• The post All Star Break stretch in fantasy leagues is not for the queasy. Teams have 23-26 games to go, or just 30 percent of the year, and silly season is basically already upon us.

    Players need about a week to gel after taking a week off, injuries are either being handled with kid gloves or players are pushing through stuff at their own peril in order to get into the playoffs.

    Things get weird fast. Teams can use the break to turn a page, hit the gas, tap the breaks or drive off a cliff. Questions about players and evaluations quickly devolve into questions about format, standings and ROI.

    No longer can you hold a player based on future returns unless the strategy is airtight. Player names and season-to-date valuations can get worthless fast.

    And fantasy GMs with playoff formats put all the chips in the middle during this chaos.

    Grab your beverage of choice (perhaps some killer Kona Coffee) and let’s break down the big stuff from a jam-packed Friday night.


    The Wizards are four games out of the eight slot now and the more they lose the better things might get in Washington, depending on your outlook. They lost in Charlotte last night in a game they really needed and they’re moving all their chips to the middle every night for the foreseeable future.

    Bradley Beal is getting buried in the red and put up 46 points with six boards, seven assists and a lethal shooting line. Beal, Trevor Ariza (10 points, five boards, three assists, two threes, one block) and Jeff Green (16 points, three cash counters, two boards, three assists, 31 minutes) are Scott Brooks’ guys and along with Tomas Satoransky they’ll get the run while the games count.

    Bobby Portis (12 points, 12 boards, four steals, 31 minutes) is probably in that group and Jabari Parker (four points, three boards, one block, 25 minutes) probably isn’t. Parker will have sporadic outbursts but no real value.

    Thomas Bryant (two points, 1-of-6 FGs, seven boards, three assists, one block, 17 minutes) is the guy that needs the Wizards to go on a losing bender. Brooks isn’t going to turn any minutes over to him until a narrative presents itself to him via a ghost that appears during the holiday season and spins him through different times in his life when he gave veteran players the minutes.

    I’m not saying that Bryant is overly deserving of minutes in the high 20s but pigeon-holing him into a pre-determined low minute role rather than developing him while new guys Parker and Portis get big run is classic Brooks. Even as Bryant has been bad the last four games with value toward the bottom of the top-200, it still measures out as top-150 value over the last month.

    If the Wizards lose enough games maybe Brooks gives him more than 19 mpg, or not, and likewise the key cogs have to worry that too many losses will lead to an easing of workloads.


    The Hornets are pretty simple so we’ll spin through quicker here – Jeremy Lamb got moved to the bench and my initial instinct was that it wasn’t great but that it didn’t matter too much. He did well in this first game with 16 points on 6-of-12 shooting, two threes, six boards and four steals in 23 minutes.

    The steals are an outlier but everything else is solid here, and his top 70-90 returns (9/8 cat) this season aren’t dead in the water by any means.

    Cody Zeller (11 points, nine boards, three assists, three blocks) is back to being a late-round center and Miles Bridges got a start and put up 14 points, six rebounds and five cash counters. Bridges hasn’t been able to support value with his stat set and he has been spotty all year, so this isn’t a race to the wire moment. If he does it again you can start to take fliers on a small sample size hot streak.


    The Pelicans are a dumpster fire, Anthony Davis and his people are dumb as all hell about the current situation and the league, team and NBPA are asleep at the wheel. With that out of the way, good luck trying to figure this team out on a night to night basis.

    They named half the team as young players they wanted to get more minutes, but did not name Jahlil Okafor (six points, five boards, two assists, 17 minutes), and proceeded to play everybody about 20-25 minutes in their loss to the Pacers.

    Instead of sane finishes for Jrue Holiday (14 points, seven boards, four assists, two steals, one block, one three, 25 minutes) and Julius Randle (15 points, four rebounds, three treys, one steal, 25 minutes), they’re basically on red alert for tanking and shenanigans.

    Davis logged 20 minutes and put up 15 points, eight rebounds, four assists, one steal and one block, and will decide whether he wants to play against LeBron during his playoff pursuit.

    You can’t make this stuff up. Anybody out there defending this is carrying water or purposely obtuse.

