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Week 3 Fantasy Basketball Planner

Sergio Gonzalez
Fantasy Writer

Our weekly Fantasy Basketball Planner is the essential guide to setting your lineup for the upcoming scoring period. Every week, we provide you with news and notes for each team, tracking hot and cold players, injuries and rotation changes.

Atlanta Hawks
Schedule: @ORL, MIL, UTA, MIN
Good Plays: Josh Smith, Joe Johnson, Al Horford, Jamal Crawford
Bad Plays: Jeff Teague, Marvin Williams, Mike Bibby
Tough Call: Marvin Williams, Zaza Pachulia
Injury Report: Jamal Crawford (toe/day-to-day), Marvin Williams (knee/day-to-day)
Notes: Crawford is considered day-to-day. He may miss another game this weekend, but is likely to be available for Week 3. He is a safe play. ... Just when Williams started to play well, he picks up a knee injury. It is diagnosed as just a bone bruise, however. We fully expect him to be available. Given favorable matchups against high-volume teams in the Jazz and Timberwolves, he can be used as a low-end starter this scoring period.

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Boston Celtics
Schedule: @DAL, @MIA, @MEM
Good Plays: Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett
Bad Plays: Jermaine O'Neal, Shaquille O'Neal, Nate Robinson, Delonte West
Tough Call: Ray Allen, Glen Davis
Injury Report: Shaquille O'Neal (knee/day-to-day), Kendrick Perkins (knee/February)
Notes: Shaq is considered questionable for the team's three-game road trip in Week 3. Given his limited statistical upside at this stage in his career, he is certainly not worth the risk. ... O'Neal's possible absence could provide a mild boost to Jermaine O'Neal's Fantasy appeal, but he has not inspired much confidence in Shaq's absence thus far. We recommend avoiding him like the plague. ... Allen began to show some life this week both from beyond the arc and in his mid-range game. He scored 20 points against Miami in their first meeting this season and appears to be a strong play.

Charlotte Bobcats
Schedule: SA, @TOR, @WAS, UTA
Good Plays: Gerald Wallace, Stephen Jackson
Bad Plays: Nazr Mohammed, Shaun Livingston
Tough Call: D.J. Augustin, Boris Diaw, Tyrus Thomas
Injury Report: Gerald Wallace (ankle/day-to-day)
Notes: Wallace tweaked an ankle in Wednesday's game, but he played on. He said he felt sore on Thursday, but the injury does not appear to be anything serious. Count on using him. ... Augustin has been hot-and-cold early, but the assist numbers have been steady throughout. He should post solid scoring numbers this week against the Wizards and Jazz, who each allow over 106 points per game. We like him a as a No. 3/4 guard this week. ... Diaw looked excellent against the Nets on Wednesday and attempted a season-high 18 shots that led to 24 points. We can't expect that consistently, but he seems to be getting more looks than earlier on. He is a solid low-end play as well in any format. ... Thomas is getting just around 20 minutes per game with erratic shot totals. Barring a quick surge over the weekend, we recommend sitting him. ... Mohammed has begun to get more involved, but still not to a level we are comfortable recommending him outside of the deepest of leagues in an emergency.

Chicago Bulls
Schedule: DEN, GS, WAS
Good Plays: Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Luol Deng
Bad Plays: Ronnie Brewer, C.J. Watson, Kyle Korver
Tough Call: Taj Gibson
Injury Report: Carlos Boozer (hand/December)
Notes: Two of Chicago's opponents this week, the Warriors and the Wizards, entered the weekend allowing over 108 points per game. ... Deng dropped 40 on a good defensive team in the Trail Blazers this week. Imagine what he might do against teams like the Warriors and Wizards in Week 3. ... Gibson is playing an increased role with Boozer out of action and scored in double figures in each of his first four games with a healthy offensive workload. We like him as a low-end starter in standard leagues. ... Korver showed some life from the oustide against the Knicks on Thursday night, but he has not shown enough consistency to trust just yet. Avoid him for now.

Sergio's Sleepers for Week 3
* Sleepers are players started in less than 70 percent of leagues
Player Start %
1. Danilo Gallinari, F, NY 47
2. Richard Jefferson, F, SA 38
3. Luol Deng, F, CHI 62
4. Ben Gordon, G, DET 56
5. D.J. Augustin, G, CHA 65
6. Taj Gibson, F, CHI 30
7. Serge Ibaka, F, OKC 27
8. Boris Diaw, F, CHA 40
9. Beno Udrih, G, SAC 49
10. Al Thornton, F, WAS 26

Cleveland Cavaliers
Schedule: @NJ, NJ, IND
Good Plays: J.J. Hickson
Bad Plays: Jamario Moon, Anthony Parker, Antawn Jamison
Tough Call: Anderson Varejao, Daniel Gibson, Ramon Sessions
Injury Report: Antawn Jamison (knee/day-to-day)
Notes: Jamison is expected to be back over the weekend, but he has voiced displeasure over his limited role behind Hickson. He has far too much upside to just cut ties with, but it may take him a while to get used to this role and produce with any consistency. Stash him where possible on your bench. ... The Nets, a team the Cavs will play twice in Week 3, entered the weekend allowing just 96 points per game while the Pacers have allowed 102.5. ... Williams still has some rust to shake off after missing most of the first two weeks of the season. Conditioning is an issue, but so is his relationship with new coach Byron Scott. They have not appeared to get off on the right foot with Scott keeping Williams out in a highly questionable manner, citing lack of familiarity of the system. Avoid him for now. ... Gibson, for now, is still looking at double-digit shot totals including around five shots per game from beyond the arc. He is worth taking a chance off the waiver wire in deeper leagues while Williams remains somewhat marginalized. ... Hot-and-cold Sessions is a very low-end play this week given the addition of Williams likely adding to his inconsistency.

