Week 15 Start 'Em and Sit 'Em
By its very nature, basketball tends to not produce players with huge gaps between home and road production. When compared to the elements athletes in football and baseball have to contend with, the arenas NBA teams play in come off as mostly sterile environments, providing neither side a real advantage. There are exceptions to be sure (Denver's thin air allows their high-octane offense to really mess with opponents' conditioning), but for the most part, it doesn't matter which 18,000-seat arena the games are being played in.
For some reason, however, Ray Allen has taken to the Heat's home floor extremely well this season, his first in Miami. Allen has been pedestrian on the road, averaging 9.9 points per game on 41.0 percent shooting, including an uncharacteristically low 34.9 percent from three-point range. He is more than making up for that at the American Airlines Arena, upping his scoring to 13.0 per game, despite averaging slightly fewer minutes. He is doing so on the strength of 53.8 percent shooting from the field and a truly outrageous 53.0 percent mark on three-pointers.
With Miami playing on their home floor four times in Week 15 (Feb. 4-10), Allen looks like a good bet to put together a solid run of games. Once you break down into individual matchups, you have to like his chances even more, as three of the Heat's four opponents -- Charlotte, Houston and the Lakers -- rank third, fourth and fifth, respectively, in the league in points allowed. The only above-average defense Miami is set to take on is the Clippers, a team that Allen put up 14 points on just six field-goal attempts earlier in the season.
At this point in his career, Allen provides little beyond scoring, but he should be able to catch fire in Week 15. Continue to rely on the future Hall-of-Famer.
Jason Terry , Celtics (@TOR, LAL, DEN): Terry has so far garnered the least interest among the Celtics' guards who might step up in Rajon Rondo's absence, but I still like his upside the most. When compared to Courtney Lee and Avery Bradley , Terry has the kind of track record that would easily make him the most appealing option, if he lived up to it. So far this season, he has been an unqualified disappointment, but there have been signs of life since Rondo went down with a torn ACL in Week 13. Terry has scored in double figures in each of the last three games and should be looking at a larger role this week. Each of Boston's Week 15 opponents ranks among the eight worst scoring defenses in the league, so Terry could get going very soon.
Nate Robinson , Bulls (@DEN, @UTA): Robinson has been one of the hottest players in basketball recently, averaging 18.2 points in just 24.4 minutes per game over the last five. We have long known Robinson can get hot and stay hot offensively, and he is giving the Bulls a big boost right now. Derrick Rose's return looms over Robinson's long-term value, as Robinson might not even be with the team when Rose gets back. For now, however, Robinson is more than worth riding in most Fantasy formats. The Bulls play just twice in Week 15, which limits his value, however each of their opponents ranks in the bottom 11 in scoring defense, so expect him to remain useful.
Sleeper Alert: Jerryd Bayless , Grizzlies (PHX, @ATL, GSW, MIN): Bayless saw a big boost in his value last week, due to an injury to Mike Conley that caused him to miss most of two games. Conley returned Thursday night, but Bayless was still playing a big role against the Thunder, entering the starting lineup at the shooting guard spot. He was likely only to be among the starters for one game, as the Grizzlies were playing shorthanded having made a trade the night before. Still, Bayless has almost certainly forced his way into a bigger role in the rotation, just as he did last season in Toronto, when he averaged 12.4 points and 4.8 assists per game in the second half of the season. The Grizzlies' roster has gone through some major upheaval in the last few days and Bayless should end up being one of the bigger beneficiaries. With four games on the schedule this week and Bayless averaging 15.0 points per game over the last five, he is worth getting in the starting lineup.
Jason Kidd , Knicks (DET, @WAS, @MIN, LAC): Kidd's slide toward irrelevance has been a few weeks coming now, as he has fallen off in a big way after a hot start. Kidd is averaging just 5.4 points per game over the last 10 and the challenge of attempting to carry an offense at the age of 39 has clearly worn on him. He is dealing with a back injury and the Knicks will almost certainly be limiting his minutes moving forward, with Iman Shumpert back and healthy. Even with four games on the schedule, Kidd is best left on your bench -- or better yet, on waivers.
