• Hello and welcome to the latest edition of The Week Ahead. It’s Week 14 and we’re nearly a month away from the start of fantasy playoffs. It’s time to make some trades if you’re behind in the rankings!

    Speaking of trades: How about that Pascal Siakam deal? The Pacers swooped in and scooped up Siakam in a mid-week deal that only cost them Bruce Brown, Jordan Nwora, Kira Lewis Jr. and what should amount to three late first-round picks. Three players and three picks seems like a lot but nobody in that group is near Siakam’s level and typically multi-time All-NBA players cost at least one lottery pick. They didn’t have to gut the team to get him, so this Pacers squad is looking really dangerous as they can surround Siakam with four shooters at all times. Coupled with an MVP candidate in Tyrese Haliburton and an elite rim protector in Myles Turner, the former Raptors stalwart has all the tools to succeed at a high level in his new environment. I’m buying his stock wherever I can right now. Unfortunately, I’m also permanently selling all my Obi Toppin stock for the rest of the season. On the other side, Brown has been predictably solid with the Raptors but that doesn’t seem likely to last long given how quickly he wound up in trade rumors once again. It’s likely that he and several other secondary Raptors figures end up on your waiver wire this week, as they’ll be resting for three days between Monday and Friday games. 

    In the wake of the tragic death of a celebrated coach, the Warriors had two of their three games in Week 13 postponed, and by extension, the Jazz and Mavs missed a game each this week too. Given the circumstances, we fantasy managers would be wrong to complain but it is fair to acknowledge that anyone counting on players from those teams came up shorter than expected in their respective matchups. The date of these rescheduled games hasn’t been announced yet but I’ve been looking ahead at the Warriors’ schedule and it’s hard to imagine these will come before fantasy playoffs. Their rest will continue into the middle of this week before managers will be racing to stream from this team during their 3-in-4 starting Wednesday. They’re far from the only team playing three times from Wednesday to Saturday but the Warriors are my favorite among that group. I’m expecting the Warriors to be extremely motivated and well-rested despite their loss, so you can be sure that at least one member of their rotation will be in my Quick Adds this week. Several members of the team could be on your wire and worth attention in standard leagues.

    Joel Embiid continues to be the measuring stick for fantasy basketball excellence. Over the past week, his Sixers have built on what is now a five-game winning streak on the strength of some pretty gaudy numbers from the reigning MVP; none more important than his nearly 38 points per game.  With Tobias Harris and Tyrese Maxey hovering around the top-35 and the trio of Kelly Oubre, Nic Batum and Patrick Beverley providing solid 12-team value in the rotation, the Sixers have been making lots of managers happy lately. It’s a shame that De’Anthony Melton hasn’t been able to rejoin the team yet but it looks like his injury woes will be over in short order. Get him going as soon as possible once confirmed. It will probably come at Beverley’s expense but Melton was always the better option in the backcourt. The Sixers aren’t going to be major players in Week 14 but they finish really strong and play a whopping 13 games over the following three weeks, so I’d be buying or holding their stock wherever it’s reasonable to do so. 

    How about those Suns? It feels like we’re talking about them an awful lot less than everyone expected in October. That’s what being eighth in the Western Conference gets you, I guess. It’s no small matter that they’re currently on a four-game winning streak and well above the .500 mark, despite the lack of buzz around the team. As everyone was quick to point out when this squad first came together: any team with this much firepower is a threat to every other team in the league. I promise the first place Wolves and the reigning champion Nuggets will be shaking when Grayson Allen comes to town. Not the name you were expecting there, right? Well, Allen is leading all Suns in fantasy value over the past week and is currently comfortably within the top-10 overall thanks to high scoring, tons of treys, assists and rebounds in equal measure and multiple stocks per game. Just behind him are the usuals, Devin Booker and Kevin Durant, along with steady Jusuf Nurkic in the top-50. Notably absent is Bradley Beal, who is back to playing every game but outside the top-100 over the past week. Despite his obvious talent and well-earned reputation, I’m not interested in waiting for Beal to make a fantasy resurgence with the Suns. Now that his health woes seem to be in the past, it’s time to start checking in with other managers to gauge his trade value. This Suns squad is definitely gearing up for the playoffs, so it’s hard to imagine there aren’t at least a few rest games in Beal’s future. How could there not be when his understudy, Allen, is clearly capable of replacing what he does best? As far as fantasy playoffs go, there won’t be many teams less active than the Suns, so it’s time to see if Beal’s name value can get you a more productive fantasy player.

    Last week’s Quick Adds certainly gave me a redeemer on my Week 12 duds. They were all relatively productive and passable streamers. However, Tre Jones really was the star of the week. If all he did was provide 38 assists, that would be enough. However, the nine steals and 42 points on solid shooting percentages really put Jones over the edge as one of the best overall players for the week. I feel vindicated for going to bat for Jones as the deserving starting point guard all season. He’s worth holding everywhere and will probably remain so for the rest of the season. That’s basically what I said in Donte DiVincenzo’s blurb last week and I stand by it as well. The Villanova product was predictably valuable in points, treys and assists last week but the steals we’ve come to expect just didn’t materialize for him. Both Lu Dort and Nick Richards missed some time but when they were active, they were valuable in the exact ways they have always been. Richards is a luxury stash right now, while Dort is definitely worth holding due to the Thunder’s advantageous Week 14 schedule.

    The player that made me most nervous from last week’s bunch was definitely Jontay Porter. I’m happy to report that Porter definitely met my measured expectations over four consecutive starts last week. Though his numbers are certainly on the very fringes of 12-team value, I’d call it an unequivocal win if you rostered Porter in any deeper format. Given that he is on a two-way deal and still almost completely unknown to the average fan, it’s very likely that he was a big difference-maker for lots of deep league managers. Four treys, 14 boards, four steals and six blocks are pretty good in any context, and certainly more than most would have expected from someone in Porter’s position. That’s why I’ll gladly come back to him as long as the Raptors lack frontcourt depth. It probably won’t be in Week 14 though.

    This upcoming slate of games is going to leave holes in most teams’ lineups on most nights. Every day but Saturday will feature less than 10 games, with Tuesday and Sunday featuring the fewest amount of games. Streaming is never essential but it’s certainly advisable whenever we have a schedule like this. It’s hard to imagine many teams will have a full starting lineup on any night of the week, so it’s reasonable to expect that they could find some benefit in streaming whenever they can. There won’t be many good options to get it done early, so it’s reasonable to expect a rush for players from the Wolves, Thunder and Blazers. Thankfully everyone has more to work with from Thursday onward. It’s certainly possible to stream seven consecutive days this week; especially if you’re carrying over a streamer from Week 13 that is active on Monday. The majority of teams will play three times this week and nobody plays less, so there’s going to be at least one point in every team’s schedule that they are somewhat viable for streaming at least two games in a three day period. However, even those managers constrained to four moves per week should plan to use as many moves they can while chasing the gold standard of a seven day stream. The best ways to go about your business are further below but only if you’re a subscriber.

    Schedule Breakdown

    Two Games: None

    Three Games: Celtics, Nets, Bulls, Cavs, Nuggets, Warriors, Rockets, Clippers, Lakers, Heat, Pelicans, Knicks, Magic, Sixers, Kings, Raptors, Jazz, Wizards

    Four Games: Hawks, Hornets, Mavs, Pistons, Pacers, Grizzlies, Bucks, Wolves, Thunder, Suns, Blazers, Spurs

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