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Week 18 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.

Listen to our latest Fantasy Basketball Podcast!

Atlanta Hawks
Schedule: OKC, NJ, MEM
Injury Report: No significant injuries.
Good Plays: Josh Smith, Al Horford, Joe Johnson
Toss Ups: Jamal Crawford, Mike Bibby, Marvin Williams
Bad Plays: Jeff Teague, Zaza Pachulia
Notes: Over his last 10 games, Crawford has averaged just 11.1 points and is shooting 34.9 percent from the field despite playing around 30 minutes per game. ... Bibby goes into the break hot, scoring 17 and 15 points in his last two games vs. New York and Detroit. Prior to that, he had scored a combined 23 points in his previous three games. ... Williams is back in the starting lineup and is getting heavy minutes and double-digit shot attempts. He has scored 15-plus points in three of his last five games, with solid rebounding totals. Count on him again in standard 12-team leagues.

Boston Celtics
Schedule: @GS, @DEN, @LAC
Injury Report: Shaquille O'Neal (Achilles'/out indefinitely), Delonte West (wrist/day-to-day), Marquis Daniels (spinal cord/out indefinitely), Jermaine O'Neal (knee/April)
Good Plays: Rajon Rondo, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen
Toss Ups: Kendrick Perkins, Glen Davis
Bad Plays: S. O'Neal, Nate Robinson
Notes: A 0-for-10 shooting performance vs. Miami on Feb. 13 prompted Pierce to seek an MRI to see if injuries were to blame. It turns out he is just fine. He bounced back with 31 points on Feb. 16 vs. New Jersey. ... Shaq is not healing quickly, according to coach Doc Rivers. He is not expected back for the team's first game following the break. ... Ready or not, Perkins is being asked to play 30-plus minutes per game. He has been spotty offensively, but he is on the floor long enough to rack up nice numbers in blocks and boards. ... Davis is averaging 8.4 points and is shooting just 40.5 percent from the field over his last 10 games, but could see an offensive boost this week against three teams that allow high-volume numbers.

Charlotte Bobcats
Schedule: TOR, SAC, @ORL
Injury Report: Tyrus Thomas (knee/mid-March)
Good Plays: Stephen Jackson, Gerald Wallace
Toss Ups: D.J. Augustin, Shaun Livingston, Boris Diaw, Kwame Brown
Bad Plays: Nazr Mohammed, Gerald Henderson
Notes: Augustin has struggled recently and much of that might have to do with a lingering wrist injury. He is just 11 of 40 from the field over his last five games. Livingston has been able to pick up the slack through his struggles. Livingston has averaged 12.0 points, 2.8 assists and 2.2 rebounds in his last five games before the break. He is worth a flier in deeper leagues while the boost in playing time lasts, which will likely only be until Augustin straightens himself out. ... Jackson and coach Paul Silas seem to be on the same page. He is averaging 22.5 points in 37.7 minutes over his last 10 contests. ... Count on Diaw for a little bit of everything, but a lot of nothing. He is averaging 9.8 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 0.5 blocks, 0.7 steals in 31.3 minutes in his last 10 appearances. ... Brown has totaled just 20 points and nine rebounds over his last four appearances.

Chicago Bulls
Schedule: @TOR, MIA, @MIL
Injury Report: Joakim Noah (thumb/day-to-day)
Good Plays: Derrick Rose, Carlos Boozer, Luol Deng
Toss Ups: Noah, Taj Gibson
Bad Plays: Kyle Korver, Kurt Thomas, Ronnie Brewer
Notes: Noah is likely to return for the team's first game following the break, barring setbacks. He has not played since Dec. 15, so temper expectations as he will likely play limited minutes early on. ... With Noah back, Gibson's window of Fantasy viability is closing quickly. He did not do a lot to take advantage of it while it was open anyway and is averaging just 6.3 points and 6.2 rebounds in his last 10 appearances. ... Thomas is likely going to have his minutes cut back significantly within the next couple of games.

