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March 18, 2011
Start/Sit Projections
Week of March 21

by Kevin Pelton


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

Jeff Green, SF/PF, Boston Celtics (plus-10 percent)
Despite a big drop in playing time and shots since his trade to Boston, most fantasy owners have hung on to Green. They will be rewarded next week with a four-game schedule against a weak group of defenses. We're considering Green a small forward for our purposes, and the best of the group at defending the wing is the Charlotte Bobcats, who still allow four percent more productivity than usual to opponents.

Tyler Hansbrough, PF, Indiana Pacers (plus-8 percent)
Hansbrough is unlikely to find a better matchup than the New York Knicks, having torched the Knicks for a combined 59 points in two games earlier this week. Still, Hansbrough should enjoy going up against the Detroit Pistons' frontcourt and none of Indiana's four games is against an above-average post defense.

Richard Jefferson, SF, San Antonio Spurs (plus-7 percent)
Another consistently strong four-game slate, though expectations for Jefferson should be tempered slightly in the wake of the trade deadline. Both the Denver Nuggets and the Memphis Grizzlies have improved their perimeter defense with the moves they made last month.

C.J. Miles, SF, Utah Jazz (plus-7 percent)
With a 40-point outing on Wednesday, Miles opened eyes. That was the culmination of a strong stretch for the swingman, who has moved into Utah's starting lineup. Miles has averaged 19.5 points in the month of March, knocking down a cool 44.1 percent of his three-point attempts and adding 4.6 rebounds a night.

Lou Williams, PG, Philadelphia 76ers (plus-6 percent)
A couple of strong games highlight Williams' upcoming schedule. The Miami Heat have been vulnerable against quick point guards since adding Mike Bibby as a free agent, while the Sacramento Kings have been torched at the point all season long. Williams may have success playing off the ball against the Kings as well, since Marcus Thornton is a defensive liability.

Tough schedules

Randy Foye, PG/SG, Los Angeles Clippers (minus-12 percent)
Even if Eric Gordon is not back by next week, Foye may not be a strong play because of the Clippers' schedule. For all their defensive shortcomings, the Washington Wizards and Toronto Raptors have done a good job limiting wing players' fantasy outputs. Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Lakers have the league's best pair of wing defenders.

J.R. Smith, SG, Denver Nuggets (minus-9 percent)
Like the Clippers, Denver has a schedule that includes the Wizards and the Raptors as well as a more traditional defensive power--in the Nuggets' case, that's a Wednesday outing against the San Antonio Spurs. Adjust your lineups accordingly with Denver's perimeter players, and especially Smith because he's already a borderline fantasy play.

Trevor Ariza, SF, New Orleans Hornets (minus-6 percent)
Feel free to deploy Ariza normally during the Hornets' back-to-back against the Jazz and Phoenix Suns on Thursday and Friday if you're in a daily league, but you'll want to have an alternative when Ariza faces his former team (the stingy Los Angeles Lakers) on Sunday. That one matchup is bad enough to hamper Ariza's entire week.

D.J. Augustin, PG, Charlotte Bobcats (minus-5 percent)
None of the Bobcats' games next week are especially problematic for Augustin, but all three opponents defend point guards better than average. The toughest of the group is the Boston Celtics, who hold point guards eight percent below their usual productivity.

Nicolas Batum, SF, Portland Trail Blazers (minus-3 percent)
Batum's schedule isn't tremendously different than average overall. For whatever reason, few players on the fantasy start/sit bubble have notably difficult schedules. In Batum's case, this is more of an indication that you should go with the other guy if you're juggling a pair of players of similar value.

This week's pickup

Gerald Henderson, SG, Charlotte Bobcats (plus-12 percent)
Owned in 8.6 percent of ESPN leagues
Late in his sophomore season, Henderson seems to be putting it together. He had scored double-figures in five consecutive games before being held to eight on Wednesday in Houston. Henderson's ascent should be accelerated by the league's easiest group of opponents next week. During the fantasy playoffs, adding Henderson could help push your team over the top.

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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Chicago Pod, Dispatch ... (03/18)
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Premium Article Start/Sit Projections (03/11)
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