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The Injury Bell Tolls for Thee

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - The lockout, the lack of a full preseason and the condensed schedule is taking a toll on your lineup in the form of injuries. Hardly anyone can avoid the problem, which means more and more backups are working their way into your lineup.

Let's look at the top dozen injury problems and what you can do to stay in the championship race until they return.

Al Horford, Atlanta - Horford has become a solid fantasy center, averaging 15.3 ppg, 9.3 rpg and 3.5 apg last season. Unfortunately, after playing 11 games in 2011-12, he underwent surgery for a torn left pectoral muscle and is at best out until the end of the regular season. His replacement on the court is Zaza Pachulia, but he's not a fantasy-worthy answer as he's averaging only 8.0 ppg and 6.4 rpg.

Rajon Rondo, Boston - Rondo missed the last Celtics game with a sore right wrist and his capable backup, Keyon Dooling, also missed the game leaving the job to seldom-used Avery Bradley. Bradley managed to post 10 points, four rebounds and one assist. Pray that Rondo, who traveled with the team to Washington, dresses for the game as there is no good replacement on the Boston roster.

Corey Maggette, Charlotte - Maggette is a solid fantasy option...when he plays. But that is frequently the hardest part about owning the former Duke Blue Devil. In his first 12 seasons, he's played more than 70 games just three times. Maggette was originally scheduled to return from his hamstring in early February, but his most recent statement, that he's just happy to be "walking a little more normal" doesn't bode well for the timetable. Gerald Henderson is playing well as the Bobcats' starting small forward (15.5 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 1.9 apg). The injury also allows more time for rookie Kemba Walker to establish himself.

Derrick Rose, Chicago - The NBA's 2010-11 MVP has missed three consecutive games with "turf toe." Veteran C.J. Watson gets the start in his place but the 16.7 ppg and 7.0 apg is barely a substitute for Rose's 20.8 ppg, 8.7 apg, 3.5 rpg. or his ability to post 35 points on any given night.

Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas - Nowitzki's a scary situation for fantasy owners. He came into the season with a bad knee and that has kept him from getting his conditioning work in. So he's played the first few weeks out of shape and with a limp. It shows in his statistics - 17.5 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 2.3 apg. Those are not "Dirk-like" numbers. Lamar Odom got his first start of the season and posted 16 points. Nowitzki will sit for at least three more games and Odom will get a chance to shine. Put Odom in your starting lineup.

Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers - Paul has missed four consecutive games with a hamstring problem. The Clippers shift Chauncey Billups to point guard and insert Randy Foye into the starting lineup as the team's shooting guard. Foye has minimal fantasy value, but Billups has scored at least 20 points in three of those four games. Billups is certainly worth a spot in your lineup.

Zach Randolph, Memphis - Randolph's torn right-knee MCL is healing and he's on track to return in mid-February. The Grizzlies have used former Philadelphia 76ers Marreese Speights at the power forward spot, but his 8.8 ppg and 6.7 rpg is nowhere near the monster numbers Randolph put up last season (20.1 ppg, 12.2 rpg). You will just have to wait patiently for Randolph's return.

Dwayne Wade, Miami - The Heat are 6-0 in games Wade hasn't played, but it's a lot easier for them to win than for you when he's out of the lineup. The Heat simply go to their two other superstars and LeBron James and Chris Bosh do what they need to do to win the game. There is no replacement for you and his 19.6 ppg, 4.3 rpg and 5.4 apg.

Brook Lopez, New Jersey - Lopez (foot surgery) remains on target to return in about 2-4 weeks. His absence has led to big numbers from power forward Kris Humphries. In the optimal scenario, you use Humphries for as long as possible and then trade him when his fantasy value is at its peak, just before Lopez is ready to play.

Eric Gordon, New Orleans - Gordon has so much talent, its just we may not get to see it this season if a cryptic quote from Hornets head coach Monty Williams comes to pass. That statement, "I know some things. I'd love to tell you guys as much as I do know but I've got to hold onto it for another day or two and get some more information from the doctors" has to scare fantasy owners from coast-to-coast. Gordon averaged 21.3 ppg last season and 19.4 ppg in a couple of games this year. Marco Belinelli is the Hornets current starting shooting guard, but has little fantasy value.

Manu Ginobili, San Antonio - Ginobili has always been a solid fantasy contributor, averaging 15.3 ppg, 4.0 rpg and 3.9 apg throughout his career. That was no different in the first five games this season, before he broke his hand. No one in particular has stepped up in the void, so we will just have to wait until mid-February for his return.

Andrea Bargnani, Toronto - Bargnani is averaging a career-high 22.3 ppg and 6.5 rpg, so his absence on Friday, he was a game-time decision, was a huge blow to fantasy owners. He could return as soon as Sunday against the Los Angeles Clippers.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Steve Schwarz at sschwarz@sportsnetwork.com.

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