Fantasy Week 8 (Feb. 13-19) is officially the halfway point of the Fantasy season. And what a ride it has been so far. The NBA's condensed schedule has created plenty of unique circumstances and matchups that most teams and Fantasy owners have had to deal with and the next seven days will prove to be no different. There are 112 games on tap this week with 20 of the 30 teams playing four times over the coming days. Nine teams are slated to play three times, while the Suns are the only club with five games on the schedule. Three teams will play three games over three consecutive nights and there are 25 total sets of back-to-backs.
The team which looks to have the most intriguing schedule this week is the Phoenix Suns. The Suns are the lone team scheduled to play five times, although only two of those contests will be played at home. The Suns open the scoring period with their first of two back-to-back-to-back sets of the season starting Monday at Golden State. Phoenix will then be in Denver on Tuesday night before closing out its triple against the Hawks at home on Wednesday. Steve Nash and Co. will then get a day off before facing the Lakers in Los Angeles on Friday night and then are at home on Sunday, also against the Lakers, concluding a stretch of seven games over 11 days.
While Phoenix has had some trouble scoring points at times this year, the Suns look to have two favorable matchups to start the week. Golden State and Denver are both allowing more than 100 points per game and Phoenix scored 102 points in its lone matchup with Golden State in early January. However, points could be tough to come by for the Suns as the week progresses. Both the Hawks and Lakers are ranked in the top five in points allowed this season, while Los Angeles is holding opponents to just 41.7 percent shooting from the field. Fatigue and depth could also play a factor this week for the Suns, which is why it looks to be a nice opportunity for some of their lower-end options to get some extra playing time. Despite the obvious choices of Marcin Gortat and Steve Nash, owners should make sure Channing Frye and Jared Dudley are both active this week. Even Grant Hill, Markief Morris, Michael Redd and Robin Lopez could be worth a look in deeper formats.
Here is our list of how the rest of the divisions look this week:
Pacific: Sacramento Kings (@CHI, @NY, @DET, @CLE) The Kings are one of the few teams that will be doing a ton of traveling in the coming days as Sacramento has four road games on the docket for Week 8. Sacramento will start the week with a back-to-back set against the Bulls and Knicks on Monday and Tuesday, respectively. After a day off, the Kings will face the Pistons on Friday night before wrapping up the week in Cleveland against the Cavaliers on Sunday. While Sacramento has had more than its share of problems scoring on the road, the Kings look to have some favorable matchups on tap over the next seven days. Both the Pistons and Cavaliers are ranked in the bottom five in points allowed this season, while the Knicks are allowing teams to shoot nearly 45 percent from the field. Sure, putting up points against the Bulls will likely be challenging, but not enough to make Fantasy owners sit any of the Kings' Fantasy studs. Feel free to leave DeMarcus Cousins and the ever-frustrating Tyreke Evans active this week as well as Marcus Thornton. However, Jason Thompson, Jimmer Fredette and John Salmons remain extremely risky plays.
Northwest: Portland Trail Blazers (WAS, @GS, LAC, ATL) Portland is slated to play four times during Week 8 with three of those contests coming at home. The Trail Blazers will begin the week with their second triple set of the season starting Tuesday night against the Wizards. Portland will then be in Golden State on Wednesday before wrapping up its back-to-back-to-back against the Clippers at home on Thursday night. After a day off, LaMarcus Aldridge and Co. will close out the scoring period against the Hawks at home on Saturday night. Despite the condensed schedule, the Trail Blazers should be able to put some points on the board this week. Portland is averaging a league-best 105.1 points per game at the Rose Garden this season, while shooting just under 47 percent from the field at home. Combine that with the fact that the Trail Blazers' lone road game is against a Golden State team that is allowing a league-worst 100.2 points per contest, and this looks to be a good week to use most of Portland's Fantasy options. While LaMarcus Aldridge and Gerald Wallace should always be starting, owners should make sure to get Raymond Felton, Wesley Matthews, Jamal Crawford and Nicolas Batum active this week. Even Marcus Camby -- if healthy -- looks like a solid play this week.
