November 20, 2022, 11:30 pm
Another week brings another edition of The Week Ahead! This week, we’re giving thanks to NBA medical staff. They’re probably working overtime around the league this week, as teams like the Heat and Raptors are being forced to give starters minutes to G League players in competitive games. It feels different when a non-Thunder team does such things.
This edition is titled “Deep Six” for a reason: to deep six something is to discard it. So, let’s start with the Rockets and consider how much their high-potential prospects are really helping fantasy-wise. Over the past week, only Jabari Smith Jr. and Usman Garuba were ranked within the top-150 by per-game value, and Jalen Green only barely made the cut on a totals basis. With a two-game schedule in the coming week that doesn’t start until the Hornets, Bulls, Nuggets, Pelicans and Kings finish their week, any Rockets player not named Green, Porter, Smith or Sengun is a drop until Friday at the earliest. In fact, it’s probably safe to discard any non-essential players from all of the Texas-based teams.
The Mavs don’t have an abundance of high-level producers to begin with and a lot of Spurs were rostered solely for their five-game week over the last period. This time around, we won’t see the Mavs or Spurs until Wednesday, so managers should probably prepare to stream someone else into those spots and get some extra production early in the week. Those players should clear waivers by the time they’re needed again later in the week.
Four teams are living on the road all week, with the Mavs, Lakers, Blazers and Wizards all collecting lots of points with their preferred hotel chains. Among that group, only the Blazers have had any true success outside of their home arena. They have a solid four-game schedule with rest days in between each game, so it seems safe to take a chance on Blazers players for a week-long stream. The Wizards will have an opportunity to join them after this week but they’ll probably need at least one of their three currently-injured point guards to steady the ship. Otherwise, I’ll be looking for Corey Kispert and Will Barton to duke it out for extra rotation minutes and fantasy value this week.
Unfortunately, history has not been kind to the Mavs or Lakers on the road and both teams have a decidedly negative outlook on the upcoming schedule if we get more of the same. Fun fact: other than Anthony Davis and LeBron James, no Lakers players have put up standard league value in road games this year. Both of those men are currently appearing on injury reports in some capacity, but their team is active on some of the best schedule days, so Lakers players could be useful even if the odds are against them to win. Dwight Powell and Spencer Dinwiddie are the only non-Doncic Mavs that are in the top-125 for road games, as niche as that category may be. It’s just Dinwiddie if we broaden the scope, so managers probably won’t find much value with the Mavs.
Last time around, we looked at Charles Bassey, Mo Bamba, Norman Powell and Obi Toppin as some high-potential streamers for standard head-to-head leagues. Well, congratulations to anybody who got on the Mo Bamba bandwagon in time. Here’s hoping that he maintains this momentum, but there’s a three-day break between games on Monday and Friday that could make him lose steam and allow the injured Magic frontcourt to return to health. If Bamba gets pushed back to a sub-20 minute role, he probably isn’t worth another shot. Both Bassey and Toppin started relatively strong but finished with a murmur, meaning that managers are probably going to prefer more consistent options next time. Lastly, Powell continues to be a roller coaster ride, but gave four games of production in the top-150 range on weak schedule days. It wasn’t pretty but it might have helped in some matchups, so Powell might be worth another look for teams that need what he brings.
All eyes will be on the fan-friendly schedule days of Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, but there’s less to be gained in fantasy on these days. If everyone has a full or nearly-full roster of standard league players, there won’t be much of a difference in overall production. That’s why it’s important to focus on the Nets, Nuggets, Pistons, Sixers and Kings in the early schedule and transition to the Mavs, Rockets, Lakers, Thunder, Suns, Spurs and Jazz for the later part of the week. Managers should try to stream in players from this collection of teams so they can create a games played advantage on weak schedule days. There isn’t much opportunity to create separation in head-to-head formats this week, so it’s important to take advantage wherever the schedule permits. There is a three-day period in the middle of the week that simply does not permit much differentiation from team-to-team, so managers should act with this in mind all week and place a lesser value on the Wednesday and Friday games in particular.
