March 20, 2022, 10:09 pm
As usual, we are here to win the week. Yes, Michael Porter Jr. is close to returning from his back injury. No, we wouldn’t advise adding him if your goal is to outlast your opponent in the fantasy playoffs. Just like the NBA playoffs, it’s time to win or go home. Stashing shouldn’t be our objective in the middle of battle. Imagine using a valuable add on MPJ, getting 16 minutes, eight points and three boards out of him on Saturday and only having one add left to win your matchup on Sunday as you trail in two key categories. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot by targeting the unknowns this week. Stay solid, trust the known commodities and assume your rightful place as fantasy champ, semifinalist or finalist.
In sharp contrast to week 21, week 22 offers more ways to attack streaming and get the edge over your opponent. A favorable schedule along with numerous injured players makes for a healthy streaming environment. The first order of business in week 22 is to dump your back-end Clippers, Spurs and Kings, for they only play two games. Second, identify your strengths and weaknesses. At this time of the season, matchups come down to one or two key categories. Make your adds count by targeting the competitive categories and making sure you maximize your team’s games played.
Unlike last week, week 22 offers doubleheader opportunities every night. Starting with the Bulls on Monday and Tuesday, there are 14 teams offering a back-to-back in the coming week. One streaming method is targeting a Bulls player for Monday and Tuesday, adding a Suns, Pacers or Grizzlies player for Wednesday and Thursday, replacing them with somebody from the Rockets, Heat or Blazers for Friday and Saturday before targeting an area of need on Sunday night.
The Blazers play four games this week and feature a delectable back-to-back at home against the lowly Rockets on Friday and Saturday. Brandon Williams, Kris Dunn and Trendon Watford are all guys who could compile serious numbers in a four-game week on a tanking team. The Hawks are without John Collins this week and missed Trae Young on Friday night. If Young is out at any point this week, Delon Wright would join Danilo Gallinari and Onyeka Okongwu as potential streamers out of Atlanta, especially for their stretch of three games in four nights starting on Tuesday.
Clearly, there are many avenues to take in the week ahead. Follow this week’s five key tenets and survive.
- Make sure your acquisitions increase your number of games played. There’s no utility in dropping a guy with three games in four nights for a guy with two games left for the week.
- Target the low-volume nights. Aim for Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday.
- Drop your Clippers, Kings and Spurs. The Clippers and Kings are incapable of winning in reality or fantasy (this week), and the Spurs don’t have great streamers to begin with.
- Find your injured starter’s backup. Trae Young’s out? Delon Wright’s a go. Is Brandon Williams sidelined? Kris Dunn becomes must-stream. Did Jimmy Butler cut into the pink part of his toenail and now he’s out on Monday? Stream in Caleb Martin, or Max Strus if Martin’s still out. Backups are usually great options in place of their starting counterparts.
- Again, don’t add MPJ with hopes of him producing this week.
Two Games: Clippers, Spurs, Kings
Three Games: Hawks, Celtics, Cavaliers, Nuggets, Pacers, Lakers, Grizzlies, Bucks, Thunder, Magic, Suns, Raptors
Four Games: Nets, Hornets, Bulls, Mavericks, Pistons, Warriors, Rockets, Heat, Wolves, Pelicans, Knicks, Sixers, Blazers, Jazz, Wizards
Tuesday/Wednesday: Hawks, Warriors, Knicks, Magic
Wednesday/Thursday: Pacers, Grizzlies, Suns
Friday/Saturday: Rockets, Heat, Blazers
Saturday/Sunday: Nets, Pelicans
Week 22 offers a much friendlier week for streaming than week 21 did. The Bulls are the only team that offers three games in four nights to kick off week 22. Two of those games land on Tuesday and Thursday, the week’s least crowded nights. The only other teams playing on both Tuesday and Thursday are the Nuggets and Bucks. The two teams that close out the week with three games in four nights are the Pelicans and Wizards. Teams offering three games in four nights in the middle of the week are the Hawks, Warriors, Rockets, Pacers, Grizzlies, Heat, Knicks and Blazers. After last week’s schedule devoid of streaming opportunities, this week’s schedule lends itself to multiple streaming avenues.
Best Schedule: Bulls (vs. Raptors, @ Bucks, @ Pelicans, @ Cavaliers)
As mentioned earlier, the Bulls kick the week off with three games in four nights, including a Monday/Tuesday doubleheader. Their last game of the week comes on Saturday, so there isn’t a huge gap between their Thursday night meeting with the Pelicans and Saturday’s scrap with the Cavs. They’re one of three teams with games on Tuesday and Thursday, the low-volume nights in week 22. Alex Caruso, Coby White and Javonte Green are guys likely available in most waiver wires. There will be an added wrinkle for the Bulls this week, though, as Patrick Williams rejoins the team after missing the majority of the season after undergoing surgery to repair his injured left wrist. Williams will likely be under a minutes restriction to start the week, and his production prior to the injury doesn’t inspire much confidence in his utility as a 12-team guy, making him a name to ignore for now.
Worst Schedule: Spurs (@ Blazers, @ Pelicans)
The Spurs and Kings have identically bad schedules. They play on the week’s two high-volume nights, Wednesday and Saturday, that feature a combined 19 games. Both teams play both of their games on the road. The Spurs face a slightly stiffer test against the Pelicans on Saturday, giving them the edge for worst schedule of the week. Along with the rough schedule, the Spurs don’t offer many viable streaming options for shallow category formats. Guys like Lonnie Walker IV, Josh Richardson and Keldon Johnson are such flawed players in category leagues that they’re unlikely to make the cut for your roster on Wednesday and Saturday. The Kings at least offer players like Donte DiVincenzo, Davion Mitchell, Justin Holiday and Trey Lyles, all of whom have shown an ability to contribute in category leagues when given ample playing time.
Game of the Week: Nets @ Grizzlies, Wednesday, March 23rd, 7:30 pm ET
The Grizzlies face a couple of stiff tests this week. They host the offensive juggernaut that is the Nets, spearheaded by Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, on Wednesday before taking on the defending champs on Saturday. While a meeting with the champs is usually the more difficult proposition, the Nets present a 3-point assault that few other teams in the league can replicate. The individual battle between two of the best at-rim finishers the league has even seen in Ja Morant and Kyrie Irving will make for must-watch television. Morant attacks the rim with otherworldly athleticism and ferocity while Irving dazzles with his incomparable ball-handling before showcasing his ambidexterity at the rim among the trees. The two teams’ contrasting styles, dynamite personalities and skillsets should deliver an awesome Wednesday night viewing experience.
Bones Hyland, PG, Denver Nuggets
Hyland has mostly been outside of the fantasy scope this season. The talented rookie has been skilled enough to play all season, but there have been some growing pains along the way that prevented him from seeing the floor. With 11 games to go, head coach Malone is finally trusting Hyland with actual playing time. Hyland’s playing just over 30 minutes a night over the past week and has registered a top-60 ranking in 9-category formats in that time. In starter’s minutes, Bones is a reliable source of 3s, points, assists, boards and steals on good percentages. Couple his recent play with the Nuggets’ favorable schedule and Hyland’s a valuable target this week.
Immanuel Quickley, PG, New York Knicks
Just like the aforementioned Hyland, Quickley has been in and out of head coach Tom Thibodeau’s doghouse all season long. Also just like Hyland, Quickley seems to be in a bit of a groove lately that has forced his reluctant head coach’s hand. Quickley’s ranked inside the top-70 in 9-category formats over the past two weeks and inside the top-40 in his two most recent outings. Quickley’s game is centered around scoring, 3s, FT%, assists, a handful of boards and nearly a steal per game. With a four-game week featuring three games in four nights between Tuesday and Friday, Quickley’s an option for week 22.