Dallas Mavericks
Schedule: BOS, @MEM, PHI
Good Plays: Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Kidd, Jason Terry
Bad Plays: Shawn Marion, Brendan Haywood
Tough Call: Tyson Chandler
Injury Report: Roddy Beaubois (foot/mid-November)
Notes: Terry has gotten off to a nice offensive start, scoring 15-plus in three of his first four games and 20-plus twice. He is also averaging 5.0 assists and 1.5 steals to go with his usual high-end 3-point numbers. ... Chandler continues to start over Haywood at center, but remains just a waiver-wire stopgap option. He has been good for around seven points and seven boards with a block or two per game.

Denver Nuggets
Schedule: @CHI, @IND, LAL
Good Plays: Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups
Bad Plays: J.R. Smith, Ty Lawson,
Tough Call: Nene, Al Harrington, Arron Afflalo, Shelden Williams
Injury Report: Nene (groin/day-to-day), Chris Andersen (knee/December), Kenyon Martin (knee/January)
Notes: Nene was scratched from Wednesday's game and went into the weekend as a game-time decision for Friday's game. Groin injuries tend to linger, so Fantasy owners are advised to have healthy alternatives in case of setbacks. He has gotten off to a slow start, but had 12 points and 12 boards in the last game he played in prior to getting hurt. He remains a viable play, when healthy, especially in leagues that require two centers. ... The Nuggets moved Gary Forbes into the starting lineup with Nene out on Wednesday on a night when they used just eight players. Forbes should not be targeted off the waiver wire outside of deep, deep daily formats.

Detroit Pistons
Schedule: @POR, @LAC, @SAC
Good Plays: Ben Gordon
Bad Plays: Will Bynum, Austin Daye, Tracy McGrady, Greg Monroe, Ben Wallace
Tough Call: Rodney Stuckey, Richard Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince, Charlie Villanueva
Injury Report: Richard Hamilton (foot/day-to-day), Will Bynum (hamstring/day-to-day), Jonas Jerebko (Achilles'/February)
Notes: Hamilton was expected to return over the weekend, according to the team. He has gotten off to a very slow start this season, however, and seems to be losing ground to Gordon in the offensive pecking order. We recommend reserving him until he can prove both healthy and productive. ... Daye may be starting at power forward, but it has been Charlie Villanueva who has been doing the heavy lifting. At around 14 points and five boards per game, Charlie V -- who was involved in a much-heralded run-in with Kevin Garnett this week -- can be considered a decent low-end forward in standard leagues, but beware of tough battles against LaMarcus Aldridge and Blake Griffin this week. ... Monroe, who had a promising preseason but was off to a slow start due to a lingering hamstring issue to begin the year, started showing some signs of life this week. He is a player to monitor in larger leagues, but is not yet a recommended play. ... The Pistons are giving Prince heavy minutes (36.0 per game) and he has seen his shot total increase in the early going. View him as a decent No. 3/4 forward this week in any format.

Golden State Warriors
Schedule: @TOR, @NY, @CHI, @MIL
Good Plays: David Lee, Monta Ellis, Dorell Wright
Bad Plays: Andris Biedrins, Reggie Williams
Tough Call: Stephen Curry
Injury Report: Stephen Curry (ankle/day-to-day)
Notes: Curry is receiving daily treatment on his thrice sprained right ankle. He will be a game-time decision on Friday and should return over the weekend, making him a must-start for the upcoming scoring period. Monitor him for possible setbacks, of course, and to see if the ankle limits him at all. ... The Warriors are likely to play two very high-scoring games this week against the Raptors and Knicks given their up-tempo styles. Expect some inflated numbers in those games that could trickle down to players like Biedrins and Williams, but they have each been too inconsistent to trust. ... Williams put up a solid 16-8-4 stat line vs. Memphis this week, but keep in mind that came with added playing time due to Curry's absence.

Houston Rockets
Schedule: @WAS, @IND, @NY
Good Plays: Aaron Brooks, Kevin Martin, Luis Scola
Bad Plays: Courtney Lee, Brad Miller, Shane Battier, Chase Budinger, Kyle Lowry
Tough Call: Yao Ming
Injury Report: No significant injuries.
Notes: There will be no back-to-back games for the Rockets in Week 3, which means Yao should be available for all three games. Yao is starting to settle into his restricted role and looks like a player you can count on for about 15 points and six boards with two blocks per game. That is useful in most formats that require two centers. ... Budinger has been far from consistent, but he showed this week against the Hornets that he can be a mid-teens scorer when given the opportunity. Unfortunately, that opportunity will not come on a regular basis.

