Have a weekly league that you want to win, but would not rather spend the time sifting through statistics looking for the best matchups? We’ve got your back. Here are players and teams to target/avoid for the upcoming week.
4 Games: Hawks, Nets, Bobcats, Cavaliers, Mavericks, Nuggets, Pistons, Warriors, Rockets, Lakers, Hornets, Sixers, Spurs, Kings, Raptors, Wizards.
3 Games: Celtics, Bulls, Pacers, Clippers, Grizzlies, Heat, Timberwolves, Bucks, Knicks, Magic, Blazers, Jazz.
2 Games: Thunder, Suns.
Teams to avoid
Oklahoma City Thunder (vs New Orleans, vs Sacramento): The Thunder face two teams that have their shots blocked more than most (both have had more shots blocked than 84% of teams), which is enough for Serge Ibaka to maintain value, but not any other interior player. With only two games this week, albeit against inferior opponents, players like Kendrick Perkins will not be able to help those in weekly leagues. Perkins’ value relies heavily on his ability to swat shots, and with him playing limited minutes in limited games, he should not be rostered this week. Neither the Kings nor the Hornets surrender a ton of points (both outside of the top quarter of the league in PPG allowed), hurting the value of Kevin Martin this week. The Thunder are an elite team in reality, and most weeks that carries over to the fantasy world, but their role players are likely to struggle given their opponents and limited opportunity. Worth noting is the fact that no team in the NBA plays fewer games than OKC for the rest of December. Their stars are going to produce, but with nine games in the next three weeks, it is hard to get too excited about the potential of anyone not named Westbrook, Durant, or Ibaka.
Phoenix Suns (vs Memphis, vs Utah): The only other NBA team that plays fewer than three games this week, and they don’t have nearly the firepower of OKC. The Suns face an elite defense in Memphis, and while the Jazz tend to give up solid fantasy numbers, the lock down nature of the Grizzles is enough to justify leaving all Phoenix players on your bench this week. The Grizz rank in the top five in points against (91.2 per game), assists against (18.9), and rebounds against (39.8), establishing themselves as an elite team in the West. With only two games this week, it is hard to imagine even the best players on the Suns roster (Marcin Gortat and Goran Dragic) having much value. The ever inconsistent Michael Beasley is impossible to trust this week, as is the equally frustrating Shannon Brown and Jared Dudley.
Toronto Raptors (@ Portland, vs Brooklyn, vs Dallas, vs Houston): The Raptors have as much fantasy relevance as any team that wins 21% of their games, but a large part of their value comes from three point shooting. Andrea Bargnani (1.5 three pointers per game), Jose Calderon (1.8), and Kyle Lowry (1.9) have been consistent this season, but that figures to change this week, as Toronto faces three teams that rank in the top 13 when it comes to limiting opponents three point buckets. Brooklyn, specifically, excels at closing out opposing marksmen, giving up the fewest 3PA in the NBA and ranking in the top five in lowest three point shooting percentage against. There are 15 other teams that play four games this week, and they all have better matchups for their top players,
Teams to target
Memphis Grizzles (@ Phoenix, @ Denver, @ Utah): Normally I hate teams that spend the entire week on the road, but there is no denying the upside this week. All three of their opponents rank in the bottom 11 in points allowed and the bottom half of the league in field goal and three point percentage. The Grizzles high scoring front court (ranked third in the league) has to be licking its chops this week, and not just Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. Tony Allen has rehabbed successfully from a minor groin injury and is ready to step in and produce right away. Jerryd Bayless is another player to watch, as his minutes have jumped nearly 30% since the first eight games of this season. They are a great team, and the fantasy riches will extend further than usual this week.
Cleveland Cavaliers (vs Los Angeles Lakers, @ Indiana, vs Milwaukee, @ New York): In need of glass cleaners? Look no further than the Cavs deep front line who matches up against poor rebounding teams this week. In fact, three of their opponents this week rank in the bottom 10 of the league in terms of rebounds against, and with the cavs ranking as the second best offensive rebounding team in the NBA, this could be a big week for lesser appreciated players like Tyler Zeller, Alonzo Gee, and Tristan Thompson. A nice bonus for Zeller and Gee is their excellence at the free throw line.
Players to avoid
Jamal Crawford (@ Chicago, @ Charlotte, @ Milwaukee): Crawford is a player who can carry you one week and sink you the following week, and I expect the latter is likely this week. Three road games is a tough task, especially when a streaky player has yet to find his rhythm away from home. Crawford’s field goal percentage is 10 points lower on the road; in large part because his three point percentage is 14 points lower. If he isn’t scoring, his fantasy value is low to begin with, but his assists are cut in half when playing away from LA. It doesn’t help that Crawford’s first game of the week is against the stingy Bulls, who are the NBA’s best defense in terms of three point percentage and points against.
Players to target
Jeff Teague (@ Miami, @ Orlando, vs Charlotte, vs Golden State): The Hawks are at their best when they are attacking the rim (I’m looking at you Josh Smith), and little stands in their way from excelling at just that this week. The four teams on Atlanta’s schedule are giving up an average of 99.3 points, the majority of which have come inside of the arc. Teague’s most recent four game week, in which they played two of these four teams, saw him average nearly 14 points on 41.7% shooting from distance and 9.3 assists. The Hawks have athletic weapons that can get to the rim, and with Teague leading the show, he figures to produce solid assist and shooting numbers.
Trevor Ariza (@ New Orleans, @ Houston, vs Los Angeles Lakers, @ Miami): The four game slate is nice, especially for a team that is trending in the right direction. Ariza has been more involved (15% more minutes) on the road and has rewarded Washington with more production. His steal and block totals are significantly better away from Washington, stats that are tough to obtain from a SG/SF. Three of the Wizards opponents rank in the bottom half of the NBA in points allowed, three point percentage against, and assists against. The door is open for Ariza to establish himself, for a week at least, as a fantasy relevant player. Teammate Bradley Beal (14.5% more playing time on the road than at home) could also flourish against these weak defenses, as Washington ranks in the top 10 in scoring per game from the SG position.
Names to remember:
- Jordan Crawford
- Kyle Korver
Names to forget:
- Markieff Morris
- Nick Collison
- Mickael Pietrus