Commentary

Fantasy Forecaster: Finding points from other sources

Updated: January 13, 2008, 4:57 PM ET
By Neil Tardy | Special to ESPN.com

While there's never a bad time to have LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul or Dirk Nowitzki on your team, there will be better weeks than this one. That's because the Cavaliers, Lakers, Hornets and Mavericks -- along with the Rockets and Pacers -- all play just two games this week.

Not that you'd sit any of these superstars, but bigger contributions from your role players will help you this week. So who could step up? Well, Andres Nocioni, Boris Diaw and -- for the second week in a row -- Nate Robinson are some possibilities. Read on.

On Tap (schedules through Jan. 20)

Teams with four games

Charlotte Bobcats (DEN, ORL, @ NO, MEM)
Lineup locks:
Gerald Wallace, Jason Richardson, Emeka Okafor, Raymond Felton
Outlook: The Bobcats went into last week having lost seven of eight games and finished it with just eight healthy players (and not a point guard among them). Remarkably, Charlotte still managed to win at Boston and almost toppled Detroit on Saturday. Felton, who missed the Pistons game because of a sprained right ankle, has all but guaranteed to The Associated Press that he'll play Monday versus the Nuggets. Coach Sam Vincent might want to look into guaranteed minutes for Nazr Mohammed. In the eight games in which Mohammed has played at least 26 minutes, he has produced six double-doubles.

Chicago Bulls (@ ORL, @ MIA, GS, DET)
Lineup locks:
Luol Deng, Ben Gordon, Kirk Hinrich, Joe Smith
Outlook: Don't be surprised if Deng sits out more games this week because of his left Achilles problem. That makes him a darn tough call this week; the Bulls play four times in five nights beginning Tuesday in Orlando. With Deng sidelined, Nocioni has had two excellent starts and one dreadful one, but overall he's averaging 16.5 points and 2.3 3-pointers in his past six games, so keep him active. And Smith makes my lock list not because of what I see in him, but because of what I didn't see from Chicago (any kind of post scoring) before he got there. The 32-year-old is averaging 16.7 points and 7.3 rebounds and shooting 51.4 percent from the field in his past 10 games, and I think he'll keep it up. And I'm not the only one. Just see what our own Guy Lake has to say about Smith's "realness."

Denver Nuggets (@ CHA, @ ATL, Utah, MIN)
Lineup locks:
Marcus Camby, Allen Iverson, Carmelo Anthony
Outlook: Like Smith in Chicago, Anthony Carter is a veteran who seems to be in the right place at the right time in Denver. Carter has 42 assists in his past four games, and in 20 starts this season, he's producing 6.2 dimes  equal to Kirk Hinrich's average -- versus just 1.7 turnovers. This schedule doesn't seem too favorable to him because the Bobcats, Hawks and Jazz are all in the top half of the league when it comes to limiting opponents' assists. Then again, the Bobcats (99.0), Jazz (100.5) and Timberwolves (102.4) are all in the bottom half of the NBA in points allowed per game.

Golden State Warriors (@ MIN, @ IND, @ CHI, @ MIL)
Lineup locks:
Baron Davis, Stephen Jackson, Andris Biedrins, Al Harrington, Monta Ellis
Outlook: The Warriors hit four towns in five nights, but this schedule should keep them hitting from downtown. The Timberwolves, Pacers, Bulls and Bucks are four of the league's worst 12 teams in 3-point defense. That should be good news in particular for Harrington, who has 22 3s in his past seven games.

New Jersey Nets (POR, NY, @ LAC, @ PHO)
Lineup locks:
Jason Kidd, Vince Carter, Richard Jefferson
Outlook: The Nets start a six-game, nine-day western swing Saturday in Los Angeles. Josh Boone is averaging 12.0 points, 10.2 rebounds and 1.6 blocks in his past five games, and he should be able to maintain that production against this schedule. The Blazers, Clippers and Suns are three of the league's eight worst teams in rebound differential, and although the Blazers and Suns are 1-2 in fewest shots blocked, the Knicks and Clippers each get about 5.5 shots rejected per game. Dejecting to Boone owners, however, is his astonishingly woeful 30.5 percent free-throw percentage. In that regard, the second-year big man is actually better on the road -- because he averages two fewer attempts from the line in away games.

