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Week 13 Start 'Em and Sit 'Em

Fantasy Writer

The NBA schedule tends to be pretty balanced, and it is again in Week 13 (Jan. 20-26), with 28 of 30 teams slated to play either three or four times.

When the schedule breaks down like that, it tends to make life pretty easy for Fantasy owners. When you don't have to worry so much about matchups and playing time, you can just slot your best players into the lineup and feel pretty confident you will be making the right decision.

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Even the one team that could potentially throw a wrench into Fantasy owners' plans by virtue of its schedule is not particularly well suited to do so. Though the Trail Blazers are the lone team with five games on the schedule for Week 13, there isn't much hidden value to take advantage of there.

Despite making an effort to revamp their league-worst bench this offseason, the Blazers remain one of the league's most top-heavy teams. They remain dead last in the league in bench scoring, and at 18.5 points per game, the second-worst team isn't particularly close. The Blazers have just five players owned in more than 40 percent of leagues, with backup guards CJ McCollum and Mo Williams the only other two above 10 percent. McCollum is almost certainly overowned based on his production so far, leaving Williams as the only potentially useful Fantasy option for Week 13 who isn't already owned in your league.

Williams has been an intermittently useful Fantasy option this season, though his limited role certainly puts a cap on how much of an impact he can make. With five games on the schedule, however, he is likely to land in the top 30 or so among Fantasy guards for Week 13. He is averaging 25.1 Fantasy points per game in the month of January, a pace that would see him put up 125.5 in Week 13.

That would be enough to land him just outside the top-25 for most weeks, so consider Williams a solid starting Fantasy option for Week 13. Given how many guards have been lost to injury Williams should be a hot commodity as a streaming option this week.

(All stats up to date through Jan. 18 games)

Atlanta Hawks

The Hawks are still looking for answers weeks removed from Al Horford's season-ending injury. The latest unlikely beneficiary has been Mike Scott, a 25-year-old forward who entered the season with just seven double-digit scoring games to his name. He has matched that total in the last 10 games alone, despite coming off the bench for all but one. He is averaging 12.5 points per game in that span, while shooting 51.1 percent from the field and adding 1.2 3-pointers per game. He might not be doing much else, but really, neither is anyone else on the team. He is third on the team in scoring over the last five, and it an intriguing low-end flier for Week 13 with four games on the schedule.

Schedule:Schedule: MIA, @ORL, SA, @MIL
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 23rd
10-team starters:
12-to-14-team starters: Jeff Teague, Paul Millsap, Kyle Korver
Deep-league fliers: Mike Scott, Shelvin Mack, Lou Williams, DeMarre Carroll, Pero Antic, Elton Brand

Boston Celtics

Guards we like for Week 13
Player Own/Start
1. Mo Williams, Blazers 31/18
2. Ramon Sessions, Bobcats 55/26
3. Eric Gordon, Pelicans 95/72
4. Rajon Rondo, Celtics 100/38
5. Alec Burks, Jazz 54/15
6. Tony Snell, Bulls 10/3
7. Luke Ridnour, Bucks 21/6
8. Alexey Shved, Timberwolves 1/0
9. Phil Pressey, Celtics 2/1
10. Ben Gordon, Bobcats 1/0

Writing this Friday before he makes his debut, it is kind of difficult to say exactly what to expect from the returning star. The Celtics did seem to signal some confidence in his ability to return at something close to 100-percent by moving Jordan Crawford in a trade this week, but that is probably also an attempt to get something for Crawford while his value is at its highest. At the very least, Rondo should step in right away as a low-end starting option, even while limited to 18-22 minutes per night, given his ability to rack up that most precious of Fantasy commodities; assists. One concern might be Rondo's availability for Wednesday's game against the Wizards, since it comes on the second night of a back-to-back. Even with three games on the schedule, Rondo could be a solid option, but is by no mean's a must-start at this point in the season. As for how he impacts the rest of the team, only time will tell there.

