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Rotisserie specials for Week 20

by | Fantasy Writer
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Injuries continue to take a toll on Fantasy owners as more and more players start to break down near the end of the year.

However, when a player goes down with an injury, another steps up in his place, which sometimes results in a huge boost in Fantasy value. Amir Johnson is the player who we think has the chance to make one of the bigger impacts in Fantasy Week 20 (March 11-17) thanks to Andrea Bargnani going down with another injury. Bargnani sprained the same right elbow that cost him 27 games earlier in the year last Friday against the Lakers and could be out a significant amount of time once again. That means Johnson will get another chance to start at power forward for the Raptors, which should be a welcome sight for Fantasy owners.

Johnson has thrived as a starter this season, averaging 13 points and 9.4 rebounds when he is in the starting five, compared to just 8.5 points and 6.0 rebounds when he comes off the bench. That is probably why Johnson -- who is owned in 90 percent of CBSSports.com standard formats -- was only active in 64 percent of those leagues heading into the upcoming scoring period as he was moved back to the bench in favor of Bargnani just prior to Week 19 (March 4-10). However, the 25-year-old still put up 15 points, 7.7 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in his three games coming off the bench, so even if Bargnani miraculously is able to return sooner than anticipated, owners should still be able to get some solid performances out of Johnson this week. While Johnson certainly doesn't look to have the most favorable matchups on tap this week, he has been productive enough against all three of his upcoming opponents this season to warrant getting active.

Find a place for 'em

Kyle Korver, G, Hawks (@MIA, LAL, PHO, @BKN): Korver has been on a bit of a down trend lately as he has struggled with his shot since returning to the lineup from a toe injury. He has failed to score in double figures in each of his last three games and is averaging just 6.3 points over that span, while shooting 27 percent from downtown. However, he has played fairly well against all four of his upcoming opponents this week, which could help him get right back on track. In fact, Korver has averaged 11.5 points in his two meetings against the Heat this season while shooting a whopping 58.3 percent (7 of 12) from downtown. He also poured in 16 points in his lone meeting against the Lakers and went for 17 points, eight rebounds, two assists and two blocks against the Suns just a day earlier. Despite scoring just seven points in his last game versus the Nets, Korver is still averaging 9.7 points in his three meetings against them this season and continues to see 30-plus minutes most nights, even though he has been shuffled in and out of the starting lineup. Fantasy owners should consider getting Korver active this week. (owned in 72 percent of leagues)

Marco Belinelli, G, Bulls (@SAC, @GS): Bellinelli's first year with the Bulls has been a bit up and down, but that is the way most of the 26-year-old's seasons have gone during his career. However, the one place Belinelli has thrived has been the starting lineup. The sixth-year guard has played well when he cracks the starting five as he entered Sunday's contest against the Lakers averaging 15.3 points on 43 percent shooting as a starter compared to just 9.6 points on 37 percent as a reserve. With Richard Hamilton sidelined with back spasms, Belinelli has been seeing starts at shooting guard and has scored 20-plus points in three of his last five contests. He is averaging 20.1 points and 4.0 assists during his latest run while connecting on 63 percent of his 3-point attempts. Hamilton did not travel with the Bulls during their current three-game road trip, which means more starts for Belinelli. While the Bulls are only scheduled to play twice during Fantasy Week 20, those matchups are against the defensively challenged Warriors and Kings. Fantasy owners looking for help in the scoring and 3-point departments this week should consider taking a flier on Belinelli, despite his light schedule. (owned in 21 percent of leagues)

