Week 5 Start 'Em and Sit 'Em
Someone made the basketball gods angry Friday night, apparently. Maybe we were all riding too high on the promising news coming out of Lakers' practice, where Kobe Bryant continues to recover from Achilles surgery. With one former MVP on the verge of returning, Fate cruelly took another away Friday, as Bulls guard Derrick Rose stumbled awkwardly into a torn meniscus that will require surgery.
The Rose injury obviously complicates more than a few Fantasy owners' plans for both the long and short term, as he was a consensus early pick in drafts this preseason. Unfortunately, he wasn't the only major player we lost this weekend, as Marc Gasol (MCL sprain), James Harden (foot) and Andre Iguodala (hamstring) appear likely to miss at least some time moving forward.
Rose, Harden, Gasol and Iguodala's absences should open up solid chunks of playing time on their respective teams, beginning with Week 5 (Nov. 25-Dec. 1). While we don't know exactly how each team's rotations will work out in light of these injuries, we should put players like Kosta Koufos , Ed Davis , Kirk Hinrich , Jeremy Lin and Harrison Barnes on Fantasy radars as these teams look to plug the holes created by their missing stars. Following these injuries should create much more intrigue than normal for this week, though obviously owners who lost their stars aren't particularly excited about how things are playing out.
(All stats up to date through Nov. 22 games)
|1.||Jeremy Lin , Rockets||98/75|
|2.||Kirk Hinrich , Bulls||43/20|
|3.||Gerald Green , Suns||34/21|
|4.||Kyle Korver , Hawks||80/55|
|5.||Steve Blake , Lakers||79/56|
|6.||Mario Chalmers , Heat||67/36|
|7.||Greivis Vasquez , Kings||84/45|
|8.||Tyreke Evans , Pelicans||87/35|
|9.||Trey Burke , Jazz||87/20|
|10.||Shaun Livingston , Nets||25/14|
If you've got any Hawks on your roster you've been saving to start, this might be the week to get them in the lineup. Each of the Hawks' Week 5 opponents ranks in the bottom-10 in the league in points allowed per game, and Atlanta joins three of the four in the top-10 in the league in pace. The Hawks could find themselves involved in plenty of shootouts this week, which should work out very well for Fantasy owners. I don't love this team's lower-end players, but this might be the week to get Cartier Martin and DeMarre Carroll into your lineup in the hopes that they find some magic against these porous defenses.
Schedule: ORL, @HOU, DAL, @WAS
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 1st
10-team starters: Al Horford , Jeff Teague , Paul Millsap , Kyle Korver
12-to-14-team starters: None
Deep-league fliers: Cartier Martin , Dennis Schroder , Lou Williams , DeMarre Carroll
Kelly Olynyk could miss a couple of weeks due to an ankle injury, so that is just one more player taken out of the jumbled Celtics frontcourt. His absence should help Jared Sullinger , but I don't particularly like anyone else in that mix for Boston. The big enigma is Avery Bradley , who has been given the green light to fire away when given even an inch of space by his defender. Unfortunately, despite attempting 15.6 shots per game over the last five entering play Saturday, he is averaging only 13.8 points in that span. If you think those shots will start falling, Braldey might be a worthy roll of the dice against a decent slate of opponents.
Schedule: @CHA, MEM, CLE, @MIL
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 9th
10-team starters: Jeff Green
12-to-14-team starters: Jordan Crawford , Avery Bradley , Jared Sullinger
Deep-league fliers: Kris Humphries , Brandon Bass , Gerald Wallace
Yeah, this is exactly how we expected the Nets' season to go. The Nets' two best players have been completely taken out of the picture over the last week due to twin ankle injuries, and we're still waiting for some kind of timeline. And then, the players who have been healthy have largely been unable to produce as expected, whether due to age or an ill fit in a system that hasn't worked so far. With Brook Lopez and Deron Williams still sitting in injury limbo, I wouldn't feel comfortable relying on any Nets right now. Even Shaun Livingston and Andray Blatche , who have stepped up nicely after injuries, are risky plays because of the uncertainty surrounding the Nets' stars. I cannot recommend anyone from this team right now, so play at your own risk.
