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Week 22 Start 'Em and Sit 'Em

Fantasy Writer
  •  

The Fantasy Basketball season is an exercise in endurance, and we finally have the finish line in sight. With just three weeks left in the season, pretty much every league is in the playoffs by now, which means our time together is just about done.

Each team in the league has between 11 and 14 games remaining on the schedule at the start of Week 22 (March 24-30), so there isn't much left to analyze. If you're still alive, at this point in the season, you've probably had a string of good luck throughout the season, though that can change easily, as the last few weeks have shown with previously healthy players going down without warning.

This is also the part of the season where even a minor injury can completely tank your season. Losing Andre Drummond for a week in November might cost you a game in the standings, but losing him right now just might end your season. That is just what happened to me in one league, as Tyson Chandler's personal absence last week pretty much provided the margin of victory for my opponent in the first week of the playoffs.

Between injuries to stars like LaMarcus Aldridge, Kyrie Irving and Dwight Howard and teams resting healthy stars for playoff (or lottery) seeding, we're going to see a strange league over the final weeks. Unfortunately, much of the lineup changes that will have the biggest impact for Fantasy purposes are hard to predict; see the Heat resting LeBron with back spasms Wednesday, while he munched on McFlurries in the locker room.

Things change so much from a game-to-game basis at this point that it's hard to plan for everything that might happen. With the playoffs upon us and so little left to look ahead to, this will be the last edition of our weekly Fantasy basketball coverage. Joe and I will still be available to take any lineup or roster decisions you have on twitter (@CTowersCBS and @JoePo89), and our twice-weekly podcast will still happen through the end of the season, so you're not alone here.

Thanks for reading all season, and good luck over this last few weeks. I hope you have better luck than I have recently.

(All stats up to date through March 20 games)

Atlanta Hawks

Guards we like for Week 22
Player Own/Start
1. Dion Waiters, Cavaliers 84/46
2. Mario Chalmers, Heat 63/36
3. Gerald Henderson, Bobcats 75/28
4. Jarrett Jack, Cavaliers 63/32
5. Avery Bradley, Celtics 51/13
6. Nick Young, Lakers 60/16
7. Matthew Dellavedova, Cavaliers 10/3
8. Jeremy Lin, Rockets 82/30
9. Kendall Marshall, Lakers 79/34
10. Devin Harris, Mavericks 8/2

The Hawks are in a good place for Fantasy purposes down the stretch, with one of the league's best scheduled on the way. They play four times this week and are one of four teams with 14 games left on the schedule and have no incentive to take a game off while they fight for their playoff lives. The Hawks have three players averaging at least 25.0 Fantasy points per game, and they should continue to have success now that the team is healthy and has a set rotation to rely on. Consider Jeff Teague, Kyle Korver and Paul Millsap must-start options, and Pero Antic should continue to make for a solid center option if you have an injury spot to fill.

Schedule: PHO, @MIN, POR, @WAS

Strength-of-schedule ranking: 4th

Total remaining games: 14

10-team starters: Jeff Teague, Paul Millsap, Kyle Korver

12-to-14-team starters: DeMarre Carroll, Pero Antic

Deep-league fliers: Mike Scott, Shelvin Mack, Lou Williams, Elton Brand

Boston Celtics

The Celtics might be too proud, organizationally to tank down the stretch, but it wouldn't be a surprise to see them start to lean on the young guys a bit more. This is going to be an ugly week for them, with a trio of matchups against top-five defenses on the way, and it doesn't get much better beyond that, especially for Rajon Rondo owners. Rondo is not expected to play both sides of any back-to-back sets this season, and the Celtics still have three left, including two between Weeks 22 and 23. Rondo is going to be limited to two games in one of those weeks; either he sits out Sunday's game against the Bulls and plays just twice in Week 22 or Monday and shifts the two-game set to Week 23. Still, Rondo has probably been too good to even consider sitting, averaging 37.0 Fantasy points per game over the last five.

Schedule: TOR, @TOR, CHI

Strength-of-schedule ranking: 30th

Total remaining games: 12

10-team starters: Jeff Green, Rajon Rondo

12-to-14-team starters: Kris Humphries, Jared Sullinger, Avery Bradley

Deep-league fliers: Jerryd Bayless, Kelly Olynyk, Brandon Bass

Brooklyn Nets

The Nets are amazingly just 2.5 games out of the third seed in the East entering play Friday, so they still have plenty to play for. They also join the Hawks with 14 games remaining, including at least four in each week through the season's close. Though they haven't been the best source of Fantasy production this season, you can probably pencil in Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce and Deron Williams into your lineup down the schedule down the stretch, given their schedule advantages.