Cleveland Cavaliers
Schedule: HOU, NY, PHI
Injury Report: Mo Williams (ankle/day-to-day), Anderson Varejao (ankle/out for the season)
Good Plays: J.J. Hickson
Toss Ups: Antawn Jamison, Williams, Ramon Sessions, Daniel Gibson
Bad Plays: Christian Eyenga, Anthony Parker, Varejao
Notes: Hickson is averaging 12.4 rebounds over his last 14 games. ... Jamison is being heavily featured in trade rumors. With the deadline on Feb. 24, there is a strong possibility he might get lost in the shuffle at some point in Week 18 if a trade is made, making him miss a game. ... Williams hurt his ankle on Feb. 17 against the Lakers, but the injury is not considered serious. He should be a safe play and will benefit from high-volume matchups vs. Houston and New York. ... Even with Williams and Gibson both back and healthy, Sessions is not fading away. He is averaging 17.6 points and 8.3 assists over his last 10 games and has averaged 34.0 minutes over his last five games. The Cavaliers will continue to find him minutes at both guard spots as long as he continues to produce. ... Gibson has totaled just five points in his last two games, but could be a sleeper in average-based play this week given what should be a couple of high-scoring games vs. Houston and New York. He scored 17 points as recently as Feb. 11 against the L.A. Clippers.

Sergio's Sleepers for Week 18
* Sleepers are players started in less than 70 percent of leagues
Player Start %
1. Mike Conley, G, Grizzlies 63
2. Channing Frye, C, Suns 71
3. Marc Gasol, C, Grizzlies 67
4. Marcin Gortat, C, Suns 60
5. Kyle Lowry, G, Rockets 68
6. Ramon Sessions, G, Cavaliers 38
7. Thaddeus Young, F, 76ers 30
8. Lou Williams, G, 76ers 44
9. Darrell Arthur, F, Grizzlies 3
10. Darko Milicic, C, Timberwolves 30

Dallas Mavericks
Schedule: UTA, @WAS, @TOR
Injury Report: Caron Butler (knee/out for the season), Jose Juan Barea (illness, day-to-day)
Good Plays: Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Kidd, Tyson Chandler, Jason Terry
Toss Ups: Shawn Marion, Barea, Peja Stojakovic
Bad Plays: Roddy Beaubois, Brendan Haywood, DeShawn Stevenson
Notes: Stojakovic has begun to shake off the rust, shooting 13 of 23 from the field in his last two games, including 6 of 11 from beyond the arc. Expect him to see around 30 minutes per game, leading to mid-teens scoring, good 3-point shooting and about four boards per game. ... Marion is averaging 12.2 points, 7.4 rebounds and around a steal and block per game over his last 10 contests. ... Making his much-anticipated debut this season, Beaubois scored 13 points in 21 minutes off the bench on Feb. 16 vs. Sacramento. He attempted 13 shots and also chipped in six dimes and three steals, clearly worthy of an add. Do not be surprised to see inconsistency in a bench role, however. ... Barea dealt with a sore groin and the flu this week, but he managed to play through it on Feb. 16 to the tune of 11 points and 10 assists. The return of Beaubois will likely lead to some inconsistency, but the potential is there for him to remain a viable play in Fantasy.

Denver Nuggets
Schedule: MEM, BOS, @POR
Injury Report: No significant injuries.
Good Plays: Carmelo Anthony, Nene, Chauncey Billups
Toss Ups: Arron Afflalo, J.R. Smith, Al Harrington
Bad Plays: Ty Lawson, Kenyon Martin, Chris Andersen, Shelden Williams
Notes: This could be a hectic week for the Nuggets. With the trade deadline on Feb. 24, a potential Anthony deal could shake up the roster. ... Anthony and Billups have been featured the most in trade rumors and could potentially lose some time this week if a trade is made. Take that into account, though we consider both worthy of activating. ... Players like Afflalo, Smith and Harrington stand to see an increase if a move is made, but it all depends on what would come back to Denver in a potential trade. Play it safe and reserve these guys for Week 18 to analyze the potential fallout.