Schedule: @TOR, LAL, @HOU, @MEM
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 23rd
10-team starters: None
12-to-14-team starters: Paul Pierce , Joe Johnson , Deron Williams , Brook Lopez , Andray Blatche
Deep-league fliers: Reggie Evans , Kevin Garnett , Jason Terry , Shaun Livingston
Happily, Kemba Walker is starting to show real signs of breaking out of his prolonged shooting slump, which is a good sign for his frustrated Fantasy owners. Additionally, the return of Al Jefferson Friday will hopefully be for good this time, as a troublesome ankle injury has kept him out for much of the season. Unfortunately, this could be a tough schedule for the Bobcats' role players to thrive against, as three of their four opponents rank in the top-10 in points allowed per game. Figuring out who, out of Jeff Taylor , Ramon Sessions and Gerald Henderson , will step up as a third scoring option on any given night has been a chore this season, and renders them all to less Fantasy relevance than their skill sets might otherwise allow. Each is difficult to trust against tough defenses.
Schedule: BOS, IND, MIL, @MIA
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 26th
10-team starters: Kemba Walker , Al Jefferson
12-to-14-team starters: Gerald Henderson , Josh McRoberts
Deep-league fliers: Ramon Sessions , Jeff Taylor , Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
Watching Rose go down without contact with a knee injury Friday, you just knew it wasn't a good sign for the former MVP. Though he avoided an ACL tear, he is out indefinitely after being diagnosed with a meniscus tear. With Rose out, Kirk Hinrich is likely to step into the starting lineup for Chicago at point guard, but that doesn't mean Fantasy owners need to be starting him -- after all, this is a guy who averaged just 20.6 Fantasy points per game while starting all 60 of his games a year ago. The Bulls will likely have him play a similar role, while shifting the playmaking burden more evenly between Hinrich, Luol Deng and Joakim Noah . Hinrich is a decent player, but little more than that at this point in his career. There is little recent evidence to suggest he's more than a low-end starter in his projected role.
Schedule: @UTA, @DET, @CLE
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 15th 10-team starters: Carlos Boozer , Joakim Noah , Luol Deng
12-to-14-team starters: Kirk Hinrich
Deep-league fliers: Mike Dunleavy , Taj Gibson
At least Kyrie Irving is starting to turn things around -- 25.8 points per game on 46.4 percent shooting over the last five games. Unfortunately, the rest of the roster remains a big concern, with Dion Waiters , Jarrett Jack , Anderson Varejao and Tristan Thompson struggling with consistency on a nightly basis. This is not the week to take a chance on any of those options, as the Cavs face the least promising Fantasy schedule of any team this week. The Cavs' role players can all serve their purposes, but you might be better off relying on more dependable options.
Schedule: MIA, @BOS, CHI
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 30th
10-team starters: Kyrie Irving
12-to-14-team starters: Anderson Varejao , Dion Waiters , Tristan Thompson
Deep-league fliers: Andrew Bynum , Jarrett Jack , C.J. Miles , Alonzo Gee , Earl Clark
The Mavericks curiously experimented with bringing Samuel Dalembert off the bench in favor of Jae Crowder this week, but that ended pretty quickly, with Dalembert moving back to the starting lineup after one game. Of course, that shuffling didn't change the team's bottom line from a Fantasy perspective, and neither did the debut of rookie point guard reserve Shane Larkin . This team's roles are pretty well settled, which makes for little change on a nightly basis. This is a pretty good schedule for the Mavericks to put up some points, but the lack of variety leaves little to talk about.
