Fantasy Week 12 (Jan. 14-20) is upon us, which officially marks the start of the second half of the Fantasy season. While most owners have a pretty good fix on which options are assets to rosters and which are liabilities, there are still a few surprises that have popped up here and there. This week is no different as the underappreciated Earl Clark finds himself at the center of the Fantasy universe.
After merely warming the bench in each of his five-plus seasons in the league, coach Mike D'Antoni has turned to the 24-year-old for some added production for the shorthanded Lakers over the past few games and Clark has taken full advantage of the extra playing time. He has averaged 15 points and 10.6 rebounds over his three starts at power forward and shot 58 percent from the field over that stretch. While it appears Clark will be the team's starting power forward until Pau Gasol returns to the lineup, keep in mind D'Antoni has had more than a few flavors of the week since he took over.
Jodie Meeks, Antawn Jamison and even Devin Ebanks were all given bumps in playing time at one point or another over the past few weeks and none of those options have seen consistent meaningful minutes of late. Still, Clark will now get his chance to show what he can do and he has proved to be a useful source for field-goal percentage, scoring and rebounds during his limited run thus far. With the Lakers facing the fast-paced Bucks, Heat and Raptors during the upcoming scoring period, owners in Rotisserie formats looking for help at the forward position should consider taking a flier on Clark this week.
Find a place for 'em
Ben Gordon, G, Bobcats (@BOS, IND, @ORL, SAC): Gordon has been a notoriously streaky shooter throughout his career, and that has proved to be the case once again this season. While that can be a double-edged sword for Fantasy owners depending on if his shot is falling or not, Gordon has been especially hot of late. The 29-year-old is averaging 17.1 points over the eight games since he returned to the lineup from a knee injury, and is shooting 51 percent from the field, while giving owners 2.2 made 3-pointers per contest to go along with 2.5 assists, 2.0 rebounds, and 1.1 steals over 24 minutes per game. With all the injuries the Bobcats are dealing with in their frontcourt, coach Mike Dunlap has been forced to play smaller lineups and Gordon is enjoying his most productive stretch of the year as a result. He now looks to have a favorable schedule on tap this week as the Kings and Magic have really struggled to defend of lately, while the Celtics are allowing opponents to make 36.6 percent of their shots from behind the arc, which ranks 25th overall. Gordon has averaged 15.5 points in his two meetings against the Pacers this year so continue to roll with him in the majority of Rotisserie formats during Week 12.(owned in 50 percent of leagues)
J.J. Redick, G, Magic (@WAS, IND, CHA, DAL):. If Redick ever lands in the Western Conference, he very well may end up becoming a high-end option as the 28-year-old has played some of his best basketball of the year when the Magic has been out west. Redick averaged 14 points and five assists the last time Orlando played on the West Coast, and is averaging 22.3 points over the first three games of the Magic's current western swing while burying 14 3-pointers over that stretch. While the Magic will be back in the Eastern time zone during Fantasy Week 12, the good news is Redick looks to have some very favorable matchups on tap over the next seven days. Sure the Pacers rank first in pretty much every major defensive category, but the Mavericks and Bobcats are two of only three teams that are surrendering more than 100 points per game while also allowing opponents to make at least 37 percent of their shots from downtown. Redick also dropped in 14 points in his lone meeting against Charlotte this season, and scored 17 points and made three treys against Washington earlier in the year. Fantasy owners should get him active in the majority of category-based formats this week, if he isn't already.(owned in 73 percent of leagues)
