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Fantasy Basketball 2014: Week 6 Forecaster

Adam Pfeifer breaks down week 6 in the NBA and what it means for your fantasy basketball teams.

Andre Drummond

So, your fantasy football season is over?

It’s probably Tony Romo’s fault. What? I love the guy, but everyone blames him for everything else, so why stop now? Seriously, though. If there was one positive to being eliminated from fantasy football contention, it’s that you can focus on the beauty of fantasy hoops, of course. And there’s always the thrill of sweating out daily NBA contests, my favorite of the sports when it comes to DFS. Fantasy football may be over for you, but fantasy basketball is in full swing, as Week 6 is ready to kick off. Oh, you’re just joining us?

Let’s catch up.

Pretty much, the Cleveland Cavaliers stink (sarcasm), Kobe Bryant is taking 30 shots per game and the Philadelphia 76ers can’t win a game. And no, that part was not at all sarcastic. There have also been some clear-cut front-runners for both the regular MVP, as well as fantasy MVP. Shall we?

Fantasy MVP

-Of course, you can’t talk about potential MVP awards without starting the discussion with Anthony Davis. The Brow is averaging 24.9 points, 11.3 rebounds, three blocks and over two steals per game for the Pelicans, clearly serving as the top player in all of fantasy basketball. Tons of people drafted him with the number-one overall pick this fall, and he’s clearly warranted that ranking. His 10 double-doubles ranks third in the NBA, and the New Orleans big man only has two games this season with less than nine rebounds. Davis also ranks top-15 in the league with 16 rebound chances per game on the year, while his 45 total blocks easily leads all of basketball. Oh, yeah. He’s only 21-years old.

-There are so many good, exciting, young point guards in the NBA today that, lately, we have talked less and less about future Hall-of-Famer, Chris Paul. But here we are again, watching him put up gaudy numbers, averaging 18.3 points, 9.6 assists, 4.1 rebounds and 2.2 steals per game in 2014. He’s averaging the third-most fantasy points per game, and while he’s an elite player, the awesome volume hasn’t hurt, either. No player in the league is averaging more offensive touches per game than Paul this year (99.9) or passes per game (78.9), giving him terrific assist opportunity every night. And, fittingly, his 21.6 points created off assists per game ranks fourth in the NBA, so running the show in this fast-paced, high-scoring offense is very conducive to fantasy production. He’s a stud.

-Finally, I wanted to talk about Marc Gasol, who has been outstanding for both the Grizzlies and fantasy owners thus far. Here’s a guy who was never a big threat to score tons of points, more known for his defensive prowess. However, Memphis told him that they need him to focus on his offensive game a bit more, and he’s delivered, averaging over 20 points per game to go along with 8.2 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game. Gasol was drafted outside of the top-30 in ESPN drafts, and he’s clearly out-performed his ADP already.

Now onto Week 6.

Week 6 Schedule

*Games go from Dec. 1st-7th

Team Games Opponents
ATL 4 vs BOS, @MIA, @BKN, vs DEN
BOS 4 @ATL, vs DET, vs LAL, vs WAS
BKN 3 @NY, vs SA, vs ATL
CHA 2 vs CHI, vs NY
CHI 3 vs DAL, @CHA, vs GS
CLE 3 vs MIL, @NY, @TOR
DAL 4 @CHI, @MIL, vs PHX, vs MIL
DET 4 vs LAL, @BOS, vs PHI, OKC
DEN 4 @UTA, vs POR, @WAS, @ATL
GS 3 vs ORL, vs NO, @CHI
HOU 3 vs MEM, vs @MIN, vs PHX
IND 3 @PHX, @POR, @SAC
LAC 3 vs MIN, vs ORL, vs NO
LAL 4 @DET, @WAS, @BOS, vs NO
MEM 3 @HOU, vs SA, vs MIA
MIA 4 @WAS, vs ATL, @MIL, @MEM
MIL 4 @CLE, vs DAL, vs MIA, @DAL
MIN 4 @LAC, vs PHI, vs HOU, @SA
NO 4 vs OKC, @GS, @LAC, @LAL
NY 4 vs BKN, vs CLE, @CHA, vs POR
OKC 3 @NO, @PHI, @DET
ORL 4 @GS, @LAC, @UTA, @SAC
PHI 4 vs SA, @MIN, vs OKC, @DET
PHX 3 vs IND, @DAL, @HOU
POR 3 @DEN, vs IND, @NY
SAC 3 vs TOR, vs IND, vs ORL
SA 4 @PHI, @BKN, @MEM, vs MIN
TOR 3 @SAC, @UTA, vs CLE
UTA 3 vs DEN, vs TOR, vs ORL
WAS 4 vs MIA, vs LAL, vs DEN, @BOS

