We’re about 2/3 the way into the fantasy basketball regular season, but in the midst of the holidays and breaking down the per position opportunities, I wasn’t able to present the overall opposing ease rankings.  Hopefully, most of you reading this are doing alright, or at least within striking distance of the few remaining playoff spots in your leagues.  There’s still plenty of games to be played, for coaches (ahem, Earl Watson and Vogel to name a few) to mess up, and injuries to pop up (Chris Paul).  For those who are clinging onto some borderline standard league players due to their name, this is usually the time of the year when you have to make decisions on whether holding such players become an obstacle for your team to make the playoffs or end up being anchor(s) to your team that could have your team lose a playoff spot you’ve held for most of the season.  By looking at the matchup rankings, you can look to increase the number of slots to stream if your team needs some help in the standings.

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Well, it’s New York, and it’s Derrick Rose. Mo’ drama! After attending shootaround and everything seeming about status quo, Rose just flat out didn’t show up for last night’s game against the Pelicans. Didn’t tell anyone, didn’t shoot someone a text… He had no problem sending all sorts of horrible texts to that ex-girlfriend… The AWOL was so abrupt, that apparently the Knicks sent team representatives to his apartment and his teammates were praying for him! Yikes. According to reports, he’s fine and it was a “family issue” in Chicago, but this is redonk! I can’t remember a starting player just “not showing up” for a game, much less a former MVP! Things have gotten super sour in NY… Then the actual game last night happened! …which was an absolute shitshow. At least Brandon Jennings played well, as he’s been given a golden opportunity to start and show what he can do again (20/5/4/2/0 with 4 treys and 2 TO in 29 minutes – I would probably give him a spec add in 12ers based on this drama). But nothing but downhill from there. Carmelo Anthony got ejected for arguing, probably because the Knicks were down 20 and his knees hurt. “My fingers hurt!” “Well now your back is gonna hurt, because you just pulled landscaping duty!” Then our favorite Irishman Kyle O’Quinn apparently hit the Jameson too hard on the bench watching the Knicks implode, and fouled the crap outta Anthony Davis, causing the brittle 7 footer to fly into the stands and exit with a hip injury.

I’m sure that’s exactly what all Brow owners wanted to see, in a game with NO up 22 in the late 3rd… See, calling him KOQ makes all sorts of sense now! We call that defensive play a “KOQ block”. The Knicks ended up losing at home to the Pelicans, have lost 8 of 9, and have fallen to 17-21 (I erroneously on the Podcast thought there were still .500, man this fell apart quick!). Yup. The Poppycockers ladies and gents! Here’s what else went down last night in fantasy basketball action:

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Who wants to go on a road trip?!? You know, the kind that lasts forever. The kind you start the new year with. The kind filled with adventure. The kind that freaking wears you out.

Well, for Week 11 of our NBA fantasy season that’s exactly what the Utah Jazz are receiving to kick off 2017. But this no ordinary road slate of five games. No…it’s 5 games in 7 days. In other words, that’s death. Will they be tired by the end of it? Most certainly, but while they’re on the ride I’ll be riding their hot hands and bringing death to my opponents in the fantasy realm as much as possible. So, let’s Go-bert on a road trip, because if you own Rudy Gobert you’re in for a wonderful week. Listen to the ridiculousness that he’s producing this year: 18 straight double digit rebound games, and only two games under that mark since November 9.

12.5 PPG
12.0 RPG
2.6 BPG

All on 70.1% shooting. See, it’s not just the boards and blocks, his efficiency has been gold for owners this year. And it’s showing in the box score as only seven times since that November 9 mark has he failed to score in double digits, either. He’s a poor man’s Hassan Whiteside offensively, with all the defensive stats on par. Enjoy these five games! Oh, and for the teams facing the Jazz this week: good luck to you, too. Utah’s now 21-13, leading the Northwest division and allowing the fewest PPG in the NBA. Sheesh.

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Happy 2017, Razzball Nation!

