Hello everyone, welcome back. Hope you are enjoying the In-Season Tournament as much as I am.
After a restful Week 7 – just two games for every team – the NBA is pushing the pedal to the floor with a jam-packed Week 8. Its 57 games place it in a tie for the busiest week of the season. All but six teams play four games. Monday's slate is overloaded with 13 games, but the rest of the week is pretty balanced. Managing your schedule will look much different this week, so be careful to plan ahead. The Suns and the Celtics are the easy winners for best Fantasy schedule of the week: Both teams have four games, all at home, including action on the two quietest nights of the week (Tuesday and Sunday, which both have 5-game slates). Managers should get ahead of the curve and add Suns and Celtics on Monday, when lineups are full before waivers anyway.
As always, the players in this article must be rostered in less than two-thirds of CBS leagues. Players are listed in the order that I recommend adding them, assuming they are equally good fits for your team.
Adds for all leagues
Murphy finally made his season debut last weekend, and the early results have been promising. Through three games, he's already averaging 16-3-1 with three 3s, and there are lots of reasons to expect that to improve. He's still playing just 24.7 minutes per game, he's in a shooting slump, and Pelicans twitter is already vociferous in their calls to give him more minutes. As his workload rises and his shooting normalizes, his numbers will get even better. I'm still a little nervous about a few things related to his health, but these first few games have underscored how high Murphy could potentially rise. He's an all-leagues must-add.
I apologize. I didn't even notice that Brown's roster rate had fallen below our Mendoza Line. Had I noticed early, I'd have hammered this home in previous columns: Brown is, as he has been all season, an all-leagues must-roster. He's playing 31.8 minutes per game. He hurts a little in points and blocks, but he's a small plus in every other category.
Grayson Allen, Suns (35% rostered)
The Suns continue to talk about Bradley Beal (back) as though he's day-to-day, but the reality is that he's played just three times in the first 21 games. I've avoided focusing on Allen in these columns out of the fear that Beal was about to return and undermine Allen's value. But it's getting harder to believe the Suns regarding Beal's return to play timeline. Even when Beal does play, this unexpectedly long absence will likely lead to a slower and more cautious ramp-up, which should extend Allen's Fantasy appeal. Allen started when Beal played, but an eventual Beal return will inevitably cut into Allen's 33.1 minutes per game. Allen is a highly efficient 3s specialist whose contributions elsewhere are just barely enough to make holding him worthwhile.
This pick comes with a giant caveat: I don't personally believe in Williams at all. The idea of him sustaining Fantasy value strikes me as similarly plausible to claiming every Will Smith movie is a documentary. That said, if you cherry pick the data just so, the image of a Fantasy contributor appears in Williams' recent box scores. Over his last seven starts, he's up to 12-6-1 with 1.1 steals, 1.3 blocks, 1.3 3s, and 50.0% field goal shooting. Sure, change the sample at all and the numbers quickly look a lot worse. On the other hand, with Zach LaVine (foot) out for about a month, Williams has a good chance to remain a starter for a while. The shooting efficiency will almost certainly taper off – he shot 46.4% last year and 34.8% outside of those last seven starts – but the rebounds and defense could easily sustain.
Context is important. I'm listing Moody below Pat Williams, who I trust as much as I trust the historical accuracy of Hancock. That said, Moody has creeped onto my radar lately. He's performed respectably with some extra run lately as the Warriors work through several injuries. More importantly, his per-36 numbers are pretty good. The Warriors need one more person they can rely on for 25-plus minutes per game, and their hope is either Moody or Jonathan Kuminga can earn that role. It's easy to imagine a situation developing where Moody puts up something like 12-4-2 with a steal and a 3-pointer in 26-ish minutes per game. Absolutely no guarantee that happens. But his recent play, combined with the current state of the Warriors, has put the idea into my head.
Other recommendations: Al Horford, Celtics (55% rostered); Caleb Martin, Heat (31% rostered); Josh Hart, Knicks (48% rostered); Bilal Coulibaly, Wizards (40% rostered); Jonathan Isaac, Magic (16% rostered); Tim Hardaway Jr., Mavericks (61% rostered); Obi Toppin, Pacers (49% rostered); Killian Hayes, Pistons (47% rostered)
Deep league special
Smith just returned from a two-week absence. Meanwhile, Ben Simmons (back) remains out for at least one more week (and, realistically, probably longer). Smith is averaging 20.5 minutes in games without Simmons, compared to 13 in games when both play. Twenty minutes are enough for Smith to be a solid source of rebounds, assists, and steals. It's a short-term low-ceiling play, but 4.9 assists per game (Smith's number in games without Simmons) are hard to find in deep leagues.