Fantasy Basketball 2014: Week 18 Strength Of Schedule

Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports

 

It’s good to be back.

The All-Star break caused a brief hiatus in the fantasy hoops forecaster, but I am legitimately happy that we have returned. This is quickly becoming one of my favorite columns I write all week because of the array of information that needs to be processed. It’s going to be even more important to pay attention in your fantasy leagues, as owners make that final push towards the playoffs. Keep an eye on which teams play the fewest amount of games the rest of the way, and try to trade certain players in exchange for guys who are on the court more down the stretch.

Time’s a wastin’.

Indiana Pacers

Opponent

PPG Allowed

Rank

Lakers 105.9 29th
Bucks 101.8 23rd
Celtics 98.7 8th
Jazz 100.4 14th

 

The Pacers are one of just nine teams that play 27 games the rest of the way, which is the second-most in basketball. And while guys like Paul George and Lance Stephenson soak up all the fantasy attention, this could very well be the week of the Indiana big men for fantasy purposes.

Over the last 10 games, both the Lakers and Bucks rank inside the bottom-five in rebounding differential, while the Lakers have been the worst rebounding team in basketball, coughing up the most offensive (13.3) and defensive rebounds (35.5) per game this season. Opposing power forwards are averaging a league-leading 47.46 fantasy points per contest against the Lakers this season, so David West is 100 percent in play this week. In one game against the Lakers this season, West posted a strong line of 19 points, eight rebounds and a block. Over his last five games, West is shooting an incredible 56 percent from the field, which bodes well for his matchup against the Lakers, who are allowing power forwards to shoot 48 percent from the field this year.

I also think there is some potential for Roy Hibbert here, who otherwise has limited fantasy upside. I mean, it’s kind of alarming to see a 7’2″ center average just over seven rebounds per game, but Hibbert obviously makes his presence felt on the defensive side of the ball. That’s why I like him, as both the Bucks and Lakers opponents are blocking close to five shots per game. And with the same rebounding numbers I provided regarding the Lakers, Hibbert should have massive rebounding upside. The Bucks, however, also struggle on the glass, allowing the 6th-most offensive and defensive boards per game, while centers are averaging 14.73 rebounds per game against Milwaukee, the fourth-most in the league.

Oh, and Stephenson will probably have a triple-double against the atrocious Lakers defense, so have fun watching him stuff the stat sheets.

Alliteration.

Orlando Magic

Opponent

PPG Allowed

Rank

Wizards 99.5 13th
76ers 110.7 30th
Heat 98.8 9th
76ers 110.7 30th

 

Happy, happy, happy.

No word better describes how I feel now that the Magic have bought out Glen Davis. The move allows rookie sensation, Victor Oladipto move back into the starting lineup. In his return to the starting five on Friday night, Oladipo, with the help of double overtime, flirted with a triple-double, posting 30 points, 14 assists, nine rebounds and two steals. I hope you bought low on him before the All-Star break because his playing time is going to go through the roof the rest of the way. Jameer Nelson is old, and doesn’t have a future in Orlando. So, I’ll be firing up Oladipo quite a bit this week, especially with that pair of matchups against the 76ers.

The Sixers are coughing up the second-most fantasy points per game to opposing shooting guards this season, while also allowing the third-most assists, third-most points per game and the fifth-most steals. And with the Magic being a poor team as well, the blowout factor isn’t as much of a concern as usual when dealing with Philadelphia. In two games against the 76ers this year, the rookie is filling up the stat sheets, averaging 22 points, 7.5 assists, 6.5 rebounds and four steals. Orlando plays at a relatively ugly pace, so the Sixers league-leading pace of 102.6 while provide Oladipo with some extra possessions.

Arron Afflalo is also very much in play here, as long as he is good to go. He tweaked his ankle towards the end of the Knicks game and didn’t travel with the team to Toronto. 76ers opponents are averaging 28.1 points per game from beyond the arc, the most in basketball. Afflalo, meanwhile, is sinking a healthy 1.9 triples per contest this year. Keep an eye on this status, because if he misses one of these Philly games, Oladipo is going to go bonkers. Oh, and Nikola Vucevic, against his former team, his former team that just so happens to surrender the second-most fantasy points to centers, will do whatever he wants. Especially when you consider that their only viable center is the likes of Byron Mullens.

Portland Trail Blazers

Opponent

PPG Allowed

Rank

Nuggets 104.6 28th
Nets 99.5 12th
Nuggets 104.6 28th

 

They may not have the dreamy four-game schedule, but I really like the games Portland does have in Week 18. Sadly, no one can play LaMarcus Aldridge, as he remains sidelined with a groin injury, but there is plenty of value to be had here during a friendly slate of matchups, For instance, center Robin Lopez will continue to be leaned on more without not only Aldridge, but also Joel Freeland and Myers Leonard out. Over his last five games, Lopez is logging 34 minutes per game, averaging 11.8 points, 12.6 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game. He’s truly been underrated in fantasy all season long, averaging close to a double-double to go along with almost two blocks. He has some massive upside for these two meetings with the Nuggets, a struggling team that is allowing the fourth-most fantasy points per game to centers on the year (45.38). Centers are also coughing up a healthy 13.79 rebounds per game against Denver, too. Nuggets opponents are averaging 5.4 blocks per game, which is the 9th-most in basketball. Both teams also play at a top-10 pace, so Lopez should see some extra touches in this one.

And if Portland decides to give Thomas Robinson more run, he will continue to be a very intriguing play in deeper leagues, as well as daily games. He flirted with a double-double coming off the bench a few nights back, and has the upside and athleticism to exploit an undersized Denver frontcourt. As for Damian Lillard, continue to use him with the utmost confidence. He continues to see an uptick in shots with Aldridge (third in field goal attempts with 1111) sidelined. The Nuggets are a very poor defense and still are without the services of Ty Lawson.

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

You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.

 

 

 

 


Around the Web