Fantasy Sports Fantasy Basketball

Fantasy Basketball: 5 Returning Players to Target

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5 Players to Target for Your Fantasy Basketball Squad

Paul Cunningham - USA Today

Injuries come and go throughout a full 82-game season, and while there are many times they affect your fantasy basketball team in a negative way, there are some times when an injury leaves a great player available through waivers or at a discounted rate via trade.

As the season progresses, fantasy assets slowly return from injury and a bunch of them have either returned in the past few days or are returning soon. There are some obvious big names out there that fantasy owners won’t have made available, but some players that will be depending on league size.

Danny Granger has been out all season and is set to return around the All-Star break. Point guard Derrick Rose will be returning around the same time, and Kevin Love is out until March, but likely still won’t be available.

Some players have returned recently and haven’t hit their stride yet. These guys may still be on waivers, or may just be wearing the patience of their owners thin. Others are coming back soon and worth taking a look at.

A lot of times, the value of these players depends on the size of the league. In shallow leagues, they will probably all be hanging out on the waiver wire and may not even be worth grabbing. In average-sized leagues, they may be owned, but on the fringe of a roster, and in deeper leagues the players may be more difficult to acquire. Value also depends on league format. In traditional head-to-head leagues, guys should be targeted based on stat needs. In points leagues, the best overall players should be looked at. The following is a list of five players who have either recently returned from injury, or will be returning shortly, and whether you should eye them for your fantasy team.

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5. PG, SG Iman Shumpert, New York Knicks

Paul Cunningham - USA Today

Iman Shumpert, New York Knicks – The second-year guard made his debut in London Thursday, and it wasn’t just his hi-top fade that impressed. Playing for the first time since tearing his left ACL and lateral meniscus last April, Shump showed little rust as the Knicks eased him back in with 15 minutes of court time. He did a little bit of everything, scoring eight points with two three-pointers while adding two rebounds and one assist, steal and block each. He is the kind of player who is perfect to target for those in need of steals, as he averaged 1.7 per game in his rookie year. He also showed off an improved stroke from beyond the arc in London and should take plenty of threes in this offense. He is a starter on a great team that is currently owned in just 4.1 percent of ESPN leagues. Shump, a contributor across the board, is worth grabbing in normal-sized leagues with all formats and should be grabbed as soon as possible before more owners catch on.

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4. SF, SG Jared Dudley, Phoenix Suns

Mark J. Rebilas - USA Today

Jared Dudley, Phoenix Suns – Dudley has broken out this season as one of the biggest scoring threats on the Suns. Since December, he has failed to score at least 10 points in a game just five times while shooting around 41 percent from beyond the arc and just under 50 percent overall. He suffered a minor wrist injury that kept him out just a few games, but before he gets back to form he may be worth trying to grab at a discount while you still can.

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3. PG Raymond Felton, New York Knicks

Debby Wong - USA Today

Raymond Felton, New York Knicks – The Knicks have certainly had their fair share of health woes, and Felton was one of their more recent injuries after fracturing his pinky on Christmas Day. Before getting hurt, he was averaging 15.8 points and 6.3 assists per game with just under three boards and just over a steal. When healthy, he is one of the more consistent PG options in fantasy. At the moment, he is about a week or so away from returning, so the time to strike is now. He may have been dropped in more shallow leagues and should be picked up immediately. In deeper leagues, those in need of point guard help should target him while his value is down.

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2. PF Pau Gasol, Los Angeles Lakers

Jayne Kamin-Oncea, USA Today

Pau Gasol, Los Angeles Lakers - It’s been a rough season for the aging Gasol, and it appears that his best days are behind him. He rejoins the Lakers Thursday night and will come off the bench, but as long as he can stay healthy and get back to the 12-point, 8-rebound player he was before, he will have fantasy value in deeper leagues. At the moment, he should only be a thought in larger leagues and can be left alone in shallow leagues until he proves that he can stay on the court and consistently contribute.

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1. SG, PG Avery Bradley, Boston Celtics

Debby Wong - USA Today

Avery Bradley, Boston Celtics – Bradley made his return from injury in the Celtics first game of 2013 and was slowly progressing before hurting his ribs Wednesday. When healthy, Bradley is a very good source of steals and can also score in the double digits when he gets on a roll. The severity of his rib injury is a bit up in the air, but it doesn’t seem too serious. He is probably available on the cheap at the moment, but can really help owners in need of steals in deep leagues.