Schedule: @NO, @CHA, CLE, MIN

Strength-of-schedule ranking: 11th

Total remaining games: 14

10-team starters: Deron Williams

12-to-14-team starters: Paul Pierce, Joe Johnson, Shaun Livingston

Deep-league fliers: Andray Blatche, Mirza Teletovic, Kevin Garnett, Marcus Thornton, Alan Anderson, Andrei Kirilenko

Charlotte Bobcats

The Bobcats are pretty much locked into the playoffs, but that doesn't mean they have nothing to play for over the final few weeks. They are 2.5 games out of the sixth seed as of Friday, so they still have a chance of avoiding the Heat or Pacers in the first round. That should be incentive enough for Kemba Walker and Al Jefferson to remain active throughout the season's end. They look to be joined in Fantasy relevance by Herald Henderson and Gary Neal down the stretch, who are both averaging better than 13 points per game over the last five. Neal is more of a borderline option in his role as a pure scorer off the bench, but Henderson does enough to be worth considering as a starter, especially Week 23 with four games on the way.

Schedule: HOU, BKN, @ORL

Strength-of-schedule ranking: 20th

Total remaining games: 12

10-team starters: Al Jefferson, Kemba Walker

12-to-14-team starters: Gerald Henderson

Deep-league fliers: Gary Neal, Josh McRoberts, Luke Ridnour, Anthony Tolliver, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Cody Zeller

Chicago Bulls

The Bulls don't have a great schedule this week, and they really only have one player you can't consider benching down the stretch at any point. Joakim Noah is one of the most valuable Fantasy options in the game, but the Bulls are spreading the ball around so much lately it limits everyone's upside. Still, this is a team with a lot left to play for, and one that you know isn't going to be permitting many nights off, so you're Mike Dunleavy's and Taj Gibson's should remain worth your time down the stretch, even if they are more like injury fill-ins or No. 4 options over the final 12 games.

Schedule: IND, POR, @BOS

Strength-of-schedule ranking: 26th

Total remaining games: 12

10-team starters: Joakim Noah

12-to-14-team starters: Taj Gibson, Jimmy Butler, D.J. Augustin, Carlos Boozer, Mike Dunleavy

Deep-league fliers: Kirk Hinrich, Tony Snell

Cleveland Cavaliers

A week ago, I declared Anderson Varejao Fantasy irrelevant, due to the emergence of Spencer Hawes as the team's clear cut No. 1 option at center. That might have been a bit premature, as evidenced by Varejao's big game against the Heat this season, but it isn't too far from the truth. In actuality it isn't just Varejao who has become unreliable thanks to the team's new order; frontcourt mate Tristan Thompson is also out of the Fantasy picture at this point. Neither Varejao nor Thompson seems likely to play much more than 25 minutes on any given night, so you are best served by steering clear. The best options in Cleveland down the stretch are Hawes and Dion Waiters, who has stepped up in a big way in the wake of Kyrie Irving's likely season-ending biceps injury. Jarrett Jack will also remain useful, and Matthew Dellavedova seems like a prime candidate to put up two or three big games once the Cavaliers officially throw in the towel, which could be enough to swing a late Fantasy championship.

Schedule: TOR, @DET, @BKN, IND

Strength-of-schedule ranking: 23rd

Total remaining games: 11

10-team starters: Dion Waiters, Spencer Hawes

12-to-14-team starters: Jarrett Jack

Deep-league fliers: Anderson Varejao, Tristan Thompson, Kyrie Irving, Luol Deng, Tyler Zeller, Matthew Dellavedova

Dallas Mavericks

According to ManGamesLost.com, the Mavericks are right in the middle of the pack in terms of games lost due to injury this season. Of course, that doesn't really paint an accurate picture for Fantasy purposes, because most of the games lost have been due to little-used reserves. The team's core rotation has been remarkably healthy and consistent all season long, which makes them one of the few we can account for pretty easily for the final weeks. With just 11 games left on the schedule and a tough playoff fight on the way, you will be using Dirk Nowitzki and Monta Ellis without question, with Jose Calderon a situational option for category-based leagues if you need a boost on 3-pointers or assists. There isn't much else here.

Schedule: OKC, LAC, SAC

Strength-of-schedule ranking: 17th

Total remaining games: 11

10-team starters: Dirk Nowitzki, Monta Ellis

12-to-14-team starters: Jose Calderon

Deep-league fliers: Devin Harris, Vince Carter, Shawn Marion, Brandan Wright, Samuel Dalembert, DeJuan Blair

Denver Nuggets

The Nuggets gave a preview of what we might be able to expect if Ty Lawson ends up shut down for whatever reason in the season's final weeks, as Aaron Brooks put up the game of his life Wednesday with Lawson out with an illness. At this point, there is no indication that Lawson will be shut down, but he did deal with a rib injury that could provide some cover with the season already done. That will be something to keep an eye on here, but Lawson remains a must-start option as long as he is active. The Nuggets don't have a great schedule this week, but you want to keep Kenneth Faried and Lawson active without question for Week 22 and beyond.