New York Knicks (WAS, @ NJ, @ WAS, @ MIA)
Lineup locks:
None
Outlook: I continue to swear off Jamal Crawford for fantasy purposes, but I will acknowledge that he has shot at least 45 percent from the field in his past five games. During that span, he's averaging 21.0 points, 2.2 3s, 4.2 assists ... and 3.2 turnovers. Robinson is averaging 17.5 points and 2.3 3s and shooting 53.6 percent in January, making him, for the moment, the other fantasy-relevant option in New York. Use both this week with the Wizards allowing 7.8 treys per game (second-most in the league) and the Heat yielding 7.0 buckets a night from downtown.

Philadelphia 76ers (@ SA, @ HOU, @ BOS, TOR)
Lineup locks:
Andre Iguodala, Andre Miller, Samuel Dalembert
Outlook: I've tried Willie Green. I've tried Louis Williams. I now resign myself to the obvious conclusion: For fantasy, the Sixers are a three-man team.

[+] EnlargeBoris Diaw
Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty ImagesBoris Diaw has been a solid replacement for Grant Hill.
Phoenix Suns (@ LAC, @ LAL, MIN, NJ)
Lineup locks:
Steve Nash, Amare Stoudemire, Shawn Marion, Leandro Barbosa
Outlook: Grant Hill's appendicitis gives Diaw a temporary place in the Suns' starting lineup. After two so-so outings, Diaw went for 21 points and 11 boards against Milwaukee on Jan. 12. Put his three starts together and you get an average of 11.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and 4.3 assists. Not too bad, and he should be able to either maintain or beat those marks this week.

Portland Trail Blazers (@ NJ, @ BOS, @ MIA, @ ORL)
Lineup locks:
Brandon Roy, LaMarcus Aldridge
Outlook: The Blazers probably will be missing a starting guard when they begin their seven-game road trip today in Toronto, but don't sweat, Roy owners. Despite wrenching his knee last week, the potential All-Star should be ready to go. But Steve Blake's bruised left calf is expected to keep him out at least a game or two, so deep-leaguers might want to look at Jarrett Jack.

Sacramento Kings (DAL, @ TOR, @ DET, @ IND)
Lineup locks:
Kevin Martin, Brad Miller, John Salmons
Outlook: Martin is back, and Mike Bibby is expected to make his season debut Wednesday in Toronto. With that in mind, bench Beno Udrih this week. However, with the persistent Bibby trade rumors in mind, don't cut Udrih loose just yet.

Seattle SuperSonics (LAL, @ NO, @ MEM, @ DAL)
Lineup lock:
Kevin Durant
Outlook: Because of a knee injury and a torn ligament in his left pinky finger, Chris Wilcox has played only six minutes in the Sonics' past six games. According to The Seattle Times, Wilcox will practice today and could play Monday against the Lakers. During his absence, Seattle has stumbled to six losses, but Nick Collison has thrived. The 27-year-old is averaging 11.5 points and 12.7 rebounds during that span. But even if Wilcox doesn't return, expect a dip in Collison's boards this week; the Lakers, Hornets and Mavericks all outrebound their opposition, and New Orleans and Dallas are in the bottom half of the league in total rebounds against.

Toronto Raptors (@ DET, SAC, ATL, @ PHI)
Lineup locks:
Chris Bosh, Jose Calderon
Outlook: Anthony Parker is averaging 16.2 points and 2.6 3s in his past five games, but he might experience only spotty success this week. The Kings allow more than seven 3s a night, but the Pistons and Hawks are two of the league's stingiest teams in terms of 3-point defense.

Teams with three games

Unless otherwise noted, stick to your locks from here.

Atlanta Hawks (DEN, @ MIL, @ TOR)
Lineup locks:
Josh Smith, Joe Johnson, Al Horford, Marvin Williams
Outlook: Anthony Johnson is averaging less than one 3 a game in his 25 starts, but this schedule could transform him into, oh, let's say former Hawk Jason Terry. The Nuggets, Bucks and Raptors are three of the NBA's worst four teams in terms of 3-point defense. Denver, by the way, has allowed a stunning 30 baskets from beyond the arc in its past two games -- 20 to the Suns and 10 to the Magic.

