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Week 3 Start 'Em and Sit 'Em

Fantasy Writer
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We're starting to get out of the awkward early phase of the season and we can start to take account of what is real and what isn't. Some early flashes have fizzled out -- Say "Hi," Vitor Faverani -- and other slow starters are rounding into form.

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Still, with most teams having played just five or six games as of Saturday, we're dealing with incredibly small overall sample sizes as we try to determine how the season will unfold. When 19 teams are allowing fewer points per game than the famously stingy Grizzlies, that should be a dead giveaway that we're still in a pretty precarious position when it comes to trying to analyze what has happened so far.

I'm still going to put more stock in my expectations for the season than what has happened so far, because the sample size is small. Having said that, I freely acknowledge that the more information we get, the more we can rely on what has happened in the 2013-14 season. For instance, we've seen enough from most teams to get a feel for how they are defending or what kind of style they are playing; that means I can start determining strength of schedule by points allowed this season, instead of last.

The schedule for Week 3 (Nov. 11-17) is pretty balanced, with only the Suns slated to play fewer than three times. Matchups matter less when the schedule is balanced like this, as you can generally roll out your best players without worrying about a lack of playing time.

(All stats up to date through Nov. 8 games)

Atlanta Hawks

Guards we like for Week 3
Player Own/Start
1. Kyle Korver, Hawks 76/53
2. Jordan Crawford, Celtics 15/5
3. Jarrett Jack, Cavaliers 58/22
4. Rodney Stuckey, Pistons 30/7
5. Jeremy Lin, Rockets 95/69
6. J.J. Redick, Clippers 78/44
7. Jodie Meeks, Lakers 13/8
8. Mario Chalmers, Heat 67/36
9. Nate Wolters, Bucks 28/10
10. Jeremy Lamb, Thunder 26/5

Coach Mike Budenholzer has done a good job balancing the team's rotation early this season, which bodes well for his team's chances of staying fresh as the season moves on. Unfortunately, on a team that is not exactly stocked with Fantasy studs, that isn't the best thing for our purposes here. The Hawks have four players worth starting, and it is really slim pickings beyond that -- we'd sure love to see guys like Kyle Korver and Paul Millsap get closer to the 36-minute mark every night. Don't be fooled by the lofty ranking of this week's opponents -- Charlotte and New York's defenses seem primed for let downs and the Hawks will take advantage.

Schedule: @CHA, NY, PHI, @NY
Average points-per-game:10th
10-team starters: Al Horford, Jeff Teague, Paul Millsap, Kyle Korver
12-to-14-team starters: None
Deep-league fliers: Dennis Schroder, Cartier Martin, DeMarre Carroll

Boston Celtics

The Vitor Faverani era seems to have come to an end after just a few solid performances, as the Celtics have gone away from him in recent games. I still think he can scrape his way to a decent role in the team's rotation if he can protect the rim, but he is clearly not a starting Fantasy option. Which means this team doesn't have much to offer for Fantasy purposes right now. Even with four matchups against teams that profile as below-average defenses over the course of the season, it is difficult to consider anyone beyond Jeff Green a reliable option.

Schedule: ORL, CHA, POR, @MIN
Average points-per-game: 14th
10-team starters: Jeff Green
12-to-14-team starters: Brandon Bass
Deep-league fliers: Kelly Olynyk, Kris Humphries, Jared Sullinger, Jordan Crawford, Avery Bradley, Gerald Wallace, Courtney Lee

Brooklyn Nets

Here is the problem with the Nets from a Fantasy perspective, perfectly encapsulated in one player's role on the team. Center Brook Lopez is clearly the team's best player right now, and it probably isn't close, and even he hasn't been able to get more than 30 minutes per game. The Nets' rotation goes 11 players deep on most nights, with nine players averaging at least 18 minutes per game. Despite the big names up and down the roster, this is a tough team to rely on, especially with only three games on the schedule. Given Deron Williams' startlingly slow start to the season, Brook Lopez is probably the only player you can feel completely confident in with three games on the way -- of course, Williams is still too talented to consider sitting.

