Championship Week has finally arrived for the majority of Fantasy leagues and if you have been one of the lucky ones to make it this far, a congratulations is in order. However, there is still some work to be done as making it to the final round is only half the battle.
There are 60 games on tap for Fantasy Week 16 (April 9-15), making the next seven days one of the busiest scoring periods of the season. Four teams are slated to play five times over the next seven days, but there are only 29 sets of back-to-backs as the schedule continues to balance itself out over the final month of the season.
One of the five teams slated to play five games this week is the Boston Celtics, which is the team we have chosen to feature this week.
Boston is one of the few teams that has yet to play a back-to-back-to-back set this season, but that will come to end during Week 16. The Celtics will take the court five times over this period with four of those contests coming on the road. Paul Pierce and Co. will be challenged right out of the gate as they face the Heat and Hawks to open the week on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively. After a day off, the Celtics will partake in their first triple set of the year, starting Friday night at Toronto. Boston will then take on the Nets on Saturday night in New Jersey before closing things out against the Bobcats on Sunday.
Playing five games over a seven-day stretch is never an easy task, especially when three of those games will be played on three consecutive days in three different cities. However, if one was forced to play a triple set, the Raptors, Nets and Bobcats would be three teams that would definitely be on the list of clubs to face. New Jersey and Charlotte both rank near the bottom of the pack in points allowed and opposition field-goal percentage and Boston had little problem putting up points against the Raptors during their earlier meetings this season.
Look for depth and fatigue to play a factor this week with so many games crammed into such a small window, which may force coach Doc Rivers to utilize his bench early and often in some of these matchups. That should result in some of Boston's mid-and lower-end options seeing some extra minutes this week. In addition to must-starts Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo and Pierce, owners should make sure to get Ray Allen and Brandon Bass active in the majority of formats. Even Avery Bradley and Greg Stiemsma deserve some consideration in deeper formats.
Atlantic: Philadelphia 76ers (@NJ, @TOR, NJ): The 76ers are one of three teams slated to play three times during Week 16, but will only face two different clubs over the next seven days. Philadelphia will take on the Nets in New Jersey on Tuesday night before traveling up to Canada to face the Raptors on Wednesday. After a day off, the 76ers will be back home playing host to the Nets on Friday night, which will be the second time coach Doug Collins' squad will face New Jersey during the scoring period. While most of Philadelphia's Fantasy options have been really struggling of late, this looks to be a great week for some of them to get back on track. The Nets have been dreadful on defense this season and are allowing an average of 98.6 points per game while letting their opponents shoot a league-worst 48 percent from the field. The Raptors are not nearly as bad statistically, but have had plenty of their own defensive issues of late thanks in part to the make-shift lineup they have been throwing on the floor over the past few weeks. Despite their recent struggles, Fantasy owners can view Elton Brand, Lou Williams, Spencer Hawes and Thaddeus Young as quality starts in the majority of formats this week along with must-start options Andre Iguodala and Jrue Holiday.
Central: Cleveland Cavaliers (CHA, IND, @IND, @WAS, ORL): The Cavaliers have fallen on hard times over the past few weeks as they have been really hit hard by injuries. However, Cleveland won't have much time to sit around feeling sorry for itself as it is one of four teams slated to play five times during Week 16. The Cavaliers open the period with a pair of home games against the Bobcats and Pacers on Tuesday and Wednesday night respectively, before embarking on a back-to-back-to-back set starting Friday at Indiana. Cleveland will then face the Wizards in Washington on Saturday night before closing out the week at home against the Magic. Despite all the injuries and losses that have mounted in recent weeks for the Cavaliers, there are still some Fantasy options on the roster worth starting this week. Obviously Kyrie Irving should remain active -- if he is healthy enough to play -- but Tristan Thompson, Alonzo Gee and Antawn Jamison have all been producing for the Cavaliers in recent weeks. Fantasy owners can consider the three after mentioned players all viable options worthy of starting in most formats this week.
