Week 10 Start 'Em and Sit 'Em
Knicks guard Jason Kidd has enjoyed a resurgent campaign in his first season in New York, posting the best shooting numbers of his career at age 39. Through the first 25 games, he is shooting 43.0 percent from the field, the second-best of his career, and 45.0 percent from three-point range, his best mark yet.
He has done most of that in a secondary role, but the Knicks will need more from him over the next few weeks with Raymond Felton out with a fractured pinky. The chance to play big minutes as a ball-handler gives Kidd the chance to be productive and makes him our Start of the Week for Week 10 (Dec. 31-Jan. 6).
Kidd responded to this new role with a 23-point game Wednesday against the Suns, with six rebounds and eight assists. I don't expect Kidd to sustain that kind of scoring moving forward, but if he is asked to be the team's primary ball handler, he should be capable of putting up very solid numbers. Kidd is a savvy play-maker despite his waning athleticism and he remains one of the premiere stat-sheet stuffers at the point guard position.
The Knicks have some pretty favorable matchups this week, as they take on the Trail Blazers and Spurs at home before going to Orlando. The Spurs and Trail Blazers both rank in the bottom half of the league in points allowed per game and Orlando's defense seems to be slipping since a strong start to the season. Kidd is no longer capable of putting up big scoring numbers on a consistent basis, but the Knicks' offense has been one of the best in the league and he should have no problems running it efficiently. Consider him a fine start for the coming week.
Nate Robinson , Bulls (CHA, @ORL, @MIA): Robinson can be very tough to rely on in Fantasy, due to the sporadic nature of his production. Despite mediocre production, the Bulls continue to give Kirk Hinrich the larger share of the minutes at the point guard spot, reserving Robinson for the energy role off the bench. He has still been productive overall in those minutes, averaging 13.8 points in just 20.8 minutes over the last five games. Two of the Bulls' Week 10 opponents rank in the bottom half of the league in defense, and Robinson seems to thrive in games where the Bulls open things up a little more offensively. He is not always dependable, but Robinson can be useful in small spurts.
Darren Collison , Mavericks (@WAS, @MIA, NOH): With Derek Fisher 's apparent -- and long overdue -- retirement, it appears as if the Mavericks are done jerking Collison around. Collison had a breakout game Thursday against the Thunder on national TV, dropping 32 points on just 22 shots. Collison is averaging 28.9 minutes per game over the last 10 games, and is putting up 12.8 points per night as a result. The Mavericks' Week 10 opponents all allow a below-average points-per-game total, but Collison's improved play makes him worth getting in the starting lineup -- he is only being started in 43 percent of all CBSSports.com leagues as of Friday.
Sleeper Alert: Garrett Temple , Wizards (DAL, @IND, BKN, @MIA): Temple has very little track record of success at the NBA level, averaging just 3.8 points and 1.1 assists in 52 career games. He was clearly the more effective of Washington's two point guard options in his first extensive action Friday night, as he played 35 minutes, as compared to Shelvin Mack's 14. It will be interesting to see whether the Wizards choose to ride with the hot hand, after Temple scored 13 points, with six assists and six rebounds, while leading the Wizards to a +22 scoring margin in his time on the floor. Temple could prove to be a D-League success story, and might be worth a look in deeper Fantasy leagues for Week 10, with four games on the way.
Austin Rivers , Hornets (ATL, @HOU, @DAL): To say Rivers has been a "work in progress" through the first 29 games of his rookie season would probably be the biggest understatement possible. The No. 10 overall pick in this year's draft is shooting just 35.2 percent from the field for the season, and has been unable to emerge as a consistent scoring threat for the Hornets. He was starting to play a bit better recently, averaging 10.2 points per game heading into play Friday, but he likely lost his place in the rotation with Eric Gordon 's return to the floor. Gordon came off the bench in the first game, leaving Rivers in the starting lineup, but Gordon so badly outplayed Rivers that the rookie end up with just 13 minutes of playing time. It is still early in his career, so we cannot write Rivers off, but he is unlikely to be worth using in the short term.