Schedule: @SAC, @PHO, @LAC
Average points-per-game: 18th
10-team starters: Deron Williams, Brook Lopez
12-to-14-team starters: Paul Pierce, Joe Johnson
Deep-league fliers: Kevin Garnett, Jason Terry, Andrei Kirilenko, Andray Blatche

Charlotte Bobcats

The Bobcats might have Al Jefferson's services for the start of this week, but his ankle injury has lingered long enough that we can't rely on him getting back on the court until it actually happens. If you have to set your lineup by Monday and don't have any better options, it might be worth rolling the dice on Jefferson's upside, while hoping he plays at least three times this week. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is starting to find himself on the offensive side of the floor, but I still need to see more from him before I move him into the next tier -- he started last season well before collapsing after the first few months.

Schedule: ATL, @BOS, @CLE, MIA
Average points-per-game: 13th
10-team starters: Kemba Walker
12-to-14-team starters: Gerald Henderson, Ramon Sessions, Al Jefferson
Deep-league fliers: Jeff Taylor, Cody Zeller, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Bismack Biyombo, Josh McRoberts

Chicago Bulls

Look, I get the frustration with Rose. He enters Friday's game with more field-goal attempts than points, not to mention more turnovers than assists. But, this was a guy you likely took among the first 15 players in you draft.What are you gonna do, bench him? No way. This week's schedule is tough, but you still have to keep early disappointments like Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose active, no matter how much it might hurt right now -- their upside is too great

Schedule: CLE, @TOR, IND
Average points-per-game: 4th
10-team starters: Derrick Rose, Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah
12-to-14-team starters: Jimmy Butler, Luol Deng
Deep-league fliers: Kirk Hinrich, Mike Dunleavy, Taj Gibson

Cleveland Cavaliers

Kyrie Irving's dreadful start comes as a big surprise, but his struggles actually go back to the second half of last season. We didn't pay it much mind, but Irving shot just 41.5 percent from the field and 31.4 percent from three-point range in 17 games after the All-Star break last season, but maybe we should have. If I was to bet, however, I would still point to this being an aberration -- Irving's overall production in two seasons makes me think he will figure it out before long. The Cavaliers' offense has been a disaster overall, but you have to expect a teamwide regression to the mean at some point. Week 3 could be a good opportunity, as Chicago projects to be the only above-average defense they face. Your disappointing Cavs could begin living up to expectations this week.

Schedule: @CHI, @MIN, CHA, @WAS
Average points-per-game: 16th
10-team starters: Kyrie Irving, Anderson Varejao, Tristan Thompson
12-to-14-team starters: Dion Waiters, C.J. Miles
Deep-league fliers: Jarrett Jack, Alonzo Gee, Earl Clark

Dallas Mavericks

The Mavericks offense continues to hum, which has worked out very well for anyone who owns their main players. Jae Crowder has been a pleasant surprise so far, pouring in 10.5 points per game with sterling shooting percentages across the board, but Fantasy owners have to be wondering how long this can last. With just three games on the schedule for Week 3, I wouldn't consider him a worthy starting option yet.

Schedule: WAS, @MIA, @ORL
Average points-per-game: 18th
10-team starters: Dirk Nowitzki, Monta Ellis, Jose Calderon
12-to-14-team starters: Shawn Marion
Deep-league fliers: Vince Carter, Jae Crowder, Samuel Dalembert, DeJuan Blair

Denver Nuggets

The Nuggets have a lot of things to figure out under new coach Brian Shaw, and you might want to stay away from them until that happens. This is a team running with a 12-deep rotation, and only Ty Lawson is averaging more than 30 minutes per game as a result. The expected return of Wilson Chandler should settle things down a bit, providing a true second option for the offense. Unfortunately, his extended layoff from a hamstring injury still makes him a risk for this week. I'm still staying away from this team until they figure out an identity and consistent rotation.

Schedule: @UTA, LAL, MIN, @HOU
Average points-per-game: 17th
10-team starters: Ty Lawson
12-to-14-team starters: Kenneth Faried, Wilson Chandler
Deep-league fliers: Timofey Mozgov, Andre Miller, Randy Foye, Nate Robinson, JJ Hickson, JaVale McGee

Detroit Pistons

Despite this team's well-documented offensive flaws -- spacing issues, Brandon Jennings and Josh Smith's shot selection, Andre Drummond's free-throw shooting -- they have looked something like a strong offensive team through their first five games. Whether that is sustainable or not will be an ongoing concern, but for now, it has led to a pretty solid group of Fantasy options here. Curiously, Drummond has not quite been the breakout candidate everyone expected so far and the culprit is easy to spot -- he simply isn't going to the free-throw line. Drummond might noe be able to hit his free throws, but he has to get to the line more often to be an efficient scorer. As things stand right now, he is clearly behind the top tier of centers early in the season.