Southeast: Charlotte Bobcats (WAS, @CLE, DET, @MIA, BOS): The Bobcats seem destined for another last-place finish this season, but still have to play out the remaining 12 games on their schedule. Five of those contests will be played during Week 16 as Charlotte is one of four teams slated to play five times over the next seven days. The Bobcats will open the period against the Wizards on Monday night before heading up to Cleveland to face the Cavaliers on Tuesday. After a day off, Charlotte will embark on its second back-to-back set of the scoring period against the Pistons on Thursday and Heat on Friday before closing out the week at home against the Celtics on Sunday. While the losses have continued to pile up for the Bobcats in recent weeks, there are some very usable Fantasy options owners should consider using this period. Rookie Kemba Walker has played well since being handed over the starting reigns from coach Paul Silas, and so has center Bryon Mullens. However, Mullens and Walker are the only two options we would recommend rolling with this week as injuries and lineup changes have made the rest of the Bobcats risky options at this point in the season.
Northwest: Denver Nuggets (GS, MIN, @LAL, HOU): The Nuggets are slated to play four times during Week 16 with three of those contests coming at home. Denver will open up with a pair of home games against the Warriors on Monday and Timberwolves on Wednesday, respectively before heading out to Los Angeles to face the Lakers on Friday night. The Nuggets will host the Rockets on Sunday, closing out what looks to be a very favorable schedule for Denver. Both the Warriors and Timberwolves are ranked in the bottom of the league in points allowed this season, while the Rockets are not too far behind as they are allowing nearly 98 points per game. The Lakers are actually considered one of the better defensive teams, but Los Angeles has shown some cracks in its armor of late and have surrendered more than 100 points in four of its last five contests. That should bode well for a Nuggets' squad who should get a boost with Danilo Gallinari expected to return to the lineup this week. In addition to must-start Ty Lawson, owners should make sure to get Gallo active if he is healthy enough to return to the lineup. Andre Miller, Arron Afflalo and Al Harrington can also be considered viable options in most formats this week, as well as JaVale McGee. However, Wilson Chandler's questionable health and the return of Gallinari make Chandler an extremely risky play this scoring period.
Southwest: Memphis Grizzlies (LAC, PHO, @SA, UTA, @NO): The Grizzlies played five times during the last scoring period and now will take the floor five more times during Week 16. Memphis will open the period at home against the Clippers on Monday before hosting the Suns on Wednesday. The Grizzlies will then be in San Antonio on Thursday before closing out the week against the Jazz on Friday and the Hornets on Sunday night in New Orleans. That will conclude a grueling stretch of 10 games over 14 days for the Grizzlies, so depth and fatigue will once again play a factor this week. Coach Lionel Hollins will look to his bench early and often in some of these matchups, making some of Memphis' mid-and low-end options a bit more valuable this week. Despite some tough matchups on the docket, Fantasy owners should make sure to get O.J. Mayo and Tony Allen -- if healthy – active this week in addition to must-starts Rudy Gay, Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol and Mike Conley. Even Marreese Speights deserves some consideration in deeper formats.
Pacific: Los Angeles Lakers (@NO, @SA, DEN, DAL): The Lakers are slated to play four times during Week 16 with two of those contests coming at home. However, Los Angeles will begin the week on the road, starting Monday night in New Orleans. The Lakers will then be in San Antonio to face the Spurs the Wednesday before returning home to face the Nuggets and Mavericks on Friday and Sunday, respectively. While the Lakers look to have some difficult matchups on tap over the next seven days, things could get even tougher if Kobe Bryant is unable to suit up. Bryant is dealing with tenosynovitis of the left shin, which can be considered a very severe shin bruise in layman's terms. Fantasy owners should keep in mind that Kobe has only missed one game since the conclusion of the 2009-10 season, so for him to take himself out of the lineup last weekend should tell you all you need to know about how painful his injury is. The Lakers are saying the only way for the 33-year-old's injury to improve is for Bryant to rest, so there is a very good chance he sits a few games this week, making him a huge injury risk for the upcoming period. While we recommend keeping a close eye on his status moving forward, Bryant clearly won't be at 100 percent even if he is able to get back on the court over the next few days. For that reason, owners should consider Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum and Ramon Sessions as the only options that look like sure bets for the Lakers this week.