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We've all been there. You're riding high with a great roster, until a string of bad luck sinks the good ship SS Fantasy Hopes. Oh sure, you've tried to build in fail-safes and redundancies into your roster, but you can't just predict Russell Westbrook suffering a broken hand in the second week of the season.
The only thing worse than watching one of your stars go down is watching his backup shine in a starring role -- on someone else's team. You can't possibly account for every contingency plan for your entire starting roster, but there are some players whose value in the event of an injury is so obvious, you can hardly afford not to have them on your roster.
With that in mind, here are the Fantasy handcuffs you most need to own, and the types of trades you might need to make to get them.
Gorgui Dieng (plays behind Nikola Pekovic)
Dieng is a solid, but mostly unspectacular option when Nikola Pekovic is active, averaging 8.1 points and 6.6 rebounds per
game in eight appearances off the bench this season. However, he is a
must-own option in all leagues, even if you don't have Pekovic, because
of his numbers when Pekovic sits. He is averaging 11.6 points, 11.5
rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.6 blocks in 17 career starts.
Since Pekovic misses more than 20 games per year on average in his
career, Dieng has to be on your bench if you rely on Pekovic.
Players you should trade for Dieng: Tony Wroten, Alec Burks, Paul Pierce
Tony Wroten (plays behind Michael Carter-Williams)
Wroten falls into a similar category as Oklahoma City's Reggie Jackson, in that he isn't so much a handcuff, because he still
has value in a secondary role. Wroten's numbers are down across the
board since Carter-Williams returned, but he is still averaging 14.8
points, 5.0 assists and 3.0 rebounds over the last four games, while
starting three of them. Wroten will still find playing time, but he is
more of a bench option when Carter-Williams is around. However, MCW has
already dealt with some fairly serious injuries, and Wroten has been
tremendous in a starting role, averaging 18.3 points, 4.2 rebounds and
5.5 assists per game in 26 starts since last season. You need him on
your roster, because he's a must-start guy whenever he plays big minutes.
Players you should trade for Wroten: Kelly Olynyk, Omer Asik, Draymond Green
Mason Plumlee (plays behind Brook Lopez)
Plumlee, more than the other two, is the classic Fantasy handcuff. He
was surprisingly productive and effective as a rookie, though he might
not have even gotten the chance if not for a season-ending injury to Brook Lopez. Lopez is back this season, and that has coincided with a
significant dip in Plumlee's production. The Nets' offensive system
might not be totally conducive to Plumlee's style of play, but he is
still averaging 12.7 points and 13.4 rebounds per-36 minutes while
serving as Lopez's understudy. Just 22 of Plumlee's 167 minutes this
season have been shared with Lopez, and the combination hasn't even seen
the floor in four of nine games, so this is a true backup situation.
Plumlee isn't a must-own player in his current role, but you will
absolutely need to rush to add him if Lopez's injury woes creep into the
Players you should for Plumee: Jameer Nelson, Zach LaVine, Josh McRoberts
And now, on to the trade value chart ...