Week 17 Start 'Em and Sit 'Em
This is it. The final week in Fantasy. Our Chris Towers looks at the rosters and tells you which players could help you end it all on a high note.
Fantasy owners have written off forward Metta World Peace as a viable Fantasy option since the end of his first season in Los Angeles; over the last two seasons, he has averaged 8.5 and 7.2 points per game while shooting below 40.0 percent from the field and is owned in just 15 percent of all CBSSports.com leagues.
|1.||Nate Robinson , G, Warriors||26|
|2.||Donald Sloan , G, Cavaliers||4|
|3.||Michael Beasley , F, Timberwolves||30|
|4.||Gerald Green , G, Nets||16|
|5.||Jan Vesely , F, Wizards||1|
|6.||Avery Bradley , G, Celtics||6|
|7.||Nikola Vucevic , C, 76ers||3|
|8.||James Singleton , F, Wizards||1|
|9.||J.R. Smith , G, Knicks||21|
|10.||Sebastian Telfair , G, Suns||1|
Known more, at this point, for his on the court defensive toughness (as well as his off-the-court personality,) the 12-year veteran had been left for dead in Fantasy leagues for the first three months of the season, which makes his recent play one of the more surprising developments of the season.
World Peace has played eight games in April as of Saturday, and has put together arguably his best stretch in three years, as he is averaging 14.6 points on 52.4 percent shooting, while looking more like the terrific all-around player that used to be considered one of the best in the league. Part of his resurrection has been the absence of Kobe Bryant , which has forced the Lakers to shift their offensive responsibilities around.
The Lakers play just five times in Week 17 (April 16-26), however with Bryant's status still murky at best, World Peace is a solid bet to provide Fantasy owners with nice value here at the end of the season. He is certainly not an elite option anymore, however given his recent play and the Lakers' need for scoring from him he is our choice for Start of the Week for the season's final scoring period.
Lester Hudson , Cavaliers (@DET, PHI, NYK, @SAS, @MEM, WAS, @CHI): One of the truly great things about the end of the NBA season is watching guys on 10-day contracts make a name for themselves and earn longer looks based solely on the merit of their play. Hudson has become this season's poster boy for that, as he has gone on some kind of run since the beginning of April, scoring in double figures in five of seven games and averaging 17.3 points per game on the month. He may not be a particularly efficient scoring, however he has provided the Cavs with a huge boost off the bench and is not at all afraid of the moment. With the Cavs still dealing with plenty of injuries and with nothing to play for, Hudson is going to keep having opportunities to put up numbers.
Eric Gordon , Hornets (@CHA, @MEM, HOU, LAC, GSW, @HOU): Gordon has proven that he is a phenomenal offensive player when healthy, however that has been his main problem for the fourth-year guard this season. Gordon is averaging 20.5 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 3.2 assists per game on the season, numbers that would make him an absolute must-start Fantasy option in all formats if he could sustain it. The problem here is that Gordon has played just six times this season as he has dealt with a number of injuries. Luckily for those Fantasy owners who have held on to him, he looks healthy now and should be able to put up huge numbers of the last scoring period, as he plays just two teams that have above-average defenses on the season. Owners disappointed with his injury-plagued season should at least end up happy if he can give them this late season boost.
Sleeper Alert: Gerald Henderson , Bobcats (NOH, CHI, MEM, SAC, @WAS, @ORL, NYK): This season has been an abject failure for the Bobcats, who are on a historically terrible pace and have an outside shot to finish with the worst winning percent in NBA history. One bright spot, however, has been the emergence of Gerald Henderson as a scoring option, as the former lottery pick is averaging 14.3 points per game on the year. Corey Maggette suffering a season-ending Achilles' injury last week, Henderson should find scoring opportunities even more plentiful than before in the season's waning moments, so Fantasy owners should be willing to rely on him.
