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Week 20 Start 'Em and Sit 'Em

Fantasy Writer
  •  

For the second week in a row, the team with the best schedule for Fantasy purposes is one Fantasy owners aren't particularly thrilled about. With five games on the way in Week 20 (March 10-16), Fantasy owners might find themselves in the unusual situation of desiring Bucks players.

As of March 6, only two Bucks players, Brandon Knight and Ersan Ilyasova, were started in more than half of CBSSports.com leagues. Knight is also the only player owned in more than 90 percent of our leagues, which makes sense considering the team's season-long incompetence. However, with five games on the schedule, there should be plenty of room in Fantasy owners' lineups for at least a few Bucks.

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Knight has been the team's best Fantasy option and is an easy must-start option for this week, but he isn't alone for once. Ilyasova is enjoying his usual second-half bump in production, averaging 14.4 points and 7.1 rebounds per game in eight appearances since the All-Star break, and is worth starting in most Fantasy formats. Those two are pretty easy calls given their recent production, but some of the team's fringier players could prove useful as well.

Fantasy owners can probably find value in Khris Middleton and Ramon Sessions, especially in 12-team or deeper leagues. Middleton is averaging 18.4 Fantasy points per game since the All-Star break, while Sessions is putting up 19.9 of his own, putting both into the edge of relevance if they can sustain that over a five-game schedule.

Things get a bit dicier beyond that given the struggles of guys like O.J. Mayo and John Henson to produce consistently, but they might prove useful in certain circumstances. 13 teams play just three times this week, while the Lakers take the floor just twice, so your situation may dictate the use of a borderline Bucks option.

With only a handful of weeks left, this might be your last chance to use any of these Bucks players you might have on the end of your bench. After Week 20, the Bucks play more than three times just once in four weeks, so take advantage of this mostly miserable crew now.

(All stats up to date through March 6 games)

Atlanta Hawks

Paul Millsap took part in a 3-on-3 scrimmage with Pero Antic Wednesday, but he did not join Antic on the floor in that evening's game against the Blazers. Fortunately, it does indicate that a return is looming, a good sign for Fantasy owners who are badly missing his production. Millsap missed his fifth game in a row Wednesday, but is not dealing with any structural damage as far as we know, so he should hit the ground running upon his return. If he isn't cleared by the time lineups lock Monday, Millsap remains an obvious risk, but it might be one worth taking given his progress.

Schedule:Schedule: @UTA, MIL, DEN
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 13th
10-team starters: Jeff Teague
12-to-14-team starters: Paul Millsap, Kyle Korver, DeMarre Carroll
Deep-league fliers: Mike Scott, Shelvin Mack, Lou Williams, Elton Brand

Boston Celtics

Kelly Olynyk put together arguably the best two-game stretch of his young career recently, though they did come as bookends to a two-game absence due to a toe injury. It is hard to say if this is the start a trend or just a blip on the radar, but Olynyk's offensive abilities were what made him a preseason Rookie of the Year candidate, so it shouldn't come as much of a surprise that he is capable of this kind of stretch. For Fantasy owners, the question will be whether he can continue producing enough o be worth your time. The Week 20 schedule offers a mixed bag of opponents, with the toughest matchup obviously coming to open the season against the Pacers. If Olynyk can acquit himself against the Pacers Tuesday, he will be worth starting; he still needs to prove himself before you start him, at this point.

Schedule: @IND, NY, PHO, @NO
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 16th
10-team starters: Rajon Rondo, Jeff Green
12-to-14-team starters: Jared Sullinger
Deep-league fliers: Jerryd Bayless, Kelly Olynyk, Kris Humphries, Brandon Bass

Brooklyn Nets

Marcus Thornton has provided a solid scoring punch off the bench for the Nets since his acquisition, but not quite enough for Fantasy owners to take note. Part of the problem for him is the same as nearly everyone else on the team; the Nets' rotation is too deep to allow a small core of players to shine. But his own limitations as a player don't help matters either, as Thornton is averaging just 15.6 Fantasy points per game since joining the Nets, since he provides little in the way of secondary production. With just three games on the way, Thornton's empty scoring isn't particularly valuable for Fantasy purposes.

Schedule: TOR, @MIA, @WAS
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 28th
10-team starters: Deron Williams
12-to-14-team starters: Paul Pierce, Joe Johnson,
Deep-league fliers: Andray Blatche, Mirza Teletovic, Shaun Livingston, Kevin Garnett, Marcus Thornton, Alan Anderson, Andrei Kirilenko

Charlotte Bobcats

Gerald Henderson missed all of Week 19 with a strained calf, and it is not yet known whether he is expected to be ready to play in time for Week 20. Of course, his recent play hardly makes him worth the risk for Fantasy purposes, but his absence could create an opening for another player to step into. As of now unfortunately, there isn't any one player Fantasy owners can count on to step up and be worth starting while Henderson is sidelined; Chris Douglas-Roberts stepped into the starting lineup in Henderson's place Wednesday and finished with 23 Fantasy points, but needs to prove he can sustain that before we buy in. The Bobcats have a tremendous slate of games coming up, but remain a two-man team for Fantasy purposes.

Schedule: DEN, @WAS, MIN, @MIL
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 1st
10-team starters: Al Jefferson, Kemba Walker
12-to-14-team starters:
None
Deep-league fliers: Gary Neal, Gerald Henderson, Josh McRoberts, Luke Ridnour, Anthony Tolliver, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Cody Zeller

Chicago Bulls

The sight of Joakim Noah with a splint on his thumb after Wednesday's game probably caused his Fantasy owners at least a few hours of sleep. Fortunately, the injury does not appear to be one worth worrying about, which is great news for owners of arguably the league's top center right now. He continues to do everything for the Bulls, leading the team in rebounds and assists over the last two months while anchoring another elite defense. Even with just three games on the schedule, Noah is a must-start Fantasy option right now. He is joined by Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson, who has surpassed Carlos Boozer on the power forward hierarchy, even if he is still coming off the bench. A resurgent D.J. Augustin is less of a sure thing, but is averaging 23.4 Fantasy points over the last five and remains a borderline option in many leagues.

Schedule: SA, HOU, SAC
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 18th
10-team starters: Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson, Jimmy Butler
12-to-14-team starters: D.J. Augustin, Carlos Boozer, Mike Dunleavy
Deep-league fliers: Kirk Hinrich, Tony Snell

Cleveland Cavaliers

Guards we like for Week 20
Player Own/Start
1. Tyreke Evans, Pelicans 96/66
2. Martell Webster, Wizards 32/12
3. Alec Burks, Jazz 65/39
4. Dion Waiters, Cavaliers 72/21
5. Greivis Vasquez, Raptors 47/15
6. Trey Burke, Jazz 91/54
7. Marcus Thornton, Nets 18/6
8. Manu Ginobili, Spurs 67/31
9. Ramon Sessions, Bucks 43/20
10. Ray McCallum, Kings 2/0

It will be interesting to see how Mike Brown handles Dion Waiters now that he is back from a knee injury that cost him seven games. His role was starting to shrink prior to the injury, as he finished the month of February averaging just 24.4 minutes per game in eight appearances, his lowest average for a full month in his career. In both of his seasons, Waiters has seen his minutes decrease consistently throughout the season, so that will be something to keep an eye on in the coming games. For Week 20, it is tough to consider Waiters a strong starting option given the Cavaliers tough schedule and questions about how he will be used. I would only feel comfortable starting Kyrie Irving and Spencer Hawes in Week 20.

Schedule: @PHO, @GS, @LAC
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 29th
10-team starters: Kyrie Irving, Spencer Hawes
12-to-14-team starters: Tristan Thompson, Luol Deng
Deep-league fliers: Anderson Varejao, Dion Waiters, Jarrett Jack, Tyler Zeller

Dallas Mavericks

The Mavericks have been a remarkably steady team all season long, with Dirk Nowitzki and Monta Ellis surrounded by a cast of role players whose roles change little from week to week. That makes them pretty easy to judge for Fantasy purposes, with the only fluctuations coming by way of random hot streaks. Vince Carter is riding one right now that has led to 27.0 Fantasy points per game over his last five; he averages 20.9 per game for the season. If the Mavericks had a better schedule I would feel OK with recommending Carter and Jose Calderon, but neither one can be considered a reliable option given a tough three-game slate of games.

Schedule: @GS, @UTA, @OKC
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 27th
10-team starters: Dirk Nowitzki, Monta Ellis
12-to-14-team starters: Jose Calderon, Vince Carter
Deep-league fliers: Devin Harris, Shawn Marion, Brandan Wright, Samuel Dalembert, DeJuan Blair

Denver Nuggets

Last week I put a spotlight on the Nuggets, highlighting just how rudderless the roster was without the injured Ty Lawson. The situation is much improved over the last two games with Lawson around to run the point and give the team an offensive focal point. Though it is just a two-game sample size, we have seen Wilson Chandler, Randy Foye and Kenneth Faried all step up and play like starting-caliber Fantasy options. Though all three struggled with consistency all season long, this might not just be a coincidence; Lawson's development as an all-around player has turned him into exactly the kind of player who can lift everyone around him. The Nuggets don't have the best schedule on the way in Week 20, but all four players mentioned here have to be considered worthy starting options for a four-game week.

Schedule: @CHA, @ORL, @MIA, @ATL
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 18th
10-team starters: Wilson Chandler, Randy Foye, Ty Lawson, Kenneth Faried
12-to-14-team starters: JJ Hickson
Deep-league fliers: Aaron Brooks, Evan Fournier, Timofey Mozgov

Detroit Pistons

Brandon Jennings has frustrated Fantasy owners all season, an they might be ready to pull the plug on him at this point. He is averaging just 24.2 Fantasy points per game over the last five, as his scoring has dipped to 8.0 points per game in that span. In fact, Jennings is averaging just 10.9 points per game while shooting 34.0 percent from the field since the All-Star break. He puts Fantasy owners in a tough dilemma because he is probably too productive to outright bench, but his struggles cannot be ignored. In Week 20, however, you might feel good about sticking him on the bench and forgetting him for a week.

Schedule: SAC, @TOR, IND
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 26th
10-team starters: Josh Smith, Greg Monroe, Andre Drummond
12-to-14-team starters: Brandon Jennings
Deep-league fliers: Will Bynum, Rodney Stuckey, Kyle Singler, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

Golden State Warriors

Andrew Bogut had emerged as a solid Fantasy option prior to the All-Star break, averaging 8.2 points and 10.7 rebounds per game until a shoulder injury knocked him out of action for nearly three weeks. In six games back he has hardly been the same player, averaging just 4.8 points and 7.3 rebounds in 23.6 minutes per game. The Warriors are obviously trying to keep Bogut fresh for the playoffs, and given his struggles with injuries in recent years, this is probably the right way to go. Unfortunately for the owners who still have Bogut in 93 percent of CBSSports.com leagues, this probably means he won't be much use for you moving forward. Despite facing one of the best schedules in the league, Bogut probably isn't worth your time in Week 20.

Schedule: DAL, @LAC, CLE, @POR
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 2nd
10-team starters: Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, David Lee
12-to-14-team starters: Andre Iguodala, Andrew Bogut
Deep-league fliers: Harrison Barnes, Jordan Crawford, Draymond Green, Jermaine O'Neal, Steve Blake

Houston Rockets

Just when I was ready to write off Terrence Jones, he puts together one of his best stretches in over a month. It might just be fool's gold, however, as he is averaging 14.6 points per game over the last five without much of an uptick in playing time or usage. Instead, he is just shooting the lights out, connecting on 70.4 percent of his field-goal attempts in that span. Jones is too talented to give up on, but I'm not sure a few good games is enough to get him back into starting territory. Week 20 is not the time to get him back in your lineup, with one of the league's least forgiving schedules in his way.

Schedule: @OKC, @CHI, @MIA
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 29th
10-team starters: James Harden, Dwight Howard, Chandler Parsons
12-to-14-team starters: Terrence Jones
Deep-league fliers: Jeremy Lin, Patrick Beverley, Donatas Motiejunas, Jordan Hamilton, Omri Casspi

Indiana Pacers

At this point, Roy Hibbert isn't even giving you the elite block numbers from early in the season to make up for his subpar production. Though he is still averaging 2.2 blocks per game in nine games since the All-Star break, he is no longer singlehandedly winning the category for you. He is averaging just 9.4 points and 5.6 points on 42.2 percent shooting since the All-Star break as well, so it is hard to justify starting him if he isn't leading the league in blocks. Even with how shallow the center position is, Hibbert is little more than a No. 2 option with three games on the schedule.

Schedule: BOS, @PHI, @DET
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 9th
10-team starters: Paul George, Lance Stephenson, David West
12-to-14-team starters: None
Deep-league fliers: Roy Hibbert, George Hill, Luis Scola, C.J. Watson, Evan Turner

Los Angeles Clippers

Danny Granger is still owned in 65 percent of CBSSports.com leagues, and I cannot possibly give a good reason for this. He has been used solely in garbage time for the Clippers, and that trend is unlikely to change given how well Matt Barnes is playing right now. The Clippers have the luxury of working Granger in slowly, so Fantasy owners shouldn't even think about starting him. If you are looking for a wing from the Clippers to take advantage of their solid schedule in Week 20, look at Barnes, who is playing the best ball of his season so far. He is averaging 29.8 Fantasy points per game over his last five and should be a solid starting option for four games.

Schedule: PHO, GS, @UTA, CLE
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 8th
10-team starters:, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, Jamal Crawford, Chris Paul
12-to-14-team starters: Matt Barnes
Deep-league fliers: Darren Collison, Jared Dudley

Los Angeles Lakers

As excited as I was about the Lakers for Fantasy purposes a week ago, I am just as worried about them for Week 20. With just two games on the schedule and rotation that goes seven deep with players averaging at least 20 minutes per game over the last five, you can't exactly rely on anyone as a starter in Week 20. Unless you have Pau Gasol on your roster, you are best serve by avoiding anyone on this roster right now.

Schedule: @OKC, @SA
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 30th
10-team starters: Pau Gasol
12-to-14-team starters:
Deep-league fliers: Kendall Marshall, Jodie Meeks, Kent Bazemore, Wesley Johnson, Jordan Farmar, MarShon Brooks, Xavier Henry, Ryan Kelly, Nick Young, Chris Kaman, Jordan Hill, Robert Sacre

Memphis Grizzlies

This is a good week of matchups, but they remain short on players truly willing to take advantage of them. The Grizzlies run a 10-deep rotation, with only their top three players really getting consistent minutes in the 30's every game. Though there are players here who could help you for Fantasy purposes, their roles on this roster make it nearly impossible to rely on them. Even with a four-game week full of strong matchups on the way, you want to avoid most of the Grizzlies' role players.

Schedule:POR, @NO, @TOR, @PHI
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 4th
10-team starters: Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol, Mike Conley
12-to-14-team starters: Courtney Lee
Deep-league fliers: James Johnson, Nick Calathes, Kosta Koufos, Ed Davis, Mike Miller

Miami Heat

Forwards we like for Week 20
Player Own/Start
1. Ersan Ilyasova, Bucks 84/56
2. Kawhi Leonard, Spurs 95/58
3. Amir Johnson, Raptors 83/45
4. John Henson, Bucks 88/49
5. Terrence Jones, Rockets 90/50
6. Khris Middleton, Bucks 64/42
7. Marcus Morris, Suns 20/11
8. Amar'e Stoudemire, Knicks 50/21
9. Maurice Harkless, Magic 38/14
10. Terrence Ross, Raptors 45/21

Michael Beasley has been thrust back into the rotation recently, and he posted an eye-popping 32-Fantasy-point game Tuesday against the Rockets that serves notice to the possibility that he will be relevant down the stretch. Of course, he has not even topped 20 in any game since early January, so don't run out to start him just yet. At this point, the Heat remain a three-man team, a fact that likely won't change until the season's final games, if at all.

Schedule: WAS, BKN, DEN, HOU
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 8th
10-team starters: LeBron James, Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade
12-to-14-team starters: None
Deep-league fliers: Mario Chalmers, Norris Cole, Ray Allen, Michael Beasley, Shane Battier

Milwaukee Bucks

See intro.

Schedule: ORL, @MIN, @ATL, @NY, CHA
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 4th
10-team starters: Brandon Knight, Ersan Ilyasova
12-to-14-team starters: John Henson, Ramon Sessions
Deep-league fliers: Nate Wolters, Giannis Antetokounmpo, O.J. Mayo, Khris Middleton

Minnesota Timberwolves

Nikola Pekovic is working on a minutes limit as he returns from bursitis in his ankle, which should make defenses happy when they face the Timberwolves. However, being unable to play 30 minutes a night seems to have just made the big fella made, and he is taking it out on his opponents by averaging 17.7 pointa and 8.0 rebounds in 26 minutes in three games since his return from the injury. With Kevin Martin averaging 20.0 points per game since his return at the same time, the Timberwolves are back to usual, with their five-man starting lineup making up the majority of the team's Fantasy value. With four solid matchups on the way, start all five and leave the rest untouched for Week 20.

Schedule: @DEN, NY, DET, TOR
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 9th
10-team starters: Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio
12-to-14-team starters: Kevin Martin, Nikola Pekovic, Corey Brewer
Deep-league fliers: J.J. Barea, Alexey Shved

New Orleans Pelicans

Tyreke Evans has struggled to fit in with the Pelicans in his first season, but a move into the starting lineup has given him just the spark he needed. In four games since entering the starting five, Evans is averaging 21.8 points, 7.8 rebounds and 7.0 assists per game, and looks to be an offensive focal point at this point. He has been extremely frustrating for Fantasy owners all season, but the team looks to have set the rotation down the stretch with the news that Jrue Holiday will not be returning. Though they play just three times, Evans and Anthony Davis should probably be active in all Fantasy formats in Week 20, with Eric Gordon right behind them in value.

Schedule: MEM, POR, BOS
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 23rd
10-team starters: Anthony Davis
12-to-14-team starters: Brian Roberts, Tyreke Evans, Eric Gordon
Deep-league fliers: Austin Rivers, Anthony Morrow, Greg Stiemsma, Al-Farouq Aminu

New York Knicks

Amar'e Stoudemire is in the midst of something of a resurgence, averaging 14.5 points and 5.8 rebounds over his last four games, while starting two of them. He has played 30-plus minutes in consecutive games for the first time in almost exactly a year, which could be a sign that his troublesome knees are feeling well enough to handle something like a starring role. Of course, the last time he made it through consecutive 30-plus-minute games, he played just one more game before undergoing a season-ending procedure on his knee, so this could be an ominous sign. Though it could portend disaster, Stoudemire's recent increased role makes him an interesting Fantasy option for Week 20, with plenty of time to rest between games against subpar defensive teams.

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

Oklahoma City Thunder

Though I assumed the recently signed Caron Butler wouldn't be much of a difference maker for the Thunder, he was already playing in crunch time in Thursday's loss to the Suns. With Thabo Sefolosha essentially out for the remainder of the regular season, Butler seems likely to step into a solid role for the Thunder as a spot-up shooter with at least some defensive acumen. Nevermind that the younger, more talented Jeremy Lamb will be cast aside; Thunder coach Scott Brooks prizes the intangibles of veterans over the ephemeral upside of youth; just ask Derek Fisher. For Fantasy purposes, Butler should have some value in category-based formats thanks to his three-point shooting, and could have some good games against weak defenses in Week 20. Still, the Thunder's team makeup will lead to plenty of empty stat lines, so don't consider Butler more than a streaming option most of the time.

Schedule: HOU, LAL, DAL
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 6th
10-team starters: Kevin Durant, Serge Ibaka, Russell Westbrook
12-to-14-team starters: Caron Butler
Deep-league fliers: Reggie Jackson, Jeremy Lamb

Orlando Magic

The names aren't all the same, but this Magic season is developing an awful lot like the last one. Specifically, the team is predictably focusing more on the young players with upside following the All-Star break and trade deadline; though this time they didn't even make any big moves. Maurice Harkless has spent much of the season as a big-time disappointment, but the team has been featuring him more. Since the break, Harkless is averaging 10.6 points and 4.0 rebounds per game, a marked improvement of his averages of 6.5 and 3.1, respectively. Harkless isn't a great Fantasy option for standard scoring formats, but he can fill up the box score well enough to be a worthwhile option in category-based formats for Week 20; especially with an increased role due to Victor Oladipo's ankle issues.

Schedule: @MIL, DEN, WAS
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 15th
10-team starters: Nikola Vucevic, Arron Afflalo, Tobias Harris
12-to-14-team starters: Jameer Nelson, Victor Oladipo, Maurice Harkless
Deep-league fliers: Andrew Nicholson, Kyle O'Quinn,

Philadelphia 76ers

Efficiency has been an issue for Michael Carter-Williams all season long, even if a hot first week or two covered up some of his warts. Asked to carry an even larger role since the team's trade-deadline salary dumps, Carter-Williams is wilting. He is still averaging 11.6 points, 6.8 rebounds and 6.2 assists per game over the last five, but is bringing 4.4 turnovers and a 29.2 percent mark from the field to the table. Fantasy owners in category-based formats really have to condor whether he is hurting more than he helps at this point. With four games on the schedule in Week 20, he is probably still worth starting, but he could single-handedly lose field-goal percentage and turnovers for you.

Schedule: @NY, SAC, IND, MEM
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 22nd
10-team starters: Michael Carter-Williams, Thaddeus Young
12-to-14-team starters: None
Deep-league fliers: Tony Wroten, James Anderson, Arnett Moultrie, Byron Mullens, Henry Sims

Phoenix Suns

We know Eric Bledsoe is coming back during Week 20, with an expected return Wednesday against the Cavaliers. That is fantastic news for Fantasy owners who have been stashing Bledsoe for the stretch run, and potentially terrible news for anyone who has enjoyed Gerald Green's breakout season. Week 20 might just be bad news for owners of both players, since Bledsoe will likely be worked back in slowly at first, with an initial return from the bench not out of the question. Bledsoe owners will probably want to avoid relying on him in Week 20, while Gerald Green's strong run could begin to come to an end. He is averaging 18.2 points per game since Bledsoe last played, but was averaging 13.2 points per game prior to the injury. He should remain useful with four games on the schedule, but he also might be a sell-high candidate in any leagues where the trade deadline hasn't passed.

Schedule: @LAC, CLE, @BOS, @TOR
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 21st
10-team starters: Goran Dragic
12-to-14-team starters: Gerald Green, Markieff Morris
Deep-league fliers: Channing Frye, Miles Plumlee, Marcus Morris, Ish Smith, P.J. Tucker

Portland Trail Blazers

As long as they are healthy, the Trail Blazers remain one of the easiest teams in the league to figure out. With four games on the schedule, feel confident starting any of your usual Blazers, even with some defensive teams on the way.

