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Week 8 Start 'Em and Sit 'Em

Fantasy Writer
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Things haven't been looking good in Cleveland recently after a hot start; rookie star Kyrie Irving sustained a concussion that cost him three games and Anderson Varejao now has a broken wrist that will cost him a significant chunk of the season as well, and the team has lost five of their last seven after a 99-84 loss to the Sixers.

However, a silver lining has emerged from that dark cloud and that is the work of backup point guard Ramon Sessions. He has no place in the Cavs' future plans with Irving on board, but he's done wonders for his trade value with his recent play, earning him the honors as the Start of the Week for Week 8 (Feb. 13-19.)

Sessions is starting in just 26 percent of leagues right now, however he's brought his game to another level recently, averaging 18.3 points and 12.3 rebounds per game in Irving's three missed games. Irving is expected to return when the Cavs pick up play for the scoring period on Wednesday, however coming off of a concussion and with how careful coach Byron Scott has been with his minutes all season, it's a good bet that Sessions will continue to see solid playing time.

Sessions is scoring 10.1 points per game with 5.7 assists this season and has even added a decent three-point shot to his repertoire, helping when he plays off the ball when Irving returns. Over the last week, Sessions has been the 12th best Fantasy guard in CBSSports.com standard scoring leagues, and while he certainly won't keep that up, he's worth starting in more than just the 26 percent of leagues he is currently being used in, so get him in the lineup, even with just three games on the slate.

Guards

Start 'Em

Jason Kidd, Mavericks (LAC, DEN, @PHI, @NY): Logically, it would be fair to say that Kidd, 38, should be totally washed up by now. Minor injuries have nagged at him all season, and his scoring has all but disappeared. However, call it veteran know-how or savvy, but he's actually looked pretty good in his two games since returning to the floor. He's basically useless as a scorer, so don't count on much more than six points from him, however he still remains an above average stat-sheet stuffer who plays four times in Week 8. With three matchups against subpar defensive opponents, Kidd should be able to lead the Dallas offense and, in his own creaky, crafty way, suffice as a viable starting Fantasy option.

Sleepers for Week 8
Player % Started
1. Nikola Pekovic, C, T'Wolves 58
2. Jared Dudley, G, Suns 37
3. Udonis Haslem, F, Heat 19
4. Trevor Ariza, F, Hornets 42
5. Ersan Ilyasova, F, Bucks 30
6. Jason Thompson, F, Kings 36
7. C.J. Watson, G, Bulls 4
8. Klay Thompson, G, Warriors 3
9. Brandon Rush, F, Warriors 8
10. MarShon Brooks, G, Nets 12

Arron Afflalo, Nuggets (PHO, @DAL, @MEM, @OKC): The Nuggets have been struggling lately as the injury bug has hit them hard, but you wouldn't know it by looking at what Afflalo has done recently. Afflalo, who has dealt with his own injury issues this season, has stepped up in the absence of Danilo Gallinari, scoring 20-plus points in back to back games on Thursday and Saturday while looking like a legitimate offensive threat in the Nuggets' wide-open offense. He is averaging 13.6 points per game over his last five contests and appears to have found a groove and has emerged as a solid scoring threat.

Sleeper Alert: Randy Foye, Clippers (@DAL, WAS, @POR, SA): When Chauncey Billups was lost for the season, the expectation was that Mo Williams would see the biggest gain in Fantasy value, however so far it's been Foye who has stepped up and into the starting lineup to fill Billups' absence. In three starts, Foye has scored in double digits in all three, averaging 12.3 points per game with five three-pointers made. Foye also had a five-game stretch early in the season where he started for Chris Paul and averaged 11.4 points per game, so he's shown he can score when he gets the opportunity. He's not going to give you a ton of production in other categories and he definitely needs to improve his shooting percentages, however with four games on the slate, he should be able to shoot enough times to make up for his lack of efficiency and be worth a start.

Sit 'Em

Roddy Beaubois, Mavericks (LAC, DEN, @PHI, @NY): It really seemed like Beaubois' long expected breakout was finally on the verge of happening, as he stepped into the starting role in Kidd's absence for a spell and started to look like the playmaker the Mavericks have been expecting. However, since Kidd's return on Friday, Beaubois hasn't even gotten off the bench in two games, with no report of any injury keeping him sidelined. That is a terrible sign for his Fantasy value moving forward, so don't look his way until the Mavs start doing so again.

