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Fantasy Hoops: Chris Paul Is Almost Ready To Go

We have just two weeks remaining before the All-Star break, and that means one regular scoring period, and another one that is shortened. For teams like the Charlotte Bobcats and Houston Rockets, it is good news, as each team has just four total games before the break, which will allow them to rest dinged up players and get them ready for the second half.

The Charlotte Bobcats were expecting to get tough-as-nails PG Kemba Walker (ankle) back in the lineup this past weekend, but a setback with his ankle injury left him sidelined for both the game at L.A. Lakers and Phoenix. He is now a huge question mark for Fantasy owners heading into the new week. The Bobcats certainly will not rush him back, so he should be reserved in all Fantasy leagues. It wouldn’t be at all surprising to see him rest until the first game out of the break, Feb. 18 at Detroit. The setback is great news for PG Ramon Sessions, who continues to start in Walker’s absence.The news is a lot more promising on the other side of the country, as The Orange County Register reports that PG Chris Paul (shoulder) is hopeful of either returning for Friday’s home game against Toronto, or Sunday’s tilt against Philadelphia. CP3 should be remain reserved in all Fantasy leagues for now, but those in formats which allow daily transactions, get ready to plug him back in for that Philadelphia game if he is given the green light. He could return with a bang.

Teams with four games (20): Brooklyn, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Indiana, L.A. Clippers, L.A. Lakers, Memphis, Minnesota, New Orleans, New York, Oklahoma City, Orlando, Philadelphia, Portland, Sacramento, San Antonio, Washington

Teams with three games (8): Atlanta, Boston, Golden State, Miami, Milwaukee, Phoenix, Toronto, Utah

Teams with two games (2): Charlotte, Houston

MON San Antonio at New Orleans (8:00pm NBATV)

TUE Chicago at Phoenix (9:00pm NBATV)

WED Portland at New York (8:00pm ESPN), Miami at L.A. Clippers (10:30pm ESPN)

THU San Antonio at Brooklyn (8:00pm TNT), Chicago at Golden State (10:30pm TNT)

FRI Portland at Indiana (7:00pm ESPN), Minnesota at New Orleans (9:30pm ESPN)

SAT Denver at Detroit (7:30pm NBATV)

SUN New York at Oklahoma City (1:00pm ABC), Chicago at L.A. Lakers (3:30pm ABC), Dallas at Boston (6:00pm NBATV)

* All Times Eastern (ET)

SCHEDULE ANALYSIS

Fantasy owners of the Washington Wizards will be very happy this week, as their team has four games, all at home. Three of their opponents, Cleveland (101.7 ppg), Portland (103.4 ppg) and Sacramento (104.6 ppg) play very poor team defense. It should be a fruitful week for Fantasy owners of PG John Wall, SG Bradley Beal and SF Trevor Ariza. Even PF Nene and C Marcin Gortat are considered must-starts this week, and SF Martell Webster is a nice play as well.

It should also be a pretty good week for Fantasy owners of the Los Angeles Clippers. They have high-profile games against the Miami Heat and Portland Trail Blazers this week. While yes, the Heat allows just 98.7 ppg, at least the Clips get LeBron and company in their own barn. And the Clippers will also face the Philadelphia 76ers, who rank dead-last in scoring defense (109.9 ppg) and the Denver Nuggets (103.0 ppg) on the road. Look for huge numbers again from PF Blake Griffin and C DeAndre Jordan. And it might be 3-pointers galore for SG J.J. Redick, pleasing Rotisserie owners.

The schedule is not so good for the Charlotte Hornets and Houston Rockets. Each of those clubs are scheduled for just two games. So if you’re in a cumulative head-to-head Fantasy format, or a points-based head-to-head league, you will need to reserve all Bobcats and Rockets. There really aren’t many must-starts on those clubs, and the ones that are have been dealing with injuries.

INJURIES

Fantasy owners of Boston Celtics PG Rajon Rondo (knee) ‘should’ be OK this week. The Celtics have three games on the schedule. He has been sitting during back-to-back situations, and the team does not face another until Sunday against Dallas, then Monday, Feb. 10, at Milwaukee. It would seem to make sense that head coach Brad Stevens would play Rondo at home in the more difficult matchup against the Mavericks, especially in front of the home crowd, while resting Rondo in Milwaukee against an inferior opponent. That is, if Rondo even sits for the back-to-back. That isn’t even a guarantee that he will miss time. But if you’re worried, I think Rondo should be fine to play in all three games with plenty of rest in between each contest.

