Injuries are part of life in Fantasy sports, something I am reminded of every time I see Chandler Parsons sitting there on my bench in pretty much every league this season. You know that going into the season, but it doesn't make your season going awry due to ill timing hurt any less.
In the last few days, Fantasy players have had to deal with injuries to Blake Griffin and Clint Capela, and those absences are going to have an impact on the Fantasy landscape as a whole. Especially because in both cases, there isn't a natural replacement on their team's roster. These could be tricky ones to navigate.
Clippers lose Griffin (knee) for 4-6 weeks
When things are going well, the Clippers aren't a particularly complicated machine Griffin and Chris Paul are the engines that power the whole thing, and things tend to run pretty smoothly, allowing a high degree of predictability. Paul and Griffin will get their numbers, as will J.J. Redick and DeAndre Jordan, and there might be room for one role player to step up on any given night.
What's interesting about this team is, that shouldn't really change much with Griffin down. They've had to deal with injuries to their All-NBA big man, as Griffin has missed 62 games over the previous two seasons, and they have mostly kept rolling in his absence.
We can just look at what the Clippers managed in the 44 consecutive games Griffin missed from last December to March last season:
Paul, Redick, and Jordan all saw an increase in their production, which is a nice bonus for their Fantasy owners, but not something that is going to make much of an impact. You weren't considering sitting them at any point in the near future were you? Of course not.
The trend in recent years without Griffin has been to put as much shooting on the floor as possible around Paul and Jordan's pick and rolls, and that should benefit Crawford and Rivers some. Neither replaces Griffin, obviously, but the Clippers are more likely to play smallball without Griffin, with Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Paul Pierce, or Wesley Johnson sliding into the lineup to play power forward. None of those players are likely to make a big impact, but Rivers and Crawford can benefit from the additional minutes on the wing, and are worth a look in category-based leagues.
A name you might consider is Marreese Speights, someone who doesn't need much of a role to put up numbers. Speights is a gunner, averaging 9.1 points on 7.0 field-goal attempts in just 15.5 minutes per game for the season. If he can just get up to around 22 minutes per game, he might be able to provide enough production to be Fantasy relevant, but it is worth noting that he has been used as a true backup center to this point, having playing just five minutes next to DeAndre Jordan all season. I wouldn't run out to grab him.
Capela (leg) goes down 4-6 weeks
Clint Capela got off to a slow start to the season, scoring in double-figures just once in the first five games, while dealing with inconsistent playing time as Mike D'Antoni tried to figure out his rotations. He has been much improved since, failing to score in double figures only four times in 23 games since, while averaging 12.7 points, 8.1 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game.
Capela has been a solid option for the Rockets as well as for Fantasy players, and his ability to protect the rim, set screens, run the floor, and finish at the rim makes him an invaluable piece for D'Antoni's offense. The Rockets are going to miss him, but they do have some in-house replacement options with him out for at least the next month:
- Once upon a time, Nene was a Fantasy stalwart, an efficient big man with passing chops and the ability to fill up the box score. He is probably the favorite to step into the starting lineup, and should see an increase in his production. However, he won't have enough volume to be worth adding in H2H points leagues, and probably doesn't provide enough in the defensive categories to be a real replacement for Capela.
- Harrell is the player most likely to do some kind of reasonable facsimile of Capela, thanks to his bounciness, which could help him see the floor. With Nene's age and history of injuries, they might opt to keep Nene somewhere close to his typical minutes, with Harrell perhaps stepping up more to fill Capela's absence. If I'm taking a flier on anyone, it would be Harrell, but he isn't worth more than a look in 14-team leagues.
- Dekker isn't a direct replacement for Capela, but he could see more playing time in Capela's absence either way; he is fifth on the team in minutes played when Capela isn't on the floor, and can provide athleticism and shooting next to either Nene or Harrell, with a larger role in the second unit likely coming. Dekker has already been playing more minutes of late, and might get enough to reach Fantasy relevance.
As you can see, the Rockets don't exactly have a ton of options worth going out to add in Capela's absence. If you just lost the big man for the next month, someone like Bismack Biyombo (54 percent owned) or John Henson (53 percent) might be available to replace Capela's blocks and rebounds, at least.