Fantasy Basketball: A Dozen Dimes, Volume 22
The majority of fantasy basketball leagues are winding down, with this week representing the finals for most head-to-head formats. If you're reading this, there's a good chance that you're in an important matchup and possibly even going for your league's ultimate prize. If so, well done.
As far as schedules go, the only team that represents a major disadvantage is the Cleveland Cavaliers, as they only play two games this week. Of the remaining teams, 17 of them play four games, while the remaining 12 play three.
There are several busy schedule days this week, as Wednesday (12 games), Friday (10), and Saturday (10) all represent times when you could be forced to keep players on your bench. That means it can help to target guys on teams that play more games on the light-slate nights, as that will allow you to fit them into your lineup more easily.
To that end, the best schedules this week belong to the three teams that play four games, with three falling on slow nights -- Houston (Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Sunday), Golden State (Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday), and Miami (Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday). We covered your best Golden State targets last week, so we won't repeat them here. As for Houston and Miami, there's a widely available player form each squad highlighted below in case you're interested in maximizing your games played.
Alright, let's get down to business.
Jeremy Lin may have re-entered the Lakers' starting lineup three games ago, but he didn't end up displacing rookie Jordan Clarkson. For that reason, Clarkson is a must-start player during the Lakers' upcoming four-game week. Over his last four contests, Clarkson has posted early-round value for his averages of 20.5 points, 0.8 three-pointers, 4.8 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 1.3 steals, 1.0 block, 3.0 turnovers, 49.2% shooting from the field, and 85.0% from the line. He's still available in more than half the leagues out there, so take a look for him on your wire.
Robert Covington looked like the waiver wire pickup of the year until about a month ago, when a right elbow contusion caused him to miss a couple games and he came back to find his starting gig given away. He struggled to find consistency in his new role at first, but now he's been excellent in three of his last four games (and seems to have regained his starting job in the process). A two-point dud on Friday notwithstanding, Covington has averaged 16.8 points, a blistering 4.0 triples, 4.0 rebounds, 0.8 assists, 1.5 steals, 0.5 blocks, and only 1.5 turnovers per contest over his last four, while shooting 51.2% from the field and 63.6% from the stripe. That makes him a top-40 value over that span and someone who should be universally owned during the Sixers' four-game week.
Matt Barnes never gets a lot of love as a fantasy asset, but he has the skillset to flirt with mid- to early-round value at any given time. Over his last four games, Barnes has been a subtle top-30 play in nine-category leagues on the strength of his 14.0 points, 3.0 triples, 5.0 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.0 steal, 0.8 blocks, and mere 1.0 turnover per game, to go with his 45.5% shooting from the field and perfect 4 for 4 mark from the line. He's a threat in all nine of the default fantasy basketball categories, yet is only spoken for in about 50% of Yahoo leagues. If he's still available on your wire, he could be just the boost your team needs during this crucial fantasy week in which the Clippers go four times.
It's usually his twin brother that gets all the fantasy love, but Marcus Morris has been tearing it up since Brandon Knight went down with an ankle injury and freed up a starting spot for him. In Marcus' last five games, in particular, he's been a top-20 value in nine-category leagues for averages of 16.2 points, 2.2 threes, 9.0 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 1.4 steals, 0.2 blocks, and 1.2 turnovers per game, with a shooting split of 47.7% from the floor and 80.0% from the free throw line. Knight did return during the Suns' last game on Sunday but struggled mightily coming off the bench (and could also continue to miss games as he's reportedly not 100% yet). The Suns play only three times this week, but Knight's unsure status, Marcus' stellar play of late, and his mere 35% ownership rate on Yahoo make him hard to ignore.
The Charlotte Hornets' frontcourt is pretty banged up right now, and Marvin Williams is the main fantasy beneficiary. As long as Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (ankle) remains sidelined, Williams should continue to get enough minutes to remain valuable, even with tonight's likely return of Cody Zeller. Over Marvin's last four games (all of which were starts), he's been a mid-round play for his averages of 9.8 points, 7.0 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 0.8 steals, 0.5 blocks, and 0.8 turnovers in a healthy 36.0 minutes per contest, with 41.9% shooting from the field and 83.3% from the line. With news that Al Jefferson recently had his knee drained and could miss some time, the return of Zeller might not hurt Williams' minutes and production as much as originally anticipated.
Speaking of the banged up Hornets, Gerald Henderson has been shouldering a lot of the load for them lately and has actually been a top-25 value over his last three contests. During that span, Hendo has averaged 18.0 points, 1.0 three, 6.7 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.0 steal, 0.3 blocks, and 1.3 turnovers per game, while shooting a scorching hot 59.5% from the field and 87.5% from the charity stripe. There's no reason not to roll with him while he's breathing fire like that and -- luckily for most of you -- he's still 65% available in Yahoo leagues.
