Fantasy Basketball 2014: Week 15 Strength Of Schedule

Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

 

The amount of injuries this season have been comical.

I mean, first it was Derrick Rose and Kobe Bryant, and I figured, okay. It makes sense. Two guys already coming off injuries go back down. Fine. Then, Chris Paul was sidelined and I said, well, he won’t be out long. But now, now it’s just getting ridiculous. You’ve got Ty Lawson (who we will discuss later), Nikola PekovicDeMarcus Cousins (I can go on for a while) all out for at least some extended period of time, forcing fantasy owners to find some short-term replacement options.

That’s what this week’s forecaster is all about, folks.

Denver Nuggets

Opponent

PPG Allowed

Rank

Clippers 100.3 14th
Bucks 101.8 21st
Knicks 98.8 8th
Pistons 102.8 25th

 

The Nuggets are a rather interesting team to focus on this week. They have a pretty favorable slate of matchups, but, like we mentioned, Ty Lawson is dealing with a shoulder injury and is considered day-to-day. Of course, you always want to insert a guy like Lawson into your fantasy lineups, but owners need to keep track of his status throughout the week because if he can’t suit up, the Nuggets will continue to run a backcourt consisting of Randy Foye and Evan Fournier. During his second start in place of Lawson, Foye ran the point with Nate Robinson dealing with a serious ACL injury, and played well, finishing with 10 points, 16 assists, three rebounds and two steals in 43 minutes of play. He did the majority of the ball handling, and considering Denver plays at the league’s fourth-highest pace (99.4), there will be plenty of opportunity for Foye to produce. He’s also a very capable three-point shooter, sinking 1.9 per game.

That bodes well for him, as the Bucks, Knicks and Pistons all rank inside the bottom-12 in three-pointers allowed per game this season. And if Foye continues to play the point in place of Lawson, he should be a good play, as the Pistons are surrendering the 7th-most fantasy points per game to opposing point guards this year (41.59) and the 4th-most assists per game (23.6). And also, Fournier will continue to be a great value in daily formats if Lawson continues to sit, but also needs to be added in many leagues based off his opportunity. In the two games Lawson has sat, Fournier is averaging a solid 18.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 20.5 shot attempts per game and is owned in less than one percent of ESPN leagues right now. Like Foye, Fournier can absolutely light it up from beyond the arc, too.

Chicago Bulls

Opponent

PPG Allowed

Rank

Kings 104.6 28th
Suns 101.3 16th
Warriors 99.0 12th
Lakers 106.1 29th

 

You’d be hard-pressed to find many centers playing better basketball right now than Joakim Noah.

On the year, Noah is averaging a strong double-double (11.7 points, 11.5 rebounds) to go along with 4.2 assists, 1.4 blocks and 1.1 steals per contest, making him the number 11 overall center on ESPN’s Player Rater. He’s benefited from seeing a healthy 18.2 rebound chances per game this year, which is the 6th-most in all of basketball, but it seems that every night, Noah flirts with a triple-double. I love him this week against a few teams that give up plenty of points per game, but of course, that final matchup against the Lakers is going to be incredible. No team in basketball is surrendering more fantasy points per game to opposing centers than the Lakers this year (49.46). They are also coughing up the most rebounds (16.15 per game) to the position this year, to go along with the most offensive and defensive boards allowed per game on the season. Not to mention they are giving up a league-leading 49.1 points in the paint per game, which is prime real estate for centers. During the team’s first meeting, Noah had a nice outing, scoring 17 points, while adding a whopping 21 rebounds, six assists and two steals.

And even though he is coming off the bench, I think Taj Gibson is very much in play this week as well. He’s still averaging about 28 minutes per game this year, and Carlos Boozer isn’t exactly sipping out of the fountain of health (or youth). Obviously, the Lakers are a favorable matchup for him, but what about the Kings? They are allowing the third-most points per game this year, while power forwards are logging a healthy 42.55 fantasy points per game against them (8th-most). They’ve been especially vulnerable without DeMarcus Cousins’ presence in the middle. Kings opponents rank sixth in blocks per game this year as well, while the Suns opponents rank 6th in rebounds, so there is plenty of opportunity for Gibson, even if he isn’t in the starting lineup. He’s still available in more than 40 percent of fantasy leagues right now.

Los Angeles Clippers

Opponent

PPG Allowed

Rank

Nuggets 103.0 26th
Heat 98.7 8th
Raptors 96.7 4th
76ers 109.9 30th

 

I was watching the Heat game last night and Jeff Van Gundy was talking about some of the most improved players in the NBA. He brought up a guy who is already one of the more dominate players in basketball, but the more I look at it, he truly is deserving of the recognition.

I’m looking at you, Blake Griffin.

Sure, Griffin is already one of the top power forwards in all of basketball, but he’s truly improved his all around game this season. His mid-range jumpshot has drastically improved, making him far less one-dimensional, but he’s also developed a nice array of post moves, while also powering through the opposition. Griffin has also improved from the foul line, going from .660% from the stripe to a respectable .704% in 2013. For fantasy purposes, he makes for one of the must-start players in Week 15. He starts his week with the Nuggets, a team that is coughing up the third-most fantasy points per game to opposing power forwards (45.21) and the 7th-most offensive rebounds per game (11.8). He went off for 24 points and 16 rebounds during his first meeting with Denver, and he could have an even better game in round two. Both the Nuggets and Clippers play at a top-10 pace, so there should be plenty of possessions coming Griffin’s way. And the fact that he is already averaging 6.6 close touches (6th-most) and 12.1 elbow touches (2nd-most) per game, he should go bonkers.

And then, there were the 76ers, who are the worst defense in basketball. I mean, you have the softest interior defense in basketball, allowing 12.4 offensive and 34.9 defensive boards per game, against arguably the league’s most powerful big man, and I get all warm and tingly inside. And, with the 76ers league-leading pace, you think Griffin will have a few alley-oop chances? You have to love DeAndre Jordan in this game, too, as the Sixers are allowing the second-most fantasy points per game to centers this season, along with the 5th-most rebounds. Jordan, meanwhile, is leading the league in rebounds (14 per game) and is second in rebound chances (19.9).

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

You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.

 

 

 


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