• The calendar has turned to 2022 and the second half of the campaign is upon us. The All-Star break approaches and we may have a fresh batch of newbies for the Sunday night spectacle. Names like Ja Morant, Fred VanVleet, Darius Garland and LaMelo Ball are poised to replace some former All-Star fixtures like Kyrie Irving, Ben Simmons and Anthony Davis.

    Key players are exiting the league’s health and safety protocols. The period they remain in protocols has shortened from 10 days to six, as long as they’re asymptomatic and meet certain testing criteria. Managers have had to suffer through multiple two-week long absences due to the league’s health protocols. This revision shortens these absences, which is incalculably good news for fantasy squads. Gone are the days of seven guys on your roster being out in protocols.

    Klay Thompson (right Achilles) will soon rejoin the Warriors, who already sit atop the league’s rankings, for the first time since the 2019 NBA Finals. Kyrie Irving has cleared the league’s health and safety protocols and is now working on conditioning. It’s likely we see the craftiest ballhandler alive do his thing on the road within the next two weeks.

    Kevin Porter Jr. walked out of a game at halftime and his teammate Christian Wood refused to enter the same game during the second half, allotting just eight total minutes in the contest.

    This league is known for its off-court storylines as much as its on-court narratives. Ben Simmons remains a Sixer heading towards the trade deadline. John Wall can’t get playing time despite his team being awful and the young guns on it rebelling against their coaches. Irving won’t be permitted to play in home games.

    The beauty of fantasy is storylines don’t matter until they affect a player’s status or minutes. Wood is talented enough that he’ll likely resume his usual role on the team despite his spat with the team’s coaching staff. The Nets are bending their own rules for Irving to play road games, forcing interesting decisions to be made regarding the All-NBA guard in fantasy leagues.

    Week 12 features a potential Eastern Conference Finals preview, a five-game week for the Grizzlies, 19 teams with four or more games, the potential, though unlikely, return of the enigmatic Irving and, of course, streaming opportunities.

    Schedule Breakdown

    Three Games: Celtics, Hornets, Bulls, Cavaliers, Pacers, Lakers, Heat, Knicks, Thunder, Sixers, Suns

    Four Games: Hawks, Nets, Mavericks, Nuggets, Pistons, Warriors, Rockets, Clippers, Bucks, Timberwolves, Pelicans, Magic, Blazers, Kings, Spurs, Raptors, Jazz, Wizards

    Five Games: Grizzlies

    Back-to-Backs

    Monday/Tuesday: Grizzlies, Pelicans

    Tuesday/Wednesday: Pacers, Kings, Spurs, Raptors

    Wednesday/Thursday: Celtics, Pistons, Warriors

    Friday/Saturday: Bucks, Jazz

    Saturday/Sunday: Clippers, Grizzlies, Magic

    Schedule Maximizers

    19 teams are scheduled for at least four games this week, while the rest of the league is scheduled for three. One of the 19 teams, the Grizzlies, is scheduled for five games in Week 12. The upcoming week’s low-volume days are Tuesday (5), Thursday (4) and Saturday (6). The three teams playing on each of those nights are the Grizzlies, Knicks and Suns. Though the Grizzlies have five games, a lot of their reserves are either in the league’s health and safety protocols or nursing injuries. Tyus Jones, Desmond Bane and Ja Morant are the only guards left standing in Memphis. Jones has a chance to compile some 12-team value over the course of the week, assuming he can play for your roster on the higher-volume nights. However, the returns of De’Anthony Melton and Dillon Brooks from the league’s health and safety protocols will put an end to Jones’ value as a streamer. Obi Toppin is a good option while Julius Randle’s in the league’s health protocols and out in Phoenix, Cameron Payne can be serviceable on the low-volume nights.

    Best Schedule: Grizzlies (@ Nets, @ Cavs, vs. Pistons, @ Clippers, @ Lakers)

    The Grizzlies not only have five games scheduled for Week 12, but they also play on each of the week’s low-volume nights: Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. While they don’t have a ton of streaming options, one player suiting up for five nights at the cost of one waiver add is valuable when compiling stats, in weekly and daily formats, especially when playing with weekly acquisition limits. With three active guards for the Grizzlies, they may turn to Jones for help until Melton and Brooks return.

    Worst Schedule: Thunder (@ Wolves, vs. Wolves, vs. Nuggets)

    The Thunder play on three high-volume nights, they don’t have any back-to-backs and their schedule doesn’t begin until Wednesday. For Week 12, there’s an average of 10 games per night the Thunder play. Despite Shai Gilgeous-Alexander entering the league’s health and safety protocols, high-volume nights typically allow managers to start their 10 best players. Streaming on those nights might be useless for your team if Aaron Wiggins or Ty Jerome can’t crack your rotation.