    You probably want to just sort of wait and see how this goes for New Orleans. You’re obviously not dumping the big names, and you can take fliers on Elfrid Payton (15 points, four assists, two blocks, one three, 28 minutes), Kenrich Williams (six points, five boards, one steal, two threes, 33 minutes) and Cheick Diallo (16 points, 18 boards, one block).

    E’Twaun Moore (12 points, one three, 20 minutes) and Frank Jackson (eight points, two assists, 27 minutes) are probably on the outside looking in for standard leagues, though Jackson has been identified in that half of the team that is young and to get more minutes.

    Okafor is the upside piece that you might be wondering about and he’s not immune from torpedoing in any situation – after all – he hasn’t been good his entire career heading into New Orleans. But as noted many times, he entered this season in shape and before some nagging injuries popped up, he rattled off a top-20 week and appeared poised for a 25-minute or more role going forward.

    Have the injuries slowed him down? Is new management not in his corner? Is it too early after the All Star break to assess any of this? So many things could spin the Pelicans into new directions. They probably can’t gain more than a slot in the tankathon, so they won’t have overwhelming pressure to lose, and anything that happens to AD with a mild injury could give everybody the out they’re looking for.

    This is the time of year when hard-and-fast add/drop recommendations get tougher to come by, but I’m generally trying to hold Okafor to see if he can rekindle even a little of what he was doing before. Yes, I’m worried at least a little about Diallo stealing some of the hustle stats. It’ll be a garbage time environment that can lift players up, though.

    As for Diallo, this was a nice look tonight and being mentioned as somebody who would be getting minutes going forward makes for an actionable add. His season hasn’t been good on the stat set side so there is a leap of faith that with added minutes and garbage time that he can level up. I’m not ready to put him in must-own, let alone must-add territory just yet.


    Myles Turner missed Friday’s win over the Pelicans due to a left hip issues and that set the table for a few more guys to produce. There’s no word on the severity but nobody seems overly worried at this time. Tyreke Evans (17 points, six cash counters, 19 minutes) got back on the radar and Wes Matthews scored 24 points, but that’s going to be the exception and not the rule on most nights with or without Turner around.


    The Bulls definitely aren’t going out of their way to get Kris Dunn involved and it’s a shame that he’s having a lost season. The early injuries, the general dysfunction and a season of playing with chuckers has taken its toll and I was looking to this first week after the break to see if he could develop any rhythm.

    Last night the answer was a resounding no as he managed just eight points on 4-of-9 shooting with three rebounds, two assists and one steal over 29 minutes in the Bulls’ win over the Magic. Otto Porter (17 points, 6-of-15 FGs, full line) is definitely enjoying life playing for a team that traded to acquire his services, but this is more about Dunn having the ability and/or clearance to take back a prominent role.

    Zach LaVine’s (22 points, 6-of-14 FGs, six assists) takeover of No. 1 duties have been the backdrop of this squad for a while, and especially with fellow chuckers Jabari Parker and Bobby Portis on the squad, there were entire quarters in which nobody made a pass it seemed. This squad should theoretically be more balanced, but Dunn’s poor year has seemingly snowballed.

    The Bulls would be better if Dunn was able to command a greater role within the offense, but he has to re-assert himself and it’s not clear if he has the juice for that or the ability to make it work right now. He’s a hold and has just a week or so to prove that he’s more than just a top-100 guy.

    Robin Lopez (18 points, six rebounds, three blocks, 31 minutes) stayed above the cut line and is looking like a viable center option for the rest of the season. There are limitations within his stat set and he hasn’t been good in fantasy leagues for a long while, but the Jim Boylan Bulls are strange and centers can get things cooking quickly when the going is good. He’s a must-own player but top-100 is an open question.


    The Magic lost one they needed for the playoff chase at home against a bad Bulls squad, and the only noteworthy thing was that Jonathan Isaac had a slow night with four points, three rebounds, two steals and one trey in 31 minutes. He’s still primed for a top-75 finish with upside beyond that.