This week, any number of names could separate themselves from the streaming pack in such a convoluted schedule and with injuries taking their toll around the league. With only a few days that will truly make a difference, teams will need to squeeze every last drop of production out of their rosters. Rather than trying to hit a home run, it may be better for managers to go for the single and use trustworthy players to reduce their risk of striking out. There isn’t much opportunity to make up lost ground in the coming week, so consistency is key. Stream the soft days on the schedule with players that are more likely to produce and don’t look back!
Two Games: Hornets, Rockets, Raptors
Three Games: Bulls, Mavs, Nuggets, Lakers, Grizzlies, Pelicans, Knicks, Magic, Suns, Kings, Spurs, Wizards
Four Games: Hawks, Celtics, Nets, Cavs, Pistons, Warriors, Pacers, Clippers, Heat, Bucks, Wolves, Thunder, Sixers, Blazers, Jazz
Tuesday-Wednesday: Nets, Nuggets, Pistons, Sixers, Kings
Friday-Saturday: Rockets, Lakers, Thunder, Suns, Jazz
Sunday-Monday (Week Seven): Hawks, Celtics, Nets, Cavs, Pacers, Wolves, Magic, Sixers, Wizards
This isn’t going to be particularly complicated. Outside of filling utility slots or injury gaps, there should be no reason to pay any mind to the Wednesday-Friday period. There are two high-value days on this schedule that are absolutely essential to capitalize on for managers looking to stream effectively. While there is some appeal in rostering players on Monday and Sunday of the coming week, it’s really essential for managers to be boosting their productivity on Tuesday and Saturday. The only way to maximize the schedule is to start with a high-value free agent on Monday. Ideally, teams can stream the best-available player of their choice for a Monday boost and then flip them for someone from one of the five teams that play games on every active day from Tuesday to Friday. Players dropped on Monday will be off waivers by Thursday in most cases, so they can be re-acquired if they add value on the weak Saturday slate. If any moves are left over going into Sunday, managers can get ahead on the following week by getting players from one of these nine teams with Sunday-Monday back-to-backs.
Best Schedule: Suns (vs. Lakers, vs. Pistons, vs. Jazz)
This may come as a bit of a surprise to some, but a team with less games on the docket actually might have the best schedule this week. In fact, the Suns are playing the runner up for this title in their first game, and the Lakers only have a three-game week as well. When push comes to shove, it’s better to get production on those weak days than to be forced into start-or-sit decisions on the others, so there’s a lot to like with both Western Conference squads. The Suns win the day for their more egalitarian offense and greater depth of standard league options. Outside of predictably-strong production from players like Deandre Ayton, Devin Booker and Mikal Bridges, managers can prioritize players like Cam Payne and Torrey Craig in the week ahead. For the time that Chris Paul has been out, both men have been reliable standard league options and could continue even past the point of his return. In deeper leagues, managers shouldn’t hesitate to take a flier on Damion Lee to see if he can maintain his recent boost in value.
Worst Schedule: Raptors (vs. Nets, vs. Mavs)
There’s nothing redeemable about this schedule. Unlike the other two-game teams, the Hornets and Rockets, there is no back-to-back to exploit for a short-term window of relevance. Lots of analysts will tell you to look to backup bigs like Chris Boucher and Thad Young in the banged-up Raptors frontcourt, but you won’t hear it from me. Two non-consecutive days of any streamer-level player with the Raptors isn’t worth one or more extra games from other potential options. The raw numbers probably won’t be there this week for anyone but the starters, and how many of them are healthy anyway? There’s no week-long stream option here and there’s likely no space to start streamers on a 14-game Wednesday. Managers that rely on Raptors players are going to hope that they go off against the Mavs on Saturday because that seems like their only window of relevance on this week’s schedule.