Schedule: DEN, GS, @ATL, MIN
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 11th
10-team starters: Dirk Nowitzki , Monta Ellis , Jose Calderon
12-to-14-team starters: Vince Carter , Shawn Marion
Deep-league fliers: Samuel Dalembert , DeJuan Blair , Jae Crowder
This Nuggets' roster is going to play at a hectic pace, whether Brian Shaw wants it to happen or not. To his credit, Shaw has shown more flexibility than many expected, as he has allowed Ty Lawson the freedom to create, and hasn't forced his big men into post ups they are ill-equipped to handle. In fact, he has put Kenneth Faried and JJ Hickson into positions to succeed recently, as both are averaging a double-double over the last five games. After a fitful start, this team is starting to resemble last year's at least in style, which is a good sign for Fantasy purposes. Against a soft schedule, Hickson, Faried and Wilson Chandler can be started with confidence.
Schedule: @DAL, @MIN, NY, @TOR
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 9th
10-team starters: Ty Lawson
12-to-14-team starters: Wilson Chandler , Kenneth Faried , JJ Hickson
Deep-league fliers: Timofey Mozgov , Andre Miller , Randy Foye , Nate Robinson
Given how poorly he has played this season, Josh Smith 's benching Friday was nearly enough for me to knock him down a peg here. However, it looks like that was just a one-game punishment for Smith missing practice last week, and he is expected back into the starting lineup before long. As disappointing as Smith has played in his first season outside of Atlanta, 27.4 Fantasy points are hard to bench. Even in category-based formats, where his poor across-the-board shooting hurts even more, his rare ability to pack the stat sheet still likely leaves him as a start-worthy option. If he starts to see more games with minute totals in the 20's, however, Smith is going to become a nightmare for Fantasy owners.
Schedule: MIL, CHI, LAL, PHI
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 10th
10-team starters: Josh Smith , Greg Monroe , Andre Drummond , Brandon Jennings
12-to-14-team starters: None
Deep-league fliers: Rodney Stuckey , Will Bynum , Kyle Singler
Golden State Warriors
My initial thought was to leave Harrison Barnes in the middle tier with Iguodala out indefinitely, but the Warriors' schedule for Week 5 should be enough to make him worthy as a starter. The thing with Barnes is, he's really only contributing as a scorer at this point in his career; he is averaging 16.0 points per game over the last five, but just 4.6 rebounds and 2.4 assists. The Warriors will likely need him to play big minutes with Iguodala out, and he should be able to score in the mid-teens pretty consistently, so start him in most formats against good matchups. In other news, Stephen Curry's concussion is still a concern, though he has until Tuesday before Fantasy owners really have to worry about him missing extensive time. If he plays Sunday, then he's through the woods and can be started with confidence.
Schedule: @NO, @DAL, @OKC, @SAC
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 7th
10-team starters: Stephen Curry , Klay Thompson , Harrison Barnes , David Lee
12-to-14-team starters: None
Deep-league fliers: Andrew Bogut
According to ESPN.com, James Harden is likely to miss at least the first game of the week due to lingering foot trouble. If that was all we had to be concerned with, I would say start Harden with three games and don't think twice. Unfortunately, his status beyond the initial game is not yet known; this injury has been an issue for a while, and the Rockets might let him rest until it heals up so it doesn't keep lingering. Start him with caution… Either way, Harden being out even one game makes Jeremy Lin a nearly must-start option -- in five games without Harden entering Saturday's game, Lin is averaging 24.0 points and 8.0 assists per game since joining the Rockets.
Schedule: @MEM, ATL, BKN, @SA
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 22nd
10-team starters: James Harden , Dwight Howard , Chandler Parsons , Jeremy Lin
12-to-14-team starters: Patrick Beverley , Terrence Jones
Deep-league fliers: Francisco Garcia , Omri Casspi
If it wasn't for all those blocked shots, Roy Hibbert might not be a particularly useful Fantasy option, at least as a starter. Case in point: Over the last four games (entering Saturday's play), Hibbert has one double-double, while averaging 9.5 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.0 blocks. Those are still useful numbers, but they're more Miles Plumlee numbers than those of a must-start option. Having said that, this isn't the week to consider sitting Hibbert down, as two of the Pacers' Week 5 opponents rank in the top-five in terms of having their shots blocked this season. At this point, I am OK with sitting David West, whose production has really suffered in his newly diminished role this season.
