• As the NBA trade deadline approaches, we have entered crunch time in the fantasy season. Plenty of storylines have come to the surface over the course of another eventful NBA season and many of them have had their fantasy effect felt in full force.

    While the usual suspects have dominated the fantasy rankings, there have been some surprises along the way. Victor Oladipo, once thought to be the centerpiece of a terrible package in the Paul George trade, has lifted himself to a borderline top-10 play. Lou Williams has gone from perennial Sixth Man of the Year conversations to emerging as one of the best scorers in the league. And a top-five player from a year ago and surefire first round pick for this season’s draft, Kawhi Leonard, has only played in nine games and it’s unknown if he’ll return at all this season.

    Who else can unexpectedly separate themselves from the pack? Who is in danger of not living up to expectations? There’s plenty of time left for breakouts and players maximizing their value but spotting these things and making the appropriate moves has never been more crucial than now. Hoop Ball is here to help. Let’s take a look at who’s got the schedule advantages in the Week Ahead:

    Games Played Breakdown

    Four Games: Bulls, Clippers, Hawks, Hornets, Kings, Mavericks, Pelicans, Rockets, Sixers, Spurs, Suns, Thunder, Wolves

    Three Games: Blazers, Bucks, Cavs, Celtics, Grizzlies, Heat, Jazz, Knicks, Lakers, Nets, Nuggets, Pacers, Pistons, Raptors, Warriors, Wizards

    Two Games: Magic

    It’s a busy week in the NBA with 13 teams playing four games and 16 teams playing three games. The Orlando Magic stand alone as the only team with two games this week. Already not a roster flushed with fantasy stars, it’s safe to say the Magic can be ignored this week, especially in leagues with weekly lineups.

    On the positive side, there are plenty of teams with tasty matchups this week. Perhaps most notable is the Chicago Bulls with a four-game week and some serious fantasy potential. The Bulls are in New Orleans to play the Pelicans tonight followed by a trip to Philly to play the Sixers on Wednesday. They end their week with a pair of home games, Friday against the Lakers and Sunday against the Bucks.

    All four of their opponents rank in the bottom half of the league in points allowed per game, giving the Bulls a great chance to score in droves. The Bucks are normally a tough opponent but in two meetings this season, Chicago has scored 115 points and come away with a win. And while the Sixers rank in the top five in defensive efficiency, they still allow plenty of points because no other team in the league turns the ball over like they do, giving the Bulls plenty of defensive potential and an easy opportunity for fastbreak points.

    All this said, give Jerian Grant a look as an addition this week. Kris Dunn is still out after suffering a concussion this past Wednesday night and didn’t travel with the team for this road trip. He could return as soon as Friday but with that nasty fall this past week resulting in a concussion and dislocated teeth, who knows?

    The Rockets, Clippers and Thunder all have great schedules this week as well with four games on their respective dockets. The Thunder add a little more value thanks to a premium streaming schedule as well.

    OKC is one of four teams that play on the two lightest nights of the week this week. Tuesday is a five-gamer and Thursday has four. Every other night this week has at least seven games. The Thunder, Knicks, Kings and always explosive Golden State Warriors are the four teams featured on both nights, giving you a chance to max out your matchups this week.

    Wire Watch

    Marvin Williams, PF, Hornets

    Marvin’s been around long enough that we know his ceiling. Plus, this isn’t exactly a hot name after his clunker of a game on Saturday against the Heat that saw him go scoreless and shoot 0-for-4 from deep. Still though, we shouldn’t discount his performance in the weeks leading up to that. Williams’ role on this Hornets team has evened out and if you’re looking for a 3-point specialist, you can do worse than Marvin. Before Saturday, Williams had hit three or more treys in four consecutive games and five of the last six. Sure, he went cold against Miami but he had back-to-back games of no points scored in late December and followed that up with a seven game run of 13.6 points, 5.1 rebounds and 3.0 3-pointers. It’s worth grabbing Williams and seeing how he responds to seeing his streak broken.

    Dillon Brooks, SF, Grizzlies

    Happy Birthday to Dillon Brooks, who turns 22 years old today. He may not get to celebrate correctly though as he’s questionable for tonight’s game against the Sixers with an illness. While his birthday night may not go according to plan, he had a heck of a final week as a 21-year old. Brooks exploded this past week, leading the Grizz to their first three-game win streak since they started the season 3-0. The streak came to and end with a loss to the Pelicans on Saturday night but Brooks still performed well. In four games last week, Brooks averaged 17.0 points, 4.3 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.5 steals and 3.0 3-pointers on 60 percent from the floor and 57 percent from deep. Pay attention to this kid. Memphis doesn’t have much depth and it’s the perfect situation for a player like Brooks to thrive and help you out for the homestretch.

    Bobby Portis, PF, Bulls

    In a season that started with Portis making headlines with his fists, he’s recovered quite well. And while he and Nikola Mirotic still haven’t mended their relationship off the court, they’ve made magic on the court, carrying the Bulls out of last place in the league and going 15-8 since their horrific 3-20 start. But trade rumors are still running rampant regarding Mirotic and what could happen before the deadline. If he moves, Portis would be the guy that would probably benefit the most on the floor. Already in the last four games, Portis has been great for field goal percentage, scoring and steals. In those four, Portis averaged 12.3 points, 3.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.3 steals, 1.3 3-pointers and 59 percent from the floor all while playing less than 18 minutes per game. If Niko does get dealt, Portis’ minutes could very well skyrocket as he would only be competing with Lauri Markkanen for minutes at the power forward position. A Mirotic move still seems likely so get in on Portis while you can.

    Injury Report

    Giannis Antetokounmpo (knee) missed the Bucks’ last game and will miss tonight’s meeting with the Suns. It’s all precautionary and mostly just being used as time to rest up. Expect him back Friday for their game with the Nets.

