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My doubts about this Bucks' roster's Fantasy viability have been very well known to anyone who has paid attention since the offseason. It's not that I haven't liked the talent on the roster -- you'd have to be blind not to -- but coach Jason Kidd had a lot of players to sort through before he knew who he could rely on.
After six weeks, we're starting to see a rotation sort itself out, built, naturally, around the team's young stars. Brandon Knight has been a revelation all season, and has been a must-start Fantasy option throughout, but guys like Jabari Parker and Giannis Antetokounmpo are starting to come into their own as well.
The Bucks play just two times in Week 7 (Dec. 8-14), so you can safely leave everyone but Knight on your bench, especially with two tough matchups on the way. However, Fantasy owners need to start looking hard at these two, as the future might be now for them.
Giannis came into the season with a ton of hype surrounding him, despite a pretty pedestrian rookie season. Of course, a subpar rookie season for Antetokounmpo is more impressive than it might be for other rookies, considering his learning curve; Antetokounmpo didn't turn 19 until more than a month through last season, and was one of the youngest players in the league since the age limit was adopted. In that light, the fact that he was able to hold his own over nearly 2,000 minutes of action looks even more impressive.
Antetokounmpo is starting to put things together recently, rating as a top-90 Fantasy option in category-based formats over the last three weeks. He is averaging 11.6 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 0.9 steals per game in that span, and only three forwards in the league have made more free-throws.
Parker, the team's first-round pick this season, has been even better. After a rough start, Parker rates out as the 66th-best player in category-based leagues over the last three weeks, emerging as the team's clear second option offensively. He is averaging 14.0 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game over his last 10, while shooting 52.4 percent from the field. He has worked mostly inside of the 3-point line, but has made up for a lack of shooting by emerging as a better-than-expected passer. His calling card is always going to be his scoring ability, but Parker's growth as a facilitator within the offense bodes extremely well for his future value.
Given this duo's youth, growing pains are to be expected. However, Kidd has shown a knack for figuring out how to put his players in the best position to succeed, even when the pieces don't seem to fit. He is doing an excellent job with this Bucks' roster, and these two are looking like the main beneficiaries. When the schedule becomes more favorable, both should be viewed as solid contributors moving forward.
Danny Green, Spurs (52 percent started)
Green is quietly putting together a dominant Fantasy season in category-based leagues. He shockingly leads all guards in blocks per game at 1.35, is seventh in 3-pointers made, and has improved his scoring and playmaking of late, averaging 13.0 points and 2.2 assists per game over the last 10. The Spurs face a paper-soft schedule in Week 7, so get Green active in all leagues. I would start Green over... Lance Stephenson, Arron Afflalo, Victor Oladipo
Gerald Green, Suns (29 percent started)
The signing of Isaiah Thomas gave the Suns arguably more talent in the backcourt than any team in the league, but finding the right combination has been the toughest part of Jeff Hornacek's job so far. With Thomas sidelined by an ankle injury recently, however, Green has found success, averaging 13.8 points and 2.4 3-pointers made over the last five. The Suns play four times in Week 7, and though they have some tough matchups, Green should continue his solid scoring, especially for owners in category-based formats, who love his high-volume 3-point shooting. I would start Green over... Isaiah Thomas, Ben McLemore, Gary Neal
Jason Terry, Rockets (6 percent started)
Terry has stepped into a larger role of late and thrived, averaging 26.0 Fantasy points per game over the last five. The 37-year-old is difficult to rely on, but Warriors close out the week with two excellent matchups, after a tough one against the Warriors to open. The Rockets' lack of depth means Terry has to play a solid number of minutes even when Patrick Beverley is healthy, and he makes sense as a fill-in if you need one in any format this week. I would start Terry over... Reggie Jackson, Tony Wroten, Avery Bradley
Brandon Jennings, Pistons (83 percent started)
You can keep Jennings active in standard head-to-head scoring leagues, even with just three games on the way. However, owners in category-based leagues might want to steer clear from Jennings in Week 7. He got off to a strong start and appeared to have figured things out under Stan Van Gundy, but has gone completely cold recently. He is shooting just 20.0 percent from the field over the last and 28.4 percent over the last seven, completely negating whatever benefit you might get from his solid assist and volume scoring. He might get hot again, but with just three games, it might not be worth the risk of one or two bad games.
