Center has historically been the most problematic position for Fantasy owners, and this season has been no different. There is a huge drop off in talent once you get past the top 12 Fantasy centers and the gap grows to a frightening distance once you start to hit the low-end options. However, we found a pair of low-end centers we like this week who should be able to provide owners a boost at the five position, including our Start of the Week for Week 21 (March 18-24) Spencer Hawes.
Hawes' 23 games in the starting lineup this season have been an up-and-down ride for most owners and saying he has struggled with his consistency would be an understatement. The 7-footer has gone from looking like a high-end option to a marginal option in a matter of days and his play has been so erratic that coach Doug Collins jokingly told reporters that Hawes' middle name is frustration. However, Hawes has also turned in his share of impressive performances and seems to be surging at just the right time for Fantasy owners.
Hawes has managed to score in double figures in seven of his last 10 games and posted a double-double in five of those contests, despite being shut out once over that span. He has been especially productive of late as he is averaging 15.2 points, 9.6 rebounds and 2.2 blocks over his last five games, which includes his 18-point, 16-rebound and seven-block effort against the Pacers on Saturday night. Hawes credits his recent turnaround on his willingness to get into the paint more instead of settling for jump shots and he looks to have a great chance to keep things rolling this week as he has fared very well against all four of his upcoming opponents.
Hawes posted a double-double during both of his meetings against the Trail Blazers (11 points and 10 rebounds) and Nuggets (16 points, 12 rebounds) earlier in the year, and also pulled down 10 rebounds when he faced the Clippers in February. While he did struggle a bit in his lone matchup with the Kings, Sacramento is ranked near the bottom of the pack in terms of defending the paint, which should benefit Hawes' new willingness to get near the hoop. Fantasy owners should take advantage of Hawes' recent upswing and get him active in the majority of formats at the thin center position.
Find a place for 'em
Shaun Livingston, G, Cavaliers (IND, MIA, @HOU): Livingston continues to see starts at point guard while Kyrie Irving remains sidelined and the 27-year-old has taken advantage of his extra playing time. While Livingston is no Irving, the eight-year guard has played well during his recent string of starts. In fact, Livingston has scored in double figures in each of the last six games he has cracked the starting lineup for and is averaging 13.5 points, 4.3 assists, 3.2 rebounds and one steal over that stretch on 55 percent shooting from the field. He has seen around 30 minutes per game while running the point and with Irving expected to be sidelined for another few weeks, that trend should continue in Week 21. Despite not having the best set of matchups on tap, Livingston's recent production as a starter has been good enough to plug into deeper formats as a low-end option. Owners who are looking for some help at the guard spot should consider taking a flier on Livingston this week.(owned in 26 percent of leagues)
Gerald Henderson, G, Bobcats (WAS, TOR, DET, @MIA): While the losses continue to mount for the Bobcats, Henderson has been one of the few bright spots out of Charlotte in the last few weeks. After getting off to a slow start this season, Henderson has turned up his production of late -- especially over the past few weeks. He has scored at least 16 points in each of his last five games, including a season-high 35 points against the Celtics last Monday and is averaging 22.2 points over that stretch. He is also putting up 3.4 rebounds, 3.2 assists and a steal per game during his recent upward trend and is even making 50 percent of his shots from downtown. However, Henderson is currently active in just 45 of the 80 percent of CBSSports.com leagues he is owned, which means owners haven't been reaping the benefits of his improved play. There is still time for owners to jump on the Henderson bandwagon as he looks to have some favorable matchups on tap this week. Owners who have Henderson collecting dust on the bench over the past few weeks should consider getting him active heading into the upcoming scoring period.(owned in 80 percent of leagues)
