The playoffs are coming, the playoffs are coming!
Whether you're in a head-to-head league or Roto, we're getting into the final stretch now. We've passed the three-quarters mark. In many leagues, the playoffs kick off Monday. A "three-week injury" is no longer short-term -- it's now an almost certain drop.
The biggest themes down the stretch -- as they are almost every season -- are tanking and injuries. In both cases, some unexpected names see gigantic increases in their role, and a corresponding jump in fantasy value. The big names from the first two entrants in the 2021 tankathon, the Rockets and the Thunder, have already been widely added, so this week we'll focus on some of the next teams to throw their hats into the "Fade for Cade" contest.
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
Malachi Flynn, Raptors (43% rostered)
Last week I dove pretty deep trying to ascertain whether Flynn would be able to keep up his white-hot production, especially as the Raptors get healthier. One week later, my conclusions are still holding up:
- Maintaining top-20 production was never going to happen, but he remains an all-leagues starter.
- Rodney Hood's return isn't impacting Flynn at all.
- Kyle Lowry's (rest) availability remains the biggest threat; Fred VanVleet's (hip, suspension) return remains an open question.
- The Raptors embracing the tank will mean more minutes for Flynn down the stretch.
Flynn put up top-80 production in nine-cat over the past week. Rodney Hood played in all four games since last week's article, and Flynn played the exact same number of minutes as he played in the previous four games. Lowry played one game last week – in it, Flynn had his worst performance this month, though he still played 27 minutes and produced solid non-scoring numbers. I remain optimistic that VanVleet's return, which is expected to come Friday, will have only a minor impact on Flynn's workload, though that remains an open question.
Finally, the tanking. First, are the Raptors even tanking? Well, Friday will be the third game in a row that Lowry will miss for rest. OG Anunoby is also resting Friday, his second night off in four games. Pascal Siakam is also resting Friday for the second time in five games. They've lost four of their last six. So, yeah, I think it's safe to say they're tanking*.
As long as the Raptors keep benching starters, Flynn's going to keep playing a ton. Which means he should be added and started in every league.
*Technically, due to the Bulls' recent skid, the Raptors are only one game out of 10th, the last spot in the play-in tournament. But the Wizards are about to pass them in the standings, and both teams are an effectively insurmountable five games back from the ninth seed. The Raptors are tanking.
He's still an add! He's not even relegated to the bottom of the article! I sincerely believe Bamba is one of the best available pickups this week! We truly do live in exciting times.
He's missed the last game-and-a-half with a hip injury, but there appears to be a good chance he returns Friday. In the three games before the injury, with a fully healthy Magic frontcourt, Bamba averaged 22.7 minutes -- that's a fantastic sign. As expected, he's blocking 2.0 shots per game at that workload. Even better? He averaged 18.0 points in those games. I always projected Bamba as a great shot-blocker and (for his position) 3-point shooter, but this much scoring is an added bonus.
Reggie Jackson, Clippers (38% rostered)
At some point, we just have to accept it: Reggie Jackson is back on the Fantasy landscape. He's averaging 28.8 minutes with 10 starts over his last 12 games. He's putting up 16-4-4 with 2.5 threes and a non-awful FG%. The only games he came off the bench were when Patrick Beverley (hand) played, and Beverley is back on the sidelines for at least another two weeks. And, some (me) would argue that this most important part, Jackson went to Boston College, and any time I can recommend adding a former Eagle you know I'm going to take it.
Jalen McDaniels, Hornets (42% rostered)
I appear to have undersold McDaniels in last week's column. At the time, I said he was likely only a short-term option, as I was a bit worried about what a potential Malik Monk (ankle) return would do to his workload. But with Monk's return date getting pushed off, and with McDaniels settling into a role that is closer to a power forward than a combo guard, I'm considerably less worried. He's starting and playing 32.6 minutes per game, putting up solid numbers in literally all nine categories. He won't blow you away, and his minutes will probably drop as the Hornets get healthier, but McDaniels could stick as a low-end starter in standard leagues for a while.
Monte Morris, Nuggets (29% rostered)
The Jamal Murray (knee) injury is a crushing blow to the Nuggets. Unfortunately for us, despite Murray's 21.2 points and 35.5 minutes per game, no player jumps up as an immediate must-add in his wake. Morris took over as the starter in the first game without Murray, but he still played just 26 minutes.
Making matters worse, the Nuggets are likely to add Austin Rivers as backcourt competition. Even with a potential Rivers signing, Morris is likely to see more minutes the rest of the way. However, Rivers or no Rivers, Morris is unlikely to ever average as much as 28-30 minutes per game, and his production profile is decidedly fine -- not bad, not good, just fine. He's best suited either for deeper Roto leagues or as an as-needed streamer.
Fellow Denver point guard Facundo Campazzo has seen his roster rate soar following the Murray news, but I see no reason to add him -- and that's even before a potential Rivers addition. Campazzo is fun to watch, but he doesn't do enough for Fantasy.
Other recommendations: Luguentz Dort, Thunder (54% rostered); Marcus Morris, Clippers (37% rostered); Nerlens Noel, Knicks (43% rostered); Grayson Allen, Grizzlies (18% rostered); Kendrick Nunn, Heat (37% rostered); Bruce Brown, Nets (11% rostered).
Hassan Whiteside, Kings (35% rostered)
Richaun Holmes (hamstring) has missed the last two games and will miss at least one more (there's a good chance his absence stretches into next week). In those two missed games, Whiteside put up 12-10-2 with 2.5 blocks. Because he's such a well-known name in Fantasy, managers often add Whiteside prematurely and hang onto him for too long after his value recedes. While you should be careful to avoid those traps, this is a case where Whiteside can be added and used. Just make sure you drop him once Holmes returns.
Daniel Gafford, Wizards (12% rostered)
Gafford is only averaging 17 minutes over the last three games, but he's worth a look. He's played at least 14 minutes in every appearance he's made for the Wizards, and his workload has slowly but steadily increased with time. In those three games since returning from an ankle injury, he's averaging 9-5-1 with 2.0 stocks (steals + blocks) and great shooting efficiency. And, if you've read this column over the past few seasons, you'll know that I think very little of Alex Len, the Wizards' current starting center -- it's completely possible that Gafford continues to gain minutes and eat into Len's workload down the stretch.