Fantasy Basketball Weekly Planner: Don't count on the Warriors



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Steph Curry and the Warriors play just twice next week.

Steph Curry and the Warriors play just twice next week.

(Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP)


Sit down. We need to talk (if you never learn anything else from me, know this: the phrase “we need to talk” translates to unwelcome news 95 percent of the time. What I’m about to tell you only increases the accuracy). You’re going to need to find better options this week if you own one of the Warriors’ Big Four. While it seems like ESPN shows them on a continual loop, even KG, Steph, Klay and Draymond need their rest, which is why Golden State plays twice.


(You may begin to cope with your emotions now)


Yup, those guaranteed Fantasy points from Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson will be limited, as the Warriors have just the road-weary Heat (Tuesday) and Pistons (Thursday) on their docket. That translates to whether you want to take the two games with expectations of the usual numbers from the Big Four, or sit them down in favor of players who will have more games. Common sense suggests you roll the dice on them, yet if you’re in a tight race and need the points, you may want to simply play the pure numbers from someone who will present more opportunities.

Houston Rockets forward Montrezl Harrell

Houston Rockets forward Montrezl Harrell

(Erik Williams/USA Today Sports)


One player who should find his way into your lineup is Rockets PF Montrezl Harrell, who has become — according to Player Efficiency Rating (PER) — the second-most productive player on the roster after James Harden. Harrell is averaging 14.8 points and 5.4 rebounds since replacing the injured Clint Capela in the Houston lineup, while also shooting a blistering 69.6 percent from the field. Harrell’s 18.8 PER is second behind Harden’s 28.1 among Rockets starters. With four games on tap this week, Harrell makes a good fit for the utility spot on your roster.


The trade of Kyle Korver to the Cavaliers opens the door for Tim Hardaway Jr. to further enhance his Fantasy value. With the Hawks in need of a starting shooting guard, THJ will see his usage rate, which has remained steady at 22.9, gain a sharp increase as his minutes climb. I’d keep a close eye on him while also making sure to strike quickly if his 18.3 points per game this month ticks up. Now that I’ve offered a sampler or two, let’s keep it moving toward the main dish, shall we?


TEAM WITH FIVE GAMES: Bulls


TEAMS WITH FOUR GAMES: Nets. Pistons, Rockets, Lakers, Timberwolves, Knicks, Thunder


TEAMS WITH THREE GAMES: Hawks, Celtics, Cavaliers, Mavericks, Grizzlies, Bucks, Pelicans, Magic, 76ers. Trail Blazers, Kings, Spurs, Raptors, Jazz, Wizards


TEAMS WITH TWO GAMES: Hornets, Warriors, Clippers, Heat, Suns


TEAMS WITH ONE GAME: Pacers. Nuggets


WEEK 12 SCHEDULE ANALYSIS


FAVORABLE


Bulls: With the exception of their trip to the Grizzlies on Sunday night, the rest of their busy week works favorably. Now relatively healthy (and at .500), the Bulls face teams (vs. Thunder, at Wizards, at Knicks, vs. Pelicans) allowing an average of at least 105 points per game. Jimmy Butler has averaged nearly 33 points, while adding eight boards and nearly six assists per night over the last two weeks and should be able to maintain his blistering pace.


Rockets: Even the matchup against the Grizzlies on Friday shouldn’t deter you. Houston lost their first meeting at Memphis on December 23, yet scored 109 points. Six players on the roster averaged at least 11.8 points over the past two weeks, including PG Patrick Beverley, whose rebounding prowess merits must-start consideration.


Thunder: Expect the frantic pace of Russell Westbrook to continue, as OKC gets three games that project as run-and-gun affairs (at Bulls, at Timberwolves, at Kings). Westbrook should fare better vs. the Grizzlies on Wednesday, considering he was ejected when the teams last met on December 29, after shooting just 6 of 19 from the field and committing six turnovers.


UNFAVORABLE


Nets: A four-game schedule gets progressively worse. Starting with a home date against the red-hot Hawks, the Nets then welcome Anthony Davis and a Pelicans team fighting its way into the Western Conference playoff picture before traveling to the Raptors and closing out with the Playstation-like offense of the Rockets. The latter two games smell of sweet stacking in DFS formats.


Pacers: Damn cursed NBA and their international appeal. Paul George and Myles Turner owners are victims of Adam Silver’s plan to rule the world 94 feet at a time, as the Pacers meet the Nuggets in London on Thursday. Travel time to and fro means the game will be the only one for Indiana this week.


Trail Blazers: Don’t expect too much up-tempo from Portland’s three-game slate, which welcomes two of the Association’s most stingy defenses in the Cavaliers (Wednesday) and Pistons (Friday). Portland, ranked 26th in rebounds per game, will have their hands full with the likes of Cleveland’s Tristan Thompson and Detroit’s Andre Drummond, who both rank among the Top 13 individual board cleaners.


DOs AND DON’Ts


DO: Begin to pay attention to trade rumors. Though the deadline is more than seven weeks away, conversations indicate this season may actually see a blockbuster or two. The Nuggets are intent on shaking up a crowded frontcourt, which could see the likes of SF/PF Danilo Gallinari, PF Kenneth Faried and C Jusuf Nurkic heading to more friendly confines. Not to worry, though. We’ll touch on this subject frequently before Moving Day.


DON’T: Sleep on resurging Wizards C Marcin Gortat, who on Friday night recorded his eighth double-double in his last ten games. Gortat accounts for 28.5 percent of the Wizards’ rebounding, making him more valuable considering Washington is ranked 27th in team boards per game. The Wizards face a Bulls team that leads the NBA in team rebounding on Tuesday, but Gortat will face two teams in the bottom half of that category when the Wizards meet the Celtics (28th overall) on Wednesday before playing a 76ers team (21st) that may or may not have Joel Embiid in the lineup on Saturday.


DO: Ponder trading Carmelo Anthony. The Knicks star admitted after Friday’s stirring comeback win at the Bucks that he has played the last month with a bad shoulder that requires considerable treatment. Anthony’s numbers show it. He has eclipsed the 30-point mark just once in his last 13 games entering this past Saturday night’s game at the Pacers, and his shooting percentage has dipped to 42 percent. Anthony should remain in the lineup in the foreseeable future but now is a good time to move him, before his numbers continue to fall or the Knicks shut him down to have him fresh for a possible playoff run.


DON’T: Give up on Suns PG/SG Brandon Knight, who is averaging just under 13 minutes per night over the last two weeks. The Suns will trade him before the deadline. So, while he offers little in the present, Knight’s owners should remain faithful and keep him on the roster. Knight, who averaged 19.6 points and 5.1 assists last season, is only 25 and will be an impact player for the team that acquires him.


INJURIES


– Nets PG Jeremy Lin missed his fifth straight game on Friday, and the hamstring woes that caused him to miss 17 games earlier this season may keep Lin on the sidelines indefinitely. The team has used rookie Isaiah Whitehead at the point in Lin’s absence and plan to have him playing the bulk of minutes at the position.


– Hornets SF Nicolas Batum left Thursday’s game with a right knee injury later diagnosed as a hyperextension. Don’t expect to see Batum return to the lineup for at least the next week or two.


– The Heat will have C Hassan Whiteside back in the lineup after he missed three games with an eye injury. With Miami playing only two games this week, they will likely ease him back into the swing of things.


– Ben Simmons teased Fantasy owners just a bit when he traveled with the 76ers for Friday’s game against the Celtics. Simmons (foot) is participating in full contact practices, yet no one should hold their breath when it comes to projecting when the first overall pick in this year’s draft will make his debut.

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