It's somewhat more common than an eclipse, and it's OK to stare at. For the first time in the 2012-13 NBA season, a team is heading into a week of five games in seven days. For fantasy hoops owners, the Boston Celtics are that very special team in Week 3.
Well, it's somewhat special. Over the course of an NBA season, probably every team will play five times in seven days at some point. It's just unusual when these weekly scheduling chunks fall in line with the Monday-to-Sunday time frame we employ for weekly lineup leagues.
Beyond that, though, I'm subdued in my outlook for the C's in the week ahead because there isn't a lot to gain out of this packed schedule. Sure, Rajon Rondo could tally about 50 assists, so enjoy that. But Rondo will always be in your lineup as long as he's healthy. Same goes for Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. However, as far as opportunities to proactively add free agents or conduct other fantasy GM wheeling and dealing, the Celtics simply don't offer those types of situational fantasy starters. Perhaps Jared Sullinger will ascend to that level later this season, but from what we've seen in his first two starts, the young man isn't there yet.
About all I can tell you is that if you've been wavering on Celtics guard Jason Terry -- and he's been axed from about 20 percent of rosters in ESPN.com leagues -- you may as well give it another week. Though The Jet has been a fantasy mainstay for years, he's averaging only 25 minutes per game with his new club. If he isn't seeing at least 30 minutes per night, he's borderline rosterable in standard 10-team leagues. However, this set of games -- at the Chicago Bulls, home to the Utah Jazz, Brooklyn Nets and Toronto Raptors, then at the Detroit Pistons -- does seem legitimately favorable to Terry, at least the back 60 percent of it. Nets and Pistons opponents are allowing around eight 3-pointers per game in the early season, while Nets and Raptors opponents are shooting almost 39 percent from beyond the arc.
Week 3 at a glance
"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 opponents' numbers in those categories, and their performance in home/road games depending on where the game is to be played. The column to the right lists the team's total number of games scheduled ("G") as well as home games ("H"), and lists the overall rating from 1-10 for that team's weekly schedule ("R").
The Los Angeles Clippers are a fantasy disappointment, as they play only twice in Week 3. Everyone else has three or four games. Of course, you'll roll with Chris Paul anyway, but I'd probably bench Blake Griffin in standard formats. The other Clipper I'd be tempted to keep active is DeAndre Jordan. One of the teams he'll face is the Miami Heat, and of course LeBron James and Dwyane Wade don't often get rejected at the rim. Still, early on Jordan looks like a transformed player. He could still total five or six blocks against the Heat and the Chicago Bulls.
Players to watch
Shannon Brown, SG, Phoenix Suns (DEN, CHI, @LAL, MIA): I hesitate to mention Brown, who's available in almost all leagues. He's coming off a 24-point, six-trey performance against the Charlotte Bobcats, but of course there's a degree of difficulty factor here. (More like a degree of ease.) In their first three games, the Bobcats surrendered seven 3s to the Indiana Pacers, 16 to the Dallas Mavericks and 12 more to Brown and the Suns. The point is, I wouldn't make too much of his big game, but in leagues of at least 12 teams, Brown could be worth a few triples in Week 3. Denver Nuggets and Heat opponents had the most 3s in 2011-12, although I figure the Heat are probably improved in this area this season. Sure, they had that ridiculous night at Madison Square Garden when the New York Knicks drained 19 from downtown, but in their four other games, Miami opponents have totaled only 21 3-pointers. Brown's available. Let's leave it at that.
Randy Foye, SG/PG, Utah Jazz (@TOR, @BOS, @PHI, @WSH): Foye's available, too, in about 95 percent of ESPN.com leagues. He's off to a decent start in Salt Lake City, especially from beyond the arc, where he's knocked down 13 shots over his first five games. The most interesting thing about this set is that Celtics opponents have allowed eight treys per game. Over the previous three seasons, C's opponents were 29th, 28th and 28th, respectively, in 3s.
Maurice Harkless, SF, Orlando Magic (NY, @DET, @TOR): While Anthony Davis and Damian Lillard seem set as impact rookies, I think Harkless will also be a fantasy factor by the second half of his first season. I know the Magic have big plans for the 19-year-old who came to them from the Philadelphia 76ers in the Dwight Howard deal. Harkless didn't play in the preseason as he recovered from sports hernia surgery, but he just made his pro debut. In a 22-minute stint against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Nov. 7, Harkless finished with seven points, five rebounds, three steals and two blocks. Yeah, those hustle numbers are eyebrow-raising. As I said last week, it's just lazy when fantasy analysts tell you to "watch" a player, but you really should watch this kid. For now, for what it's worth, Pistons opponents are averaging 9.2 steals per game, while Raptors opponents are amassing 7.6 blocks per contest.
Robin Lopez, C, New Orleans Hornets (@HOU, OKC, @MIL): Speaking of Davis, Lopez has stepped up impressively in the No. 1 pick's absence. But once Davis returns from his concussion -- and that could happen as soon as this weekend -- I expect Lopez's scoring to tumble. Still, the former Phoenix Sun has been a nice addition to the Hornets, and he should remain fantasy-relevant. But with Oklahoma City Thunder and Milwaukee Bucks opponents ranked 30th and 27th, respectively, in blocks, you may want to go with another big this week.
Patrick Patterson, PF, Houston Rockets (MIA, NO, @POR, @LAL): So I guess you've all heard about Byron Mullens becoming the next Ryan Anderson? I'm not suggesting Patterson will emerge as the next Mullens, but in his first three games, the Rockets' starting power forward has gone 3-of-10 from downtown. That's not a great percentage, but it's pretty good for a guy who, in his first two NBA seasons, attempted a total of five 3s (missing all of them). The James Harden-led Rockets are a work in progress, and this team could produce more goodies for fantasy owners. Patterson is an option in leagues of at least 12 teams. Unfortunately, Hornets, Portland Trail Blazers and Los Angeles Lakers opponents are currently in the bottom eight in treys, but hey, it's still four games.
Larry Sanders, PF/C, Milwaukee Bucks (@PHI, IND, NO): Fantasy owners are discovering Sanders, who as a reserve is averaging 12.3 points, 8.3 rebounds and, most significantly, 3.0 blocks per contest through three games. The Bucks have a lot of options in the frontcourt, but it does appear the energetic Sanders has figured some things out as he starts his third season. Sixers and Pacers opponents are on the fringe of the top third in rejections, so this schedule rates as slightly favorable. But regardless of the schedule, Sanders looks like a worthy add in all formats.
Kevin Seraphin, PF/C, Washington Wizards (@CHA, @DAL, UTA): Seraphin, like Sanders, is impressing while coming off the bench (averaging 17.5 points, 8.0 boards and 1.0 blocks per contest in his first two games). The difference is that fantasy owners got a glimpse of Seraphin's potential late last season. This season, it appears that on a thin Wizards team -- with or without Nene -- Seraphin will be integral. Also, like Sanders, Seraphin is still available in more than half of ESPN.com leagues. Of course it's early, but Bobcats and Mavs opponents are 29th and 27th, respectively, in rebound differential.