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January 7, 2011
Start/Sit Projections
Week of Jan. 10

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

Marc Gasol, C, Memphis Grizzlies (plus-11 percent)
There aren't a lot of highly favorable schedules during the week ahead, but Gasol should be able to boost his already strong fantasy stock, thanks to Wednesday's matchup with the Detroit Pistons. The Pistons are allowing 30 percent more production to opposing big men than usual, while the Charlotte Bobcats are also below average when it comes to defending post players.

Shane Battier, SF, Houston Rockets (plus-7 percent)
None of the Rockets' games stands out as particularly good for Battier, but three of their four opponents are at least 10 percent worse than average in terms of opponent fantasy production from wings: That should translate into more accurate shooting than normal from Battier.

Francisco Garcia, SG, Sacramento Kings (plus-7 percent)
Like Houston, Sacramento has three opponents out of four that struggle to defend opposing wings, highlighted by Friday's game against the New York Knicks. Garcia figures to continue a strong run that has seen him score double-figures in each of his last four games.

Shawn Marion, SF, Dallas Mavericks (plus-5 percent)
If you're in one of the 36 percent of ESPN leagues where Marion remains unowned, now is the time to act. Though Marion is no longer the box-score stuffer he once was, Caron Butler's season-ending torn ACL assures him heavy playing time. Marion already has scored 20-plus points in two of the three games he's played since Butler's injury and has a beneficial schedule over the next week.

Al Harrington, PF, Denver Nuggets (plus-4 percent)
This is probably the week to stick with your regular big men, as outside of Gasol it is difficult to find schedules that make a major positive impact. If your power forward is on the next list, however, you'll want to consider Harrington because all four of Denver's matchups are average or better for post players.

Tough Schedules

Dorell Wright, SF, Golden State Warriors (minus-26 percent)
Ordinarily, Wright's performance this season would make him a fixture in your lineup no matter what. This is the week that proves the exception. Golden State has just two games on the docket, and both of them are terrible for wings, as the L.A. Clippers and L.A. Lakers are the two best teams in the league when it comes to perimeter defense.

James Harden, SG, Oklahoma City Thunder (minus-12 percent)
The Thunder has the week's other two-game schedule. Besides limiting opportunities to pile up production, the short week also makes extremes more likely in terms of matchups. The better of the two for Harden is against the Orlando Magic, which holds opponents 10 percent below their usual production.

Tyrus Thomas, PF, Charlotte Bobcats (minus-11 percent)
By contrast, Charlotte plays a full four games during the upcoming week, which indicates just how bad the games are for the Bobcats' post players. Highlighted by Monday's game against Memphis (-18 percent), all four outings are worse than average for big men.

Ron Artest, SF, Los Angeles Lakers (minus-9 percent)
Another difficult four-game week, this one for Artest and the Lakers' wings. On paper, Sunday's matchup against the Clippers will be the most challenging, but beware of Friday's game against New Jersey. When the Lakers visited the Nets last month, Artest scored two points on 1-of-7 shooting.

Darko Milicic, C, Minnesota Timberwolves (minus-5 percent)
This is a week to stay away from the Timberwolves in general. Minnesota's three-game slate features two strong defensive opponents in the Magic and the San Antonio Spurs, while even the Washington Wizards have proven problematic for big men.

This Week's Pickup

Keyon Dooling, PG, Milwaukee Bucks (plus-7 percent)
Available in 97.5 percent of ESPN leagues
As Brandon Jennings' replacement at the point in Milwaukee, Dooling will get minutes. That puts him in position to take advantage of next week's schedule. Dooling should have an easy time against the Atlanta Hawks on Monday, which props up his entire three-game week.

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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