February 23, 2013; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Wizards small forward Trevor Ariza (1) celebrates after the Wizards

Fantasy Basketball Focus: Being Savvy With the Schedule

The NBA season is nearing its last month of games and teams are fighting to get into the playoffs as well as scrambling for playoff positioning (no one wants to play Miami in the first round).  And while the NBA Playoffs don’t begin until April 20, most Fantasy Basketball leagues will begin their playoffs in the next few weeks.

The sheer volume of games played by each individual player will lead to more accumulated statistics, which is why now is the time for owners to start filling out their rosters with players whose teams have bulkier schedules for the remainder of the season.  Snagging these guys off waivers could be the key to winning your championship.  While this is especially important in head-to-head leagues, it is also important in rotisserie leagues as well as weekly leagues where rosters need to be set prior to the start of each week.

Below is a list of players that meet the aforementioned criteria.  As usual, all players are under 50 percent owned in ESPN and Yahoo! leagues and their remaining games per week are in parentheses.

Mar 3, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Atlanta Hawks point guard Devin Harris (34) drives against the Los Angeles Lakers during the game at the Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Jose Juan Barea (Timberwolves):  He’s been getting steady minutes (24.8) over the past 5 games and finding guys on the wire who are capable of providing assists isn’t always the easiest thing to come by.  To go along with his three assists per game in his last five, he’s also averaging 13 points and 1.8 threes.  (6.1% owned in ESPN, 11% owned in Yahoo!; remaining weekly schedule: 4,4,4,4,4,2)

Devin Harris (Hawks):  There were high hopes for both players when Atlanta landed Harris in the trade that sent former second overall draft pick Marvin Williams to Utah.  Although neither player has lived up to expectations, Harris has been picking it up a little as of late and has a favorable schedule down the stretch which could help fantasy owners.  Over the past 10 games he has averaged 11.7 points, which included a stretch where he had double-digit scoring in seven straight games, and his yearly averages of one steal and 1.2 3’s per game as well as his dual eligibility at PG and SG are nice bonuses.  (6.6% ESPN, 21% Yahoo!; remaining weekly schedule: 4,4,4,4,2,2)

Tony Allen (Grizzlies):  Known as a defensive stalwart, you would always be guaranteed a good amount of hustle stats from him on a nightly basis, but since Rudy Gay was sent packing he’s been given a larger role in the OFFENSIVE part of the Memphis’s offense.  In the month of March (five games) he’s averaged 11.4 points, 1.2 steals and 5.6 rebounds.  He won’t get you any three-pointers (he’s only made three on the year), which is disappointing for a shooting guard, but his free throw shooting (93 percent in March) may help alleviate that statistical deficiency.  (25.5% ESPN, 36% Yahoo!; remaining weekly schedule: 4,4,4,4,3,2)

Trevor Ariza (Wizards):  It took a while, but Ariza is finally starting to heat up in the Beltway.  He provides a rare, fantasy-friendly combination of points, rebounds, assists, steals and threes and is mired on a team always looking for guys to score.  Over the past 10 games he’s putting up averages of 13.9 points, 4.8 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.4 steals and a pair of three-pointers in 30.8 minutes, numbers that are very reminiscent of his 2009-10 breakout campaign in Houston.  Bradley Beal’s impending return from an ankle sprain may reduce his minutes slightly, but you can expect those averages to stay around the same level.  (31.8% ESPN, 48% Yahoo!; remaining weekly schedule: 4,4,4,4,3,2)

Others to keep an eye on with favorable schedule volume (under 50% owned):

Mario Chalmers (Miami: 4,4,4,3,4,2), Eric Maynor (Portland: 3,5,3,4,3,2), Iman Shumpert (Knicks: 4,4,4,4,4,2), Dorell Wright (76ers: 3,4,4,3,4,2), Avery Bradley (Celtics: 3,4,4,4,3,2), Brandan Wright (Mavericks: 4,4,3,4,3,2)

Teams to avoid: Clippers, Pistons, Kings (they only play 17 games each)

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