The Week Ahead: Week 19
2 Games: ATL, DAL, GSW, HOU, LAC, LAL, MIL, NOP, NYK, ORL, PHI, POR, UTA, WAS
3 Games: BKN, BOS, CHA, CHI, CLE, DEN, DET, IND, MEM, MIA, MIN, OKC, PHX, SAC, SAS, TOR
Still in The All-Star Break
As discussed in last week’s column, Week 19 will be a continuation of Week 18 in fantasy leagues, and games will not begin again until Thursday. There won’t be any true “light” game days when the games resume, with at least seven games being played each day from Thursday-Sunday, so this is a situation where a player having three games on their schedule vs. two should influence your streaming decisions. Lastly, your weekly transactions limit will not reset on Monday in daily, head-to-head leagues, so be strategic about the moves you make.
Chris Paul (thumb) out 6-8 weeks
Chris Paul was recently diagnosed with an avulsion fraction in his right thumb, and he will miss the next 6-8 weeks of action, making him a cut-candidate in the majority of fantasy leagues. In a best-case scenario, he might come back in a limited capacity for Week 23 which will be a three-game week for Phoenix that includes a back-to-back, but there’s also a very real chance we won’t see him until Week 25 – and at that point the fantasy season will be done outside of roto formats.
So who benefits most here?
Phoenix radio sports guy, John Gambadoro, reported that Cameron Payne (who has been out since January with a wrist injury) is expected to return to the floor on Thursday, so he’s a guy who stands out as the potential primary beneficiary. Per-36 minutes this season, Payne has put in averages of 18.5 points, 4.9 rebounds, 6.4 assists, 2.0 triples, 1.0 steal and 3.1 turnovers per game, and he’s likely available in your league as he’s currently only rostered in 23% of Yahoo! Leagues.
Aaron Holiday, Elfrid Payton and Landry Shamet also likely have more minutes coming their way, and I would look at them in that order if someone else in your league beat you to the waiver wire on Payne, although I’m skeptical that anyone other than Holiday will have actual standard league value.
We should also see Devin Booker taking on more of a playmaking role, so his assists (and turnovers) will likely be going up down the stretch, and perhaps Deandre Ayton will see an uptick in usage with more shots potentially falling his way.
Kyrie Irving only has eight games left
Kyrie Irving will only be available for eight of Brooklyn’s remaining 23 games due to his refusal to get vaccinated, and his games played schedule for each remaining week will be as follows:
Week 19: one game
Week 20: one game (can’t play in Toronto)
Week 21: two games
Week 22: one game
Week 23: two games
Week 24: one game
Week 25: zero games (can’t play in New York)
That’s a brutal schedule, so I think that Irving is a cut-candidate in head-to-head leagues, and he’s just a mediocre hold in roto settings. Because of this, the Nets signed Goran Dragic on Monday, so he’ll likely be receiving quality minutes in Brooklyn, making the 35-year-old vet someone to think about grabbing in deep leagues if you need some points, triples and dimes. Just know that he’s only played five total games this season, and he’s been out since November, so Dragic could have a bit of a ramp up process. In other words, if you’re a fringe team fighting for a playoff spot and need production now, The Dragon probably isn’t a guy you should look to, although his arrival is likely bad news for Patty Mills.
Seth Curry and Cam Thomas will also be asked to pick up the slack with Irving missing all those home games, and I still think that Thomas (39%) isn’t rostered in nearly enough leagues. Over his past eight games, he’s been a steady top-90 contributor with averages of 21.4 points, 3.9 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.9 triples, 0.9 steals and 1.1 turnovers per contest on 47.8% shooting from the field and 80% at the stripe on 4.4 FTA.
When will Draymond Green (back) return?
Draymond Green, who filled in as a TNT analyst during Sunday’s All-Star game, was asked by Charles Barkley when he expected to be back on the floor and Green responded: “Hopefully within 3-4 weeks, that’s what I’m shooting for.” That’s quite the vague update, and the hopeful part of that statement is what’s most concerning, not to mention the fact that players often underestimate their timetables.
Considering that Green hasn’t played since January, he’ll likely be eased back into things if/when he does return, so it’s unlikely he’ll be all that useful in head-to-head fantasy leagues. I’m cutting him in the one league that I have him, since my playoffs start Week 20, but I think I’d cut him everywhere outside of deep roto leagues.
We’ve seen what this Dubs’ team looks like for the past month without Draymond and who the primary beneficiary is: Jonathan Kuminga. The Warriors’ rookie has looked fantastic through the month of February, posting averages of 15.3 points, 4.4 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.0 triple, 0.5 steals, 0.6 swats and 1.5 turnovers per contest on 60.3% shooting from the field and 69% at the line on 3.6 FTA. So, if you’re okay with some poor FT shooting, give Kuminga a look, as he’s currently rostered in just 29% of Yahoo! Leagues.