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Rotisserie specials for Week 7

by | Fantasy Writer
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Fantasy Week 7 (Dec. 10-16) represents the quarter point of the season as teams are approaching or will hit the 20-game mark.

While some of predictions and forecasts for players have played out just as expected, some have exceeded expectations or been major busts through the early part of the year. With the injuries starting to pile up, most teams and Fantasy owners have been scrambling to the waiver wire to try and plug up holes that have grown in their lineups. That is where we come in as we have once again gone through the upcoming week's schedule and matchups to compile our list of five players who are worth a look in Roto formats and the five players who should be avoided.

Find a place for 'em

Jordan Crawford, G, Wizards (@NO, @HOU, LAL, @MIA): Crawford did not get off to the best start this season as he averaged just 11.3 points on 33 percent shooting from the field over his first 11 games. However, the 24-year-old has picked up the pace in recent weeks and is a big reason why the Wizards are starting to play better. Crawford has scored in double figures in a season-best six straight games for the Wizards and is averaging 18.8 points on 46.2 percent shooting from the field over that stretch. He is also giving Fantasy owners 4.3 assists and 3.2 rebounds during his hot streak to go along with 1.5 treys per game. While Crawford continues to come off the bench in Washington, he could be in line to see a slight boost in playing time this week now that A.J. Price is sidelined with a broken hand. Shaun Livingston is the only healthy point guard on the roster right now, which means Crawford will be asked to run the point at various times. He also looks to have some favorable matchups on tap, which at the very least should allow him to maintain his current production. Fantasy owners should continue to ride Crawford's hot hand heading into the upcoming scoring period. (owned in 65 percent of leagues)

Rodney Stuckey, G, Pistons (@PHI, @DEN, @BKN, IND): Stuckey has been one of the bigger disappointments in all of Fantasy during the early part of the season as his numbers have been way down across the board. He got off to such a poor start this season that coach Lawrence Frank pulled him from the starting lineup after he averaged just 9.3 points and 4.3 assists over his first eight games on 28 percent shooting from the field. While Stuckey's production has remained fairly inconsistent off the bench, he has started to show signs of life over the past week or so. The 26-year-old has scored in double figures in four of his last eight games and is also chipping in with 6.8 assists, 3.0 rebounds and a steal per game during his hot streak. The Pistons have been so encouraged by his recent stretch that there have been whispers about possibly inserting him back into the starting lineup. While that likely won't happen in the upcoming scoring period, owners should feel free to get Stuckey active while he is turning in productive performances again. (owned in 71 percent of leagues)

Amir Johnson, F, Raptors (@POR, BKN, DAL, HOU): The Raptors are a complete mess right now and as the team continues to pile up the losses, coach Dwane Casey continues to tweak his rotation. While he has yet to make any permanent changes to the starting lineup, Johnson has seen some extra run over the past few contests. After averaging 19 minutes per game over his first 16 contests, Johnson has been seeing around 25 minutes over his last five games and has received 30-plus minutes twice over that stretch. Of course, more minutes usually translates into more production and Johnson has responded by scoring in double figures in four of his last five contests. He is averaging 10.4 points and 6.0 rebounds over his mini hot streak and is also giving Fantasy owners 1.8 assists and 1.2 steals during that stretch. Johnson also has the luxury of facing some fairly soft defenses in the upcoming scoring period as the Mavericks, Trail Blazers and Rockets are all ranked near the bottom of the pack in points allowed and opposition field-goal percentage. Even the Nets have been allowing teams to score at will of late, so owners looking for some help in the point, rebounding and field-goal percentage departments should consider rolling with Johnson in the upcoming scoring period. (owned in 14 percent of leagues)

