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Week 16 Start 'Em and Sit 'Em

Fantasy Writer
  •  

Regular readers will notice this week's column is a bit different than the rest of the season's so far. With just four days worth of games and the All-Star break hitting Friday, no team in the NBA plays more than twice in Week 16 (Feb. 10-16).

As a result of this schedule quirk, I find there isn't much to analyze this week. With the exception of the four teams who play only once during the week, everything is pretty straight forward in Week 16. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know LaMarcus Aldridge with two games is worth starting over just about every other forward in the league, regardless of opponent.

So, instead of the usual weekly preview, I thought I would take stock of the league's landscape at the All-Star break. Fantasy owners have a tendency to get antsy this time of year, with the trade deadline less than two weeks away and the unofficial start of the tanking season shortly after, a lot about your roster can change just when the scoring periods start to matter most.

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What follows is a look at each team's place at the a-bit-more-than-halfway mark. I will look at the players most likely to be mentioned in trade talks and how they could change your fortunes, or which players you have been stashing might just be worth cutting loose in the coming weeks.

Enjoy what should be a less stressful week than normal. Take some time off to spend with your loved ones this weekend, relishing the knowledge that the results of the dunk contest have no impact on the standings in your Head-to-Head, 14-category, Western Conference-only salary cap league.

The most important part of the season begins after this weekend's festivities.

(All stats up to date through Feb. 7 games)

Atlanta Hawks

Jeff Teague started the season off so well, but has craters since the start of 2014. In 14 games since Jan. 1, Teague is averaging just 25.5 Fantasy points per game, a figure that would rank just 41st for the season. After his hot start, Fantasy owners were hoping Teague was making a jump, but he has floundered since Al Horford's season-ending injury. Teague has also seen his playing time dip recently, a bad sign for his value in the second-half of the season.

Schedule:Schedule: @CHI, @TOR
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 28th
10-team starters: Paul Millsap
12-to-14-team starters: Kyle Korver, Jeff Teague, DeMarre Carroll
Deep-league fliers: Mike Scott, Shelvin Mack, Lou Williams, Elton Brand

Boston Celtics

Rajon Rondo has been back for less than a month, but we're already starting to see him find his form. He still isn't playing full time minutes, and he had to sit out Friday's game due to soreness, but he is slowly getting close to full strength. Rondo might still be held out of some back-to-back sets down the stretch, but I would expect him to be a must-start Fantasy option almost without fail each week leading up to the Fantasy playoffs. He will be the Celtics' most-valuable Fantasy option from this point on, though Jared Sullinger could go off for a big second half and emerge as a borderline No. 1 Fantasy center for the tanking Celtics.

Schedule: @MIL, SA
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 16th
10-team starters: Jared Sullinger, Rajon Rondo
12-to-14-team starters: Jeff Green, Avery Bradley
Deep-league fliers: Phil Pressey, Chris Johnson, Kris Humphries, Brandon Bass, Kelly Olynyk

Brooklyn Nets

Guards we like for Week 16
Player Own/Start
1. Steve Blake, Lakers 68/38
2. Dion Waiters, Cavaliers 70/35
3. Randy Foye, Nuggets 79/58
4. Alec Burks, Jazz 57/23
5. Nick Calathes, Grizzlies 21/12
6. J.R. Smith, Knicks 81/52
7. George Hill, Pacers 81/52
8. Tim Hardaway Jr., Knicks 32/12
9. Evan Fournier, Nuggets 16/7
10. Patty Mills, Spurs 14/7

Andray Blatche hasn't been the most consistent contributing this season, but he has definitely found himself recently, averaging 26.3 Fantasy points per game over the last 10. He has been the Nets' best Fantasy option in that time, though he is still owned in just 76-percent of CBSSports.com leagues. I would expect Deron Williams to surpass him in value down the stretch, but Blatche is a perfect candidate to target for a team looking for a boost heading into the playoffs. His perceived value is lower than his actual value, and a savvy Fantasy owner could take advantage of that by buying cheap on a player who has been a solid No. 2 center.