Detroit Pistons
Schedule: HOU, @IND, @PHI, UTA
Injury Report: Richard Hamilton (groin/day-to-day), Jonas Jerebko (Achilles'/ear)
Good Plays: No must-starts.
Toss Ups: Tayshaun Prince, Greg Monroe, Tracy McGrady, Rodney Stuckey, Ben Gordon
Bad Plays: Charlie Villanueva, Austin Daye, Hamilton, Ben Wallace, Will Bynum, Chris Wilcox
Notes: Trade rumors are floating around in Detroit, with Hamilton's name being featured prominently. A trade could do wonders for his Fantasy appeal, but let us all wait and see where or if he is dealt first before we can handicap his appeal. ... Prince is averaging 14.8 points, 5.0 rebounds and 2.6 in his last 10 games and has also been mentioned in trade rumors this week. He makes for a decent low-end play, but could potentially lose a game or two if a trade is made. ... Monroe heads into the All-Star break having managed only four rebounds in four straight games. He has been weighed down by his minutes and the break could help to freshen him up. We still view him as a viable play with favorable inside matchups vs. Houston, Indiana and Philadelphia. ... McGrady averaged 15.0 points, 4.3 assists and 2.6 rebounds over his final three games heading into the break. ... Stuckey should benefit from the four-game slate and a high-volume tilt vs. Houston to begin the week. ... Gordon remains too spotty to trust outside of deeper formats.

Golden State Warriors
Schedule: BOS, ATL, @MIN
Injury Report: No significant injuries.
Good Plays: Monta Ellis, David Lee, Stephen Curry
Toss Ups: Dorell Wright, Andris Biedrins
Bad Plays: Reggie Williams, Ekpe Udoh
Notes: Wright is averaging a 16-5-4 stat line with over a steal per contest in his last 10 appearances. However, he is shooting just 40.1 percent from the field in that span. ... Biedrins has totaled 16 points in his last five games and will face tough inside matchups against the Celtics and Hawks in a three game week. Avoid him.

Most Added Players
* as of Feb. 17
Player % Change
1. Shaun Livingston, G, Bobcats 18
2. Josh Howard, F, Wizards 16
3. Sam Young, F, Grizzlies 15
4. Michael Redd, G, Bucks 13
5. Josh McRoberts, F, Pacers 12
6. Tony Allen, G, Grizzlies 12
7. Peja Stojakovic, F, Mavericks 11
8. DeJuan Blair, C, Spurs 9
9. Roddy Beaubois, G, Mavericks 9
10. Jose Juan Barea, G, Mavericks 9

Houston Rockets
Schedule: @DET, @CLE, NJ, @NO
Injury Report: Courtney Lee (pneumonia/day-to-day), Yao Ming (ankle/for the season)
Good Plays: Kevin Martin, Luis Scola
Toss Ups: Kyle Lowry, Aaron Brooks, Chuck Hayes, Shane Battier
Bad Plays: Brad Miller, Jordan Hill, Lee, Chase Budinger
Notes: Lowry went into the break on a high note, notching a 36-7-4 stat line on Feb. 16 vs. Philadelphia. In a four-game scoring period, he should be active across the board as the minutes remain significant. ... Brooks, meanwhile, continues to be spotty with only around 20-25 minutes per game off the bench. Avoid him. ... Hayes heads into the break averaging 10.4 points and 8.5 rebounds over his last 10 appearances. ... Battier is offering a little bit of everything across the board for owners in category leagues. He is averaging 7.6 points, 4.7 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.3 blocks and 0.7 steals in his last 10 appearances.

Indiana Pacers
Schedule: @WAS, DET, UTA, PHO
Injury Report: No significant injuries.
Good Plays: Danny Granger, Roy Hibbert, Darren Collison
Toss Ups: Mike Dunleavy, Josh McRoberts, Tyler Hansbrough
Bad Plays: Paul George, Jeff Foster, Brandon Rush, T.J. Ford
Notes: Dunleavy's minutes have been wildly inconsistent of late. Until his play stabilizes, he is a player to avoid. ... McRoberts showed his upside on Feb. 16 at Detroit, scoring 15 points with 12 rebounds, three assists and two steals, but he had to go 7 of 8 from the field to hit double digits in scoring. Count on him for rebounds and around 8-9 points per game, but not much else. ... Hansbrough is averaging 10.8 points and 4.6 rebounds in his last 10 games entering the break, but is still seeing restricted playing time.