    The Spurs lost in DeMar DeRozan’s return to Toronto and DeRozan was pretty good, scoring 23 points on 7-of-12 shooting (9-of-9 FTs) with four rebounds, eight assists, two steals and one block. A strong start to the season gave way to a lull and sitting in the top-50, he has nothing between him and bouncing back into the top-30 but air and opportunity.

    Derrick White (seven points, four rebounds, three assists, one steal, 20 minutes) got back on the floor and it’d be shocking if he isn’t back to producing at a must-own level. Davis Bertans (16 points, four treys) and Jakob Poeltl (eight points, nine boards, one steal, three blocks) got on the board but Bertans has low upside and Poeltl needs to do it again before anybody moves there in deep leagues.


    Marc Gasol (four points, seven boards, six assists) continued to be brought along slowly but last night it was foul trouble that helped limit him to 17 minutes. Owners just have to grin and bear it, while owners of core Raptors players are enjoying the low impact of his acquisition and the newfound room within the rotation lately.


    Reggie Jackson went off in the Pistons’ road win over the Hawks, scoring 32 points on 12-of-22 shooting with five rebounds, eight assists, two steals and three treys over 35 minutes. Yes, the Hawks are sieves and play an uptempo game, but Jackson has been on a third round tear over the last 10 games and the Pistons have a great remaining schedule.

    A dip in production is coming but it’s possible he finally got healthy and acclimated with the bigger pieces of Blake Griffin (15 points, four rebounds, one block) and Andre Drummond (26 points, 21 rebounds, five steals, one block, 8-of-16 FTs). He’s a must-own guy and it’s been a while since that’s been the case.

    If you’re tracking Wayne Ellington threes he hit 3-of-9 from deep for nine points, three boards and one steal. Expect that to continue so give him a look if you need the boost from beyond the arc.


    Trae Young (30 points, 10 assists, five treys) has full run of the yard right now and has been bringing back top 60-100 numbers (8/9 cat) over the last month. He might make up for some expected decreases in efficiency with stupid volume.

    Kent Bazemore got the minutes last night with 34, scoring 12 points on 5-of-10 shooting with two threes, seven boards and two steals. Of course, Kevin Huerter (ankle) did not play and he’s doubtful for tomorrow’s game, which is interesting because the Hawks have aggressively rested all of their guys with ankle injuries this season.

    They’re quickly forming an island in the tankathon with about four games separating them from the teams nearest them in the standings. Some losing is definitely on the radar but they can afford to win a few, so we might see a bit of a meritocracy blended in with some player development prioritized.

    Bazemore doesn’t seem to be in their future but he has earned some veteran mojo around the joint, and it wouldn’t take much for him to rise back to his previous 27 mpg role that had been producing in the top-50 range.

    The challenges are certainly there if Huerter returns and they decide to turn the page, and I’m not projecting him that high (Editor’s Note: Premium members can see where he was ranked), but there’s enough upside that he’s a must-own player in my book (shallow league owners can quibble if they’d like).

    Taurean Prince (seven points, 2-of-9 FGs, one three, two boards, 29 minutes) is suffering the same fate of a lot of players whose injuries have stolen any chance at momentum. It would be pretty shocking to me if he didn’t finally get into a rhythm at some point, but the ROI will be bleak if it doesn’t happen in the next week or two tops, depending on the format.


    The Wolves played without Karl-Anthony Towns after he was in a car accident and placed into the league’s concussion protocol. This opened things up for Dario Saric (13 points, seven boards, one steal, one block, three treys) and Taj Gibson (19 points, 10 boards, three assists, two steals), and Anthony Tolliver (16 points, four treys, one steal, one block) got hot.

    Saric is the one we’re all watching and has the upside to be a mid-round guy if everything works out right. Assuming KAT returns quickly and Robert Covington comes back sooner rather than later, he might be better projected as a top-100 guy. Gibson has streaming value at best.


    The Knicks are dumpster fire status as usual and we saw an 11-minute dud from starter Luke Kornet, and the team gave 33 inexplicable minutes to DeAndre Jordan rather than trading him at the deadline.

    Damyean Dotson scored 20 points with five treys as your Knicks guard of the night, and Emmanuel Mudiay got 26 minutes off the bench and was productive with 15 points, six rebounds, one assist, three steals, one block and two treys in 26 minutes.

