It has come time to admit that several of my early-season sleeper picks have not come to fruition, primarily because of playing time situations. Let's first have a look at picks that have been, well, bad so far:
Raja Bell: I predicted points in the high teens and about 2 threes per game for Bell this year, but after seeing his playing time drop from the 30s to the mid-upper 20s with the emergence of Diaw and Barbosa, it looks unlikely he'll be able to put up these numbers. Leandro Barbosa is the new starter in Phoenix. Whether he'll be worth picking up depends on whether he can break the 30 mpg barrier. Although he seems to be a gifted scorer, I would not count on it.
James Jones: See above. I predicted over 2 threes per game for the young Jones, but the versatile Boris Diaw has now become the starter over Jones.
Josh Childress: I predicted a ridiculous bust-out year for Childress, something along the lines of 16 and 9, with all the trimmings. On a team constructed entirely from 6'9" swingmen just like him, Childress is losing playing time (28.4 mpg, down from last year's average) and shots (5.8 per game). This has him producing an ugly 8.4 points and 3.2 boards per game. He's efficient as all hell, but can't be prolific enough to put up useful fantasy numbers if he's not playing true starters' minutes. J-Chill played 35 minutes the first game of the season and only 19 last game: if something doesn't change, he'll be a drop candidate in the next couple of weeks. He deserves to be playing.
Juan Dixon: I predicted 16-4-4 out of Dixon. Um, yeah. At a little bit over 16 mpg, Dixon--signed to be a starter--isn't playing any more this season in Portland than he did last year in Washington. It must hurt to not get minutes on a team filled with bad high school ballers, but it is what it is. Dixon belongs on no rosters.
The Good News:
Playing team is still in flux all over the league, especially on teams like the Hawks and Blazers (ahem). There's still a chance that these guys will come roaring back to life over the next few months as their coaches realize that they're better than the guys they are starting (Charles Smith, for instance, is currently a starter in Portland). If the guys above are getting dropped to the wire, the shrewd owner (particularly in the case of Childress) can grab them up and stash them until their day comes. When it does, they'll be rewarded handsomely.
Of course, there's also the chance that they will obstinately stick to rotations that make no sense.
In the meantime, guys like Leandro Barbosa and Al Jefferson have probably made their way to the wire, and are likely to make their debuts in their respective starting lineups soon.
When the fantasy gods close a door, they usually open a window. Keep your eyes peeled.