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Week 10 Start 'Em and Sit 'Em

Fantasy Writer
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Knicks guard Jason Kidd has enjoyed a resurgent campaign in his first season in New York, posting the best shooting numbers of his career at age 39. Through the first 25 games, he is shooting 43.0 percent from the field, the second-best of his career, and 45.0 percent from three-point range, his best mark yet.

He has done most of that in a secondary role, but the Knicks will need more from him over the next few weeks with Raymond Felton out with a fractured pinky. The chance to play big minutes as a ball-handler gives Kidd the chance to be productive and makes him our Start of the Week for Week 10 (Dec. 31-Jan. 6).

Kidd responded to this new role with a 23-point game Wednesday against the Suns, with six rebounds and eight assists. I don't expect Kidd to sustain that kind of scoring moving forward, but if he is asked to be the team's primary ball handler, he should be capable of putting up very solid numbers. Kidd is a savvy play-maker despite his waning athleticism and he remains one of the premiere stat-sheet stuffers at the point guard position.

The Knicks have some pretty favorable matchups this week, as they take on the Trail Blazers and Spurs at home before going to Orlando. The Spurs and Trail Blazers both rank in the bottom half of the league in points allowed per game and Orlando's defense seems to be slipping since a strong start to the season. Kidd is no longer capable of putting up big scoring numbers on a consistent basis, but the Knicks' offense has been one of the best in the league and he should have no problems running it efficiently. Consider him a fine start for the coming week.

Guards

Start 'Em

Nate Robinson, Bulls (CHA, @ORL, @MIA): Robinson can be very tough to rely on in Fantasy, due to the sporadic nature of his production. Despite mediocre production, the Bulls continue to give Kirk Hinrich the larger share of the minutes at the point guard spot, reserving Robinson for the energy role off the bench. He has still been productive overall in those minutes, averaging 13.8 points in just 20.8 minutes over the last five games. Two of the Bulls' Week 10 opponents rank in the bottom half of the league in defense, and Robinson seems to thrive in games where the Bulls open things up a little more offensively. He is not always dependable, but Robinson can be useful in small spurts.

Darren Collison, Mavericks (@WAS, @MIA, NOH): With Derek Fisher's apparent -- and long overdue -- retirement, it appears as if the Mavericks are done jerking Collison around. Collison had a breakout game Thursday against the Thunder on national TV, dropping 32 points on just 22 shots. Collison is averaging 28.9 minutes per game over the last 10 games, and is putting up 12.8 points per night as a result. The Mavericks' Week 10 opponents all allow a below-average points-per-game total, but Collison's improved play makes him worth getting in the starting lineup -- he is only being started in 43 percent of all CBSSports.com leagues as of Friday.

Sleeper Alert: Garrett Temple, Wizards (DAL, @IND, BKN, @MIA): Temple has very little track record of success at the NBA level, averaging just 3.8 points and 1.1 assists in 52 career games. He was clearly the more effective of Washington's two point guard options in his first extensive action Friday night, as he played 35 minutes, as compared to Shelvin Mack's 14. It will be interesting to see whether the Wizards choose to ride with the hot hand, after Temple scored 13 points, with six assists and six rebounds, while leading the Wizards to a +22 scoring margin in his time on the floor. Temple could prove to be a D-League success story, and might be worth a look in deeper Fantasy leagues for Week 10, with four games on the way.

Sit 'Em

Austin Rivers, Hornets (ATL, @HOU, @DAL): To say Rivers has been a "work in progress" through the first 29 games of his rookie season would probably be the biggest understatement possible. The No. 10 overall pick in this year's draft is shooting just 35.2 percent from the field for the season, and has been unable to emerge as a consistent scoring threat for the Hornets. He was starting to play a bit better recently, averaging 10.2 points per game heading into play Friday, but he likely lost his place in the rotation with Eric Gordon's return to the floor. Gordon came off the bench in the first game, leaving Rivers in the starting lineup, but Gordon so badly outplayed Rivers that the rookie end up with just 13 minutes of playing time. It is still early in his career, so we cannot write Rivers off, but he is unlikely to be worth using in the short term.

