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Week 23 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, BOS, @HOU
Injury Report: No significant injuries
Good Plays: Josh Smith, Al Horford, Joe Johnson
Toss Ups: Jamal Crawford, Kirk Hinrich, Marvin Williams
Bad Plays: Jeff Teague, Zaza Pachulia
Notes: Despite getting around 30 minutes per game, Crawford simply cannot be trusted right now. He has scored a combined 21 points over his last four games. ... Hinrich has proven to be capable of 15-plus points per game and decent assist totals, but low-volume matchups against the Magic and Celtics limit his appeal to deeper leagues this week. ... Teague scored 20 points on Tuesday against the Bulls, but was not even used in the game prior and after that outburst. Don't activate him in any format as he's become marginalized from the regular rotation. ... Williams is only an emergency option for deeper leagues this week, averaging 12.6 points and 3.8 rebounds in his last five games. Two low-volume matchups in a three-game week make it likely he will fall short of even those numbers this week.


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Boston Celtics
Schedule: @IND, @SA, @ATL, DET
Injury Report: Shaquille O'Neal (Achilles'/out indefinitely), Jermaine O'Neal (knee/late March)
Good Plays: Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen
Toss Ups: Jeff Green, Glen Davis, Nenad Krstic
Bad Plays: Troy Murphy, Delonte West
Notes: Do not count on more than 25 minutes per game for Green, who is seeing only about seven shots per contest. Even in a four-game week, he is at best a low-end emergency stopgap. ... Davis has some appeal in larger cumulative formats as a low-end starter given the four-game slate. He should continue to receive about 30 minutes and 10 shots per game. Count on him for about 7-8 rebounds, but his scoring will continue to be erratic. ... Krstic's solid start as a Celtic has faded. He has totaled 18 points and 13 rebounds over his last four games. ... Murphy is not getting much run at all in Boston. ... Shaq could return on April 1 at Atlanta, but will simply be looking to get some minutes under his belt for the playoffs. Ignore him even in deeper formats given his long layoff and likely minimal playing time.

Charlotte Bobcats
Schedule: MIL, CLE, @ORL, WAS
Injury Report: Tyrus Thomas (ribs/day to day)
Good Plays: None
Toss Ups: Stephen Jackson, D.J. Augustin, Boris Diaw, Gerald Henderson
Bad Plays: Thomas, Kwame Brown, Shaun Livingston, Dante Cunningham
Notes: Jackson is a tough guy and is grinding out the final stretch of the season despite a troubling hamstring injury, mostly because a playoff spot is still a possibility. The injury forced him out last Saturday and makes him a threat to miss games on short notice the rest of the way. Coach Paul Silas said this week that a shutdown is a "distinct possibility." Jackson looked very limited on Wednesday vs. Indiana, managing just 11-3-2. Avoid him where possible. ... Henderson has the potential to post a few solid scoring totals down the stretch, especially with Jackson ailing, but is far too inconsistent for most Fantasy scenarios. Count on him for multiple steals in category leagues consistently, however. ... Diaw is another player that can step up with Jackson less than 100 percent, but he and Silas do not seem to be seeing eye-to-eye right now. Diaw did not attempt a shot in 24 minutes Wednesday against the Pacers. The potential upside is about 15-5-3 with decent 3-point shooting, but consider more consistent options where possible. ... Augustin has some solid sleeper appeal this week in cumulative formats with the four-game slate, including high-volume games against the Cavaliers and Wizards. Games against the Bucks and Magic will likely be low scoring, however.

Chicago Bulls
Schedule: PHI, @MIN, @DET, TOR
Injury Report: No significant injuries
Good Plays: Derrick Rose, Luol Deng, Joakim Noah
Toss Ups: Carlos Boozer, Kyle Korver
Bad Plays: Taj Gibson, Omer Asik, Ronnie Brewer, Kurt Thomas
Notes: Boozer has not looked great in his first two games back after missing five games due to an ankle injury. He has been held to around 25 minutes per game, but if he doesn't look absolutely terrible over the weekend, you will want to have the potential 20-and-10 forward active for a week that includes three very high-volume matchups. ... Korver could be a sleeper in deep, deep leagues this week given three matchups against teams that allow over 100 points per game. Owners who need to make up some ground in the 3-point categories could look to him as a suitable source, though, he will not play much more than 20 minutes per game.

