• In the week ahead, we will analyze the weekly schedule and offer a full primer on players that can help you win your week. Although many leagues finished last week, there are still some fantasy nuts who continue to the end of the NBA season.Owners in leagues this week must prepare for a ton of rest days and unexpected sits from teams locked into the playoffs, while injured players may be on early shutdown watch. Owners can keep it locked to @HoopBallTweets for updates.

    7 teams with six games (ranked by ease of schedule):

    NOR, LAC, TOR, CHA, MIA, SAS, LAL

    The rash of injuries to the Pelicans has given some unlikely players some fantasy value. Toney Douglas is the safest bet for fantasy value out of their new-look starting five and is a must-start player in a six game week. He could flirt with mid-round value over the last 10 days. Tim Frazier has rivaled similar production to Douglas albeit at a lesser rate. He is also worth an add in standard leagues but I would rather own Douglas.

    Luke Babbitt and newly signed Jordan Hamilton have surprisingly been posting top-100 value over the last week and  their minutes have been trending upwards as the Hornets are moving to small-ball. They both should flirt with mid-to-late round production with a little bit of upside and should not be on any wires right now.

    Dante Cunningham has been averaging 36 minutes per game over the last six, however this has not translated to any fantasy value. He is by far the least likely to produce big games out of any Pelican on the wire.

    The biggest news coming out of LA is that Blake Griffin (suspension, hand) is returning to action and savvy owners should have already made the add on the Clippers’ big if he was dropped. He shouldn’t see any rest time as he looks to get back up to game speed.

    Jamal Crawford has also been blistering hot and if Chris Paul has another rest game (which is likely) he can be in for a lot more usage even with the return of Blake.  He has been a must-start player over the last two weeks and owners should obviously be riding his hot hand.

    Jonas Valanciunas has been a beast since returning and has been piling up defensive stats (1 steal and 2.6 blocks per game over his last seven games) which has buoyed him to early-round value over that span.

    Owners of DeMar DeRozan and especially Kyle Lowry should expect at least one or two more rest days with the Raptors locked into the two-seed in the East. This should mean Cory Joseph starts at least one game although starting has not produced a huge boost to his numbers (11.7 points, 4.3 assists, 2.7 rebounds, 0.3 steals per game as a starter). He should be left on the wire.

    Norman Powell has provided a big spark for the Raptors and his increase in minutes to just under 29 per game has resulted in top-70 value over the last seven. He is shooting the ball at a hot 51.7% from the field over that time and has been able to stretch the floor for the Raps averaging 2 triples per game. Dwane Casey loves his game and he should be seeing minutes in the 30’s where he will remain a fantasy asset. He is owned in only 6% of fantasy leagues and is a much better bet for value than the rest of his waiver wire backcourt mates Terrence Ross and Cory Joseph.

    Marvin Williams has been ice-cold from the field shooting 40.9% over the last two weeks and recording zero total steals. His numbers should creep back up to produce late-round value at the very least. He remains a hold. Courtney Lee has also been producing mid-level value and there is no reason for his play to fall off.

    Cody Zeller could see an up-tick in value while Al Jefferson deals with a bruised quad and should be able to hold steady late-round value for his boards, blocks and FG. Big Al is also a notoriously slow healer so who knows how this will affect him. He remains an unappealing add with this new injury and limited upside.

    The Heat play two sets of back-to-backs which may mean a rest day for Dwyane Wade as the Heat are locked into a playoff spot. I would guess it comes on the road against Detroit or Boston on the last two days of the regular season. All other Heat regulars should be started and Joe Johnson should be owned even during his cold streak. He has top-100 upside and should start shooting the ball better to go along with his playmaking.

    The Spurs are going to be doing Spurs things over the last 10 days and their regulars should see at least two rest days. I would guess that they sit on Thursday at Oracle arena and maybe even the second half of that back-to-back Friday in Denver. Keep it locked to @HoopBallTweets for player updates and  outside of Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge everyone should have volatile value.

    The Lakers are back with six games and this should make Jordan Clarkson and Julius Randle must-start guys, Randle has been improving every month and has been the most consistent Laker over the last month.

    D’Angelo Russell has been in the news for all the wrong reasons and his issue with Nick Young and the rest of his teammates has clearly had an effect on his game. He has been shooting just 35.8% over the last month and this has somehow gotten worse with the media breakout. Russell has a ton of upside but you’ll want to see him string at least two good games together before making an add.

