• If you are unlucky enough to have a middling team that’s been muddling along all season and you’re about to/hoping to sneak into the playoffs, if you didn’t know, now you know – in all probability you don’t have the steez to compete against what’ll be a better team.

    Do whatever you need to, whether that be a sacrifice to the basketball gods (by cutting some stems/longstems) or by singing their praises.

    And while I know it sucks to be battling from a disadvantaged position in round 1, what sucks even more is not making it to the dance.

    This is also the week to be looking at tanking into lower playoff seeding if you’re locked into the playoffs but have an insurmountable test lined up in the first round. This is super risky so only attempt it if you’re guaranteed to make it or you might find yourself as a spectator. If the seeding at the bottom of the playoff bracket is really tight, don’t do any tanking until the end of the week – you don’t want to tank your way into a worse matchup.

    If you’re blessed to not have a struggling/middling/inconsistent team and are fighting to get or keep a bye week, much of the same applies outside of the urgency.

    Guys that just haven’t been very helpful are prime candidates to be streamed as are non-mid-round guys with 2-game weeks. Again, there’s not the same urgency, but getting a bye week mitigates a whole lot of randomness.

    I don’t know about you, but for the two teams I have chasing a top-2 seed, I’ll be pulling out the stops.

    Week 21 Schedule

    2 Games: CLE (plays Weds & Fri), LAC (Mon & Fri)
    3 Games: BKN, BOS, CHA, DEN, DET, GSW, HOU, IND, LAL, MEM, OKC, ORL, POR, SAC, SAS, TOR, UTA, WAS
    4 Games: ATL, CHI, DAL, MIA, MIL, MIN, NOR, NYK, PHI, PHO

    Monday has 7 games: Mavs at Nets, Hawks at Heat, Nuggs at Spurs, Bucks at Suns, Pels at Jazz, Knicks at Kings and Clippers at Lakers.

    Tuesday has 6: Bulls at Pacers, Magic at Sixers, Rockets at Raptors, Blazers at Grizz, Thunder at Wolves and Celtics at Warriors.

    Wednesday has 10: Heat at Hornets, Wolves at Pistons, Mavs at Wiz, Spurs at Hawks, Cavs at Nets, Sixers at Bulls, Jazz at Pels, Knicks at Suns, Celts at Kings and Nuggets at Lakers.

    Thursday has 2: Pacers at Bucks and Thunder at Blazers.

    Friday has 9: Wiz at Hornets, Mavs at Magic, Cavs at Heat, Pistons at Bulls, Sixers at Rockets, Jazz at Grizz, Raps at Pels, Nuggs at Dubs and Thunder at Clippers.

    Saturday has 6: Kings at Knicks, Nets at Hawks, Wiz at Wolves, Celtics at Lakers, Hornets at Bucks and Suns at Blazers.

    Sunday has 9: Bulls at Pistons, Raps at Heat, Pacers at Sixers, Pels at Hawks, Magic at Grizz, Rockets at Mavs, Knicks at Wolves, Bucks at Spurs and Suns at Dubs.

    For My Streamers

    *all light schedule days in bold- Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Milwaukee and Portland hit 3 of those and a bunch of teams hit 2. There’re also fewer B2Bs and 3 in 4s than usual.

    ATL: 4- M, W, Sa, Su
    BRK: 3- M, W, Sa
    BOS: 3- Tu, W, Sa
    CHA: 3- W, F, Sa
    CHI: 4- Tu, W, F, Su
    CLE: 2- W, F
    DAL: 4- M, W, F, Su
    DEN: 3- M, W, F
    DET: 3- W, F, Su
    GSW: 3- Tu, F, Su
    HOU: 3- Tu, F, Su
    IND: 3- Tu, Th, Su
    LAC: 2- M, F
    LAL: 3- M, W, Sa
    MEM: 3- Tu, F, Su
    MIA: 4- M, W, F, Su
    MIL: 4- M, Th, Sa, Su
    MIN: 4- Tu, W, Sa, Su
    NOR: 4- M, W, F, Su
    NYK: 4- M, W, Sa, Su
    OKC: 3- Tu, Th, F
    ORL: 3- Tu, F, Su
    PHI: 4- Tu, W, F, Su
    PHO: 4- M, W, Sa, Su
    POR: 3- Tu, Th, Sa
    SAC: 3- M, W, Sa
    SAS: 3- M, W, Su
    TOR: 3- Tu, F, Su
    UTA: 3- M, W, F
    WAS: 3- W, F, Sa

    Back-to-Backs

    Sun (of Week 20)/Mon: ATL, LAC, NYK
    Mon/Tues: none
    Tues/Weds: BOS, CHI, MIN, PHI
    Weds/Thurs: none
    Thurs/Fri: OKC
    Fri/Sat: CHA, WAS
    Sat/Sun: ATL, MIL, MIN, NYK, PHO
    Sun/Mon (of Week 22): DET, HOU, TOR (Kawhi alert)

    3 games in 4 nights

    Tues/Weds/Fri: CHI, PHI

    Tues/Thurs/Fri: OKC

    Weds/Fri/Sat: CHA, WAS

    Thurs/Sat/Sun: MIL

    Tu/Thurs+ IND, POR

    Working the Wire

    Quite a few dudes got picked up in more than half of leagues: Mitch Rob, Cedi, Sexton, Justise, etc.

    Point Guards

    Derrick White (top-80 over his last four) is still owned in fewer leagues than Collin Sexton. I guess people don’t need defensive stats any more. Or maybe they don’t like his doe-like Bambi eyes. Whatever it is, I’ll take him if you don’t want him.  The Spurs jingle 3-3-4-3.

    Patrick Beverley bumped himself up to top-60 in 9-cat last week and his 2.3 threes, 7.8 rebounds, 1.0 steals and 1.0 blocks really pop. He only has two this week so it could get ugly if you’re in a photo-finish but I’m trying to hold. The Clips grind 2-4-3-4.

    Marcus Smart pulled back into the top-120 with 10 points, 1.5 threes and 1.5 steals last week but when that 60.9 percent mark from field dips, watch out. Meanwhile, Terry Rozier (outside the top-225) was unusable and has a higher ownership than Smart despite being worse for most of the season. Go figure. Boston plays 3-3-4-3.

    D.J. Augustin was a bit better with the low-end point guard stats last week (top-110) until he sprained his ankle on Saturday; he might miss a few. The Magic give it all they’ve got 3-3-2-4.

    Tyler Johnson had 9.0 points, 1.3 threes, 4.0 assists and a stock last week (top-150ish) so it appears he’s back to be the Miami version of Tyler Johnson. Phoenix runs 4-3-3-3.

    Even with Luka Doncic back in action last week Jalen Brunson was able to put up a low-end line of 11.3 points, 1.0 threes, 3.3 assists and 1.3 steals in 28 minutes. That put him at about the top-150 mark. Dallas goes 4-3-4-3.

    Emmanuel Mudiay, even off the bench, is back to putting up his popcorn numbers but the 15.8 points, 1.5 threes, 3.8 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 0.8 steals he got over his last five didn’t even land him in the top-200 in 9-cat. I wouldn’t touch him unless I was in a points league or punting FT% and TOs. The Knicks play 4-3-4-2.

    T.J. McConnell’s minutes stayed low and his 4.6 assists and 1.4 steals he had over his last five still couldn’t drag his 9-cat value into the top-150. Philly rings 4-3-3-3.

    Ish Smith looks to be fully recovered from his injury and has been getting 10.8 points and 5.0 assists over the last five games. That’s only top-165 value in 9-cat since he doesn’t get steals or 3s but he’s there if you need to throw some volume assists at the schedule. Detroit goes 3-4-4-3.

    Shooting Guards

    Wes Matthews held on to top-100 value last week with 14.5 points, 3.3 threes and 1.3 steals in almost 33 minutes a game. The steals disappeared in Dallas so it’s a surprise to see them pop back into existence like subatomic particles. Indy goes 3-3-4-3.

    Wayne Ellington got 13.3 points, 4.0 threes and 0.7 steals over his last three and is still useful as a 3-point specialist but Luke Kennard has been better with 17.7 points, 3.7 threes, 0.7 steals and 0.7 blocks on better efficiency. That line was helped by his 26-point, 6-trey explosion against the Cavs on Saturday and Kennard hadn’t done much to separate himself in Detroit this season, but it might just be that the log-jam on the wing has cleared up some. Motor City runs 3-4-4-3.

