After an action packed first week of the season, things start to even out a bit for some teams in Fantasy Week 2 (Jan 2-8).
There are only seven days during the upcoming coming scoring period -- instead of the eight we had last week -- and only five teams play more than four times, while the rest are limited to just a handful of contests. Still, that doesn't mean there aren't plenty of intriguing matchups and circumstances teams will have to deal with in Week 2. We have chosen to highlight the seven teams who we feel have the most interesting slate of games on tap this week.
Perhaps the team with the most intriguing Week 2 schedule is the Atlanta Hawks. After playing four times during Week 1, the Hawks are slated to play five times this week, including a back-to-back set, which will be followed by their only triple of the season.
However, Atlanta will face just three different teams over the five-game stretch. The Hawks draw the Bulls and Heat twice, including on a back-to-back set at Miami and Chicago early in the week. After a day off, the Hawks host the Heat at home for the second time in four days on Jan. 5 before hopping on a plane to take on the Bobcats in Charlotte on Jan. 6. Atlanta will finally wrap the scoring period at home against the Bulls on Jan. 7, which will conclude a five-game stretch over six days and a nine-game stretch over 12 days, going back to the start of the season.
With that many games crammed into such a small window, injuries and depth will be a huge factor this week. Sure, the likes of Joe Johnson, Josh Smith and Al Horford should all be able to get their numbers, but coach Larry Drew might have to start to think about limiting some of his starters' minutes during this grueling stretch -- especially with the Hawks having already played a pair of back-to-back sets during the first scoring period.
Here are the rest of the teams we chose to highlight in their respective divisions:
Pacific Division: L.A. Clippers (HOU, MIL)
The Clippers were one of the few teams who avoided playing a back-to-back set last week and that trend will continue this week. In fact, Los Angeles only plays twice during the upcoming scoring period, with a pair of home games against the Rockets on Jan. 4 and the Bucks on Jan. 7. The Clippers will have two days off between each of their games and should be one of the more rested teams, having played just six games over the first 14 days of the season. While Fantasy owners should still feel free to leave Chris Paul and Blake Griffin active, borderline Fantasy starters such as DeAndre Jordan and Caron Butler could be hurt by the Clippers' light Week 2 schedule.
Northwest Division: Oklahoma City Thunder (@DAL, POR, HOU, @HOU, SA)
After playing five games over the first eight days of the year, including a pair of back-to-back sets, things don't get any easier for the Thunder with five more games on the schedule in Week 2. The Thunder will start off the week in Dallas, as they face the Mavericks for the second time this season, before flying home for a matchup against Portland on Jan. 3. The Thunder will then have two days off to get their legs back before starting their first and only triple of the year at home against the Rockets on Jan. 6. Kevin Durant and Co. then face the Rockets again -- this time in Houston -- on Jan. 7 before wrapping up the week on Jan. 8 with a matchup against the Spurs. By the conclusion of Week 2, Oklahoma will have played a stretch of six games over nine days dating back to late last week, but the Thunder appear to be unfazed by their grueling schedule thus far. Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden have all gotten off to good starts and are averaging right around their career numbers. While coach Scott Brooks might look to try and limit some of his superstars' minutes moving forward, keep in mind that Westbrook, Durant and Harden have all played 30-plus minutes in all but one game thus far, which was in a blow-out win over the Suns back on the Dec. 31. However, Brooks has been much more cautious in terms of monitoring his frontcourt thus far. Serge Ibaka averaged slightly less than 26 minutes per night during Oklahoma City's first two sets of back-to-backs, while Kendrick Perkins has only sniffed 30 minutes once this year. Despite the Thunder's youth, we wouldn't be surprised if Brooks goes to his bench a bit more frequently this week.