Schedule: CHA, @CHI
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 27th
10-team starters: Deron Williams, Paul Pierce, Andray Blatche
12-to-14-team starters: Joe Johnson, Mirza Teletovic, Shaun Livingston
Deep-league fliers: Kevin Garnett, Jason Terry, Alan Anderson, Andrei Kirilenko

Charlotte Bobcats

This has been one of the league's top-heaviest teams when healthy this season, and there is little to suggest that will change. Al Jefferson and Kemba Walker will continue receiving a heavy chunk of the team's touches, with Gerald Henderson pretty much standing alone as the team's only useful role player for Fantasy purposes. Injuries are the only thing that could conceivably change this team's offensive game plan, and as the season draws close to the end, the incentive to hang on to guys like Josh McRoberts (57-percent owned) or Ramon Sessions (46-percent owned) will go down. If you can possibly package them in a deal, now would be the time to do it.

Schedule: DAL, @BKN
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 7th
10-team starters: Al Jefferson, Kemba Walker
12-to-14-team starters: Gerald Henderson
Deep-league fliers: Josh McRoberts, Ramon Sessions, Anthony Tolliver, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

Chicago Bulls

The Bulls have two power forwards who seem a bit redundant right now, with Taj Gibson and Carlos Boozer putting up similar offense numbers recently. Gibson is much more likely to be a long-term piece of this team's plans, but Boozer is unlikely to be moved at the trade deadline, so the glut will continue through the rest of the season. Both players will likely be intermittently useful at times, but will be more consistently frustrating than anything. Both are worth owning, but it might be worth exploring a trade for one just to rid yourself of the weekly headache.

Schedule: ATL, BKN
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 13th
10-team starters: Joakim Noah, D.J. Augustin, Jimmy Butler
12-to-14-team starters: Carlos Boozer, Mike Dunleavy, Taj Gibson
Deep-league fliers: Tony Snell, Kirk Hinrich

Cleveland Cavaliers

This is one of those teams that should scare Fantasy owners, at least until the trade deadline passes. Owner Dan Gilbert appears to have hit the panic button, firing general manager Chris Grant and casting a general pall over the franchise for the time being. With the exception of Kyrie Irving, anyone on the roster could be moved in a panic trade during the next two weeks, and nothing would really come as a surprise. Relying on anyone here is a risky proposition down the stretch, though Anderson Varejao's recent play makes him someone worth targeting as a No. 2 center for the playoffs.

Schedule: SAC, @DET
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 11th
10-team starters: Kyrie Irving
12-to-14-team starters: Luol Deng, Anderson Varejao, Tristan Thompson
Deep-league fliers: Dion Waiters, C.J. Miles, Jarrett Jack, Tyler Zeller

Dallas Mavericks

Between 17 and 21-percent of CBSSports.com leagues still have a team with either DeJuan Blair, Samuel Dalembert or Brandan Wright on the roster, so at least some of you are holding out hope that the situation will settle itself in the season's final months. Unfortunately, while each player might have some value in case they take on a larger role, I think Fantasy owners still holding out hope are chasing percentages they cannot possibly catch. If you are still stashing one of those three, you have to hope one of the other two gets hurt and then your guy gets the bulk of the minutes. There are almost certainly better options readily available on waivers, leaving little reason to own any of this trio. Don't get left empty-handed because you were waiting on Brandan Wright.

Schedule: @CHA, @IND
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 29th
10-team starters: Dirk Nowitzki, Monta Ellis
12-to-14-team starters: Vince Carter, Jose Calderon
Deep-league fliers: Devin Harris, Shawn Marion, Brandan Wright, Samuel Dalembert, DeJuan Blair

Denver Nuggets

Denver has quietly been hit hard by injuries this season, with JaVale McGee likely joining Nate Robinson and Danilo Gallinari as out for the season. With the recent report of McGee's slower-than-expected recovery, there is little reason for him to be owned in 32 percent of leagues at the All-Star break. Brian Shaw is still looking for a rotation he can trust, and injuries have forced him into the waiting arms of Randy Foye, who has emerged as one of the team's go-to offensive options. Foye slipped in the rotation in November and December, but injuries have pushed him into a huge role ever since, and that should continue after the All-Star break. The Nuggets need Foye's shot-making from the perimeter, and his status as the de-facto backup point guard with Robinson and Andre Miller out should keep him in line for big minutes moving forward. Foye is averaging 16.5 points, 4.2 assists and 3.8 rebounds per game since Jan. 1, and should be a Fantasy difference maker down the stretch.

