- Neil Tardy, Fantasy Basketball
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If there's a topic I can discuss with some authority, it's how impatience can cost fantasy owners.
I hate to wait. And I hate seeing my players have bad games while fantasy free agents are lighting up my computer screen with stats. I mean, I know Earl Clark isn't the answer, but he had 22 points and 13 boards for the Los Angeles Lakers the other night, and I should have those stats.
In October, I was a big-time booster of Ersan Ilyasova. Of course, he was purged from my rosters by Thanksgiving. Even though Illy finally seems to have righted himself -- after struggling while trying to justify his big contract, losing his starting spot and getting it back and after the Milwaukee Bucks got a new coach -- I don't regret giving up on him. I have a roster to micromanage. No way was I waiting around through all of that.
Impatient as I am, whenever I check the ESPN.com Most Added/Dropped page, I realize I'm not the only one. Seriously, some of you folks are rash. Let's consider Matt Barnes. I guess I should go ahead and make Barnes the Forecaster's official favorite player, because this is the fourth time I've mentioned him in the past month. Initially I said "add Barnes" because the Los Angeles Clippers have an awesome schedule. Three weeks ago, I said "roll with Barnes" because the Clippers have another awesome schedule. Then two weeks ago, I said "stick with Barnes" but don't make him out to be a mainstream fantasy option because he plays only about 25 minutes a night. To make me look good, I guess, Barnes then scored in single digits in four of his next five games. Since then, Barnes' ownership has slipped from the 70 percent range to its current rate of 52.8 percent.
Two things here: 1) fleece those impatient owners and buy back on Barnes if he's available in your league; and 2) if you're deciding whether to keep a player, it's worth consulting the schedule. Because if you look ahead a little bit, you'll see that for the next week, and especially the week after, Barnes is a great investment. More on that in a bit.
Week 12 at a Glance
"R" matchup ratings are based on a scale from 1 (poor matchup) to 10 (excellent matchup) and are calculated using a formula that evaluates the team's year-to-date and past 10 games' statistics, their opponents' numbers in those categories and their performance in home/road games depending on where the game is to be played. The column to the right lists the team's total number of games scheduled ("G") and home games ("H") and lists the overall rating from 1 to 10 for that team's weekly schedule ("R").
In what is truly a scheduling oddity, the New York Knicks have one game in Week 12. I suppose in a deep league of at least 14 teams you could keep Carmelo Anthony active, given that he's capable of going for 40 points on any night; however, in most formats, Melo and his fellow Knickerbockers are off the table. Joining the Knicks in seven days of relative leisure are the Detroit Pistons, Philadelphia 76ers, Phoenix Suns and Utah Jazz. These teams play twice in Week 12. On the flip side, 14 NBA teams will play four times in the week ahead.
Players to Watch
Matt Barnes, SF, Los Angeles Clippers (@MEM, @HOU, @MIN, WSH): This schedule rates a B-plus for quality, mostly due to the presence of the Houston Rockets. Rockets opponents rank second in steals, third in 3-pointers and sixth in blocks. But just wait, because the following week, the Clippers play five times. So add Barnes, activate Barnes and, by all means, be patient. Incidentally, to make me look bad, I guess, Barnes has played at least 25 minutes in each of his past seven games; he's averaging 33 minutes over his past four games. If he keeps that up, he will rosterable in all formats.
Landry Fields, SG, Toronto Raptors (@BKN, CHI, @PHI, LAL): The Raptors continue to serve as the dollar store when it comes to fantasy free agency. Ed Davis (13.7 points, 7.3 rebounds over his past six games) remains available in 80 percent of ESPN.com leagues while Amir Johnson (11.7 points, 7.1 boards and 1.3 blocks over his past 10 games) is available in more than 90 percent of leagues. Alan Anderson's field goal percentage still scares me, but he is averaging 2.4 3s over his past 11 games and is available in more than 90 percent of leagues. But for those who want to dig really deep, I bring you Fields. Actually, it's Raptors coach Dwane Casey who brought Fields into the starting lineup against the Sixers on Jan. 9. Fields responded with 10 points, 11 rebounds and 3 steals that night, and even though it's one game, I'm buying (provided you're in a large league of at least 14 teams). The Raptors have been lacking at small forward from day one; they shelled out some coin to get Fields, only to see him injured for much of this season. He should at least have a chance to establish himself. The schedule gives you little to go on (Lakers opponents rank 10th in steals), but the Raptors play four games.
Jared Sullinger, PF, Boston Celtics (CHA, NO, CHI, @DET): They love Sullinger in Boston. Love him. Now there are a couple of issues with the rookie's game in terms of fantasy value. First is the fouls; despite averaging only 19 minutes, Sullinger is being whistled for 3.2 fouls per game. I don't need to calculate the per-36-minute average to know that the kid can't hang around games for long at that rate. Plus, Sullinger has fouled out in four of his past 10 games. Another problem is that when the Celtics face smaller teams like the Knicks, there isn't anyone for him to guard. That's why he only played 19 minutes when Boston defeated New York on Jan. 7. Two nights later, however, Sullinger played a season-high 34 minutes and snared a season-high 16 boards against the Suns. The C's have been getting creamed on the glass all season, so they badly need what Sully can bring. Again, there are substantial caveats, but Sullinger intrigues me for large leagues. As for the schedule, I look not at numbers but at names and can easily imagine Anthony Davis, Joakim Noah and Greg Monroe drawing fouls from Sully. Still, I remain intrigued.
Isaiah Thomas, PG, Sacramento Kings (CLE, WSH, @MEM, @CHA): Thomas is another player who I think is being hastily tossed to the waiver wire. His availability is up to 60 percent in ESPN.com leagues. To say the least, things are chaotic with the Kings right now, but give Thomas a chance with this schedule. Cleveland Cavaliers opponents are tops in field goal percentage and Charlotte Bobcats opponents are, you know, near the top in pretty much everything. However, it is a bit surprising to see where Washington Wizards opponents rank in various categories (10th in 3s, 18th in assists and 21st in steals).
Derrick Williams, PF, Minnesota Timberwolves (@DAL, LAC, HOU): Even with Kevin Love on the shelf for 8-10 weeks, I'm leery of Williams, who continues to come off the bench behind Dante Cunningham. Yes, Williams posted 14 points and 11 rebounds against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Jan. 9, but a good chunk of his 28 minutes came in garbage time. Wolves coach Rick Adelman just doesn't seem impressed with the former No. 2 overall pick. Still, Williams has been on from behind the arc (5-of-9 from downtown over his past three games) and that could continue because Dallas Mavericks and Rockets opponents rank second and third, respectively, in treys.
Opponent Performance, Past 10 games
All statistics are for teams' past 10 games played and are defensive numbers. PPGA: Points per game allowed. FG%A: Field goal percentage allowed. 3PT%A: Three-point percentage allowed. RPG diff.: Rebounds per game differential. SPGA: Steals per game allowed. BPGA: Blocks per game allowed.
Neil Tardy identifies some of the better matchups to exploit in Week 12 of the fantasy basketball season. Features team-by-team schedule strength.