Lance Stephenson , Pacers (ATL, @PHI, TOR): Stephenson has emerged as a surprisingly handy Fantasy option this season, with his ability to fill up the box score proving particularly useful in category-based formats. He is averaging 8.1 points, 2.8 assists, 4.8 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game over the last 10, while adding close to one three-pointer per game. Against the right matchups, Stephenson has proven he has the ability to go off for big games, as he did when scoring 20 points against the Nuggets last week. Unfortunately, he tends to thrive against teams that play a more wide-open style, and each of the Pacers' Week 15 opponents rank below the league average in pace. Don't expect Stephenson to have much room to operate.
Bust Alert: Rodney Stuckey , Pistons (@NYK, BKN, SAS, @MIL): Stuckey might be one of the bigger losers in the Pistons' acquisition of Jose Calderon this week. While trading Tayshaun Prince and Austin Daye opened up a big hole on the wing for the Pistons, they are more stocked than ever between the two guard spots. Many expect current starting point guard Brandon Knight to move off the ball with Calderon on the roster, which can only serve to squeeze Stuckey out of minutes in his combo-guard role. Stuckey is already averaging his lowest per-game totals since he was a rookie, with 11.4 points per game in just 28.5 minutes per game. Stuckey had a chance to start Wednesday with the Pistons' roster in flux following the trade, and he shot just 6 of 16 from the field. The Pistons play four times this coming scoring period, but Stuckey's uncertain role makes him unworthy of the risk.
Derrick Favors , Jazz (SAC, MIL, CHI, @SAC): Fantasy owners continue to wait for the Jazz's logjam in the front court to solve itself and unleash Favors' full potential. Favors seems to be getting impatient as well, as he has started to turn his production up recently, averaging 10.2 points per game over the last 10 games. He was still limited to an average of just 21.1 minutes in that span, but he is starting to figure things out offensively. Favors has shot 48.0 percent from the field for the season, a mark he has upped to 61.2 percent over the most recent 10-game span. His production can be inconsistent given his role as a reserve, but Favors is starting to get it going, which might put more pressure on the Jazz to make a move before next month's deadline. Even in his current role, Favors can be put to good use in Fantasy leagues when faced with a four-game schedule that features the worst defensive team in the league twice.
Kyle Singler , Pistons (@NYK, BKN, SAS, @MIL): Singler has fallen off after a hot start to his NBA career, but he might see a resurgence following Detroit's trade. With Prince out of the way, Singler stands as one of the few players on Detroit's roster with the height and shooting acumen capable of logging heavy minutes at small forward consistently. Singler is still shooting 38.0 percent from three-point range and the Pistons may need him to play a big role in filling in for Prince. The Pistons do not have the best schedule for Singler to break out this week, but the increase in playing time could make starting him worth that risk.
Sleeper Alert: Maurice Harkless , Magic (@PHI, LAC, @CLE, POR): Compared to his teammate Nikola Vucevic , Harkless has been a big-time disappointment in the wake of the trade that shipped Dwight Howard out and landed him in Orlando. Nonetheless, there have been flashes of the potential that made him a lottery selection in the Draft, despite being just 19 years old. Harkless scored 16 points on 7 of 10 shooting last Monday while playing 34 minutes. The Magic have fallen off in a huge way after a surprisingly hot start to the season, and with the recent injury to Glen Davis , they have little reason not to begin the youth movement in earnest in the season's second half. Harkless has played 30-plus minutes in back-to-back games as of Thursday, and that should become a recurring theme moving forward. The Magic play four times in Week 15, with two matchups coming against below-average defense, so Harkless could become a surprise contributor.
Carl Landry , Warriors (@HOU, @OKC, @MEM, @DAL): Landry played a big part in the Warriors' shocking early season success, but his role is starting to shrink. He has been dealing with a shoulder injury recently which has not helped, but the return of Andrew Bogut has pushed him further back in the rotation. Landry was spending much of his time playing in a small frontcourt with David Lee , but the Warriors will almost certainly rely on that look less often once Bogut is able to play more minutes. The Warriors play four times in Week 15 and have some solid matchups, but Landry's role is a question mark right now. Between Bogut's return and Landry's lingering shoulder concerns, Fantasy owners will want to avoid relying on him.
