Unsurprisingly, injured players like Troy Murphy (back) and Carlos Boozer (hand) are tumbling down draft boards. Disappointing as it is that these top-50 talents are sidelined, every spot they slide builds intrigue.
So when should you roll the dice with an injured player? As always, it depends. In my case, I rarely will take such a leap, even in head-to-head leagues or roto leagues with weekly lineup options where it's easy to stash a player or two on draft day. For roto leagues with daily lineup options -- especially larger ones -- I've concluded (from bitter experience) that you can never afford to start your season carrying a player who will miss three or more weeks. A lot of it is the schedule. Generally fewer games are played in November, so you'll have precious few nights where you have a full lineup of active players; no one's getting stashed. That means every early-season game you lose to injury is ground lost across the board in roto.
With that said, if you have a draft or auction coming up this weekend, I'd keep close tabs on Murphy. He may resume practicing this weekend. Other than saying that Murphy definitely won't play again in the preseason, the New Jersey Nets have been pretty tight-lipped about his back problems. However, if he can at least return to the court soon, perhaps he'll miss only the first week or two of the regular season.
Just from what little information is out there now, I'd consider Murphy a risk worth taking if he slips much past pick 50. His average draft position (ADP) is currently 49.2 in ESPN.com leagues, down from 37.7 last week.
As for Boozer, his return is expected to fall on either side of Dec. 1. I know he has 20-10 potential, but given his current 52.0 ADP, you good people are showing far more patience than I ever will. I have two more roto leagues (one draft, one auction) starting up this weekend. I can guarantee you Boozer won't be on either of my rosters.
Don't care about my plans for my teams? Fair enough. But if you want a good idea of how the ESPN.com fantasy hoops community feels as a whole, you should spend some time with our Live Draft Results, which are updated daily.
Bandwagon Watch: Piling On
D.J. Augustin, PG, Charlotte Bobcats (ADP: 117.2, up 22.8 spots): Augustin's rise is explained by his better than 60 percent shooting this preseason. Realistically, he could approach Aaron Brooks in terms of production.
Blake Griffin, PF, Los Angeles Clippers (ADP: 52.2, up 19.1 spots): This kind of illustrates my point about Boozer. Griffin, himself a 20-10 candidate, now finds himself in Boozer's neighborhood on the draft boards. Not that Griffin doesn't come with his own injury baggage, of course, but I'll take the guy who's ready from day one.
Kevin Love, PF, Minnesota Timberwolves (ADP: 50.8, up 6.7 spots): And how appropriate is it that Love is finding himself so close to Murphy in ADP? If you haven't noticed, Love is 7-of-13 from downtown this preseason. He's seriously looking like the next Troy Murphy.
Jrue Holiday, PG, Philadelphia 76ers (ADP: 76.6, up 3.5 spots): Holiday is simply my favorite sleeper this season. I'm banking on him producing as he did post-break in 2009-10: something in the range of 12 points, 6 assists, at least one 3 and nearly 2 steals.
... and Falling Off
Jason Thompson, PF, Sacramento Kings (ADP: 140.0, down 21.1 spots): With Samuel Dalembert sidelined for the first month with a groin injury, Thompson has an opportunity to contribute in the early going. But he's showed little this preseason.
Anthony Randolph, PF/C, New York Knicks (ADP: 78.3, down 2.7 spots): As much as we love Randolph's potential, the Knicks have a crowded frontcourt. It may be awhile before the 21-year-old sees regular minutes.
Neil Tardy is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.