Fantasy Basketball: Music of the Traffic – Week 21

1-119Shut down for the season.

Those are the words that no one wants to hear or read about one of their star players—especially this time of year.

However, every season players on teams with no chance of making the postseason, or those with lingering injuries, get shelved, and as a fantasy manager there’s little you can do about it.

Eric Bledsoe was the latest star player to fall victim, and if you think there’s actually any concern over his knee, you’ve been spending too much time in the sun. Teammate Brandon Knight will also be shelved for the final weeks of the season after being out of the rotation since the All-Star break.

Luol Deng has been shut down by the tanking Lakers, but he wasn’t helping any fantasy teams anyway.

Others, like Dwyane Wade, Chandler Parsons and Nemanja Bjelica will miss the rest of the season with legitimate injuries.

With the fantasy playoffs in full swing, there’s no time to waste wondering how to replace what you’ve lost. Hit that waiver wire and try to make back those stats as best you can. Maximising games will help, but don’t sacrifice talent for games. Find the best possible fit.

If you’re not sure where to start, you’ve come to the right place as Downtown listens to the Music of the Traffic, so you can focus on shutting down your opponent, instead of your team.

Week 21 (March 20 – March 26)

5 games: LAC

4 games: ATL, BKN, BOS, CHA, CHI, DEN, GSW, IND, MIL, NYK, PHI, PHO, POR, WAS

3 games: CLE, DAL, DET, HOU, LAL, MEM, MIA, MIN, NOR, OKC, ORL, SAC, SAS, TOR, UTA

The Blazers/Timberwolves game that was postponed two weeks ago will not be made up until April 3, so it won’t affect this week’s schedule. However, you do need to be mindful of how many games your guys are playing in Week 21 as there is a games advantage to be had.

The Clippers will play a whopping five times, and if you own any of those guys, make sure you have them active. Fourteen teams will tip-off four times, while the remaining 15 teams only lace up their sneakers for three fixtures. If you’re tossing up between a five-game week of Austin Rivers and a three-game week of Ty Lawson, take the volume, even if the Son-of-Doc has been struggling a little of late.

The following players may be available in standard 10- or 12-team leagues.

Caris LeVert (SG/SF, BKN) and Jeremy Lin (PG/SG, BKN): This duo from Kenny Atkinson’s squad has been delivering of late. LeVert has found his feet as a rookie and had scored in double digits in three straight games before struggling yesterday, while also contributing in boards, steals and threes. Lin, meanwhile, has a streak of eight straight games in double digits now along with solid dimes, steals and threes. The Nets play four times in Week 21 and while Lin is harder to come by in most leagues, both could help you if that’s what you need.

Nikola Mirotic (SF/PF, CHI): We all know the level of my Niko homerism by now, but even that was tested lately when he fell completely out of the rotation. And then, as if to mock me, the same week that I was eliminated in a dynasty league where I own him, to steal a phrase from the ESPN Fantasy Focus NFL podcast, Mirotic became a fantasy zombie and rose from the dead to have his best game of the year with 24 points, 11 rebounds and five triples. He backed it up with 14 points, five rebounds, three triples, two assists and two blocks, followed by 15 points, seven rebounds, three assists, three blocks, two triples and one steal yesterday, and all of a sudden he’s a hot pickup again. With four games on tap and availability in 37 percent of Yahoo and a whopping 83 percent of ESPN leagues, he’s worth a flyer as a potential X-factor for your squad as long as you can stomach the poor field goal percentage.

Rajon Rondo (PG, CHI): Desperate times call for desperate measures and with Wade out, there’ll be more needed from everyone’s no one’s favourite NBA quarterback. Rondo put up 37 points, 13 rebounds, 14 assists, three steals and hit six threes over a two-game stretch this past week and that cannot be ignored. He’s starting again and had another 10 dimes yesterday. You can take a shower after you win the title to cleanse yourself, but he could be a difference-maker, so grab him while you can.

Will Barton (SG/SF, DEN): Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari are both out with unclear timetables to return. Barton, like a good bottle of Heinz ketchup, just poured in 57 points over his past two games, including a career-high 35 points and seven triples against the Clippers. He needs to be owned in all formats while Chandler and Gallo are sidelined.

