- Josh Whitling, Fantasy Basketball
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Matchups for Saturday, Jan. 26
All times are ET.
Key: Opp. PPG = Points per game allowed to opponents. Opp. FGP = Field goal percentage allowed to opponents. RPG Diff. = The difference between team's rebounds per game and its opponents' rebounds per game.
Start 'Em, Sit 'Em
Jason Williams had four 3-pointers and four steals Thursday, and has contributed ample 3-pointers, assists and steals of late. Going up against a Pacers team that allows more than 105 points per game, he should have another solid outing. It's hard to recommend anybody other than the Spurs' "big three" as consistent, nightly starters, although Michael Finley has scored in double digits in each of his past three games, with eight 3s during that span. He's starting over Brent Barry, and even though he faces a somewhat staunch Hornets defense Saturday night, he's never afraid to gun and should contribute from behind the arc. Otherwise, the Spurs-Hornets matchup should be a defensive showdown, and I'd bench all of your fringe players in Roto formats. Both Willie Green and Louis Williams can score like crazy, although they hurt each other's value. Still, both are sound options tonight against a Bobcats squad that allows nearly 100 points per game on 46 percent field goal shooting. Stromile Swift hurt his ankle in Wednesday's game, and if he misses time, look for Darko Milicic to play extended minutes and have increased value, including an above-average night Saturday. Now that Mike Bibby, Ron Artest and Kevin Martin are all playing for the Kings for the first extended period of time this season, John Salmons' value has plummeted, and I'd take him out of your lineup until it becomes clear what his role is now that the Kings' superstars are back.
With Jermaine O'Neal sidelined and Troy Murphy's sore knee limiting his minutes, Jeff Foster should get big minutes at center and dominate the boards against a weak-rebounding Heat team. This is especially the case if Udonis Haslem's chest contusion limits his playing time. Shaq already will be out for at least two weeks with his hip injury, and Haslem and Mark Blount are about all the Heat have up front. As for Blount, as long as he's getting big minutes, he can score efficiently despite minimal contributions elsewhere. Look for Blount to have a nice night against the Pacers' weakened front line, as well as two weeks of serviceable center play. Add him now if you're desperate for points. Haslem, on the other hand, should shine while Shaq is out and continue what appears to be his breakout season. Kareem Rush got a vote of confidence from head coach Jim O'Brien, who proclaimed Rush would remain in the starting lineup while the team focuses on playing small ball, even when Jermaine O'Neal returns. Rush is worth adding in all leagues, since he's averaging 2.9 3-pointers per game as a starter, and although this is the primary category in which he will contribute, he's established himself as a fantasy contributor. Travis Diener apparently is playing at less than 100 percent, although an MRI on his foot did not show a stress fracture. His struggles weren't evident Thursday night, when he had 20 points and nine assists in 40 minutes of action while Jamaal Tinsley sat with a sore left knee. Even if Tinsley does return, his minutes will likely be limited, so Diener is a good spot start, especially going up against the defensively challenged Jason Williams. Rookie Jason Smith had eight rebounds for the Sixers on Wednesday night, and even though he's an option only in super-deep leagues, his 10.2 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per 48 minutes provide glimpses of his potential. Al Thornton had 23 points, 9 rebounds and 4 assists on Wednesday night and is averaging 19.7 points his past three games. Ride his hot streak and grab him if you need a spot start.
Josh Whitling is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com
Josh Whitling analyzes the best and worst fantasy plays for Saturday.