Schedule: @MIA, @WAS, OKC, BKN
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 24th
10-team starters: None
12-to-14-team starters: Jeff Green, Rajon Rondo, Jared Sullinger, Avery Bradley
Deep-league fliers: Phil Pressey, Jerryd Bayless, Kris Humphries, Brandon Bass

Brooklyn Nets

Kevin Garnett is alive, maybe? He is averaging 10.3 points and 7.0 rebounds per game over the last five, but that comes with the caveat that he is shooting 68.0 percent from the field in that span. If Garnett needs to shot nearly 20 percent better than his career marks just to be borderline relevant for Fantasy purposes, maybe he isn't Fantasy relevant. One player whose recent revitalization seems a bit more sustainable is Paul Pierce, who is averaging 15.2 points per game and 25.0 Fantasy points over the last five, without any fluky shooting stretch. The Nets remain tough to gauge from a Fantasy perspective on any given night, but at least they are no longer the flaming tire fire they once were. With Deron Williams likely back to start the week, Shaun Livingston should be benched, but that doesn't mean Williams is back to must-start status. He remains an incredibly risky option until he proves his ankles are at full strength.

Schedule: @NY, ORL, DAL, @BOS
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 16th
10-team starters:
12-to-14-team starters: Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce, Deron Williams
Deep-league fliers: Shaun Livingston, Mirza Teletovic, Andray Blatche, Kevin Garnett, Jason Terry, Alan Anderson, Andrei Kirilenko

Charlotte Bobcats

Because we certainly couldn't go another week without a big injury to a big name, Bobcats guard Kemba Walker went down with an ankle injury Saturday that looked pretty serious. He was practically running at full speed on a fast break when he turned his left ankle. Though X-rays taken on the ankle came back negative, coach Steve Clifford told reporters after the game he thinks Walker will be out for a while. This is an injury that will have a huge impact on the Bobcats' offense, as Walker ranks 25th in the league in usage rate, just ahead of teammate Al Jefferson. The Bobcats will likely turn to Ramon Sessions to take Walker's place in the starting lineup, and he could be a worthwhile Fantasy option as long as Walker is sidelined. Sessions hasn't started a game since joining the Bobcats, a testament to Walker's ability to avoid injuries, but he has put up strong per-minute numbers over the last two seasons. He is averaging 17.0 points and 5.1 assists per-36 minutes this season, and should emerge as a No. 4 Fantasy guard if Walker's injury costs him extensive time. With Walker's status very much in doubt, he is too risky to start unless we receive some good news before 6:55 p.m. on the east coast Monday.

Schedule: TOR, LAC, @NY, CHI
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 30th
10-team starters: Kemba Walker, Al Jefferson, Gerald Henderson
12-to-14-team starters: None
Deep-league fliers: Josh McRoberts, Ramon Sessions, Anthony Tolliver

Chicago Bulls

We figured Jimmy Butler would see a bump in playing time following the Luol Deng trade, but this is ridiculous. Butler is averaging 44.5 minutes per game in four games since Deng was traded, despite missing one game with an injury. Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau is well known for the depth of his trust in certain players, but this can't be good for Butler's long-term prospects. He has already missed significant time this season with lingering injuries, and his efficiency has taken a major hit since being thrust into a larger role. Butler is averaging just 24.1 Fantasy points per game since the Deng trade despite his massive minute totals, and you have to wonder if he is better off for Fantasy purposes in a smaller role. Still, the Bulls have a solid schedule in Week 13 and you know he is going to play a bunch, so consider Butler No. 3 guard in most formats.p>

Schedule: LAL, @CLE, LAC, @CHA
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 12th
10-team starters: Joakim Noah
12-to-14-team starters: Carlos Boozer, D.J. Augustin, Jimmy Butler
Deep-league fliers: Mike Dunleavy, Tony Snell, Taj Gibson, Kirk Hinrich

Cleveland Cavaliers

The addition of a do-it-all star like Luol Deng should make everyone on the team's jobs easier, but there has been an obvious adjustment period for the Cavs so far. Specifically Kyrie Irving seems to be struggling with the addition of another higher-usage player, especially since Deng is someone who can play with the ball in his hands a bit more than the Earl Clarks and Alonzo Gees the Cavaliers were running out there before. Irving is averaging just 16.4 points and 5.8 assists per game over the last five, though those numbers should improvement once he gets more comfortable. We have seen Irving pull out of slumps without much warning, so there is little reason to think he won't do so this time. The Cavaliers' outlook as a team remains little changed this week..

