Fantasy Forecast: Week 1

Here we go basketball fans, Week 1 of the fantasy basketball season. We are officially past the lockout and we can enjoy watching some SportsCenter highlights. For those of you that didn’t win their fantasy football title, here is your second chance to take home some bragging rights.

The 2011-12 season will be marked by both good and bad. The bad news is the NBA season is condensed and will only be 66 games; the good news is that I am back! The main thing you will want to keep an eye on this season is going to be injuries. With the shortened preseason and training camps, we are likely to see more hamstring pulls and “fill in the blank” tears. The waiver wire is going to be even more important than in previous years.

Strap on your seatbelt, get your soft-gel mouse pad add-on and let’s take this all the way to the league title!

Start ‘em

PG: Jose Calderon: Calderon flew under the radar during drafts, going closer to end of the 9th round. It just goes to show you that teams in Canada will never get respect. Did you know that Calderon averaged 8.9 assists a night in just 31 minutes per game last season? This week the Raptors play four games, and three of them are against the Cavaliers, Pacers and Mavericks. He isn’t going to rack up a ton of points, but the assists should be enough to make a nice PG sleeper pick this week.

SG: Richard Hamilton: Rip was taken to start the 12th round in most leagues, which means a lot of people got themselves a great value pick near the end of their draft. You know what you get with Hamilton, empty points and nothing else. However, a SG is there to score and landing in Chicago was perfect for him since they will score more points than the Pistons ever did. I’d put him in as a solid G flex this week giving his starting role and five games this week.

SF: Michael Beasley: Beasley will start at small forward over No. 2 overall pick Derrick Williams, which means you got yourself a steal on draft day. I can see Beasley putting up 20 points and snatching 5 rebounds this week, making him a solid SF play.

PF: Serge Ibaka: Now, let me start out by saying that Ibaka is in fact a PF, and NOT a center. I made one Ibaka fan pretty unhappy when I rightfully left him out of the center rankings because he doesn’t play that particular position most of the time for his particular team. That being said, Ibaka does make for a great opening week PF play since he will flirt with a double-double nightly and the Thunder play five games this week. I like Oklahoma City to use their youth to their advantage in a condensed season and beat out older teams like the Mavericks and Lakers in the end.

C: DeJuan Blair: Blair was a steal on draft day, going in the 12th round despite starting for the Spurs. Granted, he won’t score a whole lot (maybe 8 points a night), but he should grab 7 rebounds and block a shot every once in a while for you. Center is the thinnest position in fantasy basketball and guys like Blair are late-round gold since he gets the minutes and produces solid numbers. He is still unowned in roughly 46 percent of leagues, so go snatch him up while you can.

Sit ‘em PG: Kyrie Irving: Irving went at the top of Round 8, despite not even being the starting PG at the time of the draft. What that means is there is far too high of an expectation for the kid to start the season. The reality is that even if he is the starting PG, he will split time with Ramon Session as he learns the NBA game with no real training camp practice to fall back on. He is a great guy to own, but you will want to taper those expectations to start the season.

SG: Stephen Jackson: Jackson is going to be an injury risk all season long as he is dealing with bone spurs in his back and the bottom disc is completely gone. Not only is he a major injury problem, but the Bucks play just three games this week, which is the fewest for any team in week 1.

SF: Tayshaun Prince: Prince is someone I think owners overdrafted and the only reason I can come up with is their hope of him starting this season. While he may be the starter at SF for the Pistons, you can rest assure that the Pistons are looking for a reason to insert Austin Daye into the line-up. Prince is most likely going to net you about 12-14 points and 4 rebounds a night, not stats worthy of taking in the top 10 rounds.

PF: Josh McRoberts: McBob will be starting at PF for the Lakers for the first four games while Pau Gasol slides over to center due to Andrew Bynum being suspended. However, unless you want inconsistent stats or empty rebounds, it is better to just leave this waiver wire nugget as someone else’s problem to start the season. With everyone starting off healthy, you are sure to have better options on your roster already. Those in cap leagues might have had a good buy low and sell high candidate, but that time has come and gone.

C: Brook Lopez: Lopez had surgery was to repair a non-displaced stress fracture of the fifth metatarsal of the right foot. The Nets have set a six to eight week timetable for his return, and it could very well be even longer than that. Get Lopez on your bench and grab Mehmet Okur ASAP as he is unowned in 72 percent of leagues out there and should start from day 1 of the season.

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