March 30, 2021, 2:48 am
Monday featured a large 11-game slate and most of the games went as expected, with practically no upsets. With the trade deadline not so far in the rearview mirror, we start to see how the new additions are integrating into their new situation while we see some youngsters get more opportunity. This is the time of year were teams start to reveal themselves a bit more to the general public and it becomes easier to separate teams into tiers. There are a few different categories that teams can be separated into from a fantasy analysis perspective and without further ado, let’s get into it.
At this time of the year a lot of teams are clearly not playoff bound or if they are close, they realize that they will likely get smoked in the first round. The approach that they choose to go with is playing the youth as they look ahead to what they can build as a foundation moving forward. Teams that played on Monday that fit into this category are the Pistons, Wolves, Rockets, Cavs, Raptors and Thunder. It’s reasonable to say that there are fewer teams that are tanking this year due to the new playoff format as well as the flattening of the lottery odds that took place a few years ago. There seem to be several notable youngsters who are making fantasy GMs do a double-take as they scan the waiver wire.
Isaiah Hartenstein made the most of his debut for the Cavs after being given a spot start in place of Jarrett Allen and Larry Nance as he pitched in across the stat sheet but his efficiency was lackluster at best. The fact that the team was without Jarrett Allen and Larry Nance against Rudy Gobert and the Jazz made it pretty clear why Cleveland was such a big betting underdog. The Pistons were fueled to victory by their youngsters with Saben Lee, Isaiah Stewart, Saddiq Bey and Hamidou Diallo all producing solid fantasy lines while Cory Joseph had his best game since joining the squad. It was a different story in Houston as we saw Kevin Porter Jr. struggled to get going but Jae’Sean Tate continues to impress while newcomer Kelly Olynyk continued to impress his new squad. OKC has the bevy of youngsters out of the bunch with Svi Mykhailiuk the most veteran player in the team’s starting unit. Mykhailiuk showed his scoring chops while Isaiah Roby and Aleksej Pokuševski were effective. The Moses Brown train slowed a bit but there is no reason to worry on that front with his recent opportunity and production. Tony Bradley got his first action with the squad and made the most of his limited bench minutes. Jarred Vanderbilt was a DNP-CD while Jaden McDaniels continues to stay hot out in Minnesota and we all have already been made aware of the scoring ability of Anthony Edwards. The Raptors are the only team that doesn’t really look like the others as they don’t have any rookies or sophomores playing big minutes. The biggest story line to be watched is how Gary Trent Jr. fits in but the starting role appears to be his moving forward. Outside of Toronto, these are some of the most intriguing teams from a fantasy perspective because these young teams that have decided to rebuild for future seasons are the most likely places where value can still be found on the waiver wire. For example, Orlando would absolutely make this list but didn’t play on Monday.
We have the largest number of teams that fit into this mindset and once again, it’s likely due to the play-in tournament for the playoffs. The Warriors, and Bulls faced off as 10th seeds in their respective conferences while Miami and New York clashed as two of the 5th and 8th seeds in the Eastern Conference playoff picture. The Pacers lost to the Wizards, who only make this list because they have to try and make a playoff push as long as they have Bradley Beal rostered (although he sat out tonight with an injury). The Celtics, Pelicans, Grizzlies, Mavs, Kings and Spurs round out the list. These teams are in search of wins now to make a push for a higher playoff seed over the last 25 games or so of this campaign. They may be developing some young talent but have to stay focused on playing their veterans more minutes in search of victories. Young players like James Wiseman, Obi Toppin, Deni Avdija, Robert Williams are being developed but not to the extent that it would cost the teams in the win column. This means that the upside on the youngsters is slightly lower than that first tier of teams with one major exception. We still have the youngsters who already affect winning like Zion Williamson, Tyrese Haliburton and Luka Dončić.
This group of teams is labeled as “look-ahead” as these teams are likely secure with their standing during the regular season and can shift a bit of their focus to the postseason. The Jazz, Bucks and Clippers are the only teams that fit into this bucket. While it’s possible that fantasy story lines emerge, they are most likely to come due to injuries. It’s rare to see a player like Terance Mann emerge with regular rotation minutes on this type of a contender so late into the season. Yes, the Bucks and Clippers made some moves at the deadline but nothing that is likely to alter any fantasy values. These are the most predictable fantasy units and the only situation that would alter that trajectory is a Lakers-like situation where we see the major usage stars go down for extended periods of time.
Fantasy is about evaluating talent but it’s also important to understand the team dynamic and the goal posts of that particular franchise. It becomes even more important after the trade deadline with the team plans likely on display for the general public to see.
Add(s) of the Night
De’Anthony Melton, SG Memphis Grizzlies
Grayson Allen suffered a hip injury early on in Monday’s contest which opened the door for a two-way timeshare as opposed to a three-way that incorporates Desmond Bane as well. Bane, in his own right sees an uptick in production and value with Allen sidelined and he was actually the one who drew the start in the second half. However, Melton’s stat set is far more relevant in category leagues due to his ability to rack up the defensive stats.
He was already a fringe asset while competing with what seemed like a million productive backcourt players in Memphis. We’ve been waiting for Melton to take over for a long time and perhaps this is another false alarm. However, you don’t want to miss it when he actually does surge and the Allen injury may have been the straw that broke the camel’s back.
Mason Plumlee, C Detroit Pistons
Plumlee is on a roster that is clearly not going anywhere this season as mentioned above and the Pistons veteran center could continue to cede more opportunity to youngster Isaiah Stewart to finish this season. We could see more rest days from Plumlee as Stewart has exceeded expectations when he’s played so far this year. Plumlee’s fantasy arrow is on the downturn and he can be dropped in standard formats in order to add a higher upside option, especially given Plumlee’s low ceiling.
Notable players who are OUT for Tuesday
LaMelo Ball (wrist fracture)
Monte Morris (left quad strain)
Joel Embiid (knee) & George Hill (thumb)
Cam Reddish (right Achilles soreness)
Cole Anthony (rib) & Gary Harris (groin)
Notable players who are QUESTIONABLE for Friday
De’Andre Hunter (right knee soreness)
Notable players who are QUESTIONABLE for Friday
Terrence Ross (right knee soreness)