Schedule: MIN, @CHA, WAS, @LAC
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 5th
10-team starters: Paul George , Roy Hibbert , Lance Stephenson
12-to-14-team starters: George Hill , David West
Deep-league fliers: Luis Scola , C.J. Watson
Los Angeles Clippers
The schedule-makers smiled on Fantasy owners who stacked their lineup with Clippers in Week 4, so this week is likely to be a letdown. The Clippers play just three times this week, and one of those comes against the Pacers' stifling defense. Matchups with the Knicks and Kings have a lot of track-meet potential, but your lower-end Clippers might disappoint this time around.
Schedule: NY, @SAC, IND
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 27th
10-team starters: Chris Paul , Blake Griffin , DeAndre Jordan ,
12-to-14-team starters: Jamal Crawford , J.J. Redick
Deep-league fliers: Jared Dudley
Los Angeles Lakers
|1.||DeMarre Carroll , Hawks||37/21|
|2.||Jared Sullinger , Celtics||73/43|
|3.||Josh McRoberts , Bobcats||53/35|
|4.||Mike Dunleavy , Bulls||13/6|
|5.||Kenneth Faried , Nuggets||97/71|
|6.||JJ Hickson , Nuggets||89/52|
|7.||Kyle Singler , Pistons||5/2|
|8.||Harrison Barnes , Warriors||75/37|
|9.||Ersan Ilyasova , Bucks||93/40|
|10.||Ryan Anderson , Pelicans||96/55|
We're all hoping Kobe Bryant return goes better than Derrick Rose's, and he seems to be making good progress. Unfortunately, we're still probably at least a week away from seeing Kobe on the floor for the first time, as coach Mike D'Antoni has all but ruled him out for the three-game road trip that opens the week. One game from Bryant might be better than two or three from some of the other guys littering the bottom of your roster, but you can't take the risk of putting up a zero if you can avoid it. Meanwhile, Pau Gasol , Jordan Hill and Steve Blake have all developed a nice chemistry together and are rolling. Don't feel bad about starting any of them against what should be an easy schedule.
Schedule: @WAS, @BKN, @DET, POR
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 3rd
10-team starters: Pau Gasol
12-to-14-team starters: Steve Blake , Jodie Meeks , Jordan Hill
Deep-league fliers: Nick Young , Xavier Henry , Jordan Farmar , Chris Kaman
Well, this team is now interesting for Fantasy purposes. Unfortunately, it came at the expense of Marc Gasol's left knee, which will likely keep him out for an extended amount of time. That isn't a tradeoff I would ever take. Fantasy owners have to deal with the repercussions of that injury now, and the two most intriguing possibilities are Kosta Koufos and Ed Davis , both of whom have shown the ability to contribute when given the chance. I'd bet on Koufos playing more than Davis at this point, as he has already played 78 minutes next to Zach Randolph , compared to just 14 for Davis. Still, with three games on the schedule, I wouldn't start Koufos; I'm giving him a trial period to show he can be more than just the fringe-y guy he has been his entire career.
Schedule: HOU, @BOS, BKN
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 12th
10-team starters: Mike Conley , Zach Randolph
12-to-14-team starters: None
Deep-league fliers: Kosta Koufos , Ed Davis , Tony Allen , Jerryd Bayless , Tayshaun Prince , Mike Miller , Quincy Pondexter
Miami plays some of the funkiest lineup combinations in the league, but one constant is the presence of at last one of the Big Three to run the offense through. That means there still isn't much room for role players to shine, even with Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade nearing career-low minute totals. Michael Beasley is the most interesting option coming off the bench, but his role and production remain far too inconsistent to consider starting, even with four games on the schedule. Mario Chalmers ' production has fallen off recently, but you can still consider him worth starting for his contributions in assists, steals and 3-pointers.
