• You’re going to have to excuse me for not having anything a little wittier to say to end the eighth week of the NBA season. I just want curl into fetal position as I think about what fantasy life is going to be like without Luka for the next two weeks.

    Regardless of how you’re feeling about your team this Sunday night into Monday morning, you’re going to want to try to stay ahead of the curve or make more adjustments. As the season progresses, you’re going to need to get more creative with the moves you make and we hope it isn’t because you are running out of IR spots. Whether you’re taking that celebratory morning sip of coffee or drinking the tears of Doncic’s owners, here are some pointers no matter what type of fantasy mood you’re in.

    Add(s) of the Night

    Cody Zeller, PF/C, Charlotte Hornets – 29 minutes, 19 points, 12 rebounds, two assists, one block, 6-of-11 FG, 7-of-10 FT

    Not all pickups need to be of the sexy variety and Cody Zeller isn’t much of a looker. However, big guys who can plod their way into big guy stats and top-100 value shouldn’t be given just a passing glance.

    A guy like Zeller should be owned because of that steady and unexciting production, whether he’s starting in P.J. Washington’s absence against a big team like the Pacers or coming off the bench behind Bismack Biyombo. Zeller has delivered solid value in under 25 minutes a night up until this point. With Washington out, Zeller is the most likely Hornets candidate to keep seeing a bump. That means even more opportunity to deliver even more value with more minutes.

    Elfrid Payton, PG, New York Knicks – 25 minutes, 10 points, 11 assists, seven rebounds, one steal, 5-of-13 FG

    Listen, I don’t like recommending Knicks to anyone so I’m writing this through gritted teeth. But the reality is that Frank Ntilikina is going to remain inconsistent and Dennis Smith Jr. is out of the rotation altogether which makes Payton by far the best point guard on the Knicks right now. That and he still remains a nightly triple-double threat when he’s on the floor.

    Payton still very much has the same flaws that plagued him throughout his career. He’s not a great shooter from the 3-point line or the charity stripe. But we also know he can deliver counting stats with the best of them when he’s on a heater. With the Knicks going nowhere fast, they have nothing to lose by turning Payton loose.

    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.

    Nemanja Bjelica

    Marvin Bagley is still coming off the bench for the time being but if Sunday’s game is any indication, Bagley is still their prized possession in the long run. You need to not look further then Bagley’s 13 shot attempts compared to Bjelica’s two. If Bjelica isn’t shooting and scoring, then what is he doing? He’s certainly not out there for his defense. With Bagley back, Holmes still solidly locked in at center, and with Trevor Ariza getting a steady supply of minutes off the bench, Bjelica looks like he’s going to be the odd man out.

    Injury Report

    We’ll begin with…Luka! Nooooooooooooo! These two weeks can’t go by fast enough.

    Joel Embiid missed Sunday’s game with an upper respiratory illness so despite being on a roll and missing a delicious matchup against the Nets, this shouldn’t keep him out for long.

    Nikola Vucevic made his return on Sunday after missing the last few weeks with a badly sprained ankle. He looked like his usual self in 29 minutes of action. Fire him back up.

    Paul Millsap missed his second consecutive game with quad soreness. His teammate Jamal Murray was just fine and played in the back-to-back despite having some junk in his trunk. Or something like that.

    Moritz Wagner is not going to play on Monday so here’s to you Ian Mahinmi our nation’s capital turns its lonely eyes to you. Woo woo woo.

    What’s that you say, Isaiah Thomas. Man, you should be back on the court Monday. Hey hey hey.

    Nicolas Batum was ruled out again on Sunday with a hand contusion. He’s probably day-to-day but that’s probably not going to make or break your teams.

    Lonnie Walker Jr. is questionable for Monday with a bruised knee for you deep dynasty leaguers.

    A rogue avocado still seems to have gotten the best of Andre Drummond since he’s still questionable for Monday with an allergic reaction to his eye.

    Blake Griffin is also questionable for Monday with knee soreness. With both Griffin and Drummond both banged up it’s a good thing that the Pistons are playing the defenseless Wizards or else they could be toast.