Schedule: @POR, @GS, @SAC, @LAL
Average points-per-game: 22nd
10-team starters: Josh Smith, Greg Monroe, Brandon Jennings
12-to-14-team starters: Andre Drummond, Rodney Stuckey
Deep-league fliers: Will Bynum, Chauncey Billups, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Kyle Singler

Golden State Warriors

Stephen Curry's ankle issue is the biggest question for the Warriors, but that's a pretty simple situation for Fantasy owners -- when Curry plays, he's a must-start. Harrison Barnes came out strong in his first game back from a foot injury this week, but his second showed why I am skeptical of his Fantasy value. Barnes played just 35 minutes in his first two games, and scored just five points in the second, after opening his season with 14 on 6 of 8 shooting. I'm simply not convinced he is going to have a consistent enough role with Andre Iguodala and Klay Thompson around to put up better numbers than his rookie season, especially since coach Mark Jackson seems hesitant to play Barnes anywhere but small forward. Of the 13 lineup combinations Barnes has played in entering play Saturday, all have featured at least two other big men beside him. As long as he remains stuck in his current role Barnes shouldn't be starting in most leagues.

Schedule: DET, OKC, UTA
Average points-per-game: 13th
10-team starters: Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, David Lee
12-to-14-team starters: Andrew Bogut
Deep-league fliers: Harrison Barnes, Marreese Speights

Houston Rockets

Despite concerns that the addition of Dwight Howard might slow their frenetic pace, the Rockets are still running plenty in the early going. That is a good sign for this team's Fantasy prospects, though one player who hasn't benefitted has been Patrick Beverley. Though he came back quicker than expected from an injury and is a consistent starter, the second-year guard hasn't quite found his footing. Though he starts over Jeremy Lin, Lin has clearly been the more productive player. This is a pretty soft schedule for the Rockets, but Beverley needs to show more than he has so far before you get him in the starting lineup. He is a candidate to start hitting the waiver wires soon, if he doesn't turn things around.

Schedule: TOR, @PHI, @NY, DEN
Average points-per-game: 16th
10-team starters: James Harden, Dwight Howard, Chandler Parsons
12-to-14-team starters: Jeremy Lin
Deep-league fliers: Francisco Garcia, Omri Casspi, Patrick Beverley, Omer Asik

Indiana Pacers

Forwards we like for Week 3
Player Own/Start
1. Markieff Morris, Suns 76/33
2. Jared Sullinger, Celtics 44/16
3. C.J. Miles, Cavaliers 30/17
4. Shawn Marion, Mavericks 90/66
5. Wilson Chandler, Nuggets 81/9
6. Corey Brewer, Timberwolves 26/17
7. Andrea Bargnani, Knicks 70/32
8. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Bobcats 84/43
9. Tyler Hansbrough, Raptors 14/6
10. Richard Jefferson, Jazz 3/2

Though they don't rank as high as expected, Memphis and Chicago should provide pretty sturdy tests for the Pacers offensively this week. With just three games on the schedule, this might be a chance to sit some of the mid-tier Pacers. Unfortunately, the only candidate right now might be George Hill, who is scoring well, but has ceded enough of the playmaking duties to Lance Stephenson and Paul George that his Fantasy value has taken a hit. I might consider sitting him in the presence of better looking choices this week.

Schedule: MEM, MIL, @CHI
Average points-per-game: 16th
10-team starters: Paul George, David West, Roy Hibbert
12-to-14-team starters: George Hill, Lance Stephenson
Deep-league fliers: Luis Scola, C.J. Watson

Los Angeles Clippers

The Clippers have always been a high-flying offense, but they're adding some horizontal prowess to their vertical skills this season. Under coach Vinny Del Negro, the Clippers were among the league's plod-iest teams, routinely ranking at or near the bottom-10 in pace. Coach Doc Rivers has embraced a more fluid offensive style, and they now rank 10th in the league at 98 possessions per game. Three of the Clippers' opponents for Week 3 are playing at a faster-than-average pace so far, which means they could be in line for some shootouts. Expect big things from your Clippers this week.

