Fantasy Sports Fantasy Basketball

Fantasy Basketball 2014: Week 23 Strength Of Schedule

Anthony Davis

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

 

It’s the end of March, which means two things. You either are sweating out the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament or you are sweating out the playoff push for your fantasy hoops season.

Either way, you are sweating. Figuratively speaking, I hope.

There is a lot of volume to be had this week, as 24 teams play four contest during Week 23, while only six teams play three times. It’s going to be difficult, though, as with teams clinching playoff berths, star players will be resting quite a bit. Yes, I’m looking at you, Dwyane Wade.

Keep tabs, of course.

New Orleans Pelicans

Opponent

PPG Allowed

Rank

Kings 103.5 26th
Nuggets 103.8 28th
Jazz 101.2 15th
Trail Blazers 102.6 23rd

 

Bow down to The Brow.

During the month of March, no player in basketball has been more dominant than sophomore, Anthony Davis. During this month, he is averaging video game-like numbers, scoring 24.5 points, adding 11 rebounds, two assists and 2.4 blocks per game. And look at his numbers over his last 10 games, averaging 27.4 points, 13.5 rebounds and 2.9 blocks per game. Now, Davis only played four minutes during Friday night’s contest, as he exited early with an apparent ankle injury. Upon writing this, he is a game-time decision for Saturday night’s game, but assuming he is okay, Davis has the potential to start the month of April just as hot as he finished March.

Davis opens the week with a matchup against a Kings defense that is allowing the 5th-most points per game, and lacks an opposing power forward to slow him down. He then gets the juiciest matchup of all against Denver, a team that has been decimated by power forwards all year long, allowing the third-most fantasy points (45.83), 5th-most rebounds (12.68) and 8th-most blocks (1.66) per game to the position this season. The Nuggets are so banged up, and guys like Timofey Mozgov, who is averaging 4.5 personal fouls per 36 minutes this year, won’t be able to stop him. Nuggets opponents are also hauling in 53.2 total boards per game, the third-most in basketball.

And finally, both Utah and Portland struggle to defend bigs, but especially in the paint. The Blazers are coughing up 45.9 points in the paint per game (3rd-most) and Utah is allowing 46.1 (2nd-most).

And what about Tyreke Evans? This guy has been one of the top guards in fantasy since entering the starting lineup, and with both Brian Roberts and Eric Gordon banged up, Evans has been playing some point guard, on top of already touching the ball a bunch of times. Evans is also seeing a career high in usage rate (26.2%), so the volume has been huge for Evans, who has been terrific for peripherals, too. Over his last five games, Evans is averaging 20.4 points to go along with 5.2 rebounds, 8.6 assists and 2.8 steals. He’s a must start guy against some very weak defensive units this week.

Philadelphia 76ers

Opponent

PPG Allowed

Rank

Hawks 102.3 20th
Bobcats 97.5 4th
Celtics 99.7 11th
Nets 99.2 9th

 

Philadelphia doesn’t have the most enticing schedule, as three of their four opponents rank inside the top-12 in points per game allowed. But hear me out. The 76ers (or 26ers) have lost 26 straight games, and are desperately looking to end their skid. Their starters will continue to play plenty of minutes and the usage has been insane for their fantasy relevant guys, so as odd as it sounds, with contending teams likely to rest their starters here and there, the 76ers may be one of the safer teams for fantasy purposes.

Guys like Thaddeus Young certainly comes to mind. Young leaves it all on the floor ever night, despite the outcome of this disastrous season. He is logging all of the minutes (37.4 over his last five) and, as expected, is easily seeing the highest usage rate of his entire career this season, coming in at 24.2 percent. I like his matchup against the Hawks, who are surrendering the 9th-most fantasy points per game to opposing small forwards (37.33). And Young, an elite source of steals, should bode well, as the Hawks opponents are posting 8.8 steals per game over the last 10 games, the fifth-most in basketball.

And what would you think if I were to tell you that the likes of Henry Sims has served as a top-20 fantasy center over the past week? Yeah, folks. Sims is balling lately, averaging nearly a double-double (13.2 points, 9.2 rebounds) over his last five games. He’s been a lock for 30 minutes at the center position for the 76ers, who play at the fastest pace in basketball, presenting the center with more possessions than normal. The fact that he is only owned in 14.5 percent of ESPN leagues right now seems far too low, especially with the injuries around the league. If you need a center for your playoff push, consider Sims, who faces the Nets and Hawks this week, who’s opponents rank second and fourth in rebounding differential this year.

5 games: N/A

4 games: ATL, BOS, BKN, CHA, CHI, DAL, DEN, DET, GS, HOU, IND, LAC, LAL, MEM, MIA, MIL, MIN, NO, PHI, SAC, SA, TOR, WAS

3 games: CLE, OKC, ORL, PHO, POR, UTA

2 games: N/A

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

You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.