- Josh Whitling, Fantasy Basketball
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Matchups for Sunday, Dec. 28
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.
Jamal Crawford, PG/SG, Warriors (groin)
T.J. Ford, PG, Pacers (back)
Danny Granger, SF, Pacers (concussion)
Zach Randolph, PF/C, Clippers (knee)
Quentin Richardson, SG/SF, Knicks (ankle)
Peja Stojakovic, SF, Hornets (back)
Start 'em, sit 'em
Carmelo Anthony hopes to return Sunday night against the Knicks after missing the past three games with a sore elbow that's been bothering him all season. Even though he'll have some rust, it's imperative to get him back in your lineup against the Knicks, a matchup that should spell fantasy success for Melo upon his return. The Heat are gunning for their fifth straight win after holding the Bulls to 38 percent shooting Friday night, and fans get the late Christmas present of watching Dwyane Wade and LeBron James go head-to-head. Daequan Cook has been effective off the bench for the Heat, scoring in double digits in six of his past seven contests, averaging a respectable 11 points with a whopping 2.9 3s per game in December. Cook has played 26, 27 and 33 minutes, respectively, in his past three games and is becoming a more integral part of the Heat's lineup. Marquis Daniels returned after missing three games with the flu, and scored a season-high 28 points on 11-for-19 shooting, along with five rebounds, three assists, two steals and two 3-pointers Friday night. Get him back in your lineup, along with Troy Murphy, who is back after missing four games with the same illness. The buy-low period for Josh Howard is closing quickly, as he's scored in double-digits in every game since his return from injury. Once he's playing more than 30 minutes per game on a regular basis again, his stats will increase. Right now his value is still very low even though he's a must-start.
Bobby Jackson is returning to his old "spark plug off the bench" ways in Sacramento, scoring in double digits in three of his past four contests, including 17 points, six rebounds, three assists and three 3s Friday night. He's averaging 1.3 3s per game in 21 minutes in December and will unquestionably have value if he continues to play around 25 or 30 minutes per game, as he has recently. Kendrick Perkins is supposed to return after missing one game with a sore shoulder, so it's safe to get him back in your lineup, especially against the defensively inept Kings, who should allow Perkins to mop up on the glass. Marco Belinelli has started the past six games and is a welcome addition to any team looking for decent scoring with steals, 3s and assists. The team doesn't really have a better option at this point, so his value should remain, even as he goes up against a tough Lakers lineup Sunday. Anderson Varejao scored 13 points with 13 rebounds on Christmas day, and is enjoying his best month of the season in December (10.3 points, 7.6 rebounds, 1.0 steals, 0.8 blocks). He's far from a nightly double-double, although he provides solid rebounding with a steal and a block, which makes him a valid addition in deep leagues, especially if his improvement continues as the season progresses. Erick Dampier has been blocking shots like mad, with nine his past three contests. Damp's been around long enough so we know what to expect from him, which is a decent number of rebounds and blocks as long as he continues starting for the Mavs. Brandon Rush has been on the radar with all the injuries and sicknesses plaguing the Pacers, and if T.J. Ford misses another game, Rush is a good spot-start, along with Jarrett Jack, who also benefits from the Pacers' plague. Linas Kleiza has been critical off the bench for the Nuggets and is in line for a huge night against the defensively hapless Knicks, who are allowing 107.9 points per game, second only to the Warriors. Kleiza is averaging 2.5 3s per game over his past six, and is an impressive and dependable long-range threat, even with Melo in the lineup.
Josh Whitling is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.
9hK. Lee Davis