Dennis Schroder has been excellent lately, regardless of whether he's started in place of a hurt or resting Jeff Teague or come off the bench. Over Schroder's last five (only two of which were starts), he's averaged 15.8 points, 2.0 threes, 3.2 rebounds, 6.8 assists, 0.4 steals, 0.2 blocks, and 2.2 turnovers, while shooting 43.5% from the field and 93.8% from the line. The lack of defensive stats is a bummer, but that's great value in scoring, threes, and assists for someone who's only owned in a third of the Yahoo leagues out there. The Hawks only play three times this week, but two of those are a back-to-back set on Monday and Tuesday. Since the Hawks have already clinched first place in the East, there's a good chance that Teague plays only one of those games (reportedly Monday) and rests the other. Whenever Teague plays, Schroder will still be worth owning, but he'll be a bona fide must-start whenever Teague is out. Keep an eye on Schroder as a streaming option this week or just add him now to get a solid two games out of him before moving on to someone else.
Rodney Stuckey recently returned from a strained left calf that kept him out for three games and is currently questionable for Tuesday's game due to a sore wrist. Being that banged up doesn't exactly make him a perfect pickup right now, but if he does manage to play for most or all of the Pacers' four-game week, he'll be well worth a look based on what he was doing pre-injury. Over a 17-game span prior to going down, Stuckey was making a case for Sixth Man of the Year by posting top-40 value for averages of 17.6 points, 1.5 threes, 3.7 boards, 3.6 helpers, 0.9 steals, 0.2 blocks, and 1.6 turnovers per contest, while shooting 49.3% from the field and 84.7% from the line. If you're in need of scoring and a bit of everything else and can stomach following the Pacers' injury report all week long, picking up Stuckey (who's over 50% available in Yahoo leagues) could mean a high reward for your calculated risk.
Chase Budinger has been coming on strong over his last eight games, posting surprising top-30 value in nine-category leagues coming off the bench for the depleted and (probably) tanking Timberwolves. During that stretch, Bud has averaged 15.9 points, 1.8 threes, 5.1 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.0 steal, 0.3 blocks, and only 0.9 turnovers per contest, while shooting the lights out at a clip of 53.3% from the field and 94.4% from the line. He's played a healthy 33.7 minutes per game over that span, and he's one of only a couple Wolves that you can count on suiting up for the team each night. He's over 70% available in Yahoo leagues, so if you're low on options, he could very well still be available.
You wouldn't expect Jameer Nelson to be an enticing fantasy option at this point, especially with Ty Lawson perfectly healthy and suiting up, but here we are. Over his last four, Nelson has been a top-50 play in a mere 22.1 minutes per contest for averages of 16.8 points, 2.8 threes, 2.0 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 1.0 steal, 2.3 turnovers, and 51.9% shooting from the field. He hasn't blocked a shot in that span and has attempted only two free throws (both of which he hit), but those in need of points, threes, and assists, should take heed of his recent efforts. He could certainly fall off suddenly and at any point, but the chance of Lawson randomly resting down the stretch of the Nuggets' already lost season could boost Nelson's value even more. Keep an eye on him and his 35% ownership rate during Denver's four-day cluster of three games from Wednesday to Saturday.
As mentioned in the intro, the Rockets have a great fantasy schedule this week, so Jason Terry will be extra valuable, almost by default. Patrick Beverley is done for the season, so Terry is now the Rockets' starting point guard for the foreseeable future. Three games in his new role have only produced late-round value, with sparse averages of 8.0 points, 2.0 threes, 2.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.3 turnovers, 57.1% shooting from the field, and a perfect 3 for 3 from the line. That line is effective, but subtly, and you probably won't be rushing to the wire to grab him. Even so, his schedule and increased opportunity will probably result in a spike to his mere 5% ownership on Yahoo, so try to keep tabs on him if you're hurting at the point and you believe he can still contribute something.
Mario Chalmers isn't the most exciting fantasy player on the market, but the Heat's enticing schedule this week (as outlined in the intro) makes him worth a strong look if he's still available in your league (as he is in 45% of Yahoo formats). Over Chalmers' last four games, he's cracked top-100 value for averaging 11.0 points, 1.5 threes, 3.0 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 1.3 steals, 0.3 blocks, and 2.0 turnovers in a robust 31.0 minutes per contest, while shooting 42.4% from the field (and without attempting a single free throw). The Heat are currently littered with injuries, so they have no choice but to give Chalmers a lot of touches. If Dwyane Wade's knee-draining procedure from Saturday causes him to miss any time this week as well, Chalmers could very well become a fantasy-championship-winning addition.