Schedule: @IND, @MIN
Strength-of-schedule ranking:23rd
10-team starters: Ty Lawson, Wilson Chandler, Randy Foye, J.J. Hickson
12-to-14-team starters: None
Deep-league fliers: Evan Fournier, Kenneth Faried, Timofey Mozgov, Anthony Randolph

Detroit Pistons

The Pistons are one of those teams that should be helped greatly from a Fantasy perspective if they make a big deal at the trade deadline. Specifically, a trade of Greg Monroe would likely have a big positive impact for both Monroe and his current Pistons' teammates. The Pistons' decision to build around a trio of big men has pretty clearly failed, and moving one of them would likely help all parties involved. Monroe is obviously capable of more than the 14.3 points and 8.8 rebounds per game he is averaging, so a trade would be a boon for his value. It is tough to advocate for targeting a player based on a trade that is by no means a guarantee to happen, but that is the best-case scenario for frustrated Monroe owners. If the trade deadline passes and he stays in Detroit, you might want to look into trading him yourself.

Schedule: SA, CLE
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 14th
10-team starters: Josh Smith, Greg Monroe, Andre Drummond, Brandon Jennings
12-to-14-team starters: Rodney Stuckey
Deep-league fliers: Will Bynum, Kyle Singler, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

Golden State Warriors

Hopefully the All-Star break can help get Andre Iguodala back to full health, because he has turned into one of the league's bigger disappointments this season. He fits in well with what the Warriors do, but he has been strangely passive since returning from his hamstring injury in mid-December. In 25 games, he is averaging just 19.7 Fantasy points per game, yet he remains owned in 94 percent of CBSSports.com leagues. Fantasy owners are obviously holding out hope that Iguodala can get back to his stat-sheet stuffing ways, but you have to wonder how long he is worth hanging on to. Unless Iguodala starts showing some improvements, he might be someone you consider dropping as you make your playoff push..

Schedule: PHI, MIA
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 6th
10-team starters: Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, David Lee
12-to-14-team starters: Andrew Bogut
Deep-league fliers: Andre Iguodala, Harrison Barnes, Jordan Crawford, Marreese Speights

Houston Rockets

The Rockets have one major trade chip left to work with, even though they reportedly closed that door back in December when they stopped fielding offers for Omer Asik. The biggest potential change they could see would be with the addition of the long-rumored stretch four to play next to Dwight Howard, though Terrence Jones' development has softened the calls for a big move. It looks more likely than not that the Rockets will stand pat, so fear not Jones owners. He should remain a useful piece throughout the Fantasy playoffs.

Schedule: @MIN, WAS
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 11th
10-team starters: James Harden, Dwight Howard, Chandler Parsons
12-to-14-team starters: Terrence Jones
Deep-league fliers: Jeremy Lin, Patrick Beverley, Donatas Motiejuanas, Aaron Brooks, Omri Casspi

Indiana Pacers

The Pacers have one gigantic trade chip in Danny Granger's expiring contract, but there hasn't been much noise about them trying to cash it in. They like their team and seemingly aren't looking to make any changes, by all accounts. They did make what will likely prove to be a small move last week with the signing of Andrew Bynum, though Fantasy owners are reacting as if it might actually prove impactful for some reason. Look, I get it; Andrew Bynum was one of the best centers in the league a few years ago, and was an absolute stud in his final season with the Lakers. Having said that, however, we are far enough removed from that to look at him rationally and say that whatever you might be waiting on just isn't going to happen. Bynum averaged just 8.4 points and 5.3 rebounds per game with the Cavaliers, and that was when he wasn't backing up the league's most dominant defensive presence. Despite the evidence against him, Fantasy owners still want to believe in Bynum, who is now owned in 50-percent of CBSSports.com leagues, a jump of five percent in just the last week. Bynum probably isn't even going to average 10 minutes per game moving forward, let alone play a large enough role to be Fantasy relevant. He is an absolute waste of a roster space; quite frankly, that doesn't seem like a strong enough condemnation of his Fantasy value.

