Here we go. It's the championship week for most default leagues, and the semifinals for some others. For the default leaguers, whether you’re heading into the game for the big prize, battling for the bronze, or playing in the consolation tournament, this is your last chance to taste victory.
Plan your adds carefully this week, as every game played and point accumulated could be the difference between a win and a loss. Trust me, I know. I won a semi-final matchup this week by .003 in field goal percentage, coming down to the last few shots on the final game on Sunday night.
The schedule doesn’t lend itself to the usual easy-to-spot advantages, as almost every team plays four times this week. The only exceptions to this are the Cavs, Thunder, Magic, Suns, Blazers, and Jazz that go three times each. All the players on those teams get a slight downgrade this week and your borderline guys from those squads can probably be cut loose for someone with more games played.
Where you’ll find your advantages this week will be in where the games played for any given team actually fall. Wednesday and Friday are particularly full days this week and you might lose some games to guys sitting on your bench. Aiming for the slower Tuesday and Thursday nights could certainly be to your advantage.
The best schedules this week would be the ones where a team plays four games, but misses at least one of Wednesday or Friday. That criteria is met only by the Mavericks, Clippers, and Spurs. Give all the players on those squads a boost this week.
Conversely, the worst schedules belong to the Cavs, Magic, and Suns. As mentioned, those teams only play three times this week, but even worse, they hit both Wednesday and Friday. Any of your borderline guys from those two teams could conceivably only play once for you this week if they wouldn’t make your starting lineup on those days (for example, I’m only getting one game out of Tobias Harris this week and I’ll be more than happy to drop him to get the four games I’ll manage to squeeze out of his roster spot with an available Mav, Clipper, or Spur).
Look ahead, plan accordingly, and maximize your roster spots. A good place to see this all mapped out is on Basketball Monster’s Schedule Analyzer. I recommend planning all of your moves in advance, if you can. For example, play a Spur on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, drop him for Celtic on Friday, Saturday, and then drop him for a Knick on Sunday. That would result in six nights played out of seven for a single roster spot. That’s how you win a fantasy championship against another team that was obviously strong enough to make the finals.
All of this week’s recommendations go four times this week. Check the links on the sidebar for the last three weeks as well, as some of those adds are still relevant this week. Game on!
I do my best to avoid being repetitive in these things, but Omer Asik’s status has jumped from speculative to must-own since last week. Dwight Howard is having ankle problems and is rumored to be out for the next week or so. For those of you sitting on him in an important matchup, you might be forced to cut him. If that’s the case, what better way to bridge the gap than with his real-life replacement in Asik? In the four games that Asik has started in place of Howard for the Rockets in the last couple weeks, he has averaged 11.3 points, 8.8 rebounds, 2.0 blocks, and shot .545 from the field. As long as Howard is out, Asik should be owned and started.
I thought I was done talking about Terrence Jones when I declared him a rest-of-season add weeks ago, but his ownership rate is still low enough to warrant a reminder. 40 percent of the leagues out there are currently leaving Jones unemployed and that’s just silly. Foul trouble limited Jones’ effectiveness in his last game, limiting him to 2 points and 5 rebounds, which may have caused an owner to jump ship.
Considering he’s still an early-round value over the last seven games with that dud included, he should be snatched up immediately if he was. His averages of 15.1 points, 5.7 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.0 steal, 1.6 blocks, 0.7 three-pointers, 0.4 turnovers, and .600 shooting over that span should be impossible to leave on a waiver wire, especially with Dwight sidelined and his touches available for the taking. Pounce.
Matt Barnes is only snatched up in a little over 30 percent of the leagues out there. What is wrong with people? He’s an early-round value in 14 games over the last month on the strength of 14.1 points, 5.1 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.4 steals, 0.7 blocks, and 2.4 threes per game to go with .490 shooting from the field and .370 from long range. He’ll be thrust into an even bigger role if Blake Griffin misses any time due to his recent bout with back spasms (and it seems like he will) and the Clippers have a dream schedule this week. The optimism surrounding J.J. Redick’s impending return has slowed down a bit and it isn’t as imminent as once believed. There’s little reason to leave Barnes unowned when the Clippers are fully healthy, let alone when they’re this banged up. Snatch him up.
Continuing the trend of players whose lack of ownership I find absolutely baffling, Josh McRoberts is currently available in over two-thirds of the fantasy basketball leagues out there. I don’t know what it is about McBob that turns people off, but I’d roster his consistent mid-round value this season any day of the week. This past week in particular, he’s put up 15.7 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.7 assists, 0.7 steals, 0.7 blocks, 2.3 three-pointers, and only 1.3 turnovers per game, while shooting .563 from the field, .467 from deep, and .800 from the line, resulting in early-round value. There’s only a week or two left to stop sleeping on this guy, so better late than never.
