NBA look ahead: The Fantasy Five

NBA look ahead: The Fantasy Five

This column will concentrate on borderline fantasy options who should get strong consideration to start/bench during the upcoming week based on schedules.

Shabazz Muhammad: Despite averaging 19.8 points, 4.1 rebounds and 0.9 steals while hitting 53.0 percent of his shots from the floor over the past eight games, he’s owned in just 28 percent of Yahoo leagues, which needs to be rectified immediately. He may be playing a bit over his head, but after getting inserted into the starting lineup Friday, he produced a couple of threes and a career-high five assists. Muhammad has averaged 16.0 field goal attempts over the past five games (he came off the bench in four of them). To put this in perspective, that would rank No. 18 in the league this season, ahead of players like Kevin Durant, Damian Lillard, Kyrie Irving and Dirk Nowitzki. Muhammad may eventually lose playing time when Kevin Martin returns, but he’s looking at a big increase in Usage Rate with Corey Brewer traded to Houston, so while Minnesota plays three games in Week nine, he’s well worth using (Muhammad has been the No. 26 player over the past week in which he played just three contests).

[Week 16 rankings: Quarterback | Running Back | Receiver | Tight End | Kicker | DST]

Robert Covington: He’s averaged 3.4 3pt over the past nine games, shooting 49.2 percent from downtown over that span. That’s obviously unsustainable, but Covington has been the No. 27 player over the past two weeks (and a top-80 player on the year) and yet is still owned in less than 50 percent of Yahoo leagues. Covington looks locked in as the 76ers’ new starting power forward, where he’s averaged 19.0 points, 5.8 rebounds, 1.5 steals, 1.0 blocks and a whopping 4.3 3pt while shooting 89.5 percent from the line over four games. Philly plays just three games next week, but its third-highest PACE in the league helps offset that, so start Covington with confidence.

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Matt Barnes: He got off to an extreme shooting slump to start the season but has picked it up of late and has averaged 14.0 points, 1.3 steals, 1.0 blocks and 2.3 3pt over the past four games, shooting 57.9 percent from the field over that span. Barnes is owned in just 35 percent of Yahoo leagues despite being a top-75 player over the past month. The Clippers play four games next week, so he looks like a nice start, although to be fair, all of his opponents in Week nine rank in the top-11 in Defensive Efficiency.

Trey Burke: The former top-10 pick is owned in 70 percent of Yahoo leagues (more than any player listed above here) despite being outside a top-150 player this season. In fact, over the past two weeks, he’s been the No. 239 ranked player, thanks mostly to shooting 34.3 percent from the floor over the past eight games (34-of-99). Utah has the third-lowest PACE in the NBA and plays just two games in Week nine, making Burke an easy sit.

Josh Smith: I hate to continue to denigrate Smith, who’s shown improvement lately, as he was the No. 76 ranked player over the past week. But he still remains ranked No. 168 on the year while playing for a team that's below average in PACE and second worst in Offensive Efficiency behind only a 2-23 76ers team. Smith is owned in 87 percent of Yahoo leagues, but he plays just two games next week, so strongly consider benching him. Smith’s shooting line this season is 39-25-46, which is just like Kevin Durant’s last year, only the opposite.

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