After immense pressure from the DA’s office to flip on Tommy DeVito and Paulie Cicero, [redacted] needed protection to secure his testimony in putting those good fellas away. It didn’t start on the best foot either, as the WitSec guys asked [redacted] if he had any distinguishing marks and he lied about his tattoos… But the man formerly known as [redacted] changed his name to the very inconspicuous James Johnson, and moved his family to Miami. After being a humbling under-the-radar role player, Johnson was supposed to continue as merely a minutes-filler, amongst an uninteresting mix of PF to get through the tough void of losing Chris Bosh. He’s supposed to just shy away from dunk attempts and stand around on offense…

Well, way to ruin that, Johnson! We can’t protect you no more! An absolute monster weekend from Johnson, going 22/3/6/2/2 against the Celtics on Friday night with 4 treys, then followed it up with 20/7/3/1/1 against the Pistons. After a rough stretch of FT last week, he made 6-7 in these games too. With the added onus on O (no Goran Dragic or Justise Winslow OR Hassan Whiteside last night), he is turning it over a little too much (8 total in these two games), but with all the injuries and a void in playmaking on the Heat right now, Johnson is as erect as ever. He’s playing SF, PF, and even some C right now, so while we shouldn’t expect the 34 minutes like he got against the Pistons, he should be pretty solidified in his 25ish MPG role even when everyone is healthy. He’s gotta be a must-own in all leagues while this hot, as he has brazenly blown his cover. Hopefully no one recognizes him as [redacted]! Here’s what else went down over New Year’s weekend in fantasy basketball action:

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First off, Merry Christmas! Hopefully you enjoyed the smorgasbord of NBA basketball on Sunday, the first Christmas basketball with the Lakers playing but not this guy. And they’re better of for it. But with Christmas now a full calendar year away, let’s ring forth towards the new year!

And along with the new year comes a new look to The 7 Ahead! You know, New Year New You. All that nonsense. Well, I’m the same, still ballin’ out of control like Deion, but this series gets a facelift for 2017. And, of course, a little #millennial touch. Welcome to the new 7 Ahead! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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Oh man, no rest for the wicked! Speaking of wicked, oh man quick shout out to the Wicked Weed Funkatorium, that brewery rocked! But yeah, an absolutely amazing slate to catch me back up on the daily notes, with 4 overtimes last night. Including a super size me doubler in Miami! Most of the other games stayed close too, and 20 of the 22 teams in action last night topped 100 points. Fantasy orgasm! And leading the charge on such a big-and-tall NBA night was of course Isaiah Thomas! Career-high 44 points for IT2/3, putting up a 4/3rd’s of a full line of 44/3/6/1/1 on 10-16 FG (7-10 3PTM, 17-17 FT) including a big three in extra time in the OT win.

I’m just glad this groin thing got worked out! …That sounded wrong… If you have a smaller groin muscle, does it heal faster?! I’m not saying he doesn’t have a kick stand down there with a line like this, but just wondering! After semi-breaking out last year (well he was only 2/3 better than his career year in 13-14 for the Kings), IT2/3 has taken an even further step up – scoring 26.6 PPPG, upping the FT volume to 8.8/per at 90% (remember when he was like 70% the first few weeks, that changed quick!), and even though the steals are only at 0.9, he’s drastically cut his TO rate to only 2.2 despite all the added USG. After a slow start due to injuries, the Celtics look like a pretty tough team at full strength right now, and maybe IT2/3 can lead this squad into a deep run. I’ll be cheering for them! (cough, REL bias, cough…) Here’s what else happened on an action-packed Tuesday night of Holiday Season basketball:

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Man, hell of a weekend!  Injuries, DNPs, I got a credit card hacked, went to a wedding, saw the sorry Panthers beat Jay’s sorrier Chargers… Out of control out there!  Thankfully we’re nearing Christmas, time to see some family, gets some time off work, and hopefully get our fantasy teams healthy…  But noooooooooooooo!  The fantasy gods gave us a bah humbug last night, with Nerlens Noel finally debuting off knee surgery, only to go down with a kankle.  He was looking pretty good too, especially with a little dunk on his first basket!

