Two years ago, Jonas Jerebko quietly had an excellent rookie season, starting 73 games for a 27-win Pistons team after being the 39th overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft. Jerebko averaged 9.3 points and 6.0 rebounds per game as a rookie, and was poised to build on that before injuring his right Achilles' in the first preseason game, costing him the entire 2010-11 season.
Now the 24-year old is back on track, averaging 10.9 points and 7.1 rebounds per game through the season's first eight games and solidifying his spot as the starting small forward. While the Pistons aren't any good right now, Jerebko is one of a number of very talented young players they are looking to build around and with five games in Week 3 (Jan. 9-Jan. 15), he's our Start of the Week, as I expect him to continue to build on a solid start to the season this week.
With a five-game schedule with no back-to-back-to-backs and three games against bottom-10 NBA defenses, this is a perfect week for Jerebko to put up solid numbers, and that's exactly what I expect him to do. Though he does face Chicago and Milwaukee in the week ahead -- the best and 10th best defenses in the NBA respectively -- the matchups against Dallas (22nd in the NBA in points allowed), Charlotte (30th) and Golden State (21st) should provide ample opportunity for the lanky Swede to perform, especially with many of the Pistons' other offensive weapons still trying to find their way.
Jerebko is owned in just 54 percent of leagues, but he currently ranks 42nd among forwards in scoring in CBSSports.com standard leagues, meaning he has been worthy of a start each week so far. Jerebko is currently being undervalued by Fantasy owners, and you would do well to pick him up and take advantage of this good looking week he has coming up while your opponents continue to sleep on this guy.
Iman Shumpert, Knicks (CHA, PHI, @MEM, @OKC): This rookie from Georgia Tech has quickly become a fan favorite at Madison Square Garden, and almost as quickly has established himself as the Knicks' starting point guard. With his energy and defensive abilities, Shumpert has provided the Knicks with a spark, scoring 12.5 points per game with 3.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 2.0 steals per game through his first four games. In Week 3, he faces the NBA's second-ranked defense in Philadelphia, but otherwise goes up against three teams that fall below league average defensively. In his first start he scored 11 points in 28 minutes, and he should be good for at least that much every time out as the starter, at least until Baron Davis makes his inevitable entrance into the starting lineup.
Evan Turner, 76ers (IND, SAC, @NYK, WAS, @ WAS): There's not many ways to put it nicely; Turner has been a disappointment thus far in his NBA career. However the No. 2 overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft has taken some steps forward in his sophomore campaign and has an excellent chance to provide good value for Fantasy owners in Week 3 as he plays four games against teams that rank in the bottom five in the NBA in points allowed. The Pacers are his only tough matchup during the week but he actually averages 11.3 points per game in his career against them, well above his career average. He is averaging just below 10 points and six rebounds per game this season, but with these kinds of matchups, he could be looking at a very nice week coming up.
Sleeper Alert: Tony Allen, Grizzlies (OKC, NY, NO): While the Grizzlies only play three times in Week 3, Allen has come alive as a scorer since the injury to Zach Randolph. He has averaged 17 points per game over his last three including back-to-back 20-point games, while maintaining his typically strong efficiency and defensive marks. He's certainly no offensive weapon but without their top option, the Grizzlies are looking Allen's way more often, making him a useful low-end option if you need a one-week filler.
Toney Douglas, Knicks (CHA, PHI, @MEM, @OKC): The 'Toney Douglas as starter' era lasted all of seven games in New York City and with it, the 'Toney Douglas as viable Fantasy option' era may be finished as well. In his first game after being benched in favor of Shumpert, Douglas saw just six minutes of floor time, a number made even worse when you consider the game against the Pistons on Saturday was an absolute blowout from the beginning of the second quarter. Douglas might not be worthy of a roster spot at this point, but he's definitely not worth starting for Week 3.
Jameer Nelson, Magic (@POR, @GS): Nelson's production is way down this year and that is even accounting for a missed game with a neck injury. He has yet to hit double digits in scoring and is shooting abysmally from the field. His numbers across the board are down, and yet he is still starting in 32 percent of CBSSports.com leagues. Even if he wasn't playing in just two games -- a West Coast back-to-back -- it would be hard to recommend Nelson as a starter, but with this brief schedule, you'll definitely want to get Nelson out of your lineup.
Bust Alert: Chauncey Billups, Clippers (@POR, MIA, LAL): Billups has emerged as a fairly high-volume scorer in the early going for the Clippers, but it has come at a huge hit to his efficiency. Through five games, Billups is shooting just 37.9 percent from the field despite a solid 15 points per game average. He is also barely producing in any other categories, making him essentially a one or two category player at this point. While there is value to that, he should not be starting in 37 percent of leagues as he currently is when the Clippers play just three times in Week 3. Don't be afraid to bench him, despite his big-shot reputation.
|1.||Rudy Fernandez, G, Nuggets||3|
|2.||Vladimir Radmanovic, F, Hawks||3|
|3.||Austin Daye, F, Pistons||2|
|4.||Samardo Samuels, F, Cavaliers||0|
|5.||Jordan Hill, F, Rockets||13|
|6.||Ben Gordon, G, Pistons||22|
|7.||Norris Cole, G, Heat||8|
|8.||Luke Ridnour, G, T'Wolves||13|
|9.||Jon Leuer, F, Bucks||0|
|10.||Taj Gibson, F, Bulls||4|
Thaddeus Young, 76ers (IND, SAC, @NY, WAS, @WAS): Young continues to be an excellent bench scorer for the 76ers, though his value is limited by the relatively small number of minutes he plays off the bench. However, as with his teammate Turner, Young is an unusually strong Fantasy option in Week 3 as he plays four games against teams that rank in the bottom five in the NBA in points allowed. The 76ers also play a back-to-back right after a back-to-back-to-back, meaning Young may see increased minutes as the younger half of the Elton Brand platoon. Young is usually a borderline starter, but I like the opportunity he has this week.