Sergio's Sleepers
* Sleepers are players started in less than 70 percent of CBSSports.com leagues
Player Start %
1. James Harden, G, Thunder 51
2. D.J. Augustin, G, Bobcats 53
3. Nicolas Batum, F, Trail Blazers 27
4. Ramon Sessions, G, Cavaliers 54
5. Lou Williams, G, 76ers 30
6. Toney Douglas, G, Knicks 34
7. Kendrick Perkins, C, Thunder 15
8. Roddy Beaubois, G, Mavericks 12
9. Anthony Morrow, G, Nets 24
10. Mike Bibby, G, Heat 12

Cleveland Cavaliers
Schedule: MIA, @CHA, @WAS, @NY
Injury Report: Baron Davis (back/day to day), Antawn Jamison (pinkie/out for the season), Anderson Varejao (ankle/out for the season)
Good Plays: J.J. Hickson
Toss Ups: Davis, Ramon Sessions, Samardo Samuels
Bad Plays: Daniel Gibson, Alonzo Gee, Anthony Parker
Notes: Davis could return as soon as Friday, but is dealing with lingering back soreness. With the Cavs having nothing to play for, he is in danger of being shut down and will have to be monitored closely over the weekend. If he can play, however, a four-game slate and high-volume matchups against the Wizards and Knicks put him in line for solid scoring period. Consider healthier alternatives where possible. ... Sessions would be a much more appealing play if Davis were to be ruled out. He has averaged 16-4-5 over his last five games, with Davis playing just 15 minutes in one of those games. ... Unless Davis is ruled out, Gibson cannot be trusted this week. He has averaged a respectable 11-3-3 over his last five games with Davis not in the mix. ... The Cavs are now going with Ryan Hollins at center, with minimal results. He has averaged just 5.0 points and 5.5 rebounds in his last two games, playing 25 minutes or more.

Dallas Mavericks
Schedule: @LAC, @LAL, @GS, @POR
Injury Report: Caron Butler (knee/out for the season)
Good Plays: Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Kidd
Toss Ups: Jason Terry, Tyson Chandler, Marion, Roddy Beaubois
Bad Plays: Corey Brewer, Jose Juan Barea, Brendan Haywood, Peja Stojakovic
Notes: The wrist ailment that kept Marion out of Sunday's game against Golden State is not expected to be an issue going forward. He averaged 18-7-2 over his previous four appearances and has been reliable for about 14-7-2 consistently over the last couple of weeks. ... Terry should average around 15 points per game, flourishing against high-volume opponents like Golden State and the Clippers. He managed 19-6-6 vs. Golden State on March 16, but was held to 9-2-3 against them this past Sunday in a blowout during which he played just 25 minutes. Expect something closer to the first line in Week 23. ... Chandler (9-1-9-1-1 over last five) should scrape together a decent week in cumulative formats and can be used as a No. 2 center. ... Beaubois has scored 15-plus in three of his last five games. He will see about 10 shots per game and could average around 13-3-3 this week, doing most of the damage against the Clippers and Warriors. He managed 18-4-2-0-4 and 15-4-4-1-2 vs. Golden State this past week.

Denver Nuggets
Schedule: SAC, @SAC. @LAL
Injury Report: Arron Afflalo (hamstring/late March)
Good Plays: Nene
Toss Ups: Wilson Chandler, Ty Lawson, Raymond Felton, J.R. Smith, Danilo Gallinari, Kenyon Martin
Bad Plays: Afflalo, Al Harrington,
Notes: Afflalo is expected to return for March 30 vs. Sacramento, barring setbacks. Given the long layoff and low-reward payoff potential for the risk involved, he is a player to avoid. ... Afflalo's return should water down touches for Smith and could cut into touches for Chandler and Gallinari on a smaller scale. ... The two games against Sacramento should be particularly high scoring against a team that allows over 104 points per game. That should benefit your fringe Denver options this week -- especially in average-based play. ... Lawson has averaged 14-7-4-0-1 over his last five games. ... Felton managed 18-8-3-0-1 in his return from a two-game injury absence on Wednesday, but will continue to find consistency hard to come by with Lawson around and healthy. Take a chance on him in deeper formats given the two Sacramento matchups and the upside. Just don't be surprised to see him post a weaker 8-5-3 type line somewhere in the mix. ... Martin has been reliable for about 10 points and 7-8 rebounds given 30 minutes per game.