Indiana Pacers
Schedule: DEN, HOU, @CLE
Good Plays: Danny Granger, Roy Hibbert, Darren Collison
Bad Plays: Josh McRoberts, Tyler Hansbrough, T.J. Ford, Brandon Rush, Dahntay Jones
Tough Call: Mike Dunleavy
Injury Report: No significant injuries.
Notes: Hansbrough is gaining ground on Josh McRoberts, which is currently doing more to hurt McRoberts' Fantasy appeal than it is to Hansbrough's limited scope. Neither is recommended in Fantasy at the moment. ... Dunleavy, forgotten and tossed aside in many Fantasy leagues, is quietly playing a significant role again for the Pacers. He is consistently seeing 11-13 shots per game with healthy rebounding and 3-point shooting numbers. We like him as a sleeper for larger leagues this week, especially against Houston and Cleveland. ... The Pacers will face a Rockets team in Week 3 that entered the weekend allowing a league-high 114.5 points per game.

L.A. Clippers
Schedule: @NO, @SA, DET
Good Plays: Chris Kaman, Blake Griffin, Eric Gordon
Bad Plays: Rasual Butler, Randy Foye, Ryan Gomes, Al-Farouq Aminu
Tough Call: Baron Davis, Eric Bledsoe
Injury Report: Baron Davis (knee/day-to-day), Randy Foye (hamstring/mid-November)
Notes: Davis is dealing with a cyst behind his left knee that could keep him from going on his team's road trip in Week 3. He is officially listed as day-to-day. While we consider him too risky to trust barring a declared return date, his undetermined status also makes possible sleeper Eric Bledsoe a gamble.

Most Added Players
* as of Nov. 4
Player % Change
1. Dorell Wright, G, GS 55
2. Al Thornton, F, WAS 33
3. Landry Fields, G, NY 32
4. Eric Bledsoe, G, LAC 31
5. Serge Ibaka, F, OKC 30
6. Glen Davis, F, BOS 29
7. Daniel Gibson, G, CLE 28
8. Carlos Delfino, G, MIL 27
9. Reggie Evans, F, TOR 27
10. Francisco Garcia, G, SAC 24

L.A. Lakers
Schedule: WAS, @LAC, @CHI, @NJ
Good Plays: Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom
Bad Plays: Derek Fisher, Steve Blake, Matt Barnes, Shannon Brown
Tough Call: Ron Artest
Injury Report: Andrew Bynum (knee/late November)
Notes: Barnes has shown some flashes of brilliance this week, including his 16-point, 14-rebound effort against the Grizzlies on Monday. However, he continues to see no more than 20-25 minutes on most nights and will find it hard to put up consistent production. He should only be trusted in deeper leagues for now. ... Artest finally showed some signs of life offensively this week with 17 points at the Kings. Perhaps favorable matchups against the Wizards and Nets this week could lead to similar outbursts, but we expect him to be highly spotty as he continues to focus mainly on his defensive responsibilities. Avoid him outside of deeper formats.

Memphis Grizzlies
Schedule: PHO, DAL, BOS
Good Plays: Marc Gasol, Rudy Gay, O.J. Mayo
Bad Plays: Hasheem Thabeet, Xavier Henry
Tough Call: Mike Conley
Injury Report: Zach Randolph (tailbone/day-to-day)
Notes: Randolph's return date keeps getting pushed back, but he is expected to be able to play over the weekend. Barring setbacks, he should be a fine play again in all formats for Week 3 and beyond. ... Randolph's expected return will finally push Arthur back to the bench. Arthur has been in the starting lineup first due to the injury to Gasol to begin the year and then following Randolph's injury. His Fantasy appeal is quickly about to fade. ... Conley, our "Start of the Week" for Week 2, has enjoyed quite a productive past few games and a very solid start overall. However, beware of matchups against Jason Kidd and Rajon Rondo this week. We still view him as a good start, but do not be surprised if his numbers take a slight hit this week due to the opposition. Steve Nash should give him plenty of room to operate in the opening game of the week against the Suns, however, which helps tip the scales in his direction.

Miami Heat
Schedule: UTA, BOS, TOR
Good Plays: LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh
Bad Plays: Carlos Arroyo, Mario Chalmers, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Joel Anthony, Jerry Stackhouse
Tough Call: Udonis Haslem, James Jones
Injury Report: LeBron James (shin/day-to-day), Mike Miller (thumb, ankle/January)
Notes: Relax. Breathe easy. LeBron is OK. He complained of some lingering pain in his shin following Tuesday's game against the Timberwolves and he was held out of practice for precautionary reasons. He is not expected to miss any time. ... Jones, playing the role many anticipated for Miller coming into the season, leads the league in 3-point shooting and should continue to lead the world in open looks playing alongside Miami's big three. He is mainly just a one-category guy for Rotisserie formats, but he could just about wrap that category up for you each week -- at least while Miller remains out. In standard Head-to-Head leagues, his scoring will be too inconsistent to trust in most formats.