The Milwaukee Bucks are down several guys due to injury and Ramon Sessions has been lights out in an increased role. He has started the last three games and put up mid-round value on 21.7 points, 4.3 rebounds, 5.0 assists, and 1.3 treys per game to go with .500 shooting from the field, .444 from downtown, and .789 from the charity stripe. The Bucks, as always, are an absolute fantasy mess if you’re trying to follow Larry Drew’s rotations, but Sessions needs to be owned while he’s this hot. He’s averaged 42.6 minutes per game over those last three, so there’s little reason to think his production will fall off a cliff too quickly. Grab him if you need help at point guard.
Vince Carter is worth owning anyway for his late-round value on the season, but even more so now as he’s been putting up mid-round numbers over the last couple weeks. In his last six games, Vinsanity has averaged 14.7 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.0 steal, 0.7 blocks, and 3.0 threes per game and shot .455 from the floor, .529 from deep, and .769 from the line. As mentioned in the intro, Dallas has one of the better schedules this week, with games on both Tuesday and Thursday (typically slow nights in the NBA). The Mavs are fighting for a chance at the playoffs and Vince will continue to be a big part of that push and could be a nice addition to your championship run as well.
As previously mentioned, the Spurs have one of the best fantasy schedules this week, so you might have no choice but to subject yourself to the will of Gregg Popovich and his random DNPs. Tiago Splitter represents one of the more intriguing options, as he’s only 50% owned and posting top-40 value over the last two weeks. In his last six games played, he has averaged 11.7 points, 9.8 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 0.5 steals, and 1.2 blocks per game and shot .674 from the field. Normally, that would constitute must-own status, but he’s also had two random DNP-CDs in his last four games. Thus is the way of Pop, especially this time of the year. If you can stomach the risk, he’s certainly worth a look early in the week, as the Spurs play three of the next four nights.
A Spur which I’m slightly more confident in recommending is Marco Belinelli. That’s not to say I’m guaranteeing he’ll play, just the evidence is stronger for his case than most. He has led the Spurs in minutes the last two games as a starter in place of the injured Danny Green, averaging 30.8 minutes per contest over that span. He shot the lights out in those games, averaging 22.5 points, 5.0 three-pointers, 3.0 assists, 1.0 steal, 1.5 blocks, and only 0.5 turnovers, while shooting a ridiculously spicy .654 from the field and .714 from long range. Of course, Green might come back and derail the hot streak, but the Spurs have every reason to be cautious with him and Belinelli has still managed to be a mid- to late-round value over the last month or so, regardless of whether he has started or come off the bench. Keep an eye on Green’s status and make sure Belinelli’s not on a waiver wire if he misses anymore time.
The Pelicans are absolutely decimated with injuries right now, making most of their borderline bench guys a bit more worthy of ownership in this very important fantasy week. Guys like Alexis Ajinca and Al-Farouq Aminu are guys that could be worth monitoring if Anthony Davis continues to miss games, but if he makes it back in a timely fashion, their upside will be capped. Brian Roberts, on the other hand, is someone worth owning regardless of the situation. Jrue Holiday is done for the season and Roberts is the unquestioned starter. He missed two games recently due to a bruise on his knee, but he preceded and followed that absence with two solid games in which he averaged 17.5 points, 3.0 rebounds, 5.5 assists, 1.0 steal, 0.5 blocks, and only 1.5 turnovers per game, while shooting .481 from the field, .571 from deep, and a perfect 1.000 from the line. He makes for a comfortable point guard option this week as the Pelicans go four times.
Corey Brewer has been an early-round value over his last five games since putting up a scoreless dud on March 20th. He’s susceptible to disappearing acts, but the per-game averages of 15.8 points, 3.8 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 2.0 steals, .533 shooting from the field, and .867 from the stripe over those five contests make him worth owning. With four games this week, he’s a good flier to take until he cools off or something better comes along.
Two Bucks in one piece yet again. My attempts to escape Larry Drew this season have proven impossible time and time again as just about everyone on the Milwaukee roster has flashed usefulness for a few games at various points, only to fade away before the next instalment. I once considered John Henson a rest-of-season add, but he hasn’t run away with his opportunity like he had been doing earlier in the season. Both regular frontcourt starters Larry Sanders and Ersan Ilyasova are done for the year and he still hasn’t played well enough to be in the starting lineup. This is simply a reminder that he’s available in a lot of leagues and has been ok over the last three, averaging 10.7 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 1.7 steals per contest, while shooting .591 from the field. His ability to block shots has all but disappeared over that span (0.3 per game), but that could come back at any moment. He’s a decent flier this week if you’re running out of center options.
I recommended Jordan Hill last week, but made a joke that Mike D’Antoni would probably screw around some more and bring Chris Kaman back from the dead and make him a viable fantasy option again after burying him for a month. Sure enough, Kaman came back and played well for two games, then got only 6 minutes in the next one before going nova on Sunday night in a win over the Suns. He has started all four games for the injured Pau Gasol, who has no set time to return from his bout with vertigo. If Kaman can duplicate anything close to the 28 points, 17 rebounds, 6 assists, and 13 of 19 shooting he had on Sunday in his next one, he’ll be worth owning. Anyone looking to pick him up has to follow Gasol’s status closely though, as the Spaniard returning would probably mean back to limbo for Kaman.