The NBA has two more full weeks before the abbreviated All Star week, so fantasy hoops owners have time to make up ground or remake their rosters if needed before the mid-season break. This week there are 11 teams playing four games and just three playing two. Since they have just two games, you’ll want to avoid fringe starters from Atlanta, Oklahoma City, and San Antonio although the stars for those teams should always be in your lineup.
Here’s the top ten options available in over half of ESPN fantasy basketball leagues for the upcoming week with five in the backcourt and five in the frontcourt. They are in a general ranked order, however, according to your team strengths and needs you may want to compensate by picking up players that excel in specific categores. Here’s 10 additions I like going into this week:
Top 5 Fantasy Basketball Backcourt Pickups
1. Carlos Delfino-Houston Rockets: (44.5% owned in ESPN leagues) Delfino has become a big part of the Rockets attack with three or more three-pointers made in his last five games. Over that span he’s averaging 15.4 points to go with 3.0 rebounds and 1.8 assists. He won’t wow you with his non-scoring stats but the three’s and points make him a solid roster-filler as Houston takes on Utah, Denver, and Charlotte this week.
2. Luke Ridnour-Minnesota Timberwolves: (44.7%) With Ricky Rubio and J.J. Barea struggling with injuries, Ridnour is being counted on to lead the way for Minnesota’s backcourt. He’s stepped up lately with double-digit scoring in 11 of his last 12 games. He hasn’t had more than six assists in that time, but will need to start providing more dimes if he stays at the point. He has had a total of five steals and 11 rebounds in his last three games so there is some peripheral production to go along with his scoring. He’ll get plenty of minutes; we’ll have to see if he can turn them into high-level production.
3. Shannon Brown-Phoenix Suns: (23.2%) Brown’s role in new coach Lindsey Hunter’s rotation is a bit of a question mark, but as long as he gets playing time he should be able to produce fantasy-worthy numbers. Brown had scored 12 or more in five straight before getting just nine on Thursday. He’s a great source of steals as well with 10 in his last three games and an average of almost two per game this month. The Suns play just three times this week and not until Wednesday or else he’d be higher on this list.
4. Will Bynum-Detroit Pistons: (5.7%) Bynum has been scoring extremely well as of late with nine points or more in his last six including 15 or more for three games in a row. His playing time is tricky to count on with Rodney Stuckey and Brandon Knight in front of him, but he can offer quite the boost when his shots are falling. He also contributes assists averaging 4.6 so far in January. Detroit does have four games this week and three are at home so Bynum could be in for a very nice week if playing time comes his way.
5. Jimmy Butler-Chicago Bulls: (2.8%) (pictured at right) Another player whose role determines his value is Jimmy Butler. While starting the last four games, Butler has played 43+ minutes in each game and grabbed at least eight rebounds a game. Over his last five, He’s averaged 13 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.6 assists, and a steal per game. The Bulls have a nice schedule this week, but the question is how much Butler will play. He’s been starting in place of Luol Deng who is expected to return soon, so he’s a high-risk pickup but has upside enough to make him the top name on this list if circumstances play to his favor.
Top 5 Fantasy Basketball Frontcourt Pickups
1. Alan Anderson-Toronto Raptors:(21.6%) Anderson is the best scoring option among widely available forwards averaging 18.4 points in his last five games coming off the bench for Toronto. He isn’t afraid to take plenty of shots so watch your averages but he can contribute in three’s, rebounds, steals, and assists if he keeps getting extended run off the Tornto bench. The Raptors play the Warriors, Clippers, and Heat at home this week around a trip to Atlanta, so Anderson’s scoring will be needed if Toronto is going to contend.
2. Emeka Okafor-Washington Wizards: (39.8%) Espeically if you’re looking for rebounds, Okafor is a nice option for the Wizards four games. He had 12, 13, and 17 in his three games coming into last night’s action and is picking up a block or two per game as well. His scoring isn’t elite, but his other numbers make him worth a look in many formats.
3. Earl Clark- Los Angeles Lakers: (16.3%) Coach Mike D’Antoni has decided to make Clark the starter at power forward for LA and bring Pau off the bench. With four games this week, Clark could be in for some solid numbers. He had reached double-digits in scoring in three in a row before last night’s seven-point performance and has been adding almost nine rebounds a game throughout the month. He also picks up some three’s and blocks so keep him on your radar as an option for as long as he’s in the starting lineup.
4. Tyler Zeller-Cleveland Cavaliers: (30.2%) The Cavs rookie is playing huge minutes with Anderson Varejao out indefinitely. He’s averaged 35 minuste per game for the month of January and is contributing solid rebounding and block numbers. In two of his last three games he’s had double-digit rebounds and has been blocking 2.4 shots a game over the last five. His scoring numbers aren’t spectacular, but for peripherals and minutes he’s one of the best big man available with the potential for growth since he’s on the floor so much.
5. Marreese Speights-Cleveland Cavaliers: (0.3%)Another Cavs big man in line for an uptick in playing time is the solid but seldom spectacular Marreese Speights. With only three games this week he’s mostly a speculative add for the weeks to come but he’s a good source of rebounds, points, and shooting percentage when he gets playing time. His role on Cleveland is still largely to be determined but he has an efficient six rebounds and ten points in 18 minutes in his first game with his new team.