Amir Johnson, F, Raptors (@BKN, CHI, @PHI, LAL): Johnson has been one of the more frustrating options in Fantasy this season as he continues to flash high-end potential, but can never seem to sustain it for any long stretches of time. Some feel his inconsistent playing time has been the main reason for his up-and-down play and to be fair, coach Dwane Casey's distribution of minutes this year has left more than a few scratching their heads. However, Johnson has been inserted back into the starting lineup alongside Ed Davis over the last four games and has thrived during that stretch. The 25-year-old has put up 18.3 points and 10.8 rebounds on 60 percent shooting from the field during his run to go along 2.8 assists, 2.0 blocks and 1.5 steals. It appears Casey will continue to stick with Johnson in the starting lineup for the foreseeable future, but owners should be aware that Johnson did roll his right ankle for the fourth time this season in Toronto's latest loss to the Bucks on Sunday afternoon. Still, he was able to return to the contest and is expected to be available for all four of Toronto's scheduled games this week. Johnson has proved to be a very efficient stat-sheet filler when he sees starter's minutes, so owners in category-based formats should get him active for the upcoming scoring period. (owned in 60 percent of leagues)
Jared Sullinger, F, Celtics (CHA, NO, CHI, @DET): Fantasy owners have been listening to coach Doc Rivers rant and rave about Sullinger for weeks, but are now finally starting to see why the rookie has been earning praise from his coaches and teammates. Sullinger is coming off of one of his best scoring periods of the year last week that saw him average 12 points and 10.6 rebounds – including two double-doubles -- while connecting on 16 of his 23 field-goal attempts (69 percent). The 21-year-old has been showing flashes of his potential all season long but it appears he is finally starting to understand how to perform at this level. In fact, Sullinger is averaging 9.5 points and 8.2 rebounds over his last 10 contests and is making 57 percent of his shots over that stretch while seeing 25 minutes per game. With Chris Wilcox on the mend, Sullinger should continue to see a healthy dose of minutes this week as well, and looks to have some decent mathups on the docket. The Hornets are one of the worst rebounding teams in the association while the Bobcats are allowing their opponents to pull down 44.9 boards per game, which ranks 27th overall. Meanwhile, the Pistons are allowing their opponents to score more than 42 points per game in the paint which leaves the Bulls as his only real challenge. While he is still a bit raw, owners looking for help at the forward position should consider rolling with Sullinger this week.(owned in 38 percent of leagues)
Tiago Splitter, C, Spurs (MEM, GS @ATL): Splitter is very quietly putting together another solid year in San Antonio and has been especially productive over the past few weeks. The 28-year-old has scored in double figures in 11 of his past 16 games and is averaging 9.9 points and 5.9 rebounds over that stretch while connecting on 53 percent of his shots since being inserted into the starting lineup. While Splitter doesn't thrive in any one particular category, his solid all-around and consistent production makes him a very viable option for owners at the very thin center position. Now he looks to have some favorable matchups on tap this week, which should allow him at the very least to maintain his current level of production. Splitter has averaged a very productive 9.0 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.0 assists in his two matchups with Memphis this season, and put up a solid 16 points and eight rebounds when he faced the Hawks back in 2011. Meanwhile, the Warriors have shown some cracks in their armor in recent weeks and Splitter has put up 7.4 points and 6.7 rebounds in his seven career games against Golden State, but was used as a reserve in those meetings. Splitter isn't the type of option who is going to blow owners away with his stat lines but he can be a very useful option in deeper Rotisserie formats with the right matchups – just like this week.(owned in 45 percent of leagues)
Put 'em on your bench
Jason Kidd, G, Knicks (@DET): Kidd continues to run the point for the Knicks in Raymond Felton's absence and for the most part has done quite well. But the veteran seems to be going through one of those dreaded shooting slumps at the moment that has seen him make just 33 percent of his shots over his last seven games. He is still giving owners 4.0 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.2 steals during his cold streak and based on his track record, Kidd should be able to shoot his way out of trouble in no time. However, Fantasy owners won't have the luxury of waiting for him to snap out of it this week as the Knicks are on their way to London to face the Pistons in the NBA's attempt to expand the game to Europe. Due to the grueling travel schedule, New York will only play once during Week 12, which doesn't bode well for the slumping Kidd or his owners. With only game on the docket, Kidd won't have a ton of room for error this week and could cost owners a win if he turns in another stinker versus Detroit. While Kidd's all-around game continues to make him a viable option in Rotisserie formats, owners should wait until he gets back stateside before getting him active again.(owned in 77 percent of leagues)
