• Patience is probably the most important quality in a fantasy manager at this point in the season, but we’re starting to approach a crossroads as we head into Week 3. At some point, the expectations and projections are relics of the past; a player’s actual output starts to speak for itself. We may not quite be at that point just yet, but those of you sitting on players who have been disappointments so far might need to start recalibrating. Let’s take a quick look at some players who haven’t been at their best just yet.

    First, Chris Boucher. The big man sits around the top-190 mark in 9-cat and is only getting 14.8 mpg. Nick Nurse already called him out through the media, and while we’ve been seeing drop questions, Boucher is almost surely scuffling. The things the Raptors need from him don’t necessarily align with what we want to see in fantasy (see Mitchell Robinson for another example), but meeting the first benchmark is the only way to get to the second. Boucher is trending up and is playing as one of the first three guys off the bench in the last three games, so he seems to have responded to Nurse’s challenge. As long as he stays disciplined on defense and doesn’t hoist awful shots (which was the bigger problem, somehow), then Boucher will be just fine. If he can get to 18 minutes a night, which seems likely given the current trajectory, then we’re in for another big season with upside to burn.

    PJ Washington is another young player who has struggled out of the gate. He lost his starting job to Miles Bridges and unfortunately (for him) has been helpless as Bridges authors a massive breakout. Things will even out, however, and Washington is going to be better than a top-160 guy even if he’s going to ride out 23.0 mpg all year long — we’re betting against that, too, for the record. A new role will take some time to get used to for a player who has been a starter since entering the league, and Washington’s poor shooting numbers are also going to come up. The Hornets are a fairly selfless basketball team and that kind of style tends to lift everyone up, so Washington is also a hold for the time being.

    On to the guys who you would never consider dropping…

    Draymond Green sits outside the top-120, but his horrific free throw numbers are doing all the damage there. You never expected Green to be a strong contributor in that category but .368 on over three attempts a night is irredeemably bad. Even if Green gets to .500 he’ll climb up the rankings in steps of a dozen at a time because the rest of his game looks right in line with expectations. He’ll never be good at the free throw line but he didn’t become the worst in the league overnight.

    Jaren Jackson Jr. has been good but not great, falling to the top-80 in the rankings. That’s far from bad, especially for a guy who missed so much of last season after battling injury troubles throughout his career, but it’s not the early-round threat people were hoping to see. So what gives? Like Green, JJJ is having some major efficiency issues. He’s averaging 12.7 points, 5.2 rebounds, 0.7 steals, 1.7 blocks and 2.0 triples per contest but shooting just .303 from the field. There’s no way you can move on from a line like that when the shooting is obviously out of whack. Jackson is never going to be the booster in FG% or rebounds that his fellow F/Cs are, but the other stats are outstanding. Even with the struggles, he’s a clean middle-rounder. Don’t get impatient.

    Kyle Lowry hasn’t been hot out of the gates, scoring double figures just once, but the Heat also don’t need him to do more than that. He’s definitely better than the top-115 value we’re seeing out of him right now, and he should pull up into the expected middle-round range once his field goal shooting improves from its current .333 plateau. Aside from that — though his low shot volume has limited the impact somewhat — and the scoring, Lowry’s game looks right on track. He went through a similar adjustment in Toronto when the team changed its style of play for Kawhi Leonard, and although it’s not a direct comparison, he bounced back just fine then.

    Lowry’s teammate, however, gives us more cause for concern. Bam Adebayo has been decent enough this year but top-40 value won’t cut it for a player who was treated as a surefire top-20 selection in drafts. Adebayo isn’t dealing with simple variance in a way that other players are, however; he’s having a difficult time producing one of his key stats. Bam sits with just 1.6 assists per game on the year after averaging at least 5.1 over the last two seasons. The addition of Lowry has really taken the ball out of Adebayo’s hands as a playmaker, and there’s not-insignificant risk that this is a full-season problem while the Heat try to make sure their roster fits together come playoff time. Adebayo with mediocre assists has no shot at meeting his ADP, and so far the Heat look willing to keep that skill of his in the back pocket as they work on other looks. It’s something to monitor for sure.

    Schedule Breakdown

    Three games: Nets, Bulls, Mavs, Nuggets, Pistons, Warriors, Lakers, Grizzlies, Heat, Bucks, Wolves, Pelicans, Thunder, Suns

    Four games: Hawks, Celtics, Hornets, Cavs, Rockets, Pacers, Clippers, Knicks, Magic, Sixers, Blazers, Kings, Spurs, Raptors, Jazz, Wizards

    Back-to-Backs: Mavs (Tuesday/Wednesday), Pelicans (Tuesday/Wednesday), Kings (Tuesday/Wednesday), Hawks (Wednesday/Thursday), Celtics (Wednesday/Thursday), Sixers (Wednesday/Thursday), Pistons (Thursday/Friday), Blazers (Friday/Saturday), Rockets (Saturday/Sunday), Jazz (Saturday/Sunday)

    Maximizers

    In this section we’re going to give a quick shoutout to teams who are playing multiple times on the light nights of the schedule; ones where there are under six games going and you should have open roster spots to stream with if you wish.