Schedule: PHO, @CLE, @TOR, CHA
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 24th
10-team starters: LeBron James , Dwyane Wade , Chris Bosh
12-to-14-team starters: Mario Chalmers
Deep-league fliers: Ray Allen , Michael Beasley
Brandon Knight return likely means we've seen the end of the Nate Wolters era in Milwaukee. Knight came off the bench in his first game back from a hamstring injury Saturday, but should be able to get his starting job back pretty soon. This is probably the first week we'll get to see the Bucks' full rotation (minus Larry Sanders , and they've got some god matchups to figure themselves out with. Guys like Knight, Ersan Ilyasova and Caron Butler are probably too risky to start, but the two forwards in particularly have shown in recent games they can be worth the risk.
Schedule: @DET, WAS, @CHA, BOS
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 13th
10-team starters: O.J. Mayo
12-to-14-team starters: Ersan Ilyasova , Caron Butler
Deep-league fliers: Luke Ridnour , John Henson , Brandon Knight
Minnesota is in the weird position of being a high-scoring team with a very narrow Fantasy appeal. As ever, this starting lineup remains Fantastic across the board, and they seem to keep lucking into great weekly matchups for Fantasy owners. You know who to start and who not to, and there really isn't anything to say beyond that.
Schedule: @IND, DEN, @DAL, @OKC
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 6th
10-team starters: Ricky Rubio , Kevin Love , Nikola Pekovic
12-to-14-team starters: Corey Brewer
Deep-league fliers: J.J. Barea
New Orleans Pelicans
The return of Ryan Anderson to the lineup makes this team's rotations make so much more sense. What is also helping is that Tyreke Evans has finally found a comfort level as the sixth man. He is averaging 25.6 Fantasy points per game over the last five, and can be safely inserted into plenty of starting lineups, along with Anderson. The shortening of the rotation has had adverse effects on the back of the roster, but there probably aren't many Fantasy owners crying about the loss of Brian Roberts role as the backup point guard.
Schedule: @SA, GS, @PHI, @NY
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 18th
10-team starters: Anthony Davis , Jrue Holiday , Eric Gordon
12-to-14-team starters: Tyreke Evans , Ryan Anderson
Deep-league fliers: Anthony Morrow , Jason Smith , Al-Farouq Aminu
New York Knicks
If it wasn't for the Nets, the Knicks would be the league's biggest failure as we near the end of the first month. Their troubles have spilled over to the Fantasy world, as I wouldn't really want to rely on anyone beyond Carmelo Anthony on this roster. The Knicks have a terrific schedule in Week 5, with a bunch of poor defensive clubs on the way in a four-game week, and they don't really have anyone who can take advantage. Beno Udrih might be worth a look given the schedule and Raymond Felton lingering hip injury, but he has to be considered an incredibly risky play at this point.
Schedule: @POR, @LAC, @DEN, NO
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 4th
10-team starters: Carmelo Anthony , Andrea Bargnani
12-to-14-team starters: J.R. Smith
Deep-league fliers: Raymond Felton , Metta World Peace , Iman Shumpert , Beno Udrih
Oklahoma City Thunder
For a few days it looked like Steven Adams might turn into something interesting for Fantasy owners, but Kendrick Perkins return from a personal absence has pretty much ended that. Over his last five games, Adams is averaging just 3.6 points and 3.6 rebounds, and pretty much has no Fantasy appeal at this time. At this point, even preseason breakout candidate Reggie Jackson probably isn't worth starting in a three-game week, as the Thunder have grown even more top-heavy than previously imagined.