Detroit Pistons
Schedule: @IND, CHI, @BOS
Injury Report: Ben Wallace (knee/day to day)
Good Plays: None
Toss Ups: Greg Monroe, Rodney Stuckey, Tayshaun Prince, Richard Hamilton, Chris Wilcox
Bad Plays: Rodney Stuckey, Tracy McGrady, Ben Gordon, Charlie Villanueva, Austin Daye, Wallace, Will Bynum
Notes: Monroe is one of the few players not dealing with inconsistent playing time. He has averaged 14-9-2-0-2 over his last five games. He could fall short of this line in low-volume games against the Bulls and Celtics, however. ... Stuckey is just too wildly inconsistent to trust right now despite his upside. He has been getting around 30 minutes per game but has seen his shot totals vary from game-to-game. He has averaged 9-7-3-0-1 over his last five games. In a three-game scoring period with two low-volume matchups there is little margin for error. ... McGrady is in the same boat as Stuckey. Despite averaging 27.2 minutes over his last five games, he has averaged just 6-4-4-0-2. ... Prince has been relatively steady, averaging 15-4-4 over his last five games. He makes for a decent low-end play in deeper formats. ... Hamilton is seeing about 14-15 shots per game and seems to be trustworthy for about 15-18 points per game. Trusting coach John Kuester's rotation at this stage in the season could be a costly decision, but Hamilton has increased his Fantasy appeal significantly since the two reportedly buried the hatchet last month. ... Wilcox is doing a lot with little playing time, averaging 14-5-1 over his last five games despite playing less than 20 minutes per contest. Owners in a serious pinch at the center position in deeper leagues could look his way.

Golden State Warriors
Schedule: @OKC, @MEM, DAL
Injury Report: Andris Biedrins (ankle/day to day)
Good Plays: Monta Ellis, David Lee, Stephen Curry, Dorell Wright
Toss Ups: Ekpe Udoh
Bad Plays: Biedrins, Reggie Williams, Al Thornton
Notes: Udoh is getting extended run now as the team's starting center, playing 30-plus minutes per game. He displayed some upside on Monday with 15-7-2-1-2 vs. San Antonio, but did not back up that performance up on Wednesday in Houston (9-5-0-0-2). Owners in deeper leagues could view him as a potential emergency replacement off the waiver wire, but little else. He will be up against solid defensive big men in Kendrick Perkins and Tyson Chandler in a three-game week. ... Biedrins is in danger of being shut down for the season.

Houston Rockets
Schedule: @NJ, @PHI, SA, ATL
Injury Report: Chase Budinger (ankle/day to day), Yao Ming (ankle/out for the season)
Good Plays: Kevin Martin, Kyle Lowry, Luis Scola
Toss Ups: Chuck Hayes, Patrick Patterson
Bad Plays: Budinger, Courtney Lee, Brad Miller
Notes: Budinger said he might miss around a week on Monday after suffering a sprained ankle. There is no definitive timetable for his return, but the Rockets say they are hopeful he could return on Sunday. Budinger has averaged 13-2-3 over his previous nine appearances and could make for a decent low-end play in larger formats (mostly cumulative) if he can prove healthy. ... Budinger's return, as well as the return of Scola this past week, will put a crunch on Patterson's playing time. Patterson has averaged 11-10-1-0-2 over his last five games, but is in danger of a sharp decline as Scola gets healthier by the game following his layoff. ... Scola sure looked like he was back to 100 percent on Wednesday, posting a 20-4-10-0-1 line against Golden State. ... Hayes, coming off his 13-11-14 triple-double on Wednesday night, should have convinced Fantasy owners by now that he's the real deal. He is currently active in less than 35 percent of CBSSports.com leagues and is even available in 34 percent of leagues.

