Most likely, each of your insurance policies presented you with a free look that allows you 10 days to test drive before deciding either if you want to keep it or pitch it in favor of finding a policy that fits (for the record, I am in the insurance field, so if this considered soliciting, then so be it. Then again, why not have me insure both your life and your Fantasy hoops aspirations?).
This week gives Jusuf Nurkic owners a free look of sorts, as the Nuggets center, who is one of the hottest names on the trading block, gets four games to show why you should either keep him in hopes of increased minutes in a new address or cool off about his potential and perhaps move him to an owner willing to ride out the rest of the season with Nurkic should he remain in Denver after the trade deadline.
Nikola Jokic is expected to miss at least one game this week, yet Nurkic should see considerable time considering the Nuggets are hard-pressed to move him. I think he does get moved, which is part of the reason you should read this as you’re setting your lineups.
If you’re a Jimmy Butler owner in a head-to-head league facing off against a Russell Westbrook owner this week, allow me to be the first to send my sympathies.
Get Wild About Willy
This is the time for keeper/dynasty league owners to make a play for Knicks C Willy Hernangomez, who I feel would be the biggest winner if/when the Carmelo Anthony saga reaches its climactic conclusion in the next 2-3 weeks. The rookie from Spain is one of 14 players averaging at least 10 rebounds per game over the last five and his 26 Fantasy Points Per Game are solid considering he’s playing just under 19 minutes in that span.
Once Anthony leaves, I think you will see Hernangomez become more of a scoring presence. Still raw on both sides of the court, the suggestion is to be patient when it comes to his blocked shots total (0.5 per game as of Saturday). While Kristaps Porzingis becomes the focal point of the Knicks, Hernangomez will use the rest of the season as a springboard for a potential breakout in 2017-18.
Owned in just 21 percent of polled standard leagues, Hernangomez is a second-half difference maker that is likely sitting out there on your waiver wire. Grab him before you regret it.
As Long As He’s Out There, You Might As Well Play Him…..
With Raptors SG/SF DeMar DeRozan (ankle) sidelined for at least another 1-3 games, Norman Powell makes for a great short-term play. Powell averaged 18.7 points and five rebounds in the three games he replaced the All-Star last week. Owned in mere three percent of polled standard leagues, Powell’s 21.2 FPPG won’t anchor your team, yet will offer owners (especially those of DeRozan) a welcomed jolt if your G/F and/or utility spot needs production in points and boards.
To the Victor Goes the Extra Shots
Since Thunder C Enes Kanter will need 6-8 weeks to heal in preparation for the sideline chair that decisively knocked him out Thursday night, the time is now for Victor Oladipo to raise his game and become a stronger Fantasy option. Oladipo is having a solid January, averaging 16.5 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.4 assists, yet the loss of Kanter will present Oladipo the opportunity to increase his 13.8 field goal attempts per contest.
Oladipo is averaging a respectable 29.6 FPPG in his last five games entering Sunday afternoon’s contest at the Cavaliers, yet I feel he can emerge as a 33-35 FPPG-caliber player, especially when you consider his defensive prowess (1.8 steals per game this month). While Kanter averaged just 10 shots per night, the bet here is that Oladipo — rather than rookie PF Domantas Sabonis — gets the bulk of the attempts.
Trevor, the Other Booker
Trevor Booker is still owned in 61 percent of polled standard leagues, yet the early season run has cooled off significantly. Booker has just one double-double this month and has just one double-digit scoring game in since Jan. 6. Entering Saturday, he had missed two of the Nets’ last five games and had been seeing his minutes pared. Booker still has some value in deeper leagues, but could be dropped in most standards if you need a more reliable scorer who can add some boards.
Best Fantasy Matchups of the Week
*Nuggets at Lakers (Tuesday): Denver won 127-121 in the previous meeting on Jan. 17, so what else would you expect when the two worst teams in defensive rating meet again? The Nuggets will likely be without Jokic (hip), who scored 56.25 Fantasy points that night, yet cast an eye on SG/SF Will Barton, who added 45 FP of his own.
The resurgent Lou Williams had 24 points, seven assists and four rebounds off the bench for the Lakers in the same game, and he is averaging 36.2 FPPG in his last five games. Play him.
*Raptors at Celtics (Wednesday): Even if DeRozan doesn’t play, this will still be an opportunity to stack, as both Toronto (third) and Boston (sixth) rank in the Top 10 in offensive rating. The Celtics trio of PG Isaiah Thomas (50.6 FPPG), PF/C Al Horford (37.5) and SG/SF Jae Crowder (35) are blistering in their last five games, while Raptors PG Kyle Lowry (40.2) has been getting strong contributions from the C combo of Jonas Valanciunas and Lucas Nogueira, who have combined for 55.5 FPPG in the same span.
Best Matchups to Exploit
*Joel Embiid (76ers) at Mavericks, Wednesday: Dallas is dead last in rebounding per game at just 38.1 a night. Provided he’s healthy, Embiid, who is averaging 10.8 rebounds and 2.8 blocked shots per game in his last 10 games, should be able to enhance the 23.8 points per game in the same span and translate it into Fantasy gold for his owners.
*Devin Booker (Suns) at Kings, Friday: Garrett Temple isn’t a bad player, yet Booker entered Saturday’s game against the Nuggets with 13 straight games of at least 20 points. Booker still is limited in what he offers besides scoring, but is shooting 50 percent from three-point range in his last 10 contests while shooting 49.5 percent overall in that span.
*C.J. McCollum and Damian Lillard (Trail Blazers) vs. Mavericks, Friday: This has Slaughter of the Innocents written all over it, especially if the injury-riddled Mavs are still without their backcourt duo of PG Deron Williams and SG Wesley Matthews. McCollum has (slightly) cooled off recently, yet Lillard is finding his All-Star touch, averaging 40.2 FPPG in his last five games.
Best One-on-One Matchups to Watch
*Westbrook vs. Kawhi Leonard (Thunder at Spurs, Tuesday): If this needs further explanation, you either hit the wrong page or know precious little about Fantasy Basketball. Either way, move along, please.
*Giannis Antetokounmpo vs. Rudy Gobert (Bucks at Jazz, Wednesday): The Greek Freak vs. the Stifle Tower. You know one will try to posterize the other. Antetokounmpo has racked 47 Fantasy points per game in his last five contests, a number that would be better if he found his accuracy from long range (26.3 percent from beyond the arc in that same span).
Gobert (38 FPPG in his last five games) went without double-digit rebounds in consecutive games for the first time this season last week, but gobbled up 13 rebounds and blocked six shots against the Lakers Thursday night.
TEAMS PLAYING FOUR GAMES:
Nets, Celtics, Nuggets, Pistons, Grizzlies, Timberwolves, Thunder, Magic, 76ers, Suns, Kings, Raptors
TEAMS PLAYING THREE GAMES:
Hawks, Hornets, Cavaliers, Mavericks, Warriors, Rockets, Pacers, Clippers, Lakers, Heat, Bucks, Pelicans, Knicks, Trail Blazers, Spurs, Wizards
TEAMS PLAYING TWO GAMES: