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Fantasy Basketball differs from its football cousin in a lot of ways, but a big one is how little things change on a weekly basis. With rare exceptions, your hoops lineup is going to be mostly the same from week to week because matches dictate how players will produce much less than their baseline level of skill does.
This makes patience a bit more rewarding. The higher number of games means players will generally regress to the mean over the course of a week, month and season. However, there are rare exceptions to that rule, usually when it comes to the number of games played during the course of a week.
When most teams play three or four times in a week, you can generally default to your typical lineup. Most weeks generally feature just one team at a time playing an extreme number of games, but Week 10 (Dec. 29-Jan. 4) is no typical week. Three of the most Fantasy-relevant teams in the league -- Golden State, Oklahoma City and Portland -- find just two games on the schedule this week, and all three are in varying states of flux right now, making things even more difficult.
First things first, there are a handful of players who are no-doubt starting options this week on these rosters, even with just two games on the way. Let's get those out of the way now: Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka, Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge.
There are other players you know won't be starting for you this week as well. The Steven Adamses and Marreese Speights of the world have their place on many Fantasy rosters, but they simply don't do enough to justify a spot in your lineup with just two games on the way.
Between those two groups of players is the hazy middle, players who could be worth starting this week but have various factors working against them. Here are the key names from each team to consider ahead of Week 10.
Draymond Green, F, Warriors
David Lee's return brought questions about Green's role with it, and the first four games haven't provided much clarity. Green has played just 28.8 minutes per game since Lee's return, and is averaging just 6.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game in that span. That isn't terribly encouraging, but he has added 18 combined blocks and steals in that span, and played 34 and 32 minutes during games on Thursday and Saturday, the only non-blowout of the four games. His minutes will probably be down a bit long-term, but I think 30-plus should be the expectation on most nights. His scoring will also be down most likely, but there are few players who will be able to provide the combination of shooting, passing and defense Green can, even in two games, so keep him active. Verdict: Start
Kevin Durant, F, Thunder
As recently as Thursday night, Durant was telling The Oklahoman his ankle was still too swollen to play. That's not a great sign, although he does have two days off from Sunday's game to the first game of Week 10, which is Wednesday against the Suns, so it's still possible he takes the floor. If your lineup locks Monday for the week and Durant hasn't given a firm indication that he will play in not just one but both of the games this week, there's no way you can start him. Verdict: Sit
Nicolas Batum, F, Trail Blazers
Batum is dealing with an ongoing wrist issue that caused him to miss two of five games heading into Sunday's matchup with the Knicks, but it doesn't appear to be a serious enough issue to keep him out moving forward. However, his ongoing struggles this season certainly make him a questionable play, given the schedule. In years past, Batum would have been a no-doubt starter, given his high-volume shooting and exceptional passing numbers at the forward position. However, he hasn't made more than one 3-pointer in any of his last eight games, and is really only bringing passing to the table. If you're relying on low-volume assist point guards like Kemba Walker and Derrick Rose, starting Batum makes sense, but there are better options out there this week. Verdict: Sit
Jared Dudley, Bucks (13 percent started)
The Bucks had a number of potential replacements for Jabari Parker on the roster, but I have to be honest, I didn't think Jared Dudley would be one of them. However, in seven games since Parker's season-ending knee injury, Dudley has stepped into a larger role and thrived, averaging 13.0 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.9 steals and 2.0 3-pointers per game, while averaging 29.4 minutes per game almost exclusively off the bench. His hot shooting won't continue at this kind of clip, but Dudley clearly fits in well with this unorthodox Bucks' roster. Given how he is filling up the box score, he makes for a solid starter with four games on the way.
I would start Dudley over ... Luol Deng, Shabazz Muhammad, Wilson Chandler
Ben McLemore, Kings (26 percent started)
McLemore's role was in serious doubt this season, after the Kings drafted Nik Stauskas this offseason. However, he has cemented his place as the team's shooting guard of the future with his play, which has been better than ever of late. McLemore is averaging 14.8 points, 4.2 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game over the last five, while shooting 53.7 percent from the field and adding in 1.8 3-pointers in that span as well. The Kings have the best schedule in the league on the way in Week 10 coming up against three bottom-10 defenses, so he should be able to keep this up.
I would start McLemore over ... Wesley Matthews, Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins
George Hill, Pacers (29 percent started)
Hill hasn't quite gotten going since his return, though the Pacers are playing it safe so far by limiting him to just 23.7 minutes per game. Still, he is averaging 13.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game, solid numbers that he should only improve on as his role increases. The Pacers have one of the best schedules in the league on the way, so Hills should make for a solid option with four games in Week 10.