Schedule: DEN, DAL
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 4th
10-team starters: Paul George, Lance Stephenson
12-to-14-team starters: George Hill, David West, Roy Hibbert
Deep-league fliers: Luis Scola, C.J. Watson, Danny Granger

Los Angeles Clippers

With Chris Paul back, Darren Collison should prove to be a non-factor in the second half of the season. He has averaged just 8.3 points and 2.1 assists per game as a reserve this season, and the Clippers play just 27 times after Week 16, further limiting any value he might have. The Clippers schedule leaves Fantasy owners who are headed to the playoffs ins something of a bind; they play just twice during Week 14, when most Fantasy championships are held, however they play four times each of the previous two weeks. When making a trade involving someone like Blake Griffin or Chris Paul, you will definitely want to keep that in mind. The Clippers might help carry you to a championship, but you could be left high and dry once you get there.

Schedule: POR
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 19th
10-team starters: Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, Jamal Crawford, Chris Paul
12-to-14-team starters: J.J. Redick
Deep-league fliers: Darren Collison, Jared Dudley, Matt Barnes

Los Angeles Lakers

If you at all can afford to, just steer clear of the Lakers at this point. Really. Their overtaxed training staff is having all kinds of trouble keeping up with the injuries, and a new player goes down with an injury seemingly every day. Pau Gasol was just starting to come back around as an elite Fantasy option before going down with a groin strain that will keep him out two weeks. It has been that kind of season for the Lakers, as anyone who has tried to rely on their patchwork roster can attest. This team is just so hard to predict right now, with Kendall Marshall going from savoir to role player. He is the one player I would target in a buy-low trade, because he is going to remain productive even in limited minutes and is just a Steve Nash or Steve Blake injury away from another big role. I would bet on him starting at least 10 games after the All-Star break.

Schedule: UTA, OKC
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 22nd
10-team starters: Steve Blake
12-to-14-team starters: Wesley Johnson, Ryan Kelly
Deep-league fliers: Steve Nash, Kendall Marshall, Jodie Meeks, Jordan Farmar, Chris Kaman, Jordan Hill, Robert Sacre

Memphis Grizzlies

Though Zach Randolph's name has been mentioned countless times in talks about trades, the scuttlebutt rarely seems to come from NBA sources, it seems. The small-market Grizzlies have shown a willingness to make bold moves, and they would obviously like to get out from Randolph's deal, but no recent rumors have come out surrounding this team, so they seem content to ride into a battle for a playoff spot with this core. With Mike Conley likely returning around the All-Star break, this team's hierarchy for the stretch run seems set; Nick Calathes won't be a factor, so enjoy that while it lasts.

Schedule: WA, @ORL
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 9th
10-team starters: Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol
12-to-14-team starters: Nick Calathes, Courtney Lee, James Johnson
Deep-league fliers: Mike Conley, Kosta Koufos, Ed Davis, Mike Miller

Miami Heat

Forwards we like for Week 16
Player Own/Start
1. DeMarre Carroll, Hawks 68/38
2. Danny Green, Spurs 46/20
3. Marvin Williams, Jazz 38/19
4. Khris Middleton, Bucks 58/34
5. Danny Granger, Pacers 67/23
6. Wesley Johnson, Lakers 44/27
7. Ryan Kelly, Lakers 30/17
8. Taj Gibson, Bulls 83/61
9. Chase Budinger, Timberwolves 7/2
10. P.J. Tucker, Suns 41/16

The Heat are three games back of the Pacers and 9.5 ahead of the Hawks in the Eastern Conference standings, so they are pretty close to locking themselves into that No. 2 seed. Unless they rip off a big run in February and March, we could be looking at a situation where Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and LeBron James are taking copious amounts of time off to rest right in the middle of the Fantasy playoffs. The Heat still have a league-high 31 games on the schedule after Week 16, so I wouldn't suggest trading any of the Big Three, but you'll want to look into adding guys like Norris Cole, Ray Allen and Michael Beasley toward the end of March if they look likely to start filling in the bigger gaps in the team's rotation.

