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Week 7 Start 'Em and Sit 'Em

Fantasy Writer
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Nets guard Anthony Morrow has been a very good, albeit very limited sharpshooter during his four-year NBA career. He has developed a reputation as a light's out spot-up shooter who isn't capable of too much more than that; however he resembled so much more than that last Friday, as he went off for career-high 42 points against the Timberwolves.

There's nothing like going off for a career night to put a forgotten player on the map for Fantasy owners. Morrow hadn't exactly been off the grid prior to this performance, however with that game, he reminded Fantasy owners that there's more than one viable starting Fantasy option in the backcourt in New Jersey.

However, I'm not making him my Start of the Week for Week 7 (Feb. 6-12) solely on the strength of one good start. Morrow, who started the year ice cold, actually had one of the best months of his career in January, averaging 14.8 points per game before starting February off with his career-high outburst.

Morrow still isn't a must-start option with those numbers, as he does relatively little overall beyond scoring, however as long as he's got his scoring up (and especially if MarShon Brooks' lingering toe injury continues to keep him out), Morrow should be starting in most Fantasy leagues right now, despite being owned in a paltry 68 percent of leagues.

Guards

Start 'Em

O.J. Mayo, Grizzlies (SA, MIN, IND, UTA): After a promising first two seasons in which he started every game for the Grizzlies, Mayo has struggled to adapt to his role as the Grizzlies' sixth man over the last two seasons. However, he is starting to find his place on the team providing instant offense off the bench and has actually been a worthy starting Fantasy option over the last few weeks, ranking 19th in CBSSports.com Head-to-Head scoring over the last 14 days. He's been kind of a poor-man's James Harden in a way; however don't take that as an insult, as he's certainly a worthy start, especially with four home games, where Mayo and the Grizzlies' offense have fared far better this season.

Jordan Crawford, Wizards (TOR, NY, MIA, @DET): Crawford has one job for the Wizards, and it's similar to Mayo's with Memphis; come off the bench, play around 25 minutes, and keep the second unit afloat. While his success at doing this in real-life is debatable, his Fantasy impact in this role has actually been pretty solid, he's averaging 12.4 points, 3.9 assists and 0.9 steals per game over the last two weeks. While he still shoots the ball too much at a poor rate, limiting his positives in Rotisserie leagues, in Head-to-Head formats, Crawford should be worth starting for Week 7 with a pretty good schedule that doesn't feature any of the league's elite defenses.

Sleepers for Week 7
Player % Started
1. Rudy Fernandez, G, Nuggets 10
2. Mike Dunleavy, G, Bucks 22
3. Andrew Goudelock, G, Lakers 0
4. Tony Allen, G, Grizzlies 13
5. Jonas Jerebko, F, Pistons 13
6. Jordan Farmar, G, Nets 7
7. Amir Johnson, F, Raptors 13
8. Daequan Cook, G, Thunder 0
9. Luke Ridnour, G, Timberwolves 34
10. Channing Frye, C, Suns 21

Sleeper Alert: Greivis Vasquez, Hornets (SAC, CHI, POR): I can't say I particularly love the Hornets' matchups for Week 7, as they play just three games with two coming against top-eight NBA defenses, however it's so tough to find a guard that can do as much as Vasquez has been doing over the last few nights that as long as Jarrett Jack's knee is troubling him, Vasquez should be a decent option. Vasquez has scored in double figures in each of his last five games, averaging 14.2 points, 7.6 assists and 3.6 rebounds over that stretch. Especially in Roto formats, Vasquez is worth using with how well he's been playing.

Sit 'Em

Jason Kidd, Mavericks (@DEN, @MIN, POR): Time seems to have finally caught up with the seemingly ageless future Hall of Famer. After playing in 97 percent of his team's games -- just 11 missed games -- over the previous six seasons, injuries have already cost the 38-year old nine games this season. He appears to be on the verge of returning from a troublesome calf injury sometime this week, however with his age and durability concerns, there's no way of knowing whether that return will give him enough time to warrant a start with only three games on the schedule, so you'll want to stay away from him even if he appears to be on his way back.