I would start Hill over ... Rodney Stuckey, Alec Burks, Arron Afflalo
Wesley Matthews, Trail Blazers (66 percent started)
With the way Matthews was playing earlier in the season, he looked like an absolute must-start Fantasy option in all circumstances. His scoring, rebounding and assist numbers were all up, and he was bombing away from 3-point range at an absurd pace. He is still hitting his long-range bombs, but the rest of his game has fallen off a bit lately, as he averaged 15.4 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game in the month of December. With just two tough matchups making up the entirety of the Week 10 schedule for the Blazers, you might want to pass on Matthews.
Kenneth Faried, Nuggets (67 percent started)
Faried has gotten off to slow starts in each of his NBA seasons, and this one has been no exception. He is averaging just 11.6 points and 7.8 rebounds per game through 27 contests, well below what we expected after his second-half breakout last season. However, his style of play doesn't lend itself to being buried, and he has busted out in recent days, racking up 46 points and 39 rebounds over his last two games, his two best of the season. Faried has been frustrating to own all season, but once he gets going, I don't think he is going to slow down. Brian Shaw may not love his game, but Faried is too productive to keep down for too long.
I would start Faried over ... David West, Thaddeus Young, Giannis Antetokounmpo
Tristan Thompson, Cavaliers (48 percent started)
The first two games after Anderson Varejao's injury saw Thompson log a combined 66 minutes, including 40 in a win over the Magic Friday. He didn't score in double-digits in either game, but had 22 combined rebounds and four combined blocks and steals, so he has done enough to make up for that. The Cavs are going to need him against teams with some size in the front court, and they face off against the Hawks, Bobcats and Mavericks among their four games in Week 10, so he should get a ton of minutes.
I would start Thompson over ... Zach Randolph, David Lee, Thaddeus Young
Nikola Mirotic, Bulls (23 percent started)
Mirotic's role hasn't been terrible consistent lately, with the rest of the Bulls' frontcourt getting healthy. That really hasn't slowed him down, however, as he is still averaging 13.8 points and 5.8 rebounds per game over the last five, in just 18.8 minutes. Mitotic has demonstrated an impressive ability to get to the free throw line and shoot 3-pointers at a high volume even in a limited role, which is enough to make him a viable starter in category-based formats for Week 10, with four games on the schedule.
I would start Mirotic over ... Robert Covington, Nicolas Batum, Terrence Ross
Zach Randolph, Grizzlies (57 percent started)
Once you get past the first game, Randolph has a terrific schedule this week, taking on the Nuggets and Lakers in consecutive games to close out the schedule. However, that first game is a tough one against a Spurs team that has mostly dominated Randolph in recent years, and a lingering knee injuries means we don't even know if Randolph will play this week. If he is cleared to play before lineups lock, get him in there, but you might not be able to risk it otherwise, as he has missed the last four games already.
Enes Kanter, Jazz (51 percent started)
The knock on Kanter remains his inability to contribute secondary stats like assists and blocks. Most centers who average 14-plus points and eight-plus rebounds, as Kanter has over the last 10, are no-doubt starting Fantasy options, because they'll also contribute solid block numbers and good percentages from the field. However, Kanter has just six blocks over the last 10 games, which remains the biggest knock on his game from both a real and Fantasy perspective. Still, the Jazz play four times this week, including two against a Timberwolves team that struggles to stop anyone. That should help him make up for his deficiencies.
I would start Kanter over ... Omer Asik, Kelly Olynyk, Larry Sanders
Gorgui Dieng, Timberwolves (56 percent started)
The Timberwolves have a great schedule on the way, with three games against bottom-10 defenses in Week 10. That should work out very well for Dieng, who is starting to find his rhythm of late, averaging 12.2 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 3.6 combined blocks and steals per game over the last five. He has been something of a disappointment this season, after averaging a double-double as a starter last season, but his recent play makes him a very solid option for category-based formats this week.
I would start Dieng over ... Nerlens Noel, Timofey Mozgov, Tyler Zeller
Jordan Hill, Lakers (65 percent started)
Hill was playing like a top-10 center for the first month or so of the season, but the Lakers have reduced his role of late. He is averaging just 26 minutes per game over the last five, and though he is still taking 10.8 shots per game in that span, he has gone completely cold, shooting just 38.9 percent from the field. He is still averaging 20 Fantasy points per game in that span, and has some low-end appeal in head-to-head scoring formats. But his low shooting percentages combined with mediocre rebounding and scoring numbers make it hard to rely on him in category-based leagues, especially with just three games on the schedule, including two against top-five defenses to close out the week.