Corey Brewer, F, Nuggets (@DET, @MIN, MEM, @SAC): While the Nuggets have fallen on hard times of late, Brewer has been one of the few players in Denver who has upped his production in recent weeks. The 26-year-old continues to serve as one of coach George Karl's super subs and enters Week 7 on a nice little hot streak. Brewer has scored in double figures in each of his last four contests and is averaging 16.2 points on 54 percent shooting from the field over his last five games. He is also chipping in with 3.2 rebounds and 1.8 steals during that stretch to go along with 1.5 treys per game. Brewer has always been considered a decent source for steals and 3-pointers for owners in Rotisserie formats but now that he is scoring the ball with more frequency, his value has been on the rise. He should be able to at least maintain his current production in that category this week as he looks to have some fairly soft matchups on tap. The Pistons and Kings rank near the bottom of most defensive categories in the league, while the Grizzlies and Timberwolves have had some recent issues defending the 3-point line. We recommend getting and/or leaving Brewer active this week. (owned in 31 percent of leagues)

Andray Blatche, C, Nets (NY, @TOR, DET, @CHI): Blatche has thrived since taking over for the injured Brook Lopez in the starting lineup and averaged a whopping 17.8 points and 9.8 rebounds over that stretch. The 26-year-old is shooting 53 percent from the field since the move to go along with 2.0 steals and 1.4 assists. While Blatche is scheduled to head back to his reserve role once Lopez returns to action, Brooklyn's opening-night starting center is still not ready to return to the floor. The Nets are hoping to get him back sometime later in Week 7, but with the team playing six games over nine days, including a back-to-back set this week, even coach Avery Johnson admitted that he may have to ease Lopez back into action. That should translate into more big-time minutes for Blatche, who has averaged 28 minutes since being tabbed a starter. With Lopez's return still very much in question and the possibility of him being used in a limited fashion even if he does return for the upcoming scoring period, owners should feel free to ride Blatche for at least one more week. (owned in 71 percent of leagues)

Put 'em on your bench

Jose Calderon, G, Raptors (@POR, BKN, DAL, HOU): Just like most of his Raptors' teammates, Calderon has been struggling mightily over the past few games. The 31-year-old has been thrust back into his reserve role since Kyle Lowry has returned from his injury and has had trouble adjusting to the move. In fact, Calderon has failed to score in double figures in each of his last four contests and is averaging just 6.4 points on 39 percent shooting from the field over that stretch. He has only notched five or more assists in two of his last seven games and has been seeing around 18 minutes of court time during his struggles. We mentioned coach Casey tweaking his rotation based on the team's poor results and it appears Calderon has fallen victim to that philosophy of late. Despite Toronto's fairly favorable schedule this week and Calderon's track record, we recommend leaving the veteran reserved for the upcoming scoring period. (owned in 79 percent of leagues)

Kirk Hinrich, G, Bulls (LAC, @PHI, BKN): Hinrich was a popular pick by some to be in line for a bounce-back campaign with the Bulls this season, but that hasn't happened thus far. The 31-year-old has really struggled in his first year back with the Bulls and enters Week 7 averaging a putrid 6.6 points per game on 37 percent shooting from the field. However, Hinrick is still dishing out a respectable 5.6 assists on the season and looked like he was starting to turn a corner a bit. Hinrich was shooting 47 percent from the field over his previous four games and got off to a red-hot start against the Knicks last Saturday night before leaving with an elbow injury. While the Bulls are saying he should be fine moving forward, Hinrich's newest injury along with his very tough upcoming schedule makes him a risky play this week. The NBA is all about matchups and Hinrich will have three tough ones on his plate this week with the Clippers, 76ers and Nets on tap. That means Hinrich will have to match up against two of the league's top point guards in Chris Paul and Deron Williams and Jrue Holiday is definitely a young player whose stock is on the rise. With a slew of tough games on the docket and Hinrich a little banged up, this looks to be a good week to leave him reserved .(owned in 46 percent of leagues)

Harrison Barnes, F, Warriors (@CHA, @MIA, @ORL, @ATL): While the Warriors are in the midst of playing their best basketball of the season, Barnes appears to have hit the dreaded rookie wall. The 20-year-old has scored in double figures in just two of his last nine games and is shooting 35 percent from the field over that stretch. He is still chipping in with 4.8 rebounds and 2.0 assists during his cold streak but is also starting to lose some minutes of late. While Barnes continues to earn starts, coach Mark Jackson has been leaving him on the bench later in contests, instead opting to go with a smaller lineup. Still, the Warriors remain very high on the rookie and are not going to pull the plug on him after a nine-game rough patch, though that doesn't mean Fantasy owners should follow suit. Despite what looks to be another favorable schedule on tap against the defensively challenged Bobcats, Heat, Magic and Hawks, Barnes' poor production is actually doing more harm than good for most owners right now. Leave him reserved for the upcoming scoring period. (owned in 72 percent of leagues)