Jason Terry , Celtics (MEM, IND, @ATL): Terry has been sporadically useful this season, but he has clearly lost a step at the age of 35. Over the last 10 games, Terry is shooting just 34.0 percent, and averaging 9.5 points despite playing 33.1 minutes per game. Against the right matchups, Terry can still get hot and put up solid numbers, but he is clearly no longer the instant-offense creator he once was. Boston is set to take on three of the top eight defenses in Week 10, so don't expect a resurgence for Terry here.
Bust Alert: Jose Calderon , Raptors (POR, SAC, OKC): Calderon has been wonderful recently, but the good times are likely at an end with Kyle Lowry back. Though Lowry came off the bench Friday, Calderon's struggles with Lowry active continued in his first game back; Calderon shot 1 of 5 from the field with two points, eight assists and six rebounds against the Hornets. The difference between Calderon's production with Lowry active and not has been stunning this season. In 13 games with Lowry out, Calderon is averaging 13.0 points and 11.2 assists per game; in the other 17 games, he puts up 8.0 points and 4.7 assists. Part of the difference is minutes played, but it is also clear that the Raptors have been unable to figure out a way to get the two point guards to work together. Even if Calderon stays in the starting lineup for the time being, the presence of Lowry makes it very tough to count on him.
Matt Barnes , Clippers (@DEN, @GSW, LAL, @GSW): Barnes is absolutely nobody's idea of an offensive playmaker, but he seems to care not for your perception of him recently. Despite scoring just three points Friday against the Jazz, Barnes is still averaging 14.4 points per game over the last five and 15.1 over the last 10. The bottom might fall out for Barnes at some point, a 7.5-points-per-game scorer of his nine NBA seasons, but he is worth riding when hot. Barnes thrives in transition offensively and the Clippers should have plenty of chance to run, against three of the six-fastest teams in the league in Week 10.
Martell Webster , Wizards (DAL, @IND, BKN, @MIA): Webster has been pressed into extensive duty as one of the few players capable of filling the small forward spot for the Wizards with Trevor Ariza out. He has done a decent job in doing so, averaging 9.5 points per game during the month of December while playing 31.5 minutes per game. Webster is not a big-time scorer, but he does have the ability to hit three-pointers, and he is also adding 5.1 rebounds per game in the last 10 games. He is more of a Rotisserie option, but Webster can be useful with four games on the schedule.
Sleeper Alert: Hakim Warrick , Bobcats (CHI, CLE, @DET): Warrick was a non-factor for most of the season since the Bobcats acquired him from New Orleans, but injuries have forced him into duty recently. After failing to record a double-digit scoring game in his first 12 appearances, Warrick has now poured in 18 and 13 points over the last two games, while averaging 32.0 minutes per game. The Bobcats are perilously thin at the power forward position, with Warrick representing the only option with any semblance of offensive ability. That might be damning with faint praise, but it does mean that Warrick should be in line for a solid number of minutes moving forward. The Bobcats begin play with the tough Bulls in Week 10, but matchups against Cleveland and Detroit should give Warrick the opportunity to produce.
Jason Maxiell , Pistons (SAC, ATL, CHA): Maxiell has been a solid option for the Pistons this season, averaging a career-high 8.0 points and 6.0 rebounds over the course of the first two months of the season. Unfortunately for the 29-year-old, the Pistons' future next to center Greg Monroe is starting to emerge, in the form of monstrous rookie big man Andre Drummond . Maxiell has been losing playing time as Drummond has improved, to the point where he is averaging just 20.6 minutes per game over the last five. Maxiell's production in that time (6.4 points, 4.2 rebounds) is more in line with his career norms, and makes him unattractive from a Fantasy perspective. With just three games on tap and the possibility for Drummond to continue breaking into his spot in the rotation, Maxiell is not recommended for the upcoming scoring period.