Schedule: MIN, OKC, BKN
Average points-per-game: 15th
10-team starters: Chris Paul, Blake Griffin
12-to-14-team starters: J.J. Redick, Jamal Crawford, DeAndre Jordan
Deep-league fliers: Jared Dudley

Los Angeles Lakers

This Lakers team seems to have a different leading scorer every night, and the problem so far is that nobody has really stepped up as a consistent contributor. Even Pau Gasol, who we expected to anchor this team offensively, is averaging just 12.0 points in 27.9 minutes per game. He is still getting enough touches that you can't consider benching him, but I would approach every other player on the roster on a case-by-case basis. Even with a really solid week of matchups on the way, there's not a single player behind Gasol I can recommend starting across the board.

Schedule: NO, @DEN, MEM, DET
Average points-per-game: 16th
10-team starters: Pau Gasol
12-to-14-team starters: None
Deep-league fliers: Jodie Meeks, Jordan Farmar, Steve Blake, Nick Young, Xavier Henry, Jordan Farmar, Chris Kaman, Steve Nash

Memphis Grizzlies

Mike Conley is probably the only player for the Grizzlies who has exceeded expectations through the first two weeks of the season. This team continues to receive little help from the role players and they aren't strong enough offensively to make up for their sluggish pace, at least when it comes to Fantasy purposes. At this point, even Zach Randolph might not be the must-start option he once was.

Schedule: @IND, TOR, @LAL, @SAC
Average points-per-game: 14th
10-team starters: Mike Conley, Marc Gasol
12-to-14-team starters: Zach Randolph
Deep-league fliers: Tony Allen, Jerryd Bayless, Tayshaun Prince, Mike Miller, Quincy Pondexter

Miami Heat

The only surprise for Miami so far has been Mario Chalmers effective playmaking. He is averaging a career-high 5.3 assists per game, to go along with his 2.5 steals and 9.7 points. You can justify starting Chalmers and veteran Ray Allen in category-based formats, even with just three games on the schedule.

Schedule: MIL, DAL, @CHA
Average points-per-game: 11th
10-team starters: LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh
12-to-14-team starters: None
Deep-league fliers: Mario Chalmers, Ray Allen

Milwaukee Bucks

The Bucks are radioactive for Fantasy owners right now. The players who have been surprisingly useful thus far -- Gary Neal, Zaza Pachulia and Nate Wolters -- are mostly playing due to ineffectiveness and injury to starters. Unfortunately, that means they could see their value disappear at a moments' notice. Alternately, those prospective starts who have failed to live up to their promise are too risky to rely on right now. This is a bad situation and I might bench everyone but O.J. Mayo until we see how everything gets sorted out.

Schedule: @MIA, @ORL, @IND, OKC
Average points-per-game: 10th
10-team starters: O.J. Mayo
12-to-14-team starters: Brandon Knight, Ersan Ilyasova, Larry Sanders
Deep-league fliers: John Henson, Caron Butler, Luke Ridnour, Zaza Pachulia, Nate Wolters, Gary Neal

Minnesota Timberwolves

Ricky Rubio can't hit a shot, but we knew that going in -- if his slow start has dissuaded you, then you expected the wrong things from him. Just about the only truly disappointing aspect of the Timberwolves' start so far has been Nikola Pekovic, who is shooting just 39.7 percent from the field. With the kind of spacing this team has around Pek, expect him to easily turn things around. He remains worth starting as a No. 2 center in Week 3, especially with four chances to find himself.

Schedule: @LAC, CLE, @DEN, BOS
Average points-per-game: 15th
10-team starters: Ricky Rubio, Kevin Love, Kevin Martin
12-to-14-team starters: Nikola Pekovic
Deep-league fliers: Corey Brewer, Jose Barea, Derrick Williams

New Orleans Pelicans

Anthony Davis has emerged as one of the league's better Fantasy options early in his second season, but the rest of the Pelicans are still trying to find their footing. Tyreke Evans has struggled enough to open the season that his minutes have been limited to just 24.8 per game. At this point, you can't rely on him in your starting lineup.

