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Week 12 Roto Fact Sheet

by | Fantasy Writer
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We're almost at the halfway point in the season, meaning statistical averages are pretty much to the point of cementing your players' values.

Use this time to assess your team's strengths and weaknesses and find ways you can improve, whether through free agency or trades. Fantasy is more fun when you take chances, so don't be afraid to leave a couple spots on your roster for weekly pickups or clear space with two-for-one trades. NBA lineups will be in flux for the rest of the year as teams decide to either make a run or tank for a lottery pick, so your Fantasy roster should reflect that same flexibility. 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.

(All stats up to date through Jan. 15 games. Info provided by NBA.com and Teamrankings.com)

Scoring

Nikola Pekovic has outscored Kevin Love over the last two weeks. He's shooting 54.7 percent and ranks 10th in the NBA in scoring over that span at 21.1 points per game. This run of success is coinciding with a Love slump, so as Love gets back to normal output, I expect Pekovic to come back to earth. ... A 26-point outing Tuesday against Cleveland has Jodie Meeks averaging 19.6 points per game over the last two weeks. How this guy is still available in 36 percent of leagues is beyond me, because he's also getting you 3.1 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.6 steals and 2.7 made three pointers in that span. Grab Meeks now while his value is peaking and before the Lakers get their injured guards back. ... Avery Bradley is scoring a lot. He's gone over 20 points in four of his last five games. He's also an adequate rebounder and occasional steal guy, but the points seem destined to drop once Rajon Rondo returns Friday. ... Consider Randy Foye a Meeks-type whose job isn't in jeopardy. After being benched for a three-game stretch, Foye made it back into Brian Shaw's starting five Jan. 3 and he and the Nuggets have benefited from the move. He's averaging 17.1 points, 4.3 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 3.1 made threes per game during that eight-game stretch, and he's likely to remain a starter as the Nuggets won six of those eight games. At 56 percent owned, Randy Foye is a must add for category leagues. ... If the Knicks somehow find a trade partner for J.R. Smith, Tim Hardaway Jr. will become a consistent source of points for the rest of the season. He's averaging 16.1 points per 36 minutes on the year, so keep tabs on what's happening in New York in the near future. ... The 76ers are still far and away the worst defensive team in the league, but the Lakers are slowly catching up. L.A. is giving up 105.9 points per game on the season, including 121.3 points per game to the last three opponents. Philly is still all alone though as the only team allowing opponents to score more than 110 a night on the season.

Field-goal percentage

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One of the best things about Darren Collison's run as starting point guard for the Clippers has been his efficiency. He's shooting almost as well as teammate DeAndre Jordan from the field over the last two weeks at 63.1 percent. I doubt that he'll continue to hit two thirds of his shots, but he does enough in other categories to be considered a must start. ... David Lee might be the hottest player in the NBA right now. He's averaging 23.1 points per game on 60.9 percent shooting over the last two weeks. ... It's rare that you find a shooting specialist who's also efficient from the field, but that's what Marco Belinelli has been for the Spurs as of late. He's hitting 56.6 percent of his shots from the field over the last two weeks and will continue to get steady minutes for the next month while Danny Green recovers from a fractured hand. ... Enes Kanter has played well lately, logging three double-doubles over his last five games while making more than half of his field goals. ... Keep an eye on Mason Plumlee's minutes, as the Nets could look to him to start at center with Andray Blatche struggling to embrace the role. He'll be a guy who pretty much only dunks, just like his brother, meaning his 62.4 percent from the floor is sustainable even with more minutes.

Rebounds

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (47 percent) made his return from injury Tuesday and grabbed seven boards to go along with eight points. Rebounds will be vital to MKG's value, as he hasn't proven to be a reliable scorer just yet. He logged 30 minutes in his first game back, but only 17 in his second. Still, he could prove valuable down the road as forwards are hard to come by. ... Ersan Ilyasova (77 percent) finally showed what he's capable of with his best start of the year, scoring 29 points and grabbing 9 rebounds Monday. He followed that up Wednesday with a 13-rebound performance against the Grizzlies. He's only averaging 5.3 rebounds per game on the season, so hopefully this is a sign of things to come. ... Elsewhere on the Bucks, Giannis Antetokounmpo (52 percent) has totaled 19 rebounds over his last three games. He has the potential to record a variety of stat lines, but consistent rebounding could put him over the edge as a guy you're starting rather than just stashing. … It's been hard to count on Nene for rebounds this year. He's only averaged 5.7 per game so far and only has produced double-digit rebounds three times in 30 games.