Derrick Favors, F, Jazz, (@POR, BKN, DAL, HOU): Favors continues to be plagued with a plantar fasciitis injury and has missed Utah's last five games due to the ailment. While he is expected to return to the lineup sometime near the beginning of Week 7, owners should think twice before getting him active. Plantar fasciitis has a tendency to be a recurring type of injury and the Jazz will likely ease the 24-year-old back into action. That will likely limit Favors' minutes in a week where he may end up already missing a game or two. Favors was averaging a solid 8.9 points and 7.5 rebounds over his last eight games prior to his injury, but was only seeing 21 minutes per game over that stretch. Coach Tyrone Corbin has been very inconsistent with his distribution of Favors' minutes prior to his injury as well, which was driving most Fantasy owners crazy. While Favors looks to be on the verge of getting back on the court, owners should wait until he proves healthy and productive again before getting him active. Leave him stashed in the upcoming scoring period. (owned in 80 percent of leagues)

Marcin Gortat, C, Suns, (MEM, UTA): Gortat got off to a red-hot start this season as he averaged a solid 11.7 points, 10.2 rebounds and 3.4 blocks over the first eight games. However, the 28-year-old has turned into a model of inconsistency since then as he has seen a major drop in production of late. Gortat has failed to score in double figures in four of his last eight games and is putting up a much less productive 9.6 points and 6.0 rebounds over that stretch. He is only attempting six field goals per game during his cold spell, which is well below the 8.7 attempts he has been averaging for the entire season. Gortat clearly doesn't look like his normal self of late and only has two games on the docket this week against the Grizzlies and Jazz. Gortat scored just one point and had eight rebounds in his lone meeting against Utah this season and scored only 11 points and seven rebounds in an earlier meeting against Memphis. While Gortat should be able to bounce back eventually, we recommend leaving the Polish Hammer on the bench for the upcoming scoring period. (owned in 99 percent of leagues)

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Player News
Omer Asik ready to clean up in return to starting role
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(5:39 pm ET) Last season was a rough one for Omer Asik, who had to deal with returning to a reserve role after really shining as a starter the previous year. He should be much happier with his role this season, as the Pelicans acquired him this offseason with the intention of installing him as the starting center.

The Pelicans should have a fearsome frontcourt with Asik starting next to Anthony Davis, and Davis' presence should free Asik up to do the kind of work he excels at. Asik isn't a great offensive player, but he can be a dominant offensive rebounder, and should have many chances to clean up the boards with teams keying in on Davis offensively. Among players who have logged at least 5,000 minutes in the NBA, Asik is 22nd all-time in offensive rebounding percentage.

Asik had trouble staying healthy last season, but that was the first time he had ever missed a regular-season game in his career, so we can probably write that off as a fluke. He averaged a double-double with 1.1 blocks per game in 30.0 minutes per game two years ago, and should be capable of similar production as he returns to a starting role.

Asik should be viewed as a starting Fantasy option this season, though he may not have the upside of some other younger centers at this point. 


Tobias Harris' Fantasy value a mystery at this point
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(5:00 pm ET) Perception is a funny thing. Just ask Magic forward Tobias Harris, who enjoyed by far the most productive season of his career in 2013-14 but was somehow viewed as a Fantasy disappointment.

Part of that stemmed from Harris' issues with availability, as he missed 20 games and got off to a slow start to the season as a result. It really took until January for Harris to find his stride, but he averaged 15.2 points and 7.1 rebounds per game from Jan. 1 on, without missing a contest.

Harris was probably better than the general perception of him a year ago, but the power of expectations hurt him. And now he enters his fourth season as something of a career crossroads, and it is hard to say just how Fantasy owners should approach him this season.

The Magic added Channing Frye and Aaron Gordon to the roster this season, further confusing what was already one of the most crowded frontcourts in the league. Harris can play both forward spots, but he is probably best used as a small-ball power forward; the presence of Frye, one of the league's elite stretch-fours certainly complicates matters for Harris, then.