Schedule: @OKC, @SA, SA

Strength-of-schedule ranking: 28th

Total remaining games: 12

10-team starters: Ty Lawson, Kenneth Faried

12-to-14-team starters: JJ Hickson, Wilson Chandler

Deep-league fliers: Randy Foye, Aaron Brooks, Evan Fournier, Timofey Mozgov

Detroit Pistons

Andre Drummond was able to make his return Friday, which is good news for his owners, and now so much for Greg Monroe's. Monroe put up 39 points, 18 rebounds, four assists, fur blocks and seven steals in two games with Drummond out, but will once again find it hard to succeed in the team's cramped, ultra-big lineups. At this point in the season, we pretty much know what to expect from Monroe, which is a solid starter who doesn't blow you away. The Pistons simply don't give him much room to operate, and his ceiling seems to be around 16 points and 10 rebounds per game. That is fine down the stretch, but it makes him more of a No. 2 forward down the stretch..

Schedule: @UTA, CLE, MIA, @PHI

Strength-of-schedule ranking: 10th

Total remaining games: 13

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

Golden State will be without Andre Iguodala for much, if not all, of Week 22, as he recovers from knee tendonitis. In the past, this was where Fantasy owners would take to twitter en masse to ask me if Harrison Barnes is worth adding. For whatever reason, that hasn't happened this time around. It might be because Barnes is shooting a dreadful 20.6 percent from the field over his last five, and was scoreless in 27 minutes in the face of the lowly Bucks' defense Thursday. At this point, Barnes can simply be ignored in all Fantasy formats. He might turn it around at some point, but his upside is limited enough that he isn't worth the trouble with so few games left for him to find himself.

Schedule: MEM, NYK

Strength-of-schedule ranking: 29th

Total remaining games: 11

10-team starters: Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, David Lee

12-to-14-team starters:

Deep-league fliers: Andre Iguodala, Steve Blake, Andrew Bogut, Harrison Barnes, Jordan Crawford, Draymond Green, Jermaine O'Neal

Houston Rockets

Jeremy Lin's ownership has fallen to 81 percent, and he was started in just 28 percent of CSBSports.com leagues last week, after an extended slump brought on by a lingering back injury. He is starting to see a bit of a resurgence and might be worth a second look for Fantasy owners who gave up on him. He is averaging 24.4 Fantasy points per game over the last five, putting back into the discussion as a low-end starting guard. The Rockets play just three times this week, but have 10 games in the final two weeks, so owners looking for a boost might want to look Lin's way.

Schedule: @CHA, PHI, LAC

Strength-of-schedule ranking: 19th

Total remaining games: 13

10-team starters: James Harden, Dwight Howard, Chandler Parsons

12-to-14-team starters: Jeremy Lin

Deep-league fliers: Terrence Jones, Patrick Beverley, Donatas Motiejuanas, Jordan Hamilton, Omri Casspi

Indiana Pacers

Astoundingly, George Hill is averaging as many rebounds per game as Roy Hibbert over the last five, at 5.4 per game. Hibbert is just a bit taller than Hill, so that isn't a great number for him or Fantasy owners. Hibbert has shown some tantalizing flashes of putting things together in recent games, posting consecutive games with 20-plus Fantasy points Wednesday and Friday, but I wouldn't buy in just yet. He is still averaging 19.8 Fantasy points over the last five, and remains a woefully inadequate rebounder for his position. The Pacers have a tough schedule this week, and are pretty neutral beyond that, so don't expect Hibbert to win you any Fantasy championships. If anything, the Pacers' pretty sizable lead for the No. 1 seed makes them a possibility for rest late in the season, which could lead to a couple of random huge Evan Turner games for those of you still holding out hope.

Schedule: @CHI, MIA, @WAS, @CLE

Strength-of-schedule ranking: 25th

Total remaining games: 12

10-team starters: Paul George, Lance Stephenson, David West

12-to-14-team starters: George Hill

Deep-league fliers: Roy Hibbert, Luis Scola, C.J. Watson, Evan Turner

Los Angeles Clippers

J.J. Redick is making real progress in his recovery from a bulging disc in his back, and might end up able to make his return this season. Fantasy owners might be excited about the possibility of getting the productive guard back, but there really isn't much reason to be. I had one twitter user me if they should drop Jarrett Jack for Redick as a speculative add, a question I gave an emphatic "no" to. Even if Redick comes back -- no sure thing, at this point -- the Clippers have enough options on the wing and no real reason to push him too hard. This is a team with championship aspirations, so they won't risk wins in May and June chasing April glory. For all intents and purposes, Redick has no Fantasy value this season.

Schedule: MIL, @NO, @DAL, @HOU

Strength-of-schedule ranking: 6th

Total remaining games: 12

10-team starters:, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, Chris Paul

12-to-14-team starters: Darren Collison

Deep-league fliers: Danny Granger, Jamal Crawford, Matt Barnes, Jared Dudley

Los Angeles Lakers

Forwards we like for Week 22
Player Own/Start
1. Kawhi Leonard, Spurs 97/69
2. Jordan Hill, Lakers 42/13
3. Amir Johnson, Raptors 91/61
4. Markieff Morris, Suns 87/64
5. Maurice Harkless, Magic 40/16
6. Mason Plumlee, Nets 12/5
7. Terrence Jones, Rockets 89/43
8. Dorell Wright, Trail Blazers 13/6
9. Shawn Marion, Mavericks 80/39
10. Drew Gooden, Wizards 23/9

Pau Gasol seems like one of the most obvious choices in the league for a shutdown, given his frequent run-ins with the coaching staff and his impending free agency. The veteran has struggled to stay healthy in recent years, and likely has little interest in risking anything for a team with no future. Still, as long a she is playing, he remains a must-start Fantasy option, one of just two reliable choices on this roster. Jodie Meeks is worth your time thanks to his scoring ability, and Kendall Marshall's ability to dish out assists in high volume remains valuable, especially with Jordan Farmar's season essentially over after being diagnosed with a groin strain that should keep him out for two weeks. Steve Nash intends to return, but there is little reason to think he is physically capable of making a difference down the stretch. Two recent returnees to the lineup who could definitely be worth a look for the final few weeks are Jordan Hill and Nick Young, both of whom contributed 20-plus point games this weekend after lengthy absences due to knee injuries. The Lakers are going to be even more freewheeling than usual with the season nearly over, leaving plenty of room for opportunity, as well as frustration.

Schedule: NY, @MIL, @MIN, PHO

Strength-of-schedule ranking: 5th

Total remaining games: 13

10-team starters: Pau Gasol, Jodie Meeks

12-to-14-team starters: Jordan Hill

Deep-league fliers: Ryan Kelly, Kendall Marshall, Kent Bazemore, Wesley Johnson, MarShon Brooks, Xavier Henry, Steve Nash, Nick Young, Chris Kaman, Robert Sacre

Memphis Grizzlies

The Grizzlies had an injury scare that could have ended their season this weekend, as Marc Gasol was forced from Friday's game against the Heat. Fantasy owners wouldn't have been too happy about losing a borderline No. 1 center in the playoffs either, so the massive big man playing 39 minutes the following night was a welcomed sight in a season that has been dominated by injuries. With Gasol avoiding a serious issue, the Grizzlies head into the final weeks with their usual hierarchy in place, leaving little of Fantasy worth beyond Gasol, Mike Conley and Zach Randolph. And, with a knock-down, drag-out fight for the final playoff spot underway, this is one team you know won't be resting anyone.

Schedule:MIN, @UTA, @GS, @POR

Strength-of-schedule ranking: 9th

Total remaining games: 13

10-team starters: Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol, Mike Conley

12-to-14-team starters: None

Deep-league fliers: Courtney Lee, James Johnson, Nick Calathes, Kosta Koufos, Ed Davis, Mike Miller

Miami Heat

The Heat are going to keep playing coy with Dwyane Wade's status every night, creating a headache for Fantasy owners relying on him for the postseason. The Heat have a solid schedule on the way in Week 22, but have a back-to-back set on the way against a pair of lottery teams later in the week, so expect him to sit out at least one of those games. Beyond that, we can be certain that won't be the only time he ends up missing, with the Heat pretty much locked into the No. 2 seed. Miami has just two more back-to-backs left, but it wouldn't be a surprise at all if Wade is just shut down for the final week or so of the season to make sure he is healthy for the playoffs. Be ready to pick up Ray Allen, Mario Chalmers or Michael Beasley, all of whom should benefit from the Heat resting players in the final weeks..

Schedule: POR, @IND, @DET, @MIL

Strength-of-schedule ranking: 7th

Total remaining games: 14

10-team starters: LeBron James, Chris Bosh

12-to-14-team starters: Dwyane Wade, Mario Chalmers

Deep-league fliers: Norris Cole, Ray Allen, Michael Beasley, Shane Battier

Milwaukee Bucks

If you could count on Ersan Ilyasova to stay on the floor, he might be the kind of Fantasy option you just leave in your starting lineup down the stretch. Unfortunately, the team has already announced he will not play on both halves of back to backs moving forward, meaning he will play in just 10 of the team's final 12 games, at most. John Henson would be the natural fill in option when Ilyasova sits, but he is hardly worth relying on himself. At this point, Brandon Knight is the only sure-fire starter on this Bucks roster, with Ramon Sessions coming on strong recently. Sessions is averaging 27.0 Fantasy points per game over the last five. Sessions is still owned in fewer than half of all CBSSports.com leagues, so he might be worth scooping up for the final few weeks if you've had a Kyrie Irving or Russell Westbrook injury to deal with..

Schedule: @LAC, LAL, MIA

Strength-of-schedule ranking: 17th

Total remaining games: 12

10-team starters: Brandon Knight

12-to-14-team starters: Khris Middleton, Ramon Sessions

Deep-league fliers: Ersan Ilyasova, John Henson, Nate Wolters,, Giannis Antetokounmpo, O.J. Mayo

Minnesota Timberwolves

Nikola Pekovic's ankle is going to be an ongoing issue throughout the rest of the season, and it wouldn't be a surprise if the Timberwolves opt to just shut him down entirely. The beneficiary of that would obviously be Gorgui Dieng, who has become something of a breakout Fantasy star after posting three double-doubles in a row, including a massive 20-20 game against the Rockets Thursday. The Timberwolves have 14 games left on the schedule, so Dieng might actually be worth an add for the playoffs, given his recent play. He might wind up being a difference maker as a No. 2 center.

Schedule: @MEM, ATL, LAL, BKN

Strength-of-schedule ranking: 14th

Total remaining games: 14

10-team starters: Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio, Kevin Martin, Nikola Pekovic

12-to-14-team starters: None

Deep-league fliers: Gorgui Dieng, Corey Brewer, Jose Barea, Alexey Shved

New Orleans Pelicans

At this point, a clear hierarchy has developed in New Orleans, with Anthony Davis and Tyreke Evans at the top and Eric Gordon and Brian Roberts well behind. Over the final 13 games, that should hold pretty steady, barring injury. That caveat applies mostly to Gordon, who was forced to leave Friday's game due to a knee injury. He knee has been a constant issue over the years, so it wouldn't be a shock if it held him out for some time. That could lead to more playing time for Austin Rivers, though I'm not convinced he is the type of player you want to pick up even with an increased role. For now, steer clear; Rivers has to prove himself worthy.

Schedule: BKN, LAC, UTA, @SA

Strength-of-schedule ranking: 21st

Total remaining games: 13

10-team starters: Anthony Davis, Tyreke Evans

12-to-14-team starters: Brian Roberts, Eric Gordon

Deep-league fliers: Austin Rivers, Anthony Morrow, Greg Stiemsma, Al-Farouq Aminu

New York Knicks

The Knicks are riding high on an eight-game winning streak, fueled by the resurgence of Amar'e Stoudemire -- and a bevy of bottom feeders. Still, Stoudemire's return to relevance has been wonderful to witness, and it looks like he could finish the season's final three weeks as a reliable Fantasy option, at least when he is on the floor. He is another player who could be limited on back to backs, though luckily the Knicks have just two pairs among their final dozen games. Stoudemire's health problems will always hover six inches over any discussion about him, but he is playing well enough to flip a Fantasy championship right now, and is worth considering as a starting option moving forward.

Schedule: @LAL, @SAC, @PHO, @GS

Strength-of-schedule ranking: 3rd

Total remaining games: 12

10-team starters: Carmelo Anthony

12-to-14-team starters: Amar'e Stoudemire, J.R. Smith, Raymond Felton, Tyson Chandler

Deep-league fliers: Tim Hardaway Jr., Iman Shumpert, Beno Udrih, Amar'e Stoudemire

Oklahoma City Thunder

The Thunder avoided a nightmare scenario this past weekend, after an MRI taken on Russell Westbrook's right knee showed no structural damage following a collision with Kyle Lowry. Fantasy owners who scrambled to pick up Reggie Jackson in the hours following Westbrook's removal from Friday's game probably want to drop him, but he might be more useful than you think down the stretch. Westbrook is still going to be sitting out at least half of each back to back remaining, The Thunder have four such sets of games remaining, including one in Week 22, so Jackson is going to start at least those games; not to mention whatever other games the team decides to sit Westbrook for once seeding is all but decided. If Jackson starts just five of the team's final 13 games, he could be a sneaky good play for any owners looking for a boost along the margins.