Most Added Players
* as of March 24
Player % Change
1. Jordan Farmar, G, Nets 38
2. Trevor Booker, F, Wizards 26
3. Jordan Crawford, G, Wizards 23
4. Toney Douglas, G, Knicks 16
5. Tiago Splitter, F, Spurs 12
6. Patrick Patterson, F, Rockets 11
7. C.J. Miles, F, Jazz 9
8. Carlos Delfino, F, Bucks 8
9. Samuel Dalembert, C, Kings 7
10. Tony Allen, G, Grizzlies 7

Indiana Pacers
Schedule: BOS, DET, MIL, @NO
Injury Report: Mike Dunleavy (thumb/mid-April)
Good Plays: Danny Granger, Tyler Hansbrough
Toss Ups: Roy Hibbert, Darren Collison
Bad Plays: Paul George, Josh McRoberts, Brandon Rush
Notes: Hansbrough is averaging 21.0 points and 7.6 rebounds over his last 10 games. He won't maintain that pace the rest of the way, but the 16-8-1-1-0 stat line he has averaged over his last five games is more attainable and is certainly suitable for any Fantasy format. ... If you can live with the occasional clunker out of Hibbert, he remains worth activating in most leagues as his 13-4-14-2-1 stat line on Wednesday served as a reminder. He might struggle inside against Emeka Okafor, but otherwise will face three accessible matchups the rest of the week. ... Collison will have his hands full against Rajon Rondo and Chris Paul, but is a decent play in a four-game week. He has averaged 13-7-2 over his last five games and could easily match those averages in Week 23.

L.A. Clippers
Schedule: DAL, @PHO, OKC
Injury Report: DeAndre Jordan (pneumonia/day to day)
Good Plays: Blake Griffin
Toss Ups: Mo Williams, Eric Gordon, Chris Kaman, Jordan
Bad Plays: Randy Foye, Eric Bledsoe, Ryan Gomes, Al-Farouq Aminu
Notes: Jordan has missed the team's last two games due to a bout with pneumonia. He was hospitalized over the weekend, but should be able to return within the next game or two. ... Jordan's return will cut into Kaman's recent surge, but Kaman has proven to be ready for a more significant role, posting back-to-back games with at least 20-and-10. With favorable matchups this week, Fantasy owners should activate Kaman as a No. 2 center, while tempering expectations at the same time. ... Williams should be able to score in the mid-teens against two higher-volume opponents in the Suns and Thunder, with good assist totals and about 2-3 rebounds per game in Week 23. ... Gordon has played 40-plus minutes in each of his first three games back from a wrist injury, averaging 24-4-3. He is more than healthy enough to be activated across the board in Fantasy. ... With Gordon back in the mix, Foye has faded as anticipated.

L.A. Lakers
Schedule: DAL, @UTA, DEN
Injury Report: No significant injuries
Good Plays: Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum
Toss Ups: Lamar Odom, Ron Artest
Bad Plays: Shannon Brown, Matt Barnes, Derek Fisher
Notes: Bynum's two-game ban in the rearview mirror, he should once again be activated in most formats for Week 23. ... As expected, Odom's production has peaked this week with Bynum out of the picture. Those numbers (29-5-15 vs. Phoenix, 16-6-11 vs. Portland) will not be there for him in Week 23, but he can be trusted for about 14-4-7 under normal circumstances. ... Artest stepped up with a rare outburst on Tuesday against Phoenix, scoring 18 points. He attempted 14 shots in a game that went to three overtimes. Do not expect him stray far from 10-2-4 under normal circumstances.

Memphis Grizzlies
Schedule: GS, @NO, MIN
Injury Report: Rudy Gay (shoulder/out for the season)
Good Plays: Zach Randolph, Mike Conley
Toss Ups: Marc Gasol, Tony Allen
Bad Plays: Shane Battier, O.J. Mayo, Darrell Arthur, Sam Young
Notes: Gasol managed a double-double (11 points, 11 rebounds) on Wednesday in Boston, but has not been managing much more than 10 points and 6-7 rebounds, with good production in blocks and steals. His value is highest in category leagues for his blocks and steals right now, but he could see a nice boost in the big three categories this week with high-volume matchups against Golden State and Minnesota. With Gay out for the season, he should continue to enjoy about 30 minutes and 10 shots per game the rest of the way. Count on him for about 12-3-5 per game going forward.