L.A. Clippers
Schedule: @OKC, @NO, @LAL, BOS
Injury Report: Baron Davis (knee/day-to-day), Eric Gordon (wrist/out indefinitely)
Good Plays: Blake Griffin, Davis
Toss Ups: Randy Foye, DeAndre Jordan, Chris Kaman
Bad Plays: Gordon, Ryan Gomes, Eric Bledsoe, Al-Farouq Aminu, Rasual Butler
Notes: Davis played through "terrible" knee pain on Feb. 16 at Minnesota, but played 32 minutes. It is a situation worth monitoring, but he should be a safe play for Week 18. ... There remains no concrete timetable for Gordon's return, but it is possible he could play at some point in Week 18. He is not a player Fantasy owners should be counting on just yet. ... Kaman played 10 minutes on Feb. 16 at Minnesota, getting back on the floor for the first time since Dec. 5. He has the appeal to be an impact player in the second half, but his minutes will be limited initially. Do not activate him yet. ... Jordan played 30 minutes in Kaman's return, but expect to see those numbers cut into slowly as Kaman progresses. In the meantime, he remains a viable stopgap measure.

L.A. Lakers
Schedule: ATL, @POR, LAC, @OKC
Injury Report: Matt Barnes (knee/early March)
Good Plays: Pau Gasol, Kobe Bryant, Lamar Odom
Toss Ups: Andrew Bynum, Ron Artest
Bad Plays: Shannon Brown, Derek Fisher, Steve Blake
Notes: Artest has totaled just 24 points and 15 rebounds over his last five games. Avoid him. ... Odom has averaged 12.9 points and 7.8 rebounds in 31.0 minutes over his last 10 games entering the break. ... Bynum has averaged 11.6 points and 7.7 rebounds over his last nine appearances entering the break. He has three favorable matchups inside vs. Portland, L.A. Clippers and Oklahoma City in Week 18.

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Memphis Grizzlies
Schedule: @DEN, @MIN, SAC, @SA
Injury Report: Rudy Gay (shoulder/mid-March)
Good Plays: Zach Randolph
Toss Ups: Marc Gasol, Mike Conley, Darrell Arthur, O.J. Mayo, Sam Young
Bad Plays: Tony Allen, Greivis Vasquez, Hasheem Thabeet,
Notes: Gay is expected to miss about 13 games, equivalent to about four weeks, with a dislocated shoulder. In Gay's absence, expect to see Mayo become more involved in the offense again. He is a sleeper in deeper formats this week with high-volume matchups in three of four games. ... Young should be able to maintain much of the playing time he gained while Mayo served a 10-game suspension. Expect similar numbers for him over the next month. ... Arthur is a sleeper for an increase in value in the absence of Gay. Expect him to see around 25-30 minutes and double-digit shot attempts per game with good rebounding numbers. He is also a sleeper for blocks. ... With high-volume matchups expected, this is a great week to activate Gasol and Conley across the board.

Miami Heat
Schedule: SAC, @CHI, WAS, NY
Injury Report: Mike Miller (head/day-to-day), Udonis Haslem (foot/late March)
Good Plays: LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh
Toss Ups: None.
Bad Plays: Miller, Eddie House, Mario Chalmers, Carlos Arroyo, Joel Anthony
Notes: Miller left the team this week to rest over the All-Star break after taking blows to the head in three straight games. His numbers recently do not warrant taking any kind of an injury-risk on him. ... The Heat will face three opponents in Week 18 that allow over 100 points per game.