Jason Terry, Celtics (MEM, IND, @ATL): Terry has been sporadically useful this season, but he has clearly lost a step at the age of 35. Over the last 10 games, Terry is shooting just 34.0 percent, and averaging 9.5 points despite playing 33.1 minutes per game. Against the right matchups, Terry can still get hot and put up solid numbers, but he is clearly no longer the instant-offense creator he once was. Boston is set to take on three of the top eight defenses in Week 10, so don't expect a resurgence for Terry here.

Bust Alert: Jose Calderon, Raptors (POR, SAC, OKC): Calderon has been wonderful recently, but the good times are likely at an end with Kyle Lowry back. Though Lowry came off the bench Friday, Calderon's struggles with Lowry active continued in his first game back; Calderon shot 1 of 5 from the field with two points, eight assists and six rebounds against the Hornets. The difference between Calderon's production with Lowry active and not has been stunning this season. In 13 games with Lowry out, Calderon is averaging 13.0 points and 11.2 assists per game; in the other 17 games, he puts up 8.0 points and 4.7 assists. Part of the difference is minutes played, but it is also clear that the Raptors have been unable to figure out a way to get the two point guards to work together. Even if Calderon stays in the starting lineup for the time being, the presence of Lowry makes it very tough to count on him.

Forwards

Start 'Em

Matt Barnes, Clippers (@DEN, @GSW, LAL, @GSW): Barnes is absolutely nobody's idea of an offensive playmaker, but he seems to care not for your perception of him recently. Despite scoring just three points Friday against the Jazz, Barnes is still averaging 14.4 points per game over the last five and 15.1 over the last 10. The bottom might fall out for Barnes at some point, a 7.5-points-per-game scorer of his nine NBA seasons, but he is worth riding when hot. Barnes thrives in transition offensively and the Clippers should have plenty of chance to run, against three of the six-fastest teams in the league in Week 10.

Martell Webster, Wizards (DAL, @IND, BKN, @MIA): Webster has been pressed into extensive duty as one of the few players capable of filling the small forward spot for the Wizards with Trevor Ariza out. He has done a decent job in doing so, averaging 9.5 points per game during the month of December while playing 31.5 minutes per game. Webster is not a big-time scorer, but he does have the ability to hit three-pointers, and he is also adding 5.1 rebounds per game in the last 10 games. He is more of a Rotisserie option, but Webster can be useful with four games on the schedule.

Sleeper Alert: Hakim Warrick, Bobcats (CHI, CLE, @DET): Warrick was a non-factor for most of the season since the Bobcats acquired him from New Orleans, but injuries have forced him into duty recently. After failing to record a double-digit scoring game in his first 12 appearances, Warrick has now poured in 18 and 13 points over the last two games, while averaging 32.0 minutes per game. The Bobcats are perilously thin at the power forward position, with Warrick representing the only option with any semblance of offensive ability. That might be damning with faint praise, but it does mean that Warrick should be in line for a solid number of minutes moving forward. The Bobcats begin play with the tough Bulls in Week 10, but matchups against Cleveland and Detroit should give Warrick the opportunity to produce.

Sit 'Em

Jason Maxiell, Pistons (SAC, ATL, CHA): Maxiell has been a solid option for the Pistons this season, averaging a career-high 8.0 points and 6.0 rebounds over the course of the first two months of the season. Unfortunately for the 29-year-old, the Pistons' future next to center Greg Monroe is starting to emerge, in the form of monstrous rookie big man Andre Drummond. Maxiell has been losing playing time as Drummond has improved, to the point where he is averaging just 20.6 minutes per game over the last five. Maxiell's production in that time (6.4 points, 4.2 rebounds) is more in line with his career norms, and makes him unattractive from a Fantasy perspective. With just three games on tap and the possibility for Drummond to continue breaking into his spot in the rotation, Maxiell is not recommended for the upcoming scoring period.