    Dion Waiters
    went back to being the Dion Waiters we know but don’t love (top-230 over his last six in 9-cat) and he has owners ready to kill the waiter. Derrick Jones Jr. (top-175) and Rodney McGruder (top-165) made some noise on Saturday but I need more than one game. The Heat go 4-3-4-3.

    Avery Bradley was top-70 last week with 17.7 points, 3.3 treys, 6.0 rebounds and 5.0 assists which was more than enough to make up for the lack of steals and bad shooting (38.6%). Still can’t argue with the results. Memphis goes 3-2-3-4 which ain’t pretty.

    Kevin Huerter put up a very low-end top-150ish value in three games since returning from injury but has had a hard time escaping the wing depth in Atlanta. He’s still starting though so there’s still a chance he gets some separation. The Hawks fly 4-3-3-3.

    Allonzo Trier and Damyean Dotson both brought back top-100 value last week and I have no idea if it sticks. Mario Hezonja is still out/benched so maybe Fiz rolls with them down the stretch. Damned if I know. The Knicks go 4-3-4-2.

    Landry Shamet’s value fell to the top-150 value last week – 10.8 points, 2.3 threes and 0.8 steals in 28 minutes a game. Shamet clips 2-4-3-4.

    Reggie Bullock (top-165) was a tad worse than Shamet with 9.5 points, 2.0 threes and 0.8 steals. He’s still getting his 30+ minutes a game but the Lakers are a dumpster fire right now. The Lake Show matinees 3-4-3-4.

    Allen Crabbe sputtered last week with Spencer Dinwiddie back to steal more usage and his 3-4-2-3 playoff schedule looks unappetizing. Find someone else.

    Malik Beasley finally got demoted to the bench on Saturday and it’s looking like he’ll join Monte Morris and Isaiah Thomas in the recycle bin. Alas, he had a good run so no love lost. Denver plays 3-3-4-4.

    Small Forwards

    Mikal Bridges had quiet top-80 value last week and I’m not dropping him.

    Josh Jackson joined Mikal on the bench and despite the popcorn stats, I’m not adding his top-270 value in any league I’m not punting at least two efficiency cats. The Suns go 4-3-3-3.

    Jeff Green had a bit of an up-and-down week but still had top-150 value with 11.3 points, 1.0 threes, 0.7 steals and 0.7 blocks. Once his shooting (41.7%) evens out, he’ll be even better in 9-cat and while his stat set won’t win you a week, he con contribute enough to consider using should the flashier names be unavailable. He also has a great schedule – the Wiz go 3-4-4-4.

    Jake Layman fell out of the top-100 into the top-150 because Moe Harkless, finally healthyish, took some of his minutes. For his part, Moe has gotten 12.6 points, 0.6 threes, 7.0 rebounds and an immense 2.4 steals over his last games in 28.2 minutes per game (top-35 in 9-cat!). I doubt he can keep that up for another month and a half, but there you go. Portland blazes trails 3-3-3-4.

    Jae Crowder’s brief attempt at a hot streak petered out fast and he crapped the bed three times in a row. That’s not the look of love. Utah plays 3-4-4-3.

    Bruno Caboclo continues to pepper his lines with very low-end money-counters – 1.3 threes, 0.7 steals and 0.7 blocks- but does almost nothing else to help. The Grizz sleep 4-3-2-4.

    Power Forwards

    P.J. Tucker maintained top-50 value (he’s been top-50 for the last 25 games) and shouldn’t be on that many waivers, especially if you need 3s and steals. Houston runs 3-4-4-3.

    Kelly Olynyk (top-20) and Bam Adebayo (top-65) were great with no Hassan Whiteside but the mercurial center will be back to rain on their parade, hopefully not too much; early-season returns weren’t promising, though Olynyk was turning it on even before Whiteside’s injury so maybe he’ll stick. James Johnson picked up a DNP-CD on Saturday and it’d be huge if he’s taken out of the rotation.  Miami goes for it 4-3-4-3.

    Dwight Powell was tons better than Maxi Kleber over their last five and his 16.2 points, 1.0 threes, 7.0 boards and 1.2 steals on 58.8% from the field put him in the top-60. I’ll take the L on that one. Dallas goes 4-3-4-3.

    Al-Farouq Aminu is back on track with top-100 value in 9-cat over his last five: 9.4 points, 1.4 threes, 6.0 boards, and over a stock and a half. Blazers flame 3-3-3-4.