Miami Heat
Schedule: @CLE, @WAS, @MIN, @NJ
Injury Report: Zydrunas Ilgauskas (foot/day to day), Mario Chalmers (knee/early April), Udonis Haslem (foot/out indefinitely)
Good Plays: LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh
Toss Ups: Mike Bibby
Bad Plays: Mike Miller, Mario Chalmers, Ilgauskas, Joel Anthony, Eddie House, James Jones
Notes: With Chalmers sidelined until at least April 3, Bibby should enjoy a boost in minutes and touches. Expect him to be around 10-3-3, with good contributions in 3-point shooting as he tends to get about 4-5 open 3-pointers per game with all the attention given to the team's Big Three. ... The Heat will play four games against teams that allow 100-plus points per game.

Milwaukee Bucks
Schedule: @CHA, @TOR, @IND, PHI
Injury Report: Michael Redd (knee/day to day), Ersan Ilyasova (concussion/out indefinitely)
Good Plays: Brandon Jennings, Andrew Bogut
Toss Ups: John Salmons, Carlos Delfino, Corey Maggette
Bad Plays: Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Drew Gooden, Keyon Dooling
Notes: Redd is close to a return, which could come as soon as Saturday. However, given the fact that he has not played in an NBA game in well over a year, he is not by any means a player that should be trusted in Fantasy at this critical stage of the season. ... Redd's presence could begin to water down the amount of touches for players like Salmons and Delfino, but we do not expect Redd to be able to play much more than 15-20 minutes per game initially. Both Salmons and Delfino remain viable low-end starters. ... Maggette has been dealing a sore knee that has kept him out of circulation for the past week. He can be cut in most Fantasy formats as his chances of making an impact over the final two scoring periods appear slim.

Best Fantasy Schedules
Team Schedule
1. Kings PHO, @DEN, DEN, UTA
2. Heat @CLE, @WAS, @MIN, @NJ
3. Bulls PHI, @MIN, @DET, TOR
4. Thunder @GS, @PHO, @POR, @LAC
5. Suns @SAC, @OKC, LAC, @SA

Minnesota Timberwolves
Schedule: CHI, MIA, @MEM
Injury Report: Kevin Love (groin/day to day),
Good Plays: None
Toss Ups: Michael Beasley, Love, Luke Ridnour, Darko Milicic, Anthony Randolph
Bad Plays: Wesley Johnson, Jonny Flynn, Anthony Tolliver, Martell Webster
Notes: Love did not travel with the team on their two-game road trip this week, but the team is hopeful that he can return on Sunday. He should be available for all three games in Week 23, barring a setback. ... Beasley was able to play Thursday despite a hip injury. ... With Love and Beasley healthy, expect Milicic and Randolph to be non-factors. Activate them only if Love or Beasley suffer setbacks. ... Ridnour enjoyed an increase in shot volume against Sacramento last Sunday, leading to 22 points. Do not expect that type of scoring production from him going forward, but he has been able to offer about 13-6-4 on a consistent basis.

New Jersey Nets
Schedule: HOU, @NY, @PHI, MIA
Injury Report: Deron Williams (wrist/day to day), Sundiata Gaines (hip/day to day)
Good Plays: Brook Lopez, Kris Humphries
Toss Ups: Williams, Jordan Farmar, Anthony Morrow
Bad Plays: Travis Outlaw, Sundiata Gaines
Notes: Williams is in danger of being shut down as his wrist injury continues to linger, but he has not thrown in the towel just yet. He is expected to join the team in Orlando on Friday. The team will then make a decision on his next move. He could return over the weekend and is a player who should be active whenever he is healthy enough to play. He could also be ruled out for the remainder of the season, however. Monitor his progress. ... Farmar's situation depends on what happens with Williams. If Williams is ruled out, then Farmar has excellent upside as a high-end source for assists and a decent scoring option, especially with favorable matchups against Houston and New York. ... Morrow could put together a solid week, especially in cumulative formats, with a four-game slate and two high-volume matchups against the Rockets and Knicks. Owners looking for a low-end replacement starter should look for him to average around 13-3-2 this week, with plus 3-point shooting.

