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Week 8 Roto Fact Sheet

by | Fantasy Writer
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We've reached the quarter pole of the season and players are starting to settle in to their statistical identities. Early season outliers, such as Carlos Boozer's field-goal percentage and Roy Hibbert's unearthly block totals, have since regressed to more reasonable numbers. For those of you in category-specific formats, here are some notable factoids that might help you gain an edge in areas of need. We'll continue to validate and debunk trends on a weekly basis in this column going forward.

Scoring

Nene returned to the Wizards lineup Wednesday night and scored 17 points -- two points better than his average on the season. He's available in 10 percent of leagues and is currently outpacing Gerald Henderson, Spencer Hawes, Pau Gasol and Chris Bosh in the scoring column. ... Tony Wroten (71 percent) has proved the most consistent handcuff of the Fantasy season, averaging 17.7 points per game in the last two weeks while starting in place of Michael Carter-Williams. He's useless when he's not starting, but consider him a must-add for any MCW owner and an awesome streaming option for a team's weak at point guard. ... A Fantasy phenomenon, which we've coined the #PhillyBump, dictates that any marginal Fantasy player can conceivably double his Fantasy production just by sharing the court with the possession-crazed 76ers. This week the Nets were the lucky recipients of the stat boost, with Joe Johnson going for 37 points (more than double his season average) and Deron Williams tallying 13 assists (nearly double his season average) in the same game Monday. The Nets get the bump again Friday and the Bucks are bound to enjoy it Saturday. The lesson here is to always find guys playing Philly when deciding who to pick up and start.

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Field-goal percentage

Jordan Hill has taken a hit in the consistency department the last few weeks, but it doesn't mean he hasn't been efficient. He's made better than 75 percent of his field goal attempts over the last two weeks, while averaging 10.7 points and 7.0 rebounds. ... Brandan Wright went a sterling 9 of 10 in his first game of the year coming off injury, only to follow it up with a disappointing 0 of 3 night in just 13 minutes Wednesday. Keep an eye on Wright when he starts to get regular minutes, as the bulk of his shots will come around and above the rim. Last year he finished with a solid 59.7 shooting percentage from the field in 64 games. ... Amir Johnson has been a model of efficiency since Rudy Gay left Toronto in a trade. He's shooting just below 70 percent from the field over the last two weeks while averaging 19 points, 9.5 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per contest. ... J.R. Smith on the other hand, has been absolutely dreadful from the field, hitting a pathetic 33.3 percent of his field goals on the season. He made five threes against Milwaukee Wednesday night, but it was only because he attempted 17. That's just absurd. ... Ricky Rubio's assists are the only things keeping him on Fantasy rosters as he continues to be incapable of hitting shots. He's hitting only 35.2 percent of his shots from the field so far this season. ... Brandon Jennings, Jameer Nelson, Trey Burke and Brandon Knight are all point guards shooing below 40 percent from the field on the season. ... Perhaps Rudy Gay has turned over a new leaf when it comes to his reputation of shot-chuckery. He's shooting 52.9 percent from the field in his first four games as a member of the Kings. Then again, there's a lot of season left for Gay to revert back to his old ways.

Rebounds

Miles Plumlee (77 percent) has only grabbed double-digit rebounds in five of his last 16 games starting at center for the Suns. He grabbed 10 and 13 in his last two games, but keep an eye on Plumlee's production, as better options may be emerging. ... Kenneth Faried has been a disappointing rebounder lately, having totaled single-digit rebounds in every game since December 1. ... Point guards Michael Carter-Williams and Russell Westbrook at 5.8 boards per game are currently out-rebounding centers Enes Kanter (5.7), Andrea Bargnani (5.4) and Andrew Bynum (5.2). That's a testament to both the point guards' outstanding versatility and the centers' disappointing inactivity on the glass. ... P.J. Tucker is just another frustratingly inconsistent Fantasy option on the Suns, but one area he's excelled in game to game is rebounding. He currently ranks 6th among shooting-guard eligible players in rebounds per game at 5.5. ... Al-Farouq Aminu has been rebounding the world since Anthony Davis went down, but the unibrow's surprise return to the Pelicans lineup spells a decrease in Aminu's production. He's currently tied for fifth with LeBron James among small-forward eligible players at 6.8 rebounds per game, but that stat is inflated by a three-game stretch when he averaged 15 boards a night. ... LaMarcus Aldridge has been shattering his career 7.9 rebounds per game average as of late. In his last 10 games, he's averaging 13.9 boards a night and he hasn't sacrificed his scoring production to do so -- scoring 24.8 points per game in that span. He's on pace to average double-digit rebounds for the first time in his eight-year career. ... Tyson Chandler made his return from injury Wednesday night, grabbing nine boards against Milwaukee. He's available in 12 percent of leagues, so go get him if he's out there in yours. There's just no way the Knicks can continue to rely on Carmelo Anthony for 9.1 rebounds a night with the kind of scoring burden he carries.