Schedule: DAL, CHI, MIL, PHO
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 21st
10-team starters: Kyrie Irving, Luol Deng
12-to-14-team starters:, Dion Waiters, Anderson Varejao, Tristan Thompson
Deep-league fliers: C.J. Miles, Jarrett Jack, Earl Clark, Tyler Zeller

Dallas Mavericks

The Mavericks center position remains one that could easily turn into a fruitful source of Fantasy goodness if only someone could grab hold of it. The Mavericks split time pretty evenly between their three options there, leaving all of them on the outside looking in for Fantasy purposes. Until Rick Carlisle picks someone and sticks with them, there isn't much worth looking at here..

Schedule: @CLE, @TOR, @BKN, DET
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 15th
10-team starters: Dirk Nowitzki, Monta Ellis
12-to-14-team starters: Shawn Marion, Jose Calderon, Vince Carter
Deep-league fliers: Brandan Wright, Samuel Dalembert, DeJuan Blair

Denver Nuggets

Just when it seemed like this team might be easy to figure out, they throw little-used second-year guard Evan Fournier into the rotation and starting getting solid production. There are now six Nuggets players averaging double-figures in points over the last five games, and one more just on the cusp. The Nuggets play at a fast enough pace to sustain this kind of spread-out scoring, but it sure would be nice if some of those shots going to Fournier and Nate Robinson went to Wilson Chandler and Randy Foye instead, huh? At the very least, it would make predicting things an easier task. The Nuggets don't rank particularly high in strength of schedule for Week 13, but their matchup against the Pacers might be a better one than it appears at first, as the Pacers allow nearly 10 more points per game on the road than at home. Ty Lawson remains the lone must-start here, but the Nuggets are back to the style of play that lets everyone get in on the love, making them a pretty deep team for Fantasy purposes.

Schedule: @POR, IND, @SAC
Strength-of-schedule ranking:19th
10-team starters: Ty Lawson,
12-to-14-team starters: JJ Hickson, Wilson Chandler, Randy Foye, Kenneth Faried
Deep-league fliers:, Timofey Mozgov, Nate Robinson, Evan Fournier

Detroit Pistons

Josh Smith is finally starting to live up to expectations. Sure, he might remain blissfully unaware of silly things like "shooting percentages," but at least he's finally producing. Through much of the season's first half, Smith has been a major disappointment, averaging his lowest numbers across the board since 2008-09. Over the last five games, howver, Smith is looking more like the borderline All-Star of recent years, averaging 18.8 points, 10.2 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 1.6 steals and 2.4 blocks per game. He'll still kill you with his shooting percentages, but at least you're getting high-end production from him elsewhere. Smith is once again a must-start option for Week 13 with a very strong schedule on the way..

Schedule: LAC, @MIL, NO, @DAL
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 7th
10-team starters: None
12-to-14-team starters: Josh Smith, Greg Monroe, Andre Drummond, Brandon Jennings
Deep-league fliers: Rodney Stuckey, Will Bynum, Kyle Singler, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

Golden State Warriors

Andre Iguodala remains maddeningly inconsistent, putting up 22 points last Friday, sandwiched between a pair of 3-point efforts. Unfortunately, there just aren't a ton of shots to go around in Golden State, with Klay Thompson, David Lee and Stephen Curry combining for 51.4 field-goal attempts over the last five games. Iguodala is still providing solid assist numbers, and as long as he does that, he will remain a Fantasy relevant player. Despite his sometimes disappointing scoring, Iguodala is averaging 25.8 Fantasy points per game over the last five, and can be considered a viable low-end starting option for Week 13.

Schedule: IND, MIN, POR
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 22nd
10-team starters: Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, David Lee
12-to-14-team starters: Andre Iguodala
Deep-league fliers: Harrison Barnes, Andrew Bogut

Houston Rockets

Donatas Motiejunas remains a very intriguing young talent, and it looks like the Rockets are hoping the rest of the league agrees. After playing only inconsistent minutes for much of the first half of the season, Motiejunas is starting to see an increase in playing time recently, and he is taking advantage. Motiejunas is averaging 9.7 points per game over his last three games -- albeit with a pair of DNP-Coach's Decisions thrown in there. He isn't Fantasy relevant for Week 13 or the rest of the short term, but he might be someone worth watching, as the Rockets appear to be showcasing him for a possible trade.