Milwaukee Bucks
Schedule: NY, @ATL, GS
Good Plays: Brandon Jennings, Andrew Bogut
Bad Plays: Luc Richard Mbah a Moute
Tough Call: John Salmons, Carlos Delfino, Corey Maggette, Drew Gooden, Ersan Ilyasova
Injury Report: Chris Douglas-Roberts (eye/late November), Michael Redd (knee/February)
Notes: Salmons has been ice-cold from the field through the first two weeks of the season. He missed the entire preseason with a knee injury and just seems to be behind in conditioning. Better days are ahead, but he should be reserved where possible. ... The Bucks have been getting most of their production on the wing from Delfino and Maggette. With favorable matchups against the Knicks and Warriors, both players should be able to co-exist in a productive manner. Both are worth activating as low-end starters in standard formats. ... Gooden's role seems to be diminishing with each game and his playing time has been reduced to about 20 minutes per contest. He has double-double upside, but not the playing time for it right now. Avoid him. ... Ilyasova got his first real playing time of the season this week and made the most of it with strong scoring and rebounding efforts. If Ilyasova can back it up over the weekend, he can be a sleeper for deep formats given the matchups against the Knicks and Warriors this week.

Best Fantasy Schedules
Team Schedule
1. Warriors @TOR, @NY, @CHI, @MIL
2. Knicks ORL, @CHI, WAS, PHI
3. Hawks @ORL, MIL, UTA, MIN
4. Bobcats SA, @TOR, @WAS, UTA
5. Spurs @CHA, LAC, PHI, @OKC

Minnesota Timberwolves
Schedule: @LAL, @SAC, NY, @ATL
Good Plays: Kevin Love, Michael Beasley
Bad Plays: Anthony Tolliver, Corey Brewer, Darko Milicic, Wesley Johnson, Sebastian Telfair,
Tough Call: Luke Ridnour
Injury Report: Michael Beasley (back/day-to-day), Jonny Flynn (hip/late November), Martell Webster (back/late November)
Notes: Beasley took a nasty spill on Tuesday in Miami and was held out the next day in Orlando due to the quick turnaround. He was considered a game-time decision going into Friday's action and was expected to play over the weekend. He should be monitored over the weekend for setbacks and possible restrictions, but we would go ahead and count on him for Week 3. ... With Flynn's return pushed back to late November, Ridnour is clear and free as a safe play for Week 3. He should benefit from a four-game slate and likely high-scoring games against the Kings and Knicks. ... Milicic has seen his playing time drop below 20 minutes in three straight games. He is still the starter at center, but that may not last long at this rate.

New Jersey Nets
Schedule: CLE, @CLE, ORL
Good Plays: Brook Lopez, Devin Harris
Bad Plays: Travis Outlaw, Jordan Farmar, Kris Humphries, Terrence Williams, Anthony Morrow
Tough Call: Troy Murphy, Derrick Favors
Injury Report: Brook Lopez (shoulder/day-to-day), Devin Harris (shoulder/day-to-day)
Notes: Lopez and Harris were hurt on Wednesday against the Bobcats. Lopez's injury is not considered serious and he should be a safe play. Harris suffered a sprained, non-shooting shoulder and is being treated with caution. He is expected to play, however, and we expect him to be fully available for Week 3. ... Murphy finally made his Nets debut after missing the entire preseason and first week of the regular season. Coach Avery Johnson plans on bringing him along slowly -- too slowly to consider activating him just yet. ... Favors has gotten off to a hot start in his rookie season, but with Murphy back there is some concern his minutes and touches could be compromised. Our expectation is that Favors will see enough touches in the short term to remain a solid low-end starter in Fantasy, but his long-term value this season is less certain.

New Orleans Hornets
Schedule: LAC, POR
Good Plays: Chris Paul, David West
Bad Plays: Marco Belinelli, Marcus Thornton, Peja Stojakovic
Tough Call: Trevor Ariza, Emeka Okafor
Injury Report: No significant injuries.
Notes: The Hornets are the only team to play just two games in Week 3. ... Belinelli and Thornton continue to go back and forth. Consistency will likely elude each player to the point neither will be useful outside of larger formats until somebody emerges as the primary shooting guard. ... Ariza is averaging just 7.3 shots per game, far below the 13.9 shots per game he averaged with the Rockets last season. His scoring has dropped accordingly. ... Okafor averaged 9.3 points and 7.6 rebounds through his first four games. He is certainly not worth starting this week in cumulative formats and could struggle against bigger lineups this week to the point he should be avoided in cumulative formats as well.