New Orleans Hornets
Schedule: POR, MEM, IND
Injury Report: David West (knee/day to day)
Good Plays: Chris Paul
Toss Ups: Emeka Okafor, Trevor Ariza, Carl Landry
Bad Plays: Marco Belinelli, Jarrett Jack, Willie Green
Notes: West injured his knee late in Thursday's game against the Jazz and he now becomes an injury-risk option for Week 23. You might look toward healthier alternatives. ... Okafor finally looks to be back to full strength after struggling for the better part of a month following a 10-game injury layoff. In his last three games, he has managed his first two double-doubles since the injury. Get him active again. ... Ariza is mostly good for just a steal per game in deeper category leagues right now. ... After scoring 20 points on March 12 vs. Sacramento, Landry has totaled just 20 points over his last four games. However, he could benefit if West has to miss an extended period, so keep tabs on the New Orleans frontcourt situation.

New York Knicks
Schedule: ORL, NJ, CLE
Injury Report: No significant injuries
Good Plays: Carmelo Anthony, Amar'e Stoudemire, Chauncey Billups
Toss Ups: Landry Fields, Toney Douglas
Bad Plays: Shawne Williams, Ronny Turiaf, Shelden Williams
Notes: Anthony has avreaged just 14.8 shots per game over his last five contests. He has averaged 19.3 shot attempts throughout his career. The overall numbers still qualify him as a must-start in just about every format, but he is averaging about five fewer points per game during the span as a result. ... Fields is not scoring much, but now he isn't doing much on the glass either. He has averaged just 4.4 rebounds over his last five games, while playing only around 25 minutes per game. ... Douglas has scored 15-plus in three of his last five games and is averaging 12.4 shots over that span. He scored 17 points against a Magic team he will face again in Week 23. ... The Nets and Cavaliers both allow over 100 points per game and should get the Knicks' juices flowing again offensively.

Oklahoma City Thunder
Schedule: GS, @PHO, @POR, @LAC
Injury Report: Nate Robinson (knee/early April)
Good Plays: Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook
Toss Ups: Serge Ibaka, James Harden, Kendrick Perkins
Bad Plays: Nazr Mohammed, Thabo Sefolosha, Nick Collison
Notes: The Thunder will face three teams that allow more than 100 points per game. The Warriors and Suns each allow more than 105 points per game. ... Ibaka is averaging 10.2 points and 9.8 rebounds in his last five games, but his continued production in the block department (4.0 bpg in last five games) is what makes him a great play in just about any league right now, especially with these matchups. He is active in just 63 percent of CBSSports.com leagues. ... Harden could average in the high-teens in scoring during Week 23, given the high-volume matchups. Count on him for multiple 3-pointers made as well. ... Perkins has not settled in yet, but owners looking to take a flier on a No. 2 center should still consider Perkins. He should average around 10 rebounds and a block per game and could hit double-digits in scoring with even a modest increase in shot attempts. He has only averaged around three shots per game since making his Thunder debut. He has looked healthy enough to play a bigger role and could begin to do so in Week 23.

Orlando Magic
Schedule: @NY, @ATL, CHA, @TOR
Injury Report: J.J. Redick (abdomen/day to day)
Good Plays: Dwight Howard
Toss Ups: Jason Richardson, Jameer Nelson, Hedo Turkoglu
Bad Plays: Ryan Anderson, Brandon Bass,Gilbert Arenas, Redick
Notes: The Magic will face two very high-volume matchups against the Knicks and Raptors in Week 23. The two teams each allow more than 105 points per game. ... Expect Richardson, Nelson and Turkoglu to benefit from the high-volume matchups and the four-game schedule. ... Turkoglu is playing some of his best basketball of the season at the right time for Fantasy owners, averaging 14-6-6 over the last two weeks.

Philadelphia 76ers
Schedule: @CHI, HOU, NJ, @MIL
Injury Report: No significant injuries
Good Plays: Andre Iguodala, Elton Brand, Jrue Holiday
Toss Ups: Thaddeus Young, Lou Williams
Bad Plays: Jodie Meeks, Evan Turner, Spencer Hawes
Notes: Iguodala is dealing with lingering effects of knee tendinitis and is in danger of missing games on short notice. However, with a four-game slate and the Sixers battling for playoff positioning, we expect a solid scoring period out of Iguodala and recommend starting him in most scenarios. ... Young has scored 15-plus in back-to-back games and seems to be out of his recent offensive funk. He could thrive against Houston and New Jersey in fast-paced games, but could easily be limited to single digits against top defensive teams in the Bulls and Bucks. ... Williams, hot and cold all season, is red-hot gain. Despite playing just 25 minutes per game, he has averaged 18-3-2 over his last five games. He remains a risky play because his role is such that he could see seven or 17 shots in any particular game, but right now is a viable play in any format.