Assists

Trey Burke seems to have taken the lead in the Rookie of the Year race, averaging 6.4 assists per game over the last two weeks. ... Greivis Vasquez logged 29 minutes for Toronto against the Bobcats Wednesday night, tallying eight assists along the way. If Kyle Lowry gets traded in the near future, look for Vasquez to get close to his production from last year, when he led the league in total assists. ... Dirk Nowitzki has been an unlikely source of assists the past two weeks, averaging 4.8 per game in that span. ... It's going to be hard to hang on to Steve Blake while he recovers from a torn UCL for next month and change, even though he was averaging a career-high 7.7 assists before going down. Kobe had taken over as the Lakers' facilitator, and with Farmar and Nash also recovering from injuries, who knows what the L.A. lineup will look like when Blake finally returns. ... Speaking of Kobe, he seems to have bought fully into the role of distributor, as he's averaging 6.3 assists through his first six games. He's never averaged more than 6.0 per game for a season. Sadly, those six games will be all we know of Kobe for a while, as the Lakers announced Thursday he'd likely miss six weeks with a knee fracture. Farmar seems like he's the closest to returning, so keep an eye on his status going forward. Meanwhile, the Lakers will probably be relying on Xavier Henry, Jodie Meeks and Nick Young to man the backcourt -- none of whom are known for setting up teammates. ... I'm of the opinion that Joakim Noah is one of the most underrated passers in the league. He's only averaging 3.5 assists per game, but that's good enough for first among active centers. He might even be the best passer on the Bulls, so they should give him more touches if they know what's good for them.

Three pointers

This is not the Jose Calderon we've become accustomed to in Fantasy. Assists are way down, but Calderon seems to be settling in to the role of spot-up shooter with ease. He's currently sixth in the league at 2.6 made threes per game. ... Martell Webster is still available in 30 percent of leagues ... What the bleep are you people waiting for? The guy is nailing 2.4 threes per game to go along with 13.1 points and 4.7 rebounds. He exploded for 30 points Monday against the Knicks, and that likely won't be the last time with John Wall spoon-feeding him open threes each night. Bradley Beal's return likely won't affect Webster's production as Washington is especially thin at the wing positions. ... Nick Young (45 percent) has scored in double figures in 21 out of 25 games for the Lakers. Threes have been a big part of his production lately, as he's made 2.3 per game over the last two weeks. ... Danny Green has been a huge disappointment considering he looked like the second coming of Ray Allen in the NBA Finals over the summer. He's only averaging 1.5 made threes per game, less than Andre Iguodala, Marvin Williams and tied with Patrick Beverley.

Free-throw percentage

Ryan Anderson has made 49 of his 50 free throw attempts so far this year. He's pretty good at shooting in general. ... Kevin Martin is the only player in the NBA to attempt at least six free throws per game and still make more than 90 percent of them. He's only missed 10 of 143 attempts so far this season. Similarly as awesome from the line are Reggie Jackson (41 of 43) and Zaza Pachulia (42 of 45). ... He doesn't get there often, but Jonas Valanciunas is one of the top free-throw shooting big men, converting on 79.6 percent of his attempts to start the year. ... Michael Carter-Williams is the worst free-throw shooting starting point guard in the league at 67 percent, so it only makes sense that his backup, Tony Wroten, would shoot an even worse 56 percent from the line. ... Josh Smith does many things well. Shooting free throws is not one of them. He's only converting on 58.5 percent of his 3.5 attempts per game to start the year.

Blocks

Roy Hibbert has come back to earth in the rejection department, lowering his average to 2.9 per game. ... John Henson continues to climb the leader board, improving to sixth in the league at 2.0 swats a night. .... Tyson Chandler wasted no time in his first game back, tallying three blocks against Milwaukee. We already gave you the heads up, but here's a second reminder that an impatient person in your league may have dropped Chandler while he was sidelined with injury. ... We also already talked about Brandan Wright's disappointing second game of the year, but the lone bright spot was his three blocked shots in just 13 minutes of play. Look for him to become one of the league's best as the Mavericks find more playing time for his 7-foot-5 wingspan and 40-plus inch vertical leap. ... Terrence Jones and Wesley Johnson are both averaging 1.4 blocks per game despite lacking the size of the rest of the league's leaders.

Steals/Turnovers

OK, so maybe assists aren't the only things keeping Ricky Rubio Fantasy relevant. He also leads the league in total steals with 74. ... Andre Drummond is doing a great Ben Wallace impersonation on the defensive end, as he's the only big man to be among the top 10 leaders in total steals. ... DeJuan Blair continues to be a sneaky Roto play, averaging 1.3 thefts per game -- good for fourth among centers. ... The Lakers join the #PhillyBump-ers as the only teams giving up more than 9.5 steals to their opponents on average. The Thunder are third on that list, allowing opposing teams to steal from them 9.2 times per game -- not shocking considering point guard Russell Westbrook is third in the league at 4.0 turnovers per game. ... If there's one thing the Knicks do well, it's not let opposing teams steal from them. This probably has to do with the fact that the Knicks are also in the bottom third of the league in assists per game -- relying heavily on isolations in their offense.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter @CBSfantasynews . You can also follow Joe at @joepo89 .

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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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