New York Knicks
Schedule: @MIL, GS, @MIN, HOU
Good Plays: Amar'e Stoudemire, Raymond Felton
Bad Plays: Timofey Mozgov, Anthony Randolph
Tough Call: Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Toney Douglas, Ronny Turiaf
Injury Report: Kelenna Azubuike (knee/out indefinitely)
Notes: The Warriors, Timberwolves and Rockets have allowed an average of 112.3 points per game. The Knicks should be in for very high scores. ... Randolph is back from his ankle injury, but is being brought along slowly by coach Mike D'Antoni. Given his struggle to pick up the team's system during the preseason, we would wait to see him produce before activating him in any league despite his upside. ... Gallinari, who struggled mightily with his shot in the preseason and during the first week of the regular season, finally looked comfortable on Thursday against the Bulls. He should flourish late in the week given the matchups and open looks he should get. ... Douglas is back in the mix at shooting guard in New York, putting Fields' early-season Fantasy appeal in danger. ... Gallinari, Chandler, Fields and Douglas all have the potential to put up numbers, but inconsistency could become the norm with so many mouths to feed. However, this week, all have a chance to contribute in high-volume matchups. ... Mozgov is playing a very limited role in the early going, opening things up for Turiaf off the bench. Turiaf is a good rebounder and shot blocker, but his offensive game is weak. He could see a boost in that category this week, though.

Oklahoma City Thunder
Schedule: PHI, POR, SA
Good Plays: Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Jeff Green
Bad Plays: Nenad Krstic, James Harden, Cole Aldrich
Tough Call: Serge Ibaka
Injury Report: Nick Collison (knee/mid-November)
Notes: Ibaka averaged 11.0 points and 7.6 rebounds with 2.0 blocks per game in his first five games, earning center eligibility in leagues that allow multiple eligibility. With Krstic doing very little as the team's starting center, Ibaka's role figures to continue to expand. ... Harden has yet to crack double figures and has been ice-cold from the field. He went 7 for 28 from the floor over his first five games.

Orlando Magic
Schedule: PHI, POR, SA
Good Plays: Dwight Howard Vince Carter
Bad Plays: Brandon Bass, Chris Duhon, J.J. Redick, Quentin Richardson
Tough Call: Rashard Lewis, Jameer Nelson, Ryan Anderson
Injury Report: No significant injuries.
Notes: Anderson has moved into the starting lineup at power forward, pushing unproductive Bass to the bench. Anderson is an excellent outside shooter who should be scooped up immediately in category leagues for his 3-point shooting. He also blocked three shots in his first start. ... Moving Anderson to power forward has allowed Lewis to move back to his more comfortable small forward position. Over time, this should help Lewis regain a lot of his lost Fantasy appeal. He remains a low-end play for now, however. ...Nelson has gotten off to a slow start, but much of the reason has been the fact the Magic have played in so many blowouts early. He is still a safe play as a No. 4 guard in standard formats.

Philadelphia 76ers
Schedule: @OKC, @DAL, @SA
Good Plays: Andre Iguodala
Bad Plays: Thaddeus Young, Spencer Hawes
Tough Call: Jrue Holiday, Elton Brand, Evan Turner, Lou Williams, Thaddeus Young, Andres Nocioni
Injury Report: No significant injuries.
Notes: Brand looks like his old self again, averaging 18.0 points and 9.6 rebounds, hinting at being one of the steals of the Fantasy season so far. ... Holiday has gotten off to a slow start, but is averaging a steady 2.2 steals per game and is starting to pick up the pace in assists with modest scoring totals. We still like him plenty long term, but he is a low-end starter for now. ... Turner has been highly inconsistent in his first five games, but his rebounding numbers have been steady. He can offer around six boards per game to go with just under 10 points. Continue to stash him for his long-term appeal. ... Young continues to flash potential, but his limited playing time caps his appeal. With tough matchups all week, we recommend reserving him. ... Nocioni's hot start has quickly faded.

Phoenix Suns
Schedule: @MEM, SAC, @LAL
Good Plays: Steve Nash, Jason Richardson
Bad Plays: Grant Hill, Channing Frye, Josh Childress, Goran Dragic, Jared Dudley
Tough Call: Hedo Turkoglu, Hakim Warrick, Robin Lopez
Injury Report: No significant injuries.
Notes: Turkoglu may not be in line for a bounce-back season after all. Getting 20-25 minutes per game, he has scored under 10 points in three of his first four games. ... Warrick is showing the potential to emerge as the team's primary power forward, but also the inconsistency that has plagued him throughout his career. He is worth owning, but remains a low-end play. ... Lopez went from scoring 18 points with 14 rebounds in one game, to four points and three rebounds the next as his playing time fluctuated. Expect him to be somewhere in between in Week 3 and consider him a No. 2 center for larger formats until he can develop a more consistent role.

Portland Trail Blazers
Schedule: DET, @OKC, @NO
Good Plays: Brandon Roy, LaMarcus Aldridge, Andre Miller, Marcus Camby
Bad Plays: Rudy Fernandez
Tough Call: Nicolas Batum, Wesley Matthews
Injury Report: Joel Przybilla (knee/late November), Greg Oden (knee/out indefinitely)
Notes: Batum got off to a hot start, then quickly faded along with his playing time and shot attempts. He put up another big game against the Thunder on Thursday night, but his playing time should continue to fluctuate, making him hard to trust in Fantasy. Our suggestion is to avoid him. ... Matthews is only seeing around 20 minutes per game, but he has turned that into three games of 13 or more points in his first five contests. He has some mild appeal for deeper leagues as a reserve.

