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January 20, 2012
Start/Sit Projections
Week of Jan. 23-29

by Bradford Doolittle


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

These are players currently owned by fewer than half of the owners in ESPN Fantasy Basketball 2012 that may be worth a roster spot in the week ahead.

Must plays

Arron Afflalo (Owned 48.3 percent, Opponent boost 22.8 percent):
Afflalo was a coveted asset on the restricted free agent market before the season, but he's been losing favor in the fantasy realm because of the deep Nuggets roster and recent shooting woes. Now is the time to pounce if he's available in your league. The minutes have been up for Afflalo the past three games with Rudy Fernandez ailing, and next week, Denver faces three of the six worst teams this season against 2-guards -- Sacramento, Toronto and the L.A. Clippers. The Kings (Wednesday) have been especially bad, allowing big games to otherwise moderately performing 2s such as Leandro Barbosa, Jason Richardson and Landry Fields.

Evan Turner (Owned 31.8 percent, Opponent boost 8.9 percent):
Turner's numbers are up across the board this season even though he's yet to get his 3-point stroke going. This could be the week that changes. The Sixers' four games are against the Wizards, Nets, Bobcats and Pistons, making this the time to stock up on Doug Collins' rotation players. Turner is available in more than two-thirds of ESPN leagues, so if you have a soft roster spot, he's worth a look. Monday's opponent is Washington, which is allowing the second-highest shooting percentage to 2-guards in the league and hasn't been much better against 3s. Charlotte, Friday's opponent, has been above average against shooting guards but not as good with its second-unit backcourt, against whom Turner should see a good chunk of his minutes.

Leandro Barbosa (Owned 17.1 percent, Opponent boost 13 percent):

Except for a blip at Boston in a blowout loss Wednesday, Barbosa has been rolling for the points-starved Raptors. That should remain the case with Andrea Bargnani's calf injury lingering and a soft schedule looming ahead. Though the Nuggets, Friday's opponent, have been very good overall defensively, that hasn't been the case for Afflalo and the 2 guards. On Sunday, Toronto plays the Nets, who have struggled defensively in the backcourt as they try to sneak the scoring of MarShon Brooks and Anthony Morrow into the lineup.

Chandler Parsons (Owned 10.3 percent, Opponent boost 8.8 percent):
Here's an under-the-radar play. Parsons' minutes have been up in recent games as he becomes a vital cog in Kevin McHale's rotation. He offers solid across-the-board production, putting up 3-pointers and assists from the frontcourt, and his efficiency is on the uptick. This week, you have to get Parsons in the lineup against the Timberwolves (Monday) and Wizards (Friday), each of whom have boosted small forward production by more than 20 percent. If you do take a flier on Parsons, be sure to sit him against Milwaukee on Wednesday.

Baron Davis (Owned 24.4 percent, Opponent boost 5.7 percent):
Davis is supposed to resume practicing with the Knicks on Monday and may return to game action quickly thereafter. Goodness knows the Knicks need the help in the backcourt. This is a good week for him to make his comeback, as New York faces a group that has been soft against point guards. This would be mostly a desperation play on your part; Davis' back woes and conditioning are wild cards that may understandably scare you away. And even though Cavs rookie Kyrie Irving (Wednesday) has struggled defensively at times, chances are Mike D'Antoni is going to want Iman Shumpert and Toney Douglas chasing him around, not Davis. Then again, D'Antoni is desperate to get his offense humming and may be banking that Davis can be the spark.

Tough schedules

These are players owned in most leagues, perhaps even by you, that you may want to leave on the bench for a few days because of a rugged schedule.

MarShon Brooks (Owned 98.5 percent, Opponent hit -14.4 percent):
Brooks has consistently been putting up big numbers in big minutes, and fantasy owners have caught on. But the Nets play the Bulls and Sixers in succession this week, making any New Jersey wing players a questionable play. Philly in particular has just shut down opposing perimeter players, be it 1s, 2s or 3s. You can slip Brooks back into the lineup late in the week when New Jersey takes on Toronto. Brooks' raw numbers may remain solid, but his efficiency will lag in the days to come.

Ben Gordon (Owned 94.6 percent, Opponent hit -20.5 percent):
Three of Detroit's four opponents this week have been murder against shooting guards. Gordon should be OK to go against Atlanta on Friday, but if you have the depth on your roster, consider sitting him against Oklahoma City (Monday) and Miami (Wednesday). Forget about using him against Philadelphia on Saturday.

Kemba Walker (Owned 94.7 percent, Opponent hit -13 percent):
Walker has been up and down this season, and this won't be the week for him to smooth out those curves. New York has been solid against point guards, and Philadelphia has been dynamite. The Bobcats get Washington twice this week, which seems like a good thing, except point guard is the one position the Wizards have defended well.

Anthony Morrow (Owned 79.2 percent, Opponent hit -14.4 percent):
The Nets' best offensive lineup features Brooks and Morrow at the wing positions, but that configuration will be heavily challenged for the same reasons I pointed out for Brooks. Beware.

DeJuan Blair (Owned 69.3 percent, Opponent hit -12.8 percent):
As San Antonio's schedule has toughened, Blair's minutes and production have wavered. That likely won't get better this week, with the Spurs taking on four teams that have been solid defending the big positions. That even holds true for Minnesota, Friday's opponent. The caveat on Atlanta (Wednesday) is that its solid defensive numbers against bigs have been compiled with the now-injured Al Horford in the lineup.

This week's ideal "get"

This is the player not mentioned above who stands to get the biggest boost from this week's slate. If you've had your eye on this player via the trade market, now is the time to pull the trigger. If you own him, you may want to hold off on that deal for another week.

Elton Brand (Owned 99.4 percent, Opponent boost 22 percent):

Brand owners have been frustrated by his inconsistent minutes, but with Spencer Hawes battling back and foot problems, Doug Collins may lean on Brand in the week ahead. The Sixers play four teams -- Washington, New Jersey, Charlotte and Detroit -- that have been disastrous defending the frontcourt. That especially holds true for the Pistons, who have been far and away the league's worst team at defending power forwards. The only downside is that as well as the Sixers have been playing, all of the upcoming games could feature extended garbage time.

A version of this article originally appeared at ESPN Insider Insider.

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

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