Matchups for Thursday, Oct. 30
All times are ET. Statistics are from the 2007-08 season.
Key: Opp. PPG = Points per game allowed to opponents. Opp. FGP = Field goal percentage allowed to opponents. RPG Diff. = The difference between team's rebounds per game and its opponents' rebounds per game.
Start 'em, sit 'em
Mo Williams was lackluster in his Cavs debut Tuesday, but then those guys with the cloverleafs have shown themselves to be pretty strong defensively. Williams should fare far better against Charlotte; Bobcats opponents compiled the NBA's eighth-best shooting percentage in 2007-08. Jason Richardson averaged almost 18 shots per game last season, but I don't expect him to maintain that pace under Larry Brown. On the other hand, J-Rich crushed Cleveland in 2007-08, averaging 25.3 points and 4.0 3s in four games. As always, it will be interesting to see what gives between the Rockets and the Mavs. While each team is loaded with perimeter threats -- Houston's Rafer Alston, Tracy McGrady, Brent Barry and Ron Artest and Dallas' Jason Terry and Jason Kidd all averaged at least 1.4 3s per game last season -- these teams also excel at defending the 3. Dallas was second and Houston was fourth in fewest treys allowed in 2007-08.
It's safe to say I like Anderson Varejao much more than the typical ESPN fantasy leaguer. I understand that the puli-haired one isn't a fit for every league, but Varejao's 3 percent ownership rate seems way low. Come on, he's center-eligible and he averaged 8.3 rebounds last season. In the opener in Boston, he collected 9 points, 9 rebounds and 3 steals. Facing Charlotte, the NBA's fourth-worst team in rebound differential in 2007-08, Varejao shouldn't have any trouble approaching 10 boards again. Get him if you're in a daily lineup league with unlimited roster moves. I also like Brandon Bass (who comes in just ahead of Varejao at 4 percent ownership in ESPN leagues). There's talk that Rick Carlisle will give the 23-year-old time at center, which could only enhance his fantasy value. Watch Bass' minutes in the early going. Another player to keep an eye on is Matt Barnes, who apparently is starting over Grant Hill in Phoenix. Barnes shouldn't be expected to average the 32 minutes that Hill did last season, but with 24 or more minutes a night, he could top 10 points, 1.5 3s and a steal.
Neil Tardy is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.