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Week 18 Roto Fact Sheet

by | Fantasy Writer
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The dust has settled from the whirlwind All-Star weekend/trade deadline weeks, and it's now time to nail down your Roto lineup for the stretch run. One of the best strategies you can employ involves locating the 76ers, and to a lesser extend the Lakers, on players' schedules and streaming them for a pace-induced statistical bump. Just ask Marreese Speights, who went for 32 against the 76ers a few weeks ago, or Tyler Zeller, who slapped an 18-and-15 double-double on them last week. The phenomenon we've coined as the #PhillyBump, is real and will probably only get stronger with Evan Turner and Spencer Hawes gone. How is it that these less-than-mediocre players are putting up huge numbers against the Sixers? Several reasons, but mainly because while 29 of 30 NBA teams get between 93 and 101 possessions per game, the 76ers are all alone at 105 a night. That pace combined with their all-offense, no-defense style of play has turned them into daily Fantasy steroids. Leave a roster spot or two open for nights the 76ers play, and reap the benefits on the way to a Roto championship.

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(All stats up to date through Feb. 25 games. Info provided by NBA.com and Teamrankings.com)

Scoring

If you want proof that the quality of play is picking up, just look at the top four scorers over the last 30 days. Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James and Kevin Love are all averaging more than 30 points per game in that span. Blake Griffin is at 29.0 per game -- a good sign that the improvements he made while Chris Paul missed time are here to stay. ... Eric Bledsoe is getting closer to every day, leaving some to question whether or not they should sell-high on Goran Dragic. I'm under the impression that Dragic will continue to be the man. The real sell-high here is Gerald Green, whose scoring has ballooned up to 19.3 points per game over the last 30 days. I'd try and trade Green now to get the best value for him, because his 2.5 made threes per game are destined to drop once Bledsoe comes back. ... CongratsThaddeus Young owners, you won the #PhillyBump hunger games, as Young is the sole survivor of the 76ers' must-trade triumvirate. Evan Turner and Spencer Hawes are gone, which has allowed Young to score a combined 58 points in two games. He's also recorded an improbable 13 steals, 13 assists in that two-game span. Maybe this otherworldy production ceases when (if) Byron Mullens can crack the starting lineup, but until then, kick back and enjoy. Speaking of Philly, they've given up an improbable 122.7 points per game over their last three, including 130 Monday against the Bucks. Look for Philly on the schedule. ... Alec Burks has been steadily Alec Burksing, scoring in double figures in each of his last seven games -- including four games of 20-plus. Utah relies on him to attack the rim, so he'll be a cheap source of points all year. ... Patty Mills has been a Fantasy hero in Tony Parker's absence, but he's been prone to bouts of disappointment. His point totals: 7, 12, 15, 5, 23, 16, 32, 6, 16, 25, 29, 4. Not sure what to expect from him going forward, but the proportion of highs to lows makes him worth rolling the dice on while Parker rests.

Field-goal percentage

Marcin Gortat might be the main beneficiary of Nene's four-to-six week absence. He's making almost 60 percent of his shots from the field over the last 30 days and has recorded five-straight double-doubles. ... Keep an eye on Nick Collison because he too will be getting more minutes with his team down a starting big man. Kendrick Perkins' minutes will be up for grabs for the rest of the regular season, and Collison shoots an efficient 56.1 percent from the field on the season. More minutes will also mean more assist opportunities for Collison, who's one of the most underrated frontcourt passers in the NBA. ... The Nuggets hope to get Timofey Mozgov more involved on offense, which is why they inserted him into the starting lineup Tuesday night. He finished with 14, six and two blocks while going an efficient five of eight from the field. ... Brandan Wright is near the top of my "guys I wish got more minutes" list. He's averaging 18.8 points on 66 percent shooting, 8.5 rebounds, 1.6 blocks and 1.0 steals per 36 minutes this season. That's great, except for the fact that he's only logged 20-plus minuets 12 times this season and has yet to record a 30-minute outing. Let him play, coach!

Rebounds

J.J. Hickson owners might have cringed when they learned their scrappy Fantasy center would be coming off the bench in favor of Mozgov. But then Hickson went ahead and snatched 25 rebounds while scoring 16 points. He still logged 30 minutes, so maybe this "demotion" will just make him even scrappier on the boards. ... If you're in a Roto league, and you need rebounds, and P.J. Tucker is available, and you haven't picked him up, go ahead and do so. The guy is Hickson's teammate on the NBA "All-Scrap" team. He clawed his way to 16 rebounds Tuesday night and will continue to board strong as Phoenix sticks with smaller lineups going forward. He's really an awful scorer, but rebounds and occasional assists and threes are there for the taking. ... If it wasn't for Roy Hibbert's blocks, there wouldn't be really any reason to keep him on your Fantasy team. I find it fascinating that a 7-foot-2 center who plays 30 minutes a game, has only grabbed double-digit rebounds 17 times in 56 games. Combine that with the fact that he's been held to single-digit scoring seven times in his last 10 games, and you get what amounts to a very lackluster Fantasy center. The space between how good Hibbert is in real life basketball and his Fantasy value might be the widest of any player.