    Game of the Week: Bucks @ Nets, Friday January 7th, 7:30 pm ET

    Both teams are approximating “full health” entering this week’s meeting. Khris Middleton is dealing with personal issues but should be back in time for Friday’s rematch of last season’s Eastern Conference Finals. Kevin Durant split most of the MVP buzz earlier in the season with former teammate Stephen Curry, especially while Giannis Antetokounmpo was in the league’s health and safety protocols. Since his return, the reigning Finals MVP has begun making his case for a third league MVP. James Harden isn’t hobbled like he was last postseason and the Bucks have retooled since their title run. The Nets and Bucks currently sit second and third in the conference, respectively. Friday’s game features familiar faces, MVPs, Finals MVPs and a budding rivalry between two teams seemingly destined for a second postseason meeting.

    Quick Adds

    Obi Toppin, PF, New York Knicks

    Julius Randle entered the league’s health and safety protocols on December 30th. Toppin has started two games in place of Randle and has averaged 12 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists, one block, half a steal and half a triple in 36 minutes a night as the starting power forward. He’s shooting 50% from the field and 70% from the foul line in his two starts. Toppin’s second start was much better than his first, indicating the second-year forward is getting more comfortable as the starter. He should be a good streamer, especially when considering the Knicks’ favorable schedule, if Randle misses the entire week while isolating from the team.

    Tyus Jones, G, Memphis Grizzlies

    The Grizzlies currently have three available guards from their usual rotation. The three guards are Tyus Jones, Desmond Bane and Ja Morant. Morant and Bane are obviously rostered. Jones, with five games scheduled for the week, can be used as a week-long stream, for compiling purposes, especially while De’Anthony Melton and Dillon Brooks remain in the league’s health and safety protocols.

    Facundo Campazzo, G, Denver Nuggets

    Campazzo is on a tear, coming in at No. 8 over his last two contests and No. 45 over his last five. He’s averaging 33 minutes over the team’s last two games and he could continue logging big playing time this week as Monte Morris and Bones Hyland entered the league’s health and safety protocols within the past few days. The Nuggets have four games this week, making Campazzo an awesome stream if you’re looking for assists, steals, boards, a couple 3s and decent shooting percentages from the guard spot.

    Damian Jones, C, Sacramento Kings

    If in need of a Richaun Holmes replacement, Jones is the guy. Holmes entered the league’s health and safety protocols this week and Jones got the starting gig in the team’s Sunday game. Jones finished with 18 points, 10 boards and three assists on 7-of-10 shooting from the floor in 29 minutes. He doesn’t mind stepping out to shoot a 3-poointer. The big man let two fly from beyond the arc on Sunday. The Kings have the Tuesday/Wednesday double-header to take advantage of along with two more games during the week. As long as Holmes is out, Jones should be streamed.

    Injury Report

    John Collins remains in the league’s health and safety protocols. He should be nearing a return as he entered protocols one week ago.

    Jayson Tatum is expected to return from the league’s health and safety protocols on Wednesday.

    Kyrie Irving is considered week-to-week while conditioning after being in the league’s health and safety protocols. Irving’s not allowed to play home games due to New York’s vaccine mandate. His next opportunities to play come this Wednesday at Indiana and the following Wednesday while visiting the Bulls.

    Darius Garland is in the league’s health and safety protocols and could return later in the week at the earliest. Ricky Rubio suffered a torn ACL and will miss the remainder of the season as a result.

    Kristaps Porzingis rested during Sunday’s game, perhaps because it was the frontend of a double-header, but should be suiting up for the team’s next game on Monday.

    Malcolm Brogdon and Caris LeVert entered the league’s health and safety protocols recently and remain out indefinitely, with Brogdon’s return being nearer than LeVert’s.

    Paul George’s right elbow should be reevaluated by the end of January and Kawhi Leonard remains out indefinitely while recovering from a torn ACL.

    Khris Middleton is questionable for Monday’s game due to personal reasons. He has already missed one contest, so hopefully we can see Middleton on the floor again soon.

    Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell should be nearing a return from the league’s health and safety protocols as they each entered them on or before Christmas.

    Brandon Ingram is dealing with soreness in his left Achilles and is questionable for Monday’s contest while Jonas Valanciunas is also questionable for the game after a short stint in the league’s health and safety protocols.

    Julius Randle is in the league’s health and safety protocols and remains out indefinitely.

    Shai Gilgeous-Alexander should miss roughly a week after entering the league’s health and safety protocols as Josh Giddey exited them.

    Deandre Ayton remains in the league’s health and safety protocols to start the week, but he shouldn’t be too far from returning now.

    Damian Lillard is out on Monday with his abdomen issue. C.J. McCollum is out indefinitely as he recovers from his pneumothorax and Jusuf Nurkic is also out indefinitely while in the league’s health and safety protocols.

    Richaun Holmes entered the league’s health and safety protocols recently and should miss most, if not all, of Week 12.

    Dejounte Murray starts the week off in the league’s health and safety protocols, but he should be nearing a return towards the end of the week.

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