Schedule: @LAL, @UTA, PHI
Average points-per-game: 19th
10-team starters: Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday, Eric Gordon
12-to-14-team starters: None
Deep-league fliers: Tyreke Evans, Jason Smith, Al-Farouq Aminu, Brian Roberts, Anthony Morrow

New York Knicks

I begrudgingly moved Andrea Bargnani up a tier, as he is now the team's starting center following Tyson Chandler's leg injury. I say begrudgingly because, while Bargnani did score 25 points in his first start at center, he needed 25 shots to get there. This is not a player who can score efficiently, and he does little besides score. I certainly don't expect him to score like that moving forward, but he should be decent this week facing some poor defenses. J.R. Smith is also finally worth starting, as his suspension ends Sunday. I would still temper expectations, as he has admitted he is still working his way back from offseason knee surgery and doesn't have his explosiveness back.

Schedule: @ATL, HOU, ATL
Average points-per-game: 23rd
10-team starters: Carmelo Anthony, Raymond Felton
12-to-14-team starters: Iman Shumpert, Andrea Bargnani, J.R. Smith
Deep-league fliers: Metta World Peace, Pablo Prigioni

Oklahoma City Thunder

The big news out of OKC centers around rookie center Steven Adams, who has already surpassed Kendrick Perkins in terms of minutes per game after five games. He put up a 17-point, 10-rebound double-double Friday against the Pistons that probably has Fantasy owners flocking toward him. I am ready to keep a closer eye on the 20-year-old, but not nearly confident enough in his abilities to say you should start him this week.

Schedule: @LAC, @GS, @MIL
Average points-per-game: 18th
10-team starters: Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka
12-to-14-team starters: Jeremy Lamb
Deep-league fliers: Reggie Jackson, Thabo Sefolosha, Steven Adams

Orlando Magic

So far, Arron Afflalo is living up to his promise to be more efficient this season. He is shooting plenty of 3-pointers and getting to the free-throw line a bunch, leading to his career-best 19.5 points per game. With the way he is playing, he has to be considered a nearly must-start Fantasy option. The Magic play just three times this week, but they should have little trouble scoring on these opponents. Lean toward starting our Orlando players if you have a tough lineup decision to make.

Schedule: @BOS, MIL, DAL
Average points-per-game: 14th
10-team starters: Nikola Vucevic, Arron Afflalo
12-to-14-team starters: Maurice Harkless, Jameer Nelson, Victor Oladipo
Deep-league fliers: Andrew Nicholson

Philadelphia 76ers

Michael Carter-Williams' shooting percentages have tumbled back to earth after a hot start, and I'd expect Evan Turner's to follow suit. That doesn't mean you shouldn't be starting either player. However, Philadelphia's fast pace lends itself to solid all-around numbers for stat-sheet stuffers like them. The 76ers are running like mad this season and three of their Week 3 opponents play into their game plan by featuring above-average pace factors as well. Expect even more shootouts from this 76ers team.

Schedule: SA, HOU, @ATL, @NO
Average points-per-game: 16th
10-team starters: Thaddeus Young, Evan Turner, Spencer Hawes, Michael Carter-Williams
12-to-14-team starters: Tony Wroten
Deep-league fliers: None.

Phoenix Suns

I have pretty publicly doubted Markieff Morris' Fantays potential this season, mostly based on the fact that he simply wasn't particularly good at anything through his first two seasons in the league. Given his recent play (averaging 16.0 points per game on the season), a mea culpa is in order. Morris appears to be well worth owning for Fantasy purposes, though you shouldn't just run to get him in your starting lineup right away -- unfortunately, the Suns play just twice this week.

Schedule: @POR, BKN
Average points-per-game: 21st
10-team starters: Goran Dragic, Eric Bledsoe
12-to-14-team starters: None
Deep-league fliers: Miles Plumlee, Markieff Morris

Portland Trail Blazers

This Trail Blazers team remains one of the league's most top-heavy, as the top four players have attempted 68.3 percent of the field goals so far. That's a great sign if you own Damian Lillard, LaMarcus Aldridge, Nicolas Batum and Wesley Matthews, who are all nearly must-start options at this point. Unfortunately, that leaves little else worth staring, even given four games on the schedule.