Schedule: @PHO, @GS
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 16th
10-team starters: LeBron James, Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade
12-to-14-team starters: None
Deep-league fliers: Norris Cole, Mario Chalmers, Ray Allen, Michael Beasley

Milwaukee Bucks

The Bucks have rebuffed rivals who have come to sniff around Larry Sanders in trades, so you can feel pretty confident he will be sticking around past the trade deadline. That might not necessarily be such a good thing, because the situation in Milwaukee is toxic at this point. Sanders has put together a very solid run recently, and is the very definition of a buy-low candidate. Some Larry Sanders owner is bound to be frustrated by his massively disappointing season, and might be willing to give him up for cheap. Sanders is averaging 13.4 points, 10.4 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game over the last five; go get him.

Schedule: BOS, NO
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 18th
10-team starters: Brandon Knight
12-to-14-team starters: Larry Sanders
Deep-league fliers: John Henson, Ersan Ilyasova, Luke Ridnour, Giannis Antetokounmpo, O.J. Mayo, Khris Middleton, Nate Wolters

Minnesota Timberwolves

The Timberwolves will likely get Nikola Pekovic back this week, as he recovers from bursitis in his ankle. Fantasy owners have to be happy about that, but his issues with his ankle also have to bring up some questions about his ability to contribute consistently even when he gets back. According to ProSportsTransactions.com, Pekovic has missed time in each of his four seasons due to issues with his ankles, including in April of 2012, when he had bone spurs removed from the ankle that is causing him problems now. Pekovic has played in just 77.3 percent of the team's games over the last three seasons, and persistent ankle injuries have to be a concern given his nearly 300-pound frame. He might be someone you look to avoid in trades even when he comes back.

Schedule: HOU, DEN
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 5th
10-team starters: Kevin Love, Kevin Martin, Ricky Rubio
12-to-14-team starters: None
Deep-league fliers: Corey Brewer, Jose Barea, Alexey Shved

New Orleans Pelicans

The looming question surrounding the Pelicans coming out of the All-Star break will be when, exactly, point guard Jrue Holiday will be returning. The team has given very few updates on his recovery from a stress fracture, leaving Fantasy owners entirely in the dark about when they might have him back. His absence has not really made a big impact on his teammates play, with Tyreke Evans and Eric Gordon seeing just slight bumps in their production, so Holiday's return probably won't change the rotation too much. If I am locked into a playoff spot already, Holiday is probably my number one trade target right now; he could come back from injury as a true difference maker down the stretch for your Fantasy roster, and his cost will likely be low enough that you won't miss whoever you give up by the time the playoffs roll around.

Schedule: @TOR, @MIL
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 19th
10-team starters: Anthony Davis, Eric Gordon
12-to-14-team starters: Brian Roberts, Tyreke Evans
Deep-league fliers: Austin Rivers, Anthony Morrow, Greg Stiemsma, Al-Farouq Aminu

New York Knicks

Still sitting on the outside looking in of the East's dreadful playoff bracket, the Knicks would probably love to swing a big, franchise-changing trade. Unfortunately, they are stuck with the roster they have, the one that has carried them to a dreadful 19 and 30 record. For Fantasy owners, that means that things will likely stay very much the same way they have been, though it wouldn't surprise me to see Raymond Felton's role continue to shrink; it might have already started, as he played just 23 minutes in Wednesday's close loss. I have defended Felton at times, but if you have been counting on him to fill out the bottom of your starting lineup, you probably want to look for an upgrade before your league's trade deadline.

Schedule: SAC
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 15th
10-team starters: Carmelo Anthony
12-to-14-team starters: J.R. Smith
Deep-league fliers: Raymond Felton, Tyson Chandler, Tim Hardaway Jr., Iman Shumpert, Beno Udrih, Amar'e Stoudemire

Oklahoma City Thunder

If someone in your league has been hard enough by injuries that they are desperate for guard help, now might be the time to think about offering them Reggie Jackson. He has played exceptionally as a starter, but he should be moving back to a spot on the bench soon enough, with Russell Westbrook's return looming. The Thunder might try to ease Westbrook back in at first, but Jackson is likely to be just a low-end Fantasy option by the time the playoffs roll around, and the Thunder play just 27 times after Week 16, the fewest games left in the league.