    Newly acquired Dennis Smith Jr. put up seven points, seven assists, two steals, one block and five turnovers in 22 minutes. You halfway expect the team to throw Henry Ellenson out there for 20 minutes in the next one as they’re a half-game out of first in the race to Zion.

    You’re not looking at great odds for any of the Knicks guards and Smith might only have late round value that zig zags all over the place. Kornet can only be viewed as a luxury stash in hopes they let him play or shut down Jordan (which they don’t look like they want to do). Mitchell Robinson (one steal, three blocks, 13 minutes) will pay the bills no matter what. Jim Dolan and his front office will continue to run the team into the ground. It’s the circle of life.


    The Clippers want to compete for the playoffs and good for them – they’re in the eight-seed after all – and their pick is heading to Boston anyway. Build some buzz around the franchise before you go after all these big name free agents.

    They wasted no time in dispatching a franchise heading the other direction, beating the Grizz in Memphis behind a 30-point effort from Montrezl Harrell. He didn’t add much elsewhere in the box score, but did hit 8-of-10 freebies and it all points to mid-round value at worst going forward.

    Danilo Gallinari (23 points, eight rebounds, three steals, one block, 12-of-12 FTs) is back in a heavy usage role, and playoff contention will go a long way toward preserving his fantasy value. Ivica Zubac (seven points, eight boards, one steal, 21 minutes) isn’t ready for prime time in fantasy leagues but theoretically could get on the radar if he gets red hot. Late round value is probably his ceiling.

    JaMychal Green (18 minutes, seven points, five boards, one three, one block) is on the outside looking in for now, and the starting guards of Landry Shamet (eight points, two threes, 32 minutes) and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (15 minutes, six points, four assists, one steal) just aren’t getting it done in standard leagues. Feel free to look elsewhere.

    Patrick Beverley (seven points, nine rebounds, three assists, two steals, two blocks, 32 minutes) kept his foot on the gas and he’s a must-own player until he cools off.


    The Grizzlies announced that Jaren Jackson Jr. would be missing time with a quad injury and outside of that (or including that) things have gotten weird fast. They’ve decided that playing Chandler Parsons (three points, 1-of-7 FGs, 20 minutes) is a good thing, and it is if you’re trying to lose games, as the Grizz are sitting in the six slot and have a top-8 protected pick to consider. They can’t really gain much ground in the tankathon, but they could fall pretty quickly with a few ill-timed wins.

    Meanwhile, the Jackson injury opens up a ton of minutes for Jonas Valanciunas (DNP, personal), and then the question will be what the team does with Ivan Rabb (15 points, nine rebounds, three assists, one steal, one block, one three, 25 minutes) and Joakim Noah (22 points, 11 boards, three assists, one steal, two blocks, 12-of-12 FTs, 30 minutes).

    Both of these lines are mostly suspect and Noah’s is 100 percent an outlier. But this is silly season already and both bigs are worth a look, though I can’t see Noah retaining much value. Rabb is more interesting to me but his stat set comes and goes.

    That said, Rabb is sitting on 11 games with top 170-200 value in just 19.6 mpg, and he has a great chance at seeing 25 mpg the rest of the way. If you squint hard enough you can see some late mid-round upside.

    Everybody else is getting crushed with the reality that the team brought in Avery Bradley and decided he is going to be a main cog. He had another chunky workload with 33 minutes, 17 points, three rebounds, two steals and one three on 7-of-14 shooting.

    The addition has killed off Justin Holiday’s value, spoiled the fun for Delon Wright (six points, four rebounds, one steal, 26 minutes) and thrown a monkey wrench in Bruno Caboclo’s (eight points, two threes, 11 minutes, five fouls) unlikely run.

    Caboclo did himself in last night with fouls but he really needs a clear runway to help clean up the inconsistency. He has been a top-200 guy in 19.4 mpg and Wright has been a bit better than that in 22.1 mpg, so they’re both capable per-minute guys but the question will be how the dumpster fire impacts them.