Game of the Week: Cavs @ Bucks on November 25, 2022
It’s an Eastern Conference showdown between two teams with ample size and star power. For a lot of teams that pursued a punt free throw build, it could be a matchup of some of their top picks, as Giannis Antetokounmpo, Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen all featured prominently for those teams during the draft process. I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the sustained brilliance of another big, Brook Lopez, who should get all the minutes he can handle against the strong post players fielded by the Cavs. All of these men are likely to have a top-50 performance on any given night, while Bobby Portis could be close behind. On the perimeter, fans will be treated to the joys of watching Jevon Carter and Jrue Holiday chase Darius Garland and Donovan Mitchell all night. My bet is that these guards finish the contest with a valuation opposite the order I listed them in. Khris Middleton’s return to the Bucks feels as if it could come any day now, which adds another top-tier fantasy producer to an already potent mix. For teams looking to scrape out the last bits of remaining value from each team, I’d recommend looking to Grayson Allen or Lamar Stevens.
Tyus Jones, PG, Memphis Grizzlies
Stepping up for injured point guards is what Jones does. While the 6’0” lead guard typically falls off the radar completely when his team is in good health, there’s a strong precedent for him being ready to step up and provide real fantasy value with starters’ minutes. The Grizzlies guard is probably worth an add and hold until Ja Morant’s anticipated return in early December. Over that two-week period, Jones doesn’t have any particularly appealing schedule days, but he should return enough value to be worth having in starting lineups even on a busy night.
Jalen Williams, SG/SF, Oklahoma City Thunder
If you’ve heard the phrase, “a jack of all trades is a master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one,” then you might understand how this could apply to the rookie Williams. He’s still floating around a lot of waiver wires despite getting nearly 30 minutes a night over the past two weeks. During that period, we’ve seen passable, if unspectacular, production in assists, shooting percentages and turnovers. Williams can get 10-plus points with a trey and a steal on any given night, so there’s enough balance to make him a fit on just about any fantasy roster. With a four-game slate and what seems like a steady floor of production already forming, Williams is worth a shot this week.
Kyle Anderson, SF/PF, Minnesota Timberwolves
Those who follow me on Twitter know that I’ve been barking up this tree for a while. Anderson is another multi-tool player that can be slotted into a variety of lineups without much thought. When looking for streamers, it’s nice to go for predictable plug-and-play options to minimize risk. The thing with Anderson is that, generally speaking, you can reasonably expect to get one of everything if he’s getting 20-plus minutes. It’s always worth kicking the tires on a player that can potentially produce one trey, one block and one steal on any given night. Anderson isn’t going score much or collect many boards, but he’s a safe play for production in the other areas. With four games ahead, he could be worth a week-long hold that could extend if his minutes get to the mid-twenties.
Lonnie Walker IV, SG/SF, Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers play on the two weak schedule days and Walker seems like the surest bet among the non-stars to step up and produce this week. Despite being ranked third overall on the team in per-game fantasy value, Walker is available in around half of all leagues while producing solid numbers in points, treys, steals and free throw percentage while not doing any damage in turnovers. Walker hasn’t done much other than scoring lately, but he’s doing so at a clip that makes him worth rostering in most circumstances. Given that he’s also going to be active when most teams are resting, it’s likely that Walker becomes a hot commodity on the waiver wire this week.
Honorable Mention: Cam Payne (PG/SG, Suns), Onyeka Okongwu (C, Hawks), Georges Niang (SF/PF, Sixers), Caleb Martin (SF/PF, Heat), Torrey Craig (SF/PF, Suns), Lamar Stevens (SG/SF, Cavs), Alec Burks (PG/SG/SF, Pistons), Shake Milton (PG/SG, Sixers), John Konchar (SG/SF, Grizzlies), Yuta Watanabe (SF/PF, Nets), Kevon Looney (C, Warriors), Walker Kessler (PF/C, Jazz), Isaiah Jackson (PF/C, Pacers), Killian Hayes (PG/SG, Pistons), Marvin Bagley III (PF/C, Pistons), Talen Horton-Tucker (SG/SF, Jazz)
Bogdan Bogdanovic (right knee) – Injured on April 23, 2022. Out indefinitely.
