Fantasy Basketball: Did Al Jefferson's Knee Just Kill Your Season?

Brian WeyCorrespondent IFebruary 11, 2009

How do you replace a game average of 23 points, 11 rebounds, nearly two blocks, and 50 percent from the field?

You can't. At least not without being creative.

When Al Jefferson's knee went "pop," so did a lot of fantasy seasons, but coming back from that is what will set the mediocre fantasy players apart from the great (or stubborn) ones.

So, let's brainstorm a few ways to get your fantasy season back on track.

A quick fix is to scour the waiver wire. The obvious name here is Kevin Love, but that's not really usable advice unless you're playing in a six-team league with shallow benches. More likely than not, he's already owned, and trading for him means paying an arm and a leg as the owner tries to take advantage of your misfortune.

Craig Smith is slightly under the radar. He's a hustle player who's out with broken ribs, but should be back sometime shortly after the All-Star break. He's got some upside and is worth keeping an eye on.

Let's break down a few more players that could replace Jefferson.

Antonio McDyess, Pistons: He'll help you replace the rebounds, averaging nearly 10 in the last five games, but won't replace the scoring. At least his field goal percentage won't hurt you, as he's hitting 49 percent for the season.

Kendrick Perkins, Celtics: He's a little under the radar right now, as he is coming back from injury and putting up his usual mediocre numbers. But he rebounds well and blocks about two shots a game.

Marreese Speights, 76ers: With Elton Brand done for the season, Speights is playing like he wants the starting gig. It's only been two games, but the early results have been promising, and he also appears to have some shot-blocking skills.

Chances are, one guy isn't going to fix your team. This is a good time to take a hard look at your team and assess what a guy like Al Jefferson did for you. Was he propping your team up in a category, like field goal percentage? Or was he contributing to team strengths?

Knowing that will help you choose your next course of action. If he was propping your team up in a category, one option is to punt that category to strengthen others.

Let's say he is holding you up in field goals. You should take a look at your other good players here and look to move them for lousy shooters that are otherwise productive, such as Jason Kidd, Stephen Jackson, Al Harrington, or Hedo Turkoglu.

If Jefferson was helping your team by boosting your strengths, then you should look to replace his production as cheaply as possible. Most likely, this will take a combination of players rather than trading the farm for another stud.

Take a look at some productive guys that are under the radar, such as Samuel Dalembert, Luis Scola, Zach Randolph, or Al Horford. Combined with one of the pickups above, you're well on your way to replacing Big Al's lost production.

Lastly, keep in mind the NBA trade deadline is coming up, which always opens up opportunities. Keep an eye on sites that break trade news early to beat your competition to the punch.  

Luck favors the prepared, so do a little digging and your team will be well prepped for the stretch run.