    Somebody in Denver has to experience slippage with the team getting back to full strength but last night saw more hits than misses in their road win over the Mavs. Jamal Murray (12 points, five rebounds, four assists, three steals, one block, two threes, 5-of-16 FGs) got dinged up with a left ankle issue and he’s been dealing with those all season, but in typical fashion he was more productive with the injury.

    Gary Harris was held back with just eight points on 3-of-8 shooting, two boards, one steal and one trey in 21 minutes off the bench. The duo has been hit hard this season by decreases in production and especially in the case of Harris, the injury bug has really set him back.

    Isaiah Thomas hit 5-of-11 shots for 16 points, three rebounds, two assists and four treys in 16 minutes off the bench, and he needs to cross the 22 mpg threshold before he’s a safe standard league guy.

    Will Barton got back into the flow with 10 points, four rebounds, four assists, two steals and two treys in 28 minutes. It sounds like he worked hard over the break to get back to old form, and considering how it has been looking for him that would be some found money for owners that took a bad beat this year.


    The Mavs are a low key mess and with Luka Doncic (ankle) taking the first game back from the break off, there was a Jalen Brunson (22 points, five assists, five cash counters) sighting, and Dwight Powell got loose for 20 points, six boards and 7-of-8 hits from the foul line.

    Maxi Kleber duded out with just three boards and an assist to his stat line over 18 minutes, and though Salah Mejri (four points, six boards, two blocks, one three, 24 minutes) is a known Nikola Jokic antagonist, the Mavs haven’t really let either Kleber or Powell get ahead in fantasy leagues.

    Kleber is still a top 180-200 guy in 22.9 mpg over the last month and Powell has been better in the top 130-150 range in 23.1 mpg, but the Dirk retirement tour and the general withholding of their minutes keeps their upside low. Move on if you have to.


    When Joe Ingles wrote about his child’s developmental issues it provided some context as to why he has struggled at times this season.

    Reading his disclosures it did seem as if he might have found at least some footing, and as we evaluate a silly game in comparison, it’s possible he produces more like last night’s romp going forward. He had 15 points, five rebounds, seven assists and seven cash counters over 46 minutes in the Jazz’s 148-147 overtime loss to the Thunder. Smokin’ Joe has been the top-75 guy you drafted him to be over the last month.

    Elsewhere, the box score was stacked as you’d expect in a game with 295 points scored. Derrick Favors went for 24 & 11 with three blocks, Rudy Gobert went for 26 & 16 with a steal and three blocks, Jae Crowder went for 20 & 8 with three assists, four steals and a block, and Donovan Mitchell scored 38 points on 35 shot attempts in the loss.


    Paul George should have been in the top-tier of MVP candidates already, but after 45 points on 17-of-31 shooting and the game-winner last night he’ll be there now. He added nine rebounds, seven assists, a steal and five treys to that stat line and he was rated as the No. 2 fantasy play in my post-ASG B150, so none of this is terribly surprising.

    Jerami Grant has earned his role so I’m not so concerned about Markieff Morris (17 minutes, two assists, one steal) and he cashed in nicely, scoring 18 points on 6-of-10 shooting with three treys, four rebounds, two steals and three blocks over 41 minutes in the Thunder’s overtime win. He’ll be fine and he’s sitting on a top 50-80 season, and B150 subs have to own a lot of him I would think.

    Nerlens Noel (two points, two steals) has been pretty bad lately but as bad as it has been he’s still a top 180-200 guy over the last four terrible games. His metrics remain the same as a top 120-150 player (9/8 cat) on the season but if you need more pop you have to make the move.

    Noel only goes pop if Steven Adams (16 points, 10 boards, three assists, five steals, one block, 47 minutes), and so far Adams wants to play through anything. Watch to see if the Thunder form an island in the No. 3 seed, as they are currently two games behind Denver and three games ahead of the Blazers in the playoff hunt.

    Morris needed to come out firing and expecting him to be good in the first game is a bit much, but he has a lot working against him and fast progress needs to be made. I probably pass on him in my 12-14 team standard leagues.