Southwest: Houston Rockets (@MEM, OKC, MIN, UTA) Houston enters Week 8 playing its best basketball of the season and has four games slated over the next seven days. The Rockets will start the week at Memphis on Tuesday night, concluding a five-game road trip for coach Kevin McHale's squad. Houston will play each of its final three games of the scoring period at home starting on Wednesday against the Thunder. After a day off, the Rockets will battle the Timberwolves on Friday night before the Jazz come to town on Sunday. While Memphis, Oklahoma City and even Minnesota are all holding opponents to roughly 43 percent shooting from the field, Houston has already proved it can score against those teams. The Rockets have averaged 104.3 points in their three games against the Timberwolves this season and 103.5 points in two games against the Thunder. They scored 93 in their lone matchup with the Grizzlies and Utah is ranked in the bottom 10 in both points allowed (97.3) and opponent field-goal percentage (45.1). Despite must-start options, Kyle Lowry and Kevin Martin -- who should always remain active -- this looks to be another good week to use some of Houston's lower-end options. Make sure to get Luis Scola, Samuel Dalembert, Chase Budinger and Chandler Parsons active this week. Goran Dragic could be worth using in deeper formats.
Southeast: Atlanta Hawks (@LAL, @PHO, @POR) The Hawks will be on the West Coast over the next seven days as Joe Johnson and crew are slated to play three times during Week 8. Atlanta will begin the week in Los Angeles for a game against the Lakers Tuesday night before taking on the Suns Wednesday in Phoenix. After a pair of days off, the Hawks will finish up the scoring period against the Trail Blazers on Saturday night in Portland. While Atlanta has been one of the stingier teams on the defensive end, it will face some teams in similar company. Both the Lakers and Trail Blazers are ranked in the top 10 in points allowed this season, while Los Angeles has held its opponents to a league-best 41.7 percent field-goal percentage. Phoenix looks to be Atlanta's lone favorable matchup this week, which isn't saying much considering the Suns routed Atlanta on the road last week. With such a light schedule against some quality defensive teams, owners may want to avoid using most of Atlanta's Fantasy options this week. Only Joe Johnson and Josh Smith look like sure bets this week.
Central: Indiana Pacers (MIA, @CLE, NJ, CHA) The Pacers are slated to play four times during Week 8 with three of those contests coming at home. Indiana will play in its first back-to-back-to-back of the season over the next seven days, starting with the Heat at home on Tuesday. The Pacers will then take on the Cavaliers in Cleveland on Wednesday before returning home on Thursday for a matchup with the Nets. Danny Granger and Co. will get the next two days off before closing out the scoring period against Charlotte Sunday night. While three games over three days is never an easy task, the Pacers look to have more than a few favorable matchups this week. Cleveland, New Jersey and Charlotte are all ranked in the bottom five in points allowed and opponent field-goal percentage, so the Pacers should have no trouble piling up the points. Even the Heat are allowing a little less than 96 points per game and have been prone to playing in some high-scoring affairs. Despite Indiana's usual cast of Fantasy options, including Granger and Roy Hibbert, this looks to be a good week to give some of the Pacers' lower-end options some run. Fantasy owners should make sure to have David West, Darren Collison, Paul George and even Tyler Hansbrough active -- in deeper formats.
Atlantic: New Jersey Nets (MEM, @IND, @CHI, MIL) New Jersey is slated to play four times during Week 8 with two of those outings coming at home. The Nets will start the week at home against the Grizzlies Wednesday night before heading out to Indiana to face the Pacers on Thursday. After a day off, New Jersey will embark on its second back-to-back set of the scoring period as the Nets will be in Chicago Friday night against before closing things out against the Bucks at home on Saturday. If playing in two sets of back-to-backs in the same week wasn't tough enough, consider whom the Nets will be playing. The Grizzlies, Pacers and Bulls are all ranked in the top 10 in points allowed this season and opponent field-goal percentage, while the Bucks haven't been too bad either. New Jersey is averaging just 93.7 points per game on the road this season, so points could be tough to come by this week. Other than must-start options Deron Williams and Kris Humphries, there doesn't appear to be any sure bets on the Nets this week. Consider Anthony Morrow and Jordan Farmar risky options at best heading into the scoring period.