Milwaukee Bucks
Schedule: MIN, @NY, CHI
Injury Report: Ersan Ilyasova (eye/day-to-day), Keyon Dooling (knee/day-to-day), Michael Redd (knee/late February), Drew Gooden (foot/early March)
Good Plays: Andrew Bogut, Brandon Jennings
Toss Ups: John Salmons, Carlos Delfino, Ilyasova, Corey Maggette
Bad Plays: Dooling, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Earl Boykins, Chris Douglas-Roberts
Notes: Redd is ready to begin practicing with the Bucks, but is still over a week from returning to game action. ... Ilyasova is dealing with a right eye contusion. He should be fine to go after the break and is averaging around 10 points and seven boards over his last 10 games with Gooden sidelined. ... Salmons scored 33 points vs. Denver on Feb. 16 to enter the break on a high note. He should be able to keep the good times going with high-volume matchups vs. Minnesota and New York. He is playing 35-40 minutes per game and is enjoying around 13-15 shots per game in the offense again. ... Delfino is averaging 12.4 points, 3.7 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.7 steals over his last 10 appearances. ... Maggette has remained viable even with the resurgence of Delfino. He scored 16 points with five rebounds and two assists on Feb. 16 to bounce back after missing a game with a back issue.

Best Fantasy Schedules
Team Schedule
1. Grizzlies @DEN, @MIN, SAC, SA
2. Heat SAC, @CHI, WAS, NY
3. Pacers @WAS, DET, UTA, PHO
4. Pistons HOU, @IND, PHI, UTA
5. Hawks LAL, @PHI, @GS, POR

Minnesota Timberwolves
Schedule: @MIL, MEM, NO, GS
Injury Report: Michael Beasley (ankle/day-to-day)
Good Plays: Kevin Love
Toss Ups: Beasley, Darko Milicic, Luke Ridnour, Jonny Flynn, Wesley Johnson, Corey Brewer
Bad Plays: Martell Webster, Wayne Ellington, Anthony Tolliver
Notes: Beasley's status remains highly questionable entering the All-Star break, but the Timberwolves say Beasley may not be ready to go for the team's first game back. Our advice is to play it safe and reserve him in weekly formats unless there is significant improvement prior to lineup deadlines. ... Flynn could be rested for the first two games out of the All-Star break in an effort to prevent any setbacks with his surgically repaired hip. His absence would provide Ridnour a chance to regain the upper hand at point guard. ... Rest seems to have done Darko a lot of good. In his first two games back from a hip injury this week, he put up 15-1-5-2-1 vs. Portland and 12-3-6-1-1 vs. Clippers. He should benefit from favorable matchups inside this week vs. Grizzlies and Warriors in a four-game week. ... If Beasley is out, expect Johnson and Brewer to see a slight boost in touches. Neither is more than a low-end stopgap off the waiver wire, however.

New Jersey Nets
Schedule: @SA, @HOU
Injury Report: Travis Outlaw (head/day-to-day), Damion James (foot/day-to-day)
Good Plays: No must-starts.
Toss Ups: Brook Lopez, Devin Harris
Bad Plays: Anthony Morrow, Kris Humphries, Derrick Favors, Outlaw, Sasha Vujacic, Troy Murphy, Jordan Farmar
Notes: The Nets are the only team in the league to play just two games in Week 18, so weigh your options carefully if you own Lopez or Harris in a cumulative format. ... Harris owners should keep in mind that he is the subject of many trade rumors entering the week of the Feb. 24 deadline. ... Murphy is expected to either be traded or bought out in the next week. He is not yet ready to be activated, but is a potential 10-and-10 player with a high payoff if he is available off the waiver wire for the stretch run. ... As Favors begins to take on a more active role, Humphries is starting to lose steam. They have begun to play a split role, cutting into the Fantasy appeal of each player.