    The Pistons, Heat, Jazz, Rockets and Suns all play both on Tuesday (five games) and Thursday (five games). The Rockets and Jazz also get the benefit of a weekend back-to-back so you can really get some good stuff out of that schedule — at least if you can find a fantasy-relevant Rocket on your waiver wire.

    Best Schedule: Clippers (vs. Thunder, @ Wolves, @ Wolves, vs. Hornets)

    The Clippers start off easy and then draw the rare double-dip, getting two games against the young Wolves in Minnesota with a day off in between. That limits travel a little bit and should help an older team stay fresh despite two straight road games. They close it out with a home date against a fun Hornets squad that will be nearing the end of a cross-country trip, with dates against the Kings and Warriors early in the week. The first three matchups aren’t daunting and the Clippers should be fresher than a Charlotte team that’s going to push them, so the schedule looks conducive to some nice games.

    Worst Schedule: Pistons (vs. Bucks, vs. Sixers, vs. Nets)

    Normally homestands are good things for teams but Detroit draws three extremely tough opponents, and the Sixers and Nets comprise a back-to-back situation that might just mean Cade Cunningham only gets two games this week. The matchups also feature two that are tough for a center to find a place in and one where it’s hard for a center to survive, and the Pistons’ small-ball crew features a whole lot of question marks. There’s also lots of blowout potential. It’s tough.

    Game of the Week: Charlotte Hornets @ Golden State Warriors, Wednesday November 3, 10:00 pm ET

    Oh, what could have been. Human highlight reel LaMelo Ball and the Hornets travel to face the Warriors, who decided to pass up on Ball in the draft to take the currently injured James Wiseman. That’s a fun narrative to track, of course, but we’ve also got a great on-court matchup between two high-powered offenses with explosive backcourts. Look for a fun one in San Francisco on Wednesday night.

    Quick Adds

    Alex Caruso, G, Chicago Bulls

    The injury to Patrick Williams will likely force the Bulls into smaller lineups, though it’s not like Caruso was hurting for playing time. Instead this should just increase his set of responsibilities, and he’s already been playing well enough to be worth a look in standard leagues regardless. He’s in the top-80 with an elite 2.7 steals per game, and while that will level off, Caruso should be on rosters until it does.

    Josh Hart, G, New Orleans Pelicans

    Hart’s back after a bout of right quad tendinosis but he’s gone right back into the starting five. He’s a great add for anyone seeking extra rebounds in particular, but Hart is a guy that fills a number of roles and offers up production in a handful of categories. In a week with no obvious, must-have additions (in competitive leagues, at least), Hart’s quiet consistency is not bad to have around until the next big thing shows up on waivers.

    Bruce Brown, G/F, Brooklyn Nets

    Brown has worked his way into the rotation after some early inactivity, and while he’s not pumping out multi-cat lines just yet, he is someone that can quickly deliver top-150 value. If you want to be proactive, Brown’s a great target. Just hope he sticks as a starter.

    Injury Report

    The big injury of the week was Patrick Williams going down with a season-ending left wrist dislocation. He couldn’t catch a break this year as an ankle sprain limited him to one preseason game before he suffered a shoulder strain in the opener. He’s obviously a cut in redraft formats but this is a nice buy-low window in dynasty leagues.

    Nic Claxton has failed to run with his opportunity and has missed the last two games due to illness. We’re getting a sense that the Nets frontcourt is going to be a fantasy mess.

    Kristaps Porzingis (back) has missed three straight games after Jason Kidd said he was “fine,” so we’ve got no clarity there. Top streamer Maxi Kleber also left Sunday’s game with a back strain, to the chagrin of savvy 12-team managers.

    Caris LeVert (back) reentered the lineup right as Malcolm Brogdon (left hamstring) exited, in typical Pacers fashion. TJ McConnell is the guy while Brogdon’s on the mend.

    Bam Adebayo (left knee) was a late scratch on Saturday but his status bears watching going forward.

    The Bucks say Jrue Holiday (left ankle sprain) is close to returning while Brook Lopez (back) is out indefinitely, so that’s great and not great, respectively.

    Daniel Gafford (right quad contusion) is reportedly progressing well in his return and will hopefully not be out much longer.

    Joel Embiid looks like he’ll constantly be on the injury report with right knee issues but so far he’s been able to stay on the court. That’s all anyone can ask.

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