Utah Jazz PG George Hill (toe) has missed 12 games in a row, and 20 of the past 23 contests, due to injury. It’s a shame, too, because when he is in the lineup he makes all of his teammates better, too, thanks to his team-leading 3.1 assists-to-turnover ratio. It remains to be seen when he will be able to return, but Fantasy owners will want to keep him reserved until he can play in at least two full games without any setbacks. In the meantime, PG Shelvin Mack and swingmen Joe Ingles and Rodney Hood continue to fill the void.
Hood returned to the lineup Friday against Toronto after dealing with an illness, but he hit just one of his six field goals for two points. He was down for the count last week, misfiring on all but one of his 11 shots. He has been in and out of the lineup recently, and is a Fantasy concern, so hang on to Mack. The former Butler standout has excelled with the injuries and illness flying around SLC, averaging 11.5 PPG, 4.3 APG and 3.0 RPG in 12 games while being leaned upon for over 30 minutes per night.
Jazz C Rudy Gobert has emerged as a Fantasy beast in the month of December, too, and everyone is taking notice. He enters the new week with 10 consecutive double-doubles, and he is averaging a robust 14.7 PPG, 13.3 RPG and 2.8 BPG in 12 games, all well in excess of his season averages. His 2.61 BPG rank second in the NBA behind only New Orleans Pelicans PF Anthony Davis (2.73 BPG).
TEAMS WITH FOUR GAMES
Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Indiana, L.A. Clippers, Memphis, Miami, Milwaukee, Minnesota, Phoenix, Portland, Toronto
TEAMS WITH THREE GAMES
Boston, Brooklyn, Cleveland, Denver, L.A. Lakers, New Orleans, New York, Oklahoma City, Orlando, Philadelphia, Sacramento, San Antonio, Utah, Washington
TEAM WITH TWO GAMES
WEEK 10 SCHEDULE ANALYSIS
TORONTO RAPTORS: The Raptors might have been slighted and not invited to the reindeer games on Christmas despite being one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference, but you will not want to make the same mistake in Fantasy Hoops.
The Raps have four road games this week, and normally teams can struggle with the constant travel and overall grind, but Toronto will flourish. Three of their four opponents (Blazers, Lakers, Suns) are among the worst defensive teams in the league, each giving up at least 110.6 PPG. Toronto will even find the offense plentiful in a potential shootout with the Warriors, as the teams combine for 229.2 PPG. That game will be a Fantasy Fiesta, so remember that for DFS purposes, too.
UTAH JAZZ: The Jazz are not a great team for Fantasy purposes, and no one likes to see them on the schedule opposing their players due to their tremendous brand of defense. But Utah should break out on the scoresheet this week with big performances against the likes of the Lakers, 76ers and Suns, three teams allowing at least 106.4 PPG. Utah has, by far, the most favorable schedule of the three-game variety. It will be an especially big week for SF Gordon Hayward, who is averaging 25.5 PPG with 5.5 RPG and 4.0 APG over his past two.
GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS: The Warriors have been hammered in recent weeks with plenty of back-to-back situations, a lot of traveling and playing on holidays, etc. The NBA schedule maker is giving them a break in the final week of 2016, as the defending Western Conference champs have just two games on the docket.
To make matters worse, one of the teams on the schedule are the Dallas Mavericks, allowing just 99.6 PPG, fourth-best in the Western Conference. You’ll certainly want Steph Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson active in all Fantasy leagues, as well as Kevin Durant, of course, but the supporting cast aren’t great plays in cumulative formats like they have been in recent scoring periods.
LOS ANGELES LAKERS: Like the Warriors above, the Lakers have the unenviable task of facing the Mavs and Raps, as well as a visit from the defensive-minded Utah Jazz. The latter allow just 95.2 PPG, best in The Association. Continue to roll with SG Lou Williams, PG D’Angelo Russell and SG Nick Young in all Fantasy formats. Especially Young, as he has buried five or more 3-pointers in four of his past five games and appears to slowly be emerging from a shooting slump now that he is healthy.
— Los Angeles Clippers PG Chris Paul (hamstring) will miss at least the next two games due to a strained left hamstring suffered Thursday in a showdown with San Antonio. CP3 tested the injury in pre-game warmups on Christmas, but apparently wasn’t close. PG Raymond Felton posted eight points, 10 rebounds, six assists, two blocks and a pair of steals in 38 minutes with Paul on the shelf. He is your short-term beneficiary in terms of Fantasy value.
— Another huge Fantasy name, Portland Trail Blazers PG Damian Lillard (ankle) is considered doubtful for Monday’s game against the Raptors due to a left ankle injury, according to CSNNorthwest.com. With Dame likely on the shelf, the Blazers will use a combination of Allen Crabbe and Shabazz Napier to fill the void, and G C.J. McCollum will also see an increase in Fantasy appeal with Lillard sidelined. It’s uncertain how many games he’ll miss, but he is a risky play outside of Fantasy formats averaging points per game in a scoring period.
— Cleveland Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue indicated after Sunday’s game that there is a possibility SF LeBron James and/or PG Kyrie Irving might rest Monday after posting big minutes against the Warriors on Christmas. Irving played 44 of a possible 48 minutes, while the King logged 40. With a three-game slate for the upcoming week, missing one game would be a killer to those in standard Fantasy formats, but Irving and James are ultimately starts even with a two-game week.
— If you’re looking for Fantasy assistance beyond the arc, look to Pelicans PG Langston Galloway. He has bagged 2.3 triples per game in 12 games in the month of December, and he is averaging 11.1 PPG. Just do not expect much else in the other stat categories, which is a reason he is on the waiver wire in plenty of head-to-head formats.
— 76ers PG T.J. McConnell might be back to the bench after a brief cameo in the starting lineup two weeks ago, but he is still producing when called upon. McConnell has posted 6.7 APG and 2.0 SPG with 3.3 RPG over his past six outings. In deeper Fantasy leagues he has re-emerged as a Swiss Army knife.
— Nets SF Joe Harris has yet to start in any of his 29 games, but he is still making a Fantasy splash. While he has cooled recently, he is still averaging 10.0 PPG with 4.3 RPG and 1.1 APG, and he is dropping in nearly two 3-pointers per contest in the month of December. The former standout at Virginia has emerged as a solid situational Fantasy starter when facing a poor defense, especially for help along the perimeter.