Schedule: @MEM, @SA, @NO, GS
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 25th
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 20
Player Own/Start
1. Enes Kanter, Jazz 84/45
2. Robin Lopez, Trail Blazers 95/74
3. Henry Sims, 76ers 4/1
4. Pero Antic, Hawks 12/4
5. Nikola Pekovic, Timberwolves 99/73

Kings rookie Ray McCallum has been producing a bit more recently, averaging 9.0 points and 2.4 assists per game over the last five. He might be someone worth keeping an eye on, but the Kings' roster makeup makes him just a bit player. Even while averaging 27.1 minutes per game over the last five, he is averaging just 16.4 Fantasy points per game, making him little more than a fringe option in the majority of Fantasy formats..

Schedule:@DET, @PHI, @CHI, @MIN
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 2nd
10-team starters: DeMarcus Cousins, Rudy Gay, Isaiah Thomas
12-to-14-team starters: None
Deep-league fliers: Reggie Evans, Ray McCallum, Derrick Williams, Ben McLemore, Jason Thompson, Aaron Gray

San Antonio Spurs

The Spurs have long been known for their depth, and that depth is paying dividends recently. Over the last five games, six different players are averaging at least 10 points per game, and only one of the six isn't averaging 20-plus Fantasy points per game in the span; the other is Danny Green, a categories league stud. This kind of sharing might not prove sustainable for the rest of the season, but if any team can keep this many players Fantasy relevant, it's this one. With four games and a great schedule on the way, the Spurs offer a plethora of solid Fantasy options for Week 20.

Schedule: @CHI, POR, LAL, UTA
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 6th
10-team starters: Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Kawhi Leonard
12-to-14-team starters: Manu Ginobili,Danny Green, Boris Diaw
Deep-league fliers: Tiago Splitter, Patty Mills, Marco Belinelli, Cory Joseph

Toronto Raptors

Even though Kyle Lowry ended up missing no time due to an ankle injury, Grevis Vasquez has remained a solid source of production recently. Over the last five games, he is averaging 22.6 Fantasy points in just 23.9 minutes per game, and the numbers are even better for category-based formats, as he is averaging 4.0 assists and 2.2 3-pointers per game in that same span. With four games on the way, Vasquez looks like a solid option in all formats for Week 20.

Schedule: @BKN, DET, MEM, PHO
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 14th
10-team starters: DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry
12-to-14-team starters: Amir Johnson, Greivis Vasquez
Deep-league fliers: Terrence Ross, Jonas Valanciunas, Patrick Patterson, John Salmons

Utah Jazz

The Jazz's rotation over the last five games is probably an optimal one for Fantasy purposes; if Ty Corbin keeps running out this lineup, Fantasy owners will have little reason to complain. All five of the team's recent lottery picks are averaging at least 27.3 minutes per game, and all five are at least 19 Fantasy points as well. Though you might like to see a bit more from someone like Derrick Favors, the fact that veterans with little future of Fantasy appeal aren't taking shots from any of the young guys leaves little room to complain. For Week 20, feel good about relying on any of the team's young core with four solid matchups on the way.

Schedule: ATL, DAL, LAC, @SA
Strength-of-schedule ranking:10th
10-team starters: Gordon Hayward, Alec Burks, Enes Kanter
12-to-14-team starters: Derrick Favors, Trey Burke
Deep-league fliers: Marvin Williams, Richard Jefferson, Jeremy Evans

Washington Wizards

The loss of Nene has had some unexpected impacts on the Wizards' rotation, but one change was easy to predict. As the lone productive big man left, Gortat is stepping up while playing a major role. He is averaging 17.4 points, 9.7 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game over the last five, while seeing his playing time jump to 36.6 minutes per game. The Wizards play four times in Week 20, and only one of their opposing frontcourts looks likely to provide a significant challenge to him defensively. From this point on, Gortat pretty much has to be considered a must-start Fantasy option moving forward.

Schedule: @MIA, CHA, @ORL, BKN
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 23rd
10-team starters: John Wall, Marcin Gortat, Trevor Ariza, Bradley Beal
12-to-14-team starters: Martell Webster
Deep-league fliers: Al Harrington, Trevor Booker, Chris Singleton, Andre Miller

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Player News
Andray Blatche heading to China
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:13 pm ET) 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
(1:04 pm ET) 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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