Assists

I'm not panicking on the Kendall Marshall front just yet, even though he's gone three straight with single-digit assists and 25 minutes or less. I'm chalking it up to Mike D'antoni giving his new guys some minutes to see what they can do. Hang on to Marshall for now. ... Mario Chalmers has been great in the assist column lately, tallying 28 dimes over a four-game span. If you need threes, steals and assists, there might not be a better free agent out there than Chalmers. ... Raymond Felton has made headlines for his run-in with the law, which detracts from the fact that he's been a solid assist man lately, totaling 33 in four games. Reports indicate that Felton plans to play Thursday in Miami, so I guess hold on to Felton until something concrete arises form this mess. ... Michael Carter-Williams might end up scoring more now that his team lost half its talent, but he could take a hit in the assist column with no one good enough to pass to. He's passed out just 10 over his last three games. ... Devin Harris is a very sneaky play for assists. He's recorded five or more assists five times in the last six games he's appeared in. ...

Three pointers

O.J. Mayo is finally healthy and took full advantage of the #PhillyBump by nailing seven three pointers in his third game back. He's a notoriously lazy player, so it goes without saying that he'll be launching from deep whenever he can. ... Trevor Ariza is likely in line for more shots with Nene out, and those shots will most definitely come from the three-point line. He made five in the Wizards' first game without Nene, and the long ball has accounted for more than half of Ariza's 744 points on the season. ... Terrence Ross, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Anthony Tolliver are all guys who hit threes and pretty much do nothing else. Unless you're in dire need of a specialist, ignore these guys in free agency. ... I've written about Josh McRoberts for his assist prowess in the past, but lately McBob's also been valuable form beyond the arc. He's averaging 1.7 made threes per game over the last 30 days -- tied with the likes of Jodie Meeks, Kyrie Irving, Bradley Beal and Joe Johnson. ... Channing Frye, Chris Bosh and Spencer Hawes are the only Fantasy centers averaging more than one made three per game over the last 30 days.

Free-throw percentage

Markieff Morris has slowly been morphing from daily streaming option to bonafide Fantasy asset the last few weeks. Included in his solid production is an 81 percent free-throw rate. ... Trey Burke has only shot four free throws in the last 30 days, but he made all four of them, so that's kind of cool, right? ... Mike Scott's minutes are on the upswing with the Hawks scrambling for healthy frontcourt options. Over the last 30 days, he's made an impressive 94.7 percent of his free throws. ... Perhaps an overlooked aspect of Patrick Beverley's limited value is his sterling free-throw rate, which is sitting pretty at 91.7 percent over the last 30 days. ... John Henson is back, but he seems to have left his free-throw form on the bench. He's hit just three of his last 16 attempts from the charity stripe. ... Kendall Marshall doesn't get to the free-throw line often, but when he does, he's bad. Marshall has shot just seven in the last 30 days and only hit four.

Blocks

There aren't many centers more valuable than Robin Lopez in a Roto league. He gets you the elusive blocks and even occasional steals. Over the last 30 days, he's averaging 11.4 points, 10.0 rebounds, and 2.4 blocks while hitting 80 percent of his free throws and 50 percent of his field goals. That's Roto gold right there. ... Anthony Davis is the only player in the NBA averaging 3.0 blocks per game, and is also the only player averaging at least 20 points and 2 blocks per game on the year. ... Who else got #PhillyBumped? Giannis Antetokounmpo got #PhillyBumped. He blocked four shots Monday night and three two nights prior to that. ... If Mozgov can be re-energized by starting games, he'll be a nice source of blocks going forward. He swatted two in 25 minutes against Portland Tuesday night. ... If you're looking to stream blocks, Bismack Biyombo is the man for the job. He's averaging 2.0 per game over the last two weeks despite only playing 13.8 minutes a night.

Steals/Turnovers

I already mentioned it above, but it warrants a second: Thaddeus Young has combined for 13 steals in two games. Wow. ... Perkins' injury could open up more minutes for Thabo Sefolosha, who's averaging 2.3 steals per game over the last 30 days. ... Evan Turner recorded a steal in his first game as a Pacer. He played 26 minutes, but I'm chalking that up to the fact that they were playing the high-octane Lakers and handled them easily. Closer, slower games will spell fewer minutes for Turner. If you want to stream steals,Corey Brewer is a nice bet. He's scoring adequately with Kevin Martin out of the lineup and is averaging 2.4 per game over the last two weeks. ... Another sneaky source of steals is Suns backup point guard Ish Smith. He's snagged six in his last two games and could be in line for some extended minutes with Goran Dragic deals with an ankle injury. ... Tony Wroten looks due for a slight upgrade in value now that there are more minutes to go around, but his turnover rate is astronomical considering the fact that he's only logging 24 minutes per game. To give you some perspective, his 2.9 per game is tied with Brandon Jennings, who plays 12 minutes more per game than Wroten. ... Randy Foye has struggled with turnovers handling a larger load with Ty Lawson out. The addition of Aaron Brooks at the deadline could help him there, and Brooks has been no slouch himself, averaging 13.3 points and 5.0 assists with 2.7 turnovers through his first three games with Denver.

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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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