Breaking Down Kobe Bryant’s Fantasy Value Upon His Return Sunday

Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant will make his return to the lineup on Sunday, Dec. 8 against the Toronto Raptors, according to a video posted on his Facebook page. He missed the first 19 games of the season while recovering from surgery to repair his torn Achilles tendon.

Fantasy owners have already shifted their focus to the impact Bryant’s return will have on their rosters this week and moving forward, but everyone must temper their expectations while the veteran eases back into the starting rotation.

Lakers head coach Mike D'Antoni told Antonio Gonzalez of the Associated Press (via Yahoo! Sports) about the process of slowly transitioning Bryant into action while still limiting his chances of reinjuring the ankle. The worst-case scenario for Los Angeles would be to rush Bryant back and cause a setback that costs him even more games.

The Lakers have survived without Kobe (10-9 overall, fourth in the Pacific Division and 10th in the Western Conference), but the team needs him to regain his elite form to be a viable championship contender out of the West.

Owners have waited patiently thus far for Bryant to return to the lineup, so waiting just awhile longer to plug him into your fantasy lineup is the smartest course of action.

Bryant is owned in 99 percent of Yahoo! Sports leagues. Owners smart enough to pick him in the middle rounds of the draft and stash him on the bench will be rewarded as he continues to work into game shape.

If Bryant is on your bench, you should not start him over a fully healthy player until he returns to his old form. The team must prove it has the confidence in his injured ankle to allow him to amass the minutes needed to be a viable fantasy start.

Bryant will undoubtedly return to the upper echelon; it’s just a matter of when, not if.

In this case, fantasy owners must remain patient...

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