Schedule: @POR, @LAL
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 2nd
10-team starters: Kevin Durant, Serge Ibaka, Reggie Jackson
12-to-14-team starters: None
Deep-league fliers: Jeremy Lamb

Orlando Magic

The issue with Orlando all season for Fantasy purposes is how much overlap there is on the roster. They have undoubtedly talented players, but seemingly everyone but Jameer Nelson and Nikola Vucevic is redundant enough that a full-time role simply doesn't make much sense. Tobias Harris showed he can carry a Fantasy team after last year's All-Star break, when he averaging 17.3 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game, and he put up similar numbers this January when Vucevic was out with a lengthy concussion. Unfortunately, Harris is best suited to play power forward, and the Magic have Glen Davis around, who they stubbornly continue to play. If Davis suffers an injury (or, in a more unlikely scenario, is traded), Harris would probably be a must-start Fantasy option yet again. He is a buy-low candidate at this point, but not one that is necessarily a given to provide a return on investment.

Schedule: MEM
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 20th
10-team starters: Arron Afflalo, Nikola Vucevic
12-to-14-team starters: Jameer Nelson
Deep-league fliers: Victor Oladipo, Glen Davis, Tobias Harris

Philadelphia 76ers

The 76ers seemed like one of the teams most likely to move key pieces at the trade deadline, but recent reports indicate a changed landscape. The Sixers reportedly will not be moving anyone unless first-round picks are coming back their way, and teams have been understandably wary of parting with valuable picks in recent seasons. That means, this team, which has been surprisingly stable and reliable through the season, could be kept together at least until the offseason. That bodes well for Spencer Hawes, Evan Turner and Thaddeus Young, all of whom seem more likely than not to spend the rest of their seasons playing in the fertile, fast-paced Sixers offense.

Schedule: @GS, @UTA
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 21st
10-team starters: Evan Turner, Spencer Hawes, Michael Carter-Williams, Thaddeus Young
12-to-14-team starters: James Anderson
Deep-league fliers: Tony Wroten

Phoenix Suns

Eric Bledsoe has managed to avoid any setbacks in his recovery from knee surgery, but we still don't really have a concrete timetable for his possible return. He was an elite Fantasy guard at the time of his injury, so, his possible return should be a boon for Fantasy purposes, even if we don't know exactly when it will come. If you can afford to wait, trading for Bledsoe is a great way to give your team a boost come playoff time.

Schedule: MIA
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 26th
10-team starters: Goran Dragic
12-to-14-team starters: Gerald Green, Markieff Morris, Channing Frye
Deep-league fliers: Miles Plumlee, Marcus Morris, Leandro Barbosa, Ish Smith, P.J. Tucker

Portland Trail Blazers

The Trail Blazers, more than perhaps any other team in the league, seem like a solid bet to stand pat at the trade deadline. This team likes where they are right now, with a solid rotation and consistent hierarchy leading to sustained success. At this point, we have a pretty good idea of who the Blazers are, and nobody on this team's value is likely to change much, for better or worse.

Schedule: OKC, @LAC
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 22nd
10-team starters: Damian Lillard, LaMarcus Aldridge, Nicolas Batum, Wesley Matthews
12-to-14-team starters: Robin Lopez
Deep-league fliers: Mo Williams

Sacramento Kings

Centers we like for Week 16
Player Own/Start
1. Chris Kaman, Lakers 21/8
2. Larry Sanders, Bucks 86/46
3. Jonas Valanciunas, Raptors 91/58
4. Anderson Varejao, Cavaliers 98/68
5. Ronny Turiaf, Timberwolves 11/8

The Kings are a lot like the Blazers in that they have a set consistent hierarchy, but they are much more likely to pull off a trade at some point in the new few weeks. This team has a lot of money tied up over the next few years, but they also have a lot of pieces that could be easily moved in the event of a trade. Still, the high-usage trio of Isaiah Thomas, Rudy Gay and DeMarcus Cousins is unlikely to go anywhere, and as long as they are here they will dominate the ball, leaving little else of not for Fantasy owners.

