Week 13 Start 'Em and Sit 'Em
Injuries are opening up opportunities for some suddenly useful Fantasy options. Our Chris Towers helps set your Week 13 lineups with his Start 'Em and Sit 'Em.
Stephen Curry's ankle has been sitting there all year in the back of our heads, like a ticking time bomb we were hoping would never detonate. Curry was finally beginning to live up to his considerable potential as a starting point guard, and what's more, finally appeared to be fully healthy following offseason surgery on his ankle.
Enter: Festus Ezeli's foot. Curry landed on Ezeli during practice last week and is reportedly "out indefinitely", as the team is taking every precaution with the injury. It is just a sprain, as far as we know, but the Warriors' training staff is obviously going to exercise extreme caution with Curry after he missed 40 games last season due to injuries in the same foot.
One player who should benefit from Curry's woes in Week 13 (Jan. 21-27) is Jarrett Jack, the backup point guard whose play so far this season has vaulted him into Sixth Man of the Year consideration. He will be asked to carry the offense in Curry's absence, and it sounds like Curry might end up missing much, if not all, of Week 13. Given his increased role, Jack is my choice for Start of the Week this scoring period.
Jack has been terrific all season long, and the only thing keeping him from being a solid starting Fantasy option (as he was last season) has been somewhat limited minutes. Jack is averaging 15.4 points and 6.6 assists per-36 minutes on the season, however he has been limited to just 27.8 minutes per game on the season while shuttling between the backup spot at both guard positions. He should get extended run as the Warriors' lone option at the point guard spot, and could be in for a nice week with four games coming up against the Clippers, Thunder, Bulls and Bucks.
Eric Bledsoe, Clippers (@GS, OKC, @PHO, @POR, POR): I have been bullish on Bledsoe's viability as a Fantasy option this season, owing almost exclusively to his role on the team. As long as Chris Paul is around, Bledsoe is limited to acting as a spark plug off the bench and little more. Still, there are times when he can be a useful Fantasy option, especially with Paul still nursing a knee injury. Paul will likely be returning at some point during Week 13, but with a pair of back-to-backs on the schedule among their five games, it would not be at all surprising to see Bledsoe continue to see a larger role this scoring period. Paul's injury has opened up the chance for Bledsoe to see more minutes, and that trend will likely continue in the coming week.
Luke Ridnour, Timberwolves (@ATL, BKN, @WAS, @CHA): The Timberwolves moved Ricky Rubio back to the starting lineup last week, which allowed Ridnour to slide over and play the shooting guard position. Despite being a bit undersized, Ridnour's game lends itself more readily to playing off the ball next to Rubio, as shown by his season-best 21-point effort in Rubio's first game in the starting lineup. Ridnour's assists might go down while playing off the ball, but he is still a smart enough passer to take advantage of opportunities when they present themselves. Ridnour's efficiency should improve in his new role, and with four games on the schedule, he has a good chance to be productive.
Sleeper Alert: Beno Udrih, Bucks (PHI, @CLE, GS): The dismissal of coach Scott Skiles seems to have been a plus for Udrih, who is playing some solid basketball since Jim Boylan took over as the head coach. Udrih is being asked to do more playmaking with the second unit, and has seen his assists increase to 5.4 per game in the five contests under Boylan, as compared to just 3.2 per game under Skiles. Udrih has also increased his scoring to 8.8 per game, while playing 21.0 minutes per game. Only one of the Bucks' Week 13 opponents ranks above league average in defense, and both Cleveland and Golden State rank in the bottom-10 in points allowed.
Ben Gordon, Bobcats (HOU, ATL, MIN): The Bobcats seem to have reached a point where only three of their four guards can play well at any given point, and it is Gordon's turn as the odd man out. After scoring in double figures in nine games in a row, the bottom has fallen out for Gordon. He has played 15 minutes or fewer in the last two games, and has scored just 13 points combined over the two contests. Gordon's nine-game double-figure scoring streak coincided with a 2-7 run for the Bobcats, so obviously his increased role was not helping the bottom line. When Gordon is on and getting opportunities to play, he can be useful as a provider of empty scoring totals; when his minutes disappear, he belongs at the bottom of your bench.