    Kawhi Leonard (quadriceps) is out indefinitely as has been discussed. There’s reportedly tension within the Spurs’ organization brewing over Leonard and his injury. This type of stuff happening in San Antonio is unprecedented so everyone needs to keep an eye on this, fantasy or otherwise.

    Jimmy Butler (knee) will miss the Wolves’ game against the Clippers tonight. If he’s dealing with a lot of soreness, don’t be surprised if he misses one of the back-to-back games the Wolves have on Wednesday and Thursday in Portland and Golden State.

    Myles Turner (elbow) is considered week-to-week but is being re-evaluated today. The Pacers play next against the Suns on Wednesday. He’s missed seven straight games so keep an eye on his status as things progress.

    DeAndre Jordan (ankle) is out for tonight’s meeting with the Wolves. Consider him questionable for the Clips’ next game against the Celtics on Wednesday.

    Elsewhere in L.A., Lakers guards Lonzo Ball (knee) and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (Achilles) are both expected to sit on Tuesday when the Lakers play the Celtics. The situation is worse for Ball though as he’s reportedly questionable for the team’s entire five-game East Coast road trip that starts later this week.

    For Miami, Goran Dragic (knee) and Tyler Johnson (ankle) will both miss tonight’s game against the Rockets.

    Rodney Hood (leg contusion) will miss the Jazz’s game versus the Hawks tonight. He should be considered questionable the rest of the week.

    Lastly, the Grizzlies could be incredibly thin in tonight’s game against the Sixers. As mentioned in the Wire Watch, Dillon Brooks (illness) is questionable. Andrew Harrison (shoulder), Jarell Martin (hand), Mario Chalmers (shoulder) and Brandan Wright (illness) are all also questionable. Meanwhile, JaMychal Green (ankle), James Ennis (calf) and Chandler Parsons (knee) will all be out for Monday night’s game.

Fantasy News

  • Fred VanVleet
    PG, Toronto Raptors

    Fred Vanvleet had a monstrous line, ending with 30 points on 10-for-16 shooting, four rebounds, seven dimes, two steals, a block and sinking four from deep on Wednesday night.

    VanVleet has been blowing his ADP out of the water this season. He is right on the cusp of top-25 production, and while he might not end the season there, he has the potential to put up big numbers with Kyle Lowry (fractured thumb) watching from the sidelines.

  • Pascal Siakam
    PF, Toronto Raptors

    Pascal Siakam led the Raptors in scoring with 36 points (15-for-28 shooting), along with six rebounds, three assists, a steal, a block and four 3-pointers on Wednesday night.

    Pascal Siakam continues to have huge games and proves that he was worth an early-round pick. He contributes across the board, and the injuries to the Raptors will only provide higher upside for Siakam.

  • Norman Powell
    SF, Toronto Raptors

    Norman Powell couldn't find his shot, ending the night with two points on 0-for-6 shooting, seven rebounds and two blocks against Portland on Wednesday.

    Powell got the start with Kyle Lowry out, but tonight just wasn't his night. That being said, he has provided decent out of position blocks recently, and should still be a valuable asset with Lowry out.

  • Marc Gasol
    C, Toronto Raptors

    Marc Gasol racked up four blocks to go along with nine points, five rebounds, five assists and three 3-pointers on Wednesday.

    Gasol has strung together a couple meaningful lines now and the four blocks help ease the disappointing start to the season. With Serge Ibaka sidelined by injury, Gasol has the opportunity to start working his way back to the top-100 value many were expecting.

  • Rondae Hollis-Jefferson
    SF, Toronto Raptors

    Rondae Hollis-Jefferson had his best game of the season, putting up 16 points on 6-of-8 shooting, 11 boards, one assist, a block and a steal on Wedensday.

    The Raptors have caught the injury bug and Hollis-Jefferson is making the most of his time. He could be a productive streamer if OG Anunoby continues to miss time.

  • Karl-Anthony Towns
    C, Minnesota Timberwolves

    Karl-Anthony Towns had another fantastic night, finishing with a line of 28, 11, 4 and three 3-pointers in a 129-114 win against the Spurs on Wednesday.

    This was Towns' first game without a block this season, but made up for it with two steals to his name. He continues to dominate this season and is a top-5 player.

  • Andrew Wiggins
    SF, Minnesota Timberwolves

    Andrew Wiggins continued his tear on Wednesday night, putting up 30 points on 12-of-23 shooting, eight rebounds, seven assists, two steals and a block.

    Wiggins turned in another great game and is currently returning top-25 value. This screams sell-high opportunity as it's hard to imagine him finishing the season this high. However, if you want to ride this one out, it's hard to find fault with that either.

  • Robert Covington
    SF, Minnesota Timberwolves

    Robert Covington didn't contribute much on Wednesday, finishing with 10 points, five boards, and a steal.

    Covington is currently hovering around his ADP of a top-50 player, and while he had a quiet night, by his standards, he'll bounce back.

  • Jarrett Culver
    G-F, Minnesota Timberwolves

    Jarrett Culver started again and contributed across the board with 12 points (6-of-10 shooting), four boards, three assists, a steal and two blocks on Wednesday.

    It's good to see the field goal percentage trending the right way and the defensive stats were a nice addition. Culver isn't worth owning outside of deeper leagues, but could be an interesting steamer if Jeff Teague goes down again.

  • Jeff Teague
    PG, Minnesota Timberwolves

    Jeff Teauge returned from injury (illness) and put up 18 points on 6-of-10 shooting, with six assists and two steals on Wednesday.

    Teague looked good coming off the bench in his first game back. He has been out-performing his ADP this season and is just outside the top-50. While this might regress a bit, he is off to a strong start this year and is a great source of assists.