Week 11 Start 'Em and Sit 'Em
The ageless Andre Miller could be a great short-term option for owners in a pinch at guard. Our Chris Towers shares his top recommendations for the week ahead in his Start 'Em and Sit 'Em.
Andre Miller has been in the Nuggets' starting lineup over the past few games, thanks to a lingering Achilles injury to Ty Lawson. Even with Lawson back Thursday, however, Miller ran with the offense for much of the team's most recent game against the Timberwolves, and he did a far better job than Lawson, who has surprisingly struggled for much of the season.
From a per-minute perspective, Miller is playing just about as well as he did a year ago, as the 36-year-old is averaging 12.3 points and 8.0 assists per 36 minutes, so his perceived decline this season is mostly the result of smaller role. He has averaged 11.5 points and 11.0 assists per game as the team's starting point guard. What's more, it seems like Miller has a better grasp of how to run this team's specific offense than Lawson, who is a more individually-excellent player, right now. His recent play is enough to make him our Start of the Week for Week 11 (Jan. 7-13) as the Nuggets play three times at home.
Denver kills opponents on their home floor by playing at an even faster-than-normal pace, and that is a style that could suit Miller very well, assuming he continues to see the larger share of the team's minutes. He is averaging 1.7 assists more per game on the Nuggets' home floor, despite playing only one minute more per game on average. Denver's offense has been better this season with Miller on the floor, a fact that they should take advantage of at home this week.
Two of Denver's opponents this week allow more points than the league average per game, and the Nuggets will likely try to stretch them to their limits in Denver's thin air. Operating in a time-share obviously limits Miller's value, but Lawson's recent struggles should give coach George Karl incentive to give Miller more minutes. His ability to provide assists -- the rarest of Fantasy categories -- consistently makes him worth getting active.
J.J. Redick, Magic (@POR, @DEN, @LAC): Redick has been a consistently start-worthy Fantasy option for most of the season, ranking 41st in the league among all guards in Fantasy scoring. Given his success, then, it is hard to understand why he is currently started in just 36 percent of all CBSSports.com Fantasy leagues right now. He even managed to improved his play in December, averaging 15.3 points and 4.7 assists per game, and yet Fantasy owners hardly seemed to notice. He could make them take notice in Week 11, with matchups on the way against two of the 11-worst defenses in the league.
Bradley Beal, Wizards (OKC, ATL): Beal has been a disappointment in his rookie season, but he seems to be starting to figure out the league recently. At the very least, he is making progress toward solving his early shooting woes, as he has connected on 38.1 percent of his three-pointers over the last five games. The No. 3 overall pick is averaging 17.0 points per game over that stretch and continues to play a big role for the Wizards without John Wall. With just two games on the schedule, no Wizard is hardly worth considering this week. Despite that, Beal is worth the risk, given his recent play, as well as his potential.
Sleeper Alert: Tony Allen, Grizzlies (@SAC, @GS, SA, @DAL): Allen is much more well-regarded for his defensive abilities than his scoring, as he is one of the league's most disruptive perimeter defenders. Still, he can be an occasionally-useful scorer, who is especially adept at cutting off the ball. He is averaging 8.6 points and 3.8 rebounds per game and could have a chance to post some decent numbers this week. The Grizzlies play four times during the week, while facing teams whose average rank on the defensive side of the ball is 23rd in the league. With four games, this could be one of the rare scoring periods where getting Allen active is a decent idea.
Eric Bledsoe, Clippers (DAL, ORL): There is little doubt at this point that the only thing separating Bledsoe from Fantasy stardom is the opportunity to play. His per-minute numbers are incredible, however he sees just 18.0 minutes per game, stuck behind the greatest point guard of his generation. As it is, his ability to compile strong defensive numbers while averaging 8.5 points per game makes him a decent Rotisserie Fantasy option, especially when the matchups are right. With just two games on the schedule in Week 11, Bledsoe is not worth taking the risk on, especially since he is shooting just 32.7 percent from the field over his last 10 games.
Marco Belinelli, Bulls (CLE, MIL, @NY, PHO): When Richard Hamilton was out, Belinelli proved himself to be a useful Fantasy option, as Tom Thibodeau leaned on him heavily as a starter. Now that Hamilton is healthy, however, Belinelli is back out of Thibodeau's good graces with Hamitlon back in the starting lineup. Belinelli has failed to reach double figures in scoring in three games in a row. The Bulls have some good matchups on the way in Week 11, but Thibodeau has proven that he likes to lean on his first team heavily when they are healthy. Belinelli could have trouble getting going this week.
Bust Alert: Rodney Stuckey, Pistons (@MIL, UTA): Stuckey returned to the floor Friday and is not expected to be limited by his injured ankle at all moving forward. Normally, that would be a good reason to get him back into your starting lineup. Unfortunately, Stuckey is coming back at a bad time in the schedule for the Pistons, who play just twice this week. Stuckey has been inconsistent this season and played just 24 minutes off the bench in his first game back Friday, while scoring 10 points on 11 shots. With just the two games on the schedule, Fantasy owners will want to keep him reserved for this week.