Rodney Stuckey, Pistons (ORL, @CHI, @MIA, @ORL): The schedule has not been kind to Fantasy owners who rely on Pistons players, as they have played just three times over the last two scoring periods combined thanks to a trip to play the Knicks in London. Detroit does get to play four times this week, however each of their opponents ranks either at or above the league average in points allowed per game. The bigger issue for Stuckey is not the schedule, however; he has been losing playing time in big chunks recently, and there is no sign that this trend is reversing itself. Stuckey is averaging just 10.0 points and 2.4 assists in 24.8 minutes per game in the month of January, ever since returning from an ankle injury. He has played more than 24 minutes just once in that time, and is not worth getting into the starting lineup until his play turns around.
Bust Alert: Alexey Shved, Timberwolves (@ATL, BKN, @WAS, @CHA): Ridnour's aforementioned move up the positional ladder did not come without casualties, as it forced Shved back to a reserve role Thursday. That move was coming for a few weeks, as the rookie seemed to hit a wall, shooting just 31.6 percent from the field in the month of January. Exacerbating the move to the bench is the fact that Shved suffered an ankle injury at the end of Thursday's loss to the Clippers, an injury that could limit him in Week 13. Shved has shown clear upside as a combo-guard in the early days of his career, but he should be reserved until his role increases again.
Martell Webster, Wizards (@POR, @UTA, MIN, CHI): The Wizards are proof of the value of point guard play, as they have actually looked good offensively since John Wall's return. One of the beneficiaries of that has been Webster, who continues his upward trend. Over the last five games, Webster is averaging 13.0 points, with 1.6 three-pointers made per game. Webster is getting open looks in the flow of the offense, and is having little trouble converting them. The Wizards face a pair of bottom-12 defenses to start Week 13, and the quickly-fading Timberwolves make up one of the next two games. Given his solid production and a favorable slate of games, Fantasy owners can consider getting Webster active.
John Henson, Bucks (PHI, @CLE, GSW): It took Henson a while to earn Scott Skiles' trust, and he has had to work hard to earn Boylan's trust as well. Fortunately, Henson has been able to force his way onto the floor no matter who the coach is in Milwaukee. Henson is averaging 10.4 points and 8.3 rebounds per game in the month of January, despite averaging just 20.7 minutes per game. Henson is still not playing heavy minutes despite his success, but the rookie's upside makes him worth taking a risk on with a subpar schedule on the way.
Sleeper Alert: Al-Farouq Aminu, Hornets (SAC, @SA, HOU, @MEM): After falling completely out of the rotation in December, Aminu is back in the starting lineup and producing for the Hornets. Aminu got off to a fast start to the season and is starting to reach that level again, despite playing a smaller role. He remains a limited offensive player, shooting 42.9 percent and scoring 7.0 points per game in January, but he is finding other ways to contribute. Aminu is rebounding like a power forward over the last nine games, averaging 9.3 rebounds per contest. In his own unconventional way, Aminu is finding ways to contribute. With four games on the schedule this week, Aminu could be a worth a play.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Bobcats (HOU, ATL, MIN): Kidd-Gilchrist has managed to succeed in his rookie season despite possessing very limited offensive skills, but his issues might be catching up to him. Kidd-Gilchrist's production has fallen off in a big way recently, as the 19-year-old is averaging just 6.8 points on 36.8 percent over the last five games. While MKG's offense was not the reason he had emerged as a useful Fantasy option in his first season, there is still a point where his inability to make a shot hurts, and he has probably reached it. Kidd-Gilchrist's other numbers have fallen off similarly to his scoring, as his rebounding is down to 5.8 per game over the last five, with just 1.0 assists and 0.4 blocks and steals. He might simply be hitting a rookie wall, having already played almost as many games as his lone season at the University of Kentucky. With just three games on the way, feel free to sit Kidd-Gilchrist this week.
