Fantasy Forecast: Monday, March 11, 2013

For many fantasy basketball leagues the regular season ends after this week, so this is your last chance to make your run at the postseason. An important factor in fantasy basketball is looking at the schedule grid and figuring out who plays the most games to close the season out. The Minnesota Timberwolves and New York hold that honor with 22-games played from Week 20 through Week 25.

In Timberwolves news, Kevin Love had an extended shooting session following last Friday's practice. It is yet another sign that he intends to return this season after fracturing his hand twice. He is set to meet with team doctors on Wednesday, at which point they should set a timetable for his return date. Chase Budinger was spotted shooting jumpers last week and looks to be nearing a return. Budinger can help the Wolves at both SG and SF, and his return will provide much needed depth for the banged up Wolves. Then there is Nikola Pekovic; he hasn’t played in the Wolves last five games but is scheduled to have his abdominal injury re-evaluated on Monday. He has gotten a reputation for being a player will to play through injuries, so it has me a little worries that he has missed five straight games. Stay tuned for more information on his return timetable.

Start ‘em

Ricky Rubio – PG Timberwolves:
Rubio has managed to rack up 38 steals over his last 10 games, the most since Ron Artest posted 44 in a 10-game stretch in 2002. Not only that, but he’s scored in double figures in 13 of his last 15 games as well. Rubio is on a tear and even though the Wolves PG is owned in 79 percent of Yahoo leagues, he’s only started in 60 percent of them. I’d have Rubio in my line-up in all formats as the team plays a 4-game schedule in weeks 20-24.

C.J. Miles – SG Cavs: Miles has quietly posted double-digit scoring totals in 9 of the Cavs last 10 games, and nobody is taking notice. The problem he has is Coach Byron Scott and his unpredictable line-up changes, which is reflected with Miles’ minutes fluctuating. But, despite the inconsistent playing time, Miles is producing enough off the bench lately (12.6 points and 2.3 3-pointers a night over the last two weeks) to warrant an addition for the fantasy playoffs.

Al-Farouq Aminu – SF Hornets: Aminu is putting up top 50 fantasy numbers over the last month with his 6.9 points, 9.1 rebounds, 1.6 blocks and 1.4 steals a night average. Since he doesn’t score points, he tends to stay off the fantasy radar of the big-box websites. But, that is where I come in; I tell you what they overlook. His peripheral stats makes him a real asset as he will get you rebounds, blocks and steals every night, and the guys you drafted to score can worry about the points. Right now Aminu is owned in 36 percent of Yahoo leagues, and is worth owning in all standard formats.

Derrick Favors – PF Jazz: Right now Paul Millsap is dealing with a knee injury and the team has him listed as day-to-day. The bad thing about Favors is that he is little more than a low-end PF when both Millsap and Al Jefferson are in the line-up; but, when they are injured (as they often are), Favors becomes a top-tier option in most scoring formats. Over the last two weeks Favors has managed to average 10.9 points, 10.0 rebounds and 2.3 blocks a night for the Jazz, good enough for a top 50 ranking in Yahoo 9-cat scoring formats.

Jermaine O’Neal – C Suns: O’Neal has missed the last three games as his 13-year-old daughter needed heart surgery. And while that isn’t a good thing, the good news is that it wasn’t due to injury on his part. The word around the Suns is that O’Neal will be back as early as Monday, and he will get the lion’s share of the minutes at center as Marcin Gortat has an injured food that has his return this season questionable, and no other true center on the roster. O’Neal should be a sneaky source of 10-12 points and 8-9 rebounds a night as long as his body can handle the workload.

Sit ‘em

Isaiah Thomas – PG Kings:
Thomas is playing lights out basketball over the last two weeks, averaging 14.9 points, 4.9 assists and 1.6 steals a night, and shooting 48.8 percent from the field and 96.4 percent from the free-throw line over that span. The only thing holding Thomas back this week are the lack of games the Kings play (2). I’d sit him down or sell him for a week, and be ready to finish the season out strong with him.

Joe Johnson – SG Nets: Johnson is owned in 98 percent of fantasy leagues, and was taken at the top of the 4th round. The problem is that he is giving back mid 12th round value over the past month, and that number gets even worse when you filter by the last two weeks (18th round value). I’d keep him deep on the bench until he either snaps out of this slump, or gives you enough of a reason to finally cut ties with him.

John Salmons – SF Kings: Salmons has been hot lately, racking up a total of 97 points, 23 3-pointers, 29 assists and 23 rebounds over the last two weeks. But, in true Salmons fashion, he has scored just 7 points over his last two games, while shooting 3-of-14 from the field (21.4 percent). I bring him up here because fantasy owners will be looking for that player off the waiver wire that is hot as we head into the playoffs. Salmons is extremely inconsistent and you just can’t predict when he will get hot and when he will cool off. If you do grab him, get ready for a rollercoaster ride to finish the season out.

Josh Smith – PF Hawks: Yes, Smith is scoring right now and that will make fantasy owners think he is doing better than he really is (much like Dwight Howard). Over the last two weeks he has averaged 17.9 points and 7.9 rebounds a night, which is good. But, he is also averaging 3.6 turnovers a night while shooting 44.7 percent from the field and 44.4 percent from the free-throw line. The shooting and turnovers have caused him to rank out in the 240 range when you filter by the last two weeks, and his owners need him to protect the ball more and take a few extra shots after practice.

Nene Hilario – C Wizards: If you looked up overrated in the fantasy dictionary, Hilario would be standing right next to Dwight Howard. Over the last two weeks, Nene has managed to put up 13.6 points and 7.8 rebounds a night, which makes the big-box websites think he is worth owning. But, did you know he is turning the ball over 4.2 times a night, while shooting just 71.4 percent from the free-throw line and 45.3 percent from the field? For a center, 45.3 percent shooting is not a good thing, and his 4.2 TO’s a night rank him 6th worst in the NBA over the last two weeks. That is pretty sad when the five guys ahead of him are Kobe Bryant, Rubio, Stephen Curry, Jameer Nelson and Mo Williams; all guys that handle the ball for more minutes Nene is even on the floor for.


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 WolvesNation.com.