Fantasy hoops Week 9 outlook

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Lou Williams is a happy man after scoring a career-high 26 points on Friday. Can he help out your fantasy team?

Evil's Outlook goes around the league, team by team, and examines which players are hot and cold, and which players you should keep an eye on. The outlook for Week 9 suggests 81 players who are safe starts and 47 players who are borderline, so if your league is much smaller or larger, adjust accordingly. Listed first are the number of games played for each team, followed by five teams with poor and favorable schedules.

After that are my Three Top Pickups for deep leagues and my Top Five Fill-Ins for short-term help. Ideally, you'll be able to get a good feel of what's going on around the league just by reading this, even if you didn't watch a single game or look at any boxscores last week.

Four games: BOS, DAL, DEN, GS, HOU, LAL, MEM, NJ, NOR, POR, SA


Two games: ATL, LAC, MIL, NY, PHI

One game: PHO

1. Phoenix Suns (1 game - San Antonio)2. Philadelphia 76ers (2 games - @Boston, @Denver)3. Milwaukee Bucks (2 games - Utah, Detroit)4. Sacramento Kings (3 games - @San Antonio, Toronto, Boston)5. Golden State Warriors (4 games - @Orlando, @Miami, Boston, @LA Lakers)

1. Boston Celtics (4 games - Philadelphia, @LA Lakers, @Golden St. Warriors, @Sacramento)2. San Antonio Spurs (4 games - Sacramento, Minnesota, @Phoenix, Memphis)3. Orlando Magic (3 games - Golden State, New Orleans, @Minnesota)4. Charlotte Bobcats (3 games - Washington, @New Jersey, New Jersey)5. Miami Heat (3 games - Golden State, Chicago, @Cleveland)

1. Mike James (Wizards) -- It looks like Washington has finally found a reliable third scoring option to take some pressure off of Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison. Since moving into the starting lineup, James has averaged 36.3 minutes, 16.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, 3 assists, 2.3 threes, and 1.7 steals per game. The veteran will be an excellent source of treys, and he's a career 80 percent shooter from the line. Some people are concerned that he'll lose minutes when Gilbert Arenas returns, but since Washington has a 4-21 record, there's no guarantee that he will even return this season. The Wizards play a lot of games over the next couple of months, so James can help out your squad quite a bit.

2. Lou Williams (76ers) -- After a terrible November in which he averaged just eight points on 33% FG shooting, Williams now looks like a solid starter. The injury to Elton Brand has opened up more shot attempts, and new coach Tony DiLeo is giving the young guard more playing time. In his last four games, Williams is averaging 20.8 points, 2.8 assists, 1.5 threes, and 1.3 steals on 48.3% shooting from the field. He's still coming off the bench, but starter Willie Green left Saturday's game with a sprained ankle. The 22-year old has plenty of potential, but he's ready to be a fantasy force right now.

3. Marreese Speights (76ers) -- Speights should also be picked up in deep leagues due to the uncertainty of Elton Brand's shoulder injury. He'll try to return in a month, but a doctor said there's a 50/50 chance he could dislocate it again when he comes back. If that happens, Brand might need surgery and could be out the rest of the season. Samuel Dalembert is expected to pick up some of the slack, but Speights has been just as good. In his last 3 games, the rookie is averaging 13.7 points, 4.7 boards, and 2 blocks in just 22 minutes. If he continues to earn more playing time and Brand is out for an extended period, Speights could put up big numbers.

My "Top 3 Pickups" are guys who have the potential to provide solid long-term help for fantasy teams, but my "Top 5 Fill-Ins" are guys who you should consider picking up if you need short-term help in certain categories. Even in deep leagues, most of these players will usually fly under the radar, but they could fill-in quite nicely.

For Boards & Threes:Andres Nocioni (Bulls) and James Posey (Hornets)

With Drew Gooden nursing an ankle injury and Tyrus Thomas out with a concussion, Nocioni has stepped up and played big minutes recently. In his last 3 games, Andres is averaging 36.7 minutes, 17.7 points, 6 rebounds, and 2.7 threes on 20-39 shooting from the field. With Gooden out for at least another week, 'Noce looks like a solid short-term pickup.

The Hornets have won four games in a row, and Posey is a big reason why. In his last four games, the veteran is averaging 29.8 minutes, 15.5 points, 6.3 boards, and 3 treys on 68.8% FG shooting. He's gotten a boost in playing time due to Peja Stojakovic's bad back, and he'll be a decent option until Stojakovic returns.

For Assists & Threes:Marco Belinelli (Warriors)

With Stephen Jackson ailing, Belinelli finally got a chance to play big minutes this season and he's made the most of it. In his last four games, Marco is averaging 36.5 minutes, 20 points, 5 assists, 3 treys, and 1.5 steals on 52.5 percent shooting. He's doing an excellent job of driving and kicking, and has proven that he's more than just a shooter. Of course, his minutes are going to drop when Capt. Jack comes back, but Belinelli is a great short-term pickup.

For Points & Threes:Rashad McCants (Timberwolves)

Mike Miller re-injured the same ankle that caused him to miss 4 games earlier this month, so there's a good chance that he'll be out this week. If that's the case, McCants should get a lot of playing time. He played 39 minutes on Saturday and scored 16 points, to go along with 4 assists, 1 steal, and 1 trey. In 24 starts last season, he averaged 15.3 points and 1.7 threes, and you can expect similar stats as long as Miller is out.

For Boards & Blocks:Joel Anthony (Heat)

Anthony was inserted into Miami's starting lineup 10 games ago, but he didn't start getting 30+ minutes until recently. In his last 4 games, the Canadian is averaging 33.5 minutes, 8.3 rebounds, 2.75 blocks, and 3.75 fouls. If you need another center, consider picking him up.