Patrick Patterson, Rockets (@CHA, DEN, @NO, BKN): After missing extensive time with a foot injury, Patterson has been back in the starting lineup in recent games. Unfortunately, he has been unable to find the spark he showed when he seemed like a breakout candidate early in the season, averaging just 5.7 points and 3.0 rebounds per game since returning the starting lineup last Tuesday. Patterson has now been held below double figures in scoring in each of the last seven games, and is looking more like the underwhelming player of his first two seasons. I like some of his matchups in Week 13, but Patterson's recent play makes him unworthy of relying on at this point.
Bust Alert: Ersan Ilyasova, Bucks (PHI, @CLE, GS): Ilyasova has been moved back into the starting lineup with the Bucks' coaching change, but you have to wonder how long that experiment is going to last. He scored 13 points in his first game as a starter, but has totaled just 27 points in four games since. The Bucks have a logjam at the power forward position, and it is hard to see what, exactly, Ilyasova brings to the table right now. He is shooting just 16.7 percent from three-point range over the last five games, and is contributing only 5.8 rebounds. We keep hoping that Ilyasova is going to turn the corner and show the skills that made him a breakout star a year ago, but it seems like we should stop looking for that. With just three games on the schedule, Ilyasova is best left inactive for Fantasy owners.
DeAndre Jordan, Clippers (@GSW, OKC, @PHX, @POR, POR): Jordan got off to a fast start this season, averaging double digit points through the first month of the season, however his production has slowed since. Jordan's scoring has dropped in each of the last two months, down to 8.0 per game in nine January games. At this point, Jordan is mostly useful when facing good matchups, which Week 13 certainly provides. Jordan and the Clippers play five times in the upcoming scoring period, giving Jordan plenty of time to make up for his slumping per-game averages. Jordan may never end up breaking out as the big-time Fantasy scorer as expected, but he can be used in the right situations.
Sleeper Alert: Kevin Seraphin, Wizards (@POR, @UTA, MIN, CHI): Seraphin has seen his role grow as the season has gone on, and he is responding with his finest play of late. Seraphin is averaging 30.6 minutes per game over the last five games, compared to a season average of 25.7 minutes. His scoring has increased as a result -- to 15.8 points per game in that stretch -- while totaling at least 16 in four games. Seraphin is a strong scorer on a Wizards team that sometimes struggles, but he has also improved as the team itself has. With four games on the schedule, Seraphin should be able to provide value.
Javale McGee, Nuggets (@HOU, SAC): Nuggets coach George Karl held court on McGee's production and potential prior to Friday's game against the Wizards, and the key point Karl kept coming back to was McGee's inconsistency. "I think he tries to be spectacular. Basketball is a game of possession after possession of doing things the right way, doing your job and letting the spectacular happen," Karl told the Washington Post. When you watch McGee, you can certainly understand Karl's point, as McGee often tries to force outcomes, to his own detriment. McGee has struggled recently, scoring just 7.2 points per game over the last five, and Karl seems to be taking some of his playing time as a result. With just two games on the schedule, McGee's inconsistency is too risky to rely on.
Bust Alert: Roy Hibbert, Pacers (@MEM, @POR, @UTA): Hibbert has been arguably the biggest disappointment of any player in Fantasy this season, as he is averaging 9.7 points per game, lower than his career average. Things might not get easier for him this week, thanks to a schedule that includes some imposing front courts. While Portland and Utah don't feature strong defensive centers to throw at Hibbert, he might struggle on the boards and with his shot blocking, the two places he has somewhat made up for his lackluster scoring. Hibbert has still be able to hold on to low-end starting status this season, but it is probably best to stick with better options this week.
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