Start 'Em & Sit 'Em is our weekly look at players around the NBA we feel could help or hurt your Fantasy squad based upon matchups and other factors. Don't expect to read about why you should start LeBron James or why you should sit Brian Scalabrine. In this space, we will try to help you make the call on players you could be on the fence about while also pointing out some players you may not have thought about sitting, but you should consider doing so.
Start of the Week
Going into his NBA career with the Minnesota Timberwolves, swingman Corey Brewer was labeled a defensive specialist. It turns out he can be much more than that.
Brewer has gotten off to a great start in his third NBA season and is looking a lot more like Ron Artest than he is Bruce Bowen. The solid start, coupled with very favorable matchups in Fantasy Week 3 (Nov. 9-15) are why we chose Brewer as our Start of the Week for the upcoming scoring period.
OK, maybe Ron Artest was a bit of a stretch.
But if you look at their numbers early on this season, they are quite comparable. Through six games with his new team in Los Angeles, Artest averaged 13.2 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.2 assists with 1.7 steals, 0.7 blocks and 2.5 turnovers per game. In the same span, Brewer averaged 12.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.8 assists with 2.5 steals and a block per game.
Artest is a defensive juggernaut in the NBA, often matched up against opposing teams' best players and while he could be deemed as a defensive player, his offensive game and solid stat production across the line has made him a star in the league and a Fantasy stud over the years. His offensive numbers have dwindled some this season due to the fact he plays on a stacked Lakers team (more on that later), but one can see how Brewer could be referred to as somewhat of a poor man's Artest by the way he has been playing this year.
Brewer is certainly showing he can be more than just a Bruce Bowen, which is the player he was most commonly compared to coming in to the NBA. Bowen played 13 excellent years in the NBA and was thought of as one of the best defensive players of his generation. He was a huge part of the Spurs' quasi-Dynasty in the past decade and an everyday starter who got good minutes, but he was virtually useless in Fantasy because his defensive prowess never led to much statistical productivity.
Brewer's numbers weren't much to look at as a rookie (5.8 points, 3.7 rebounds, 1.4 assists) and he was putting up similar numbers when a knee injury cut his sophomore season short after just 15 games last December. But this year has been different. Brewer has gone from getting around 20 minutes per game, to seeing 35 minutes per contest. His shot attempts have increased dramatically (14.5 per game, up from 6.1 per game) and his production across the box score has grown substantially.
In Week 3, Brewer's Timberwolves are slated for four games. Two of those games come against the two teams that have been allowing the most statistical production in the league so far this season. The other two games come against stout defensive opposition.
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Brewer could be in line for big numbers against the Warriors and Grizzlies, teams that have been allowing an average of 114.1 points per game. Here's an example: Rasual Butler of the Clippers, a guard/forward swingman just like Brewer, put up 17 points, 7 rebounds and an assist against the Clippers on Saturday night -- one of many similar stat lines given up to run-of-the-mill players by both teams this season.
All signs point to a nice week for Brewer, who is currently active in just 48 percent of CBSSports.com leagues.
Sit of the Week
Just under two months until it's end, 2009 has been a good year for Lamar Odom. His Lakers won the NBA title thanks in large part to his contributions, he was the talk of Hollywood when he married Khloe Kardashian just before the start of the preseason and he's gotten off to a strong start in the first two weeks of the NBA regular season.
Odom's fortunes could be about to swing, however.
No, things with Lamar and Khloe are just fine. Surely, a reality TV show will be around soon enough to show everyone that's the case. It's his on-the-court production that we are worried about.
Odom has been a Fantasy beast for the better part of his NBA career, whether it was when he was with the Clippers, Heat or now with the Lakers. But a year ago, Odom (then a bachelor) was struggling to fit in to a Lakers team that had become stacked with the addition of Pau Gasol and for the first time had a front court that consisted of Gasol and Bynum, with Odom coming off the bench. Odom's production early on this season has come with Gasol unable to play due to a hamstring injury and the Lakers are expected to get both Gasol and Bynum (also banged up) healthy for the first time in the upcoming scoring period, which could revert Odom back to a more limited role.
Last season, Odom did not take to the role right away. In fact, he got off to a horrible start last season and became a poor option in Fantasy for the first couple of months of the season. He averaged mediocre stat lines in late October, November and December before finally starting to put together some decent numbers in January.
And then, it happened.
Bynum was lost for the remainder of the regular season after getting injured in a Jan. 31 game in Memphis. Odom re-entered the starting lineup and took off from there. He averaged 16.5 points and 13.4 rebounds in February and never looked back, once again becoming a productive part of the Lakers rotation all the way through their NBA title run.