Brooklyn Nets PF/C Andray Blatche (hip) has been dealing with a hip injury which has him as a game-time decision for Monday’s game against Philadelphia. Despite the favorable game, and a four-game week, Blatche is a risky play for Fantasy owners in weekly formats. SF Andrei Kirilenko (calf) is considered doubtful to play Monday, and therefore should be reserved by all Fantasy owners heading into the new scoring period.

Cleveland Cavaliers C Anderson Varejao (knee) is considered a game-time decision for Monday’s game against the Dallas Mavericks, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer. The Cavs have four games on the schedule this week, so even if he misses one game, it wouldn’t be terrible. But he is a risky play given his uncertainty entertaining the new week. There is no certainty that the injury will not linger on, so start him at your own risk in all Fantasy formats. Personally, I’d sit him to be on the safe side. If Andy does sit, C Tyler Zeller would be a nice low-end option.

Mavericks SF Shawn Marion (shoulder) told The Dallas Morning News that he doesn’t feel he’ll play Monday against the Cavaliers, but he is aiming to play Wednesday at Memphis. He is too risky, and Fantasy owners everywhere should avoid him.

Denver Nuggets PG Ty Lawson (shoulder) told The Denver Post that he will return for Monday’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers. While the news is great for Fantasy owners in all formats, especially with Denver playing four games this week, it splashes cold water on the value of PG Evan Fournier, and SG Randy Foye.

Houston Rockets SG James Harden (thumb) was back from injury Saturday, and he connected on 10 of his 17 field goal attempts to finish with 28 points, three boards and four dimes. After a layoff, the efficiency from the floor was nice, and Fantasy owners should be confident starting him again. However, the Rockets do have just two games, so head-to-head Fantasy owners won’t care for that much.

Washington Wizards SG Bradley Beal (leg) has been playing, but the team had imposed a minutes cap on him. Saturday, they kicked the training wheels off and he rolled up 34 minutes. He told CSNWashington.com that he felt good, and “wasn’t tired or anything like that. I’m definitely in shape.” He missed nine games earlier in the season due to a stress reaction in his lower right leg, and had been limited since returning. Fantasy owners should continue to keep him active, as it appears he’ll be allowed to shoulder a bigger load.

CATEGORY HELP

If you need help in specific categories in Rotisserie Fantasy play, you’ve come to the right place. Check out these guys, who should be available in your league, to help out in certain areas.

POINTS

Rodney Stuckey, SG, Detroit (15.9 ppg over the past eight games)
Richard Jefferson, SF, Utah (11.2 ppg over the past 10 games)
Caron Butler, SF, Milwaukee (10.9 ppg over the past 10 games)
Jeremy Lamb, SG, Oklahoma City (10.7 ppg over the past 12 games)

REBOUNDS

Jason Thompson, PF, Sacramento (7.8 rpg over the past 12 games)
Kendrick Perkins, C, Oklahoma City (6.5 rpg over the past 12 games)
Donatas Motiejunas, PF, Houston (6.2 rpg over the past 10 games)
Kyle O’Quinn, PF, Orlando (5.9 rpg over the past 12 games)

ASSISTS

Phil Pressey, PG, Boston (4.3 apg over the past 11 games)
Norris Cole, PG, Miami (4.2 apg over the past nine games)
Luke Ridnour, PG, Milwaukee (3.9 apg over the past nine games)
J.J. Barea, PG, Minnesota (3.7 apg over the past 10 games)

STEALS

Khris Middleton, SF, Milwaukee (1.8 spg over the past 11 games)
Gustavo Ayon, PF, Atlanta (1.7 spg over the past six games)
Maurice Harkless, SF, Orlando (1.5 spg over the past 11 games)
Shaun Livingston, PG, Brooklyn (1.4 spg over past eight games)

BLOCKED SHOTS

Greg Stiemsma, C, New Orleans (1.4 bpg over the past eight games)
Kyle O’Quinn, C, Orlando (1.3 bpg over the past 12 games)
Ronny Turiaf, C, Minnesota (1.3 bpg over the past 10 games)
Alexis Ajinca, C, New Orleans (1.2 bpg over the past 10 games)

3-POINTERS

Patty Mills, PG, San Antonio (20 3-pointers over the past 10 games)
Derek Fisher, PG, Oklahoma City (17 3-pointers over the past 12 games)
Anthony Tolliver, PF, Charlotte (17 3-pointers over the past 11 games)
Richard Jefferson, SF, Utah (16 3-pointers over the past nine games)
Tony Snell, SF, Chicago (15 3-pointers over the past 11 games)

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