of Patrick Patterson or Oquinn? Mirza seems to have a hip pointer too.
        Our league has a player add limit so streaming daily is not an option.

        • Peter Kap

          Peter Kap says:
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          @Tyler: Brad Stevens has said that Zeller will be the starting center going forward and the Celtics do actually play four games next week (Phi, Orl, Minn, and Miami). He would be my first pick up of those three.

          But if you’d prefer Patterson or O’Quinn, I would go Patterson. O’Quinn is fine if we know that Vucevic will be out all week, but we don’t know that. Vuc is questionable tonight, but even if he doesn’t play tonight, I expect him back within a game or two.

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