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Fantasy Fix: NBA Studs, Top Ten Outfielders

Is it possible that I am the only fantasy sports columnist still writing about fantasy basketball, the lone voice in the wilderness as the NBA season winds down? It kind of feels that way.

The NBA season is interminable, evidenced by the increasing number of players heading to the injury list. Devin Harris, Jameer Nelson, Marvin Williams and Andris Biedrins are three of the biggest names to take a fall in the last week. The season should really start later, end earlier or both. The NCAA tournament takes precedence in March. Also, if you're a three-sport fantasy leaguer like me, it's tough to focus on the basketball draft with football season just ending, and tougher still to care about the end of the basketball season with baseball drafts coming together.

Having lodged my complaint to whom it may concern, let me use the last week before playoffs begin in most fantasy basketball leagues to give out my fantasy stud awards for this season.

MVP: Dwyane Wade, PG/SG. We talked a bunch about him last week, but there's even more to say. He may lose the actual MVP to LeBron or Kobe, but D-Wade makes the grade in the hard-to-come-by fantasy stat categories, collecting more assists, steals and blocks than the other two. Also, thus far he has more field goals and a better FG shooting percentage than either LeBron or Kobe, a feat no play has accomplished in at least three seasons.

Sleeper of the Year: Nate Robinson, PG/SG. You could make a case for several players, but the NBA's Mighty Mite surpassed even the expectation of those who thought he would make a chic late pick or early-season pick-up: 18.2 points per game, 1.8 three-pointers and 1.8 steals on average are among his highlights, but he averaged about 24 PPG during February.

Comeback Player of the Year: Nene Hilario, PF/C. It doesn't get any better than coming back from cancer, and the big Brazilian did just that this year, with the first mostly-injury free season of his star-crossed career. After having a testicular tumor removed late last season, he's averaging 14.7 PPG, 9.7 rebounds per game, and 1.5 blocks per game. He's second only to Shaq in FG percentage at .601.

Rookie of the Year: Brook Lopez. I surprised even myself. Derrick Rose, Eric Gordon, Kevin Love and others made strong cases, but Lopez is the rare big man who makes his free throws - 82.7 percent of them. He's average 12.7 PPG and 7.9 RPG, but wins the award on his blocks: 124 total, 1.9 per game, good for second in the NBA.

Next week, we'll take a first look at the first round of next year's draft - finally, something worth talking about . . .

Like I said, I feel like the lone voice in the wilderness, and going along with that, there's not much on the expert wire this week:

* Bleacher Report has some advice on late-season help at guard, fellows like Rasual Butler and Matt Barnes who are on and off the waiver wire fairly constantly. Amazingly, I'm going to recommend - keep your ears closed, Bulls fans - Thabo Sefolosha, who has averaged 11.3 PPG and 5.5 RPG the last month; nice rebounds for a shooting guard.

Fantasy Baseball
A quick stop this week to take a look at my top 10 outfielders as we round out our positional rankings:

1. Ryan Braun. He's got everything. Could lead the league in homers and steal 20 bases.

2. Grady Sizemore. Another multi-tool. Could be due for a 35 HR, 100 RBI, 45 SB year.

3. Josh Hamilton. I've been cagey about a repeat, but Rangers line-up and park should help him again pile up RBIs.

4. B.J. Upton. A little letdown last year has me thinking .300 with 60 SB potential and more power.

5. Carlos Beltran. Was strong in the stretch again last year for the fading Mets, a better team this year.

6. Carlos Lee. Quietly consistent .300-caliber power hitter, 100 RBI man, though once-promising speed is gone.

7. Matt Kemp. 18 HRs, 35 SBs last year were a glimpse of what the emerging, potential .300 hitter can do.

8. Alfonso Soriano. I'm tempted to push his stock lower, but he's promising a return to base-stealing, We'll see.

9. Nick Markakis. I kid you not. Led the majors in doubles, average has increased last three years to .306.

10. Carlos Quentin. Tough call. Concerned about his health, but he proved he can hit 36 HRs in a shortened season.

And now a stroll along the expert wire:

* Roto Arcade's Farm Aid column takes a look at Texas Rangers pitcher Derek Holland. Farm Aid tries to look deep at under-the-radar spring training stars, and they certainly found one I hadn't heard of. But, can any Rangers pitcher be that good once he gets to The Ballpark?

* has a column by one of the writers from The Hardball Times suggesting that SS Hanley Ramirez is not the sure-fire No. 1 pick with Alex Rodriguez out of the running. With his 30+ HRs, 30+ SBs, and .300+ average at a thin position, a lot of us think it's no-brainer, but the THT writer makes a very good case for fellow SS Jose Reyes.

* Finally, just when you thought the World Baseball Classic could only hurt a MLB player's prospects for a strong season, Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez turns it into his own personal showcase. FanHouse reports on I-Rod's signing with Houston, which should be a boon to his fantasy stats, in addition to giving him a job, which he didn't have before he played well for Puerto Rico in the WBC. He goes from unwanted to a starting catcher in a park that is fairly kind to right-handed HR hitters. Pick him up while you can.


Dan O'Shea's Fantasy Fix appears in this space every Wednesday. Tips, comments, and suggestions are welcome.

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