Houston Rockets guard Eric Gordon
Houston Rockets guard Eric Gordon (10) dribbles past Atlanta Hawks guard Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot (7) during the second half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Dec. 13, 2021, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Hakim Wright Sr.)


Mike Shara

With Covid wreaking havoc in every major pro sports league this week (and for the foreseeable future…sigh), fantasy sports players will have to be more vigilant than ever in paying constant attention to the latest updates about who’s most recently been placed into Covid Protocols – and who will be returning – in order to stay a step ahead of other players in their leagues. Add all this Omicron madness to a recent surge of physical injuries afflicting players who are the ‘aircraft carriers’ of many fantasy teams (Paul George, Jimmy Butler, Anthony Davis, Ja Morant, Bam Adebayo and Luka Doncic, just to name a few), and this whole season looks like it will absolutely hinge upon everyone’s use of the Injured List Reserve and the Waiver Wire. This is the year where diligence will pay off more than most others in fantasy sports

With that in mind, here are a few suggestions of players you may want to consider adding to your roster if you’ve recently lost someone on your team heading into Christmas week. Most of these players are short-term remedies, but with the season going the way it is – who knows? They could end up being on your team all the way into playoff season.

MONTE MORRIS, PG, DENVER (63% rostered in Yahoo! leagues)
The Nuggets’ game on the 19th was canceled, but that was because of the Nets’ current Covid situation – not Denver’s, so he should still be good to go moving forward. In his last 4 games, Morris is averaging over 19 points, 4.5 assists, .75 steals and .5 blocks along with less than 2 turnovers per game. There is absolutely no reason for him not to be rostered at this point – Jamal Murray is still a long way from returning to full strength – and the Nuggets are due to play better than they have thus far as their injured players hopefully begin to return. If you’re playing in one of the leagues that has somehow neglected him to this point, remedy that immediately.

DORIAN FINNEY-SMITH, SF/PF, DALLAS (38% rostered in Yahoo! leagues)
With Luka Doncic injured and Kristaps Porzingis’ foot now giving him problems, DFS has been given a large increase in minutes and has taken full advantage of the opportunity, averaging over 35 minutes, nearly 12 points (including 1.9 three-pointers), 5.7 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.1 steals over the last two weeks. Those numbers won’t blow anyone away, but they will help you in the short term, especially if Luka or KP were guys you were counting on. You don’t have to keep him forever, remember, just until the big guys in Dallas have returned to full health. (I’m sure Luka’s conditioning will improve at some point…right?)

MAX STRUS, SG/SF, MIAMI (9% rostered in Yahoo! leagues)
As long as the Heat’s injury report continues to rival Middlemarch in length (Bam Adebayo, Jimmy Butler, Victor Oladipo, Tyler Herro, Markieff Morris and more), Head Coach Erik Spoelstra will be forced to keep giving minutes to the kids. In his last two games, Strus has averaged 28 points and 5.5 rebounds while making 12 three-pointers. Granted, those games were against truly awful teams in Orlando and Detroit, but he has been a human heat check lately and right now is one of the Heat’s best scoring options, especially with Duncan Robinson struggling lately. Undrafted in 2020 out of DePaul, the third year sharpshooter has already eclipsed his totals from his first two seasons from behind the arc and might have forced his way into the Heat’s rotation, even when all of their stars return to active duty.

ERIC GORDON, SG/SF, HOUSTON (36% rostered in Yahoo! leagues)
Now in his 14th NBA season, Gordon is still proving himself a valuable contributor for a young, rebuilding Houston team. Whether starting games or coming in off the bench, he is still averaging nearly 30 minutes per game and is a steady source of three pointers, assists and points. He could be a key trade piece before the deadline. If he’s traded to a contender, his minutes might be reduced to the point where he isn’t worthy of a roster spot, but until then he provides a lot of value to this young Rockets squad, both statistically and from an experience point of view. Second year Head Coach Stephen Silas will no doubt continue to maximize his skills as long as he is on their roster, so there’s no reason to think his stats would diminish as long as he’s in Houston.

PRECIOUS ACHIUWA, PF/SF/C (17% rostered in Yahoo! leagues)
He probably only makes this list because he qualifies as a Center in fantasy and that can be a hard spot to fill if you’ve suffered a few injuries/Covid situations at that position on your roster. He just returned from the Covid list himself after missing four games, and immediately put up 17 points, 5 rebounds and a steal in just 23 minutes. He will likely share floor time with Chris Boucher going forward, but Boucher’s season has not gone how Toronto’s coaching staff might have liked, so he hardly has a lock on starter’s minutes. This Raptors team is young and still determining who they can depend on going forward and If Achiuwa continues to impress (and Khem Birch and Pascal Siakam remain sidelined), he’s going to see plenty of chances to help fantasy owners.

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