At just 22, Harris still has a world of potential ahead of him. However, he probably profiles best as a reserve Fantasy option heading into the season, given concerns about his role.   


Hype may be too high for Giannis Antetokounmpo
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(4:41 pm ET) No matter what he accomplishes in his second NBA season, Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo is likely to be a historical outlier, given his age. The question is, how much of a leap can the now-20-year-old take next season.

Only 15 players in NBA history have logged as many minutes in a single season as a teenager as Antetokounmpo's 1,897, so he is occupying fairly rarified air already. His age is a big part of why he is considered a big-time breakout prospect for Fantasy purposes, but he has a long way to go from a statistical standpoint.

Antetokounmpo was good for a 19-year-old rookie, but his season averages of 6.8 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game left a lot to be desired. It is easy to dream about a Antetokounmpo taking a big step forward, but that next step is never guaranteed -- for every Anthony Davis there is a Michael Kidd-Gilchrist whose development follows a slower, less linear path. 

Antetokounmpo was very good -- for a 19-year-old. However, Fantasy owners don't get extra points, rebounds or assists if the degree of difficulty is higher, so you are betting on Giannis taking a huge step forward at the age of 20. Antetokounmpo has become something of an internet darling, and his play in Summer League and the FIBA World Cup dominated much of the offseason discussion, which only helped build the hype to potentially unsustainable levels. 

He is a lottery ticket, for sure, but he is one that might not be worth the cost at this point. 


Improved jump shot all Jimmy Butler needs
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(3:51 pm ET) Bulls guard Jimmy Butler had the breakout season many expected from him a year ago, but there were still plenty of flaws apparent in his game as he finished his third NBA season. With a better team around him, Butler just might have enough help to vault him to stardom.

Butler's jump shot abandoned him last season, especially after a toe injury forced him to miss 11 games in November and December. He was shooting 43.7 percent from the field and 38.5 percent from three-point range prior to the injury, but connected on just 39.3 percent of his shots overall and 27.1 percent from three-point range from that point on.

We can blame Butler's season-long shooting slump on the injury or his increased offensive role, but he should have neither excuse available for him this season. Butler should be healthy, and the Bulls added plenty of offensive firepower this offseason, in the form of Pau Gasol and Doug McDermott, not to mention a hopefully healthy Derrick Rose. Butler took 154 shots off the dribble last season, per Stats.NBA.com, and made just 30.7 percent of them. With a better team around him, Butler should get many more opportunities to shoot with his feet set.

Butler has the skill set to be a tremendously efficient offensive player, given how often he bullies his way to the free-throw line. Last season, Butler filled up the box score extremely well, but his poor shooting limited his Fantasy value somewhat. If a new role helps his efficiency, he could be one of the very best guards in the league in category-based formats. 


Lance Stephenson set for bigger role in new setting
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(3:02 pm ET) Though there were fits and starts, Lance Stephenson finally began to live up to his considerable promise last season. Now in a new home in Charlotte, will Stephenson take another step forward in 2014-15?

By the end of last season, the Pacers were a mess, and Stephenson caught plenty of the blame for that. Still, he might have been arguably the team's most consistent player throughout the season, averaging between 25.8 and 29.7 Fantasy points per game from before and after the All-Star break as well as the playoffs. For as much of a mess as that team was, Stephenson emerged as something of a rock, at least for Fantasy purposes.

The Hornets are actually built in a somewhat similar way to the Pacers, so there wont' be much of a stylistic shift for Stephenson to get used to. Per MySynergySports.com, 11.8 percent of the then-Bobcats' possessions ended in post-ups, actually down from the 13.2 percent mark the Pacers' posted. Stephenson struggled at times with his post-entry passing, though his off-target feeds might find their mark more often when being lobbed in to the soft hands of Al Jefferson, as opposed to Roy Hibbert.

The Hornets might lean even more heavily on Stephenson than the Pacers did, since Indiana liked to spread the ball around with their starting five. The Hornets, on the other hand, look to be extremely top-heavy, and Stephenson will get plenty of chances to be the second or third option. We have him projected for 29.1 Fantasy points per game, and consider Stephenson a borderline top-50 Fantasy option for this season.  