Lamar Odom , Clippers (DAL, @IND, BKN, @MIA): In recent chats as well as on twitter, I have received some questions about whether Odom has reach the point where he is worth starting, and I have to admit they've left me a bit incredulous. Odom has seen his minutes increase in the month of December, up to 23.2 per game. However, that is largely the result of the Clippers playing in so many blowouts during their 15-game winning streak. In games where the Clippers have won by 10 or fewer points during the streak, Odom is averaging 18.0 minutes per game, with just 4.0 points and 4.3 rebounds per game. Odom has worked his way back into something resembling game shape since falling on his face in the first month of the season, but he is just not worth relying on in Fantasy at this time.
Bust Alert: Carl Landry , Warriors (LAC, @LAC): After a hot start, Landry has leveled off recently. He is seeing plenty of minutes in the Warriors' smaller lineups, however his minutes have fallen off to 24.1 per game over the last 10 games. That drop in playing time is concerning heading into Week 10, as the Warriors play just two times, both against the surging Clippers. Landry remains worth starting in many Fantasy formats most weeks, but with just two games on the schedule, there is too much bust potential in using him.
Robin Lopez , Hornets (ATL, @HOU, @DAL): Lopez is vying to become possibly the first player ever to improve as an offensive weapon after leaving a Steve Nash-led offense. Lopez has shown a reliable offensive game for the first time in his career this season, and he just seems to be getting better as the year has gone on. Lopez is averaging 18.8 points per game over the last five, on just 11.4 shots. The Hornets open Week 10 with a tough matchup against the Hawks, before heading on the road for what could be a pair of completely wide-open contests. Houston and Dallas rank 28th and 29th, respectively, in points allowed per game, so expect him to keep producing.
Sleeper Alert: Andre Drummond , Pistons (SAC, ATL, CHA): As I covered in the Maxiell section, Drummond has begun to come on strong. He can single-handedly end your week in the free-throw category in weekly Rotisserie formats, but he is starting to reach the point where he can overcome that deficiency in scoring formats. Over the last two weeks, Drummond ranks 24th among all center-eligible players in Fantasy scoring at 22.0 points per game. He is starting to parlay his ridiculous athleticism into production on both sides of the court, as he is averaging 9.4 points, 11.0 rebounds, 1.6 blocks and 1.2 steals per game over the last five. Drummond will have some ups and downs this season, as the 19-year-old learns the game, but he is worth riding while the wave is cresting.
Kosta Koufos , Nuggets (LAC, MIN, UTA, @LAL): Koufos had a nice run of games over the last week, averaging 14.0 points and 5.7 rebounds while scoring in double figures in three games in a row. That led to a small rush to grab Koufos, which I covered in my Waiver Wire analysis earlier in the week. Unfortunately for Fantasy owners who might have been looking to rely on Koufos, he faces a handful of tough frontcourts in Week 10, which could make things difficult for him to produce. Each of Denver's four opponents in the scoring period features at least one seven-footer and at least one player who grabs 10-plus rebounds per game. Koufos can be situationally useful in Denver's fast-paced offense, especially against overmatched front lines, but he might struggle to find room this week.
Bust Alert: Anderson Varejao , Cavaliers (SAC, @CHA, HOU): Relative to expectations and past performance, Varejao has been in the discussion for most valuable Fantasy players this season. He emerged as a double-double machine in the early going of the season, and he is averaging career highs of 14.1 points, 14.4 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game. When healthy, Varejao can be considered a must-start Fantasy option -- but that "when healthy" bit keeps following him around. Varejao has missed the last four games with a knee injury, and he told reporters Friday that he expects to miss another week of games. It looks like Varejao is going to miss at least the first game of the week, and he did not seem very optimistic about his chances moving forward. It hurts to keep a Fantasy stud out of the lineup, but a zero across the board hurts even more. Fantasy owners in leagues that set lineups on Monday might not want to take the risk of getting nothing from him.