    Noah Vonleh (top-210 in 9-cat) was bad last week and Luke Kornet is now on the side of a milk carton – I’ll take dated references for 500, Alex. DeAndre Jordan will presumably be back at some point and that’s trouble in the water. Knicks go 4-3-4-2. 

    Davis Bertans was very, very bad last week. The Spurs play 3-3-4-3. On a lighter note, his brother, Dairis, just signed with the Pels and also looks like a wolverine.

    Ivan Rabb stunk. Memphis tanks 3-2-3-4

    Centers

    Cody Zeller dragged himself up by the high-tops to top-60 value in 9-cat last week and he’s rolling with double-figure scoring in eight straight games and top-70 value in that span. The Hornets battle for the post season 3-3-4-3.

    Robin Lopez stayed en fuego with 14.5 points on 59% from the field with 5.3 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 2.3 swats and a flop in a massive 35 minutes a game. That was good enough for top-70 9-cat value and you wanna jump on it if you need blocks – I wish I had Ro-Lo instead of JaVale McGee right now. Team Boylen rolls 4-3-3-3.

    Joakim Noah didn’t break, pull, tear or sprain anything last week and he put up a very usable 12.7 points, 9.7 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.7 blocks, good enough for top-90ish value. He could fade at any moment and his 3-2-2-4 isn’t very good, but you can consider using him even if you don’t hate the Miami Heat in which case you probably added him already.

    Thomas Bryant
    had two good games in a row before laying a dud on Friday. He’s still bringing back top-90 value over his last five games that’s with a heavy roto lean in my opinion. His saving grace in H2H might be his schedule – the Wiz go 3-4-4-4.

    Cheick Diallo settled any question of whether we should be looking at him or Jah Okafor and his 10.5 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.8 steals and 0.5 blocks on 71.4% from the floor in 19 minutes a game put him in the top-75 for the week. The Pels go 4-3-3-3.

    From last week re: Kenneth Faried: “it’ll be tough for the Manimal to get more than 20 minutes a game so next week should be indicative of what he can do going forward.” His hip hurts so the jury is still out on that one but I’m not holding my breath. Houston runs 3-4-4-3.

    Mason Plumlee had 9.0 points, 7.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists and over a stock last week and he even hit all his free throws after a particularly brutal run. He misses freebies (or not) 3-3-4-4.

    Ed Davis got 5.3 boards in a reduced 13.7 minutes a game. Once, twice, three times the Bossness this week.

    Richaun Holmes cracked the top-120 last week mostly on his defense – 1.7 blocks and 1.0 steals in 19 minutes a game. The Suns shine 4-3-3-3.

    Nerlens Noel stayed quiet (1.0 steals and 1.0 blocks over his last five games). The Thunder D-up 4 times.

    Boban Marjanovic: INJ (sprained knee, bone bruise) is out. Jonah Bolden (top-110) put in some work with no Joel Embiid (knee) and in those five games he had 8.4 points, 1.4 treys, 3.6 rebounds and 1.2 blocks on 65.4 % from the field. JoJo expects to be back next week should the basketball gods abide.

    Ante Zizic: INJ (concussion protocol) and Marquese Chriss is back to irrelevancy. The Cavs do what they do 2-4-4-3

    Random Observations

    Two of my five H2H teams are in line for a Week 22 bye, but it’ll be close, especially for the better of the two which is missing JJJ and Bagley (and more recently, Paul George), so I’ll be running up that hill.

    Seth Curry has a better 3PT% than Steph. Get that guy some more attempts, coach!

    LeBron needs only 67 points to pass Mike for the fourth most points in NBA history and it’ll almost assuredly happen this coming week. After Jordan is the myth-building Kobe Bean Bryant at No. 3. With 19 more games left and Mamba ahead by 417 points, Bron would have to play all of them and average 22 ppg. That seems very doable assuming the Lakers are still making a show of trying to look like they’re trying to make the playoffs.

    For tanking teams, only seven No. 1 picks in the lottery era have won championships, and only four with the teams that drafted them. Womp.

    Straight headhunting,
    Chef

Fantasy News

  • Frank Kaminsky
    PF, Phoenix Suns

    Frank Kaminsky led the Suns in scoring with 22 points on 6-of-10 shooting to go with two triples, six boards, three assists and a block in Monday's 102-107 loss to the Nuggets.