DeMar Derozan, Raptors (@WAS, MIL, BOS, LAL): The good news is that in his third NBA season, Derozan has managed to improve his three-point shooting. The bad news is absolutely everything else about his game. The 22-year old has struggled mightily with his consistency, especially with the absence of Andrea Bargnani forcing him to try to be more of a creator. Over Derozan's last 10 games, he has made more than half of his shots just two times, while failing to top double digits in scoring in four of those contests. While the Wizards are a mess and even Derozan should be able to take it to them, the rest of his matchups are against tough-minded defensive units that make life difficult for limited offensive players like him. Derozan continues to tantalize with his athleticism and raw potential, but Week 7 doesn't look like a good time for him to harness those things, so get him on the bench.

Bust Alert: Chauncey Billups, Clippers (@ORL, @CLE, @PHI, @CHA): At this point, Billups' reputation is stronger than his play demands; the veteran has become not much more than a high-volume, low-efficiency scorer, and he ranks just 46th among all guards in Fantasy scoring, however he is currently owned in 95 percent of leagues. He gets to play arguably the worst defensive team in the league at the end of the week, but he starts with two of the toughest in Philadelphia and Orlando as well as a feisty, young Cleveland team that is allowing just 91 points per game since giving up a season-high to Atlanta eight games ago. Don't let the big name fool you, Billups isn't a must-start anymore, and you should consider benching him if you have better options.

Forwards

Start 'Em

Ersan Ilyasova, Bucks (CLE, @ORL, @WAS, @ATL): It's a mixed bag in terms of matchups for the Bucks this week, so I'm not recommending Ilyasova for matchup reasons. It is because since Andrew Bogut went down with a potentially season-ending injury, Ilyasova is rebounding just about everything in sight, averaging 9.6 rebounds and topping double-digits in three of seven contests in just 26 minutes per night. He is only scoring 8.3 points per game over that span, but with the rebounds and a mixed-bag of front courts coming up, he's got a decent shot of approaching a double-double for Week 7 if he can keep it up.

Gordon Hayward, Jazz (@NY, @IND, OKC, @MEM): Hayward came into the league known as a strong shooter after his performance at Butler in college and largely lived up to that reputation as a rookie last season. His shot, however, had abandoned him for much of the early going this season, as he shot just 37.5 percent from the field over the season's first 17 games. However in his last five games, Hayward has managed to score in double figures in four games while shooting 44 percent, so he seems to have found the stroke that made him a lottery pick. Hayward still isn't a full-time player; however he's putting up solid numbers in his 28 minutes per game so far, and should be a useful low-end Fantasy option for the week with just one truly tough matchup on the slate.

Sleeper Alert: Linas Kleiza, Raptors (@WAS, MIL, BOS, LAL): Kleiza has been totally up-and-down this season, alternating solid double-digit scoring performances with single-digit stinkers on a seemingly nightly basis. However, the Raptors still need someone to step up in Bargnani's absence and as the 27-year old Lithuanian works his way back into shape from knee surgery, he could provide a passable Bargnani imitation in stretches with his size and ability to hit the three. While he obviously won't be able to reach Bargnani's elite scoring levels, he is skilled enough to do some good work and act as a fringe starting option in a pinch.

Sit 'Em

Shawn Marion, Mavericks (@DEN, @MIN, POR): With Dirk Nowitzki's struggles this season with consistency and injury, Marion spent the better part of the last half of January stepping up to fill the void. However, the real Dirk appears to have returned over the last couple of games, to the detriment of Marion's Fantasy value. The veteran forward has managed to score just 12 points over the team's last two games as Nowitzki has reasserted his offensive dominance. It doesn't necessarily mean Marion is taking a permanent step back; however it's a troubling sign heading into a week in which the Mavs play just three times against some solid defenses. One or two stinkers would drastically impact his value for the week, so look to better options.

Richard Jefferson, Spurs (@MEM, @PHI, @NJ): The Spurs, led by fearless coach Gregg Popovich, are one of the most unpredictable teams in the NBA. Last week, displeased by the results from the unit, Popovich benched his starters in a game against Dallas. That same unpredictability that keeps his opponents on their toes constantly makes relying on anyone but the most elite options on the team something of a nightmare. Jefferson hasn't been an elite option in a few years and while he's still useful against the right matchups, Week 7 doesn't seem to provide them. The Spurs take on two top-10 defenses to start the week, and while the stop in New Jersey at the end of the week offers a respite, you don't want to be stuck relying on a 31-year old whose minutes are subject to the whims of an unpredictable coach with a short schedule.