Gordon Hayward, F, Jazz (NY, @HOU, @SA, @DAL): After weeks of clamoring from Jazz fans and Fantasy owners, coach Tyrone Corbin finally decided to put Hayward back in the starting lineup. The 22-year-old responded by dropping in 17 points and pulling down eight rebounds in his first start since November and it sounds like he will remain in the starting lineup for the time being. While Hayward's splits are a bit better as a reserve compared to when he starts, owners should keep in mind he has only started 11 games on the year. Hayward should also see more minutes as a starter as evidenced by the 37 he logged against the Grizzlies on Saturday night. More minutes usually leads to more production, which has also rung true in the case of Hayward. The third-year guard is averaging 17.5 points when he logs 30-plus minutes and he has also fared very well against his four upcoming opponents this season. Hayward has already proved to be a viable source for points, 3-pointers and free-throw percentage on the year, but his recent hot streak (15.8 points over his last four games) combined with his promotion to a starter and favorable schedule should be more than enough reasons for owners to get him active this week.(owned in 86 percent of leagues)
Reggie Evans, F, Nets (@DET, @DAL, @LAC, @PHO): By now Fantasy owners are well aware of what Evans can and cannot do on a basketball court, so we really never see the need to advise owners on when to get him in or out of the lineup. However, Evans' limited offensive game sometimes allows him to fly under the radar -- especially when he is playing well -- which is the case right now. The veteran continues to be a beast on the boards as he has posted double-digit rebounding totals in six of his last seven games and is averaging 13.4 rebounds over that span. He has also been making more of an effort on the offensive end of the court, scoring in each of his last five contests and putting up 7.6 points over that span. Considering Evans has pulled down 10-plus boards against each of his four opponents in the upcoming scoring period, at the very least, owners should be able to count on solid rebounding totals for most of the week. While his free-throw shooting remains a huge liability, owners could do much worse than rolling with a player who is putting up 7.6 points and 14.6 boards on 54.8 percent shooting from the field over his last five tilts. Evans can be considered a very intriguing play for owners who feel like rolling the dice a bit this week.(owned in 37 percent of leagues)
Jonas Valanciunas, C, Raptors (@CHA, NY, @NY): The youth movement has officially started up in Toronto and Valanciunas has been reaping the benefits of late. The rookie has started each of the last seven games for coach Dwane Casey and he is looking better and better with each passing game. Valanciunas has managed to score in double figures in five of his last six games, including dropping in 18 against the Heat on Sunday and is averaging 11.6 points over that span on a whopping 71 percent shooting from the field. He is also giving owners six rebounds and one block during his most recent run and it appears he will continue to log starts for the remainder of the year. Valanciunas looks to have all the tools to develop into a solid starting Fantasy center, so we are excited that he will finally get a chance to log consistent, meaningful minutes over the final few weeks of the season. While Toronto doesn't look to have the most favorable schedule on tap this week, Valanciunas' tremendous upside, combined with the shallow depth of the center position, are reasons enough for owners in deeper category-based formats to consider taking a flier on him this week.(owned in 42 percent of leagues)
Put 'em on your bench
Jodie Meeks, G, Lakers (@PHO, WAS): Meeks continues to be one of the eight players to see consistent minutes in coach Mike D'Antoni's rotation as he has been seeing around 20-25 minutes off the bench most nights. However, Kobe Bryant's recent ankle injury could force the 25-year-old into some extended playing time this week. D'Antoni has already made it known that Meeks would start at shooting guard if Bryant is unable to suit up over the next few days and even if Kobe does continue to play on his bum ankle, he could be limited, which would result in a boost for Meeks. However, owners should refrain from scrambling to get him active this week. The Lakers are only slated to play twice during the upcoming scoring period, which doesn't give owners a ton of room for error if Meeks has a bad game, which considering his recent cold streak, seems highly likely. Meeks is averaging just 6.4 points over his last five games and is shooting 30 percent from the field over that span. With the playoffs just weeks away in most formats, Meeks seems like way too risky of an option for owners to bank on.(owned in six percent of leagues)
