Fantasy Baseball 2014: Week 20 Strength Of Schedule

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

 

Well, the 76ers and Lakers play a combined six times during Week 20.

Boo.

Last week, we talked about how funny it is that we, as fantasy owners, crave the likes of these two god awful clubs. Opposing players just walk into fantasy points against them, especially the Lakers. In their league-leading five games last week, the Lakers surrendered, wait for it, a whopping 636 points. That’s 127.2 per game folks. Sadly, owners won’t be able to target them as much, as the Lakers play just two games this week, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t fantasy goodness to be had in Week 20.

San Antonio Spurs

Opponent

PPG Allowed

Rank

Bulls 92.2 2nd
Trail Blazers 102.6 24th
Lakers 107.9 29th
Jazz 100.7 15th

 

The Spurs are never the most exciting team to monitor in fantasy land, but they were one of the first teams to catch my eye while doing research for the upcoming week. Of course, the four games is good, but other than the matchup against the Bulls, they have a very favorable schedule. And, with the return of one of the league’s bright young talents, as well as health becoming less of an issue, the Spurs appear to back in title contention form.

He broke out during last year’s NBA Finals, but Kawhi Leonard, when given the opportunity, is going to be an All-Star in this league. Leonard has all the intangibles, a strong scoring attack, great versatility and, of course, lockdown defense. During his five games back since missing 14 contests with injury, Leonard is averaging strong multi-category numbers of 14.4 points, 6.2 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.8 blocks, 1.8 triples, and, of course, three steals per game. His consistency and versatility are often overlooked, and he is the most intriguing fantasy option in San Antonio for this week. He’s a must-start as long as he’s out there, especially when he gets the Lakers club that is allowing a league-leading 11.6 steals per game over the last 10 games. Meanwhile, small forwards against the Lakers are averaging the second-most fantasy points per game this season (40.14), as well as the most rebounds (9.17) and steals (2.23). The game could very well be over by the middle of the third quarter, but how many times have we seen guys post massive numbers in three quarters against this team?

New York Knicks

Opponent

PPG Allowed

Rank

76ers 92.2 111.0
Celtics 99.0 10th
Bucks 102.3 20th

 

Don’t look now, but the Knicks have won three straight contests.

But, of course, we don’t care about that.

A large part of their recent success has come from the veteran, Amar’e Stoudemire. Over his last five games, STAT is averaging 16.2 points, 6.6 rebounds and 1.2 blocks. For those who are trying to make a playoff push in their leagues, Amar’e is a prime guy to target, as he looks to be getting back into significantly better form. He’s owned in just 35 percent of ESPN leagues, and despite playing three games, rather than four this week, two of the games may be worth it alone.

Of course, the 76ers are the juiciest of matchups. Power forwards are averaging 47.24 fantasy points per game against the Sixers this season, the second-most in basketball. They are also coughing up the fifth-most rebounds per game to the position (12.71) and are the most-blocked team in basketball, allowing the opposition to swat 7.3 shots per game. Power forwards, in particular, are blocking a league-leading 2.20 shots per game. Amar’e had a nice outing during the first meeting against Philly, scoring 21 points while grabbing five boards. It’s even more impressive when you consider he played just 22 minutes. Now, he is in the Knicks starting lineup, so the sky is the limit.

I also like him a lot against the Bucks weak interior. The Bucks are allowing the 6th-most fantasy points per game to power forwards this year (42.91), and have struggled rebounding the basketball all year long. They are surrendering the the 5th-most offensive rebounds (12.0) and the 4th-most total rebounds per game this season (52.9). As long as he stays in the starting lineup for the Knicks, Stoudemire can serve as a nice player on your fantasy roster down the stretch. And, for basically the same exact reasoning (neither team can rebound), Tyson Chandler should serve as a very safe play.

Oh, and Carmelo Anthony is really, really good at basketball.

Los Angeles Clippers

Opponent

PPG Allowed

Rank

Suns 102.7 25th
Warriors 98.6 7th
Jazz 100.6 15th
Cavaliers 101.6 17th

 

Four games for the potentially the league’s most explosive scoring offense?

Count me in.

Look, as much as I love talking about Blake Griffin and Chris Paul, I’m not going to waste your time here. They are top tier players at their position, so keep them in your lineup and smile at the production. However, a less obvious name has been Matt Barnes, who isn’t keen on giving up his starting job anytime soon. Over his last seven starts, Barnes is lighting it up, averaging 17.3 points, 6.1 rebounds, 1.3 steals and a whopping 3.3 triples. He’s really benefiting from the return of CP3, who is finding him in the corners. Barnes is definitely worth a look, as his schedule is favorable. The majority of these games (especially with the Clippers) should be high-scoring, up-and-down contests, providing more looks for Barnes. Meanwhile, the Jazz, Suns and Warriors all rank inside the bottom-10 in three-pointers allowed, while the Cavaliers are the second-worst team at defending the trey, allowing a healthy 27 points per game from beyond the arc. He’s also available in just under 50 percent of leagues, so go get him while he’s hot, especially if you need threes.

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

You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.

 

 

 

 


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