Alan Anderson , Raptors (BOS, @IND, NOH): Anderson has been a big surprise this season, emerging as a gunner off the bench for the Raptors. The 30-year-old is averaging 12.8 points per game on the season and has been even better recently, putting up 14.5 per game in the month of January. Unfortunately, he brought inefficient shooting and little else to the floor with him, and will likely end up being buried with Rudy Gay's arrival to Toronto. Anderson has the size to play the shooting guard spot as well, but the Raptors do not have much room for an older player without much potential, given their current makeup. Fantasy owners who have been relying on Anderson as a cheap source of points will want to avoid doing so moving forward.
Bust Alert: Ed Davis , Grizzlies (PHX, @ATL, GSW, MIN): Davis has finally emerged as a consistent contributor this season, after a pair of mostly ineffective seasons since being selected in the lottery in 2010. This week's trade was a bad outcome for Davis' Fantasy value, as he now finds himself buried behind a pair of All-Star frontcourt mates. Davis averaged just 5.9 points and 5.4 rebounds per game in the month of November, when he was buried behind Jonas Valanciunas and Andrea Bargnani , two players who don't even come close to equaling the impact of Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph , Davis' new teammates. Fantasy owners will not want to rely on Davis after this trade, barring any injuries.
Spencer Hawes , 76ers (ORL, IND, CHA): At the shallow center position, players who consistently score in double figures while playing 30-plus minutes per game are generally held in high regard. At the very least, they make for good bench fodder, worth sticking in the lineup when faced with a good matchup. That holds true for most players, but for some reason Fantasy owners are reticent to rely on Hawes, an offensively talented big man who has struggled to consistently live up to his potential. Despite his disappointing nature, Hawes does rank 27th among all centers in Fantasy scoring over the last month, while averaging 11.3 points and 6.8 rebounds per game. Despite that, he is owned in just 59 percent of Fantasy leagues, while being started in just 28 percent. Fantasy owners are rightly concerned that Hawes will take a big hit when Andrew Bynum returns, but he is worth starting in many formats for now.
Sleeper Alert: Tyler Zeller , Cavaliers (CHA, ORL, DEN): Zeller might cede playing time moving forward to recently acquired veteran Marreese Speights , however the Cavs are still very shallow and invested in Zeller's development. He should continue seeing solid playing time, as he has been recently. Zeller shows flashes of being a good NBA player, but is still averaging just 8.8 points per game over the last 10 games, while shooting 36.3 percent from the field. Zeller is getting every opportunity to produce, and if he starts getting his shots to fall there could be a big uptick in his production. Zeller is already rebounding at a high rate and is getting big minutes. The Cavaliers face three teams that rank among the 12 worst defenses in the NBA this season, so his upside makes him a decent play.
Aaron Gray , Raptors (BOS, @IND, NOH): After being dormant for most of the season, Gray erupted for the Raptors last week, racking up 30 points and 21 rebounds over a span of two games Monday and Wednesday. With the trade of Davis opening up some minutes in the frontcourt rotation, it might seem like Gray would be the beneficiary of extra playing time. And that may end up being true, as the Raptors do not have many options in the frontcourt right now. Unfortunately, Gray does not seem likely to do much with whatever minutes he comes into, as he averaged just 3.9 points and 5.7 rebounds per game in 49 games last season, despite starting 40 of them. Fantasy owners will want to avoid falling into the trap of assuming Gray can make a jump given a larger role -- especially with a pair of Top 10 defenses on the schedule.
Bust Alert: Roy Hibbert , Pacers (ATL, @PHI, TOR): If only we had the foresight to label Hibbert with the “Bust Alert” tag before the season, a lot of Fantasy seasons might have turned out different. Hibbert entered the year as a Top-10-caliber center, but has been among the biggest disappointments in the league. Over the last month, Hibbert ranks just 26th among all centers in Fantasy scoring. Hibbert averages just 9.6 points and 8.0 rebounds this season in five contests against his Week 15 opponents. With just three games on the schedule, you might want to keep him out of the starting lineup.