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.
Brandon Rush (Owned 3.6 percent, Opponent boost 20.6 percent)
Rush has been getting a solid 25 minutes per game this season, but he's not going to consistently get you big counting numbers. However, if you need help in the percentage categories, this is your guy and now is the time to grab him. Well, he isn't great from the foul line, but he hardly ever gets there, so there you go. Rush leads the NBA in 3-point percentage, hitting on 57.4 percent from downtown so far this season. This week, the Warriors get the Kings twice. Sacramento has been hide-the-children bad against shooting guards, so Rush can boost your squad's field-goal percentage and add a healthy number of 3-pointers to your bottom line. Injuries are rampant right now so if you're targeting categories to stay afloat, here's a guy who can help.
Carl Landry (Owned 34.8 percent, Opponent boost 16.0 percent)
It's been a rough season for Landry but there are signs that he's coming out of his funk. Landry has averaged close to 30 minutes and scored around 17 points over his last three outings. Most importantly, he's attempted at least nine free throws in each of those games after not reaching that number all season. Landry seems to be getting back to the attacking style that has served him so well in the past and, really, how long did you expect Jason Smith to keep him on the bench? New Orleans plays Miami, Phoenix, San Antonio and Detroit this week. We noted Detroit's struggles against power forwards last week, but San Antonio and Phoenix haven't been very good either. Chris Bosh, Monday's opponent, has been above average but just barely.
Drew Gooden (Owned 11.2 percent, Opponent boost 13.9 percent)
Gooden is eligible as a power forward in most leagues but he's going to get a playing time boost with center Andrew Bogut out because of an ankle injury. Milwaukee gets Detroit next week. With Gooden playing the pivot, he might not get the full Detroit effect, but the Pistons haven't been that great against centers either. The Bucks also play Miami and Chicago. Miami's Joel Anthony has been terrific on the defensive end, so that's a tough play. The Bulls haven't defended centers well, especially those that can step out and knock down perimeter jumpers like Gooden. (Chicago's centers are primarily tasked with defending the basket, so that's why the Bulls are susceptible against step-out bigs.) Owning Drew Gooden isn't an exciting option, but if you need warm bodies, he's at least a decent bet to put up some points and rebounds over the next week.
Chandler Parsons (Owned 5.2 percent, Opponent boost 11.8 percent)
Marcus Camby (Owned 33.3 percent, Opponent boost 9.9 percent)
Apparently few of you took the bait on Parsons last week, so we'll list him again as once again the Rockets face a favorable schedule for anyone playing small forward. Parsons has increasingly gained favor over Chase Budinger and contributes in surprising ways. He's played at least 34 minutes in his last two games and has 12 boards, nine assists and four steals in those contests. The trend is upwards for Parsons and if you don't at least stash him on your bench, you might be kicking yourself later this season.
Camby is on a rebounding binge, grabbing 38 caroms over his last two games. He's not going to get you points, but he's not going to miss from the field often, either. Camby could put up huge rebounding numbers against Charlotte this week, though his minutes could be limited against Sacramento on the back end of a back-to-back. The Blazers will need plenty of Camby in games against the deep frontcourt of Utah and the frantic pace of Denver.
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.
Jameer Nelson (Owned 62.7 percent, Opponent hit -16.7 percent)
If you're losing faith in Nelson, you're not alone and this isn't the week he's likely to break out. Nelson has scored double figures in just five games all season and is shooting under 40 percent from the floor. This week, Orlando plays four teams who are all above average against point guards, including Philadelphia, which is the league's best against that position. Nelson also has to face the younger legs of John Wall and Kyrie Irving, then he finishes the week against Indiana, which leads the league in opponent field-goal percentage. Hopefully you have options on your roster.
Jeff Teague (Owned 100 percent, Opponent hit -15.5 percent)
Teague has been very consistent in terms of the big three fantasy factors: minutes, production and efficiency. He'll remain in the lineup despite the return of Kirk Hinrich from injury, though it remains to be seen if Teague's court time will be impacted. Atlanta's slate this week includes Toronto, Memphis and Philadelphia. We've raved about the Sixers' defense enough, but Mike Conley Jr. has also been very effective for Memphis. Toronto is still a touch below average with Jose Calderon manning the position, but this isn't the Swiss cheese defense of past Raptors squads -- new coach Dwane Casey has those guys getting some stops.
Thaddeus Young (Owned 96.8 percent, Opponent hit -14.9 percent)
We're always warning people off from playing guys against the Sixers, but Philly's own schedule this week is awfully tough: Orlando, Chicago, Miami and Atlanta. Ouch. The total effect of that group of opponents will be most felt against the two forward positions, which Young swings between off the bench. He might catch a break against Chicago, which is missing second unit defensive superstar Taj Gibson. It's unknown if he'll be back before the Bulls and Sixers hook up in Philadelphia on Wednesday.
Danilo Gallinari (Owned 100 percent, Opponent hit -13.4 percent)
After a little bit of a lull, Gallinari's All-Star season has resumed its prior course. He might be re-routed again this week, with Denver going against four teams that are above average defending small forwards: Memphis, L.A. Clippers, L.A. Lakers and Portland. The former two teams are above average; the latter two are even better. Gallo of course also swings over to the four position as well, but he'd still be getting about a seven percent opponent hit if he were playing there full time. Gallinari is probably too good to bench no matter who the Nuggets are playing, but you should still be aware of who he is facing in the days ahead.
Andray Blatche (Owned 97 percent, Opponent hit -12.8 percent)
We don't know if the Wizards are going to get much better under interim coach Randy Wittman or if things will become even more unraveled. If it's the latter, that may actually help the mercurial Blatche, who seems at his best when anarchy descends upon a team. He put up big per-minute numbers in Wittman's first game, but only played 24 minutes, so keep your eye on his court time. As for Washington's opponents in the week ahead, be careful. Blatche has to contend with Chicago's deep frontline, Dwight Howard and DeAndre Jordan. Those aren't head-to-head matchups, of course, but those guys certainly have a hand in limiting fours.
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.
Paul George (Owned 94.7 percent, Opponent boost 17.5 percent)
Sure George isn't a big-time scorer, but are there really 5.3 percent of leagues in which he's a free agent? Well, if he's available in your league, now is the time to grab him. George should be guard eligible in your league by now as Indiana's starting two, though he's listed as a small forward for our purposes. You're not going to find a better source of rebounds, steals and blocks from a wing player. He also moves the ball well, hits 3-pointers and won't kill you with his field-goal percentage. Try George in his first two games this week against New Jersey and Minnesota. Chances are you'll like him so well you'll keep him in the lineup even when the Pacers finish the week against Dallas and Orlando.
A version of this article originally appeared at ESPN Insider .
Get your copy of the most comprehensive guide to the new NBA season. Pro Basketball Prospectus 2011-12 is now available in .PDF and paperback format.
Follow Bradford Doolittle on Twitter.
Bradford Doolittle is an author of Basketball Prospectus.
You can contact Bradford by clicking here or click here to see Bradford's other articles.