• Almost at the homestretch people. The fantasy playoffs are coming up quickly and these are the last few weeks to make your deadline deals and find those diamonds in the rough to propel you towards fantasy glory. But be careful, you don’t want to go mining for gold only to find turds instead. Certain things just can’t be polished no matter how desperate we get late in the season.

    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 stressing the final weeks of the regular season, here are some pointers no matter what type of fantasy mood you’re in.

    Add(s) of the Night

    Daniel Theis, PF, Boston Celtics – 31 minutes, 16 points, nine rebounds, two 3-pointers, 6-of-7 FG, 2-of-3 FT.

    It’s one thing to have a monster game against the flailing Timberwolves. Danny DeVito could probably drop a massive double-double against a Towns-less Wolves team, let alone Danny Theis. It’s another thing to back up that line with another supremely efficient near double-double against a significantly bigger and stronger team in the Lakers.

    It’s also become apparent that Theis is now entrenched as the Celtics’ starting center as evidenced by the whopping five minutes Brad Stevens gave to Enes Kanter to compete against the likes of Anthony Davis, JaVale McGee, and Dwight Howard. Mix in the fact that Theis is a capable 3-point shooter and shot blocker and you have a guy who should coast to a top-75 finish on the season at worst. There’s still a perception that Theis is in a timeshare and isn’t a startable fantasy option. Make sure you’re not one of those owners thinking that way.

    Coby White, PG, Chicago Bulls – 34 minutes, 33 points, six rebounds, two assists, two steals, one block, five 3-pointers, 11-of-18 FG, 6-of-7 FT.

    In the three games after the break, Coby White has been a top-100 player. That isn’t much but considering where White was to begin the season, this is a welcome development. The fortunate thing is that White has room to grow and because the Bulls are going nowhere fast, they have all the time to allow that to happen.

    White is going to have all the typical rookie problems on a bad team that will keep his ceiling lower than most. Mainly the inefficiency and turnovers. But if you can survive those areas, White is going to draw major minutes and all the popcorn you can possibly eat. On a team as dysfunctional and unwatchable as the Bulls, White might be the one bright spot worth your fantasy team’s and eyeballs’ attention.

    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.

    Derrick Favors

    We wondered for most of the season what a healthy Derrick Favors at center would look like next to Zion Williamson. In the past 10 games, we’ve gotten our answer. Favors isn’t even a top-150 per game option, hasn’t scored in double digits once in those past 10 and has a total of five blocks during that span. This isn’t at all what we signed up for as we waited for Favors and the rest of the Pelicans to get back to full strength.

    Look, if you still need some degree of solid field goal percentage and rebounding, by all means hold on to Favors. If not, then don’t expect much more from Favors knowing that the Pelicans aren’t going to suddenly hand him 30-plus minutes with his injury history and willingness to let Jaxson Hayes soak up some additional run.

    Injury Report

    We begin with the news that Ben Simmons has been ruled out of Monday’s game and is scheduled for more tests on his back after leaving Saturday’s game against the Bucks. The Sixers are pretty concerned about the situation and his owners hope that he can just rest up for a few games and be fine for the remainder of the regular season. We harp on Simmons’ flaws at times but he’s been a top-20 player for the season and his steals and field goal percentage are virtually irreplaceable.

    Speaking of irreplaceable field goal percentage, Mitchell Robinson and his absurd 73% shooting is listed as probable to play on Monday against the Rockets.

    The Knicks’ always-frustrating backcourt continues their torment of fantasy owners with both Elfrid Payton and Frank Ntilikina listed as questionable with ankle and groin injuries respectively. Payton was on a torrid stretch so owners should hope this is a minor to non-issue.

    Markelle Fultz had also been on a strong stretch prior to the All-Star Break so it’s good news that his calf injury isn’t an issue for his availability against the Nets on Monday.

    Jimmy Butler will not play on Monday against the Cavs in Cleveland due to a personal matter but with the Heat back in Miami after this one road game, we don’t expect Buckets to be out much longer.

    Jaren Jackson Jr. will be out for the Grizzlies after spraining his knee and is going to be reevaluated in two weeks. JJJ has been a top-50 player on the season but has really struggled with scoring over the last few weeks.

    Victor Oladipo missed Sunday’s game against the Raptors due to back soreness and even though it doesn’t sound serious, expect the Pacers to be cautious with their star.

    DeAndre’ Bembry remains out for the Hawks on Monday and I’m sure there is a DeAndre’ Bembry die-hard out there who is really broken up over his lengthy absence.

