Fantasy Basketball 2013: Week 9 Strength Of Schedule

By Adam Pfeifer
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports


Merry Christmas, you filthy animals.

And a Happy New Year.

We are just a few short days away from hours of A Christmas Story, cookies, presents, and, of course, more cookies. But what about basketball? It’s the holiday season, folks, and I’m in that giving mood. Week 9 of the fantasy hoops season is set to begin, and I’m pulling a handful of my favorite options out of my big red big of goodies.

Los Angeles Lakers


PPG Allowed


Suns 100.8 13th-most
Heat 96.2 5th-fewest
Jazz 101.5 11th-most
76ers 111.7 most


While writing this, I have my cell phone right by my side. I mean, the Lakers may call me next to play some point guard, seeing how seemingly everyone else is.

First, it was Steve Nash. Then it was Jodie MeeksJordan Farmar and Steve Blake. Fnally, Kobe Bryant returned to action, and because of injuries, he played the point guard position. However, he will now be sidelined for the next six weeks or so, forcing the Lakers to play Xavier Henry at the one.


Henry made his first start at point guard on Friday night, posting a strong stat line of 21 points, four rebounds, four assists and three steals against Ricky Rubio. It was a very strong outing from Henry, as he finished with an impressive 30 fantasy points. There’s no guarantee that Henry continues to play the point, as the team signed Kendall Marshall, but Farmar could also return to action this week as well. However, with Bryant and others banged up, Henry will log all the minutes he can handle, and he hasn’t done anything all season long to prove he doesn’t warrant fantasy attention. I like him in deeper leagues this week. If he continues to play point guard, he’ll face a team that is surrendering the most fantasy points to the position (46.55) in the Sixers. A small forward by heart, Henry will have a size advantage on any point guard that defends him. And if he returns to the small forward position, he’ll face the Jazz, who are coughing up the third-most fantasy points per game to small forwards (40.81). Henry is averaging 24 minutes per game since Kobe went down again, and with Pau Gasol now dealing with an upper respiratory infection, Henry will be asked to play a handful of minutes.

Speaking of Gasol, as long as he is on the court, I like him this week, too. He is the clear-cut number one option in the Lakers offense, and will touch the ball a ton. He is currently averaging 14 shots per game, and will always contribute on the glass, averaging 9.4 boards per game. Meanwhile, the 76ers and Suns both have been struggling on the glass this year, as Philadelphia is allowing the third-most defensive rebounds per game (33.9) and the Suns are surrendering the fifth-most offensive boards per game (12). There is also some strong block potential here, as Sixers opponents are blocking 6.5 shots per game. Gasol could be a terrific volume play this week.

Miami Heat


PPG Allowed


Hawks 99.4 19th-most
Lakers 102.9 3rd-most
Kings 103.3 2nd-most
Trail Blazers 102.1 8th-most


Arguably the most dominant team in the NBA, the Heat have the friendliest fantasy schedule out there. Three of their four opponents rank inside the bottom 10 in points per game allowed. Of course, LeBron James is one of the best players in fantasy, so I’m not going to bore you with reasons why you may want to plug him into your lineup.

Another must-start guy is Dwyane Wade, but I do want to talk about him for a minute. Wade has been very strong for fantasy owners, contributing in every category. The veteran is averaging 19.9 points, 4.9 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 2.1 steals per contest. I think he is going to go absolutely gangbusters this week, barring injury. You want steals? Good, because the Lakers are coughing up the ball a league-leading 9.7 times per game this year. Also, the Hawks are coughing up an average of 1.84 steals per game to opposing shooting guards, which is good for the fifth-most in the league. The Lakers and Kings are also inside the bottom-seven in fantasy points allowed to shooting guards (2nd and 7th, respectively).

But what about Chris Bosh? After struggling to start the season, Bosh has now poked his head back into must-start territory. Over his last five games, Bosh is averaging 18.8 points, 7.4 rebounds and one steal per game. Meanwhile, the Lakers just aren’t playing defense these days, surrendering the most fantasy points to opposing power forwards, coming in at a whopping 50.38, five more than any other team. And while Bosh hasn’t done much on the glass (averaging just 6.2 rebounds per game), this may be the week that changes, as the Lakers are coughing up the most offensive rebounds per game (13) and also the most defensive rebounds per game (34.6). Seeing as Bosh as hauled in at least eight rebounds in each of his last two games, I like him this week. He is also shooting an impressive .528% from the field, and that trend could continue this week, as one of his opponents, Sacramento, is allowing the opposition to shoot 47.3 percent from the field, the second-most in basketball.

Also, don’t sleep on Mario Chalmers in deeper leagues. Sacramento is surrendering the second-most fantasy points to opposing point guards (44.03), and Chalmers had 16 points, one rebound, five assists and four steals when these two team met on Friday evening. The Kings are also coughing up 27.5 points from beyond the arc per game. Only the 76ers lowly defense is allowing more.

New Orleans Pelicans


PPG Allowed


Kings 103.3 2nd-most
Nuggets 100.6 15th-most
Rockets 102.1 7th-most


Christmas came early for Anthony Davis owners, as the star big man made a surprise return to the lineup on Wednesday night. He missed seven games with a fractured bone in his hand, and came off the bench in his return, scoring 24 points while adding 12 rebounds and three steals. He then would crack the starting lineup once again on Saturday night, where he posted a stat line of 21/9/1/2. Davis has the opportunity to dominate fantasy circles once again this week with some terrific matchups on schedule. Both Houston and Denver are allowing over 12 offensive rebounds per game on the season. Only the Lakers and Bucks are surrendering more. Over the last 10 games, both of these units are sporting some of the worst rebounding differentials in the league. Meanwhile, the Nuggets are allowing the second-most fantasy points per game to power forwards (45.57), while Houston is coughing up a healthy 43.22 per contest. Don’t hesitate, confidently plug Davis back into your fantasy lineup.

Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.

You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.




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