Tobias Harris, F, Magic (@PHI, SAC, HOU, MEM): As most owners are well aware by now, Harris has taken off since being dealt to the Magic and has been one of the most popular pickups off the waiver wire in recent weeks. While we always knew Harris had upside, his lack of playing time in Milwaukee limited his opportunities. However, that hasn't been the case in Orlando as Harris has averaged 27.8 minutes per game -- mostly in a reserve role -- during his brief time with the Magic. He has responded by averaging 15.5 points on 53 percent shooting from the field and 5.3 rebounds over his first eight games to go along with 1.3 assists and one block. Harris' strong play has now earned him a spot in coach Jacque Vaughn's starting lineup as he made his second straight start at small forward against the Cavaliers last Sunday. While Harris did struggle in his first start against the Pacers last Friday, the 20-year-old has only logged 78 games in his NBA career, so he likely will take a few lumps most nights. Still, Harris' recent play, move into the starting lineup and far-from-daunting upcoming schedule are all reasons enough to get him active this week. (owned in 76 percent of leagues)

Kawhi Leonard, F, Spurs (OKC, @MIN, DAL, CLE): Leonard told reporters a few weeks back that he will likely have to deal with the tendinitis in his left knee for the remainder of the season, but you wouldn't realize it by looking at his recent numbers. The 21-year-old has been asked to take on a larger role with all the injuries the Spurs have been dealing with of late and he has responded by averaging 14.8 points over his last six games. He is shooting 50.8 percent from the field over that stretch to go along with 5.5 rebounds, 2.3 rebounds and 1.7 steals, which keeps Rotisserie owners happy. Now he looks to have some favorable matchups on tap this week, which should allow him to maintain his productive ways. While Leonard struggled in his lone meeting against the Thunder earlier in the year, he has averaged 10.7 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.7 assists in his three meetings against the Mavericks, and posted a double-double in each of his last meetings versus the Timberwolves and Cavaliers. He is only active in 40 percent of all CBSSports.com leagues heading into Week 20, so owners looking for help at forward this week should feel free to use him. (owned in 82 percent of leagues)

Kosta Koufos, C, Nuggets (@PHO, NY, MEM): Koufos continues to consistently post solid numbers for the Nuggets thanks to his red-hot shooting. The 24-year-old entered Week 20 connecting on a career-best 60.9 percent from the field and he has made at least 57 percent of his shots in each of his last eight contests. Koufos is averaging 8.9 points, 7.3 rebounds and one block over that span on 68.1 percent shooting from the field and now looks to have a few favorable matchups on tap this week. While the Grizzlies and Knicks are two of the better teams at protecting the paint, Koufos has been able to get his numbers against them. The 7-footer has averaged 7.8 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.0 blocks in his three games against Memphis thus far and he finished with 8.0 points, 6.0 rebounds in 3.0 blocks in his lone meeting against New York. He will also get to face the Suns this week, who are allowing 43.6 points in the paint per game and don't have a true center right now as Marcin Gortat is out with an injury and Jermaine O'Neal remains away from the team due to personal reasons. While Koufos doesn't post the gaudy stat lines that some of his peers do, his recent production has been good enough to continue to roll with him as a viable low-end option at the thin center position this week.(owned in 39 percent of leagues)

Put 'em on your bench

Patrick Beverley, G, Rockets (PHO, MIN, GS): Beverley raised a few eyebrows a few weeks backs when he averaged 9.8 points, 3.4 rebounds, 3.2 assists and one steal during a five-game stretch when Toney Douglas was first shipped off to the Kings at the trade deadline. However, the rookie has hit a serious wall since then that has many wondering if he is still worth owning. The 24-year-old has been shutout in each of Houston's last three games as he has missed on each of his last eight field-goal attempts. He did still manage to put up 4.3 assists during his scoring drought, but Beverley's lack of scoring has forced coach Kevin McHale to give veteran Francisco Garcia some minutes of late. While the Rockets due look to have some favorable matchups on tap this week against the defensively challenged Suns and reeling Warriors, Fantasy owners should stay clear of Beverley this week. (owned in three percent of leagues)