Schedule: DEN, @DAL, SAC, UTA

Strength-of-schedule ranking: 2nd

Total remaining games: 13

10-team starters: Kevin Durant, Serge Ibaka, Russell Westbrook

12-to-14-team starters: Reggie Jackson

Deep-league fliers: Jeremy Lamb, Caron Butler

Orlando Magic

Though his move in and out of the lineup recently has been frustrating, Tobias Harris continues to produce well enough that Fantasy owners probably don't have to worry about when he makes his first appearance on the floor. Harris is still averaging 17.2 points and 6.5 rebounds in 28.2 minutes per game over the last six, despite coming off the bench in each one. At this point, Harris needs to be active in all formats, regardless of whether he works with the first unit or the second. He still gets his minutes and touches, so keep him active through the final weeks of the season; you can easily win a championship with him as the 3rd forward. The Magic don't have the best schedule down the stretch, playing just 11 games, but their top-five players remain solid options either way.

Schedule: POR, CHA, TOR

Strength-of-schedule ranking: 27th

Total remaining games: 11

10-team starters: Nikola Vucevic, Arron Afflalo, Jameer Nelson, Tobias Harris, Victor Oladipo

12-to-14-team starters: Maurice Harkless

Deep-league fliers: E'Twaun Moore, Kyle O'Quinn

Philadelphia 76ers

Savvy Fantasy owners have been getting a boost from Tony Wroten recently, with the tanking 76ers using him as a third option offensively. Unfortunately, he went down with an ankle injury that is going to cost him at least two games in Week 22, with his status beyond very much in doubt. The 76ers are talent starved, so it is hard to say who, if anyone, might emerge as Fantasy relevant in Wroten's absence. Eliot Williams is most likely to see a bump in playing time, but he is hardly someone Fantasy owners will feel great about relying on, seeing as he is shooting just 36.6 percent from the field with as many turnovers as assists on the season. At this point, despite the team's breakneck pace, Fantasy owners should be pretty much ignoring this collection of D-Leaguers.

Schedule: @SA, @HOU, DET

Strength-of-schedule ranking: 16th

Total remaining games: 12

10-team starters: Michael Carter-Williams, Thaddeus Young

12-to-14-team starters: None

Deep-league fliers: Tony Wroten, James Anderson, Henry Sims, Byron Mullens

Phoenix Suns

Gerald Green has neither seen his Fantasy value crater nor hold steady in the six games since Eric Bledsoe was able to return from a knee injury, which was to be expected. Despite the fears of some Fantasy owners, Green was never going to be relegated to mopup duty for the Suns; his shooting and athleticism are too important to much of what they do on offense. He is still getting nearly 30 minutes of playing time per game and averaging 13.8 points and 2.2 3-pointers made per game since Bledsoe's return, numbers that still make him a viable option for category-based formats. With an average number of games on the schedule remaining, Green should have plenty of time to pour in 3's.

Schedule: @ATL, @WAS, NY, @LAL

Strength-of-schedule ranking: 8th

Total remaining games: 12

10-team starters: Goran Dragic, Eric Bledsoe

12-to-14-team starters: Gerald Green, Markieff Morris

Deep-league fliers: Marcus Morris, Channing Frye, Miles Plumlee, P.J. Tucker

Portland Trail Blazers

The good news for LaMarcus Aldridge owners is he will almost certainly return at some point on the team's current road trip; why else would he be traveling instead of staying back in Portland to receive treatment. Unfortunately, the road trip features two sets of back-to-backs this week, meaning even if he returns, he is unlikely to play each game after overcoming his back injury. Aldridge is an inherently risky option for Week 22, but the risk of him being shut down is minimal enough that there is little reason to think he won't help you at some point, but you're kind of in a no-man's land until it happens.

Schedule: @MIA, @ORL, @ATL, @CHI, MEM

Strength-of-schedule ranking: 15th

Total remaining games: 12

10-team starters: Damian Lillard, Nicolas Batum, Wesley Matthews

12-to-14-team starters: LaMarcus Aldridge, Robin Lopez

Deep-league fliers: Dorrell Wright, CJ McCollum, Thomas Robinson

Sacramento Kings

Centers we like for Week 22
Player Own/Start
1. Anderson Varejao, Cavaliers 90/38
2. Gorgui Dieng, Timberwolves 48/21
3. Henry Sims, 76ers 34/14
4. Jared Sullinger, Celtics 93/50
5. Pero Antic, Hawks 22/13

It wouldn't be a terrible shock to see one of the Kings' role players step into a bigger role down the stretch, though that will depend entirely on how much the team's Big 3 plays. This isn't a team with anything to play for, so any minor injury could lead to a shutdown over the final three weeks. With talented scorers like Derrick Williams and Ben McLemore waiting in the wings, an injury could flip a playoff matchup. Unfortunately, for now that is entirely within the realm of the hypothetical, so you can't exactly plan for that outcome. For the time being, look at the Kings the same way you have all season, with the role players hardly worth a look.