Sacramento Kings
Schedule: MIN, @PHO, DET
Good Plays: Tyreke Evans, Carl Landry
Bad Plays: Jason Thompson, Omri Casspi, Donte Greene
Tough Call: Beno Udrih, DeMarcus Cousins, Samuel Dalembert, Francisco Garcia
Injury Report: Tyreke Evans (ankle/day-to-day)
Notes: Udrih has scored at least 17 points in three of his first five games, getting 35-plus minutes and around 12 shots per game. ... The Sixers will go with Dalembert over Cousins in the starting lineup, but Cousins should continue to see around 20-25 minutes per game as he has thus far. With that playing time, he has managed 13 points and six rebounds per game. We expect more of the same. ... Dalembert is not doing much offensively, but he is working the boards and blocking shots again. ... Garcia posted three games with 17 or more points in his first five, but he scored just four points in his other two. ... The three teams the Kings will face in Week 3 have allowed an average of 107.4 points per game.

Worst Fantasy Schedules
Team Schedule
1. Hornets LAC, POR
2. Jazz @MIA, @ORL, @ATL, @CHA
3. 76ers @OKC, @DAL, @SA
4. Clippers @NO, @SA, DET
5. Grizzlies PHO, DAL, BOS

San Antonio Spurs
Schedule: @CHA, LAC, PHI, @OKC
Good Plays: Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker
Bad Plays: George Hill, DeJuan Blair, Tiago Splitter, Antonio McDyess, James Anderson
Tough Call: Richard Jefferson,
Injury Report: George Hill (neck/day-to-day)
Notes: Jefferson looks much more comfortable in the San Antonio system early this season. He averaged 20.0 points over his first four games and looks like a strong play in any format. ... Blair could begin to lose playing time with Splitter back from his injury and gaining playing time by the day. Given Blair's slow start even before Splitter's return, he should be reserved in all formats.

Toronto Raptors
Schedule: GS, CHA, @ORL, @MIA
Good Plays: Andrea Bargnani
Bad Plays: Jose Calderon, Leandro Barbosa, Amir Johnson, Sonny Weems
Tough Call: Jarrett Jack, Linas Kleiza, DeMar DeRozan, Reggie Evans
Injury Report: No significant injuries.
Notes: Jack has been highly erratic in the early going, depending on his playing time. In the two games he has played 30-plus minutes, he has put together solid stat lines. He has been held under 25 minutes in his other two games, however. ... Kleiza has gotten off to a strong overall start. Expect him to be among the league leaders in 3-point shooting, but he will play three teams with strong perimeter defense in Week 3. ... DeRozan is getting around 10-13 shots per game and is looking like a consistent mid-teens scorer. He is not offering much else, but is a suitable low-end play in standard leagues. ... Focusing primarily on his rebounding, Evans brought down at least 14 boards in his first three games. He is a one-category player, but could be among the league leaders in rebounding by the end of the season if he continues to get 30-plus minutes on a regular basis.

Utah Jazz
Schedule: @MIA, @ORL, @ATL, @CHA
Good Plays: Deron Williams, Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap
Bad Plays: Mehmet Okur, Raja Bell, Earl Watson, Gordon Hayward
Tough Call: Andrei Kirilenko, C.J. Miles
Injury Report: Mehmet Okur (Achilles'/day-to-day)
Notes: There is still no definitive word on when Okur will return, but what is certain is that he will be too risky to play in Week 3. ... Millsap sprained his ankle this week, but is going to play on. ... Miles has made the most of his playing time over the last week, putting up 19 and 21 points in back-to-back games despite playing just 25 minutes. He is being featured prominently from beyond the arc and looks like a real steal in category leagues. He also offers decent numbers in steals and blocks. He is worth scooping up and even starting in deeper leagues, but beware of four tough matchups against top defensive teams. ... Miles is cutting into Kirilenko's time and touches, but he still has the upper hand as far as starting and getting more overall playing time. The situation does not seem ideal for consistency, but Kirilenko can still be viewed as a low-end starter in deeper leagues. As with Miles, beware of the matchups this week.

Washington Wizards
Schedule: HOU, CHA, @CHI
Good Plays: John Wall
Bad Plays: JaVale McGee, Kirk Hinrich, Yi Jianlian
Tough Call: Andray Blatche, Al Thornton
Injury Report: Gilbert Arenas (ankle/day-to-day), Josh Howard (knee/mid-November)
Notes: Arenas could return over the weekend, but Fantasy owners will have to be convinced that he is healthy enough to take on a prominent role before deciding to activate him. With Wall carrying the load, exactly what role Arenas will play remains to be seen. ... Blatche looks to be gaining some steam after a slow start. He is getting a high volume of shot attempts with at least 17 in back-to-back games. He is a safe play again in all formats. ... Thornton has been getting heavy playing time, -- about 40 minutes per game -- over the last week and about 12-15 shots in the offense. He is rebounding well and scoring in the mid-teens, making for a strong play in any format.