 

I hope you aren’t still full from Thanksgiving, because we have a pretty hefty slate of NBA games on tap for the upcoming week. Only one team (Charlotte) plays just two games in Week 6, while half of the league suits up for a full four contests. Fortunately, the Lakers, Sixers and Nuggets, also known as three of the worst defenses in basketball, all play four games this week, providing fantasy owners with ample opportunity to pick on some enticing matchups this time around.

Teams I Like

Detroit Pistons (vs LAL, @BOS, vs PHI, vs OKC)

-Yeah, remember what I said about picking on the Lakers and 76ers? The Pistons get both squad this week, part of an appealing four-game slate. Anyway, I really hope you succeeded in your attempts to buy low on Andre Drummond, because the talented big man has been outstanding as of late. Over his last five games, Drummond is averaging 16.6 points, 14.4 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game. During that span, he has four double-doubles, including a 20-20 game Friday night against Milwaukee. It’s hard not to love Drummond any week, but especially this time, facing some bad, undersized frontcourts. For instance, now team in the NBA is allowing more defensive rebounds per game then the 76ers this season (35.1), and because they play at such a high pace, Philadelphia should be taking tons of shots, giving one of the league’s best rebounders great rebounding chances. Meanwhile, the Lakers and Celtics rank 25th and 24th in that regard. And with Greg Monroe moving to the bench, Drummond will have more room to operate down low to grab boards, only adding to his awesome 18.4 rebounding chances per game this year, second to only Zach Randolph. And Drummond is also converting on a high percentage of those opportunities.

Rebound

*Via NBA.com Player Tracking

Drummond is also a strong shot-blocker, averaging 1.6 rejections per game on the young season. Meanwhile, 76ers’ opponents are blocking nearly six shots per game this year, good for the third-most in the NBA. He’ll have plenty of chances to block shots this week, too, as Boston leads the NBA in field goal attempts per game (88.2), while the Lakers rank second (86.4).

-Don’t sleep on Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, either. The streaky shooter has been playing heavy minutes for the Pistons lately, averaging 33 minutes per game over his last five outings. And over his last three games, he’s averaging a healthy 20.3 points per game. Again, he’s very streaky, though, and his awful field goal percentage of .370 is one of the worst among all shooting guards in the league. However, his defensive prowess keeps him playing plenty of minutes, and if you want to gamble on him, this may be the week to do it, with Detroit having one of the more favorable schedules in basketball for Week 6. Pope is sinking over two triples per game this year, while the 76ers, Lakers and Celtics all rank inside the bottoms-six in terms of points from beyond the arc allowed per game.

Minnesota Timberwolves (@LAC, vs PHI, vs HOU, @SA)

-If somehow Mo Williams is available in your league, go scoop him up now. High assist totals are hard to find off the waiver wire, and Williams has been a star in that regard. After a stellar outing against the Blazers where he scored 21 points, dished 11 dimes and grabbed five rebounds, Williams is now averaging a healthy 7.2 points, 2.6 rebounds, 10.2 assists and 2.4 three-pointers per game in the five starts he’s made this season. Meanwhile, Ricky Rubio said he “hopes” to play by Christmas, so Williams will still have plenty of run for the foreseeable future. Minnesota has a solid slate of games this week, too. Over his last four games, Mo has posted three double-digit assist outings, and will face a Philadelphia club that is surrendering a strong 24.9 assists per game this year, the third-most in basketball. And with the injuries surrounding the Timberwolves, Williams’ usage rate should continue to be pretty high.

Thaddeus Young, meanwhile, has always been one of my favorite players in the NBA. Living in the Philadelphia area and watching him with the 76ers, he’s just the guy you want on your side. He hustles for every play, doesn’t complain, leaves it all on the floor, plays defense, etc. Now, back in the lineup after dealing with the loss of his mother, Thad will have to log heavy minutes for the depleted Wolves, and it was evident over the last two games, as he’s totaled 79 minutes during that span. Daily players will likely gravitate towards him, especially during that “revenge game” against his former team in Philly. But either way, it’s an ideal matchup. No team in basketball has allowed more fantasy points per game to small forwards than the Sixers, and I love his steal potential this week, something Young is elite in terms of. He’s averaging 1.5 swipes per game, but the Sixers’ opponents average a league-leading 10.5 steals per game, while the Rockets aren’t far behind (8.4). I like that Rockets game, too. Both Houston and Minnesota rank inside the top-10 in pace, so plenty of possessions should be had, helping Thad steal more passes, score more points, etc. He’s a great all-around fantasy player.