Jeff Teague, Hawks (@LAL, @PHO, @POR): Teague is one of the more exciting young players in the NBA and is enjoying a breakout season after impressing with his play in the postseason last year. However, playing full-time minutes for the first time during a condensed schedule appears to have begun to take its toll on the 23-year old, as he's seen his assists per game numbers fall below three over the last five games, while he's shooting just 42.9 percent from the field. If he had better matchups, or if he was playing more than three times this week, you would be fine riding with him, however each of his three opponents are stingier defensively on their home court, so look for better options as he works through this rough stretch.

Bust Alert: Manu Ginobili, Spurs (@DET, @TOR, @LAC): Ginobili finally made his return to the floor on Saturday after a broken bone in his left hand cost him more than a month of the season, and he actually looked pretty good: eight points, four assists, one turnover in just 17 minutes. However, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich has never been shy about limiting his star player's minutes, and he won't be afraid to keep Ginobili on a short leash as he works back into playing shape following his hiatus. While I fully expect this to be the very last time Ginobili appears in this space, for just this week, expect his minutes to be limited, especially with a back-to-back on the schedule.

Forwards

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Start 'Em

Channing Frye, Suns (@GS, @DEN, ATL, @LAL, LAL): Frye has long had an extremely unique skill set; standing almost seven-feet tall, he shoots near 40 percent on three-pointers and blocks almost a shot per game for his career, two traits you don't often see together in the same package. He got off to a horrendous start to the season, however he has managed to turn it around and is being rewarded with an expanded role in the offense. In six games in February as of Saturday, he is averaging 13.3 points and has upped his shooting percentage to 44.3 percent, right in line with his career average. The Suns have been given a brutal schedule so far in the month, as they'll have played 12 games in 19 nights by the end of Week 8, however he hasn't shown signs of slowing down yet; he's just starting to heat up.

Corey Brewer, Nuggets (PHO, @DAL, @MEM, @OKC): Injuries have created plenty of opportunities for some less-heralded Nuggets to step in and begin producing. Brewer had missed three games following a personal tragedy but came back on Saturday and entered the starting lineup with a 19-point performance in 34 minutes. He's been extremely solid when given the opportunity, as he is averaging over 18 points per 36 minutes on the season. He was buried by the Nuggets depth early on in the season, but they should be leaning on him more often now that injuries have taken their toll, so Brewer should be able to top double digits on average as long as he's a major part of their offense.

Sleeper Alert: Tristan Thompson, Cavaliers (IND, MIA, SAC): Coming in as the No. 4 pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, Thompson has been exactly as advertised early in his NBA career; all defense, no offense. He's shooting just 42.4 percent on the season, a pitiful number for an athletic, slashing big man; however in just 17.9 minutes per game, he is grabbing 5.1 rebounds and blocking 1.2 shots. And in two starts since Varejao went down with a broken wrist, he has upped that to 11.5 rebounds and 2.5 blocks, numbers that should be expected as long as he can continue to get respectable minutes. He's a non-threat to score, however if you're in need of help in the defensive categories in a Rotisserie league, he'll definitely give you a plentiful supply.

Sit 'Em

Boris Diaw, Bobcats (PHI, @MIN, BOS, NJ): To call what the Bobcats are currently attempting to do when they have the ball "offense" is an affront to what actual NBA offenses do, and Diaw is a big part of what's gone wrong. Over the last 10 games the Bobcats have topped 90 points just once, and Diaw is shooting just 40.5 percent from the field in that period. While he's still putting up nice assist numbers for a big man at 3.9 per game his rebounding has fallen off a cliff, and he is showing no signs of turning that around. At this point, He is useful only in Rotisserie formats and with tough games against the physical front courts of Philadelphia, Minnesota and Boston looming, don't expect anything better.

Marvin Williams, Hawks (@LAL, @PHO, @POR): There was a point early on this season where it appeared as if Williams had turned the corner and emerged as a useful Fantasy option. However, he has topped double digits just once in the last six games and shows absolutely no consistency in his production from game to game. That's partially a result of his status as the No. 4 option in the Hawks' offense, but it's also because he's just not a very good player night in and night out. At this point he should be mostly relied upon only with good matchups, and this schedule just doesn't provide that.

