Happy New Year! January is a time for resolutions, so resolve to improve your Fantasy team before thoughts of balls and strikes and whether Aaron Judge or Giancarlo Stanton is the Yankees outfielder of choice consume your mind.
Tyus Jones, G, Timberwolves: Jeff Teague (sprained knee) is out 2-4 weeks, leaving Jones as the driver for an offense ranked sixth in scoring. His ownership in CBSSports.com leagues went from four percent to 38 percent and will go higher considering Minnesota’s schedule this week (more on that later). He should rack up assists at a steady clip and his five-steal effort against the Bucks last Thursday enhances his value.
Marquese Chriss, F, Suns: Please don’t remind me how much I’ve hyped him. The signs are pointing toward brighter numbers for Chriss, who had a 13-rebound performance against the Grizzlies last Tuesday and followed that up with 14 points, eight boards and four dimes against the Kings last Thursday. Chriss was a popular dump candidate but he’s seeing something of a revival and is currently owned in 37 percent of CBSSports.com leagues. I still believe in the upside, which is why I think he’s worth the flier.
Ish Smith, G, Pistons: With Reggie Jackson out until late February, Smith becomes the starting point for Detroit. In his first two games in the lineup, the well-traveled Smith averaged 18 points, five rebounds and 4.5 assists. The usage will climb, as will the assists, as Smith did average seven helpers per game in 50 starts for the Sixers two years ago. He’s now owned in 67 percent of CBSSports.com leagues and should be a target for owners needing a jolt in assists
Streamers. Lots of Streamers
Frank Ntilikina, G, Knicks: He couldn’t hit water if you dumped him into the Atlantic, but the rookie can pass the rock, evident in his career-high 11 assists in last Thursday’s loss to the Spurs. Ntilikina’s minutes continue to climb, making him a potential graduate to Waiver Savior soon.
Shabazz Napier, G, Trail Blazers: Napier has three straight games of at least 20 points and is a hot hand to utilize until Damian Lillard returns sometime this week.
Reggie Bullock, F, Pistons: His 22-point outburst against the Spurs on Saturday included four treys, giving him seven in his last two games. Bullock’s a streaky shooter but will be counted on to add scoring slack with Reggie Jackson out.
Kobi Simmons, G, Grizzlies: The rookie from Arizona put up 17 points, three assists and two steals in 31 minutes during Saturday’s loss at the Warriors. With Memphis’ season slowly fading away and Mike Conley at least another 3-5 weeks away from returning, Simmons might continue to see a more extensive role.
My Name Is Princ
Hawks’ rookie forward Taurean Prince is one rebound shy of three straight double-doubles, including a 30-point, 10-rebound gem against the Raptors on Friday. Prince ended a productive December that saw him average 14.2 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.5 assists. While he’s owned in 85 percent of CBSSports.com leagues, Prince is starting for just 52 percent of owners, a number that will rise as he continues to become more involved in the Atlanta offense. Now might be the time to consider trading for him.
Quietly Become a Center of Attention
Larry Nance Jr. recently added center eligibility in most leagues and while he remains a bench asset for the Lakers, Nance put up 12 points and nine rebounds in 19 minutes against the Grizzlies last Wednesday and followed that with 16 points, four boards and four assists in just 18 minutes of Friday’s loss to the Clippers. Owned in 44 percent of CBSSports.com leagues, Nance’s 20.20 PER is a strong indication the Lakers will find a way to increase his minutes. He’s worth a flier in deeper leagues.
Best Fantasy Matchup of the Week (Non-Warriors/Rockets Edition)
I’d stack my Hawks and Suns when the teams play on Tuesday. Atlanta’s defense is rated 29th, just ahead of Phoenix, which also has the worst scoring defense in the league. To say you shouldn’t expect a lot of defense would be putting it mildly.
Best of the One-on-One Matchups This Week
Roll out the ball, point to the baskets and let the Suns’ Devin Booker and Jamal Murray of the Nuggets shoot to their heart’s content on Wednesday. Booker has averaged 29 points in his first two games back after missing the previous nine with a groin injury, while Murray has averaged 26 points, 7.5 rebounds and 5.5 assists in his last two games in a December that might have been the launch of Denver’s best Fantasy option outside of Nikola Jokic.
Best Fantasy Matchup to Exploit
In Anthony Davis (56.8 percent) and E’Twaun Moore (54.1 percent), the Pelicans have two of the league’s most accurate scorers. Keep that in mind for Saturday’s game at the Timberwolves, who are last in the league in defensive two-point percentage at 54.1 percent. Playing Davis is a no-brainer, but Moore would be a sneaky good play in any format.
TEAMS PLAYING FOUR GAMES THIS WEEK
Bulls, Mavericks, Lakers, Bucks, Timberwolves, Knicks, Suns, Trail Blazers, Spurs
TEAMS PLAYING THREE GAMES THIS WEEK
Hawks, Nets, Celtics, Cavaliers, Mavericks, Nuggets, Pistons, Warriors, Rockets, Clippers, Heat, Thunder, Magic, Raptors, Jazz, Wizards
TEAMS PLAYING TWO GAMES THIS WEEK
Hornets, Pacers, Grizzlies, Pelicans, 76ers, Kings
Winner: Minnesota opens the new year with a buffet of putrid defenses, facing the Lakers (27th in points per game allowed), Nets (26th) and Pelicans (29th), more than offsetting a trip against the Celtics and their second-ranked D.
Loser: Yes, the 76ers are at home for their two games, yet they happen to be against the league’s top scoring defense in the Spurs, followed by a Pistons defense that ranks seventh.