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THREE UP, THREE DOWN

Posted by Ed Ryan January 1, 2009 05:54 AM

UP Jameer Nelson, PG, Orlando: Now in his fourth season, Nelson is finally developing into the fantasy stud many thought he would become after starring in college at Saint Joe's. Nelson's scoring is up significantly (five points over his career average), he's taking -- and making -- more threes (38 percent for his career, 45 percent this season), and he's playing more minutes than ever (five minutes per game over his career average). Either leave Nelson in your lineup or trade for him. If he's still available, then everyone in your league is asleep at the switch.

UP Emeka Okafor, F/C, Charlotte: Okafor appears to have found his stride under Larry Brown. The UConn product is averaging 18 points and 11 rebounds per game in December and is averaging nearly two blocks per game for the season. Foul trouble is a potential issue, but if Okafor avoids that, his minutes will increase, too. Upcoming home-and-away contests against Milwaukee and Andrew Bogut will provide a nice test.

UP Andray Blatche, C, Washington: Blatche, 22, is a direct-to-the-pros-from-high-school big man who has not accomplished anything in the NBA (except getting carjacked and shot just before his rookie season). Recently, though, new Wiz coach Ed Tapscott has been playing the 6-foot-11 Blatche, and the results have been encouraging: 12 points and six boards against Cleveland, and 19 points and 15 boards against Oklahoma City. Take a flyer on Blatche if you have some wiggle room with your roster.

DOWN Al Harrington, F, New York: Harrington has been a tremendous fantasy performer since a trade brought him from Golden State to the Knicks (23 points per game in 15 games), but last Sunday he was out of the starting lineup and replaced by Jared Jeffries, who is considered a better defender. Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni won't be shy when making lineup decisions, and this situation needs to be monitored so we can gauge whether Harrington's move to the bench is permanent.

DOWN Richard Jefferson, F, Milwaukee:
For years Jefferson was the second option in New Jersey, playing sidekick to Vince Carter and catching lobs from Jason Kidd. But without Kidd to get him the ball, Jefferson appears to be struggling to adjust. He's still scoring (nearly 18 points per game), but two recent games in which he combined for 20 points and five rebounds highlight the fact that his fantasy value is in decline.

DOWN Michael Beasley, F, Miami:
Beasley's doing nothing wrong in his rookie season, but for fantasy purposes, he's just not doing enough right. Beasley is coming off the bench, and he's averaging just 19 minutes per game in his last five. Keep Beasley out of your starting lineup, but don't drop him: If Miami unloads Shawn Marion, Beasley's numbers will increase.

-- ED RYAN

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