Al Harrington, Nuggets (NO, NJ, MIA, UTA): Harrington has, perhaps fairly, taken plenty of criticism for the $33.4 million contract the Nuggets signed him to last offseason, however he has started the 2011-12 season with some of the best play of his career. Through eight games, he is averaging 15.4 points in just 25.1 minutes, an absurd pace that would put him among the tops in the league if he played full-time minutes. Free to just be a gunner off the bench, he has responded by hitting 55.1 percent of his shots from the field, which would be a career high if the season ended today. With four home games on the slate, three of which are against below-average defenses, Harrington should be able to continue his strong play in Week 3.
Sleeper Alert: Tyrus Thomas, Bobcats (@NY, HOU, @ATL, DET, GS): Thomas missed the first six games of the season for Charlotte with an ankle injury, however he has stepped right back into the starting lineup, playing 32 and 34 minutes in each of his first two games back. While his production has been typically limited by his offensive skill set, he is nonetheless a decent Fantasy starting option for Week 3 as the Bobcats play five times. He is fresh in the early going and shouldn't see a hit in his minutes, plus coach Paul Silas has talked about playing him sporadically at small forward, potentially increasing his playing time and scoring load. He's no world beater from a Fantasy perspective, but if you can only set your lineup for the week once, you won't hurt yourself by letting Thomas load up on blocks and rebounds in bulk.
Hedo Turkoglu, Magic (@POR, @GS): Turkoglu is enjoying a moderate rennaisance here in his second season back with Orlando, as his numbers are up across the board back in his role as the point-forward for the team. Unfortunately the Magic play just two times this week, as stated with Nelson, so it's very hard to recommend Turkoglu from a Fantasy perspective this week. He's not an elite option like Dwight Howard, so the lesser opportunity will really hurt his value.
Kevin Garnett, Celtics (DAL, CHI, @IND): Once upon a time not all that long ago, Garnett was a must-start Fantasy option who filled up the stat sheet every night; in recent years he has slipped lower and lower on the spectrum of Fantasy value, and while he's still a useful Fantasy player, he's more of a No. 2 or 3 forward option at this point. Unfortunately he plays just three games in Week 3, all against teams with strong defensive reputations, plus he has a back-to-back. In his prior back-to-backs this season, he has performed well in the first, but averages just 9.0 points and 6.5 rebounds in the second game. Garnett's not the explosive physical specimen he once was, and the 35-year old body just doesn't hold up to the grind of an NBA schedule very well anymore.
Bust Alert: Marvin Williams, Hawks (NJ, @IND, CHA, MIN): I know, I just had Williams as a starting candidate last week. What changed? Well, his production has fallen off pretty hard in the week since I said that, as he's averaging below 10 points per game over his last five games. My bad. But that's not the reason he's on here. It's because Williams suffered an ankle sprain on Saturday night. Combine that with his fall back and you've got a guy primed for another disappointing week.
Samuel Dalembert, Rockets (@CHA, @SA, SAC, POR): Dalembert hasn't been what the Rockets expected when they signed him this offseason. It took him seven games to crack the starting lineup, and when he finally did on Saturday against the Thunder he scored just two points and had four rebounds. However, this is a guy who has been a useful Fantasy option before, and he's been one of the best rebounders in the game for years. Now that he's back in the starting lineup and facing three weak defensive frount courts in four games this week, I like his chances to get back to his low-end Fantasy starting levels.
Sleeper Alert: Byron Mullens, Bobcats (@NY, HOU, @ATL, DET, GS): Mullens has kind of come out of nowhere this season; after spending two years sporadically employed by the Thunder, the Bobcats have gotten excellent production out of the seven-footer. He notched his first career double-double on Saturday night and has now scored in double digits in all but two of Charlotte's games this season. He has impressed coach Silas so much he may have earned himself a look in the starting lineup before long. He is currently averaging 22.8 points per 36 minutes played, an excellent mark that would put him amongst the leaders at the center position. While it's highly unlikely that he continues playing that well, he'll offset any decreases in performance with an increase in minutes, and is emerging as a useful center option for Fantasy owners.
Kendrick Perkins, Thunder (@MEM, @NO, NY): Perkins has never been known for his conditioning, so it's no surprise that in the second game of the Thunders' two back-to-backs so far this season, Perkins has averaged just seven points and five rebounds while turning the ball over six times total. He came into the season reportedly in the best shape of his life, but that has yet to show up in his play. Unfortunately for his Fantasy owners, the Thunder have a back-to-back and play just three games in this scoring period, all three of which feature strong defensive centers going up against him. While he's not normally a high-end starting option, that's especially true for Week 3.
Bust Alert: Anderson Varejao, Cavaliers (@UTA, @PHO, @LAL): Varejao is all but back to normal after missing much of the season last year with a foot injury, and he is just about averaging a double-double this year. It's a great story, and is a big part of why the Cavaliers have become much more competitive this season after being downright embarrassing for most of the 2010-11 season. However, in Week 3 he faces two of the NBA's biggest front courts at Utah and the Lakers and could find it difficult to produce healthy numbers against those two teams. If he had more opportunities, you could feel stronger about playing him, but with just three games, feel free getting this borderline candidate out of the starting lineup.