Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
During the long NBA season, there are always going to be weeks like this along the way, with injuries forcing you to go with a less than stellar lineup. It just seems that on Friday there were an extraordinary amount of fantasy starters watching the end of their games from the sidelines.
On Friday night, Monta Ellis, Raymond Felton, Devin Harris, Nate Robinson and David West all left their games prematurely.
The Ellis injury might be the biggest blow to fantasy owners as the Golden State guard has put up excellent numbers this season. Through his first 40 games this season, Ellis (ADP 45) is averaging 26.7 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 5.5 apg and 2.2 spg in the Warriors "run and shoot" offense.
He suffered a right ankle sprain in a 111-79 win over New Jersey. The ankle was bad enough that Ellis did not travel with the team to Phoenix for Saturday night's game. The primary beneficiary will be Stephen Curry. Curry played 48 minutes on Friday and had 32 points, seven assists, four steals on 11-of-21 shooting. He'll be an excellent play again tonight and likely Tuesday as well.
Like Ellis, Felton sprained his right ankle on Friday and had to be helped to the locker room. While Felton doesn't post statistics like Ellis, his play was missed as the Bobcats turned the ball over 17 times in a Friday loss to Atlanta. That means less shot opportunities for Gerald Wallace and Stephen Jackson, both of whom are huge fantasy contributors. D.J. Augustin and Flip Murray got additional minutes, but neither player has much fantasy value.
Harris has been a big disappointment so far this season and being sidelined will just add more "salt to the wound." After averaging 21.3 ppg last season on 43.8% shooting, Harris' numbers have dropped to 15.7 ppg and 38.2% accuracy. As an early third-round selection of Draft Day (ADP 24), much more was expected.
The New York Knicks' Nate Robinson (strained right hamstring) has been disappointing fantasy owners all season too. His problem has been lack of playing time because he has been in Coach Mike D'Antoni's "dog house" for most of the season. Robinson is averaging 23.5 minutes-a-game versus 29.9 last year and 13.0 ppg against 17.2 in 2008-09. On the 18th, Robinson had flashed a bit of his talent, posting 27 points, and there was talk of a trade. But this injury will likely put that on hold.
West is a solid contributor and the destination of many Chris Paul passes. His numbers are down a bit this season, but he's still averaging 17.8 ppg and 7.7 rpg. West left Friday's game with a sprained left ankle. Darius Songaila and James Posey will see more minutes in West's absence, but not enough to be "fantasy-worthy."
These five injuries added to the wave of injuries that has hit the NBA this year (other fantasy stars currently on the sidelines include: Yao Ming, Tracy McGrady, Brandon Roy, Mo Williams, Ben Gordon, Blake Griffin, Michael Redd) probably have you playing a lineup you weren't expecting at the start of the season.
The only good news is that your competition is likely dealing with the same problems. The answer isn't to throw your hands in the air and give up, but to persevere. Nobody said this was going to be easy, but the reward of a championship is worth the struggle.