Houston Rockets SG James Harden is playing in another stratosphere right now, as he is averaging 30.0 points per game (PPG) with 13.0 assists per game (APG), 8.0 rebounds per game (RPG) and 28 3-pointers through nine outings. It doesn’t matter if he is playing a good defensive team, if he is home or on the road, ‘The Beard’ is on fire and showing no signs of slowing down.
In Orlando, Magic head coach Frank Vogel continues to mix and match his starting lineup with limited results. Swingman Jeff Green has made a pair of starts, but his scoring has been erratic and he is struggling with his shot. Orlando has been a Fantasy wasteland this season, and only SG Evan Fournier with 17.3 PPG and C Nikola Vucevic with his 12.7 PPG, 10.7 RPG and 3.2 APG have been Fantasy standouts. Everyone else in O-Town has been terribly erratic, and Green is just the latest to join the fray. Your best bet is to stay away from all players not named Fournier and Vucevic until someone starts to show some consistency for Vogel’s ever-changing squad. Green showed a move into the starting five isn’t necessarily a bump to Fantasy appeal.
TEAMS WITH FOUR GAMES
Atlanta, Boston, Brooklyn, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Indiana, L.A. Clippers, Memphis, Miami, New Orleans, New York, Oklahoma City, Philadelphia, Portland, Toronto, Utah
TEAMS WITH THREE GAMES
Charlotte, Cleveland, Denver, Golden State, L.A. Lakers, Milwaukee, Minnesota, Orlando, Phoenix, Sacramento, San Antonio, Washington
WEEK 4 SCHEDULE ANALYSIS
DALLAS MAVERICKS: Dallas has a very favorable week despite the fact they’re on the road for three of their games. All four opponents allow at least 102.6 points per game (PPG), so Fantasy owners can expect big performances from SF Harrison Barnes, PG J.J. Barea, SG Wesley Matthews and PG Deron Williams, especially in cumulative formats.
TORONTO RAPTORS: The Raps are in good shape this week, as all four of their opponents allow at least 103.1 PPG. It’s going to be a very good week for Fantasy owners of SG DeMar DeRozan, as it has been for every week so far this season. He is averaging a robust 34.0 PPG with 4.8 rebounds per game (RPG) and 3.2 assists per game (APG) with 1.4 steals per game (SPG). PG Kyle Lowry is also in line for a huge week, while C Jonas Valanciunas will be a force in the middle against a couple of teams with a smallish middle. Expect at least three double-doubles from the Lithuanian big man this week.
DENVER NUGGETS: It’s a three-game week for the Nuggets, and they’ll struggle in two of their games against defensive-minded teams, Toronto and Utah. The Raptors allow just 99.2 PPG, one of the best in the Eastern Conference, while the Utah Jazz give up just 93.1 PPG, second-best in the NBA. SG Will Barton (ankle) was ruled out of Sunday’s game in Portland due to an ankle injury. C Jusuf Nurkic, SG Gary Harris (ankle) and SF Wilson Chandler (hamstring) are all borderline plays in most formats, and Harris and Chandler have been dealing with injuries lately, too.
WASHINGTON WIZARDS: The Wizards have a three-game slate, and two of their opponents are in the Top 10 in scoring defense. It’s going to be a slow week for PG John Wall and his Fantasy owners, especially in cumulative formats, although you’ll want to tough it out in Rotisserie leagues and keep him active. SG Bradley Beal is also in line for a tough week, but start him like you normally would. PF Markieff Morris and SF Otto Porter Jr. are worth using in Rotisserie leagues, but keep them reserved in all other leagues if you have alternatives with four-game schedules. C Marcin Gortat is averaging a double-double at 11.3 PPG and 12.4 RPG, and he’ll be a good play against three teams with smallish frontcourts.
— Cavaliers swingman J.R. Smith (ankle) rolled his ankle in Washington and was forced to sit out Sunday’s game against Charlotte. With Smith on the mend, Mike Dunleavy is a decent play in deeper Fantasy leagues if you’re looking for a short-term option. Smith is averaging 10.5 PPG with a handful of triples, so Fantasy owners in daily formats will want him active as soon as he is ready.
— Heat PG Goran Dragic (ankle) has been ruled out for his second straight game Monday at San Antonio due to his sprained left ankle. He is considered day to day, although he has been wearing a walking boot. Gs Tyler Johnson and Josh Richardson are expected to continue to benefit with extra minutes in Dragic’s stead.
— Hornets SF Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (back) was able to shake off a strained lower back to start Sunday’s game against the Cavaliers. He is back in the starting five and appears to be a safe Fantasy play heading into the new week. In that same game, C Roy Hibbert (knee) is playing with a minutes cap as he is eased in due to a sore knee. He is only worth the risk in deeper Fantasy leagues heading into the new week.
— Mavericks PF Dirk Nowitzki (Achilles’) continues to battle a sore Achilles’ and he is considered a question mark for Monday’s game against New York. However, he was able to practice on a limited basis over the weekend, so he is getting close. Fantasy owners will want to play it safe and keep him reserved in all weekly formats, as the risk is too great despite a favorable schedule in the upcoming week for the Mavs. He might play with a minutes cap initially, especially with F Dwight Powell doing an admirable job in Disco Dirk’s absence.
— Nets PG Jeremy Lin (hamstring) traveled with the team for its West Coast road trip, but he is still a risky Fantasy play and he should be kept reserved until he is able to officially return and prove his health in at least one full game without any setbacks. G Sean Kilpatrick is a solid stopgap option in deeper Fantasy leagues until Linsanity is ready to come off the shelf.
— Rockets PG Patrick Beverley (knee) has been ruled out for Monday’s game against Philadelphia, but it’s possible he could get the nod to make his regular season debut Wednesday night against Oklahoma City. Even if Beverley can play Wednesday, the team faces a back-to-back situation and it’s hard to imagine he’ll be pushed upon his return from a long-term injury, so he is likely to see two games max in the new week. It’s best to keep him reserved in all Fantasy leagues until his situation becomes more clear and he has had a chance to prove his health in a game or two.
— Trail Blazers SG Allen Crabbe is seeing a slight uptick in his Fantasy ownership percentages, up to about 30 percent, as he is averaging 8.9 PPG with 2.6 RPG and 1.5 APG through 11 games. He dropped 16 points with seven boards and four assists in 37 minutes against Sacramento Friday night and will continue to see meaningful playing time and Fantasy value with F Al-Farouq Aminu (calf) sidelined for at least two weeks with a calf ailment.
— If you’re looking for dimes on the waiver wire, 76ers PG T.J. McConnell is averaging 4.9 APG through 12 games. He is a little bit of a one-trick pony, as he hasn’t hit double digits in points this season, but he gives Rotisserie owners the assists and a steal or two per game with a couple of rebounds, too.
— For whatever reason, Lakers SF Nick Young is still owned in less than 50 percent of Fantasy leagues despite the fact he has 14.7 PPG and 2.7 RPG through 10 games. He has dropped in 27 3-pointers in 10 games, and that’s great news for Fantasy owners in Rotisserie leagues.