Assists

Getting traded to Golden State might spell the end of Jordan Crawford's impressive assist average. He likely won't be getting the 30 minutes per game that afforded him his 5.7 dimes per, so keep your finger on the drop button as he debuts for the Warriors. ... Speaking of the Celtics, Rajon Rondo is set to make his season debut Friday, but it's looking like he'll only play about five minutes per quarter. It's hard to gauge what Rondo's stat lines will look like with the rebuilding Celtics. On one hand, he's crafty enough to get anyone an open shot, as evidenced by his 11-plus assist average in the past three seasons. On the other hand, he's no longer surrounded by hall-of-famers. Instead, he'll be dishing to Jared Sullinger, Jeff Green and Avery Bradley. Only time will tell, but it's not out of the question that Rondo hands out six assists in 20 minutes Friday, so consider starting him despite the initial limitations. ... If J.J. Redick (75 percent) is still available in your Roto league, stop reading this and pick him up. Go! Do it! Did you do it yet? You know what you're getting from him in terms of three-point shooting and free-throw mastery, but without Chris Paul, Redick also becomes a viable playmaker for the Clippers as well. Redick will be logging 30-plus minutes from here on out, and expect four or five assists at least until Paul returns. He dished out five in 31 minutes in his second game back Wednesday, while still finding time to score 33 points and hit seven threes. Pick him up! ... D.J. Augustin (53 percent) just will not go away. He's averaging 7.0 assists per game over the last two weeks. He's your best bet if you need assists from a free agent. ... CJ McCollum's debut hasn't affected Mo Williams (29 percent). In fact, he's been more productive lately, dishing out 6.0 assists in 25 minutes per game over the last two weeks.

Three pointers

I already told you about Randy Foye (56 percent), but just in case the message didn't get through to you, he's starting, he's shooting and he'll do a little bit of everything. He's fifth in the league over the last two weeks at 3.1 made threes per game. ... Looks like I was right about C.J. Miles flaming out. He's only managed six made threes over his last four games after hitting an improbable 10 on Jan. 7. If you picked him up, it's safe to drop him as Luol Deng will be taking and keeping most of the minutes Miles was getting before. ... If you're streaming shooters, look for guys with Miami, Sacramento, Cleveland and, of course, Philadelphia on the schedule. The 76ers are the only team allowing opponents to hit 10 threes per game on average. Meanwhile, you'll have a hard time succeeding with shooters who play Indiana, Portland, Phoenix, Boston and Chicago -- the best teams at preventing the three ball.

Free-throw percentage

Brian Roberts hasn't been anything special filling in for the injured Jrue Holiday, but he has been great at the free throw line, shooting 92.5 percent on the season. ... James Johnson (28 percent) has been an intriguing Roto pickup for the last several weeks, and that intrigue extends to the charity stripe, where he's a shade under 90 percent for the year. He also put together a solid 15 points, six rebounds, five assists, 2 steals and six blocks Wednesday against the Bucks. He contributes in just about every category, so why not take a flier on him? ... Kris Humphries (56 percent) has been getting more court time with the Celtics while hitting 88.0 percent of his free throws so far this year. ... Consider picking up one of the guys I've just mentioned if you're regularly starting Andre Drummond, Andrew Bogut or DeAndre Jordan -- the three worst free-throw shooters in Fantasy. Free throws have also been a struggle for J.R. Smith, who's received his second DNP -- coach's decision in four games Tuesday, yet is still owned in 81 percent of leagues.

Steals/Turnovers

Steals are kind of a crapshoot. Just about everyone in the league averages between 1.0 and 2.0 per game. Even the best thieves -- Ricky Rubio, Michael Carter-Williams and Chris Paul -- all average fewer than three per game. The best way to make up ground in this category is by looking for teams who get robbed the most. For instance, the pace and offense of the Lakers and the 76ers leads to more steals by opponents than any other team. And at the other end of the spectrum, the isolation-heavy brand of offense played by New York and Charlotte leads to very few steals. Turnovers, on the other hand, are very easy to diagnose. Whoever gets tasked with handling the ball for his team will have the most. Stars like Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook, James Harden, LeBron James and John Wall lead the league simply because they run their teams' offenses and are talented enough to take lots of chances with the ball. Therefore it's smart to pair these guys up with players who shoot just about every time they get it. Guys such as Wilson Chandler, Tobias Harris, Terrence Ross, Kenneth Faried, Robin Lopez and Andrea Bargnani are good handcuffs to turnover-prone stars. There are plenty others, but the safe bet is to look for either spot-up shooters or physical post players who mostly get the ball from pure hustle rather than play design.

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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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