Marcus Smart (right ankle) – Injured on November 14, 2022. DNP on Friday, expected to play on Monday.
TJ Warren (left foot) – Injured on December 28, 2020. Week-to-week.
LaMelo Ball (left ankle) – Injured on November 16, 2022. Out for Sunday.
Dean Wade (right knee) – Injured on November 10, 2022. DNP on Sunday.
Kevin Love (right hand) – Injured on November 18, 2022. Week-to-week.
Cade Cunningham (left shin) – Injured on November 10, 2022. Out indefinitely.
Saddiq Bey (right ankle) – Injured on November 17, 2022. Out for Sunday.
Bruno Fernando (left knee) – Injured on October 21, 2022. Week-to-week.
Jae’Sean Tate (right ankle) – Injured on October 29, 2022. Out indefinitely.
Chris Duarte (left ankle) – Injured on November 4, 2022. To be re-evaluated in late November.
Luke Kennard (right calf) – Injured on November 14, 2022. DNP on Saturday.
Paul George (right knee) – Injured on November 19, 2022. Day-to-day.
LeBron James (left adductor) – Injured on November 9, 2022. DNP on Sunday.
Desmond Bane (toe) – Injured on November 12, 2022. Week-to-week.
Ja Morant (left ankle) – Injured on November 18, 2022. Week-to-week.
Jimmy Butler (right knee) – Injured on November 17, 2022. Out until at least November 21, 2022.
Tyler Herro (left ankle) – Injured on November 5, 2022. DNP on Sunday.
Victor Oladipo (left knee) – Injured on October 17, 2022. Week-to-week.
Giannis Antetokounmpo (left knee) – Injured on November 8, 2022. DNP on Friday.
Jrue Holiday (right ankle) – Injured on November 8, 2022. DNP on Friday
Khris Middleton (left wrist) – Injured on September 23, 2022. Day-to-day.
Trey Murphy III (right foot) – Injured on November 18, 2022. Questionable for Monday.
Cam Reddish (groin) – Injured on November 18, 2022. Out for Sunday.
Aleksej Pokusevski (left ankle) – Injured on November 18, 2022. Out for Monday.
Darius Bazley (right ankle) – Injured on November 9, 2022. DNP on Friday.
Tre Mann (back) – Injured on November 11, 2022. DNP on Friday.
Cole Anthony (ribs) – Injured on October 26, 2022. Out indefinitely.
Markelle Fultz (left toe) – Injured on September 25, 2022. Out indefinitely.
Paolo Banchero (left ankle) – Injured on November 8, 2022. Day-to-day.
Wendell Carter Jr. (right foot) – Injured on November 18, 2022. Questionable for Monday.
James Harden (right foot) – Injured on November 2, 2022. Week-to-week.
Tobias Harris (hip) – Injured on November 17, 2022. DNP on Saturday.
Tyrese Maxey (left knee) – Injured on November 18, 2022. Out for 3-to-4 weeks.
Cameron Johnson (right knee) – Injured on November 4, 2022. Out for 1-to-2 months.
Chris Paul (right foot) – Injured on November 7, 2022. DNP on Friday.
Damian Lillard (right calf) – Injured on November 19, 2022. Out for 1-to-2 weeks.
Gary Payton II (abdomen) – Injured on July 15, 2022. Out indefinitely.
Jakob Poeltl (right knee) – Injured on November 20, 2022. DNP on Sunday.
Zach Collins (left leg) – Injured on November 3, 2022. Out for 2-to-4 weeks.
Gary Trent Jr. (hip) – Injured on November 12, 2022. DNP on Saturday.
Pascal Siakam (right groin) – Injured on November 4, 2022. Week-to-week.
Precious Achiuwa (right ankle) – Injured on November 9, 2022. Out indefinitely.
Mike Conley (left knee) – Injured on November 19, 2022. Day-to-day.
Delon Wright (right hamstring) – Injured on October 25, 2022. Out for 6-to-8 weeks.
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