Mason Plumlee (PF/C, DEN): My favourite Plum lost some of his lustre when he was moved from Rip City to Mile High, but he’s quickly found his productivity alongside Nikola Jokic. Plumlee’s ownership may have declined since the trade, but his production is right around where it was in Portland to the tune of 10.3 points, eight rebounds, 2.3 blocks and a lovely five assists. Those dimes differentiate him from most centres not named Marc, Al or ironically Nikola (his teammate) and are a reason to deploy the best of the Plums for a four-game week ahead.

Malcolm Brogdon (PG/SG, MIL): It’d be nice if Jason Kidd made up his mind as to whom he wants to start between Brogdon and Delly, but what is nice is that Brogdon doesn’t seem to mind either way. He came off the bench against Memphis on Monday with 15 points, eight assists and three triples after returning from a two-game absence (back), and then started on Thursday with 11 points, five assists, one three and one steal. He’s still a little inconsistent, but Brogdon has shown enough to be deployed in 12-team leagues from here on out and is available in more than 50 percent of formats.

Jahlil Okafor (C, PHI): Nerlens is gone, Joel is done for the year and Jahlil’s role is likely safe for the rest of this season in the City of Brotherly Love. You’ll love what he’s been doing lately with 17 points, five rebounds, 1.8 assists, one steal, 1.2 blocks and great percentages (55.9 from the field, 90.5 from the free throw line) over his past five games. His rebounding has been disappointing, but the rest of those stats make up for the lack of boards, and with four games coming up, it’s the perfect time to take advantage of his newfound responsibility and consistency. While you’re at it, give his buddy Richaun Holmes (PF/C, PHI) a look. He’s been very solid lately with 16.3 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.3 steals over his past four games. He even started yesterday over Okafor due to Brett Brown seeing him as the better matchup versus Dirk Nowitzki.

Tyler Ulis (PG, PHO): We see it every year. Rookies thrust into a feature role late in the season when a player ahead of them goes down, or in this case, gets shut down. Ulis will start at point guard the rest of the way in the Valley of the Sun. In two games in that role to date, he’s averaging 16 points, 10.5 assists, 2.5 rebounds and 1.5 steals. He’s one of the hottest pickups right now for the stretch run and is still available in 53 percent of Yahoo and 75 percent of ESPN leagues. Run to the wire to grab him faster than Eric Bledsoe said “WTF?” when told of his shutdown.

Alan Williams (PF/C, PHO): Refer to my Week 19 column and count them up… eight double-doubles in his past 11 games, plus 1.3 blocks per game over that span. The dude is still available in 42 percent of Yahoo leagues and 48 percent of ESPN leagues, and with four games this coming week, there’s really no excuse for that.

Patty Mills (PG, SAS): His value has often been tied to two things: Tony Parker’s health and the level of heat emitting from his shooting hands. Both are in Patty’s favour right now and the results are clear. His 16.3 points, 2.3 rebounds, 6.3 assists, one steal and 3.7 threes with a .500 clip from the field over his last three games is good enough for top-30 value over that span and a reason why he’s worth a punt. The Spurs do play just three times and you’ll need to keep an eye on Parker, but Mills needs to be owned in all formats while he’s this productive.

There are no players to watch this week, as it’s too late for that. If you like someone, grab him. No time to waste.

Remember, there’s no wouldas, couldas or shouldas this time of year; there’s only results. If you’ve lost someone due to shutdown or injury, then make a quick switch and keep yourself alive. Don’t put your title chances on the shelf.


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Author of the article

When you’re introduced to the NBA as a 6 year old in 1984, staying up late to watch Bird, Magic and Dr. J, it’s pretty hard not to fall in love with the game. I became consumed with the Association, and as my own game was developing, I tried to emulate as much as I could at an early age and learn how to play “the right way”. I have memories as a teenager of being glued to Saturday Basketball on TV and spending every spare cent I had on basketball cards and replica jerseys and so began my obsession with NBA knowledge and stats. I played my first season of Fantasy Hoops in 2002, as my serious playing days were slowing down. I now play in 5 or 6 leagues every year. To say I’m obsessed with Fantasy Hoops would be an understatement. To say I love nothing more than sharing my opinion on a player’s value would be entirely accurate, and I guess, the reason why I’m here. Follow me on twitter: @tomhersz @downtownball