    Fred VanVleet is listed as doubtful for Monday’s game against the Cavs. It’s a little troubling that FVV has missed this much time with a knee contusion but then again, it’s the Cavs so no need to rush him back.

    Jae Crowder remains questionable with a sore ankle after missing Saturday’s game for the Grizzlies.

    If anyone is interested, Cristiano Felicio was removed from the Bulls injury report. Don’t go running to the wires all at once.

    Felicio’s teammates that occupy spots with him at the end of the Bulls bench, Daniel Gafford and Chandler Hutchinson, are questionable and doubtful respectively.

    Grayson Allen will remain out on Monday with an ankle injury.

    Eric Paschall did not suit up for Sunday’s game against the Kings and has now missed his second straight with a hip injury.

    De’Aaron Fox did not play on Sunday but both Fox and Luke Walton are confident that Fox will return to the Kings lineup on Tuesday much to everyone’s delight.

    Devin Booker is still dealing with soreness in his wrist and is questionable for Monday. You need one of those to shoot so keep your eyes open for news on Booker’s health through Monday before getting him in lineups.

    Mattise Thybulle left Sunday’s game with an illness and I’d be sick too if I were a Sixers fan watching the team put up a complete dud against the Nets.

    Kevin Huerter left Sunday’s game against the Lakers in the 4th quarter after injuring the same shoulder that sidelined him for three weeks not that long ago. He appeared to be in pain and a reaggravation would likely cost him a lot of time.

    The Heat will once again be without Justise Winslow and Goran Dragic on Monday so I’ll be holding on to a Herro until the end of the night.

    How to Replace A Top-5 Player

    We can’t express our profound sadness about losing Luka Doncic to an ankle injury without sharing how we can help fill our Luka-less void. The short answer is, you can’t.

    Doncic is one of kind. He’s been a marvel at his young age and if you took a gamble on him in rounds two or three, it most certainly paid off for you so far. But now you’re probably fearful of taking a step back in the standings while he’s on the mend and as a fellow Doncic owner, I don’t blame you one bit.

    But again, you can’t replace all of Doncic’s statistical outputs. I don’t need to tell you that in late December, there is no such player available in your league’s waiver wire unless you’re in a 1-team league. So with that said, here’s how I’m approaching this situation for my H2H leagues.

    Damage control

    The one area that I have typically struggled with in my 9-cat leagues is turnovers. This probably doesn’t shock you since Doncic was such a high usage player averaging over four turnovers a game. But this gives me an opportunity to focus on the category while he’s out. Shedding 12-16 turnovers from my weekly totals means I can get back to being competitive in the category. Now what I’ll also be looking for is any fringe players who are also turnover prone to stick to my bench. That typically means other high usage guards aren’t going to be in my lineups like Lou Williams, Dennis Schroder, or Derrick Rose.

    Pivoting

    Like I said, I can’t replicate 29.3 ppg, 9.6 rpg, and 8.9 apg of the waiver wires. That’s completely unrealistic. But what I can do is focus on that 9.6 rpg and see if I can stream some rebounds together. Since those are going to come from big men, chances are focusing on that category will also give me a bump in field goal percentage. It’s a shift in strategy that will hopefully get me a two-for-one in category management. The guys you should be looking at to try to keep afloat are DeAndre Jordan, Cody Zeller, and if anyone gave up on him, Derrick Favors.

    4-Game Streaming

    Finally, if all else fails, I’m taking things week by week and loading up on 4-game players in the hopes that simply outplaying my opponent will be enough to keep things competitive. If I can pick up enough 4-game streamers and start with an advantage against my opponent by two or three games from waiver players, that could mean picking up an additional 40-50 points, 10-15 rebounds, or 10-15 assists and perhaps 5-8 cash counters. Together, that’s probably a couple of mediocre games from Doncic but again, we’re just trying to stay afloat and competitive. There are a number of teams playing 4-game weeks so choose wisely and good luck to all you Luka Doncic owners out there.

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