Schedule: POR, SAC, MEM, @MEM
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 13th
10-team starters: James Harden, Dwight Howard, Chandler Parsons,
12-to-14-team starters: Jeremy Lin, Terrence Jones
Deep-league fliers: Donatas Motiejuanas, Aaron Brooks, Francisco Garcia, Omri Casspi

Indiana Pacers

Lance Stephenson's development into a borderline star has been a welcome development for the Pacers' title hopes, since he gives them a formidable one-two punch on the perimeter with Paul George. Stephenson's emergence has also been excellent news for Fantasy owners smart enough to take a chance on the youngster. Stephenson has been a thorn in the side of anyone who invested in David West, Roy Hibbert or George Hill, all of whom have been major disappointments this season. Heading into Week 13, all three look like borderline Fantasy players, with only West putting up more than 20 Fantasy points per game over the last five. The Pacers have some great matchups on the way this week, but with nobody to take advantage of them.

Schedule: @GS, @PHO, @SAC, @DEN
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 6th
10-team starters: Paul George, Lance Stephenson
12-to-14-team starters: David West, Roy Hibbert
Deep-league fliers: George Hill, Luis Scola, C.J. Watson, Danny Granger

Los Angeles Clippers

That J.J. Redick remains owned in fewer than 80-percent of Fantasy leagues remains a major mystery to me, because he looks like a must-start candidate in his current role. Redick is only a few games removed from his return to action, but he is already putting up huge numbers in an increased role. With Chris Paul out, Redick is naturally going to have to handle more of the scoring load, and he is well equipped to do so, putting up 36.5 Fantasy points in his first two games back. Redick is going to get just about as many shots as he can handle, and should be able to produce well in Week 13, even against a trio of the league's stingiest defense. He should be started in all category-based Fantasy formats as well.

Schedule: @DET, @CHA, @CHI, @TOR
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 27th
10-team starters:, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, J.J. Redick
12-to-14-team starters: Jamal Crawford, Darren Collison
Deep-league fliers: Jared Dudley

Los Angeles Lakers

Forwards we like for Week 13
Player Own/Start
1. Patrick Patterson, Raptors 28/15
2. Kawhi Leonard, Spurs 96/60
3. Derrick Williams, Kings 28/8
4. Channing Frye, Suns 74/42
5. Ersan Ilyasova, Bucks 76/28
6. Tobias Harris, Magic 91/64
7. Glen Davis, Magic 88/63
8. Mike Scott, Hawks 12/5
9. John Henson, Bucks 96/53
10. John Salmons, Raptors 2/1

Unsurprisingly, Kendall Marshall is struggling a bit since coming out in his first few starts red hot. He is shooting just 37.7 percent over the last five games, and is turning the ball over 3.8 times per game in that same span. Of course, he is still averaging 11.8 points and 10.6 assists per game, so Fantasy owners cannot be too upset about his production, warts and all. Marshall is going to see a different role once the Lakers' bevy of injured point guards gets healthy, but that doesn't look like it is going to happen anytime soon. He remains worth starting in most Fantasy formats in Week 13.

Schedule: @CHI, @MIA, @ORL, @NY
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 25th
10-team starters: Pau Gasol, Jodie Meeks
12-to-14-team starters: Nick Young, Kendall Marshall
Deep-league fliers: Wesley Johnson, Chris Kaman, Jordan Hill, Robert Sacre

Memphis Grizzlies

The basketball Gods are merciful and kind, as they brought us the return of Marc Gasol this past week. Now, everybody make sure you keep them happy so they don't take anyone else in his place as tribute. Gasol is going to be eased back into action, so Fantasy owners shouldn't be rushing to get him into the starting lineup just yet. He should be considered a No.2 Fantasy center for the time being, at least until he gets bumped up to the 30-35 minute mark consistently. Still, it's good to have you back, big fella.

