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Fantasy Fix

Chicago's very own Joakim Noah was one of the pleasant surprises and breakout stars of the first half of the NBA season. He has been one of only a half dozen or so players to average a double-double per game (10.7 points, 11.4 rebounds, along with a nice 1.6 blocks), and seemed destined for top 50 status in next year's draft - until the dreaded plantar fasciitis hit.

Now, he appears to be on a program of a few games rest, followed by a few games with minor playing time (though I'm betting more of the latter if the Bulls manage to hold their current playoff slot).

Noah's pain should be Taj Gibson's gain, by my count. Gibson, SF/PF, has had a good rookie campaign (8.6 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 1.2 BPG). Though his numbers didn't surge much after the Bulls became disenchanted with Tyrus Thomas, SF/PF, and his playing time looked to take a hit with the arrival of another SF/PF, Hakim Warrick, it's the void left by Noah, a PF/C that has provided a boost.

Last week, Gibson averaged 11.8 PPG, 9.8 RPG and 2.0 BPG, and my guess is he'll be averaging a double-double in another week or so. Yet, he was only 39% owned in Yahoo! leagues.

It's Week 19 in the NBA, and time to start appreciating the under-appreciated.

Fantasy Find of the Week: Louis Williams, PG/SG, Philadelphia.

Another who has quietly filled a void (the one left by Allen Iverson, more on that below), Williams averaged 18.5 PPG, 6.0 RPG and 6.0 APG last week. His rebounds and his infrequent turnovers (1.3 TPG) provide additional value where you wouldn't expect it. Only 72% owned.

Fantasy Stud of the Week: Carlos Boozer, PF/C, Utah.

Having survived the trade deadline to remain in Utah, Boozer, already on a month-long resurgence, raised his game another notch last week with 24.3 PPG, 10.0 RPG and a deadly .740 field goal rate.

Fantasy Dud of the Week: Al Jefferson, PF/C, Minnesota. I usually won't call a player who missed a couple games a dud, but Jefferson missed two games with a suspension after a DWI arrest following three poor games in an already sub-par year. His 12.8 PPG, 7.3 RPG last week might be respectable under someone else's name, but not for a guy who averaged a double-double three seasons straight coming into 2010.

Fantasy Match-up of the Week: Antawn Jamison, SF/PF, Cleveland.

He's still struggling a little with his new team, but faces New Jersey, Detroit, Milwaukee and San Antonio this week - three lackluster teams and a fading giant.


Catchers Report
As we continue to march toward fantasy baseball drafts, here's a breakdown of catchers to watch, assuming you aren't lucky enough to land Joe Mauer or Victor Martinez.

1. Matt Wieters, Baltimore: Here's hoping for more power from the much-hyped backstop.

2. Brian McCann, Atlanta: 21 HRs, 94 RBIs last year, but I see those numbers falling slightly.

3. Russell Martin, LA Dodgers: His numbers have dwindled, but he reportedly added power muscle.

Top Sleeper Pick: Ramon Hernandez, Cincinnati. After calling Geovany Soto a mid-round find last week, Hernandez is more like a last-round pick. You may have been down this road last year and he disappointed, but he's still in a hitters' park and a speedy, aggressive lineup that should feed him RBIs.

Best Chance for Rookie Impact: Buster Posey, San Francisco. May not start the season in MLB, but he's ready.

Best to Avoid: Bengie Molina, San Francisco: 20 HR power may fade this year. Plus, Posey will shadow him.

Next week, we'll look at 1B and 2B draft finds.


The NBA Expert Wire
* Bleacher Report says that Allen Iverson is done for the season after leaving Philadelphia to deal with a family illness. The personal situation is terribly unfortunate, but Iverson's future seemed in doubt even before that happened.

* The Red Zone Report likes Taj Gibson, too, but likes Drew Gooden, PF/C better.

* ESPN's Brian McKitish notes that Jason Kidd has been playing well since Dallas added more offense through a big trade.

* SLAM Online suggests picking up Anderson Varejao, C, after the news that Shaq will probably sit for the rest of the regular season.


The MLB Expert Wire
Positional rankings are sweeping across the Web:

* Bleacher Reports eyes the top 40 starting pitchers. Good choices for the most part, and I like Chad Billingsley and Cole Hamels buried down at No. 21 and No. 22. Both are comeback candidates.

* The Yahoo! fantasy sports experts have convened to reveal their composite top 60 outfielders.

* SB Nation has the top 20 second basemen for 2010. Nobody seems to think Aaron Hill can repeat his great 2009. Maybe we can get him cheap?

* FanHouse hosts a chat about the elite fantasy shortstops.

* Rotoworld has the latest on hot catching prospect Posey. Is he this year's Matt Wieters? I wouldn't saddle him with that expectation.


Dan O'Shea's Fantasy Fix appears in this space every Wednesday. Comments welcome. You can also read his about his split sports fan personality at SwingsBothWays, which isn't about what it sounds like it's about.

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