Schedule:NY, @OKC, @DAL

Strength-of-schedule ranking: 24th

Total remaining games: 12

10-team starters: DeMarcus Cousins, Rudy Gay, Isaiah Thomas

12-to-14-team starters: None

Deep-league fliers: Derrick Williams, Ben McLemore, Jason Thompson, Aaron Gray

San Antonio Spurs

Like many teams, the Spurs are at the part of the season where veterans will be getting time off. The Spurs tend to be both more and less predictable than anyone else with their rest patterns, however, largely due to their depth. When you have 12 players you feel comfortable depending on, like Greg Poppovich does, you don't worry so much about impacting your team's ability to win each individual game. The Spurs will be resting guys, especially on back-to-backs, but it is going to be awfully hard to tell who will be sitting out on any given night. Your Tim Duncan's and Tony Parker's might be sitting out at some point in Week 14, especially with a Friday/Saturday back-to-back on the way, but if your lineup locks on Monday, you can't consider sitting them out. Especially with an incredibly friendly schedule on the way.

Schedule: PHI, DEN, @DEN, NO

Strength-of-schedule ranking: 1st

Total remaining games: 13

10-team starters: Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Kawhi Leonard

12-to-14-team starters: Manu Ginobili

Deep-league fliers: Marco Belinelli, Patty Mills, Boris Diaw, Cory Joseph

Toronto Raptors

A year ago, we might have assumed a back injury to Jonas Valanciunas during the 2014 Fantasy playoffs would be a game-changer, however the sophomore center's game has not blossomed like he hoped. As a rookie, he was at his best during the final weeks of the season, but that was when the Raptors were largely out of contention and looking to develop the youngsters. In the thick of the hunt for a home-court first round playoff series, the Raptors aren't going to put Valanciunas' development on the front burner again, so don't expect him to be a late bloomer again, despite some big recent games. Valanciunas remains a No. 2 Fantasy center, despite a solid schedule that sees the Raptors play an above-average number of games.

Schedule: @CLE, @BOS, BOS, @ORL

Strength-of-schedule ranking: 13th

Total remaining games: 13

10-team starters: DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry

12-to-14-team starters: Amir Johnson

Deep-league fliers: Greivis Vasquez, Terrence Ross, Jonas Valanciunas, John Salmons

Utah Jazz

The Jazz are spreading the wealth recently, with six different players averaging double figures in scoring over the last five games. Ignoring that Richard Jefferson is one of those, this is good news for Fantasy owners, since this is a young team that has been a bit difficult to peg down at times. The team is thankfully handing the reigns to the young guys down the stretch, which means the bevy of recent lottery picks is going to get the bulk of the work down the stretch. The Jazz play 12 times and don't have much in the way of injury concerns at this point, with the exception of Alec Burks' ankle injury. Keep an eye on Burks' ankle, because he remains a solid Fantasy option moving forward, especially with four games on the way in Week 22 to start.

Schedule: DET, MEM, @NO, @OKC

Strength-of-schedule ranking:12th

Total remaining games: 12

10-team starters: Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors, Trey Burke, Enes Kanter

12-to-14-team starters: Alec Burks,

Deep-league fliers: Marvin Williams, Richard Jefferson, Jeremy Evans

Washington Wizards

I guess this Drew Gooden thing is happening, huh? Gooden went from out of the league for much of the season to playing a key role for a likely playoff team, having scored in double figures in four straight games after Friday's double-double. He is averaging 27.8 Fantasy points per game in that stretch, a number that would make him a clear Fantasy starter moving forward. Of course, this is fueled by a 57.8 percent shooting mark from the field despite Gooden taking 48.8 percent of his shots from beyond 16 feet. There is no way Gooden can sustain this type of production, and the Wizards probably won't have any reason to play him once all those 17-foot jump shots stop falling. Right now, Gooden seems to be flying, but a freefall and flying often look like the same thing until you hit the floor. If you've gotten anything out of Gooden, consider it a plus, but don't keep him in your starting lineup because of this hot streak. It's the fall that's gonna kill you.

