Fantasy Lab: Week 14
Sick and tired of the Super Bowl hype? If you said, "What Super Bowl?" then you're in the right place. The injuries are non-stop these days in the NBA, but The Lab has got you covered with replacement candidates, updated injury info and scheduling tips to get you through the week. Let's get right to it.
Here are the latest injury updates: SF Andrei Kirilenko, Utah: Sprained ankle and swollen foot, will miss a few days this week F/C Carlos Boozer, Utah: Knee pain; day-to-day and could miss some time PG T.J. Ford, Toronto: Sprained ankle; day-to-day but is expected back this week C Ben Wallace, Chicago: Mild knee sprain; day-to-day but could miss time this week SF LeBron James, Cleveland: Sore toe; day-to-day and could miss a game or two at some point PG Chris Paul, New Orleans: Sprained ankle, could play Friday SF Luke Walton, L.A. Lakers: Sprained ankle, out 1-2 weeks PG Jason Williams, Miami: Abdominal strain, day-to-day SF Richard Jefferson, New Jersey: Ankle surgery, out indefinitely C Shaquille O'Neal, Miami: Knee soreness, probably won't miss any time PG Speedy Claxton, Atlanta: Knee injury, out indefinitely SF Grant Hill, Orlando: Sore knees, could miss second game of back-to-back on Sun. G/F Michael Redd, Milwaukee: Strained patellar tendon, out 3-5 weeks SF Trevor Ariza, Orlando: Grade 2 sprained right MCL, out 6-8 weeks PF Sean May, Charlotte: Knee pain; day-to-day and doubtful for consecutive games SG Jason Richardson, Golden State: Broken hand, out 6-8 weeks C Yao Ming, Houston: Broken leg, out 6-8 weeks SG Rashard Lewis, Seattle: Finger surgery, earliest return could be Feb. 11, but more likely out until after the All-Star break. G/F Paul Pierce, Boston: Stress reaction in foot, likely out until the All-Star break F/C Kwame Brown, L.A. Lakers: Sprained ankle, doubtful to return this week PG Brevin Knight, Charlotte: Sports hernia surgery, out 1-2 months
Of the players mentioned above, we would start James and Shaq for sure. We'd give consideration to starting Boozer (depending on his MRI results), Ford, May and possibly Wallace if you're thinner than Kate Moss at center. Reserve everyone else.
Here is the game count for Week 14: Four games: ATL, CHA, CLE, DEN, DET, GSW, LAL, MIL, MIN, NOK, NJN, ORL, POR Three games: BOS, CHI, DAL, HOU, IND, LAC, MEM, MIA, NYK, PHI, PHO, SAC, SEA, TOR, UTA, WAS Two games: SAS
Of the four-game slates, there is none better than the Bobcats. The NBA's most recent expansion team is the lone squad facing three of the league's 10 worst defenses in Denver, New York and Golden State. It will be a minor miracle if Charlotte doesn't top 100 points in each of those games (the Bobcats also have a game at Cleveland, a top-10 team). Skip down to this week's Lineup Fixer Sixer for a recommendation that will have your head spinning and your team winning.
Other strong four-game slates belong to the Lakers and Magic, who each face two of the league's worst defenses and nary a top-10 defense in their other two games. The Lakers are on the road for all four of their games on a huge East Coast road trip, so we'll give the edge to the Magic who host three of their games this week.
The only other easy schedule this week is Indiana, which plays three games. The Pacers face the Lakers and Memphis at the end of the week after squaring off against a depleted Boston squad on Tuesday.
The hardest three-game schedules belong to Seattle and Phoenix, who each must play at least two top-10 Ds. Seattle actually has the worst schedule since all three games are against stellar defenses in matchups with Dallas, Houston and Chicago. Unless you own Ray Allen, we recommend sitting all of your Sonics.
Only Memphis and Houston play all of their games at home this week. Everyone else has at least one road game. Speaking of road games, the Lakers, Warriors, Bulls and Spurs are all on road trips this week. Since the Spurs are the lone team with just two games this week, it's tough to start anyone other than Tim Duncan, despite having one of the games against the Suns. Tony Parker could be started in deep leagues but that's a tough call with Pops wanting him to shoot less.