Southwest Division: San Antonio Spurs (@MIN, GS, DAL, DEN, @OKC)
The Spurs are slated to play five times during Week 2, with two more sets of back-to-backs on the docket. San Antonio started off the week at Minnesota on Jan. 2, before getting a day off to travel back home. However, then starts the stretch of four games over five nights, including a home back-to-back against the Warriors and Mavericks on Jan. 4-5. After another home game against Denver on Jan. 7, the Spurs wrap up the scoring period at Oklahoma City on Jan. 8. Coach Greg Popovich has made no secret about keeping his veteran team fresh throughout the season and that theory should get tested once again this week. We wouldn't be shocked to see Tim Duncan get a day off sometime during the period, and the same goes for Manu Ginobili. The good news for Fantasy owners is none of San Antonio's upcoming opponents are known for their defensive prowess, especially in the case of the Nuggets, Mavericks and Timberwolves, who are all allowing more than 100 points per game thus far. Still, we fully expect Duncan's and Ginobili's minutes to be severely limited at some point during the week, which should bode well for some of the Spurs' key reserves. Look for James Anderson and Tiago Splitter to be just some of the fringe players who could be in line for an increase in playing time this week.
Southeast Division: Orlando Magic (@DET, WAS, CHI, @SAC)
After playing five games, including a pair of back-to-backs during the first week of the season, the Magic will have some extra down time on their hands during Week 2. Orlando is scheduled to play four times during the upcoming scoring period, and have at least one day off between each contest for three of their four scheduled games. After facing the Pistons on Jan. 2, the Magic get a day off before facing the Wizards on Jan. 4. Orlando draws the Bulls at home on Jan. 6 before closing out the period with a game at Sacramento on Jan. 8. While that means the Magic will play a stretch of five games over eight days by the end of Week 2, the Bulls are the only team considered to be elite on the defensive end. Most of Orlando's Fantasy studs should have no problem getting their numbers against the Magic's upcoming opponents, including Dwight Howard, who is averaging at least 17 ppg and 12 rpg against all four teams on the docket. Jason Richardson also has averaged at least 17 ppg and 5 rpg against those same teams, while Hedo Turkoglu and Jameer Nelson have averaged in double-digits in points in their careers against the Pistons, Wizards, Bulls and Kings.
Central Division: Milwaukee Bucks (@DEN, @UTA, @SAC, @LAC, PHO)
Milwaukee was the only team to play just three games during the first week of the season, but the Bucks better get their luggage packed as they head into Week 2. Milwaukee is slated to play five games during the upcoming scoring period, with all five contests being on the road. The Bucks, who last played on Dec. 30, opened up the week at Denver on Jan. 2 before heading out to Utah to take on the Jazz the next night for their second back-to-back of the season. After a day off, Milwaukee will be back at it against the Kings on Jan. 5 before finally closing out the week with their second back-to-back of the scoring period against the Clippers and Suns Jan. 7-8. Despite the fact that the Bucks must endure a five-game stretch over seven days in five different cities, Brandon Jennings and Co. should be able to get their numbers against their Week 2 opponents. Jennings, Andrew Bogut and Stephen Jackson have pretty good road splits over their careers, and most of their upcoming opponents aren't known for their defensive prowess. However, fatigue could definitely become a factor on the road trip, so coach Scott Skiles may have to go to his bench a bit more. Look for players such as Beno Udrih, Carlos Delfino and even rookie Jon Leuer to possibly see some extra minutes.
Atlantic Division: Philadelphia 76ers (@NO, DET, TOR)
The 76ers enter Week 2 as the only team that has yet to play at home this season. Philadelphia opened the season on a five-game road trip, which will finally conclude on Jan. 4 in New Orleans. While the Sixers finally get a chance to play in front of their home fans this week, Philadelphia is only slated to play three times during the scoring period. After wrapping up their road trip against the Hornets, the 76ers play their second back-to-back of the season against the Pistons and Raptors Jan. 6-7. The 76ers should be relatively fresh by the time they finally head back to Philadelphia, although coach Doug Collins could opt to limit some of his players' minutes, including Jrue Holiday and Elton Brand, who both are dealing with minor injuries. With matchups against the defensively challenged Pistons and Raptors on the schedule, owners should feel free to go ahead and start most the Sixers' Fantasy studs in Week 2. However, three games might not be enough for some of the fringe players such as Evan Turner and Jodie Meeks to get their numbers.