Stephen Jackson , Spurs (@GSW, @LAL, @SAC, LAL, CLE, POR, @PHX, @GSW): There was some hope that Jackson would experience a resurgence when the Spurs re-acquired him at the deadline this season, however that has not come to pass, as his struggles have continued and even worsened since the Spurs acquired him. Jackson's scoring has gone down to just 8.2 per game since joining the Spurs, and it is not showing signs of improving. Despite the Spurs playing eight times I the week, more than any team in the NBA, don't expect Jackson to find his way at the end of the season. When he was asked how he thought coach Gregg Popovich would manage his minutes over the last two weeks, Jackson summed it up perfectly: "You never know what Obi-Wan is going to do.”
Ray Allen , Celtics (@NYK, ORL, @ATL, MIA, MIL): Allen has been dealing with an ankle injury at different parts of this season, and most recently it has resulted in him losing his spot in the starting lineup with Avery Bradley's emergence. Allen has missed eight of the team's last 13 games, and while he is expected to return sometime during the final scoring period of the season, it is fair to assume that the team is going to do whatever it can to limit Allen's minutes here at the end of the season, now that they have the look of a contender in the postseason. Allen averaged 11.4 points per game in the five games he played in between the injury flaring up, so he has not been playing at a high level anyways. Fantasy owners should be wary of relying on the veteran right now.
Bust Alert: Kobe Bryant , Lakers (SAS, @GSW, @SAS, OKC, @SAC): Given his age and the fact that he has dealt with injuries of some sort for most of the season, the fact that Bryant is just now missing his first extended time this season is incredibly impressive. Still, the shin injury he is currently dealing with sounds pretty serious, as he has only been cleared to run at this time. It seems like he may be able to return before the playoffs, however it would be safe to assume that Bryant is going to miss at least some time in this final scoring period, making him a very risky start, especially if he is not 100 percent healthy.
JJ Hickson , Trail Blazers (@PHX, UTA, @MEM, @SAS, @UTA): Hickson has already emerged as a consistently-useful Fantasy option in most leagues, however with the recent news of LaMarcus Aldridge's season-ending hip surgery, Hickson has to be considered almost a must-start Fantasy option. The 23-year old is averaging 14.3 points and 8.6 rebounds per game over his last 10 games, however that has come in just 31.4 minutes per game. In the two games since Aldridge has been out, Hickson is averaging 40.5 minutes per game, and he has responded with a pair of double-doubles and an 18.0-point, 11.5-rebound per game average. He should be a nightly threat for a double-double and a starting Fantasy option in all formats.
Jason Smith , Hornets (@CHA, @MEM, HOU, @LAC, @GSW, @HOU): Ever since returning from a 20-game absence due to a concussion, Smith has been a huge part of the Hornets' efforts; the seven-footer is averaging 12.9 points per game over the last 13 games, while scoring in double figures in nine of them. He is also averaging 6.1 rebounds per game in that time span, while earning high praise from his coaches and a consistent spot in the starting lineup. Only Memphis and Los Angeles look to provide any sort of defensive resistance over the season's final six games, and with Smith playing for a role on next season's team, expect him to keep his strong play up.
Sleeper Alert: Anthony Randolph , Timberwolves (@IND, MEM, @DET, GSW, DEN): Anthony Randolph's late-season ascension to Fantasy relevance is starting to become a yearly tradition. Kevin Love seemingly sideline for the remainder of the season with concussion issues and a strained neck, Randolph has seen a tremendous rise in his minutes recently, as he has topped 25 in each of his last three games. In those three games he is now averaging 22.0 points and 8.7 rebounds per game. One day Randolph is going to have to turn this late-season success into sustained production, however for Fantasy owners looking for a boost in the last scoring period, the talented, but inconsistent big man should be a good target.
Trevor Ariza , Hornets (@CHA, @MEM, HOU, @LAC, @GSW, @HOU): Ariza has dealt with some ankle issues recently, however he has been considered healthy for the last few games. Despite that, he has been unable to find the floor over the last three games, as Hornets coach Monty Williams has admitted to moving his focus towards the future. As a result, Ariza has been benched in favor of younger players, with Williams saying he already knows what Ariza can give him for the future. Ariza's role on the team next year seems safe, however his time as a productive Fantasy player this season seems over.