Aaron Brooks, G, Kings (CLE, WAS, @MEM, @CHA): When Brooks signed with the Kings this past offseason, most thought Sacramento would be a perfect fit for the 28-year-old. However, Brooks has struggled during his brief stint in Northern California and now could be on the verge of losing his spot in the rotation. With Tyreke Evans now healthy and poised to return to the starting lineup, as well as the return of Marcus Thornton and emergence of Isaiah Thomas, Brooks has been struggling to see minutes. He is averaging just 22.2 minutes and 8.7 points per game in the month of January and has logged fewer than 20 minutes in two of his last four contests. Brooks is also dealing with a case of the flu and is doubtful for Sacramento's first game of the scoring period against the Cavaliers. With Brooks expected to miss at least one game this week and his role seemingly shrinking by the day, owners should plan on leaving Brooks reserved for the upcoming period and beyond. (owned in 20 percent of leagues)
Tayshaun Prince, F, Pistons (NY, BOS): Prince has been a model of consistency for Fantasy owners throughout his career as he has posted close to a 13-5-3 stat line for the better part of each of the last eight seasons. While the 32-year-old's numbers have taken a small hit this season, he is still putting up a respectable 12.1 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.4 assists for the Pistons on 45 percent shooting from the field. However, the veteran has struggled to knock down shots of late as he has failed to score in double figures in three of his last four contests. He is shooting just 36 percent from the field over that stretch while only connecting on one 3-pointer. While Prince's track record suggests he should be able to shoot his way out of his struggles, he won't get many opportunities to this week as the Pistons only play twice during the upcoming scoring period. Detroit will face the Knicks in London on Thursday afternoon before heading home for a contest against the Celtics on Sunday night. With only two games on the docket, Prince won't have much room for error this week and could cost owners an important win if he is unable to snap out of his mini funk. While Prince is normally the standard of a consistent option, owners should consider leaving him reserved until he gets back on track and has a heavier workload. (owned in 19 percent of leagues)
Gordon Hayward, F, Jazz, (MIA, CLE): Hayward has shown some nice improvement during his third year in the league and is averaging a career-best 13.5 points per game heading into Week 12. However, the rest of his game has not developed the way most had thought it would by now and even his shooting has been erratic at times. Hayward's main asset to Fantasy owners continues to be his scoring potential and ability to knock down 3s, albeit he seems to be in a bit of a slump in those two areas as well. Hayward has not made a 3-pointer in each of his last two games and has made just six of his 17 field-goal attempts over that stretch (35 percent) to go along with a combined 18 points. While we have no doubt he will be able to bounce back, Utah has a very light schedule this week with only two games on the docket. Hayward's inconsistent ways can be devastating enough for owners, but with only two games scheduled, his margin of error will be even smaller this week. While Hayward has shown flashes of high-end potential, consider leaving him reserved in category-based formats this week.(owned in 79 percent of leagues)
JaVale McGee, C, Nuggets, (POR, @OKC, WAS, OKC): McGee continues to disappoint Fantasy owners as the 24-year-old has yet to deliver the type of production most have been awaiting for. While he has played better under coach George Karl, he has yet to crack the starting lineup and remains one of the more inconsistent producers on the team. McGee's latest struggles have come in the scoring department as he has failed to score in double figures in four of his last five contests while shooting just 44 percent from the field over that span. He has also only pulled down more than 10 rebounds once all season and is averaging just 5.1 boards on the year -- his lowest output in two years. While McGee continues to rack up the blocked shots, his lack of offensive punch and rebounding totals continue to limit his value in most formats. Despite McGee's high-end potential, owners should wait for his offensive game to get back on track before activating him active again.(owned in 77 percent of leagues)