- Neil Tardy, Fantasy Basketball
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A lot of NBA players switched teams this week. But a handful of players saw their fantasy values rise while staying put. Welcome to the post-deadline edition of the Fantasy Forecaster. As we examine the upcoming schedule, we'll focus on some fantasy free agents with new opportunities to help their teams -- and yours.
"R" matchup ratings are based upon a scale from 1 (poor matchup) to 10 (excellent matchup), and are calculated using a formula that evaluates the team's year-to-date and past 10 games' statistics, their performance in home/road games depending on where the game is to be played, as well as their opponents' numbers in those categories. The Games T / H column lists the team's total number of games played as well as home games (T / H), and lists the overall rating from 1-10 for that week's matchups.
Teams to Watch
For those with fantasy-based interest in the New Jersey Nets and/or Toronto Raptors, no, you're not seeing double on the schedule grid. The Nets and Raptors play their two-game series in London next weekend. Because both games start at 3 p.m. ET, owners in daily lineup leagues may need to set their lineups ahead of early lockouts on Friday and Saturday.
Atlanta Hawks (@DEN, CHI, OKC, NY): In a week where Deron Williams, Devin Harris, Chauncey Billups, Raymond Felton, Mo Williams and Baron Davis all switched teams, I guess it's understandable that Kirk Hinrich's move to the Hawks gets lost in this shuffle of point guards. Still, I'm surprised to see that Hinrich remains available in more than 60 percent of ESPN.com leagues. Expect that number to drop by at least half over the weekend. Save for the quantity, though, this schedule isn't all that favorable. Chicago Bulls opponents, for instance, are only 29th in assists, 28th in 3-pointers and 22nd in steals. Denver Nuggets opponents are fifth in assists and eighth in 3s, but they may emerge from their retooling as a stronger defensive team.
Boston Celtics (@UTA, PHO, GS, @MIL): In light of the Kendrick Perkins deal, I thought I'd have more positive words about Glen Davis' fantasy prospects. But his numbers in 10 starts this season actually aren't all that impressive: 13.4 points, 4.4 rebounds and just 40.3 percent shooting (though Davis redeems himself a bit with 1.6 steals and 0.6 blocks). Still, Davis is a worthwhile add in leagues of at least 12 teams, and with this schedule he should excel in the hustle cats. Phoenix Suns and Golden State Warriors opponents are second and third in steals, while Milwaukee Bucks and Utah Jazz opponents are 11th and 12th in blocks.
Denver Nuggets (ATL, CHA, @UTA, @LAC): The dirtiest word in fantasy sports? Time-share. And it appears the Nuggets have one with Ty Lawson and Raymond Felton. While Lawson, the most-added player in ESPN.com leagues, got the start against the Celtics on Feb. 24, he played just 24 minutes to Felton's 28. Both will still continue to be rostered in most leagues, of course, but if this keeps up, neither will be an automatic start in standard 10-team formats. So is Lawson worth a start here? If you're seeking an infusion of 3s, probably. Los Angeles Clippers, Jazz and Charlotte Bobcats opponents are all in the top seven in this regard. However, this schedule is only middling for assists. Clippers opponents are 10th in dimes, but Jazz opponents are only 21st (or 10th-worst) in this regard.
Houston Rockets (@POR, @LAC, IND): With Shane Battier sent back to Memphis, Chase Budinger becomes an intriguing add in leagues of at least 12 teams. With 30 minutes of playing time, 15.0 points, 1.5 3s and 1.0 steals seems within the second-year pro's reach. Clippers opponents are second in 3s, though Portland Trail Blazers and Indiana Pacers opponents are only 18th and 19th, respectively, in triples. Budinger, incidentally, is available in almost all ESPN.com leagues.
Los Angeles Clippers (@SAC, HOU, DEN): Chris Kaman continues to progress after missing most of the season's first three months with an ankle problem. He played 25 minutes against the New Orleans Hornets on Feb. 23, finishing with 14 points and four rebounds. Though he may not yet be an across-the-board fantasy start, Kaman could give you some blocks here: Nuggets, Houston Rockets and Sacramento Kings opponents are third, fifth and 10th, respectively, in rejections. Kaman is available in about half of ESPN.com leagues, and he should only increase his fantasy value as he gets back into game shape.
Memphis Grizzlies (SA, NOR, @DAL): I'm a little worried that Shane Battier's arrival will crimp Tony Allen's fantasy value. Battier figures to start at small forward, which is the position Allen occupied in the first two games after Rudy Gay went down. Allen, of course, is primarily a shooting guard, but hopefully he'll still be able to carve out 25-30 minutes playing behind Battier and Sam Young. Here are Allen's numbers in his past six games, in which he's averaged 32.0 minutes: 17.4 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.5 steals and 1.0 blocks. I still like Allen for leagues of at least 12 teams, but you might just want to watch for this week. New Orleans Hornets opponents are just 29th in steals, while San Antonio Spurs opponents are 21st. Allen is available in nearly 90 percent of ESPN.com leagues.
New Jersey Nets (PHO, TOR, TOR): While the Nets could give newly acquired Brandan Wright a look, Derrick Favors' departure should allow Kris Humphries to get the bulk of the minutes at power forward. Humphries, who's available in about 60 percent of ESPN.com leagues, doesn't score enough to be a mainstream fantasy asset, but as a starter he does have the potential to average a double-double. He was playing at that pace to start February -- averaging 10.8 points and 10.7 boards during a six-game span -- before his minutes slipped in the two games ahead of the All-Star break. Suns and Raptors opponents are in the top eight in rebound differential.
Oklahoma City Thunder (IND, @ATL, PHO): With Jeff Green dealt, James Harden is officially a fantasy factor in leagues of at least 12 teams. Harden had been playing well prior to the trade, averaging 12.0 points, 1.6 3s and 1.0 steals in his previous eight games, but now he'll have a larger role in the offense. However, temper your expectations initially. While Suns opponents are third in steals and eighth in 3s, Hawks opponents are 28th and 27th, respectively, in these categories. Harden is available in about 80 percent of ESPN.com leagues.
Sacramento Kings (LAC, POR, @UTA): With Jermaine Taylor (17.0 points, 1.6 3s, 1.6 steals in three starts) playing well, newcomer Marcus Thornton may not crack the lineup right away. But one clear beneficiary of the Thornton-for-Carl Landry deal is Jason Thompson. Thompson, who's available in almost all ESPN.com leagues, returned to the starting lineup when Landry was dealt earlier this week and has averaged 15.0 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.0 blocks in the past two games. Thompson is prone to foul trouble and missing a few bunnies around the basket, and he'll have to deal with Blake Griffin, LaMarcus Aldridge and Al Jefferson here, but he's worth an add in leagues of at least 12 teams.
Neil Tardy is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com. Send him your lineup-related questions at email@example.com.