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Player News
Omer Asik ready to clean up in return to starting role
by Chris Towers |
(9/17/2014) Last season was a rough one for Omer Asik, who had to deal with returning to a reserve role after really shining as a starter the previous year. He should be much happier with his role this season, as the Pelicans acquired him this offseason with the intention of installing him as the starting center.

The Pelicans should have a fearsome frontcourt with Asik starting next to Anthony Davis, and Davis' presence should free Asik up to do the kind of work he excels at. Asik isn't a great offensive player, but he can be a dominant offensive rebounder, and should have many chances to clean up the boards with teams keying in on Davis offensively. Among players who have logged at least 5,000 minutes in the NBA, Asik is 22nd all-time in offensive rebounding percentage.

Asik had trouble staying healthy last season, but that was the first time he had ever missed a regular-season game in his career, so we can probably write that off as a fluke. He averaged a double-double with 1.1 blocks per game in 30.0 minutes per game two years ago, and should be capable of similar production as he returns to a starting role.

Asik should be viewed as a starting Fantasy option this season, though he may not have the upside of some other younger centers at this point. 

Tobias Harris' Fantasy value a mystery at this point
by Chris Towers |
(9/17/2014) Perception is a funny thing. Just ask Magic forward Tobias Harris, who enjoyed by far the most productive season of his career in 2013-14 but was somehow viewed as a Fantasy disappointment.

Part of that stemmed from Harris' issues with availability, as he missed 20 games and got off to a slow start to the season as a result. It really took until January for Harris to find his stride, but he averaged 15.2 points and 7.1 rebounds per game from Jan. 1 on, without missing a contest.

Harris was probably better than the general perception of him a year ago, but the power of expectations hurt him. And now he enters his fourth season as something of a career crossroads, and it is hard to say just how Fantasy owners should approach him this season.

The Magic added Channing Frye and Aaron Gordon to the roster this season, further confusing what was already one of the most crowded frontcourts in the league. Harris can play both forward spots, but he is probably best used as a small-ball power forward; the presence of Frye, one of the league's elite stretch-fours certainly complicates matters for Harris, then.

At just 22, Harris still has a world of potential ahead of him. However, he probably profiles best as a reserve Fantasy option heading into the season, given concerns about his role.   

Hype may be too high for Giannis Antetokounmpo
by Chris Towers |
(9/17/2014) No matter what he accomplishes in his second NBA season, Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo is likely to be a historical outlier, given his age. The question is, how much of a leap can the now-20-year-old take next season.

Only 15 players in NBA history have logged as many minutes in a single season as a teenager as Antetokounmpo's 1,897, so he is occupying fairly rarified air already. His age is a big part of why he is considered a big-time breakout prospect for Fantasy purposes, but he has a long way to go from a statistical standpoint.

Antetokounmpo was good for a 19-year-old rookie, but his season averages of 6.8 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game left a lot to be desired. It is easy to dream about a Antetokounmpo taking a big step forward, but that next step is never guaranteed -- for every Anthony Davis there is a Michael Kidd-Gilchrist whose development follows a slower, less linear path. 

Antetokounmpo was very good -- for a 19-year-old. However, Fantasy owners don't get extra points, rebounds or assists if the degree of difficulty is higher, so you are betting on Giannis taking a huge step forward at the age of 20. Antetokounmpo has become something of an internet darling, and his play in Summer League and the FIBA World Cup dominated much of the offseason discussion, which only helped build the hype to potentially unsustainable levels. 

He is a lottery ticket, for sure, but he is one that might not be worth the cost at this point. 

Improved jump shot all Jimmy Butler needs
by Chris Towers |
(9/17/2014) Bulls guard Jimmy Butler had the breakout season many expected from him a year ago, but there were still plenty of flaws apparent in his game as he finished his third NBA season. With a better team around him, Butler just might have enough help to vault him to stardom.

Butler's jump shot abandoned him last season, especially after a toe injury forced him to miss 11 games in November and December. He was shooting 43.7 percent from the field and 38.5 percent from three-point range prior to the injury, but connected on just 39.3 percent of his shots overall and 27.1 percent from three-point range from that point on.

We can blame Butler's season-long shooting slump on the injury or his increased offensive role, but he should have neither excuse available for him this season. Butler should be healthy, and the Bulls added plenty of offensive firepower this offseason, in the form of Pau Gasol and Doug McDermott, not to mention a hopefully healthy Derrick Rose. Butler took 154 shots off the dribble last season, per, and made just 30.7 percent of them. With a better team around him, Butler should get many more opportunities to shoot with his feet set.

Butler has the skill set to be a tremendously efficient offensive player, given how often he bullies his way to the free-throw line. Last season, Butler filled up the box score extremely well, but his poor shooting limited his Fantasy value somewhat. If a new role helps his efficiency, he could be one of the very best guards in the league in category-based formats. 

Lance Stephenson set for bigger role in new setting
by Chris Towers |
(9/17/2014) Though there were fits and starts, Lance Stephenson finally began to live up to his considerable promise last season. Now in a new home in Charlotte, will Stephenson take another step forward in 2014-15?