Phoenix Suns
Schedule: @SAC, OKC, LAC, @SA
Injury Report: Grant Hill (illness/day to day)
Good Plays: Steve Nash, Marcin Gortat, Channing Frye
Toss Ups: Vince Carter, Hill
Bad Plays: Aaron Brooks, Robin Lopez, Jared Dudley
Notes: That rare pelvic injury that bothered Nash a couple of weeks ago is no longer affecting his play. He has averaged 17-12-4 over his last five games, playing over 35 minutes per contest. ... Hill left Wednesday's game due to flu-like symptoms and did not return. He should be recovered in time for Week 23 and makes for a decent low-end play with three of four high-volume matchups. He is capable of averaging mid-teens in scoring and about five rebounds all week. ... Start Carter in deeper formats where you may need a boost in the 3-point department. He has struggled from the field lately, however, shooting just 39.1 percent over his last five games.

Portland Trail Blazers
Schedule: @SA, @NO, OKC, DAL
Injury Report: Marcus Camby (ankle/day to day), Greg Oden (knee/out for the season)
Good Plays: LaMarcus Aldridge, Gerald Wallace, Andre Miller
Toss Ups: Brandon Roy, Wesley Matthews, Nicolas Batum, Camby
Bad Plays: Rudy Fernandez
Notes: Since scoring 21 points in 28 minutes against Dallas on March 15, Roy has totaled 17 points over four games. He should not be trusted at this stage of the season. He is playing around 15-20 minutes on many nights and is clearly laboring through lingering knee pain. ... The inability for Roy to get going has allowed Matthews to remain a steady Fantasy contributor. He has averaged 15-4-2 over his last five contests and should remain a viable play in the final two scoring periods of the season. ... Batum has scored 15-plus points in three straight games and is becoming more of a factor as Roy proves less and less effective. Consider him a solid sleeper in deep formats this week. ... Camby is dealing with a sore ankle on top of his recent struggles. He can still be a viable play in deeper category leagues for about eight boards and a block or two per game, but avoid him elsewhere.

Sacramento Kings
Schedule: PHO, @DEN, DEN, UTA
Injury Report: Tyreke Evans (foot/day to day)
Good Plays: DeMarcus Cousins, Marcus Thornton
Toss Ups: Evans, Beno Udrih, Samuel Dalembert
Bad Plays: Jason Thompson, Francisco Garcia, Omri Casspi
Notes: Evans will return in a bench role on Friday after missing more than a month due to lingering plantar fasciitis pain. Use the weekend to determine how much he is ready to take on, but the matchups favor Fantasy owners who might be willing to take the injury-risk leap this week. ... With Evans back, the Kings expect to use an Evans/Thornton backcourt set to feature both of the two quality-scoring options. That will put a crunch on Udrih's playing time, but the Kings could still choose to run and play small against their up-tempo opposition all week. Consider Udrih a lower-end play this week for deep formats. ... Garcia will be pushed down the pecking order with Evans back. Avoid him even with the favorable matchups. ... Dalembert makes for a solid No. 2 center option given the matchups.

Worst Fantasy Schedules
Team Schedule
1. Raptors MIL, @CHI, ORL
2. Timberwolves CHI, MIA, @MEM
3. Hawks ORL, BOS, @HOU
4. Magic @ATL, CHA, @TOR
5. Pistons @IND, CHI, @BOS

San Antonio Spurs
Schedule: POR, BOS, @HOU, PHO
Injury Report: Tim Duncan (ankle/out indefinitely)
Good Plays: Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker
Toss Ups: Duncan, DeJuan Blair, Tiago Splitter, George Hill
Bad Plays: Richard Jefferson, Matt Bonner, Gary Neal
Notes: Duncan is without an official timetable for his return, but coach Gregg Popovich said on Wednesday that Duncan could be back by the "beginning of April." That would put him out for the first two games of Fantasy Week 23 and makes him too risky to start even in average-based play. He could be restricted upon his return as the team gears up for a playoff run. ... In Duncan's absence, Blair and Splitter become viable options for deeper leagues. ... The Rockets and Suns each allow more than 100 points per game, making Hill slightly appealing in deeper formats as a potential stopgap measure.