Al Harrington , Nuggets (@HOU, LAC, @PHX, ORL, @OKC, @MIN): Harrington revealed last week that he has suffered a torn meniscus in his right knee and that he would keep trying to play through it, with the Nuggets still in the thick of a playoff hunt. He followed that revelation up with 11 and 18 points in his next two games, showing that he can still be effective with the tear as a scorer. However his rebounding took a major hit, and coach George Karl has made it clear that he expects to limit Harrington's minutes moving forward, so Fantasy owners might want to limit their expectations for him and go with a healthier option for the week.
Bust Alert: Drew Gooden , Bucks (@WAS, @IND, NJN, TOR, PHI, @BOS): There was a point this season when Gooden was a must-start Fantasy option, as he broke out in Andrew Bogut's absence. However, after suffering a back injury at the end of February, Gooden has struggled with consistency. That has especially been an issue recently, as the big man has failed to reach double-figures in scoring in 10 of the last 15 games. He is averaging just 10.5 points and 4.6 rebounds in just 20.7 minutes per game in the month of April. He is still capable of the occasional big game, however he has also had moments where he has been removed from games entirely due to ineffectiveness. He is too unreliable at this point to be started with how important the games are now.
Glen Davis , Magic (PHI, @BOS, @UTA, @DEN, CHA, @MEM): This has been an understandably frustrating season for Davis, who spent the first three months almost exclusively off the bench. However he has been released over the last few weeks, starting in the place of both Ryan Anderson and now Dwight Howard as they dealt with injuries. He has been downright dominant since entering the starting lineup, averaging 18.7 points and 11.4 rebounds in seven games in the month of April while trying desperately to keep the Magic afloat. He may not be helping them win too many games, Davis has shown the ability to carry your Fantasy team in this role.
Sleeper Alert: Greg Stiemsma , Celtics (@NYK, ORL, @ATL, MIA, MIL): Stiemsma has played professionally in Turkey, Korea, and the D-League prior to making his debut with the Celtics this season, so the fact that he is even in the league is pretty impressive, let alone that he is making an impact on a contender. The 26-year-old has emerged as a low-end Fantasy contributor in Rotisserie leagues, mostly for his ability to fill up the stat sheet. He almost never tops double-digits in scoring or rebounding, however as he did on Saturday, he does just enough everywhere to make him an OK option in a pinch – he finished the game with six points, nine rebounds, two blocks and two steals. Stiemsma is far from an elite contributor, however he has gone from a mere curiosity to a legitimate low-end option for the final scoring period.
DeJuan Blair , Spurs (@GSW, @LAL, @SAC, LAL, CLE, POR, @PHX, @GSW): The Spurs play the most games of anyone in this scoring period, as they have a back-to-back-to-back to start things off before playing five more games in the next nine days. Normally, that would be a sure-fire reason to play a borderline guy, however in Blair's case, it does not bode well. As discussed in Stephen Jackson's part, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is highly unpredictably when it comes to when he will give guys off and when he will lean on them heavily. And unfortunately for Blair, Popovich seems to have lost faith in him, as he has dropped his minutes to just 18.8 per game over the last 10. Blair has been replaced quite often by Boris Diaw , and with the schedule condensing at the end, he could see some extra time off before the playoffs.
Bust Alert: Dwight Howard , Magic (PHI, @BOS, @UTA, @DEN, CHA, @MEM): Prior to two weeks ago, Howard had missed just seven games in his entire seven-year NBA career, so you can excuse him for taking six of the last eight games off with a herniated disc in his back. Howard has been a model of consistency, but with news breaking on Sunday that he would miss at least the next 10 days, Fantasy owners simply cannot rely on him in this final scoring period. The best case scenario for him is that he returns for the last two games, however coach Stan Van Gundy is already preparing to head into the playoffs without him.
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