Fantasy News

  • Kendrick Nunn
    PG, Miami Heat

    Kendrick Nunn led the way again for the Heat with 23 points, five rebounds, eight assists and two steals as the Heat downed the Cavs 108-97.

    Nunn followed up a 20-point outing with this game and his fantasy owners have to be pleased with the returns over the last week. The leash just lengthened a little bit. We know he can score and has actually contributed quite a bit in other areas to keep himself on the radar.

  • Meyers Leonard
    C, Miami Heat

    Meyers Leonard started in Thursday's game and looked better than he has in some time, with 12 points, seven boards, two triples and a blocked shot.

    Leonard finally put in a good outing after quite a few duds recently, including a missed outing on Tuesday with an illness. He absolutely has potential to make some 3-pointers and be a late-round value for fantasy teams as long as he can play 25 minutes a night.

  • Bam Adebayo
    C, Miami Heat

    Bam Adebayo scored 16 points and added 15 boards in 40 minutes of action in Thursday's win over the Cavs.

    Adebayo was strong again in this one from an offensive standpoint, but once again the defensive stats were absent with just one block. He's really killing teams at the free throw line but other than that, the returns have been quite good. He's going to be a good scorer and rebounder with defensive upside, so if he can bring the free throw percentage up even a handful of points, we have a clear top-50 asset.

  • Jimmy Butler
    SG, Miami Heat

    Jimmy Butler contributed across the board on Thursday with 14 points, six assists, three steals and two blocks in 39 minutes of court time.

    Butler was solid across the board even though he didn't have a big scoring output. The benefit with a player like Butler is that he always finds ways to make an impact. He's well on his way to being a borderline first-round value this season.

  • Tristan Thompson
    C, Cleveland Cavaliers

    Tristan Thompson was a non-factor on Thursday, scoring just two points and turning it over four times in a loss to the Heat.

    Thompson turned in a total dud in this one after a great start to the season. We should probably cut him some slack given his top-50 status on the year. Continue to roll him out, especially if Larry Nance Jr. misses some time.

  • Collin Sexton
    PG, Cleveland Cavaliers

    Collin Sexton scored 16 points on Thursday to follow up a season-high 20 points in Tuesday's contest.

    Sexton added four rebounds and three assists in a reasonably nice outing. Sexton has late-round value with quite a bit of downside when the shooting percentage really tanks. He's a good scorer but he's really not a great player at this point and that's the reality.

  • Kevin Love
    PF, Cleveland Cavaliers

    Kevin Love was the same solid asset on Thursday in a loss to the Heat, putting up a double-double with 21 points, 10 boards, and five defensive counters.

    The five defensive counters (as well as three triples) were a nice bonus from Love, who has been huge for fantasy purposes as the only star on this otherwise very unimpressive roster. As long as Love is healthy and on this team, he's a lock for high-end value.

  • Carmelo Anthony
    PF, Portland Trail Blazers

    Carmelo Anthony has a agreed to sign with the Portland Trailblazers.

    The deal is reportedly non-guaranteed and with Portland sliding in the standings, the move screams desperation. Melo will be able to provide you some points on inefficient shooting if he can get minutes in the mid-20s and this move would mean Mario Hezonja and Skal Labissiere would lose most of their minutes. Nassir Little might slide over to the bench for Melo, but we'll find out soon enough. Carmelo Anthony hasn't been inside the top-100 in value since the 2016-2017 season and was barely inside the top-200 last season with 29.4 minutes a game. If you're scooping him up, make sure you're giving up nothing of real value.

  • Larry Nance Jr.
    PF, Cleveland Cavaliers

    Larry Nance Jr. put up a nice 14 point and eight rebounds in 23 minutes of action on Thursday despite re-injuring a left thumb injury.

    Nance didn't come back after going to the locker room He aggravated his left thumb injury and we'll see if that keeps him out in future contests. If it does, we'll see more Tristan Thompson than usual. Otherwise, there isn't much additional value in the Cavs frontcourt

  • Hamidou Diallo
    SG, Oklahoma City Thunder

    Hamidou Diallo popped up as questionable on the injury report for Friday's game with a sprained left knee.

    Diallo struggled in Tuesday's game and was a non-participant in Thursday's practice so it hasn't been a great week for him. We'll see if he can suit up on Friday.

    Source: NBA Injury Report