Boston Celtics (WAS, POR, PHI)
Lineup locks:
Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen

Detroit Pistons (TOR, SAC, @ CHI)
Lineup locks:
Chauncey Billups, Rasheed Wallace, Richard Hamilton

Los Angeles Clippers (PHO, @ Utah, NJ)
Lineup locks:
Chris Kaman, Corey Maggette
Outlook: After missing four games because of a left knee injury, Tim Thomas went for 20 and 21 points, respectively, against Orlando and Dallas. However, he was a combined 0-for-5 from long range, which is surprising considering he averages 1.8 3s per game. That pattern could persist this week; the Suns and Jazz are both below average in scoring defense but decent at containing opponents on the perimeter.

Memphis Grizzlies (CLE, SEA, @ CHA)
Lineup locks:
Pau Gasol, Mike Miller, Rudy Gay

Miami Heat (CHI, POR, NY)
Lineup lock:
Dwyane Wade
Outlook: The Heat open a seven-game homestand Wednesday against Chicago. According to the South Florida Sun Sentinel, Shaquille O'Neal could be back in action that night. This schedule should favor the recently returned Jason Williams, who has consecutive games with three 3-pointers. The Knicks and Bulls each allow around seven 3s per game.

Milwaukee Bucks (@ Utah, ATL, GS)
Lineup locks:
Michael Redd, Mo Williams, Andrew Bogut
Outlook: Bogut is averaging 17.3 points and 9.9 rebounds per game in January, but only 0.9 blocks. However, with the Jazz drawing 5.9 rejections per game (second-most in the league) and the Hawks and Warriors both getting more than five shots blocked, Bogut figures to pick up that part of his game.

Minnesota Timberwolves (GS, @ PHO, @ DEN)
Lineup locks:
Al Jefferson, Rashad McCants
Outlook: In his past five games, McCants is averaging 21.6 points, 2.0 3s and 5.0 rebounds. The three-plus turnovers will hurt, but you have to consider him an every-week player at this point. This week is an especially promising one for McCants; he will face the league's 30th, 29th and 26th-rated scoring defenses.

Orlando Magic (CHI, @ CHA, POR)
Lineup locks:
Dwight Howard, Rashard Lewis, Hedo Turkoglu

San Antonio Spurs (PHI, CLE, @ HOU)
Lineup locks:
Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili

Utah Jazz (MIL, @ DEN, LAC)
Lineup locks:
Deron Williams, Carlos Boozer, Andrei Kirilenko, Mehmet Okur
Outlook: In January, Okur is averaging 19.0 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.4 3s and 49.3 shooting. With the Bucks and Nuggets on the schedule, the 3s should keep coming, but with a slight decline in percentages. The Nuggets and Clippers each hold opponents to less than 45 percent from the field.

Washington Wizards (@ BOS, @ NY, NY)
Lineup locks:
Antawn Jamison, Caron Butler

Teams with two games

Cleveland Cavaliers (@ MEM, @ SA)
Lineup locks:
LeBron James, Zydrunas Ilgauskas

Dallas Mavericks (@ SAC, SEA)
Lineup locks:
Dirk Nowitzki, Josh Howard
Outlook: Howard missed Saturday's game at the Clippers for personal reasons. Unless you hear on Sunday that he'll definitely return Monday at Sacramento, don't risk activating him in weekly leagues.

Houston Rockets (PHI, SA)
Lineup lock:
Yao Ming
Outlook: Tracy McGrady's return has been pushed back another week, but with this schedule, you can afford to wait for him.

Indiana Pacers (GS, SAC)
Lineup locks:
Jermaine O'Neal, Jamaal Tinsley, Danny Granger, Mike Dunleavy

Los Angeles Lakers (@ SEA, PHO)
Lineup locks:
Kobe Bryant, Andrew Bynum

New Orleans Hornets (SEA, CHA)
Lineup locks:
Chris Paul, David West, Tyson Chandler

Neil Tardy is a fantasy basketball writer for ESPN.com.

Neil Tardy | email

Fantasy Basketball
Neil Tardy is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com

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