With 116 games scheduled to be played over the next seven days, Fantasy Week 3 (Jan. 9-15) promises to be just as action-packed as the first two weeks of the season.
Week 3 looks to be the most balanced in terms of scheduling, as 18 teams are on tap to play four times during the scoring period. In addition, five teams are scheduled to play five games, while eight will play three times and one club just twice. The NBA's condensed schedule continues to provide plenty of intriguing matchups and other circumstances teams have had to deal with, and we once again have chosen the seven teams which have the most interesting slate of games on tap this week.
The team which perhaps has the most intriguing schedule in Week 3 is the Charlotte Bobcats. After playing four games in each of the first two weeks of the season, Charlotte is scheduled to play five times in the upcoming scoring period. The Bobcats will start the week by making their second trip of the season to Madison Square Garden for another matchup with the Knicks on Monday. They then finish up their third back-to-back set of the year on Tuesday night against the Rockets at home. After a day off Wednesday, Charlotte will play three games on three consecutive nights, starting with the Hawks in Atlanta on Thursday night. The Bobcats will then host the Pistons on Friday before wrapping up a grueling stretch of seven games over 10 days against the Warriors on Saturday.
While fatigue and depth will likely be a big factor for the Bobcats this week, Charlotte looks to have some favorable matchups. New York, Houston and Golden State are all ranked in the bottom 10 in points allowed this season, while the Pistons have surrendered an average of 99 points per game over their last three contests. The only team which could give Charlotte some trouble on the defensive end is Atlanta, although the Bobcats put up 96 points against the Hawks in their meeting last week -- albeit the game did go to overtime.
Still, the Bobcats are averaging nearly three points more per game this season compared to last year and we anticipate that trend to continue this week. Fantasy owners should make sure Charlotte's main Fantasy options, including Boris Diaw, Gerald Henderson and possibly Tyrus Thomas -- now that he is healthy -- are all active heading into the scoring period. However, because Charlotte's jam-packed schedule could force coach Paul Silas to go to his bench a bit more, owners in deeper formats should also consider rolling with Kemba Walker, Byron Mullens and D.J. White as viable options heading into Week 3.
Southeast Division: Orlando Magic (@POR, @GS)
We chose to highlight the Magic's schedule last week, but with only two games on the docket for Week 3, we thought it pertinent to mention them again. Orlando will be in the midst of a four-game road trip over the next eight days, however only two of its games will fall during the upcoming scoring period. After a matchup with the Kings on Sunday night, the Magic will get two days off before finally playing its first game of Week 3 against the Trail Blazers Wednesday. Orlando will then be in Golden State on Thursday, which will be the team's fourth back-to-back set of the year. However, that will be it for Orlando as it will get the final three days of the scoring period off. With the Magic being the only team with two games scheduled this week, Fantasy owners are best to leave every player on the roster not named Dwight Howard on the bench.
Central Division: Detroit Pistons (@CHI, DAL, @MIL, @CHA, GS)
After playing four games in each of the first two weeks of the season, the Pistons are slated to play five times during Week 3. Detroit will open up the week in Chicago on Monday before returning home to face the Mavericks on Tuesday night. The Pistons will then get a day off Wednesday before traveling to Milwaukee and Charlotte on Thursday and Friday respectively, for their second back-to-back set of the scoring period and fourth of the season. Detroit will finally close out the week at home against the Warriors on Sunday, concluding a stretch of seven games over 10 days dating back to last week. With that many games crammed into such a small window, depth will be a huge factor for Detroit this week, which is why we feel some of the team's lower-end players could be worth using this week. Besides the obvious choices of Greg Monroe and Rodney Stuckey, other players such as Ben Gordon, Jonas Jerebko and Brandon Knight could also be worth using in deeper formats.
Atlantic Division: Boston Celtics (DAL, CHI, @IND)
The Celtics only played three times last week, which will once again be the case in Week 3. Boston should be well rested heading into the upcoming scoring period as the Celtics will be coming off four consecutive off days before finally taking the court Wednesday against the Mavericks. Boston will then get another day off before the team wraps up with a back-to-back set against the Bulls and Pacers on Friday and Saturday, respectively. All three teams the Celtics will be facing this week are allowing fewer than 100 points per game, with Indiana and the Bulls both ranked in the Top 10 in points allowed. While Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce should be able to get their numbers, owners might want to think about sitting Kevin Garnett this week.
Southwest Division: Memphis Grizzlies (OKC, NY, NO)
The Grizzlies are coming off a tough week -- which included losing power forward Zach Randolph until at least February with a knee injury -- and an embarrassing loss at Utah. The Grizzlies will try to regroup with a four-game home stretch, which entails the team playing three times during Week 3 -- all at home. The Grizzlies will host the Thunder on Tuesday before facing the Knicks and Hornets on Thursday and Saturday, respectively. While both the Thunder and Knicks rank near the bottom of the barrel in points allowed, Memphis has looked a bit out of sync on offense with Randolph sidelined. With only three games on the docket this week, Marc Gasol, Rudy Gay and Mike Conley should be the only Grizzlies considered sure-starts this week.
Northwest Division: Denver Nuggets (NO, NJ, MIA, UTA)
The Nuggets are coming off a grueling stretch that saw them play six games over the past eight days, which included road games at Los Angeles, Portland, New Orleans and San Antonio. However, the Nuggets will now get to unpack their suitcases as the team is slated to play four home games during Week 3. Denver will play every other day in the scoring period, starting with the Hornets on Monday night. The Nets will be in town on Wednesday, followed by visits from the Heat on Friday and Jazz on Sunday. The Nuggets are averaging a league-leading 104 points per game at home this season and have already posted 117 and 96 points against the Jazz and Hornets, respectively. New Jersey isn't known for its defensive prowess and while the Heat are better, keep in mind that the Nuggets put up 130 points on Miami in Denver last season. While we don't anticipate that necessarily happening again, the Nuggets should have no problems scoring on all four of their Week 3 opponents. Fantasy owners should make sure all of Denver's main Fantasy options -- including Al Harrington and Arron Afflalo -- are active this week.
Pacific Division: Golden State (MIA, ORL, @ CHA, @DET)
The Warriors are slated to play four times during Week 3, with the first two contests coming at home. Golden State will host the Heat on Tuesday night before welcoming the Magic to town on Thursday. After a day off on Friday, the team will head East for its first of two road trips to the Eastern Time Zone this year. Golden State will be at Charlotte on Friday before concluding its third back-to-back set of the season against the Pistons on Saturday. While the Bobcats have really struggled on defense thus far, Miami, Orlando and Detroit have not. Combine that with the fact that Golden State is averaging just over 90 points per game offensively and could be without Stephen Curry for an extended period of time, and we aren't sure where the team's points will come from. Other than the obvious choices of Monta Ellis and David Lee, there aren't enough viable options on the Warriors roster worth starting in Week 3.