DO NOT PANIC!
That is my annual mantra to fantasy owners during the first few weeks every season. One week does not make a season, so be sure to give each fantasy player you expected to perform well enough time to find his role, rhythm and stroke before cutting him. Guys such as Danny Green, Kenneth Faried and Larry Sanders have struggled thus far; give them time. Others such as Tobias Harris and Harrison Barnes have been out with injuries, but should return soon; give them time.
That having been said, if you think you simply missed the mark when assessing a player and believe he isn't going to make the impact you had hoped, then you shouldn't hesitate to cut him for a better free-agent option. The same goes if there is a player on the waiver wire you suspect will be better than a player currently on your team. Cut bait and move on.
This week, I am going to take a look at free agents who contribute peripheral stats: blocks, steals and 3-pointers. Some of these players will offer short-term value, while others could be long-term contributors. Just make sure you think twice before dumping one of your current players for one of those listed below.
DeAndre Jordan, Los Angeles Clippers (65.4 percent ownership in ESPN leagues): It's a tad surprising that Jordan was owned in less than 40 percent of ESPN leagues, but that has increased to the mid-60s after he pulled down 28 boards in his first two games. He settled down a bit in Game 3 on Friday with eight rebounds, but he has averaged a solid 2.0 BPG thus far. He averaged 2.0 BPG two seasons ago, so he has the ability to maintain this pace and is always a double-double threat. I expect new coach Doc Rivers to draw the most out of him this season. He should be owned in all leagues right now.
Miles Plumlee, Phoenix Suns (61.6 percent): As I mentioned in Monday's Fantasy Focus podcast, opportunity is more important than talent, which is why after Marcin Gortat was traded to Washington, Plumlee's ownership skyrocketed from 0.4 percent to 61.6 percent. While I remain skeptical about his talent, he's locked into a starting role now and that means he could average close to a double-double with 1-2 blocks per game.
Vitor Faverani, Boston Celtics (18.9 percent): The Brazilian is a rookie by NBA standards, but he is a veteran of international play, so he's further along than many might expect. In other words, on this young and under-talented Celtics squad, Faverani has as good a chance as anyone to make an impact this season. He's had ups and downs early on, while coach Brad Stevens figures out his rotation, but odds are good that he'll be their long-term answer at center. He is averaging 3.3 BPG thus far, including a six-rejection performance versus the Bucks on Friday.
John Henson, Milwaukee Bucks (2.7 percent): When the Bucks increased Henson's role late last season, he averaged 1.8 blocks in just 21.1 minutes over his final eight games. It seems that he is destined for a role off the bench this season, but he is averaging 1.3 BPG and 1.3 SPG in just 22.3 MPG thus far. He's an intriguing flier in deeper leagues.
Robin Lopez, Portland Trail Blazers (1.6 percent): It's ironic that even when you pair the Lopez twins together, they barely average a double-double between them. Nonetheless, Robin has a starting job with the Blazers, and thus, the opportunity to play significant minutes. If you are in a deep league and need some help in blocks, Lopez could at least fill in a gap for the short term.
Iman Shumpert, New York Knicks (62.8 percent): He only has three swipes in three games, which puts him right at the 1.0 SPG pace he carried in 45 games last season. Going back to his rookie campaign, before his knee injury, though, he averaged 1.7 SPG. Prior to the All-Star break that season, he averaged 2.0 SPG. Time will tell whether he lives up to that potential this season, but that sort of upside is worthy of a speculative add.
Trevor Ariza, Washington Wizards (53.2 percent): Forget the 15 field goal attempts he is averaging. Forget the 17.7 PPG he is averaging. While you're at it, forget the 10.3 RPG he is averaging. He will not maintain those numbers. However, he is fully capable of maintaining the 1.7 SPG we've seen from him thus far. Ride him while he's hot overall. Once he inevitably cools off, hang onto him if you need some extra swipes.
Mario Chalmers, Miami Heat (46.4 percent): Obviously, Chalmers isn't going to steal 3.3 balls per game this season, but he has been steady at 1.5 SPG the past two seasons. If things click, he could even push up on 2.0 per game for the long haul.
Reggie Jackson, Oklahoma City Thunder (26.2 percent): There was only one negative to Russell Westbrook's quicker-than-expected return to action this past weekend, and that is that Jackson is no longer an early-season breakout candidate. Nonetheless, he still has plenty of value as a sixth man for the Thunder (just ask former Thunder sixth-men Kevin Martin and James Harden). That includes racking up 3s and steals. Jackson should still be a solid roster-filler in most leagues.
Tony Allen, Memphis Grizzlies (4.0 percent): He may be pushing 32, but Allen can still pile up swipes with the best of them. He snagged five Friday and at least one in each of his other two games. Granted, he does nothing else of interest, so his fantasy value is restricted to deep-leaguers, but he's a shoo-in for at least 1.5 SPG.
Metta World Peace, New York Knicks (3.6 percent): His value is entirely dependent upon how big of a role he carves out in the Knicks rotation. He averaged 1.6 SPG last season with the Lakers, but will have to get more than 30 MPG (20.3 MPG thus far with the Knicks) to match that. Keep an eye on him, because his role may well increase sooner than later.
Arron Afflalo, Orlando Magic (73.2 percent): When he has the opportunity and is on, Afflalo can churn out terrific all-around fantasy stats. That alone is worth adding him to all rosters right now, considering his red-hot start this season. If you need 3s, though, he's been a beast, knocking down at least three 3s in each of his past three games.
Lance Stephenson, Indiana Pacers (45.7 percent): With Danny Granger sidelined (again), Stephenson has gotten off to a hot start, banging down 3.0 3-pointers over his first three contests. Obviously, he won't shoot 64.3 percent from beyond the arc for long, but we can ride him while his stroke is hot.
Kyle Korver, Atlanta Hawks (20.3 percent): We can't expect Korver to average anywhere near the 15.7 PPG he's posted early on this season, and obviously he won't be knocking down 4.0 3-PPG. On the other hand, he has knocked down 42.0 percent of his 3s during his career and should have no trouble matching last season's 2.6 3-PPG. That makes him a solid option to round out starting lineups if you need 3-point production.
Jason Terry, Brooklyn Nets (4.8 percent): It doesn't matter which team Terry is on or how many minutes he plays, the guy is going to chuck up four or five 3s each game and knock down a good chunk of them. He doesn't have much potential beyond 3-point production with the Nets, though, so his value is limited to teams in deep leagues.
Francisco Garcia, Houston Rockets (1.5 percent): Don't look for Garcia to continue jacking up 6.7 3s per game, but if you are in a deep league and desperate for 3s, snag him off of the waiver wire and take his production until it tails off.