Schedule: DET, PHO, @BOS, @TOR
Average points-per-game: 7th
10-team starters: Damian Lillard, LaMarcus Aldridge, Nicolas Batum, Wesley Matthews
12-to-14-team starters: None
Deep-league fliers: Dorell Wright, Robin Lopez, Mo Williams

Sacramento Kings

Centers we like for Week 3
Player Own/Start
1. Nikola Pekovic, Timberwolves 97/77
2. Chris Kaman, Lakers 47/25
3. Anderson Varejao, Cavaliers 90/60
4. Timofey Mozgov, Nuggets 4/1
5. Steven Adams, Thunder 36/11

New coach Mike Malone has made a point of slowing the Kings' pace this season, after they played an almost reckless style in recent years. That hasn't put a dent in either DeMarcus Cousins or Isaiah Thomas' production, as both are registering usage rates far above their career norms. Unfortunately, that combination of factors hasn't left much room for other players to succeed. With only three games on the schedule, all against teams that like to play at a slow pace, this is bad week to expect much from the Kings' role players.

Schedule: BKN, DET, MEM
Average points-per-game: 16th
10-team starters: DeMarcus Cousins, Isaiah Thomas
12-to-14-team starters: Marcus Thornton, Greivis Vasquez, Ben McLemore
Deep-league fliers: Patrick Patterson, Jason Thompson, John Salmons

San Antonio Spurs

Boris Diaw has been a pleansant surprise for the Spurs this season, as he is averaging 10.7 points on 9.8 field-goal attempts through the first six games. He has even been in the starting lineup a few times, though that does not seem to be a consistent feature for the team. He is a solid role player, but has scored in double figures just once since opening the season with 14 points in three straight games. With four games on the schedule, you might want to look Diaw's way, but he simply doesn't do enough to be worth a starting role.

Schedule: @PHI, WAS, @UTA
Average points-per-game: 21st
10-team starters: Tony Parker, Kawhi Leonard, Tim Duncan
12-to-14-team starters: Tiago Splitter, Manu Ginobili
Deep-league fliers: Danny Green, Marco Belinelli, Boris Diaw

Toronto Raptors

It would be fun to see what the rest of this team's roster could do if Rudy Gay and DeMar DeRozan weren't jacking up nearly 36 shots per game between them. Unfortunately, guys like Amir Johnson and Jonas Valanciunas have to settle for secondary roles on offense. On the plus side, few players are in a better place for oodles of offensive rebounds. The Raptors' starting lineup remains useful, but there isn't much else here against a schedule that is tougher than that ranking indicates.

Schedule: @HOU, @MEM, CHI, POR
Average points-per-game: 21st
10-team starters: Rudy Gay, Kyle Lowry, Jonas Valanciunas, DeMar DeRozan
12-to-14-team starters: Amir Johnson
Deep-league fliers: Landry Fields, Tyler Hansbrough, Terrence Ross

Utah Jazz

This Jazz team pretty badly needs Trey Burke to make his debut. The rookie may not have a track record of NBA success, but at least he gives them some hope. Hope that a guard can hit an open shot and set up a teammate for another. Derrick Favors is clearly in need of a reliable pick and roll partner, as he remains mostly incapable of creating good looks for himself. I'm dropping him down a tier this week, as he continues to shoot a very low percentage for a big man.

Schedule: DEN, NO, SA, @GS
Average points-per-game: 14th
10-team starters: Gordon Hayward, Enes Kanter
12-to-14-team starters: Alec Burks, Derrick Favors
Deep-league fliers: Richard Jefferson, John Lucas

Washington Wizards

The Wizards have struggled to get anything going from the perimeter, as John Wall, Bradley Beal and Trevor Ariza are shooting just a combined 39.1 percent on 47 field-goal attempts per game. That trio might be frustrating Fantasy owners right now, but there's really not anything you can do but wait for their shots to start falling. You can consider sitting Ariza this week, with just three games on the schedule, as his scoring and shooting have fallen off following a strong season opener.

Schedule: @DAL, @SA, CLE
Average points-per-game: 14th
10-team starters: John Wall, Bradley Beal
12-to-14-team starters: Nene, Marcin Gortat
Deep-league fliers: Al Harrington, Martell Webster, Trevor Ariza

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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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