    Wendell Carter Jr. isn’t quite ready to return from his ankle injury and sat out of Sunday’s game against the Wizards.

    In 30-deep news, Denzel Valentine is dealing with hamstring tightness and did not play in Sunday’s game for the Bulls.

    In addition to Simmons’ back injury, Tobias Harris is doubtful for the Sixers with a knee issue. The Sixers are catching the injury bug at the worst possible time.

    Kevin Love is probable for Monday despite an Achilles injury but it sure sounds like his days of playing in back-to-backs might be done for the season. Plan accordingly with Love and his weekly schedules.

    Brook Lopez is out on Monday for the Bucks with a bad back but he isn’t expected to be out for long.

    Luka Doncic is expected back for the Mavs on Monday and his newest ankle issue isn’t considered significant. Still, if feels Luka’s ankles have been giving him just as much trouble this season as he has been dishing out to defenders’ ankles.

    In other non-Luka Mavs news as though that’s a real thing, Willie Cauley-Stein is questionable for the Mavs on Monday due to a personal matter. Jalen Brunson will not play due to a shoulder issue.

    Jeremy Lamb left Sunday’s game with a knee injury and is going to need an MRI. This is the type of news that will force owners to make some tough roster decisions in the final weeks of the fantasy schedule.

    Marquess Chriss was ruled out of Sunday’s game against the Pelicans but hey, who needs a top-100 player on the Warriors when you can UNLEASH THE DRAGAN!

    Paul George is questionable on Monday for the Clippers but did go through a practice last week so it’s likely we’ll see PG-13 back on the court.

    Pat Beverley is also questionable as he continues to recover from a sore groin.

    Justise Winslow is a copy/paste edit function at this point. He’s going out once again with his back injury.

    Deandre Ayton is probable for Monday despite some ankle soreness which wasn’t stopping him from being a monster.

    Aron Baynes and Dario Saric are also probable for Monday to help muddy up the Suns’ bench situation against the Jazz.

    Decisions Won’t Make Themselves

    This is the hardest part of the season. It’s the eternal question that faces any fantasy owner at this point in the season with the playoffs on the horizon. Do I shake things up, or do I go with the ones who I brought to the dance?

    There’s something to be said for consistency and knowing what your roster can bring on a night in and night out basis. At the same time, you don’t want to be the one left behind when your competition starts scooping up every hot name that’s rising up the Roster Trends board. Which side do you take at this point in the season and your playoff lives hanging in the balance? The answer as always lies somewhere in the middle.

    Don’t just go cutting willy nilly. Today’s hot name could be tomorrow’s dud and you could be chasing ghosts for the remainder of the season. As an example, as much as there might be opportunity with the messy Timberwolves situation, do you really want to play Three-Card Monte with the likes of Juancho Hernangomez, Naz Reid, and James Johnson until Towns is healthy?

    At the same time, players who have the potential to be difference makers like Otto Porter and Norman Powell could still be out there. If you’re holding onto a Jeremy Lamb or Joe Harris, what are you hoping for? Sure both players can shoot and get hot but you’re talking very limited ceilings. At least with a couple of guys coming back from injury or other various hot names, you have a chance to ride a strong wave into the postseason.

    As always, do your homework, look at some trends, and don’t be afraid to make some tough decisions. Some of these hot pickups might not work out but you’ll regret it more if you don’t try to manage every inch of your teams. With the season on the line, it’s time to decide if you’re ready to shoot your shot and take some tough chances to put yourself in a winning position.

Fantasy News

  • Trae Young
    PG, Atlanta Hawks

    According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the NBA and ESPN are close to finalizing a televised Horse competition that expects to feature Trae Young, Chris Paul, Zach LaVine and others.

    It is also believed that there will be some participants from the WNBA as well as recent NBA alumni. The NBA has been trying to find any way to get their product back on television and this seems like the easiest way to make that happen in the current environment. The NBA might still be a ways away but NBA fans will be able to watch some of their favorite athletes in a good old fashioned Horse competition.

    Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter

  • Lauri Markkanen
    PF, Chicago Bulls

    Report: Nuggets' General Manager Arturas Karnisovas is the early frontrunner for the Bulls' top exec spot.

    The Bulls are finally planning to move on from the Gar Foreman and John Paxson-led front office, though both may stay with the organization. Karnisovas has the draft and development track record that the Bulls are seeking. The search is in the early stages, though the Bulls do plan to have someone hired prior to the resumption of the season.