With the Lakers not playing a game until Thursday in Week 3, the Lakers are expected to be at full strength for the first time this season as Gasol and Bynum both should retun against the Suns. What happens to Odom will be of big interest to Fantasy owners.
Will he go back to being the Fantasy bum who averaged under 10 points and 7 rebounds per game for the first couple of months? Or will he find a comfortable medium in between?
We suggest not having him in your lineup for Week 3 as we all get our first glimpse as to what the answer will be.
Larry Hughes (UTA, ATL, GS): The four-start guards around the league this week are pretty much no brainers, so we'll go with a pair of three-start guards who Fantasy owners may not be thinking of as starters. The absence of Nate Robinson in New York has created more minutes and shot attempts for Hughes, who averaged 15.4 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.8 assists with 2.2 steals and just over a three-pointer per game through his first five contests. He'll face three teams that allow over 102 points per game, including everyone's favorite Fantasy opponent in what should be a high-scoring affair against the Warriors. So while he'll be playing just three games this week, it's really more like three and a half and he's a good play this week in any league that uses averages thanks to the matchups.
Rafer Alston (PHI, @ORL, @MIA): Devin Harris is not expected to return in Week 3 and Alston should continue to see the starts in his place. Alston has had a few solid stat lines already this season, including two 20-point games and is averaging six dimes per game. He can also help you out with threes. With the Nets hurting for scoring options, Alston should see over 10 shot attempts per game by default and makes for a solid fill-in guard where one is needed.
Sleeper alert: Anthony Morrow (MIN, @IND, @NY, @MIL): Here's a four-start sleeper for you. Morrow is the latest flavor of the week in Golden State and Fantasy owners should look to take advantage of his current surge while it lasts -- especially with the Warriors' favorable schedule in Week 3. He scored 23 points on Nov. 4 against Memphis and followed that up with 18 points on Nov. 6 against the Clippers. Stephen Curry struggled with his shot in those two games. Curry could also be a strong option this week, but if you want to ride the hot hand that's Morrow right now.
Mike Bibby (@NY, @BOS, NO): With Jamal Crawford becoming more productive with every game, Bibby is becoming less attractive in Fantasy leagues. Bibby has not scored in double figures in back-to-back games yet this season and has averaged under three assists in his last five games. He's worth stashing away, but is a must-sit in a three-game week that includes a tough matchup against the Celtics.
J.R. Smith (@CHI, @MIL, LAL): Smith will return from his 7-game suspension on Tuesday at Chicago, but Fantasy owners should not be too antsy to get him back into Fantasy lineups. His conditioning could be an issue as he has missed the first two weeks of the regular season and the Nuggets will play a three-game slate where their most favorable matchup could be against the Lakers. The Bulls and Bucks both are allowing under 93 points per game, with the Bucks giving up just 85.2 points per game -- the second lowest number in the NBA behind only the Celtics.
Bust Alert: Raymond Felton (ORL, @DET, POR): Felton has had two strong performances in his first six games -- with one coming in his last game Saturday night at Chicago -- but he's been a victim of a Bobcats offensive scheme with very little creativity and limited results in the early going. Felton has been held under 10 points and three assists in three of his first six contests and has been very erratic in terms of his stat lines.
|1.||Corey Brewer, F, Timberwolves||36|
|2.||Stephen Curry, G, Warriors||56|
|3.||Corey Maggettte, F, Warriors||27|
|4.||Oleksiy Pecherov, Timberwolves||4|
|5.||Peja Stojakovic, F, Hornets||17|
|6.||Erick Dampier, C, Mavericks||14|
|7.||Kelenna Azubuike, F, Warriors||17|
|8.||Carl Landry, F, Rockets||7|
|9.||Anthony Randolph, F, Warriors||30|
|10.||Ramon Sessions, G, Timberwolves||21|
Andrei Kirilenko (@NY, @BOS, @PHI, @CLE): AK-47 is on a nice run, scoring in double figures in each of last four games. He isn't going to give you huge stat lines anymore, but can be very useful in four-game weeks when he has favorable matchups like he'll have Monday at the Knicks. He isn't the scorer he once was due to the presence of players like Carlos Boozer and Deron Williams, but he can still fill up a box score -- making him a good play in category-based leagues. He averaged 4.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.5 blocks and 1.2 steals in his first six games to go with double-digit scoring. He is a great play in any cumulative format this week.
Thaddeus Young (PHO, @NJ, UTA, @CHI): The Sixers will play four games this week, including two games against teams that allow over 104 points per game. The Nets allow 99.6 points per game and are banged up. All signs point to a high-scoring week for Philadelphia, which is good news for Young. He's gotten at least nine shots in each of the first five games of the season and those numbers could increase against fast-paced teams in the Suns and Jazz.