Bust Alert: Brandon Bass, Celtics (DET, @CHI, @DET): Bass started off the season so well that it seemed like he was going to become a borderline must-start Fantasy option in most leagues. The Celtics' offense, however, has really struggled at many points this season, and there hasn't been a lot of room for Bass to operate. Because of that, Bass has reached the point where you need to matchup watch, picking and choosing when and where he's worth using to maximize his value. Two matchups against the Pistons would be a good place to go, but with just one game at Chicago on the schedule beyond those two games, Fantasy owners who have to set a lineup for a week will want to avoid him. Daily-league owners can get him in for the Pistons games, but avoid him against the tough Chicago front-line.

Centers

Start 'Em

Nikola Vucevic, 76ers (@CHA, @ORL, DAL, @MIN): Vucevic is just a rookie, and as such has had his share of rookie struggles, including some injury issues, however he's going to see his fair share of minutes this week with Spencer Hawes out until at least Friday. The rookie is actually producing pretty well on a per-minute basis, averaging 5.2 points, 4.7 rebounds and .7 blocks in just 15.3 minutes per game, so if he can maintain that level of production with the expected bump in minutes, he might be able to challenge for a nightly double-double. At the shallow center position, that would be enough to make him a viable Fantasy option, especially on a four-game schedule.

Sleeper Alert: Kosta Koufos, Nuggets (PHO, @DAL, @MEM, @OKC): Koufos was the third big-man in the Nuggets rotation for most of the season, however injuries have pushed him into the starting lineup and a bigger place in the Nuggets' immediate future. He has responded by upping his production, putting up 6.5 points and 6.5 rebounds in seven games during the month of February. With injuries to a number of centers around the league recently, you can pick up Koufos and hope that the 22-year old continues his upward trend.

Sit 'Em

Samuel Dalembert, Rockets (@MEM, OKC, MIN, UTA): For a two-week stretch from Jan. 13-28 everything clicked for Dalembert; he scored in double digits in seven of nine games, had double-digit rebounds just as often and was a menace protecting the rim, averaging 2.6 blocks per game. If that Dalembert ever decides to come back, by all means, get him in the starting lineup. The Dalembert you've been getting for the last two weeks has been blocking shots, and that's about it. He's shooting just 37.7 percent from the field over his last 10 games and hasn't scored or rebounded in double-digits since the calendar turned to February. With four of the NBA's toughest front courts on the slate in Week 8, Dalembert should be avoided in all Fantasy formats.

Bust Alert: Javale McGee, Wizards (@POR, @LAC, @UTA): At times it seems as if McGee is the only Wizard giving consistent effort, as they've sleepwalked to the NBA's worst record. He's a terror at the rim on both sides of the ball and is a threat to post a double-double every night. However, the dysfunction of the Washington offense as well as his own mental lapses has made him a question mark on a nightly basis. He's never going to totally disappear just based on pure ability, however with a road trip against tough front lines, don't be surprised if he disappoints some this week.

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Player News
Thunder guard Russell Westbrook explodes for triple-double
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(1:48 am ET) Thunder guard Russell Westbrook posted a triple-double on Thursday against the Suns.

Westbrook shot 12-38 from the field. He went just 1-10 from beyond the arc, though. Westbrook was able to make up for that by hitting 14 of his 16 free throw attempts. He finished with a team-high 39 points. Westbrook didn't do all the scoring himself. He made sure to involve his teammates, dishing out 11 assists. He also pulled down 11 rebounds, picking up his fourth triple-double this season.

Westbrook appeared to tweak his ankle late in overtime, but it did not appear to be serious. 


Suns' Eric Bledsoe just misses out on triple-double
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(1:44 am ET) Suns guard Eric Bledsoe just missed out on a triple-double on Thursday against the Thunder.

Bledsoe shot 11-16 from the field, including 2-3 from beyond the arc. He sunk four of his eight free throws, finishing with 28 points. Bledsoe was active on the boards, pulling down 13 rebounds. He also managed to get his teammates involved, dishing out nine assists. Bledsoe finished with four blocks and a steal during the contest.


Cavs' Kyrie Irving (shoulder) set for MRI, doubtful to play Friday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:16 am ET) Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving will not travel with the team Thursday, and he's scheduled for an MRI on his injured shoulder Friday, the team announced.

Irving is considered doubtful to play Friday against the Pacers on the road. However, it's possible he joins the team in Indianapolis after the team learns the results of his test. Irving suffered the injury Thursday but was able to return to the game, playing a team-high 38 minutes and scoring 24 points.

The Cavaliers are 4 1/2-point favorites Friday.