Schedule: NO, @HOU, HOU
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 14th
10-team starters: Mike Conley, Zach Randolph
12-to-14-team starters: Marc Gasol
Deep-league fliers: Courtney Lee, Kosta Koufos, Ed Davis, Mike Miller

Miami Heat

Mario Chalmers is back from his Achilles injury. That's the news here. What else can you say about this team, with so little beyond the Big Three truly worthy of our attention?

Schedule: @ATL, BOS, LAL, SA
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 17th
10-team starters: LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh
12-to-14-team starters: None
Deep-league fliers: Norris Cole, Mario, Chalmers, Ray Allen, Michael Beasley

Milwaukee Bucks

Larry Sanders and John Henson are pretty redundant in terms of skill set, so the presence of both of them in the lineup hurts each one's value. It will be interesting to see how the team manages each player's minutes moving forward, but neither looks particularly useful for Fantasy purposes in Week 13. Their resurgent frontcourt mate Ersan Ilyasova, on the other hand, is living up to expectations recently, averaging 15.0 points and 7.4 rebounds per game over the last five. Fantasy owners have been frustrated with Ilyasova's play, but he seems to be gelling well with Luke Ridnour, who has been running the point recently. Both players look like solid low-end starters for Week 13, with a few solid matchups on the way.

Schedule: DET, @CLE, ATL
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 18th
10-team starters: Brandon Knight
12-to-14-team starters: Ersan Ilyasova, Luke Ridnour
Deep-league fliers: Larry Sanders, Giannis Antetokounmpo, O.J. Mayo, Khris Middleton, Nate Wolters

Minnesota Timberwolves

Ricky Rubio keeps getting bench in the fourth quarter, and even his magnificent passing hasn't been enough to save his sputtering Fantasy value. At this point, Rubio is more of a low-end starting option, and even that might be generous. Over the last five games, he is averaging just 22.4 Fantasy points per game, and his category-based outlook isn't much better. He is adding just 0.8 3-pointers and shooting 31.6 percent from the field overall, and his 7.0 assists simply aren't enough to make up for how much he hurts you everywhere else. Unless you are really hurting for the assists, Rubio might not be worth starting with just three games on the schedule.

Schedule: @UTA, @GS, @POR
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 20th
10-team starters: Kevin Love, Nikola Pekovic
12-to-14-team starters: Kevin Martin
Deep-league fliers: Ricky Rubio, Corey Brewer, Jose Barea, Alexey Shved

New Orleans Pelicans

All it took was simultaneous injuries to Tyreke Evans and Jrue Holiday, but would you look at Eric Gordon! If you squint your eyes really hard (and only look at the last five games), he kind of looks like the type of player you might trade Chris Paul for. Gordon is leading the team in scoring with 23.4 points per game over the last five, and he is flashing some of the pick-and-roll abilities that made him so highly coveted a few years back. He's got a pretty great pick-and-roll partner in Anthony Davis, so Gordon should continue to have success as long as he remains the team's lone real option on the perimeter. He should be active in all fantasy formats in Week 13.

Schedule: @MEM, SAC, @DET, ORL
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 4th
10-team starters: Anthony Davis, Eric Gordon
12-to-14-team starters: None
Deep-league fliers: Brian Roberts, Austin Rivers, Anthony Morrow, Jason Smith, Al-Farouq Aminu

New York Knicks

The Knicks' injury woes have not been as well publicized as some other teams', but they have been hit extremely hard. They lost two more rotation players this week with Amar'e Stoudemire and Kenyon Martin going down with ankle injuries that will likely cost them all of Week 13. Only Stoudemire has relevance among those two, but their collective absence is likely enough to push Bargnani back to starting territory, as the Knicks only really have two reliable big men right now. The Knicks' schedule in Week 13 is one of the softest in the league, so consider Bargnani a solid starting option as he will likely be pressed into heavy minutes in all four games.