Schedule: PHO, IND, ATL

Strength-of-schedule ranking: 21st

Total remaining games: 12

10-team starters: John Wall, Marcin Gortat, Trevor Ariza, Bradley Beal

12-to-14-team starters: None

Deep-league fliers: Drew Gooden, Martell Webster, Al Harrington, Trevor Booker, Chris Singleton, Andre Miller

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Player News
Heat to lean on Mario Chalmers as combo guard in 2014-15
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(3:17 pm ET) Heat guard Mario Chalmers is being asked to take on more of a combo-guard role in 2014-15 after primarily playing the point in his NBA career, according to the Sun-Sentinel.

"Now he's being able to display a little bit more versatility," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "The Golden State game, he literally was playing point guard one possession, off the ball one possession.

"We forced him to become a point guard. We've developed that aspect of his game for six years … That's six years in the makings. If you're expecting a young player to do that immediately in this league, there's no chance."


Shawne Williams could be factor in frontcourt rotation for Heat
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(3:09 pm ET) Heat forward Shawne Williams is down to 235 pounds after losing 25 pounds since the summer, according to the Sun-Sentinel. It is the lightest the seven-year pro has been since college.

"It's helped me a lot mentally," Williams said. "Right now, I still haven't even tapped into it. You're so big sometimes you forget what you can do. The coaches have been doing a great job of trying to remind me what my body can do."

The Heat are hoping Williams' improved conditioning will make him a valuable piece of the frontcourt rotation.

"Keep your eye on him," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "He's an excellent shooter and in much better shape than he's been in before. He just needs to be comfortable with where and when and how he'll get to those shots. He's one of the better shooters we have in our gym."


76ers forward Nerlens Noel on track to play Thursday
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(3:01 pm ET) 76ers forward Nerlens Noel, who has been sidelined since last week with an upper respiratory infection, was able to practice Tuesday. Coach Brett Brown said Noel should be available to play in Thursday's preseason finale against the Pistons.

Timberwolves' Muhammad expects to play Tuesday
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(2:45 pm ET) Timberwolves forward Shabazz Muhammad said he expects to play during Tuesday's preseason game against the Pacers after missing the previous two with a sore right Achilles. He averaged 3.9 points and 1.4 rebounds in 37 games as a rookie in 2013-14.

Hornets guard Gerald Henderson set to play Thursday
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(2:11 pm ET) The plan for Hornets guard Gerald Henderson, who has been sidelined since early October with a right hamstring strain, is to play Thursday against the Pacers and then scrimmage with the team Saturday, according to the Charlotte Observer. The team will assess how much the hamstring injury has set Henderson back.

Hornets' Clifford: Noah Vonleh not close to playing in game
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(2:05 pm ET) Hornets coach Steve Clifford said Tuesday rookie Noah Vonleh is "not even close to being ready to play" in a regular-season NBA game, according to the Charlotte Observer. Vonleh has been sidelined since early September due to sports hernia surgery.

Celtics set to waive four players
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(2:01 pm ET) Celtics coach Brad Stevens announced Tuesday the team will waive forward/center Erik Murphy, swingman Christian Watford, and guards Tim Frazier and Rodney McGruder this week, according to Boston.com.

"They’ve been great," Stevens said. "I wish I didn’t have to waive them. They’ve been great teammates, they’ve put in extra work, they’ve come back in small groups and worked. But a couple of them had made mention that they’ve gotten better and that makes me feel good. They were all real professionals about it. I will root for them for sure."


Knicks center Andrea Bargnani could be questionable for opener
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1:55 pm ET) Knicks center Andrea Bargnani, who has been out since early October due to a hamstring injury, will not play in Wednesday's preseason game against the Wizards. His status for the season opener Oct. 29 against the Bulls remains unclear, according to Newsday.

Hawks waive guard Jarell Eddie, center Dexter Pittman
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1:39 pm ET) The Hawks announced Tuesday they waived guard Jarell Eddie and center Dexter Pittman. Eddie is a rookie out of Virginia Tech, and Pittman has been in the NBA since 2010-11, playing for the Heat, Grizzlies, Hawks and Rockets.

Report: Celtics to waive Will Bynum, if they can't work out a trade
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1:34 pm ET) The Celtics continue to work with the agent for Will Bynum on a trade involving the veteran guard, according to the Boston Herald.

“We’re trying to see if there is something we can do,” agent Mark Bartelstein said.

Bynum is away from the team as he is recovering from a strained hamstring. He has not made a preseason appearance and the Celtics will likely waive Bynum if they can't work out a trade.

"It’s a tough time of year to make a trade," a league source said. "Teams are still trying to get used to their rosters, see what they have. Most likely they have to waive him."


 
 
 
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