Toronto Raptors
Schedule: MIL, @CHI, ORL
Injury Report: Reggie Evans (foot/day to day), Amir Johnson (ankle/day to day)
Good Plays: Andrea Bargnani
Toss Ups: Jose Calderon, DeMar DeRozan, Johnson, Evans
Bad Plays: Leandro Barbosa, Ed Davis, James Johnson
Notes: Barbosa is mulling over surgery options as he deals with some lingering wrist pain. Barbosa was plagued by a wrist injury last season. He is not a player we recommend counting on with poor matchups and restricted playing time. ... DeRozan is a capable mid-teens scorer, but Fantasy owners should be prepared for lower-volume games against the three teams that allow less than 95 points per game. ... Evans should be trusted only in deeper category leagues for rebounds, but little else.

Utah Jazz
Schedule: WAS, LAL, @SAC
Injury Report: Devin Harris (hamstring/day to day), Andrei Kirilenko (knee/day to day)
Good Plays: Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap
Toss Ups: Kirilenko, C.J. Miles, Harris
Bad Plays: Earl Watson, Derrick Favors, Raja Bell
Notes: Kirilenko hurt his knee on Wednesday and missed Thursday's game against New Orleans. He bruised a nerve in his knee and could easily miss another couple of games. Monitor his progress over the weekend, but Fantasy owners should not be anticipating on having him active for Week 23. ... In Kirilenko's absence, Miles should be able to continue to thrive. He has played well in a shooting-guard role -- with or without Kirilenko in the lineup. ... Harris has missed consecutive games with a knee injury, being replaced by Watson with minimal results. Harris will have to be monitored over the weekend, but we would not recommend activating Watson at this stage, even if Harris is ruled out.

Washington Wizards
Schedule: @UTA, MIA, CLE, @CHA
Injury Report: Andray Blatche (shoulder/day to day), Nick Young (knee/day to day), Rashard Lewis (knee/out indefinitely), Josh Howard (knee/out indefinitely)
Good Plays: John Wall
Toss Ups: JaVale McGee, Blatche, Trevor Booker, Young, Jordan Crawford
Bad Plays: Lewis, Howard
Notes: Blatche has missed five games since landing awkwardly on his shoulder. He might join the team on Friday after staying behind in Washington D.C. to rehab. His next step remains to be determined, but Fantasy owners should not be looking to activate him unless he can get back and prove healthy over the weekend. ... Booker's value for Week 23 takes a hit with the uncertainty surrounding Blatche's potential return. Do not activate him unless Blatche is ruled out. ... Young was ruled out on Wednesday after participating in warmups. He missed a fifth straight game, but looks to be on the verge of returning over the weekend. With a four-game slate and two high-volume matchups on the slate, he should be able to bounce back nicely if he can shake off any lingering rust over the weekend. ... Even with Young back, injuries to Lewis and Howard (both are unlikely to return this season) will still allow him to continue to see a double-digit shot workload. He remains a solid play.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter . You can e-mail us your Fantasy Basketball questions to DMFantasyHoops@cbs.com . Be sure to put Fantasy Planner in the subject field. Please include your full name, hometown and state.

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Player News
Lakers sign Wayne Ellington right before training camp
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(9/22/2014) With one week before the start of training camp, the Lakers have signed five-year veteran guard Wayne Ellington to a contract, the team announced. Ellington is now with his fourth team since June, after failing to crack the rotation with the Mavericks in 2013.

Ellington averaged 3.2 points on 43.7 percent shooting from the field over 45 games for Dallas.

Andray Blatche heading to China
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(9/20/2014) 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 | CBSSports.com
(9/20/2014) 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 | CBSSports.com
(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 | CBSSports.com
(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 | CBSSports.com
(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 | CBSSports.com
(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 Stats.NBA.com, 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 | CBSSports.com
(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 MySynergySports.com, 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 | CBSSports.com
(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 | CBSSports.com
(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. 


 
 
 
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