(A higher strength-of-schedule ranking is a good thing, based on points allowed)
Hawks: Three games, 23rd in strength of schedule
Celtics: Three games, 10th in strength of schedule
Nets: Four games, 12th in strength of schedule
Hornets: Four games, 16th in strength of schedule
Bulls: Four games, 6th in strength of schedule
Cavaliers: Four games, 4th in strength of schedule
Mavericks: Three games, 19th in strength of schedule
Nuggets: Three games, 19th in strength of schedule
Pistons: Three games, 14th in strength of schedule
Warriors: Two games, 25th in strength of schedule
Rockets: Four games, 17th in strength of schedule
Pacers: Four games, 3rd in strength of schedule
Clippers: Three games, 9th in strength of schedule
Lakers: Three games, 26th in strength of schedule
Grizzlies: Three games, 4th in strength of schedule
Heat: Four games, 29th in strength of schedule
Bucks: Three games, 23rd in strength of schedule
Timberwolves: Three games, 7th in strength of schedule
Pelicans: Three games, 21st in strength of schedule
Knicks: Three games, 11th in strength of schedule
Thunder: Two games, 28th in strength of schedule
Magic: Four games, 15th in strength of schedule
76ers: Three games, 13th in strength of schedule
Suns: Four games, 7th in strength of schedule
Trail Blazers: Two games, 30th in strength of schedule
Kings: Four games, 1st in strength of schedule
Spurs: Three games, 27th in strength of schedule
Raptors: Three games, 23rd in strength of schedule
Jazz: Four games, 2nd in strength of schedule
Wizards: Four games, 22nd in strength of schedule
Add these players
Marco Belinelli, G, Spurs (8 percent owned), worth $2 FAAB bid
Belittle is averaging 32.2 minutes per game over the last five, and should continue to see a decent role with Kawhi Leonard dealing with an ongoing hand injury. Belittle has proven over the years he can be a useful Fantasy option when given the chance, and can even chip in some assists to go along with solid shooting. With Leonard out indefinitely and Tony Parker dealing with some issues, he could be a solid addition, though he is also just a short-term fix at the guard position, so don't drop anyone you like long-term for him.
Jared Dudley, F, Bucks (24 percent owned), worth $5 FAAB bid
Dudley was a pretty major bust in Los Angeles last year, and everyone pretty much wrote him off after that. However, this is a guy who put up 10.9 points and 2.6 assists per game, while shooting 46.8 percent from the field and nailing 106 3-pointers in 2012-13, so it's not like he can't play. The Bucks' rotation still seems like it could change at the drop of a hat, which is why you won't want to invest too heavily in him based on a seven-game sample. However, he has guard and forward eligibility, and can be a useful fill-in option for the time being.
Tristan Thompson, F, Cavaliers (81 percent owned), worth $20
Thompson is only available in about one-fifth of CBSSports.com leagues, which is what makes his FAAB value so high. He's going to be a starting-caliber center for the rest of the season, and scarcity is going to make him come at a premium. Thompson has been the team's best defensive big man this season and is averaging 11.9 points, 10.0 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per-36 minutes, so he could be a double-double machine with 30-plus minutes on a regular basis. You'd like more defensive numbers than he general gives, with a career rate of just 1.0 block per-36, but the rest of his production should help make up for it.
Terrence Jones, F, Rockets (86 percent owned)
At least part of the Rockets' motivation for signing Josh Smith this week has to be tied to Jones' injury. He has not played since the fourth game of the season due to a nerve issue in his leg, and the team hasn't really given many updates that make it sound as if he will be returning any time soon. Alas, with Smith joining the team, that doesn't matter. Jones is made largely redundant by the addition of a more experienced, better version of him.
Donatas Motiejunas, F, Rockets (55 percent owned)
Motiejunas might not be in line for a huge minutes reduction since his skill set doesn't overlap with Smith's nearly as much. However, he has scored in double figures just once in the last four games and just hasn't been able to sustain his earlier production since the return of Dwight Howard. Motiejunas will see plenty of time as both a power forward and backup center, but his lack of center eligibility limits his Fantasy appeal. If you have both, drop Jones before Motiejunas, but neither is worth owning in most 10-team leagues at this point.