Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
Although rosters are 12 deep in the NBA, most fans, and many fantasy owners, only know of the starting five on most teams. Apparently, the backups have talent too, because the five players listed below have stepped into their respective starting lineups and become fantasy stalwarts.
Nate Robinson, G, New York - Robinson, a.k.a. "The Mouth that Roars," is more than just an annoying voice. He can play the game pretty well too. For the season he is averaging 16.4 ppg, but as a starter he has averaged 21.3 ppg. He's been even better over the last three games, posting 30, 33 and 32 points. And at just 5'9" he has somehow managed to pull down 25 rebounds in those outings. Those are All-Star type numbers if he can keep it up for the rest of the season.
Ramon Sessions, G, Milwaukee - Since the injury to shooting guard Michael Redd and point guard Luke Ridnour, Sessions has been playing superior basketball. In the last six games, he has averaged 23.5 ppg, 5.3 rpg and 9.3 apg. However, Ridnour will likely be back within a week and Sessions' stats will have to take a slight hit. He'll still score, but his assist totals will suffer. He is still a solid guard option.
Lamar Odom, F, Los Angeles Lakers - Since returning to the starting lineup for the injured Andrew Bynum, Odom has been nothing short of spectacular. His numbers, 16.2 ppg, 14.3 rpg and 2.4 apg, are better than Bynum was producing (14.0 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 1.5 apg).
Paul Millsap, F, Utah - Millsap was a fantasy non-factor until Carlos Boozer went down with multiple injuries. Millsap's best year, 2007-08, saw him post 8.1 ppg and 5.6 rpg coming off Jerry Sloan's bench, certainly not fantasy worthy. This season while playing about 11 more minutes per game his points are up to 14.8 ppg and his rebounds are up as well (9.2). As long as Boozer sits, Millsap is a fantasy factor.
Kevin Love, C, Minnesota - The Timberwolves were just starting to experiment with both Al Jefferson and Love in the starting lineup when Jefferson went down with a season-ending knee injury. In the two games since then, Love has posted a double-double averaging 16 points and 11 rebounds. That's starting center material if I've ever heard them. Among centers, only Dwight Howard (21.0 ppg), Yao Ming (19.8 ppg) and Shaquille O'Neal (17.3 ppg) are scoring at a better rate and his 11 rebounds per game are better than both Shaq and Yao.