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Bust Alert: Elton Brand, Sixers (LAL, SA, LAC, @CLE): If it wasn't bad enough that Brand threw up a goose-egg on Friday against the Heat, missing all three of his field goal attempts in a blowout loss, he missed the game the next night against Atlanta with a thumb injury. Such is life for an oft-injured 32-year old in a condensed schedule. Brand has seen his production fall off in a big way in recent games, as he has topped double-digits in points just once over his last five contests. While 97 percent of leagues still have someone hanging on to the former All Star, it's clear that he just isn't a reliable Fantasy option without great matchups. While he's got a couple towards the end of the week, they are teams that do feature strong, physical front courts. The added question of his status moving forward given the thumb injury makes Brand a player you'll want to stay away from.

Center

Start 'Em

Nikola Pekovic, Timberwolves (SAC, @MEM, DAL, NY): You saw Pekovic here last week as a sleeper, but nobody should be sleeping on the big man from Montenegro after his big week. He found himself in the starting lineup twice and averaged 14.8 points and 9.8 rebounds in the week, with the majority of his boards coming on the offensive glass to boot. He's not a particularly skilled big man, but his tenacity on the offensive boards makes him a decent offensive option even without creating on his own. He's clearly a better fit for the Wolves' offense and with Darko Milicic's struggles with a bevy of small injuries, Pekovic continues to be the man down low. Ride with him as long as he's hot and getting minutes, which could be a long time by the looks of it.

Sleeper Alert: Tiago Splitter, Spurs (@MEM, @PHI, @NJ): It might surprise you to find out that the offensively limited Splitter has actually been one of the best Fantasy centers over the last few weeks, ranking 14th in Fantasy scoring over the last 14 days despite playing just 24.8 minutes per game. That's partially an indictment of the perennially weak position but also a testament to the work the Spurs' backup has put in. He understands his limitations and works within them, shooting 68 percent over his team's last eight games while scoring 12.4 points with 7.0 rebounds per game. While the matchups for this week are not great and he still comes off of the bench, Splitter has been very productive recently and is worth starting.

Sit 'Em

DeJuan Blair, Spurs (@MEM, @PHI, @NJ): On the flip side of the Splitter recommendation is the guy who gets the starts ahead of him but who has been consistently outperformed in recent games. Splitter has actually managed to bridge the gap between the two in playing time and Blair has been relegated to a de-facto backup role as he's been seeing four fewer minutes on average than Splitter over the last two weeks. Blair has never been a strong Fantasy option, but he had started the season off strong and was looking like a legitimate starting option. Now that he's come back to earth, he's become the less-useful half of the platoon and shouldn't be relied on. He does not make a big enough impact when he's on the floor to make up for his lack of playing time.

Bust Alert: Emeka Okafor, Hornets (SAC, CHI, POR): Okafor has been a pleasant surprise this season from a Fantasy perspective, as he hasn't seen his production slip much in the aftermath of the Chris Paul trade. He has managed to remain a very useful No. 2 Fantasy option and his play put to rest any concerns about a platoon between himself and Chris Kaman. However, he's is still just a low-end No. 2 option as an offensively-limited big man, so you can get away with benching him against tough matchups. You wouldn't call Monday's game against the Kings that, but the later matchups against Chicago and Portland? Those are definitely tough games for him. He could find scoring even tougher to come by than usual against those stout frontlines and with just three games on the schedule, don't be afraid to look somewhere else if you've got the depth.

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Player News
Pacers recall Shayne Whittington from D-League affiliate
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(2:54 pm ET) The Pacers have recalled center Shayne Whittington from their D-League affiliate, the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, coach Frank Vogel announced Friday.

Vogel said Whittington's return is due to an injury to Lavoy Allen.

"He'll be our fifth big if Lavoy is out," Vogel said.

Whittington is averaging 2.0 points and 1.2 rebounds in 13 games for Indiana this year.


Bulls list Butler, Gibson as probable, Dunleavy questionable for Friday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(2:42 pm ET) Bulls guard Jimmy Butler (knee) and Taj Gibson (knee) are both listed as probable for Friday’s game against the Suns, the team announced.

Butler banged knees during Thursday’s game against the Lakers and was unsure of his status for Friday. Gibson played through a knee injury he suffered Tuesday in Thursday’s contest.