Darren Collison, G, Mavericks (@ATL, BKN, BOS, UTA): Collison was pulled from the starting lineup for the second time this season and as most expected, his production as a reserve has been far from impressive. The 25-year-old has scored in double figures in three of his six games since his move back to the bench and he is averaging a mediocre 10 points and 4.5 assists over that span on 42.9 percent shooting from the field. While owners could do a lot worse than rolling with someone who is putting up 10 points and four dimes, owners have to consider that Collison was drafted as a starting option with high-end potential on Draft Day this year. Collison has only seen around 25 minutes as a reserve, so owners can expect more of the same from him moving forward. Most owners can't afford to get just 10 points and four dimes from a starting guard, especially with the playoffs right around the corner in most leagues. It wasn't like Collison was doing much better as a starter, but the fact that he was seeing 30-plus minutes per game made it hard to pull him out of most lineups. However, now that he has been benched by the Mavericks, owners should consider following suit -- at least for Week 21.(owned in 89 percent of leagues)
Trevor Ariza, F, Wizards (@CHA, @PHO, @LAL, @GS): Ariza continues to be plagued by injuries this season and has already missed 18 games on the year due to a variety of issues. A sore left knee is the latest ailment to sideline Ariza as he was held out of Washington's win over the Suns on Saturday night and is now considered an injury risk heading into Week 21. The Wizards are slated to play four times during the upcoming scoring, which would still give Ariza plenty of time to get his numbers if he winds up only missing a game or two. However, based on his recent play, we aren't exactly sure what kind of numbers Ariza is capable of putting up. The 27-year-old has posted a 26-point performance over his last five contests, but has also scored two and four points during games over that stretch. He is shooting just 37 percent from the field over his last 10 games and continues to be used mostly in a reserve role. While Ariza has proved more than capable of putting up big numbers and filling up the stat sheet when he is healthy, his recent knee issues have us a bit concerned. Ariza could wind up missing most of the scoring period due to his latest ailment and even if he is able to play, we aren't sure exactly what to expect from him. With the playoffs just weeks away in most formats, we would recommend leaving Ariza on the bench this week if you have another alternative. owned in 49 percent of leagues
Shawn Marion, F, Mavericks, (@ATL, BKN, BOS, UTA): Marion has quietly turned in a very productive 2012-13 campaign as the veteran enters Week 21 averaging 11.7 points and 7.9 rebounds on 50.4 percent shooting from the field. He has also been giving owners 2.4 assists, one steal and nearly a block per game as well as he remains one of better stat sheet fillers in the league. However, Marion has missed the past six games with what was first originally thought to be a contusion on his last calf, but the Mavericks announced last Friday that Marion actually has a strained left calf rather than a contusion, which is a bit more serious of an injury. The team is hoping he can return sometime during Fantasy Week 21, albeit that is far from a certainty at this point. Dallas is scheduled to play four times during the upcoming scoring period, but even if Marion is able to return sometime during the week, there is a distinct possibility will still be limited when he first gets back on the floor. Most owners are just weeks away from the postseason, so leaving an injured Marion active this week could prove to be costly. Marion's injury makes him an extremely risky play this week so if owners have another option on the bench, it might not be a bad idea to go in that direction. If not, just sit back and hope for the best.(owned in 84 percent of leagues)
Enes Kanter, C, Jazz, (NY, @HOU, @SA,@DAL): Injures to Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap have given Kanter an opportunity to see more minutes of late and the 20-year-old has responded by turning in one of his more productive stretches of the season. However, Jefferson and Millsap are both back near 100 percent and as a result Kanter's minutes have started to dip. After averaging 28.5 minutes during a four game stretch last week, Kanter has seen just 19.9 minutes over his last four games, including only 10 minutes in Utah's win over the Grizzlies on Saturday night. The 20-year-old is averaging just 6.1 points and 3.7 rebounds when he sees fewer than 19 minutes per game, so we are a bit concerned about his recent drop in playing time. While Jefferson and Millsap are great players, Kanter has shown some very promising stretches this season and is averaging 14.1 points and 7.9 rebounds on the year. With center being such a thin position, owners may not be able to afford to bench Kanter this week. Still if a better option presents itself, it may not be a bad idea to go in that direction.(owned in 45 percent of leagues)