New Orleans Hornets
Schedule: LAC, @MIN, HOU
Injury Report: Trevor Ariza (ankle/day-to-day), Emeka Okafor (oblique/day-to-day)
Good Plays: Chris Paul, David West
Toss Ups: Ariza, Okafor
Bad Plays: Marcus Thornton, Marco Belinelli, Jarrett Jack, Aaron Gray, Willie Green, Jason Smith
Notes: Ariza tweaked his ankle again on Feb. 16 vs. Portland, but the injury is minor at best. Ariza actually enjoyed his most productive game since returning from injury, producing a 16-6-9-3-0 stat line. ... Okafor could return for the team's first game following the break, but there remains no guarantee. Monitor his progress leading up to lineup deadlines. His return spells the end of any Fantasy appeal Smith may have had.

New York Knicks
Schedule: MIL, @CLE, @MIA
Injury Report: Shawne Williams (knee/day-to-day), Kelenna Azubuike (knee/out indefinitely)
Good Plays: Amar'e Stoudemire
Toss Ups: Raymond Felton, Stoudemire, Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari, Landry Fields
Bad Plays: Timofey Mozgov, Toney Douglas, Anthony Ranolph, Ronny Turiaf, Williams
Notes: The Knicks are in the thick of the Carmelo Anthony sweepstakes, creating an air of uncertainty over the team heading into the week of the trade deadline. Just about everybody not named Amar'e could find themselves dealing with a move across the country in the middle of Week 18. Consider this if it comes down to a toss up between your Knick and another player. ... Azubuike was able to scrimmage this week, but there remains no concrete timetable for a return. ... Curry is going to be a very attractive trade piece at the deadline given his expiring contract. He could find himself getting some playing time in the near future.

Oklahoma City Thunder
Schedule: LAC, @SA, @ORL, LAL
Injury Report: No significant injuries.
Good Plays: Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook
Toss Ups: Jeff Green, Serge Ibaka
Bad Plays: James Harden, Nenad Krstic, Thabo Sefolosha, Nick Collison, Cole Aldrich
Notes: Three of the Thunder's four opponents in Week 18 allow less than 100 points per game. Do not expect a high-scoring week. ... Green enters the break averaging 15.8 points, 6.1 rebounds and 0.8 blocks over his last 10 games. He has shot 50 percent from the field in that span. ... Ibake entered the break on a high note, going for 15-and-9 vs. Sacramento on Feb. 15. However, he had totaled just 16 points over his previous four games. He remains a low-end play but is a reliable source for blocks and decent rebounding.

Orlando Magic
Schedule: SAC, OKC, CHA
Injury Report: No significant injuries.
Good Plays: Dwight Howard
Toss Ups: Jason Richardson, Jameer Nelson, Hedo Turkoglu, Brandon Bass, Ryan Anderson
Bad Plays: Gilbert Arenas, J.J. Redick, Quentin Richardson
Notes: Bass is back in the starting lineup at power forward over Anderson, but both players continue to see a healthy amount of minutes. Expect coach Stan Van Gundy to continue to mix and match based upon matchups. Both players remain viable low-end plays. ... Richardson is averaging 12.8 points over his last 10 games entering the break, shooting just 38.8 percent from the field. He is not offering much across the stat line and is a candidate to be reserved in most standard formats. ... Nelson should benefit from high-volume games against Sacramento and Oklahoma City. He is averaging 10.8 points and 5.2 assists in his last 10 games, but could surpass those numbers in each of the two matchups. ... Arenas is averaging just 21.4 minutes over his last 10 appearances, leading to a meager 6.4 points and 4.1 assists. ... Turkoglu will benefit greatly from the All-Star break in order to rest bumps and bruises that have limited him to 37.5 percent shooting from the field in his last 10 games.

Philadelphia 76ers
Schedule: WAS, DET, @CLE
Injury Report: Spencer Hawes (ankle/day-to-day)
Good Plays: Andre Iguodala, Elton Brand, Jrue Holiday
Toss Ups: Lou Williams, Thaddeus Young
Bad Plays: Evan Turner, Hawes, Jodie Meeks, Andres Nocioni, Marreese Speights
Notes: Williams is averaging 16.5 points over his last 10 games, despite only playing around 25 minutes per contest. ... The break may have come at a bad time for Young, who averaged 20 points over his last three games. His playing time has been inconsistent this season, but he may have earned himself some more run coming out of the break and is worth a flier. ... Speights is rumored to be on the move, which could land him in a situation where he can play more minutes than he has been in Philadelphia.

