• 2019 is in the rearview and the fantasy hoops season has rounded into the dog days before the trade deadlines strike and send pulse waves of action throughout the NBA and fantasy hoops. Now’s the time to stay sharp and scoop up the assets that are falling through the cracks as fatigue catches up to players throughout the league. After Monday’s dash of injuries, you should be looking Daniel Gafford, Ish Smith, and maybe even Harry Giles’ way. Fantasy, as always, is one crazy game.

    Add(s) of the Night 

    Ish Smith, PG, Washington Wizards – 27 points, four rebounds, four assists, three 3-pointers, three turnovers, 12-of-18 FG, 2-of-4 FT

    The Wizards are a stat factory and the way bodies are coming in and out of the lineup, you might as well grab an Ish Smith ticket. Bradley Beal remains out of the picture with lower leg soreness and Isaiah Thomas is being outplayed by Smith. Garrison Mathews went down at the start of this game, and the Wizards only have so many options at there disposal nowadays. Ish Smith is the veteran presence guiding the youngsters at this point, and he was already near-standard league value. Don’t ask questions, if someone is getting minutes in Washington just make the addition.

    Tomas Satoransky, G, Chicago Bulls – 11 points, 14 assists, five rebounds, one steal, one 3-pointer, 3-of-12 FG, 4-of-4 FT

    A friendly reminder that Tomas Satoransky should most certainly be owned in standard leagues across the board. Things were murky back in November but we have seen a sustained stretch of mid to late-round value from Satoransky, and this line is another reminder that the Bulls have no other reliable options for generating good looks. With his ability to do so many guard related things well, Satoransky is going to bump into value whether or not his jumper is falling.

    Drop Zone

    We’re not saying that you have to drop any of these guys, only that you should at least consider it depending who’s on your waiver wire. Your mileage may vary based on league size and team build, but for the most part we’ll try to cut dead weight in the 12-team range.

    Paul Millsap

    Still owned in over 65 percent of Yahoo leagues, it is time to reassess how crucial the veteran is to your fantasy success. He is receiving a measly 25 minutes per game and the career-high 88 percent from the line is unsustainable. By his standards, November was a great month as Millsap was averaging 14 points, but since then he has averaged a paltry 10 points over the last 15 games. Tonights’ two points and four rebounds should be the nail in his fantasy coffin. It is unlikely he even sustains himself at late-round value from here on out. Grab someone with true upside instead.

    Kris Dunn

    Dunn is not the hottest target in most scenarios, and I am hopeful that if you own him you know what you are dealing with, but it is worth reviewing for someone who just happened to add him one groggy morning. Kris Dunn is a quintessential steals specialist. Two steals a night is what you are owning him for. If he gives you a 3-pointer and four assists alongside that you consider it lucky. Just assume he’s giving you six or eight steals a week and realize he will probably drag down your percentages in the process while doing very little in the scoring department. If a couple of steals is useful while laying eggs everywhere else that is your prerogative, but he should be treated as a special case in standard leagues.

    Injury List

    Jrue Holiday (left elbow contusion) was ruled out for Monday’s matchup against the Jazz, but should not be out of action for too long.

    Bradley Beal (lower leg soreness) missed his third straight game on Monday against the Celtics. Hopefully, he is back in action on Wednesday.

    Draymond Green was out for Monday’s matchup against the Kings, but the right ankle sprain is not supposed to be a factor for Wednesday’s game versus the Bucks. 

    After returning on Saturday, Caris LeVert took Monday night off vs. the Magic as he slowly returns from his sprained right thumb injury. LeVert is expected to be back out there on Tuesday, but it is going to take some patience for this return to pay off. His minute’s restriction should increase a bit on Tuesday.

    Jabari Parker did not play on Monday due to a combination of illness and a right shoulder impingement. He is free to be dropped. Cam Reddish was able to return from a right wrist sprain that had kept him out of one game but is best left on the wire.

    Bogdan Bogdanovic (illness, ankle) missed Monday’s showdown with the Warriors, but it appeared to be mainly due to sickness, so he has a chance to return for Tuesday against the Suns.

    Richaun Holmes suffered a shoulder injury that knocked him out of the second half of the Kings-Warriors game on Monday night. The Kings were up big when he was ruled out for the night, and we’ll have to see what the tests reveal tomorrow. Winners could include Harry Giles, Nemanja Bjelica or Harrison Barnes as a small-ball five. Marvin Bagley III’s return would quickly fill the void. 

    Wendell Carter Jr. rolled his right ankle and was in a significant amount of pain after the incident. He was seen in a wheelchair and this could be a longer absence than just day-to-day. X-rays were negative at least.

    Garrison Mathews went down with a right ankle sprain four minutes into the Wizards-Celtics game on Monday. X-rays on the ankle were negative. He missed out on a solid night but is generally just a 3-point streamer. 

    Joel Embiid jammed his finger on Monday vs. the Thunder but it was apparently just a comfort issue. It should not be a long-term problem, but it was an ugly injury.

    Tim Hardaway Jr. (left hamstring strain) returned on Monday to face the Bulls after missing three games, notching 15 points and three triples. This’ll reduce Jalen Brunson and Seth Curry’s roles, although all three players are just deep league options.

    John Collins (back contusion) made his return from a one-game absence on Monday vs. the Nuggets. He was coming on strong before the bump in the road, and he should get right back to his surge up the rankings.

    Lauri Markkanen was originally doubtful due to a left ankle sprain but that did not stop him from facing the Mavericks on Monday. It was a nice night with 26 points, nine rebounds and four 3-pointers. He could be pressed into a larger role under the basket if Wendell Carter Jr. misses extensive time.

    Jamal Murray (right finger sprain) and Paul Millsap (left knee contusion) were both able to take the floor against the Hawks on Monday. Murray’s injury is minor while Millsap should be okay but could always get saddled with the occasional rest day. Millsap is looking like a drop candidate based on his recent level of play.

    T.J. McConnell was able to take the floor despite being hampered by a right ankle sprain heading into Monday’s showdown with the Hornets.

    Tristan Thompson (illness) is questionable for Tuesday. Ante Zizic could be in for another big night and Cedi Osman would also benefit if Thompson is out again.

    Fred VanVleet (right hamstring strain) will be held out on of Tuesday’s game with the Blazers and one has to imagine that Wednesday’s tilt with the Hornets is also in doubt. FVV is nursing several ailments and Terence Davis stands to benefit the most as long as he is out.

    Russell Westbrook and Eric Gordon will both be rested for the first game of the Rockets’ back-to-back on Wednesday vs. the Hawks. Gordon’s status for Thursday is also up in the air.

    Kevin Porter Jr. has been diagnosed with a sprained left knee that will be re-evaluated in two weeks. He’s a drop in standard leagues but he is someone to keep in mind as the fantasy season comes to a close in a couple of months. 

    Blake Griffin is visiting a knee specialist at this time and season-ending surgery is an option. It is getting harder and harder to justify holding Griffin in standard leagues. 

    Kyrie Irving is on a similar trajectory as he can’t lift his shoulder and has been receiving regular cortisone shots in hopes of avoiding surgery. Little hope to be found in this prognosis. 

    Davis Bertans is looking at a return from his right quad strain “likely by the end of the weekend.” If he’s available, grab him now.

    Khris Middleton Refuses to Settle

    It has been an up and down career for Khris Middleton when you look back over the years. After proving himself as a true fantasy talent the prior year, he went down before the start of the 2016-17 season with a left hamstring tear that cost him six months. He came back for the final couple months of that campaign but was able to successfully rebound with a breakout 2017-18 season where he appeared in every game and averaged over 36 minutes a night. He came into his own as a do it all swingman averaging 20 points, five rebounds, four assists, 1.5 steals and nearly two 3-pointers on strong percentages. He put together a top-25 season.

    His rise occurred alongside Giannis Antetokounmpo and any player’s role would have lessened in the wake of the Greek Freak’s ascendence. Middleton saw his minutes sliced to just 31 per game last season, and the resulting declines in points and steals, alongside minor drops in percentages led to a lackluster season.

    It would’ve been tempting to write off the 29-year-old at this point, as the Bucks had evolved into a complete roster with plenty of options. Instead, Middleton has found a way to reinvent his game and is on the cusp of returning to early-round value. A sign of an all-star type of talent is adapting one’s game to let others thrive around you, and Middleton has turned into a precision shooter this season to make up for a cut to under 29 minutes per game. He’s just under the 50-40-90 mark with splits of .482 from the field, .400 from 3-point range, and .897 from the line. Elite shooting alongside 19 points, six rebounds, four assists, and two 3-pointers makes for a near early-round talent. If Giannis needs to rest down the stretch look as Milwalkuee runs aways with the Eastern Conference look no further as to whom will be orchestrating the offense.

    Fantasy owners should take a valuable lesson from Khris Middleton’s career and replicate it within there own managerial careers. Whether you turn the corner and have a devasting injury, get superseded by a generational talent, or suffer a large minutes reduction, you can always improve in other facts of the game to rediscover the fantasy magic. It wouldn’t be fun if this was easy.

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