Schedule: BKN, PHI, CHA, LAL
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 5th
10-team starters: Carmelo Anthony,
12-to-14-team starters: Andrea Bargnani, Raymond Felton
Deep-league fliers: Tyson Chandler, Tim Hardaway Jr., Iman Shumpert, Beno Udrih

Oklahoma City Thunder

Serge Ibaka has had to deal with an adjustment period following Russell Westbrook's injury, to be certain. Fortunately, he appears to have figured things out, and hasn't really lost much value in the meantime. Ibaka's efficiency has been the biggest issue since Westbrook went down with another knee injury, but he is still putting up terrific numbers; 14.3 points, 12.8 points and 3.8 blocks over the last five games is good for anyone. Reggie Jackson has also settled in after a bit of a rough start, though he is still taking a backseat to Kevin Durant when it comes to playmaking. Beyond those three, this is a barren wasteland for Fantasy purposes.

Schedule: POR, @SA, @BOS, @PHI
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 9th
10-team starters: Kevin Durant, Serge Ibaka, Reggie Jackson
12-to-14-team starters: None
Deep-league fliers: Jeremy Lamb

Orlando Magic

As long as Nikola Vucevic remains sidelined by a concussion, Tobias Harris and Glen Davis should remain viable Fantasy options. With Vucevic missing all but two games so far in the month of January, Harris is averaging 13.8 points and 8.3 rebounds per game (24.2 Fantasy points) and Davis is putting up 15.4 points and 9.3 rebounds (27.8 Fantasy points) in the month of January. With Vucevic's status for Week 13 still in some doubt, both remain viable starting options, but they both carry some risk due to Vucevic's potential return, though less so for Davis, who will likely remain a starter even when Vucevic returns. The Magic face a bunch of subpar defenses this week, so I would get all of my borderline Magic players active for Week 13.

Schedule: @BKN, ATL, LAL, @NO
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 1st
10-team starters: Arron Afflalo, Glen Davis, Jameer Nelson
12-to-14-team starters: Nikola Vucevic, Victor Oladipo, Tobias Harris
Deep-league fliers: None

Philadelphia 76ers

James Anderson is quietly giving the76ers solid production recently, while Tony Wroten has started to bottom out. Despite that, neither really has much Fantasy value beyond deeper category-based formats. Wroten is averaging 14.7 Fantasy points per game over the last five, while Anderson is putting up a solid 24.8 points per game in that same span, a total he may not be able to sustain. With four games on the way against some solid defenses, neither one is much of a starting option for Week 13.

Schedule: @WAS, @NY, TOR, OKC
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 29th
10-team starters: Evan Turner, Spencer Hawes, Michael Carter-Williams, Thaddeus Young
12-to-14-team starters: None
Deep-league fliers: Tony Wroten, James Anderson

Phoenix Suns

Goran Dragic is going to be a must-start option for as long as Eric Bledsoe is out, even with a tough schedule and only three games in Week 13. He is averaging 39.2 Fantasy points per game over the last five, and is looking capable of carrying for the team for long stretches as the go-to guy. Beyond him, you have reliable Channing Frye, a fantastic roto-specialist, and Gerald Green, who may be getting exposed in a larger role since Bledsoe went down. Over the last five games, Green is shooting just 22.5 percent from three-point range, after shooting 38.6 percent through the season's first 33 games. Green remains the team's third-best Fantasy option ahead of a hodgepodge of similarly underwhelming players, but we may be seeing proof of why he has never been more than role player before this. He can be sat in most 10-or 12-team standard scoring leagues for Week 13.

Schedule: IND, WAS, @CLE
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 27th
10-team starters: Goran Dragic, Eric Bledsoe
12-to-14-team starters: Miles Plumlee, Markieff Morris, Gerald Green
Deep-league fliers: Marcus Morris, Channing Frye

Portland Trail Blazers

Discussed above, and there really isn't anything else needed to say here. No team has a higher ratio of Fantasy studs to irrelevant fodder than the Blazers.

Schedule: @HOU, @OKC, DEN, MIN, @GS
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 2nd
10-team starters: Damian Lillard, LaMarcus Aldridge, Nicolas Batum, Wesley Matthews, Robin Lopez
12-to-14-team starters: Mo Williams
Deep-league fliers: None

Sacramento Kings

That thing I said about the Blazers having the highest ratio of studs to duds in the league? Here's one team that can challenge them (there are a few others in the conversation as well.) Derrick Williams is playing solid ball recently, but is still averaging just 19.0 Fantasy points with his 13.2 points per game over the last five. He is borderline-at-best Fantasy option, the only one beyond the team's top three. Hey have a pretty solid schedule for Week 13, but I would only start Williams in deeper leagues even during his hot streak.

