Commentary

Fantasy Forecaster: Feb. 7-13

Updated: February 4, 2011, 5:08 PM ET
By Neil Tardy | Special to ESPN.com

Serge Ibaka owners can apparently rest easy. After playing a total of 40 minutes in a three-game span, fantasy owners were relieved to see the youngster from the Congo put up 12 rebounds and six blocks in 33 minutes against the Hornets on Feb. 2. By all accounts, Ibaka's disminished playing time isn't a trend.

But is the most-added player in ESPN.com leagues next to suffer through the scourge of small ball? Read on.

The Week Ahead: Teams to Watch

With 19 NBA teams playing four games, the upcoming schedule leaves fantasy owners with ample lineup options. The Atlanta Hawks are the only team with just two games.

Indiana Pacers (@MIA, CHA, MIN, @MIL): Mike Dunleavy isn't scoring a lot, but he's making it count. That's the best way to describe his recent eight-game stretch in which he's hit at least two 3-pointers in every game despite topping 15 points just once. The triples should keep coming with this deceptively favorable schedule. While Minnesota Timberwolves and Charlotte Bobcats opponents have been reliably strong in 3s made (second and fourth overall in this category), the Miami Heat have become vulnerable from downtown, with Heat opponents swishing 54 buckets from beyond the arc in their past seven games. And if yours is a deep league where a quality reserve can make a difference, check into Paul George. In his past six games, the rookie is averaging 13.2 points, 1.2 3s and 1.2 steals while impressing interim Pacers coach Frank Vogel. This schedule mostly works for George as well, since Wolves and Bobcats opponents are first and fifth in steals. Milwaukee Bucks opponents are last in steals and 28th in 3s, however.

Los Angeles Clippers (@ORL, @NY, @CLE, @TOR): DeAndre Jordan has reached double figures in scoring just once in his past seven games, but he continues to pile up blocks (2.7 per game in this span). Aside from having to tangle with Dwight Howard, Jordan should be in line for a decent week here. Cleveland Cavaliers and Toronto Raptors opponents are eighth and ninth, respectively, in rejections, while Cavs, Raptors and New York Knicks opponents are all in the top eight in rebound differential.

Milwaukee Bucks (TOR, @WAS, @MEM, IND): After missing more than two months with a concussion, Carlos Delfino is slowly returning to form. Though he's shooting only 38.0 percent in his past six games, the 28-year-old is also averaging 14.2 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 2.3 3s and 1.8 steals in that span. Look for slightly improved accuracy here, given that Raptors opponents are first in shooting percentage and Wizards opponents are fifth in this regard. Raptors, Wizards and Memphis Grizzlies opponents are also all in the top 12 in steals. I still view Delfino as a safer add than Ersan Ilyasova, though Ilyasova's recent play -- 18.4 points, 8.6 rebounds and 2.2 steals -- can't be ignored. Both are among the more popular adds in ESPN.com leagues, with Delfino's availability down to about 50 percent and Ilyasova's around 80 percent.

Minnesota Timberwolves (@NOR, @HOU, @IND, PHI): Owners are currently shedding themselves of Luke Ridnour, whose availability has soared past 50 percent in ESPN.com leagues. However, don't take Jonny Flynn's start against the Grizzlies on Feb. 2 as any sort of passing of the torch at point guard for the Timberwolves. Ridnour is currently away from the team due to a family matter, but every indication is he's still the starter. Not that the veteran is Chris Paul or anything, but Ridnour did average 12.2 points, 6.2 assists, 1.4 steals and 1.1 3s in January. Ridnour is roster-worthy in most leagues, though between his tenuous status and this schedule, it may be best to leave him on the bench for the time being. Philadelphia 76ers and Houston Rockets opponents are both in the bottom seven in 3s, while New Orleans Hornets opponents are only 29th in steals and 26th in assists. Of course, the injuries to Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza could make the Hornets a more favorable matchup in the short term.

New Jersey Nets (NOR, @CHA, NY): In his past five games, Anthony Morrow is shooting 75.0 percent from downtown. That's not a typo -- Morrow is 12-for-his-past-16 from beyond the arc. This schedule could be more favorable, but if you really need the treys, it'll do. Bobcats opponents, as noted, are fourth in 3s, while Knicks opponents are ninth in shooting percentage.

Oklahoma City Thunder (MEM, @SAC, @GS): After the recent reduction in playing time, Ibaka was actually dropped in about 10 percent of ESPN.com leagues this past week. So see if you can make a quick grab in free agency. Otherwise, Ibaka owners should have few worries this week. Grizzlies opponents are tops in blocks, while Sacramento Kings opponents are 10th in this regard. And if you're wondering about the possibility of the Thunder going small against the Golden State Warriors, note that Ibaka had 19 points, eight boards and three blocks in the previous meeting between the two teams on Dec. 3.

Phoenix Suns (@GS, GS, @UTA, SAC): While Marcin Gortat has posted double-doubles in six of his past eight games, it will be interesting -- or perhaps more like nerve-wracking for Gortat owners -- to see how Suns coach Alvin Gentry uses him against the Warriors. In his previous matchups against "small" teams, Gortat played just 20 minutes against the Knicks on Jan. 17 and 10 minutes against the Sixers on Jan. 24. In a weekly lineup league, though, I have to think that Gortat will give you enough to justify a start.

Toronto Raptors (@MIL, SA, POR, LAC): Amir Johnson seems to be improving by the week. The 23-year-old is currently on a sizzling four-game stretch where he's averaging 18.3 points, 9.8 rebounds, 1.2 blocks and 1.2 steals. Best of all, he's still available in about half of ESPN.com leagues. Johnson is looking like an automatic start from here on in, but if you need some more incentive, Clippers opponents are fourth in steals and 12th in blocks, while Bucks opponents are 11th in blocks.

Utah Jazz (@SAC, CHI, PHO): C.J. Miles has become a steady contributor in leagues of at least 12 teams. He's made at least one 3-pointer in 13 straight games, and he has multiple treys in 10 of those contests. Miles has also stepped it up defensively by getting at least one steal in nine consecutive games (and averaging 1.8 steals during that span). That said, there will probably be better weeks to plug Miles into your lineup, considering that Kings and Chicago Bulls opponents are both in the bottom six in treys. Suns opponents, however, are third in steals and ninth in 3s.

Neil Tardy is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com. Send him your lineup-related questions at editor_njt64@yahoo.com.

Neil Tardy | email

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

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