Schedule: @CLE, @NYK
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 12th
10-team starters: DeMarcus Cousins, Rudy Gay, Isaiah Thomas
12-to-14-team starters: None
Deep-league fliers: Derrick Williams, Marcus Thornton, Jason Thompson, Jimmer Fredette, Aaron Gray

San Antonio Spurs

The Spurs seem unlikely to pull of a big trade at the deadline, but they are always making moves to tinker around the margins. The biggest question for them will simply be whether they can get and then stay healthy for the second's final two months. For Fantasy owners, the questions surround the statuses of Manu Ginobili and Kawhi Leonard, and how their eventual returns will impact the team's rotation down the stretch. Leonard will likely need at least a few weeks after the All-Star break to get healthy, but should be back with plenty of time to help you in your stretch run. He is still owned in 87-percent of CBSSports.com leagues, while Ginobili is down to 60 percent, but both are worth stashing if you can afford it.

Schedule: @DET, @BOS
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 8th
10-team starters: Tony Parker, Tim Duncan
12-to-14-team starters: Boris Diaw, Marco Belinelli
Deep-league fliers: Patty Mills, Cory Joseph

Toronto Raptors

At one point, it seemed like a given that Kyle Lowry would be out of Toronto by the deadline. Now, with the Raptors sitting in third place in the Eastern Conference and Lowry playing like an All-Star despite his snub, conventional wisdom has the Raptors hanging on to Lowry and riding him to home-court advantage in the playoffs. He should continue his strong play, and is a must-start down the stretch for the Raptors. One player who could make a jump down the stretch is center Jonas Valanciunas, one of the few young big men who can rival Kanter in terms of offensive potential. Valanciunas is enjoying a run of strong play, averaging 13.2 points and 9.4 rebounds per game over the last 10, and is starting to earn more minutes. Valanciunas took a step forward in the second half of his rookie season, and seems primed to do so yet again.

Schedule: NO, ATL
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 10th
10-team starters: DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry
12-to-14-team starters: Greivis Vasquez, Terrence Ross
Deep-league fliers: Jonas Valanciunas, Amir Johnson, Patrick Patterson, John Salmons

Utah Jazz

I expect Enes Kanter to have an absolutely monstrous second half for Fantasy purposes, if only because the Jazz have to start tanking at some point. Right? Kanter has his flaws as a player, but I would bet on the Jazz eventually turning over a significant role to their talented young big man, especially since he will be up for a contract extension this offseason. The team simply needs to see what it has in Kanter, who is still just 21 and with a world of talent, especially on the offensive side of the floor. If you are looking for this year's Tobias Harris-type second-half breakout, Kanter should be on your radar; in fact, he is still available in 20 percent of CBSSports.com leagues.

Schedule: @LAL, PHI
Strength-of-schedule ranking:1st
10-team starters: Trey Burke, Gordon Hayward
12-to-14-team starters: Derrick Favors, Alec Burks, Enes Kanter
Deep-league fliers: Richard Jefferson, Marvin Williams, Jeremy Evans

Washington Wizards

The Wizards might like to make a trade to bolster their playoff standing, but the resources don't seem to be in place to make any kind of big move. This is the roster they will ride into the playoffs with, and it doesn't seem likely to provide much in the way of surprises for Fantasy owners. The wild card is guard Bradley Beal, whose breakout season was derailed by a leg injury. He was only recently cleared to play something like full-time minutes, but is a prime candidate for a second-half bounceback. Remember, he averaged 20.9 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game in the month of November, so he is obviously capable of being a big-time contributor. However, he may need an offseason of rehabilitation to get back to the form that allowed him to play so well early in the season, making him very much a risky bet.

Schedule: @MEM, @HOU
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 25th
10-team starters: John Wall
12-to-14-team starters: Bradley Beal, Trevor Ariza, Nene, Marcin Gortat
Deep-league fliers: Martell Webster, Trevor Booker

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Player News
Hawks G Jeff Teague testing out prescription goggles
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(9/30/2014) Hawks guard Jeff Teague will need to wear corrective lenses on the court for the first time in his career. He told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Tuesday that he'll test out prescription goggles during training camp.

"I prefer to wear the goggles," Teague said. "The goggles were pretty good today. We’ll see."

Teague averaged 16.5 points, 6.7 assists and 2.6 rebounds over 79 games.