    Kaminsky won't beat out Deandre Ayton (14 points, four rebounds, one assist and a block) but if the Suns are willing to play him at power forward, he might be a fringe standard-league guy.

  • Kelly Oubre Jr.
    SF, Phoenix Suns

    Kelly Oubre Jr. scored 11 points on 3-of-11 shooting with four rebounds, an assist, a steal and a block on Monday.

    Oubre Jr. went 3-for-11 from the field but 5-for-6 at the line. He's not going to be an efficient shooter from the field, but he gets to the line frequently and puts up counting stats which makes him an appealing fantasy option.

  • Michael Porter Jr.
    PF, Denver Nuggets

    Michael Porter Jr. scored 11 points on 5-of-10 shooting with five rebounds, a steal, two blocks and a 3-pointer against the Suns on Monday.

    Porter Jr. looks great out there and right now the only real fear is whether or not he can stay healthy. Nuggets fans have waited a while, but Porter has looked fluid and athletic during the preseason as a forward that can do a little bit of everything. He's definitely someone you'll want to watch closely.

  • Jamal Murray
    PG, Denver Nuggets

    Jamal Murray scored 16 points on 6-of-16 shooting with eight rebounds, six assists and two triples in Monday's game against the Suns.

    Murray is the clear No. 2 guy in Denver behind Nikola Jokic (four points, four rebounds, four assists, a steal and a block) and leads a high powered Nuggets offense which has given him a clear green light. Gary Harris (18 points, two triples, two rebounds, two assists and a steal) is going to have to battle his way into production as the Nuggets have plenty of guards that can play.

  • Jerami Grant
    SF, Denver Nuggets

    Jerami Grant scored 22 points on 6-of-8 shooting with two triples, two rebounds and three steals in Monday's preseason game against the Suns.

    Grant got the starting nod with Paul Millsap (DNP-CD) sitting out and should contribute solid minutes to a deep Nuggets team. There's too much depth on the team for him to make a fantasy dent like he did last year, but if Millsap misses time. Grant should post standard-league value as a fill-in.

  • Luka Doncic
    PG-SF, Dallas Mavericks

    Luka Doncic had a double-double with 19 points (4-for-10 FGs, 9-for-11 FTs), 10 rebounds, seven assists, one steal, one block, two threes and six turnovers in 27 minutes in a 107-70 win on Monday over the Thunder.

    Doncic's line is worth a deeper look. It reminds us to stay away from his current ADP if you're concerned about turnovers. It also shows how he could easily have a big jump in free throw percentage this season, as he shot far better in Europe than he did during his rookie season.

  • Kristaps Porzingis
    PF-C, Dallas Mavericks

    Kristaps Porzingis double-doubled in an easy win over the Thunder on Monday night, putting up 17 points (7-for-21 FGs), 13 rebounds, one block and three 3-pointers in 26 minutes.

    Porzingis has played in three straight games, which is nice to see. He's one of the biggest boom-or-bust picks this season with a ceiling in the top-15 and we know what the floor looks like.

  • Tim Hardaway Jr.
    SF, Dallas Mavericks

    Tim Hardaway Jr. hit three treys off the bench as part of a 13-point night (4-for-5 FGs, 2-for-2 FTs) that also included four rebounds, three assists and a steal in 22 minutes in a victory over the Thunder.

    Hardaway has been valuable in fantasy at times, but he may not get enough minutes this season to do it again. Keep a close watch on his role, and if he can get 25 minutes a night, Hardaway could be worth starting for his threes and points.

  • Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
    SG, Oklahoma City Thunder

    In 29 minutes, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander provided 16 points (7-for-16 FGs, 2-for-2 FTs) and eight rebounds but also five turnovers and zero assists in a 107-70 loss to the Mavs on Monday.

    It was a mixed bag for SGA, but he's still looking like a good pick in the middle rounds. Dennis Schroder started and hit just one of his 10 field goal attempts, though he did pass out six assists.

  • Rudy Gobert
    C, Utah Jazz

    Rudy Gobert scored 17 points on 5-of-6 shooting with six rebounds, an assist, a steal and a block in Monday's 115-128 loss to the Kings.

    Gobert remains doing Gobert things and the only real worry for fantasy owners is seeing the blocks decline. There are plenty of promising young bigs headed into the next season which means Gobert's value is a bit less than it once was.