With the scheduling portion of the Fantasy Lab taken care of, it's time for the weekly Lineup Fixer Sixer. For those wondering about the Sixer, The Lab carefully considers recent trends, scheduling advantages, injuries, stats, opponents and much more to find you six waiver-wire players with four games (or the occasional three-game stud) who should make a significant impact for your team in Week 14. If you're lineup is suddenly filled with injuries, consider shoring it up with one or more of the following players.
This week's Lineup Fixer Sixer features:
SF/PF Paul Millsap, Utah: He's only slated for three games this week, but they are going to be monstrous. With both Andrei Kirilenko and Carlos Boozer banged up and expected to miss a little time, Millsap is going to attack the boards with reckless abandon. Want proof? He had 15 points and 17 boards filling in for an injured Boozer in Utah's last game. Millsap led the NCAA in rebounding an unprecedented three straight seasons, so the man knows rebounding like Kobe knows scoring. Plus, he's an asset in blocks and steals. With games against a big-man-deprived Nets squad and the high-scoring Suns, he's poised for a breakthrough week. Snatch him up and laugh triumphantly like you were an evil genius hatching a plan for world domination.
SF Matt Barnes, Golden State: Nellie loves screwing around with starting lineups and playing time in the East Bay, and no one knows that more than Barnes. Despite Barnes' demotion from the starting five and recent DNP, he still is valuable as a bench player because of his versatility. While he was dropped in many leagues, Yahoo! had him rated as the eighth-best player based on averages last week (the missed game isn't counted). He nearly averaged a double-double and is a master thief. Since he can also stick the three-ball, he's worth an add with games against Cleveland, Philly, Atlanta and Charlotte -- the last three teams aren't exactly powerhouses and he could go off in a "revenge" game against his former employers in Philly.
PF Vladimir Radmanovic, L.A. Lakers: It's not easy writing Vlad Rad's name in here given Phil Jackson's apparent disdain for his "space cadet" attitude and itchy trigger finger, but he did get the start on Sunday in place of an injured Luke Walton. In 34 minutes, he had 13 points, nine boards, two three-pointers and a steal, so the potential for a short-term fantasy impact is very real. Rad loves to pull from downtown and when it comes to streakiness, let's just say he's like Frank the Tank from Old School. The rebounding might not be there every night, and with Jax, one never knows if Rad will be there every night either, but we have faith he will be and could prove useful to your team -- especially if you need three-pointers from a PF.
PG/SG/SF Charlie Bell, Milwaukee: Inconsistency isn't Bell's middle name, but it sure could be. Regardless, he's in the midst of a major hot streak that's seen him average more than 36 minutes in five games straight, scoring at least 16 points in each. He has seven 3-pointers made during that span and could easily top that if he shoots a little better during the upcoming week. Since he gets about five boards and three assists per game and is quick enough for a few steals on any given night, consider adding Bell for this week and hope he stays hot.
PG/SG Marcus Williams, New Jersey: The highly touted rookie has played sparingly behind a white-hot Jason Kidd this year, but he's demonstrated his talent when he's been given the opportunity. Richard Jefferson's ankle surgery has opened up about 35 minutes a night and Williams is taking advantage. The UConn product has played the entire fourth quarter each of the last two games and is averaging nearly 15 points and four assists in his last three games including five three-pointers made. The Nets are going to have their hands full with three very tough games this week so this will be a great test for Williams' mettle. The Lab bets he mans up and elevates his game.
SG Matt Carroll, Charlotte: As I said last week, I really wanted to make PG Jeff McInnis the final member of the Week 13 Sixer, but I went with Boki Nachbar of Jersey instead. While that was the right call, McInnis is again on the edge of my radar, but Carroll is the choice for this period, despite having one- and four-point games last week. Since the Bobcats enjoy the most favorable four-game schedule, I expect Carroll to bounce back and put that silky smooth shooting stroke back on display. He'll post a ton of threes, have strong percentages, plus a 20-point average is within reach. It will take some grapefruits to start him after last week's outings, but I'm doing it one of my leagues because moves like these win you weeks you shouldn't.
We'll see you back next Monday for a Week 15 preview. Stay warm and Fantasy Ball Above All.