    Source: nbcsports.com

  • LeBron James
    SF, Los Angeles Lakers

    Report: NBA players that received advanced payments or regular payments on a six-month cycle instead of a 12-month cycle could return significant amounts to owners as part of a compensation deal.

    Owners may already get back a pro-rated amount of their players' salaries for each game that is not made up this season. And these players that have been paid some of their salary early would need to return the advanced portion, as well. The takeaway here is that both sides would clearly benefit by playing as many regular season games as possible, but the painful talks about how to handle the missing revenue from the inevitable missed games are moving along.

    Source: cnbc.com

  • Cassius Stanley
    SG, College

    Duke freshman shooting guard Cassius Stanley (6-foot-6, 193 pounds) has announced his plans to enter the 2020 NBA draft, after racking up averages of 12.6 PTS, 2.9 REB and 1.1 3-pointers per game, while setting averages of 47.4 percent FG, 36.0 percent from long range and 73.3 percent from the free throw line in his only season with the Blue Devils.

    Stanley had a solid shortened (due to the COVID-19 pandemic) freshman year at Duke and has decided to follow the ever-popular one-and-done route for college players coming out of perennial powerhouse programs. While his numbers don't jump off the stat sheet, he is immensely talented and can put the ball in the bucket. At this point, whenever the 2020 draft happens, Stanley projects as a second-round selection.

    Source: Adam Zagoria on Twitter

  • Both Gach
    SG, College

    Sophomore Both Gach, a 6-foot-3 ,183 pound guard out of Utah, announced his plans on Tuesday to enter the 2020 NBA draft after concluding his second (shortened; due to COVID-19 pandemic) season with the Utes, averaging 10.7 PTS, 3.6 REB and 2.9 AST in 2019-20.

    Unlike Nico Mannion, who also declared for the draft Tuesday, this announcement was less expected. Gach is likely looking to gauge interest from NBA teams and may not hire an agent, at least not initially. He caught some eyes with his play early in the season, but currently does not project as a selection in either round of the upcoming draft. There's a chance we see Gach back with Utah next season.

    Source: Evan Daniels on Twitter

  • Nico Mannion
    PG, College

    Nico Mannion, a highly-touted freshman guard out of Arizona, has entered his name into the 2020 NBA draft pool on Tuesday.

    Mannion has garnered national attention since his high school days, largely due to his impressive video clips on social media and YouTube. He has been projected as a lottery pick in the 2020 draft for some time now, so it's safe to say this isn't surprising in the least. Mannion has incredible skill as a distributor and despite his low shooting percentages in his lone season at Arizona (39.2 percent FG and 32.7 percent from deep), he should not be on the board beyond the lottery picks, whenever the 2020 draft occurs.

    Source: ESPN

  • LeBron James
    SF, Los Angeles Lakers

    The NBA "would like to have a champion crowned by Labor Day weekend," per Adrian Wojnarowski.

    Wojnarowski was on "Get Up" on Tuesday morning with host Mike Greenberg when he gave the latest timeline that he is hearing. Woj made it a point of emphasis that this is the ideal timeline that the NBA is hoping to complete this season by, and added that if this comes to fruition there is no question that the start of next season would be delayed. This is the latest timeline that we are hearing about, and we will have to see how realistic this is as time passes.

    Source: ESPN

  • LeBron James
    SF, Los Angeles Lakers

    NBA teams will not be allowed to conduct in-person or live video workouts for NBA Draft prospects but will be allowed up to four hours of virtual meetings per prospect.

    Whenever the draft happens, it will be with the least amount of research in quite a while. Teams will be without tournament game tape for college prospects and without the ability to watch live workouts. Combined with a lack of consensus on who the best players are, this could lead to a wild draft with the eventual best players going much later than usual.

    Source: Shams Charania on Twitter

  • LeBron James
    SF, Los Angeles Lakers

    Adam Silver said there will be no way to know the NBA season's fate until at least May 1st.

    It's not much of a surprise to hear that Silver doesn't expect to have enough information to make a determination about the season until next month at the very least. He also mentioned that the NBA has looked a lot at games without fans.

    Source: Tim Bontemps on Twitter

  • Tyrese Maxey
    SG, College

    Tyrese Maxey has declared for the NBA draft.

    The freshman from Kentucky finished the college season with averages of 14.0 points, 4.3 rebounds, 3.2 dimes, 0.9 steals, 0.4 blocks and 1.1 threes per contest. Maxey is gifted with a tremendous knack for scoring and has the looks of a lottery selection, though obviously this draft season could be a very strange one.

    Source: Malika Andrews on Twitter