Luol Deng, Heat (55 percent started)
Deng has been mildly disappointing with the Heat this season, as he has watched his production fall across the board. He is also currently dealing with a hand injury, which might scare you off, however he practiced Saturday and was active Friday, so it shouldn't be something that keeps him out this week. Which is a good thing, because the Heat have the best schedule in the league on the way, playing four games against teams with below-average defenses. I would start Deng over... DeMarre Carroll, Jabari Parker, Andrew Wiggins
Donatas Motiejunas, Rockets (20 percent started)
The way Motiejunas is playing, it's hard to take him out of your lineup for any reason at all. It would be even tougher if the Rockets would just start him at center, since he doesn't have center eligibility in CBSSports.com leagues at this point. Still, he is averaging 14.0 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game over the last five, while playing 31.4 minutes with Dwight Howard sidelined. Howard could remain out through this week, so start Motiejunas with confidence even if you can't slot him in at center. I would start Motiejunas over... K.J. McDaniels, Marcus Morris, Channing Frye
Nick Young, Lakers (28 percent started)
Young won't do much besides score, but you know that going in. Fortunately, he's been hot lately, getting to the free-throw line 4.6 times per game over the last five and averaging three 3-pointers per game en route to an 18.4 points average. The Lakers are changing up their rotation Sunday, and getting Young more playing time would be a logical outcome if they decide to go that way. The Lakers play just three times this week, but have a pair of good matchups bookending a tough one against the Spurs. He could do enough in those two, against the Kings and Timberwolves, to make up for a potential stumble against the Spurs. I would start Young over... Mike Dunleavy, Giannis Antetokounmpo
Carlos Boozer, Lakers (49 percent started)
Nobody has been excited about the prospect of starting Carlos Boozer this season. It's something you have done begrudgingly, as much out of force of habit as anything else. Thankfully, the Lakers may just be putting you out of your misery, as the team announced Sunday Boozer will be coming off the bench. He scored just two points in the most recent loss to the Celtics Friday, and is averaging just 11.8 per game over the last five. With a reduced role likely on the way and just three games on the schedule, you should feel safe in sitting Boozer down for Week 7.
Mason Plumlee, Nets (2 percent started)
The Nets announced Sunday Brook Lopez will miss a week with a back injury, which should push Plumlee into a larger role. He has been a disappointment after impressing as a rookie, but is still averaging 13.3 points and 13.0 rebounds per-36 minutes, despite a big drop in his shooting percentages across the board. The Nets are unlikely to give him much more than 25 minutes per game, but that might be enough for Plumlee to record a couple of double-doubles, especially with a soft schedule on the way. I would start Plumlee over... Nerlens Noel, Miles Plumlee, Anderson Varejao
Tyler Zeller, Celtics (8 percent started)
Zeller entered the starting lineup last week, and continued doing what made him successful as a reserve option. Zeller, who started his career floating around in the mid-range, has basically cut that out of his game, instead taking 90 percent of his shots within 10 feet of the rim. He fits well in a four-out offense, and is averaging 10.2 points and 8.8 rebounds per game over the last five, with fantastic shooting percentages from the field and the free-throw line. Though the Celtics play just three times, Zeller could be an interesting fill-in option if you have injuries higher up on the depth chart in a category-based format. I would start Zeller over... Larry Sanders, Nerlens Noel, Kyle O'Quinn
Nerlens Noel, 76ers (41 percent started)
Noel has come pretty much as advertised in his rookie season, showcasing an impressive defensive skill set without much in the way of offensive abilities. That has still made him a solid Fantasy option in category-based leagues, but you can avoid starting him if the wrong matchups come his way. The Sixers play just three times in Week 7, and they have some tough frontcourts on the way, highlighted by the Grizzlies Saturday, so you might want to go for better matchups.
