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March 7, 2011
Start/Sit Projections
Week of March 7

by Kevin Pelton

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Using opponent data for each team on the upcoming schedule, Basketball Prospectus can estimate how much a player's performance will vary because of the defenses he will face in the next week. (See here for more details on the process.) Each week, Kevin Pelton will take a look at five players to use, five to limit, and an ideal pickup.

Must plays

O.J. Mayo, SG, Memphis Grizzlies (plus-9 percent)
The week ahead should be a good one for Memphis' wings. The biggest question concerns who will take advantage, given coach Lionel Hollins' multiple options at the positions. The most popular fantasy player of the group remains Mayo, who has the chance to score points in bunches against three teams that defend shooting guards and small forwards far worse than average.

DeJuan Blair, C, San Antonio Spurs (plus-8 percent)
How weak is the Detroit Pistons' frontcourt? It made Anthony Randolph look like an All-Star on Wednesday after months on the pine. Make sure you have Blair in your lineup for Wednesday's tilt against the Pistons. Despite the rest of his schedule being perfectly average, that game is enough to make Blair a strong play.

Thaddeus Young, SF, Philadelphia 76ers (plus-7 percent)
By contrast, there is more balance to Young's slate of upcoming opponents. Three of the four teams the 76ers face allow opposing wings at least 10 percent more productivity than usual. That more than makes up for one tough game on Saturday against the Milwaukee Bucks.

Ben Gordon, SG, Detroit Pistons (plus-7 percent)
If Gordon can negotiate Wednesday's game against the Spurs without harming his efficiency, the weekend back-to-back looks very promising. Both the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Denver Nuggets have been especially permissive to wing players.

Mike Bibby, PG, Miami Heat (plus-5 percent)
Putting Bibby on the list is admittedly a bit speculative, since we don't know what his role will be in Miami or how long it will take coach Erik Spoelstra to get comfortable using him at the point. Nonetheless, the opportunity is there as Bibby gets a matchup against Derek Fisher, who struggles to stop point guards almost as much as Bibby himself does.

Tough schedules

Nick Young, SG, Washington Wizards (minus-11 percent)
Not only do the Wizards play only two games during the week ahead, but Saturday's matchup with the Los Angeles Clippers figures to cut down on Young's numbers considerably. He's good for enough big games that you might want to roll with him anyway, but know the risk before you make that decision.

Anthony Morrow, SG, New Jersey Nets (minus-8 percent)
It's a similar story for Morrow, whose Nets have just two games upon their return from this weekend's series with the Houston Rockets in London. His other matchup is more favorable than Young's, since the Golden State Warriors are basically average when it comes to stopping wings, but Morrow's inconsistent play makes it tough to justify keeping him in your lineup.

Ty Lawson, PG, Denver Nuggets (minus-7 percent)
The schedule-maker takes Lawson from "must play" to "tough schedule" within consecutive weeks. The Phoenix Suns have been unexpectedly terrific at containing point guards this season, and with only two games on the docket, that's bad news for Lawson's effectiveness.

Richard Jefferson, SF, San Antonio Spurs (minus-7 percent)
After facing Detroit on Wednesday, the Spurs have a pair of matchups over the weekend that are less favorable for their perimeter players, against the Sacramento Kings and Rockets . Jefferson, however, might defy those numbers. He's torched both the Kings and the Rockets with torrid shooting in matchups earlier this season.

Samuel Dalembert, C, Sacramento Kings (minus-4 percent)
It's tough to find a big man with a truly problematic schedule this week. Dalembert comes the closest thanks to games against three of the league's better defenses--the New Orleans Hornets, the Orlando Magic and the Spurs--though he offsets that with the ability to pile up production over four games.

This week's pickup

Tony Allen, SG, Memphis Grizzlies (plus-9 percent)
Owned in 5.0 percent of ESPN leagues
While fantasy players are more likely to have Mayo on their rosters, Allen has been the most productive Memphis wing of late, scoring double figures eight times in his past nine games, with three 20-point outings sprinkled in. Even though Allen hasn't contributed much besides scoring, he's still worth a look on the waiver wire if you need help on the perimeter.

A version of this story originally appeared on ESPN Insider Insider.

Kevin Pelton is an author of Basketball Prospectus. You can contact Kevin by clicking here or click here to see Kevin's other articles.

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<< Previous Article
Dynamic Duos (03/04)
<< Previous Column
Premium Article Start/Sit Projections (02/25)
Next Column >>
Premium Article Start/Sit Projections (03/11)
Next Article >>
The Shootaround (03/07)

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