Schedule: @NO, @HOU, IND, DEN
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 10th
10-team starters: Isaiah Thomas, DeMarcus Cousins, Rudy Gay
12-to-14-team starters: Derrick Williams
Deep-league fliers: Marcus Thornton, Jason Thompson, Jimmer Fredette

San Antonio Spurs

Centers we like for Week 13
Player Own/Start
1. Kris Humphries, Celtics 55/28
2. Marc Gasol, Grizzlies 99/47
3. Robin Lopez, Trail Blazers 88/65
4. Larry Sanders, Bucks 84/38
5. Pero Antic, Hawks 11/3

Kawhi Leonard may not be making The Jump, but he is playing better of late. Leonard isn't really taking on more of a scoring load, but he is doing more scoring than usual, averaging 14.8 points per game over the last five. He seems to have fixed his early season shooting problems, and is still filling up the box score exceptionally well. Even with a subpar schedule on the way, he should be active in all category-based Fantasy formats in Week 13.

Schedule: OKC, @ATL, @MIA
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 29th
10-team starters: Tony Parker, Tim Duncan, Kawhi Leonard
12-to-14-team starters: Manu Ginobili, Marco Belinelli
Deep-league fliers: Patty Mills, Boris Diaw

Toronto Raptors

Consistency remains an issue for Jonas Valanciunas, as it does for pretty much all young big men not named Jonas Valanciunas. He is averaging 10.0 points per game over the last, but that includes two games with 15-plus points and three with fewer than nine. His playing time has also been somewhat less than we expected in that span, though he is still averaging 28.2 minutes per game in the month of January. He remains a nightly double-double threat, but matchups will likely determine his utility on a weekly basis for Fantasy purposes. With four games on the way, including the #PhillyBump, Valanciunas looks like a solid low-end starting option for Week 13.

Schedule: @CHA, DAL, @PHI, LAC
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 11th
10-team starters: DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry
12-to-14-team starters: Jonas Valanciunas
Deep-league fliers: Terrence Ross, Amir Johnson, Patrick Patterson, John Salmons, Greivis Vasquez

Utah Jazz

Enes Kanter is going to flip a lot of Fantasy championships in a few months, of that I am fairly confident. Ty Corbin keeps playing pretty useless veterans over his talented young center, but that cannot continue. Developing Kanter and Derrick Favors as the frontcourt of the future is the most important thing this franchise can do, and down the road, Kanter is going to be a Fantasy game-changer. For now, when he goes into every game uncertain of his role, he remains too difficult to rely on every week. Though he is averaging 14.6 points and 6.6 rebounds per game over the last five, he is seeing just 22.4 minutes on average. With just two games on the schedule, Kanter cannot be relied on for Week 13.

Schedule: MIN, WAS
Strength-of-schedule ranking:26th
10-team starters: Trey Burke
12-to-14-team starters: Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors, Alec Burks
Deep-league fliers: Enes Kanter, Richard Jefferson, Marvin Williams

Washington Wizards

John Wall has been absolutely devastating recently, averaging 24.8 points and 8.6 assists per game over the last five, while shooting 51.1 percent from the field. Unfortunately, his success hasn't yielded great results for some of his teammates, in particular Martell Webster and Bradley Beal, who are averaging just 14.6 and 21.4 Fantasy points per game over the last five. With those two largely splitting time next to Wall and Trevor Ariza, they are difficult to rely on for Fantasy purposes, but I might role the dice on them in category-based leagues for Week 13, with a great schedule on the way. The matchup against the 76ers in particular offers an opportunity for big numbers that might be too enticing for Fantasy owners to turn down.

Schedule: PHI, BOS, @PHO, @UTA
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 8th
10-team starters: John Wall
12-to-14-team starters: Bradley Beal, Martell Webster, Trevor Ariza, Nene, Marcin Gortat
Deep-league fliers: Trevor Booker

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Player News
Andray Blatche heading to China
by R.J. White |
(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 |
(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 |
(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 |
(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 |
(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 |
(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, 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 |
(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, 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 |
(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 |
(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 |
(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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