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 a few teams to target and a few to avoid.
2 games: Bulls
3 games: Hawks, Celtics, Cavaliers, Mavericks, Pacers, Bucks, Hornets, 76ers, Kings, Spurs, Raptors, Wizards
4 games: Nets, Bobcats, Nuggets, Pistons, Warriors, Rockets, Clippers, Lakers, Grizzles, Heat, Timberwolves, Knicks, Thunder, Magic, Suns, Trailblazers, Jazz
Miami Heat (vs Bobcats, vs Rockets, vs Clippers, vs Lakers): There is no point in beating around the bush this week, the best team in the NBA is full of valuable fantasy options for the next seven days. Not only do the defending champs have four games this week, they are all at South beach, a place where the Heat light up the scoreboard. They are the NBA’s fourth highest scoring home team in large part because they are confident shooting the basketball (shoot a league best 50.7 FG% at home which includes a scorching 40.4% from distance). I’d consider the Heat a strong play if their four home games were against strong defenses and they shift to a “must play” when you consider the fact that they face three teams that rank among the six worst scoring defenses. The Bobcats are the worst three point defense in the entire NBA while the Rockets and Lakers give up most FGA per game in NBA. The Miami studs are worth every penny of their price tag this week, but the value doesn’t end there.
Ray Allen – The surefire HOF is shooting 53% from three point land at home this season. He also averages 38.3% more points at home than on road.
Mario Chalmers – The team’s starting point guard should be at the center of a high scoring week. He averages more points, assists, and rebounds at home. Super Mario has made a three pointer in 10 straight home games and with a weak slate of defenses, that should continue.
San Antonio Spurs (@ Timberwolves, @ Pistons, @ Nets): Let the rodeo road trip begin. While I tend to hate loading up on players who play exclusively road games, this week’s Spurs serves as an exception. San Antonio is the second highest scoring road team in NBA (103.2 points per game) and continues to fly under the radar as an elite team. They have the third best offense on a single day of rest (105.8 points per game), a helpful note considering that there is one day between each game this week. This isn’t your average nine game road trip because the Spurs do it (and do it well) every season. They averaged 102.7 points during last year’s rodeo road trip, enough to convince me that the extended time away from home won’t hurt them. If that trend continues, you can count on an elite shooting percentage as the Spurs are shooting an NBA leading 51.3 FG% when scoring over 100 points.
Garry Neal – The reserve sees his assists, rebounds, and 3P% all increase when playing away from San Antonio. I also don’t doubt that Coach Pop will rest try to buy Tony Parker a few extra minutes of rest here and there, minutes that should fall into Neal’s lap.
Tiago Splitter – As much as I like the Spurs this week, Splitter could very easily disappoint his fantasy owners. Even with Tim Duncan iffy at best, Splitter is an overrated option this week based on the front court players of this week’s opponents (Nikola Pekovic, Monroe/Drumond, and Humphries/Lopez).
Cleveland Cavaliers (vs Bobcats, vs Magic, vs Nuggets): Kyrie Irving has the Cavs offense clicking on all cylinders right now, making a week with three games against nine of the worst scoring defenses a can’t miss opportunity for savvy fantasy owners. Two of those games (Nuggets, Bobcats) are against teams that give up more three pointers per game than any other defense in the league. In fact, the Bobcats allow their opponents to make the most three pointers (9.3) at the highest percentage (39.2) in the NBA. The same two teams rank in bottom four in stopping offensive rebounds, a direct result of three point shooting. All three of the Cavs opponents this week rank in the bottom third of the league in assists surrendered. In summary, the teams on Cleveland’s schedule this week struggle to stop teams from scoring, assisting, and rebounding. Sounds like a nice opportunity to roster some Cavalier players, especially when you consider that Cleveland has scored at least 99 points in four of their last five games.
Dion Waiters – Cavs are going to score and he is a pure scorer. He was playing well when he was consistently starting and now he’s back in the starting lineup. He should benefit from the focus teams are going to pay to Irving.
Tristan Thompson – Did you know that Thompson has scored in double figures in 15 straight? He is coming off his best month as a pro (15.1 ppg, 10.9 rpg, 52.6 FG%) and is off to an even better February start.
Indiana Pacers (vs Bulls, vs Hawks, @ 76ers, vs Raptors): There is no doubt; the Pacers are a legitimate contender in the East. That being said, I want no part of them this week when it comes to fantasy basketball. They play four games in a five day stretch including a back to back to back against three defenses that surrender fewer that the NBA average of 97 points per game. Their opponents this week are very athletic, and with all four teams ranking among the 12 slowest teams in terms of possessions per game, good shots are going to be difficult to come by. The Pacers play solid defense as they (along with the 76ers and Bulls) rank as a top five scoring defense. This feels like a grind it out type of week, and while Indiana may win most of these games, they are unlikely to win you your fantasy week.
Paul George – No analyst likes George as much as I, but all four of his opponents this week have an athletic swingman that can matchup reasonably well with George. His career averages also tend to peak early in season and decline as season progresses. While he is better now than at any point in his career, that trend is still worrisome. As is the fact that February is his worst 3P% month of his career.
David West – He struggled against both Chicago and Philadelphia earlier this season. His rebound totals are not nearly inconsistent enough for me to recommend him against the athletic front lines he will oppose this week.
Atlanta Hawks (@ Pacers, vs Grizzles, vs Hornets): An inconsistent offense should gain consistency this week, but not in the way fantasy owners want. They figure to be consistently ineffective as they face the top two scoring defenses in the NBA and the Hornets who protect the rim reasonable well behind Anthony Davis. Atlanta travels to Indiana and then hosts Memphis in what very well could be the most difficult back to back possible in the NBA. The Hawks have not excelled on 0 days rest this season, ranking in bottom half of league in points and FGA. Their three opponents are among the five slowest moving offenses in the entire league, meaning scoring opportunities are going to be limited. Atlanta doesn’t get a whole lot of shots off as it is (24th most in NBA) and I want no part of an offense that is likely to take considerably fewer shots than any other team in the NBA
Josh Smith – His skill set is still limited (he can’t shoot), and strong defenses excel at making strong offensive players uncomfortable. Smith can’t rely on raw athleticism, something he commonly does.
Kyle Korver – Same train of thought for the three point specialist as for JSmoove. Do one thing well and elite defenses can take it away. Really has no fantasy value if he’s not chucking up triples, and I expect very few good looks this week.
Al Horford – Love him as a player and for the season as a whole, but no center is a solid play against the likes of Hibbert, Gasol/ZBo, and Davis.