Mike Dunleavy is considered questionable after missing the last 15 games for Chicago with a foot injury.

The Bulls are currently 6 1/2-point underdogs against the Suns.


Pacers guard George Hill expected to come off the bench Saturday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(2:41 pm ET) Pacers coach Frank Vogel said Friday guard George Hill was able to participate fully in practice Friday, even though it was a light practice. Vogel will bring Hill in from off the bench in Saturday’s game against the Kings.

Hill has played 72 minutes over his last four games since coming back from injury and is averaging 12.8 points and 2.8 assists per contest.


Grizzlies coach Joerger still unsure of Mike Conley's status for Saturday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(2:40 pm ET) Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger told reporters Friday Mike Conley’s status for Saturday against the Thunder remains undetermined. Conley has missed the last two games for Memphis while dealing with a wrist injury he suffered Monday.

He is averaging 17.4 points and 5.6 assists in 42 games this season.


Marco Belinelli participates in practice, questionable for Saturday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(2:39 pm ET) Spurs guard Marco Belinelli was able to participate in 80 percent of practice Friday and is considered questionable for Saturday’s game against the Clippers, coach Gregg Popovich said Friday.

Belinelli, who is averaging 9.7 points and 2.8 rebounds in 29 games, has missed the last 10 games for San Antonio while dealing with a left groin strain.


Rockets' McHale expecting to be without Dwight Howard for awhile
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(2:38 pm ET) Rockets coach Kevin McHale doesn’t sound optimistic about the short-term future of center Dwight Howard.

"I don't anticipate him being here for a while, how long I don't know. We'll make do until he gets back," McHale said Friday.

Howard has been diagnosed with edema in his right knee and could miss an extended period of time with the injury. Howard is averaging 16.3 points and 11.0 rebounds per game.


Jonas Jerebko not looking to go back overseas to play next year
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(2:38 pm ET) Pistons forward Jonas Jerebko is set to become a free agent during the upcoming offseason, but he is not looking to head back across the Atlantic to play in 2015.

"No I’m in the NBA,” Jerebko told Basketball Insiders. "That’s it. I’m not even considering going overseas right now. The NBA is where I want to be. I want to stay in this league."

Jerebko is averaging 5.6 points and 3.2 rebounds in 42 games this season.

"Every year in the league has been up and down for me," Jerebko said. "But I’m trying to approach it the same way. I’m just trying to work hard and give it 100 percent every time I have a chance to get on the court. Now, it’s starting to pay off."


Pelicans' Anthony Davis unsure of status for Friday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(2:36 pm ET) Pelicans forward Anthony Davis is not sure if he will be able to play in Friday’s game against the Clippers. Davis said he will get more treatment before going on the floor to see how his injured groin feels.

Davis, who is averaging 24.5 points and 10.4 rebounds per game, strained his groin Wednesday and it is considered a "grade 1" strain.

The Pelicans are currently 6-point underdogs against the Clippers.


Blazers forward Nicolas Batum says he's playing Friday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(12:27 pm ET) Trail Blazers forward Nicolas Batum told reporters Friday during shootaround he is planning to play Friday against the Hawks.

Batum is dealing with a wrist injury, though he has played through it for the past few games. He is averaging 9.1 points and 5.2 rebounds per game.


Raptors' Casey: James Johnson 'understands' playing time situation
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(12:25 pm ET) Raptors forward James Johnson has seen his playing time rapidly decline since mid-January, as coach Dwane Casey has opted to start Greivis Vasquez alongside DeMar DeRozan and work to keep Terrence Ross' confidence up, according to the Toronto Sun.

Johnson hasn't played more than 9 minutes in the last six games and logged zero minutes in two of those contests. Still, the Raptors have won five of the last six games, and Casey said Johnson will eventually see his minutes increase again.

“He’s been great. He understands. I spoke to him briefly earlier, he understands that when DeMar came back, somebody’s minutes was going to decrease,” Casey said. “And it wouldn’t be fair to throw him out there for a few minutes just to say: ‘Hey, we got him in the game.’ His time is going to come. I don’t know when it’s going to come, but it’s going to come because we need his physicality on both ends of the floor. He gives teams matchup problems offensively. Defensively, he gives us that size and toughness that we need in the paint, rebounding that we need.”


 
 
 
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