Matchups for Friday, Dec. 26
All times are ET.
Key: Opp. PPG = Points per game allowed to opponents. Opp. FGP = Field goal percentage allowed to opponents. RPG Diff. = The difference between team's rebounds per game and its opponents' rebounds per game.
Carmelo Anthony, SF, Nuggets (elbow)
Nick Collison, PF/C, Thunder (thumb)
Jamal Crawford, PG/SG, Warriors (groin)
Antonio Daniels, PG, Hornets (knee)
T.J. Ford, PG, Pacers (back)
Allen Iverson, PG/SG, Pistons (groin)
Mike Miller, SG/SF, Timberwolves (ankle)
Mehmet Okur, C, Jazz (back)
Peja Stojakovic, SF, Hornets (back)
Start 'em, sit 'em
Michael Beasley has been experiencing some tough times with the Heat, and if you own him, chances are he's staying put on your bench until he turns it around. That said, the Bulls are giving up a lot of frontcourt production this season. On Tuesday night, both Tayshaun Prince and Antonio McDyess, playing power forward for the Pistons, had nice fantasy lines against the Bulls, and I think there's a pretty good chance Beasley will throw up a double-double against them Friday. It's nice for Rafer Alston that he's back from injury for the Rockets, but facing Chris Paul isn't a great situation for one's fantasy production. I'd sit Rafer for this one, although most nights, he's worth tossing into your lineup no matter what. After struggling a bit last week, Randy Foye has put up two huge games in a row for the Wolves and has a plump matchup against the Knicks on Friday night. Based on his previous few games, you probably can expect 20 points and somewhere in the neighborhood of five boards and three dimes. He seems to be back in the shooting guard role, which suits him better than running the point (but don't worry about starting Sebastian Telfair or Kevin Ollie unless one of them shows that he deserves some real minutes).
In six games with the Bobcats, Boris Diaw is putting up 15.0 points, 8.4 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 1.2 3-pointers, 1.0 steals and 0.8 blocks per game. Sadly for Diaw, he's still available in some fantasy leagues. Seriously -- pick him up, and if you have him, start him against the Nets. The Celtics are averaging 120 points per game in their past three contests and will be facing off against the Warriors on Friday, the second night of a back-to-back. All this points to heavy, heavy minutes for the bench. I think Leon Powe and Tony Allen both make good starts for this one, and if I was desperate for 3-pointers, I'd have Eddie House in the lineup, too (that's in addition to every member of the starting five, each of whom should manage a decent amount of productivity even in what might be limited minutes). With the Pacers currently dealing with some injury woes, rookie swingman Brandon Rush has been getting some major run. He's averaging a ridiculous 41.2 minutes per game in his past five contests, and with that kind of playing time, just about any NBA player can put up some good-looking stats. Rush is averaging 13.0 points, 6.6 boards, 1.6 assists, 1.6 steals, 0.6 blocks and 2.0 3-pointers during that stretch, and he should be able to beat those averages against the Grizzlies on Friday night. Philly's rookie big man Marreese Speights has been wildly productive off the bench in the absence of Elton Brand (and, frankly, all season). His 20.2 PER is 31st overall in the league and is by far the best among rookies, so you know he's making the most of his minutes. Right now he's a good source of scoring, and he's been amazingly efficient from the floor, shooting 65 percent in his past three games. Even better, he's averaging three blocks per game during that stretch. He's a risky start against the Nuggets, who have actually been playing great defense this season, but I'd get him in your lineup anyway, especially if you need the blocks. Most nights, it's not worth starting Minnesota power forward Craig Smith even if he is getting minutes, but Smith is averaging 14 points per game in his past five, and is facing the Knicks on Friday, so he's probably worth sneaking into your lineup in most formats.
Seth Landman is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.