Sleeper alert: Antony Randolph (MIN, @IND, @NY, @MIL): We love the matchups this week for the Warriors, as mentioned with Anthony Morrow. Randolph may be in line for more minutes and rebounds to go with decent scoring if Andris Biedrins (back) does not play a full week. Randolph had 13 points and 14 rebounds with 2 steals and a block Friday against the Clippers with Biedrins sidelined in a hint of what he's capable of.
Troy Murphy (GS, BOS): Murphy is dealing with back issues that could keep him out of action for another game or two. But even if he returns, he could be at less than 100 percent and will have to face a Celtics team that is allowing just 84.4 points per game. Murphy with two games, a bad matchup and a bad back should have him out of Fantasy lineups.
Michael Beasley (WAS, CLE, NJ): Beasley continues to be an enigma to Fantasy owners and apparently also to the Heat. He continues to start, but is seeing most of the playing time at power forward go to Udonis Haslem. Beasley has played under 30 minutes in three of his first five games and will play a three-game slate this week that includes games against three teams that are allowing under 100 points per game. Sit him if you have alternatives.
Bust Alert: Caron Butler (@MIA, DET): The Wizards are one of four teams that will play just two games in Week 3. Butler is clearly a must-start under normal circumstances and while he remains a good play in average-based leagues, he is someone Fantasy owners should consider reserving in cumulative leagues. The Wizards play two teams that allow under 95 points per game and the likelihood of a big scoring game is low. Figure Butler to score around 30-35 points this week with 15 rebounds, a couple of assists and blocks and around five turnovers. Weigh your options carefully and if you have somebody available to you who can accumulate more stats over the course of say a four-game week, that may be your best bet.
Greg Oden (@MEM, @MIN, @NO, @CHA): Slowly but surely, Greg Oden is starting to show signs of why he was the No. 1 overall pick in the draft a couple of years ago. The rebounding has been there all season, averaging 9.5 rebounds through six games. The offense had been lacking, but he's beginning to come around in that area with more looks in the offense coming his way. In his last three games, he is averaging 11.3 points. Add that to nearly 10 boards and two blocks and you've got yourself a quality center option. A matchup against a Memphis team that is allowing 114.7 points per game and a Hornets team that is struggling defensively (105.5 points per game allowed) should give him chances for double figures.
Erick Dampier (HOU, @SA, @MIN, @DET): Dampier has never been much of a Fantasy option, but he's off to a good start this year. He is averaging 9.7 rebounds, 2.5 blocks and 8.8 points with a 64.7 field-goal percentage. The Rockets are thin up front and Dampier could be around 10 points and 10 rebounds in that game. He's a solid play in cumulative formats as a No. 2 center in a four-game week. Look to him as a fill in if your center is injured or facing a two-game week.
Sleeper alert: Joakim Noah (DEN, @TOR, PHI): The Bulls are going to be without Tyrus Thomas for at least the next month and at least initially it seems to have created a more active role for Noah in the front court. Noah had 21 points and 16 rebounds Saturday night against a tough defensive Charlotte team, getting a season-high 41 minutes in the game. Noah averaged 11.3 points and 11.0 rebounds with 2.3 blocks and a 60.9 field-goal percentage in a very strong start.
Shaquille O'Neal (@ORL, @MIA, UTA): Shaq has seen his numbers drop, as anticipated, in his first two weeks as a Cavalier, averaging 11.1 points and 7.4 rebounds through seven games after he averaged 17.8 points and 8.4 rebounds in a resurgent year in Phoenix last season. The drop in scoring can be attributed to fewer minutes and offensive touches on a team that doesn't play as fast tempo offensively as the Suns. In Week 3, Shaq could see more stat lines with nothing but single digits as he will play against the likes of Dwight Howard in a tough week of matchups.
Andray Blatche (@MIA, DET): Blatche has been a pleasant surprise in Fantasy this season thanks to the absence of Antawn Jamison. Jamison likely will not be back in Week 3, but the Wizards play just two games against teams that allow under 95 points per game. Blatche has to be considered a must-sit this week in cumulative formats, but his matchups make him tough to play even in average-based play this week.
Bust Alert: Roy Hibbert (GS, BOS): We are big Hibbert supporters this season and had him pegged as a breakout candidate coming into the year, but Fantasy owners in cumulative formats will want to at least consider reserving him in a two-game week that includes a game against the Celtics. There will be better weeks ahead for Hibbert and we'll go back to recommending him in all leagues starting in Week 4, but anyone in a cumulative league should weigh their options carefully in Week 3.
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