The fears of Bradley Beal’s fantasy owners were confirmed Saturday, as the Washington Wizards announced the stud 2-guard would miss at least the next two weeks due to “the beginnings of a stress reaction in his lower right fibula.”
Beal missed Friday’s loss to the New Orleans Pelicans due to what the Wizards dubbed right leg soreness, which should’ve put his fantasy owners on high alert. Though head coach Randy Wittman said Beal’s absence was “precautionary,” his lengthy history with stress reactions in his right fibula gave owners reason for concern.
This now marks the fourth time Beal will miss games due to a stress reaction in his three-plus NBA seasons, including a three-week absence in the 2014-15 campaign. He only missed eight games while sidelined this past winter, as the All-Star break conveniently fell in the middle of his healing period, but he’ll have no such luck this season. Assuming he does only miss two weeks, putting him in line to return against the Brooklyn Nets on Dec. 26, he’ll sit out for just six games. Considering Beal’s history with such injuries, though, the Wizards figure to be extremely conservative with his return to avoid any additional setbacks.
This is undeniably a huge blow to Beal’s fantasy owners, as he was in the midst of a career-best season before this latest stress reaction popped up. Through his first 17 games, he averaged 19.8 points, 4.7 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 2.2 treys and 1.1 steals, giving him top 90 value despite having already missed four contests. Owners have no choice but to hang onto Beal for the next few weeks — here’s hoping you have an IR slot? — as he’s far too talented to cut outright unless the timetable in which he’ll be sidelined significantly expands.
With Beal out, John Wall is only going to take on a heavier load offensively, which is great news for his owners. If you don’t own Wall, Otto Porter Jr. (owned in just 69 percent of ESPN.com leagues) is the top target to pursue if he’s available on your league’s waiver wire. Over his past five games, the Georgetown product averaged 13.8 points, 8.8 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.4 steals, 0.8 treys and 0.4 blocks in 34.2 minutes per game, including a 15-point, seven-rebound, two-triple, two-assist and two-steal outing against New Orleans sans Beal on Friday. He’s a must-own in leagues of all sizes until Beal returns, as he’s actually higher on ESPN’s Player Rater than the former Florida Gator at the moment.
If Porter isn’t available, Garrett Temple (0.2 percent owned) appears to be the one in line to replace Beal in the starting lineup, having finished with 10 points on 4-of-8 shooting, three assists, three steals and two triples in 28 minutes against New Orleans. Jared Dudley (1.9 percent owned) also may be in line for an expanded role, as he played a team-high 38 minutes against the Pelicans, finishing with eight points on 3-of-7 shooting, four steals, three assists, three rebounds and two treys. Both are worth taking a flier on in deeper leagues, although those in 10-team leagues or shallower should have better options at their disposal on the waiver wire.
Other injury odds and ends
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson: The Brooklyn Nets rookie is out for the next eight-to-10 weeks after undergoing surgery on a right ankle fracture. In the meantime, Bojan Bogdanovic is the Nets player whose fantasy value figures to perk up the most, as I covered in this week’s Stock Report on Friday.
Al Jefferson: The Charlotte Hornets big man is still recovering from a strained left calf, but his return will be delayed a bit more after he received a five-game suspension for violating the NBA’s anti-drug policy. Cody Zeller has been playing well in Jefferson’s absence and figures to be the primary beneficiary from his suspension, although his standalone value will be slim once the big man returns.
Emmanuel Mudiay: The Denver Nuggets rookie point guard left Friday’s game against the Minnesota Timberwolves with a right ankle sprain after playing just 12 minutes. After the game, head coach Mike Malone revealed Mudiay had already been dealing with the injury and may have aggravated it against Minnesota. If he’s forced to miss any time, Jameer Nelson will see a sizable uptick in playing time.
All player rankings via ESPN’s Player Rater and are current through Friday, Dec. 11.