Phoenix Suns
Schedule: ATL, @TOR, @IND, @NJ
Injury Report: No significant injuries.
Good Plays: Steve Nash
Toss Ups: Channing Frye, Vince Carter, Marcin Gortat, Grant Hill
Bad Plays: Jared Dudley, Robin Lopez, Hakim Warrick, Goran Dragic, Mickael Pietrus, Josh Childress
Notes: Frye enters the All-Star break averaging 14.2 points and 8.6 rebounds with over a block per game in his previous 10 contests. ... Gortat has averaged a double-double (14.6 points and 10.1 rebounds) with over a block per game in his last five contests. He should benefit from matchups against non-physical centers against Toronto, Indiana and New Jersey this week. ... Carter has been held to single digits in scoring in three of his last four games. He is playing just 20 minutes per game and seems to be bothered by his achy knees. ... Hill has cooled off, averaging 11.0 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.3 assists in his last 10 games. The break should do the 38-year-old a lot of good.

Portland Trail Blazers
Schedule: LAL, DEN, ATL
Injury Report: Brandon Roy (knee/day-to-day), Marcus Camby (knee/day-to-day)
Good Plays: LaMarcus Aldridge, Andre Miller
Toss Ups: Wesley Matthews, Nicolas Batum
Bad Plays: Roy, Camby, Rudy Fernandez, Dante Cunningham, Joel Przybilla
Notes: Roy is likely to return to action on Feb. 23 vs. New Orleans, playing for the first time since Dec. 15. He is expected to be restricted in terms of playing time and is going to have to prove productive on the floor before we recommend activating him in any format. ... Camby should return on Feb. 23 vs. New Orleans as well. He has not played since Jan. 17 and should only be activated in deeper leagues initially. ... With Roy back in the mix, Matthews stands to take a hit in terms of touches. However, we do not anticipate the hit being that significant initially. He remains a viable No. 3 option in most standard formats.

Sacramento Kings
Schedule: @MIA, @ORL, @CHA, @MEM
Injury Report: Tyreke Evans (foot/day-to-day), Francisco Garcia (calf/out indefinitely)
Good Plays: DeMarcus Cousins
Toss Ups: Evans, Jermaine Taylor, Beno Udrih, Carl Landry, Samuel Dalembert
Bad Plays: Jason Thompson, Omri Casspi, Garcia, Donte Greene
Notes: The Kings will play four teams in Week 18 that allow under 100 points per game. ... Evans missed the final two games prior to the break and had to be scratched from the Rookie/Sophomore game during All-Star weekend due to lingering plantar fasciitis pain. He will visit specialists again to determine the best course of action. Have healthy alternatives prepared and track his progress through lineup deadlines. ... Taylor put up 17 points in the team's final game prior to the break starting in place of Evans. He is worth taking a flier on in deeper leagues. ... Udrih stands to see a nice boost in the absence of Evans, as he has in the past. ... Cousins faced discipline this week after getting into a fight with a teammate, but he was benched for just one game after initially being told he would be benched for two games. He responded with 16 points and 12 rebounds and remains highly productive despite some of his antics. ... Dalembert averaged 11.1 points, 7.8 rebounds and just over a block per game in his last 10 appearances prior to the break, finding ways to be productive both as a starter and a reserve.

Worst Fantasy Schedules
Team Schedule
1. Nets @SA, @HOU
2. Nuggets MEM, BOS, @POR
3. Jazz @DAL, @IND, @DET
4. Bulls @TOR, MIA, @MIL
5. Warriors BOS, ATL, MIN

San Antonio Spurs
Schedule: OKC, NJ, MEM
Injury Report: Tiago Splitter (hamstring/day-to-day)
Good Plays: Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili
Toss Ups: DeJuan Blair, Richard Jefferson, George Hill
Bad Plays: Anonio McDyess, Matt Bonner, Gary Neal, Splitter
Notes: Blair has averaged a double-double (12.7 points, 10.3 rebounds) over his last 10 games entering the break. He is playing well enough to activate across the board. ... Jefferson has averaged just 5.8 shot attempts over his last five games and is too spotty to trust in Fantasy. His best asset has been his 3-point shooting for category leagues. ... Hill remains a viable go-to option off the waiver wire, producing steady -- albeit unspectacular -- totals. He continues to play around 30 minutes per game.