By the end of last season, the Pacers were a mess, and Stephenson caught plenty of the blame for that. Still, he might have been arguably the team's most consistent player throughout the season, averaging between 25.8 and 29.7 Fantasy points per game from before and after the All-Star break as well as the playoffs. For as much of a mess as that team was, Stephenson emerged as something of a rock, at least for Fantasy purposes.

The Hornets are actually built in a somewhat similar way to the Pacers, so there wont' be much of a stylistic shift for Stephenson to get used to. Per, 11.8 percent of the then-Bobcats' possessions ended in post-ups, actually down from the 13.2 percent mark the Pacers' posted. Stephenson struggled at times with his post-entry passing, though his off-target feeds might find their mark more often when being lobbed in to the soft hands of Al Jefferson, as opposed to Roy Hibbert.

The Hornets might lean even more heavily on Stephenson than the Pacers did, since Indiana liked to spread the ball around with their starting five. The Hornets, on the other hand, look to be extremely top-heavy, and Stephenson will get plenty of chances to be the second or third option. We have him projected for 29.1 Fantasy points per game, and consider Stephenson a borderline top-50 Fantasy option for this season.  

Move to Houston won't alter Trevor Ariza's trajectory
by Chris Towers |
(9/17/2014) Trevor Ariza parlayed a career-year into a lucrative free-agency contract with the Rockets this offseason -- stop me if you've heard this story before.

Ariza was largely a disappointment in his first stint with the Rockets, though it did lead him to the best per-game numbers of his career. Still, Ariza was obviously miscast as a primary offensive option the last time he was in Houston, and that won't be a problem this time around.

Ariza joins a Rockets team with two established stars, and will likely spend much of his time trying to fill the departed Chandler Parsons' role. That should suit him nicely, as Ariza has just enough of an off-the-bounce game to serve as the team's third ballhandler when the shot clock gets deep. Ariza attempted 11.1 field-goal attempts per game last season, and should see a boost given Parsons' role; he attempted 13.3 shots per game.

Ariza's improved three-point shot seems legitimate, as he is shooting 38.6 percent from long range over 738 attempts since 2012. However, he will no longer have John Wall feeding him for juicy corner 3-pointers; Wall to Ariza was the league's most productive corner-three combination last season. His shooting numbers may take a hit with his move.

Even acknowledging the loss of Wall's help, we know the Houston offense is set up to get every player the most efficient shots possible, so Ariza shouldn't see much of a dip in his efficiency. His ability to fill up the box score makes him a perfect No. 2 option at forward in category-based leagues, especially now that he is a high-volume shooter. 

Despite new role, don't write off Isaiah Thomas entirely
by Chris Towers |
(9/17/2014) Suns guard Isaiah Thomas might see one of the biggest dropoffs in his Fantasy value from last season to this, as he joins the crowded Suns' backcourt.

The Suns might have three All-Star caliber guards in the backcourt now, with Thomas likely to backup Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe this season. That should put a serious dent in Thomas' value; Thomas finished 13th in Fantasy scoring among guards a year ago, but is projected to finish just 43rd this season.

Still, Thomas is definitely someone you'll want to add to your team when drafting, and almost certainly before the rest of the No. 4-type guards he is grouped with. Thomas is likely to see his numbers fall off from the 20.3 points and 6.3 assists he averaged a year ago, at least at first. However, it wouldn't be a surprise to see him end up starting upwards of 25 games throughout the year, given Bledsoe's injury-proneness. Bledsoe has missed at least 25 games in two of the last three seasons for knee issues.

Thomas probably profiles as more of a bench option for Fantasy purposes next season, but you'll be targeting him much earlier than nearly any other reserve. His upside as a handcuff option for either Bledsoe or Dragic is sky-high, and will make him well worth your attention on Draft Day. 

Eric Gordon cleared for contact
by Chris Towers |
(9/17/2014) Pelicans guard Eric Gordon has been cleared to take part in full-contact offseason drills ahead of training camp, The Times-Picayune reports.

Gordon underwent season-ending knee surgery last April, but is expected to be ready for the start of the regular season. 

Jrue Holiday cleared for contact ahead of camp
by Chris Towers |
(9/17/2014) Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday was able to participate in full-contact offseason drills last week, the first time he has done so since undergoing season-ending surgery last January.

"Getting out playing has been a joy," Holiday told The Times-Picayune. "I've been running and jumping and stuff, but getting my rhythm back on the court is definitely a big thing right now for me."

The Pelicans open training camp Sept. 30, and Holiday is not expected to have any limitations as the team prepares for the start of the season. Holiday averaged 14.3 points, 7.9 assists and 1.6 steals per game last season prior to the injury.

Kent Bazemore focused on conditioning in recovery
by Chris Towers |
(9/17/2014) Newly signed Hawks guard Kent Bazemore did not pick up a basketball until August, preferring to focus on conditioning in his recovery from foot surgery in April.

"I think the injury was definitely a blessing," he told the Daily Press, "because I was able to step away from the game of basketball. I took myself out of my element all summer. I did stuff I'm not used to doing."

Bazemore signed a two-year deal with the Hawks this offseason, and is expected to compete for playing time on the wing immediately, as he is fully recovered from the surgery. 

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