Taurean Prince, SF/PF, Minnesota Timberwolves
Prince has quietly been a back-end 12-team guy over the past two months in just 19 minutes a night. The veteran forward is good for defensive numbers, 3s, rebounds and scoring despite limited playing time. Since Jaden McDaniels went down with a sprained left ankle, Prince has seen his minutes rise a bit. In 23 minutes a night over the past week, Prince has put together 4th round value in his last three appearances. With four games scheduled for week 22, Prince can provide some cash counters, rebounding and scoring as a streamer who should be available in your league.
Bruce Brown, SG, Brooklyn Nets
Brown started off the campaign firmly planted on the pine. After the slow start to the season, Brown has played his way into the rotation in 26 minutes a night over the past two months. Now, he’s a staple of the rotation. Over the past month, Brown’s a top-50 guy in 9-category formats. He’s averaging 32.2 MIN, 14.5 PTS, 6.3 REB, 3.4 AST, 1.4 STL and 0.5 BLK on 51.1% and 75.0% shooting from the field and foul line, respectively. Brown’s likely occupying Ben Simmons’ role, but with the Aussie dealing with back pain, Brown’s playing time should be secure for the Nets’ four-game week.
John Collins’ (plantar fascia tear & right ring finger sprain) status should be updated in 10-to-14 days after undergoing non-surgical procedures to address his two injuries.
Ben Simmons (conditioning/back) remains out indefinitely after recently receiving an epidural.
Gordon Hayward remains out indefinitely with a sprained left ankle. On the bright side, Hayward is no longer in a walking boot and has done some individual non-contact drills in practice.
Lonzo Ball (torn left meniscus) remains without a firm timetable for his return. Patrick Williams will make his long-awaited return from surgery on his left wrist on Monday night.
Jarrett Allen is out indefinitely with his fractured finger.
Michael Porter Jr. (back) could return to action as early as later this week. Jamal Murray (left ACL tear) has practiced with the Nuggets’ G League affiliate. Despite Murray’s practice sessions, he remains unlikely to join his team in the regular season.
Jerami Grant will miss Monday’s game with right knee inflammation.
Stephen Curry will miss most, if not all, of the regular season with a sprained ligament in his left foot.
Myles Turner (left foot stress reaction) has started some conditioning work but has no set return date. Malcolm Brogdon missed Sunday’s game for resting purposes.
Paul George’s (right elbow) timetable for a return remains unclear. Kawhi Leonard (right ACL) remains sidelined with very little hope of returning for a regular season run. Norman Powell has no timetable for a return from a broken bone in his left foot.
Anthony Davis (mid-food sprain) has begun spot shooting but isn’t expected to return any time soon. LeBron James is questionable for Monday with his sore left knee.
Ja Morant missed Sunday’s game with right knee soreness.
Jimmy Butler is questionable for Monday’s game with a sprained right ankle.
Giannis Antetokounmpo missed the team’s Saturday game with knee soreness.
Karl-Anthony Towns is questionable for Monday’s game with a right forearm contusion.
Brandon Ingram (right hamstring strain) isn’t with the team for their current road trip, making it highly unlikely he suits up on Monday night.
Josh Giddey is expected to miss at least two more weeks with right hip soreness. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander missed the team’s Sunday contest with right ankle soreness and his status for Monday is up in the air.
Cameron Johnson missed Sunday’s contest with a right quad contusion. Chris Paul is of course out with his right thumb avulsion fracture through the end of the season and Cameron Payne missed Sunday’s game with a non-COVID illness.
Anfernee Simons is considered week-to-week with left patella tendinopathy. Damian Lillard (abdominal surgery) remains without a return date. Jusuf Nurkic will miss at least three weeks with plantar fasciitis in his left foot.
De’Aaron Fox (right hand) missed Sunday’s game. Richaun Holmes will miss the rest of the season due to personal matters. Domantas Sabonis suffered a knee injury that forced him out of Sunday’s game. His status should be updated early in the week.
OG Anunoby (right finger fracture) and Fred VanVleet (right knees soreness) missed Sunday’s game against the Sixers.
Mike Conley (right knee) missed Sunday’s game to rest.
Kyle Kuzma is listed as questionable with right knee tendinitis ahead of their game on Monday night.