Fantasy Forecast: Countdown To The Playoffs

We are officially one week away from the fantasy playoffs now, so every game holds a special significance for fantasy owners who are on the cusp of the playoffs. Last week I told you grab Kent Bazemore or Kyle Singler, and not much has changed since then. You could look at Lakers SG Jodie Meeks, but the Lakers play just two games in week 20. They make it up with 14 games of the final four weeks of the fantasy season, but you will want to make sure you aren’t cutting someone who with more overall value.

This week the Bucks play a 5-game schedule, which is bitter sweet for fantasy owners. That many games would normally be fantasy gold; but, then you have the Bucks and their unpredictable line-ups and rotations. The only players you can truly count on from their team are Brandon Knight and Kris Middleton. Giannis Antetokounmpo has maybe the most talent on the team, but he can’t produce consistently enough to be a fantasy asset this year. Maybe next season, but it doesn’t look like it will happen this season.

Suns SG Eric Bledsoe is expected to make his return to the court on Wednesday, and word is he will go “full throttle” from the get-go. That is going to push Gerald Green back to a bench role, but it may not make him worth dropping when you consider his production lately. I would hold on to Green until we see exactly how the Suns manage their rotations now with Marcus Morris also stepping his game up.

And finally, those who picked up Darren Collison should be looking for alternatives now. Jamal Crawford returned from a calf injury on Saturday and played 10 minutes. The Clippers play a 4-game schedule this week, with games spread out every other day. So, there will be a day of rest between games for Crawford and that means Collison’s minutes should dwindle down accordingly.

Start ‘em

D.J. Augustin – PG Bulls: Augustin is the back-up PG to Kirk Hinrich, but he is getting hot again and that makes him worth owning. The Bulls do play just 3 games this week, but Augustin has scored 20-plus points in 3 of his last 5 games, and has scored in double figures in each of those 5 games. Ride him while he is hot, but be ready to jump ship when he cools back down.

Vince Carter – SG Mavericks: Mr. Carter is still on the start list because he is owned in just 49 percent of Yahoo leagues, but is giving back 4th round value over the past month. Looking at the season as a whole, did you know that Carter actually ranks within the top 80 players in the NBA in standard scoring formats? Carter’s age is used as an excuse by fantasy owners, but the truth is he is worth owning in all formats. The Mavericks play 3 games this week, but then they play back-to-back 4-game schedules in weeks 21 and 22.

Matt Barnes – SF Clippers: The only player in fantasy basketball that is hotter than Barnes over the last two weeks is Trevor Ariza. As I mentioned with Collison above, the Clippers play 4 games this week, then 2 games next week, then go back-to-back with 4-game weeks, and finish the fantasy season up with a 2-game week. So, you can pick him up right now, ride him for a week, then cut him, and pick him back up hopefully for 8 games in 14 days. Barnes is only owned in 39 percent of Yahoo leagues, so make sure he isn’t on your waiver wire right now.

Kris Middleton – SF/PF Bucks: As I mentioned above, the Bucks play 5 games this week which means by sheer volume of games, you should play their players. Middleton is about as solid as it gets with the Bucks, and he is owned in just 34 percent of Yahoo leagues. If he is available in your league, I’d pick him up and run him until the season ends as the Bucks don’t play fewer than 3 games for the rest of the fantasy season.

Spencer Hawes – C Cavaliers: This is more for those daily cap league players than roto players since Hawes is owned in over 85 percent of all fantasy leagues. Over the last two weeks, Hawes has been on a tear by averaging 16.3 points, 9.5 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks a night for his new team. And, as a reward he is keeping his starting spot now that Anderson Varejao is back. You’ll want to ride Hawes all the way to the finish line as he is playing for his next contract with him being a free agent after the season is over. Motivation equals fantasy gold.

Sit ‘em Kendall Marshall – PG Lakers: Marshall was a hot pick-up a few weeks ago, but that was then and this is now. In 5 of his last 8 games, Marshall has failed to score even a single point. That is a tough stat to lose from any player on the floor. The only real redeeming quality that Marshall has for fantasy owners is his assists, which average out to 9.3 per game over that 8-game span. Given the lack of scoring, Marshall is already hard to play. But, add to that the Lakers and their 2-game week, Marshall is a full sit ‘em player for me in week 20.

Victor Oladipo – SG Magic: Oladipo has now missed the previous two games with a “sore ankle”. There is nothing for sure, but word is he should be healed up enough Monday. The problem there is that his production for points recently ranges from low teens to mid 20’s, while the rebounds and assists have the same wide range. The only truly consistent stat for Oladipo these days are steals. With Jameer Nelson back, and Moe Harkless on a tear, Oladipo looks to be the odd-man out once again for the Magic.

Josh Smith – SF Pistons: Sure, Smith is averaging 17.7 points, 7.5 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 1.8 blocks and 1.2 steals a night over the past 14 days. Those numbers are pretty impressive until you factor in his 14 turnovers, which is the 8th highest for SF/SGs, and the putrid 35.3 percent shooting from the field over that same timespan. While Smith does help fantasy owners with across the board stats, he also kills them in turnovers and FG percentage. Those in cap leagues should be considering moving on from Smith as we head into the final few weeks of the season. Those in standard roto leagues need to really make sure they have a plan in place to cancel out the FG percentage and turnovers.

Kevin Garnett – PF/C Nets: Can someone explain to me why 60 percent of fantasy owners still own Garnett? He’s scored in double-digits just 11 times this season. Yes, of the 49 games he’s played in this season, just 11 of them resulted in more than 10 points. And, his season high is 16 points, which was way back on November 18th. You could pick a name out of a hat at random and he would stand a good chance at being a better fantasy player than Garnett!

Carlos Boozer – PF/C Bulls: Boozer is looking more and more like the odd-man out in Chicago with Taj Gibson playing so well. It doesn’t help that Boozer is 32-years-old and owed $16.8 million next season. So, the Bulls are limiting his minutes to the mid 20’s now, and that is resulting in him averaging just 12.4 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 1.1 assists over the past month. Over 85 percent of people playing roto leagues own Boozer, and 76 percent of them start him, yet he gives back mid to late 14th round value. He isn’t as bad as Garnett, but he is no must-own player either.

James Morris hails from Rio Rancho, NM and has been playing fantasy sports for just over 15 years. Not only does he write the Timberwolves fantasy basketball section, but he crosses over the sports boundary and writes the Miami Dolphins and Cincinnati Bengals fantasy football sections. Just send him an email and he will reply back the same day with your answer. Or, find him on Twitter (Fantasyguy23) and Facebook to get all your NFL news before it hits the national media. For more news and notes on the team follow the Minnesota Timberwolves and Mark Remme on Twitter, and join the conversation at