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This weekly column is geared toward anyone playing in a head-to-head format, and especially those of you in weekly lineup leagues. It is a great idea to keep up with which players are scheduled to play four games during the upcoming week, as fantasy basketball managers can use this information to gain an advantage in games played over an opponent. Simply put, the more games played, the more potential there is for production.

Based on their respective four-game schedules, the following four players should be viewed as “sleepers” for next week. Advising fantasy owners to play the likes of LeBron James or Anthony Davis is a waste of time and effort; hopefully it is common knowledge that studs of that nature should be in lineups regardless of how many games they are slated to play.

Position Eligibility & Ownership Rate Based On Yahoo! Fantasy Basketball Leagues

 

Top Four-Game Sleepers (12/15 - 12/21)

C.J. Watson (IND, PG) - 7% Owned

Watson has spent the majority of this season recovering from an injury, but has returned to play in the last nine games. He has mostly come off the bench with the second unit. However, with the combination of his solid play and the struggles of Donald Sloan, coach Frank Vogel made the decision to insert Watson into the starting lineup.

Sloan was playing so poorly that he fell out of the rotation entirely. Watson has played well as a starter, averaging 18.0 points, 2.0 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 0.5 steals, and 3.0 three-pointers in his first two games. He has played more than 30 minutes in each. It is a small sample, but Watson has shown the ability to put up numbers as a starter in the past. He should be a nice asset in points, threes, and assists.

The Pacers are trying to find a combination that works, and Watson is simply a better player than Sloan. George Hill is still not close to making a return, so Watson should continue to have solid value in the short-term. His upcoming schedule is favorable, with games against the LA Lakers, at LA Clippers, at Denver, and at Minnesota. The Clippers are tough on point guards, but the other matchups are excellent. Watson will be a nice play this week.

 

Tyler Zeller (BOS, PF/C) - 22% Owned

Zeller has slowly but surely earned more and more minutes with his solid play so far this season. Coach Brad Stevens recently put Zeller in the starting lineup, and has to be pleased with the results. He has scored in double-figures in four of his last five games, with at least five rebounds in each. The big man is usually good for a block a game, along with stellar percentages; he is shooting 65.4 percent from the field and 83.0 percent from the charity stripe.

The problem with Zeller is that he is essentially in a time share with Kelly Olynyk, which limits the upside of both players. They are each logging about 25 minutes a game, which is enough to put up solid numbers, but neither is likely to put up a huge line either. Zeller is about as consistent as they come though, so if you are in need of big man stats you could do a lot worse than Zeller. This week he gets some juicy matchups, including games at Philadelphia, Orlando, Minnesota, and at Miami.

 

Patrick Patterson (TOR, PF/C) - 25% Owned

When DeMar DeRozan went down with an injury, it looked as though Greivis Vasquez was going to be the biggest beneficiary. Vasquez started out hot for a couple of games, but has since fizzled out a bit. It has been Patterson that has played more consistently in DeRozan’s absence.

Patterson is averaging 14.0 points, 6.7 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.0 blocks and 2.7 three-pointers over his last three games heading into Sunday. His biggest value comes from his ability to knock down threes in bunches from the power forward/center position. These type of numbers make him worth owning already, but if Amir Johnson or Jonas Valanciunas were to suffer an injury, Patterson would become a must-start player. Given the injury history of those two guys, this is a likely scenario at some point this season.

Next week Patterson will face Orlando, Brooklyn, at Detroit, and New York. None of these teams are particularly strong defensively, so he is in line for a productive week. If you are looking for a big man with some upside, give Patterson a long look.

 

Rudy Gobert (UTA, C) - 19% Owned

Gobert has been a favorite stash target of mine for a while, and now he is getting the opportunity to get his name out there. He made his first career NBA start on Sunday, filling in for an injured Derrick Favors, and he did not disappoint. The Frenchman posted a full line of seven points, nine rebounds, two steals, and three blocks.

This is the type of line you can expect from the second year player. His offensive game is still very raw, but defensively he is a stud already. Gobert’s free throw shooting is not good at all, but he shoots for a high field goal percentage and will be a tremendous asset in rebounds, steals, and blocks.

The downside is that Favors’ injury is not expected to keep him out very long, so Gobert will likely head back to the bench when he returns. If you have the room to stash Gobert though, I would highly recommend it. I fully expect him to supplant Enes Kanter in the starting lineup at some point this season. It is only a matter of time before the Jazz get tired of Kanter not playing defense ever, and realize that they are better off with Gobert in the starting lineup and Kanter playing with the second unit.

Next week he will play at New Orleans, at Miami, at Orlando, and at Charlotte. All four games are on the road, but none of these assignments are too daunting. Even if Favors does come back quickly, Gobert has shown that he can still hold value in limited minutes. If and/or when he consistently receives starters minutes, he is going to do a ton of damage. Pick him up now and see how it plays out.