Jordan Crawford, G, Celtics (@CHA, TOR, CHA): After going from a starter to bench warmer in Washington, some felt Crawford being traded to the Celtics could help him regain his old Fantasy form. However, that has been anything but the case thus far. While Crawford is playing for coach Doc Rivers, he has yet to log more than 17 minutes in a single game and has only scored in double figures in two of his first eight games with Boston. In fact, Crawford is averaging just 5.4 points, 2.7 rebounds and one steal during his brief tenure in Beantown and with the Celtics playing some of their best basketball of the year right now, we don't see his minutes going up anytime soon. While he still may light up the scoreboard from time to time, Crawford is averaging just 5.1 points when he sees fewer than 19 minutes per game throughout his career. Despite having matchups on tap against two of the weaker defensive teams in the league this week in the Bobcats and Raptors, owners should once again plan on leaving Crawford on the bench. (owned in 37 percent of leagues)

Ed Davis, F, Grizzlies (@POR, @LAC, @DEN, @UTA): Injuries to Darrell Arthur and Zach Randolph have once again given Davis a chance to crack the starting lineup and just like with the Raptors, he has played well in the starting five. In fact, Davis has averaged 9.0 points 9.3 rebounds and 2.8 blocks over his last three games and shot 50 percent from the field over that stretch. However, both Randolph and Arthur are close to returning to action, which will move Davis right back to the bench. Unfortunately for Davis and Fantasy owners, the 23-year-old hasn't seen much of the court in a reserve role for coach Lionel Hollins. He is seeing just 11 minutes per game over his first 13 contests with Memphis and averaged 4.5 points and 2.4 rebounds over that span. While Davis has more than proved his worth as a starter, he doesn't hold much value as a reserve. With at least Randolph expected back in action this week, owners should plan on leaving Davis reserved heading into the upcoming scoring period. (owned in 30 percent of leagues)

John Salmons, F, Kings (CHI, @LAL): Salmons has been a huge bust for most of the season, but the veteran was able to put together a hot streak a few weeks back that grabbed the attention of some Fantasy owners. However, Salmons has since reverted back to his unproductive ways over the past week. The 33-year-old has scored a combined seven points over his last two contests and shot just 3 of 14 (21 percent) from the field over that span, including hitting on one of his last nine 3-point attempts. Salmons has never really been considered a reliable source for anything other than points and sometimes 3-pointers, so when he isn't scoring, he can become a huge liability for owners in Rotisserie formats. With the playoffs just weeks away in most formats and the Kings being one of two teams slated to play twice during the upcoming scoring period, owners should plan on leaving Salmons firmly planted on the bench heading into Week 20. (owned in 23 percent of leagues)

Byron Mullens, C, Bobcats (BOS, @TOR, @BOS): Mullens looked strong during his initial return from an ankle injury a few weeks back as he put up 14.2 points and 7.4 rebounds over his first 13 games back in the lineup. However, the 24-year-old then started dealing with some soreness in his right knee and has not been the same since. While Mullens has not missed a game since his knee soreness became an issue, he has logged a combined 38 minutes over his last four games and is averaging just 2.8 points and 0.5 rebounds over that span. Clearly, Mullens is not completely healthy right now and it is obviously affecting his production and playing time. With the playoffs just weeks away in most formats, Mullens may actually do more harm than good for owners in Rotisserie formats while he is putting up these types of numbers. We strongly recommend owners leave Mullens reserved in all formats until he proves to be healthy and productive again. (owned in 82 percent of leagues)

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Player News
Andray Blatche heading to China
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(9/20/2014) Free-agent center Andray Blatche has signed a one-year deal with the Xinjiang Guanghui Flying Tigers in China. Blatche's deal with pay him almost $2.5 million, and he'll be able to rejoin an NBA team in March, Yahoo! Sports reports.

Report: Kings add Ramon Sessions
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(9/20/2014) The Kings have agreed to a two-year, $4.2-million deal with free-agent guard Ramon Sessions , Yahoo! Sports reports.

The team is reportedly using its bi-annual exception provision to sign Sessions, who averaged 12.3 points, 4.1 points and 2.4 rebounds in 83 games between two teams last season.


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. 


 
 
 
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