Schedule: SA, GS, MIN
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 28th
10-team starters: Kevin Durant , Serge Ibaka , Russell Westbrook
12-to-14-team starters: Reggie Jackson
Deep-league fliers: Jeremy Lamb , Thabo Sefolosha , Steven Adams
Glen Davis was back Saturday and Tobias Harris seems likely to return at some point this week. Players returning from injury is always good news, but it really makes this a crowded Magic frontcourt. That is what we expected before the season, but at least the early injuries allowed guys Andrew Nicholson and Maurice Harkless to assert themselves in bigger roles. Juggling minutes between the three frontcourt positions is going to be a difficult job for Magic coach Jacque Vaughn , and I think I'd rather avoid it for the most part. With three games on the schedule this week, it should be pretty easy to keep everyone but Nikola Vucevic and Arron Afflalo on the bench, at least among the frontcourt rotation.
Schedule: @ATL, PHI, SA
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 21st
10-team starters: Nikola Vucevic , Arron Afflalo
12-to-14-team starters: Jameer Nelson , Victor Oladipo
Deep-league fliers: Glen Davis , Maurice Harkless , Andrew Nicholson
The biggest question surrounding the 76ers right now is when Thaddeus Young will return to the team from personal leave. His absence has allowed Hollis Thompson and Daniel Orton to step into bigger roles than expect, but they will almost certainly return to their reserve spots as soon as Young is back with the team. Given that he is dealing with something not injury-related, we don't really have any way of knowing when Young will be back with the team, which makes him an injury risk until he does. If we don't hear anything by the time lineups lock Monday night, it might be best to keep Young on the bench.
Schedule: @ORL, NO, @DET
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 16th
10-team starters: Evan Turner , Spencer Hawes , Michael Carter-Williams
12-to-14-team starters: Thaddeus Young
Deep-league fliers: Tony Wroten , James Anderson
With his growth as a player this season, Eric Bledsoe is very nearly in that star category, which makes him yet another star who could be missing time this week. Bledsoe has been unable to cut, run or jump on his injured shin, and enters Week 5 as a huge question mark. Entering Sunday, he has missed three games, and that seems likely to continue, which likely means good things for Gerald Green , who has been starting in his place. Green has been a big surprise this season, averaging 14.8 points per game, and that number is up to 17.0 over the last five. If your lineup locks Monday night, you might have to sit Bledsoe this week, and Green's hot shooting makes him a very viable starting option with four games on the schedule.
Schedule: @MIA, POR, @UTA, UTA
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 17th
10-team starters: Goran Dragic
12-to-14-team starters: Miles Plumlee , Gerald Green , Markieff Morris , Eric Bledsoe
Deep-league fliers: P.J. Tucker , Channing Frye
Portland Trail Blazers
This is another team that doesn't have a ton to talk about for Fantasy purposes, thanks to well-defined roles and a pretty short rotation. They have simply been a model of consistent excellence and execution. Wesley Matthews has actually been a personification of the Blazers' entire season so far, as he has made a huge leap by just executing exceptionally well in the team's offense. Matthews is averaging 19.4 points per game over the last five, while shooting 55.4 percent from the field and 48.6 percent from three-point range, while feasting on a steady diet of wide open threes. He can't be benched right now in any Fantasy leagues, even with just three games on the schedule.
Schedule: NY, @PHO, @LAL
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 19th
10-team starters: Damian Lillard , LaMarcus Aldridge , Nicolas Batum , Wesley Matthews
12-to-14-team starters: Robin Lopez
Deep-league fliers: Dorell Wright , Mo Williams
|1.||Kosta Koufos , Grizzlies||29/6|
|2.||Tiago Splitter , Spurs||66/30|
|3.||Enes Kanter , Jazz||95/64|
|4.||Jonas Valanciunas , Raptors||85/28|
|5.||Samuel Dalembert , Mavericks||38/21|
Just when it seemed safe to start Greivis Vasquez , he put up a disappointing week. Entering play Sunday, he is averaging just 8.7 points and 4.7 assists per game in Week 4, after appearing to have figured some things out entering the week. Thankfully, the Kings play just twice this week, so Fantasy owners have an easy decision to make -- sit everyone but Isaiah Thomas and DeMarcus Cousins , and don't think twice about it.
