December 24, 2023, 5:25 pm
Readers, I hope your family, friends and fantasy teams are all well during this holiday season as we head into the New Year. In fact, that last point is going to become increasingly important as the season progresses. We are officially past the halfway point to fantasy playoffs, so there’s plenty of data for managers to reflect on with regards to where they are in the standings and what their best categories are. Time is running out, so let your New Year’s resolution be to put your team in the best position to succeed from late February and onward.
There are several teams that aren’t putting themselves in position to succeed but I’ve got to start by putting the Spurs under the microscope. These highlight reels of the rest of the team missing Victor Wembanyama for wide open looks aren’t promising. How do you miss this guy? Forget the fact that he’s 7’4”; the top pick is such a generational talent that he practically has an aura around him. The Spurs desperately need better playmaking around their new superstar and it’s not right that Gregg Popovich’s offense is currently generating as many shots for the likes of Malaki Branham and Zach Collins. The latter has more-or-less made a permanent transition to the bench now, so managers with Collins rostered may want to sell high while his numbers are still up.
Things haven’t been right with my Raptors for a long time now but it feels like the pot is really starting to boil over the top lately. Rumors continue to swirl around Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby’s futures with the team and there have been completely disparate results from that duo lately. Siakam remains an offensive wonder and his continued excellence in points, rebounds and assists has done well to mask decreases in defensive production. However, Anunoby has been awful all week and generally disappointing relative to his fantasy draft position all season. With Gary Trent Jr. showing signs of life lately, the Raptors have at least a little more offensive production to rely on. However, it’s becoming increasingly clear that this current roster isn’t getting it done and they’re almost out of chances at redemption. It’s time to check in with managers that have Anunoby or Siakam rostered. Both men are further down in the overall rankings than most would have expected at this point in the season and it seems inevitable that changes are on the horizon that could boost their fantasy value.
At the intersection of non-competive teams and boosted fantasy value you can expect to find a pair of Wizards players. One of them plays on the perimeter and the other plays in the post. They’re both putting up top-25 value in the last week. You think it’s Jordan Poole and Kyle Kuzma, right? In fact, it’s their lesser-known co-stars Daniel Gafford and Tyus Jones leading the way to a not-so-impressive one win in three games since we last checked in. It wouldn’t be surprising to see either man exchanged for assets from a playoff contender and generally speaking, it would be even less surprising to see them fall back from their current heights. Time to sell high if they’re on your roster.
Remember when everyone was selling their stock in the Bucks? The Antetokounmpo-Lillard experiment didn’t get off to a perfect start but they’re rolling now. The Bucks are winners of their last seven contests. Despite Antetoukounmpo falling off from the hot streak that initiated this run, the Bucks continue to get early round value from Lillard and Brook Lopez to compensate. Plus this team should continue to reach new heights as Khris Middleton continues his comeback. With Bobby Portis and Malik Beasley in the picture, this Bucks squad is loaded with standard league talent and capable of producing loads of value on both ends for the lucky managers that have these players rostered. The last two are streamers but I’d gladly trade for any of the others from a team that needs to win every game and that doesn’t have much depth to rely on behind them.
Depth is a strength for other teams and that’s why you can never say never with the Warriors. The franchise has seemed like it may be on the verge of disappointment more than once in recent memory but rookies Brandin Podziemski and Trayce Jackson-Davis are both playing a big role for this team lately. So long as Steph Curry remains healthy and Klay Thompson stays at this level, this team can ride out the Draymond Green suspension with ease. Managers should be paying close attention to this squad on their four-game winning streak. All but three active players are widely available in most leagues and they all have unique claims to standard league value with sufficient playing time. Familiar names like Dario Saric and Kevon Looney stand ready to provide streaming value as always, while Andrew Wiggins is even showing some signs of a return to form. However, the veterans may need to start playing a supporting role to the prospects after sustained strong play from Jackson-Davis, Podziemski and Jonathan Kuminga.
Strong play was a theme for last week’s Quick Adds as well. Norman Powell was excellent for his first three games of the week before a bit of a dud on Saturday. Despite Kawhi Leonard’s injury, I probably won’t hold him past Tuesday in Week 10. I’d be more inclined to hold one or both of Patrick and Vince Williams. The former is rounding out his impressive defensive potential with increasingly solid offensive production while the latter has retained his spot in the starting lineup and continued to provide value through the return of Ja Morant to the backcourt rotation. It might still be wise to stream Vince Williams in and out when opportunity presents itself but I’m not likely to send Patrick Williams back to the wire any time soon. Caris LeVert had a mostly good week that completely fulfilled all the pros and cons I listed in his blurb. Unfortunately, he has been limited by a left knee problem that should see him sent back to the wire for the short term. It’s a shame, really. The Cavs need scoring with their Big Three all out and that should be LeVert’s time to shine. Keep an eye on him. Lastly, there was Malaki Branham. Frankly, I’m not that impressed with his fantasy production lately but I can’t deny that the way he’s playing is probably going to keep him with the starters for the foreseeable future. Despite the advantageous Week 10 schedule for the Spurs, I’m just not sure if Branham is up to the task as a standard league producer. Forget him for now.
It’s hard to forget how often this fantasy season has featured a condensed schedule already. Thankfully I can share with you that we are getting games every day of the week despite the holiday. That doesn’t mean we get a lot of games though. In fact, there’s only one double-digit game day. Less than half of the league plays on more than half of the days on this week’s schedule. That means everyone will have lots of space in their lineups and plenty of opportunities for value-added streaming. Two teams play twice and the majority of the league only plays three times, so it’s time to fade any unnecessary Cavs or Clippers players. On the flip side, long streamers will be happy to know that the Celtics, Nets, Mavs, Lakers, Grizzlies, Knicks, Thunder, Magic, Sixers, Suns, Spurs and Wizards lead the way with four games apiece. They’re clearly ahead of the pack in this slate of games and it’s likely that their players will trend up in short order. There will be 10 teams with players that can be streamed for two games in three days by Wednesday night and that sounds really good. The bad part? 19 teams only play once by Wednesday night. Just watch what that does to your waiver wire when this week kicks off. It’s likely that managers will be sending a bunch of low end players to free agency early on, so get ready to shop among the cast-offs. The ones that don’t play much early are going to be active late in the schedule, so get your waiver wire bids ready and potentially some of your free agent budget if the right guy becomes available. It’s best if they play on the weakest days of the week. Monday and Wednesday will be the value-added days in the early part of the schedule, while Saturday and Sunday are the best days for streaming in the latter half. No teams play all four days but four play the majority of them. I’ll get into more detail with that in the schedule breakdown further below.
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