    Russell Westbrook dropped 43 points on 15-of-29 shooting (6-of-13 3PTs, 7-of-10 FTs) with 15 rebounds, eight assists, two steals and one block in the loss. The fact that this is the last topic in a 4,000 word article speaks to how numb we are to Westbrook stuff and how big George is playing.

    Even though Westbrook’s turnovers are still out of control and the free throws aren’t great, he has averaged 23.2 points with 13.7 boards, 13.0 assists and a combined 2.4 steals and blocks per game.

Fantasy News

  • Darius Garland
    PG, Cleveland Cavaliers

    Darius Garland (ankle) will play on Tuesday vs. the Celtics.

    The team will pay attention to their prized 5th pick's minutes in this one with the regular season right around the corner. Garland is an intriguing late-round flier on a talent-strapped Cavs team.

    Source: Spencer Davies on Twitter

  • Aaron Holiday
    PG, Indiana Pacers

    Aaron Holiday (illness) is available to play against the Wolves on Tuesday.

    Holiday should get a decent amount of run as the Pacers play their final preseason game tonight. He is unlikely to see enough minutes for fantasy purposes this year.

    Source: NBA Injury Report

  • Edmond Sumner
    PG, Indiana Pacers

    Edmond Sumner (illness) has been upgraded to questionable to face the Wolves on Tuesday.

    We should have an official word on Sumner's availability shortly. Sumner is a name to file away in deep-leagues should time open up.

    Source: NBA Injury Report

  • Tristan Thompson
    C, Cleveland Cavaliers

    The Cavs are have ruled Tristan Thompson (right groin soreness), John Henson (right groin strain) and Ante Zizic (left foot soreness) as out for Tuesday's game against the Celtics.

    With the trio of big men sitting out, it could again be a lot of Kevin Love and Larry Nance Jr. tonight. This is a big game for Nance to reclaim the starting spot he reportedly is losing out on.

    Source: NBA Injury Report

  • Jordan Bell
    PF, Minnesota Timberwolves

    Jordan Bell (left calf strain) and Keita Bates-Diop (back spasms) will be available to play against the Pacers on Tuesday.

    Bell is the more intriguing of the two, with an expected role this season. Bell is a wait-and-see guy in standard leagues.

    Source: Wolves PR on Twitter

  • Andre Drummond
    C, Detroit Pistons

    Andre Drummond (rest) will not play in Tuesday's game against the Sixers.

    This is just a planned rest day for the stud-center. Look for Thon Maker and Christian Wood to get some extra run in Drummond's place.

    Source: Keith Langlois on Twitter

  • Robert Williams III
    C-F, Boston Celtics

    Robert Williams will start Tuesday against the Cavs alongside Brad Wanamaker, Carsen Edwards, Semi Ojeleye and Grant Williams.

    Willaims gets his crack in the starting Celtics C carousel tonight after playing just 11 minutes on Sunday. There are a lot of cheap options to choose from on the Celtics for tonight's three-game DFS slate.

    Source: Celtics on Twitter

  • De'Aaron Fox
    PG, Sacramento Kings

    De'Aaron Fox (sore lower back) is expected to sit out of Wednesday's preseason game against the Suns.

    Fox is looking to get ready for the regular-season opener. With Cory Joseph yet to return, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Yogi Ferrell, and Tyler Ulis will get the lions share of PG minutes against the Suns.

    Source: James Ham on Twitter

  • Quinn Cook
    PG, Los Angeles Lakers

    Quinn Cook (left calf soreness) practiced on Tuesday and is hoping to play on Wednesday vs. the Warriors.

    Cook's continued absence has hurt his chances of cracking the Lakers' rotation in the early going. He has two more opportunities to put himself back in the mix, but right now, he can be left on the waiver wire in deep-leagues.

    Source: Mike Trudell on Twitter

  • Joel Embiid
    C, Philadelphia Sixers

    Joel Embiid will join Josh Richardson, Matisse Thybulle, Furkan Korkmaz and Tobias Harris in the starting lineup for Tuesday's preseason game against the Pistons.

    It's unknown how much run Embiid will get in this one, but on a light DFS slate, he's one of the few stars suiting up.

    Source: Marc Narducci on Twitter