Considering how many important players have been injured lately, it's no surprise that I have received myriad questions about how fantasy owners should handle them. I like to categorize injured players in three ways:
1. Players I want to keep or add if at all possible, because their potential is worth the wait.
2. Players I will drop to waivers but will watch closely and add when it seems a return is nearing.
3. Players I need to let go, because they simply aren't worth the wait.
With that in mind, I have categorized most of the players who are dealing with some form of multiweek recovery from an injury.
Players to keep or add
Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans: Don't even think about dropping the one-brow bandit, even if he ends up sidelined for a couple of months. We may not know his timetable yet, but we do know he was the best big man in Fantasyland by a country mile. Once he does return, you will have to make a decision regarding whether you believe his prolific upside is worth the obvious health risks with which he comes. If your answer is "no," then you should trade him as soon as he has some big games. In the meantime, suck it up and keep him on your bench or IR spot.
Larry Sanders, Milwaukee Bucks: Sanders is an epic shot-blocker and a double-double machine, and he should return from his thumb surgery right around Christmas. Any team that needs blocks should not hesitate to get him rostered up now before the rush to add him comes in another 10-14 days.
Marc Gasol, Memphis Grizzlies: Reports on Gasol's timeline for a return have run the gamut from three to 10 weeks. It's a safe bet to assume he won't return until at least the new year, but he proved last season that he could beat a timeline when he missed just a handful of games with an abdominal tear, so he could be back sooner. I'm not as high on Gasol as a lot of people when it comes to his fantasy value, but even in my view, he has too much upside to be sitting on waiver wires.
Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards: The concerns going forward with Beal are serious. The stress injury that likely will sideline him at least a couple of more weeks is the same injury to the same bone (though in a different spot) that ended his rookie season early. Plus, considering the nature of the injury, it's safe to assume that he won't continue playing 40-plus minutes per game when he returns. Nonetheless, he has such a huge amount of upside as a scoring and 3-point threat that it is worth carving out a spot for him on your bench. If he can get healthy, Beal will have a major fantasy impact in the second half of the season.
Deron Williams, Brookyln Nets: Considering the hideous stats D-Will was producing before he took a seat in the infirmary, his owners may actually be happy that he isn't trying to tough it out on the hardwood. Surely that's little solace for owners who dropped what likely was a first-round pick on him, but we all knew the risks involved with his ankle problems. I'm skeptical about D-Will returning to full form anytime soon, but like Gasol, there simply is too much upside to not wait it out.
Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers: I may have the lowest expectations for Kobe this season. I think he is weeks -- not days -- away from playing, and months -- not weeks -- away from looking like the stat machine we have known for so long. That doesn't mean that I wouldn't add him in a heartbeat if some owner dared to drop him. If anyone is going to prove me wrong, it's the Black Mamba. If you drafted him, you need to wait it out.
Ersan Ilyasova, Milwaukee Bucks: He has so many nagging little injuries that they are hard to track at this point. He's also off to a horrible start just like last season, but don't forget that he proved to be worth the wait with a big second half of the 2012-13 campaign. Once he gets right physically, he should prove worth the wait this time, too.
Tobias Harris, Orlando Magic: I know he can't seem to get healthy and the Magic's roster looks different this season; I don't really care. I will roll under the assumption that he will get his body right and eventually pick up where he left off last season as a statistical beast. I want him on all of my rosters for the second half of the season.
Jeremy Lin, Houston Rockets: I nearly put Lin on the next list of players, because I'm not really a believer in his long-term production. Still, he should only miss a couple of weeks and he was posting some great stats before going down, so that makes him worth a short-term roster investment.
Players to keep an eye on
J.J. Redick, Los Angeles Clippers: Because Redick suffered a serious injury to the elbow of his shooting arm, I don't expect to see him back for a couple of months. Pounce on him for his 3s when it sounds like he's a couple of weeks away.
JaVale McGee, Denver Nuggets: The Nugs have yet to announce any sort of timetable for his return from a stress fracture in his leg that limited his production early on this season. I actually have hung onto McGee in one league because I have the space and he has such upside as a double-double and blocking threat. He's a great stash if you can wait it out; otherwise keep an eye on his recovery.
Paul Pierce, Brooklyn Nets: He is expected to miss two to four weeks with a fractured bone in his right hand and was playing horribly before that. I do expect him to find some sort of rhythm eventually this season, but there is very little upside at his age on this team.
Kyle Korver, Atlanta Hawks: If you need 3s, I recommend holding on to or adding Korver. It doesn't sound like his rib injury is too serious, so he should be back in the relatively near future. Because he offers little else statistically, there is no need to wait it out if you don't specifically have a problem with 3-point production.
Andrei Kirilenko, Brooklyn Nets: Still dealing with a back malady, AK47 is at least another week away from playing. He's worth keeping an eye on because the Nets are so banged up that Kirilenko could actually see enough court time to make a statistical impact upon his return.
Rajon Rondo, Boston Celtics: I remain very skeptical about Rondo this season. Even if he manages to return from his torn ACL in the next month, what can we expect from a guard who already had trouble scoring and now has no one to finish his passes? Furthermore, will he rack up huge steals on that surgically repaired joint? I'd rather let someone else have the headache.
Otto Porter Jr., Washington Wizards: The rookie carries a lot of potential and finally tested his hip in practice during the past week. Add him when he is nearing his debut and see if the third overall pick can hit the ground running.
Players you need to let go
Danilo Gallinari, Denver Nuggets: There is no need to wait around for a shoddy shooter with a bum knee and no timetable to ball.
Steve Nash, Los Angeles Lakers: If his horrible stats and medical report were attached to a different name, he would be owned in zero percent of fantasy leagues. Move on already.
Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls: Obviously, you should have kicked him to the curb -- and maybe even poured a 40 on it -- by now in redraft leagues. You should probably do the same in keeper leagues, so long as you have any other high-upside options. We may never see him at full tilt again.