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Substitutes can make a difference

Ramon Sessions has really taken off with both Michael Redd and Luke Ridnour out.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Taking advantage of an opportunity is how players who came to the NBA without the fanfare of being a No.1 draft choice make a name for themselves. And as a fantasy owner, it is these players who give us the opportunity to win leagues without having drafted the best team.

It is the astute fantasy player who jumps on an opening such as picking up Paul Millsap when Utah forward Carlos Boozer went down. Millsap is averaging 14.8 ppg and 9.3 rpg for the season and 16.4 ppg and 10.4 rpg since being installed into the starting lineup.

Two week's ago in one of my leagues, I scooped up Milwaukee guard Ramon Sessions when Michael Redd went down with the injury. Sessions was ok, but he really took off when point guard Luke Ridnour went down last week. He scored 44 with 12 assists in an overtime loss against the Detroit Pistons and last night posted a solid 26-point, seven assist, four steal, performance against the Houston Rockets.

Now one of the top fantasy players in the league, Al Jefferson, is likely out for the season and there is an opportunity for players on the Minnesota Timberwolves to pickup the slack...and 23 points and 11 rebounds per game. Who might get those points and those rebounds might become the next Millsap or Sessions.

If you were paying attention, you probably already made the pickup, his name was Kevin Love. There really isn't anyone else on the team who can pull down those rebounds and Love was already grabbing close to 8.7 per game. That should increase. So should his shot totals which means Love should go from a 9.3-point, eight rebound player to a 15-point and 10-rebound player - certainly a viable fantasy option.

There are three other players who seem to be taking advantage of situations and if they are free agents in your league, you should consider picking them up.

Nick Young, guard for the Washington Wizards, has posted three consecutive 20- point games and is averaging 19.2 ppg over the last five games. With injuries to Gilbert Arenas, DeShawn Stevenson and Caron Butler, there was an opportunity and Young took advantage. He might be someone to consider down the stretch.

Philadelphia 76ers forward Mareese Speights (along with Thaddeus Young) is taking full advantage of the injury to Elton Brand. Speights had 24 points and seven rebounds in 24 minutes last night against the Suns after a solid 15- point, six-rebound outing the night before. He is now a viable fantasy option and should be for the remainder of the season.

Memphis Grizzlies guard Mike Conley has benefited not from an injury, but from a change in coaching. When Lionel Hollins replaced Marc Iavaroni in late January, Conley got his chance to play. He has scored in double figures in seven consecutive games and during that time is averaging 14.7 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 6.7 apg. Along with O.J. Mayo they have become a solid backcourt.

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

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