Move to Houston won't alter Trevor Ariza's trajectory
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(2:09 pm ET) Trevor Ariza parlayed a career-year into a lucrative free-agency contract with the Rockets this offseason -- stop me if you've heard this story before.

Ariza was largely a disappointment in his first stint with the Rockets, though it did lead him to the best per-game numbers of his career. Still, Ariza was obviously miscast as a primary offensive option the last time he was in Houston, and that won't be a problem this time around.

Ariza joins a Rockets team with two established stars, and will likely spend much of his time trying to fill the departed Chandler Parsons' role. That should suit him nicely, as Ariza has just enough of an off-the-bounce game to serve as the team's third ballhandler when the shot clock gets deep. Ariza attempted 11.1 field-goal attempts per game last season, and should see a boost given Parsons' role; he attempted 13.3 shots per game.

Ariza's improved three-point shot seems legitimate, as he is shooting 38.6 percent from long range over 738 attempts since 2012. However, he will no longer have John Wall feeding him for juicy corner 3-pointers; Wall to Ariza was the league's most productive corner-three combination last season. His shooting numbers may take a hit with his move.

Even acknowledging the loss of Wall's help, we know the Houston offense is set up to get every player the most efficient shots possible, so Ariza shouldn't see much of a dip in his efficiency. His ability to fill up the box score makes him a perfect No. 2 option at forward in category-based leagues, especially now that he is a high-volume shooter. 


Despite new role, don't write off Isaiah Thomas entirely
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(12:28 pm ET) Suns guard Isaiah Thomas might see one of the biggest dropoffs in his Fantasy value from last season to this, as he joins the crowded Suns' backcourt.

The Suns might have three All-Star caliber guards in the backcourt now, with Thomas likely to backup Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe this season. That should put a serious dent in Thomas' value; Thomas finished 13th in Fantasy scoring among guards a year ago, but is projected to finish just 43rd this season.

Still, Thomas is definitely someone you'll want to add to your team when drafting, and almost certainly before the rest of the No. 4-type guards he is grouped with. Thomas is likely to see his numbers fall off from the 20.3 points and 6.3 assists he averaged a year ago, at least at first. However, it wouldn't be a surprise to see him end up starting upwards of 25 games throughout the year, given Bledsoe's injury-proneness. Bledsoe has missed at least 25 games in two of the last three seasons for knee issues.

Thomas probably profiles as more of a bench option for Fantasy purposes next season, but you'll be targeting him much earlier than nearly any other reserve. His upside as a handcuff option for either Bledsoe or Dragic is sky-high, and will make him well worth your attention on Draft Day. 


Eric Gordon cleared for contact
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(11:34 am ET) Pelicans guard Eric Gordon has been cleared to take part in full-contact offseason drills ahead of training camp, The Times-Picayune reports.

Gordon underwent season-ending knee surgery last April, but is expected to be ready for the start of the regular season. 


Jrue Holiday cleared for contact ahead of camp
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(11:26 am ET) Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday was able to participate in full-contact offseason drills last week, the first time he has done so since undergoing season-ending surgery last January.

"Getting out playing has been a joy," Holiday told The Times-Picayune. "I've been running and jumping and stuff, but getting my rhythm back on the court is definitely a big thing right now for me."

The Pelicans open training camp Sept. 30, and Holiday is not expected to have any limitations as the team prepares for the start of the season. Holiday averaged 14.3 points, 7.9 assists and 1.6 steals per game last season prior to the injury.


Kent Bazemore focused on conditioning in recovery
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(11:18 am ET) Newly signed Hawks guard Kent Bazemore did not pick up a basketball until August, preferring to focus on conditioning in his recovery from foot surgery in April.

"I think the injury was definitely a blessing," he told the Daily Press, "because I was able to step away from the game of basketball. I took myself out of my element all summer. I did stuff I'm not used to doing."

Bazemore signed a two-year deal with the Hawks this offseason, and is expected to compete for playing time on the wing immediately, as he is fully recovered from the surgery. 


 
 
 
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