Rockets' Patrick Beverley returns to practice Thursday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(2/26/2015) Rockets point guard Patrick Beverley (illness) returned to practice Thursday, the Houston Chronicle reports.

"Pat feels better," coach Kevin McHale said. "He was not throwing up anymore. We didn’t do much. We went through our sets and got system shots up."

Beverley has missed the last two games due to flu-like symptoms. He's averaged 10.4 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.3 assists in 43 games.

The Rockets are 9-point favorites at home against the Nets Friday.


Rockets SG James Harden held out of practice Thursday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(2/26/2015) Rockets shooting guard James Harden sat out Thursday's practice due to a sprained left ankle, the Houston Chronicle reports.

"He’s swollen today and he’s sore today," coach Kevin McHale said. "I’ll see how he feels. He didn’t do anything today. He just iced it. We’ll see what 24 hours does."

Harden, who injured the ankle while stepping on an opposing player's foot in the fourth quarter of Wednesday's game, is listed as questionable to play Friday. He has averaged 27.2 points, 6.9 assists, 5.8 rebounds and 1.9 steals in 57 games.

The Rockets are 9-point favorites at home against the Nets Friday.


Cavaliers PG Kyrie Irving scores 24 vs. Warriors
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(2/26/2015) Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving scored 24 points on 6 of 17 shooting, incluidng 2 of 8 shooting from behind the arc, in his team's 110-99 win over the Warriors Thursday.

Irving also dealt with a shoulder issue in the game but was able to quickly return, playing a team-high 38 minutes in the win. However, he said after the game that the shoulder was a little sore, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports.

He also chipped in three rebounds, two steals and one assist Thursday. The Cavaliers will square off with the Pacers Friday.


Cavaliers SF LeBron James scores season-high 42 vs. Warriors
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(2/26/2015) Cavaliers small forward LeBron James put on a show Thursday, scoring a season-high 42 points on 15 of 25 shooting, including 4 of 9 shooting from behind the arc, in his team's 110-99 win over the Warriors.

James had managed just 37 points in his previous two games combined before Thursday's outburst, which bested his two 41-point efforts from earlier in the season. He also delivered his fifth double-double of the month by grabbing 11 rebounds, and he added five assists, three steals and one block in 36 minutes in the statement win over the team with the best record in the NBA.

James also dealt with a minor back issue in the win. "It tightened up a little bit," James said after the game, per the Associated Press. "It's a little tight right now. I'll get some treatment tonight and some more tomorrow."

The Cavaliers bring a four-game winning streak into Friday's matchup with the Pacers.


Warriors PF David Lee scores team-high 19 vs. Cavaliers
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(2/26/2015) Warriors power forward David Lee scored a team-high 19 points on 8 of 11 shooting in his team's 110-99 loss to the Cavaliers Thursday.

Lee took more than 10 shots in a game for the first time in nearly a month and delivered his highest scoring total in that same span with his efficient performance, but it wasn't nearly enough to counter a massive effort by Cavaliers SF LeBron James, who scored more points by himself (42) than any two Warriors players combined.

Lee also racked up four rebounds, two assists and one block in 21 minutes off the bench in the loss, his team's second in its last three games. The Warriors will look to get back on track Friday against the Raptors in Toronto.


Pelicans' Monty Williams: Norris Cole 'a bright spot'
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(2/26/2015) Pelicans coach Monty Williams said Thursday that newly-acquired point guard Norris Cole has been a bright spot for the team, which has won all three games since Cole came on board, NBA.com reports.

"Norris has been a bright spot for us because he brings some intangibles to the table," Williams said after practice Thursday. "He's played in really big games. Nothing fazes him. We're glad to have him."

The Pelicans valued Cole due to his reputation as a defender but have been surprised by his offensive capacity as well.

"I've always been able to play offense," Cole said. "It's just that with certain dynamics with teams, you're asked to play a certain way and I'm a team player, but I work on my (offense) a lot. I can put the ball in the hole."

Cole has averaged 12.7 points, 4.0 assists and 3.0 rebounds in his three games with the Pelicans while shooting 55.6 percent from the field.


Thunder's Kevin Durant begins light shooting Thursday
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(2/26/2015) Thunder forward Kevin Durant was able to do some light shooting before Thursday's game against the Suns, reports Suns.com.

Durant has been sidelined with a foot injury since Feb. 19 and he is expected to be reevaluated at the end of the month to determine when he can return to the court.


 
 
 
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