Rockets to pick up options on Terrence Jones, Donatas Motiejunas
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(9/30/2014) The Rockets intend to pick up the fourth-year option on the contracts of Terrence Jones and Donatas Motiejunas, according to the Houston Chronicle on Tuesday. Head coach Kevin McHale also indicated that the power forward position is an "open competition" heading into the start of training camp.

Nets giving Brook Lopez the freedom to take more jumpers
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(9/30/2014) Nets head coach Lionel Hollins told reporters he's given center Brook Lopez the freedom to shoot more jumpers this season, per the New York Post.

"It's been a mixture of high post and low post, depending on our set," Lopez said, per the Brooklyn Game. "It's been a lot of moving the ball, we have a lot of smart guys that can move the ball. So we want to take advantage of that."


76ers' Jason Richardson may not play this season
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(9/30/2014) The 76ers have not revealed whether guard Jason Richardson will actually play this season, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer on Tuesday. The 33-year-old missed last season recovering from knee surgery. He is expected to be the highest-paid player entering this season.

"We'll see," general manager Sam Hinkie said. "He'll definitely have a role as a voice on our team. He was helpful in that last year. He wasn't able to contribute for us on the floor, but he contributed in lots of other ways."


Jeff Green, Gerald Wallace could earn minutes at PF
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(9/30/2014) Celtics head coach Brad Stevens indicated that Jeff Green and Gerald Wallace could earn some minutes at power forward to start the season, according to the MetroWest Daily News on Tuesday. The move would likely cut into the playing time of Jared Sullinger and Brandon Bass.

Green appeared in all 82 games last season for the Celtics, averaging 16.9 points, 4.6 boards and 1.7 assists per outing. Wallace was limited to 58 games in 2013-14 and averaged only 5.1 points in 24.4 minutes per game.


Pistons' Brandon Jennings worked on adding weight in offseason
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(9/30/2014) Pistons guard Brandon Jennings added weight in the offseason, most of which he lost when he had his jaw wired shut at the beginning of last season. He's hoping the added weight and strength will help him defensively this season, per the Oakland Press.

"I didn't put on 25 pound of muscle or anything like that. I just gained my weight back and I'm excited at the weight I'm at," Jennings said. "I think more on the defensive end it's going to help a lot, just fighting through screens, being tougher and just taking on that challenge on the defensive end. Offensively, it's going to help me hold up more during the season."


Bulls C Joakim Noah taking cautious approach to season
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(9/30/2014) Bulls center Joakim Noah hopes he won't be limited by his surgically repaired left knee this season, according to ESPN Chicago on Tuesday.

"Obviously this is the first time I've ever had surgery on my knee so I'm hoping there's no limitations," Noah said. "But I just have to be a little bit more cautious. But it's exciting, it's really exciting. I know that this is a long journey we're about to embark (on) and I just want to be as ready as possible."

Noah enjoyed the best season of his career last year, post averages of 12.6 points, 11.3 rebounds and 5.4 assists in 80 games. He also won his first Defensive Player of the Year award along with first-team All-NBA honors.


Mavericks G Jameer Nelson receives reps with first unit
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(9/30/2014) Although the Mavericks have not named their starting point guard, the team provided a good hint at who they're leaning on for the start of the season. Jameer Nelson, who head coach Rick Carlisle called a "natural leader," received reps with the first unit during the first practice of training camp on Tuesday, ESPN Dallas reports.

"He's just got a grit and toughness about him that we really need on this team this year," Carlisle, said. "His game is going to help us, but his personality is going to help us, too."


Warriors C Andrew Bogut full participant in practice Tuesday
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(9/30/2014) Warriors center Andrew Bogut was a full participant during the first training camp practice on Tuesday, per NBA.com.  Bogut suffered a fractured rib in mid-April and appears to be fully recovered from the ailment. He averaged 7.3 points, 10.0 boards and 1.8 blocks per game over 67 games last season.

James Ennis expected to work behind Luol Deng at SF
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(9/30/2014) The Miami Herald reported that James Ennis will be playing most of his minutes at small forward, behind Luol Deng to start the season. Ennis was acquired by the Heat in a draft-day trade last year. The 24-year-old spent last season playing in Australia. 

 
 
 
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