(A higher strength-of-schedule ranking is a good thing, based on points allowed)
Hawks: Four games, 10th in strength of schedule
Celtics: Three games, 23rd in strength of schedule
Nets: Four games, 4th in strength of schedule
Hornets: Three games, 21st in strength of schedule
Bulls: Three games, 28th in strength of schedule
Cavaliers: Four games, 16th in strength of schedule
Mavericks: Three games, 29th in strength of schedule
Nuggets: Four games, 27th in strength of schedule
Pistons: Three games, 17th in strength of schedule
Warriors: Four games, 6th in strength of schedule
Rockets: Three games, 14th in strength of schedule
Pacers: Four games, 13th in strength of schedule
Clippers: Four games, 19th in strength of schedule
Lakers: Three games, 17th in strength of schedule
Grizzlies: Three games, 7th in strength of schedule
Heat: Four games, 1st in strength of schedule
Bucks: Two games, 30th in strength of schedule
Timberwolves: Four games, 20th in strength of schedule
Pelicans: Four games, 15th in strength of schedule
Knicks: Four games, 11th in strength of schedule
Thunder: Four games, 4th in strength of schedule
Magic: Three games, 22nd in strength of schedule
76ers: Three games, 26th in strength of schedule
Suns: Four games, 24th in strength of schedule
Trail Blazers: Four games, 7th in strength of schedule
Kings: Four games, 9th in strength of schedule
Spurs: Four games, 2nd in strength of schedule
Raptors: Four games, 12th in strength of schedule
Jazz: Four games, 24th in strength of schedule
Wizards: Four games, 3rd in strength of schedule
Add these players
Robert Covington, F, 76ers (20 percent owned), worth $5 FAAB bid
The good thing about the 76ers' strategy for Fantasy owners is, every once in a while, they unearth a diamond in the rough. Though it's too early to say for sure, Covington looks like he could be the next example of that. The 23-year-old has worked his way into the rotation and has been a big-time contributor of late, scoring 63 points over the team's most-recent three-game stretch. He hasn't contributed much else, but Covington has made three 3-pointers in four straight games, and will continue to get the green light as long as he can stay hot.
Jason Terry, G, Rockets (12 percent owned), worth $5 FAAB bid
Given how useless Terry has been over the last two seasons, a healthy dose of skepticism about his recent play is probably the right call. However, the 37-year-old has been a consistent contributor for the Rockets all season long, thanks to a series of injuries to Patrick Beverley. Terry might not remain the starting point guard down the line, but he's got a pretty clear role on this team as the backup at both guard spots, and seems to be a good fit. He never has to be the primary ball-handler, but he can find assists in the flow of the offense, while spotting up from 3-point range otherwise. In category-based formats, his shooting and playmaking make him a decent first guard off your bench.
Zach LaVine, G, Timberwolves (32 percent owned), worth $2 FAAB
LaVine's Fantasy value has gone up and down this season, and it is back on the upswing in recent days. He has played 30-plus minutes in each of the last two games, scoring 39 points and adding 14 assists in that span, with Mo Williams sidelined by a back injury. Williams' injury could be the kind that lingers for a while, so LaVine could continue to have a solid role moving forward, and might be worth a flier if that is the case. However, he probably isn't worth owning in 10-team leagues once Williams is back.
Donald Sloan, G, Pacers (61 percent owned)
The Pacers' offensive struggles gave Sloan an opportunity to play big minutes, and he averaged 31.1 per game through the team's first 18 contests. However, he shot just 37.9 percent from the field while taking 10.6 shots per game, and ended up doing more harm than good to an offense that really can't afford too many missed shots. Sloan shot just 7 for 27 over the course of a three-game stretch last week before finding himself benched, earning a pair of DNP - coach's decisions Thursday and Friday. Even with George Hill's continued absence, Sloan's time as a contributor appears to be done, so cut him in all but the deepest leagues.
Iman Shumpert, G, Knicks (61 percent owned)
Shumpert looked like a good fit for the Triangle offense early in the season, but has struggled mightily of late. He is shooting just 32.0 percent from the field over the last 10 games, while averaging just 7.4 points per game. What's worse, his playmaking has slipped as well recently, as he has three games with just one assist over the last five, while averaging 1.8 overall in that span. Shumpert is going to have stretches where he looks solid, but he should probably be viewed as a marginal Fantasy option, one you can drop when things are going poorly, if you need to make room on your roster.