Denver Nuggets (@UTA, vs POR, @WAS, @ATL)

-Someone tell Ty Lawson to relax. Or maybe he told everyone else to. Lawson is on an absolute tear, averaging over 12 assists over his last six games, posting six double-digit assist games over the course of his last seven games. And because the Nuggets defense is so bad, Lawson has to usually do more to keep them in games. With head coach Brian Shaw deploying some odd minutes, it’s good to see Lawson averaging nearly 35 per game over his last five. You’re obviously starting him everywhere and always, but just wanted to point out how stellar he’s been as of late.

-As for the lesser-started guys, how about Timofey Mozgov? Again, Denver’s big men are often given inconsistent playing time, but Mozgov has played about 28 minutes per game over his last five outings, averaging 12 points, 8.4 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game during that stretch. Denver has a very friendly schedule this week, facing another weak defense in the Jazz, who are allowing 101.5 points per game (7th-most). Also, the Trail Blazers are on the schedule, a team that is coughing up the second-most fantasy points per game to the center position this year. Opposing big men are hauling in 13.06 rebounds per game against Portland this year, good for the third-most in the league. And in two games against them this year, Mozgov has hauled in a solid 21 rebounds.

Teams I Don’t Like

-Obviously, the Hornets are the only team to play just twice this week, so we don’t like them.

Memphis Grizzlies (@HOU, vs SA, vs MIA)

-The Grizzlies play three games this week, all of which are against top-seven defenses in the league. San Antonio is allowing the second-fewest points per game, Houston the third-fewest and Miami the seventh-fewest. And when you consider that the Grizzlies pride themselves on defense, all of these games should be fairly low-scoring, so I’m not as crazy about Gasol or Randolph as I normally would be. As for pace, Miami ranks 29th in the league, San Antonio 13th and Houston 10th, so an uptick in possessions for Memphis isn’t very likely in these games, other than maybe the contest against James Harden and the Rockets.

Cleveland Cavaliers (vs MIL, @NY, @TOR)

-With so much star power, it’s hard to ever not like the Cavs in fantasy. You’re starting LeBron, Kyrie and Kevin Love, but a three-game slate of some sneaky tough matchups has me less fired up than usual. First of all, the Raptors are the best team in the East, and one of the toughest defenses in basketball, allowing under 100 points per game on the year. And don’t sleep on the Bucks defense, either. They have been very, very impressive thus far, ranking top-10 in terms of points allowed per game. This may not be the best week to try to sneak guys like Anderson Varejao, Dion Waiters or Tristan Thompson into your lineup. Toronto is a very good defensive time at the rim, after all. Perhaps one of the big men can make an impact in that matchup with Milwaukee, who is allowing 53.9 total rebounds per game, the second-most in the league. But again, with a three-game slate when half of the league is playing four games, you can probably find better options.

Sleepers

Corey Brewer, Minnesota Timberwolves- Again, I like targeting guys on Minnesota lately because with how banged up they are, their best players like Brewer will have to play quite a bit. He’s averaging almost 32 minutes per game over his last five contests, providing fantasy owners with a well-rounded 12.4 points, 4.8 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 2.2 steals per game during that span. Facing a 76ers club that allows more steals per game than any other team should bode well for Brewer’s Week 13 prospects.

Arron Afflalo, Denver Nuggets- Afflalo is starting to heat up for the Nuggets. Over his last five games, he’s averaging 18.6 points, 1.6 triples per game and is shooting .492 percent from the field. He’s scored at least 15 points in eight of his last nine games, and the Nuggets schedule is terrific. For instance, the Jazz are allowing the opposition to shoot .376 percent from beyond the arc, good for the third-worst rate in the NBA. Also, 24.4 percent of points scored against the Hawks have come from three-point land, the 5th-highest rate in the league right now. When a shooter is hot, you usually want to keep rolling with him, and the matchups for this week only make it easier.

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