• One month into the NBA season, it would seem that 13 players are setting themselves apart in the fantasy landscape. The usual suspects in Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, James Harden, LeBron James and Anthony Davis are all having their way early on. The man that likely went number one in your fantasy draft, Giannis Antetokounmpo, is leading the league in scoring and doing so on an unreal shooting percentage. DeMarcus Cousins has consistently put up video game numbers to start the season and has turned himself into the ultimate 8-cat monster. Now the number one option in New York, Kristaps Porzingis is breaking out in a way few projected. Paul George is starting to flourish in Oklahoma City, drilling more than three 3s per game and leading the league in steals with ease. Despite concerns about their defensive habits on the floor, Karl-Anthony Towns and Damian Lillard are lighting it up with spectacular all-around play statistically. And Nikola Jokic and Otto Porter are proving that last year’s performances were no fluke.

    In a 12-team league, somebody has at least two of those players. If that’s not you, you have to keep up in other ways. Now is the perfect time for trades as trends are really forming. Guys like Clint Capela and Robert Covington weren’t highly coveted entering the season but bring nearly as much value as those top 13 have to start the season.

    Capela’s rebounding and shot-blocking have made him a premier fantasy center. His field goal percentage leads the league at 69.6 percent and should stay in that area with the help of James Harden and a soon-to-return Chris Paul.

    While Covington’s field goal percentage from deep, currently sitting at 49 percent, may not be sustainable, he’s getting tons of opportunities from long range. Even if that percentage dips, he’s taken at least five treys in all but two games so far this season so the makes should still keep coming.

    If you have an underperforming more mainstream name, those are just a couple guys who could give you a boost in the long-term. For now, let’s focus on the Week Ahead:

    Games Played Breakdown

    Four Games: Blazers, Jazz, Kings, Lakers, Raptors, Suns, Warriors, Wizards, Wolves

    Three Games: Bucks, Bulls, Cavs, Celtics, Clippers, Grizzlies, Hawks, Heat, Hornets, Knicks, Magic, Mavericks, Nets, Nuggets, Pacers, Pelicans, Pistons, Rockets, Sixers, Spurs

    Two Games: Thunder

    Only one team plays less than three this week so Thunder players are to be avoided for streaming purposes. Other than a game against the struggling Bulls, the Thunder find themselves at San Antonio on Friday night. So not only are they at a volume disadvantage, the Thunder also have a difficult matchup this week.

    Speaking of the Thunder, there’s a pretty significant name missing from those Lucky 13 talked about above. Mr. Triple Double, the reigning MVP Russell Westbrook has not quite found his edge to start the 2017-18 campaign and one month in, this should probably be a bigger story than it is. According to BasketballMonster.com, Westbrook is only producing at a 7th round value right now, a far cry from being a unanimous top five pick in the preseason. It’s mostly his percentages that are damaging him right now as he’s shooting 41 percent from the field and a shockingly low 65 percent from the foul line. Westbrook should turn it around sooner than later and be a fantasy force. But this week isn’t the week for a Russell renaissance.

    On the other side of things, it’s never a bad week to own a Golden State Warrior or two and this week’s schedule stands out for the defending NBA Champs. Four games against Eastern Conference opponents and only one of those teams is a good defensive team. That team is the Boston Celtics on Thursday night in what is sure to be the Game of the Week. Beyond that though, the Warriors cap their week with a weekend double-header and Sunday’s matchup in Brooklyn looks especially appetizing. The weekend could be the perfect time to look at Warriors streaming options such as Nick Young. Young has logged 21 minutes in each of the Warriors’ last two games. In those two games he’s combined for 25 points, five rebounds, seven assists, seven steals and six 3-pointers.

    Wire Watch

    Buddy Hield, SG, Sacramento Kings

    Hield had a rough start to the season but appears to be finding his groove. Last week, Hield averaged over 15 points, six rebounds and hit over three 3-pointers per game on 50 percent from the floor. Those six boards per game are huge as only James Harden, Andre Roberson and Khris Middleton crashed the glass harder from the shooting guard position last week. There’s plenty of shots to be taken in Sacramento and Hield is earning the opportunities.

    Bobby Portis, PF, Chicago Bulls

    In the three games since returning from his suspension, Portis has been lights out. He’s not providing defensive stats but on the offensive side, Portis is averaging more than 19 points and 10 rebounds. He’s spacing the floor, knocking down six 3-pointers on 50 percent from deep. He’s shooting nearly 50 percent from the floor overall and 80 percent from the free throw line. This week, Lauri Markkanen will be fighting through a banged up ankle. That means even more chances for Portis to shine. Add this man.

    Dewayne Dedmon, C, Atlanta Hawks

    Dedmon has scored in double-digits in his last four outings on an extremely efficient 67 percent from the floor. Plus he’s averaging eight rebounds so far this season. Dedmon has been very consistent this season and is a product of being one of the only big man options on a shallow Hawks team.

    Injury Report

    Chris Paul (knee) is expected to make his return to the Rockets this week. Thursday night’s game against the Suns is currently targeted but it could be Saturday against the Grizzlies for Paul’s return.

    Kyrie Irving (facial fracture) missed Sunday’s win and is listed as questionable for Tuesday’s game against the Nets. Irving will wear a mask when he returns.

    Stephen Curry (bruised quad) is highly unlikely to play in the Warriors’ Monday night tilt against the Magic though he his currently listed as questionable. The Warriors will want to be at full strength when they travel to Boston to play the Celtics on Thursday night.

    Nicolas Batum (elbow) is expected to make his season debut when the Hornets lock up with the Cavs on Wednesday night.

    D’Angelo Russell (knee) is expected to miss several games, probably the entire week. Spencer Dinwiddie who is fighting through a leg injury of his own will get the start in Russell’s absence.

    Carmelo Anthony (back) and Steven Adams (calf) missed the Thunder’s win on Sunday night but should be back on the floor for the their next game on Wednesday night against the Bulls.

    Speaking of that game, Lauri Markkanen (ankle) is not expected to miss any time and should play against the Thunder on Wednesday.

    Gary Harris (shoulder) is listed as a game-time decision for the Nuggets’ game against the Blazers on Monday night.

    Rajon Rondo (groin) is expected to make his debut for the Pelicans this week. It’s targeted to be Friday against the Nuggets.

    Patrick Beverley (knee) and Danilo Gallinari (hip) will miss the Clippers’ game against the Sixers on Monday night though both hope to return this week. Milos Teodosic (foot) is making progress toward returning and could be back sooner than originally thought.

    Eric Bledsoe (knee) and Greg Monroe (calf) are both expected to play this week after being dealt for one another last week. Bledsoe is a game-time decision for the Bucks tonight.

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