C.J. Miles, Cavaliers (@CHI, ATL, @DEN, @LAL): Miles continues to play impressive ball on the offensive side of the floor, averaging 15.2 points per game over the last five. It might be fair to wonder how long he can keep this kind of play up, however Cavaliers' coach Byron Scott has given him a vote of confidence in recent days. Miles was moved into the starting lineup prior to Wednesday's game against the Kings, and it appears that will be where he stays, as the team prefers having Dion Waiters in a sixth-man role. Miles scored 30 points combined in his first two starts, while averaging 34.0 minutes per game. The Cavaliers open this upcoming period with a pair of tough matchups, however the Nuggets and Lakers should provide a soft landing at the end of the week to make up for it. He is worth rolling with given a four-game week.
Gordon Hayward, Jazz (DAL, @CHA, @ATL, @DET): Hayward has continued his incremental improvement in his third NBA season, and it is probably not entirely fair to say he has been a disappointment, even if some may think that. His scoring is up to 13.3 per game on the year, despite a reduction in minutes. He has been consistently productive as well, averaging 13.4 points in November and 13.0 in December. Fantasy owners have to like that consistency, though he could put up even better numbers in Week 11, as the Jazz open play against two of the three worst defensive teams in the league. Hayward should be able to build up enough production to withstand a game against the tough Hawks on the road, so expect a solid week out of him.
Sleeper Alert: Ed Davis, Raptors (PHI, CHA, MIL): At this point, it is not accurate to refer to Davis as a "sleeper," as he has been one of the most talked about players on this site since his promotion into the starting lineup. Despite this, he is being started in just 31 percent of CBSSports.com Fantasy leagues. Davis has played at least 29 minutes in each of the last four games as of Friday night, and coach Dwane Casey told reporters before the game that he has earned his confidence and a chance at the starting role, even when Andrea Bargnani is healthy. The Raptors are leaning on Davis heavily recently, and he has been rewarding them with 15.3 points and 8.0 rebounds per game over the last four. He is worth getting active with how much he is playing right now.
Martell Webster, Wizards (OKC, ATL): Webster has been sporadically useful at times this season, and has been averaging 30.1 minutes per game since entering the starting lineup. Unfortunately, his time among the starting five is just about to run out, as Wizards coach Randy Wittman told reporters Friday that Trevor Ariza is set to return at some point in the next few games. That means Webster is going to return to the days when he was averaging 22.3 minutes per game, which will almost certainly have an adverse impact on his production. With the Wizards set to play only two games this week, Fantasy owners should take him out of the lineup in all formats.
Tayshaun Prince, Pistons (@MIL, UTA): Prince has remained consistent in his age-32 season, and his numbers have pretty much remained consistent across the board from a year ago. That means that he remains the same moderately-useful Fantasy option he has been for years, as he has averaged between 14.1 and 12.3 points per game in each of the last five years. When the matchups are right, Prince is worth using, and you can safely rely on him to give you the same numbers on a nightly basis. Unfortunately, with just two games on the schedule, Prince's steady production will not get it done this week.
Bust Alert: Amar'e Stoudemire, Knicks (BOS, @IND, CHI, NO): As with most players returning from serious injury, there has been a bit of a lag between Stoudemire's availability and his ability to play at the level we have come to know. The Knicks have wisely opted to bring Stoudemire off the bench in the early going, but the lack of a consistent pick-and-roll ball handler with Raymond Felton has limited his offensive game thus far. He also simply does not look to be 100-percent healthy, which is to be expected, after he missed most of the first two months of the season with knee surgery. Stoudemire will likely figure it out before long by either adapting his game to his physical limitations or by having his body catch up, but for now he is a risky Fantasy play.
Kosta Koufos, Nuggets (ORL, CLE, GS): Some teams do not see a significant shift in the way they play depending on whether they are at home or on the road, but the Nuggets are not one of them. Denver plays at a faster pace at the Pepsi Center consistently, as they look to take advantage of the altitude that renders many opponents winded after just a few minutes at their frenetic pace. The Nuggets are scoring 5.4 points per game more at home this season, and Koufos is at least a part of why they seem to play better. Koufos sees a spike in playing time on their home floor, and is averaging 1.7 points and 1.3 blocks per game more at home. With Denver playing three times at home against some solid matchups, Koufos could be worth getting into the starting lineup.
Sleeper Alert: Jared Sullinger, Celtics (@NY, PHO, HOU): This might be a case of damning with faint praise, but Sullinger has already clearly established himself as the Celtics' best option next to Kevin Garnett in the front court. His numbers are not eye-popping, though the 20-year-old is averaging a double-double per-36 minutes as a rookie. Sullinger has reached double figures in scoring in three of the last six games and is averaging 24.7 minutes per game, as the coaching staff is gaining confidence in him. He is still very much learning the intricacies of the NBA, but Sullinger has the ability to contribute as an upside play.
Emeka Okafor, Wizards (OKC, ATL): Okafor is starting to play better recently, as the veteran is averaging 9.2 points and 10.5 rebounds per game over the last 10 games, while taking on a bigger role for the Wizards. Those numbers can make him a viable Fantasy starting option, however it still leaves him on the lower end of the spectrum. With just two games on the schedule, Okafor should be avoided, as he is unlikely to play well enough to justify playing over other options.
Bust Alert: DeAndre Jordan, Clippers (DAL, ORL): Jordan really seems to have improved his game this season, and it has shown in his career-high 9.4 points per game, despite playing fewer minutes than each of the last two games. Unfortunately, like Okafor, Jordan is scheduled to play just two games in Week 11, the second time this season the Clippers have had just two games in a week. The schedule will make up for that later on, as they are set to play five games two weeks from now, but for now, Jordan could disappoint this week.
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