Schedule: LAC, GS
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 25th
10-team starters: Isaiah Thomas , DeMarcus Cousins
12-to-14-team starters: None
Deep-league fliers: Marcus Thornton , Greivis Vasquez , Patrick Patterson , Jason Thompson , Ben McLemore , John Salmons
San Antonio Spurs
Tim Duncan slow decline hasn't really turned around in recent weeks, which headlines the Fantasy disappointments for this team. Kawhi Leonard hasn't taken the leap we expected, Danny Green has been inconsistent, and Tiago Splitter role has shockingly shrunk. Even with four games and a very nice schedule on the way in Week 5, I'm not sure I would feel confident starting anyone but Tony Parker right now.
Schedule: NO, @OKC, @ORL, HOU
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 2nd
10-team starters: Tony Parker
12-to-14-team starters: Kawhi Leonard , Danny Green , Tiago Splitter , Tim Duncan
Deep-league fliers: Manu Ginobili , Marco Belinelli , Boris Diaw
One good sign for frustrated Jonas Valanciunas owners for Week 5 is the presence of the Heat on the schedule. He really bothered the Heat with his size in their previous meeting this season, posting arguably his finest game of the season, with 18 points and nine rebounds. That might be grasping for straws a bit here, but that's what Valanciunas owners are left with, as he has clearly not taken the expected step forward in his second season.
Schedule: BKN, MIA, DEN
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 14th
10-team starters: Rudy Gay , DeMar DeRozan , Kyle Lowry
12-to-14-team starters: Amir Johnson , Jonas Valanciunas
Deep-league fliers: Tyler Hansbrough
Trey Burke's debut was probably the most anticipated of the season, as the Jazz's glaring need for any production at the point guard spot seems a sure bet to end up with him thrust into a big role. His first two games weren't particularly inspiring, but he also missed much of the preseason due to a fractured hand, so there is no reason to write him off. Still, they serve as a needed reminder that tempering expectations with a rookie is never a bad idea, especially one jumping into a bad offensive system coming off an injury. I like Burke's enough upside to think he is worth taking a chance on this week, even without the best of schedules, just to see if his upside plays into anything.
Schedule: CHI, PHO, @PHO
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 29th
10-team starters: Gordon Hayward , Derrick Favors , Enes Kanter
12-to-14-team starters: Trey Burke
Deep-league fliers: Alec Burks , Richard Jefferson , Marvin Williams
It might just be the result of playing some lackluster defenses, but John Wall looks like he is making the leap recently. After he dismantled the Knicks Saturday, Wall is averaging 21.2 points, 9.2 assists, 2.4 steals and 4.2 rebounds per game over his last five. Those are elite numbers, and they reflect what he did after the All-Star break last season, when hopes were so high for him. Not like you were thinking of sitting Wall, but he's clearly a must-start Fantasy option in any format. Additionally, Martell Webster has played himself into Fantasy relevance in Trevor Ariza's absence, averaging 14.8 points, 5.4 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 3.0 3-pointers per game over the last five. Ariza is set to return to practice Monday, but it isn't clear if he is expected to make his return to game action immediately after. As long as Ariza remains sidelined, Webster is a solid Fantasy option, but the question marks surrounding his possible role make him tough to rely on for Week 5.
Schedule: LAL, @MIL, @IND, ATL
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 20th
10-team starters: John Wall , Bradley Beal
12-to-14-team starters: Nene, Marcin Gortat
Deep-league fliers: Al Harrington , Martell Webster , Trevor Ariza