Lamar Odom, Clippers (DAL, @IND, BKN, @MIA): In recent chats as well as on twitter, I have received some questions about whether Odom has reach the point where he is worth starting, and I have to admit they've left me a bit incredulous. Odom has seen his minutes increase in the month of December, up to 23.2 per game. However, that is largely the result of the Clippers playing in so many blowouts during their 15-game winning streak. In games where the Clippers have won by 10 or fewer points during the streak, Odom is averaging 18.0 minutes per game, with just 4.0 points and 4.3 rebounds per game. Odom has worked his way back into something resembling game shape since falling on his face in the first month of the season, but he is just not worth relying on in Fantasy at this time.

Bust Alert: Carl Landry, Warriors (LAC, @LAC): After a hot start, Landry has leveled off recently. He is seeing plenty of minutes in the Warriors' smaller lineups, however his minutes have fallen off to 24.1 per game over the last 10 games. That drop in playing time is concerning heading into Week 10, as the Warriors play just two times, both against the surging Clippers. Landry remains worth starting in many Fantasy formats most weeks, but with just two games on the schedule, there is too much bust potential in using him.

Centers

Start 'Em

Robin Lopez, Hornets (ATL, @HOU, @DAL): Lopez is vying to become possibly the first player ever to improve as an offensive weapon after leaving a Steve Nash-led offense. Lopez has shown a reliable offensive game for the first time in his career this season, and he just seems to be getting better as the year has gone on. Lopez is averaging 18.8 points per game over the last five, on just 11.4 shots. The Hornets open Week 10 with a tough matchup against the Hawks, before heading on the road for what could be a pair of completely wide-open contests. Houston and Dallas rank 28th and 29th, respectively, in points allowed per game, so expect him to keep producing.

Sleeper Alert: Andre Drummond, Pistons (SAC, ATL, CHA): As I covered in the Maxiell section, Drummond has begun to come on strong. He can single-handedly end your week in the free-throw category in weekly Rotisserie formats, but he is starting to reach the point where he can overcome that deficiency in scoring formats. Over the last two weeks, Drummond ranks 24th among all center-eligible players in Fantasy scoring at 22.0 points per game. He is starting to parlay his ridiculous athleticism into production on both sides of the court, as he is averaging 9.4 points, 11.0 rebounds, 1.6 blocks and 1.2 steals per game over the last five. Drummond will have some ups and downs this season, as the 19-year-old learns the game, but he is worth riding while the wave is cresting.

Sit 'Em

Kosta Koufos, Nuggets (LAC, MIN, UTA, @LAL): Koufos had a nice run of games over the last week, averaging 14.0 points and 5.7 rebounds while scoring in double figures in three games in a row. That led to a small rush to grab Koufos, which I covered in my Waiver Wire analysis earlier in the week. Unfortunately for Fantasy owners who might have been looking to rely on Koufos, he faces a handful of tough frontcourts in Week 10, which could make things difficult for him to produce. Each of Denver's four opponents in the scoring period features at least one seven-footer and at least one player who grabs 10-plus rebounds per game. Koufos can be situationally useful in Denver's fast-paced offense, especially against overmatched front lines, but he might struggle to find room this week.

Bust Alert: Anderson Varejao, Cavaliers (SAC, @CHA, HOU): Relative to expectations and past performance, Varejao has been in the discussion for most valuable Fantasy players this season. He emerged as a double-double machine in the early going of the season, and he is averaging career highs of 14.1 points, 14.4 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game. When healthy, Varejao can be considered a must-start Fantasy option -- but that "when healthy" bit keeps following him around. Varejao has missed the last four games with a knee injury, and he told reporters Friday that he expects to miss another week of games. It looks like Varejao is going to miss at least the first game of the week, and he did not seem very optimistic about his chances moving forward. It hurts to keep a Fantasy stud out of the lineup, but a zero across the board hurts even more. Fantasy owners in leagues that set lineups on Monday might not want to take the risk of getting nothing from him.

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Player News
Omer Asik ready to clean up in return to starting role
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(9/17/2014) 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
(9/17/2014) 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
(9/17/2014) 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
(9/17/2014) 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
(9/17/2014) 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
(9/17/2014) 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
(9/17/2014) 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
(9/17/2014) 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
(9/17/2014) 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
(9/17/2014) 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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