Toronto Raptors
Schedule: @CHA, CHI, PHO, DAL
Injury Report: Reggie Evans (foot/out indefinitely), Linas Kleiza (knee/out for the season)
Good Plays: Andrea Bargnani, Jose Calderon, DeMar DeRozan
Toss Ups: Amir Johnson
Bad Plays: Ed Davis, Leandro Barbosa, Jerryd Bayless, Sonny Weems
Notes: Evans has been limited to non-contact drills at practice but could begin to ramp up activities soon and might return at some point in Week 18. ... Johnson has been slowed by an ankle injury over the past week, but he averaged 13.3 points and 9.8 rebounds with two blocks over his last nine appearances. He remains a positive play and should benefit from the break. ... Barbosa has shot just 33.3 percent from the field in five games since returning from injury. He is not yet a recommended play in Fantasy.

Utah Jazz
Schedule: @DAL, @IND, @DET
Injury Report: Andrei Kirilenko (ankle/day-to-day), Raja Bell (calf/day-to-day), Mehmet Okur (back/mid-March)
Good Plays: Deron Williams, Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap
Toss Ups: Kirilenko, C.J. Miles
Bad Plays: Bell, Gordon Hayward, Earl Watson
Notes: Kirilenko missed the team's final two games prior to the break due to an ankle injury but will have over a week of rest before the team's next game. He should be a safe play, barring setbacks. ... Miles scored at least 19 points in each of the team's final three games prior to the break. Though much of that had to do with the absence of Kirilenko, Miles proved he could be trusted with as much as 19 shots in each of those games. The faster pace in Utah since the coaching change will provide Miles a chance to remain productive in Week 18 and beyond.

Washington Wizards
Schedule: IND, @PHI, @MIA, DAL
Injury Report: JaVale McGee (back/day-to-day), Nick Young (knee/day-to-day), Rashard Lewis (knee/day-to-day), Al Thornton (finger/day-to-day)
Good Plays: John Wall, Andray Blatche
Toss Ups: Young, McGee, Kirk Hinrich, Lewis, Josh Howard
Bad Plays: Thornton, Yi Jianlian
Notes: McGee played through a sore back heading into the All-Star break, but he has played on and is still scheduled to take part in the dunk contest. He should be a safe play in a four-game week, barring setbacks. ... Young missed the team's final game prior to the break due to discomfort in his left knee. He could have played, according to reports, but decided to rest the knee in order to benefit from the break. Expect to rely on him for Week 18. ... Lewis is mulling surgery on his sore right knee. His status is likely to be determined over the break, but Fantasy owners should not be counting on activating him. ... If Lewis is out for an extended amount of time, expect Howard to get a chance to repeat his Feb. 13 performance, during which he scored 16 points in just 25 minutes after having not played since Jan. 5.

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Player News
Andray Blatche heading to China
by R.J. White |
(1:13 pm ET) Free-agent center Andray Blatche has signed a one-year deal with the Xinjiang Guanghui Flying Tigers in China. Blatche's deal with pay him almost $2.5 million, and he'll be able to rejoin an NBA team in March, Yahoo! Sports reports.

Report: Kings add Ramon Sessions
by R.J. White |
(1:04 pm ET) The Kings have agreed to a two-year, $4.2-million deal with free-agent guard Ramon Sessions , Yahoo! Sports reports.

The team is reportedly using its bi-annual exception provision to sign Sessions, who averaged 12.3 points, 4.1 points and 2.4 rebounds in 83 games between two teams last season.

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. 

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