The hair on the other hand…  I dunno…  Shot 3-5 FG, hit his 2 FT, for 8 points and a steal in his first 10 minutes of the season.  Sucks it ended prematurely with another injury, and especially on the Sixers, who are treating everyone with kid’s gloves and have too many centers anyway.  Also sucks we don’t have any idea what his role will be, as Joel Embiid sat this one out to further maintain his EMBIIIIIID minutes.  As long as it’s under 4 hours, we’re good!  Here’s what else went down over the weekend in Fantasy Basketball action:

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Hope everyone’s week is going well.  No grid this week and instead I want to focus on the opposing bench players.

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Let’s face it, in a standard league, most of the available players in the FA pool are unlikely to be starters.  For fantasy purposes, that doesn’t mean they can’t contribute to categories that your team need to defend or categories that your team can unexpectedly win.

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So if you haven’t listened to this morning’s Podcast yet, you wanna know what’s fun when you run the world’s awesomest Fantasy Basketball blog?! Coming home to no internet! And your ISP having no way to fix it until the next day! It just makes you think about how we in the fantasy basketball world rely on the internet, when so much of the world is still without it… I’m over here stressing like a madman wanting to be sure Razzball Hoops can still deliver our silliness, when the world at large still has a long way to go. Even though it’s not even Thanksgiving yet, I want to tell my family at the Razzball Nation table that I’m just thankful to be here, and thankful for everyone reading! …and thankful I can get to work a few hours early to bang out today’s recap… Without the internet, I wouldn’t have a job with a software company, Razzball wouldn’t exist, I’d be working at some factory or some ish, fantasy basketball would likely not exist…. Imagine calculating fantasy hoops by hand! Ahhhhh! Awful! I’m very fortunate to merely exist at this point in time and space. And to wrap up this sappy open, I want to say I’m the bigger man and certainly wouldn’t ousT What Cable provider I use… Crooks.

Anyway, so with limited hoops watching last night due to an inconsistent 4G stream, I didn’t get to watch the Celtics game and two of my REL rocks, but had a little better service to watch most of the first half of the Spurs/Sac game. First off, have you seen the new Kings arena?! The Golden 1 Center doesn’t look real! It looks like where they’d play football in Starship Troopers, ya know, with that silver football? Wasn’t there talk that this team could move a few years ago? Geez! Well for as bad as the Kings manage their personnel, they certainly can hire some Star Trek architects, that’s for damn sure. But for as cool as the new arena looks, Kawhi Leonard looks better. Sleeker. Sexier… “You are ruining moving day for us!” 30/3/5/5/0 last night, giving him back-to-back 30 Pts/5 Stl games for the first time in NBA history. Ok, don’t fact check that, I’m sure it’s happened before… [edit – Rotoworld must be reading us, because about an hour after this posted, they put out this latest news blurb on Kawhi this morning…]

I feel like he’s one of the birds from Finding Nemo. “Mine! Mine mine! Mine!” But what an absolute superstar, and maybe he belonged right next to KAT a tier below the big-4 in my ranks. Maybe even within the big 4! 7-7 FT last night, giving him a 22-22 clip to begin the season. He only committed 1 TO last night too! If you watched any of this game, the Kings actually started pretty hot, and the other starting 4 Spurs looked horrific. It was all Kawhi to open the scoring, putting in San Antonio’s first 9 points. It was Kawhi 9 to Sacramento 16 halfway through the first… With the rest of the Spurs struggling a bit out of the gate, Kawhi put his team on his back, and absolutely looks like he’s in the MVP discussion. Makes you pretty happy for having a later-round pick in standard snake drafts! Here’s what else went down last night in Fantasy Hoops action:

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Finally, we’ve got some action to break down on the court! And what better venue than the Summer League, where raw NBA rooks and sophs go to strut their stuff and get fantasy basketballers needlessly excited. Remember all the Mario Hezonja hype last Summer League?! Hopefully I did pretty well to quash that! Wow, surprised I was right that “quash” was a word… I thought people were just saying squash too fast!

But one guy I definitely don’t want to squash/quash is second-year PG Cameron Payne. We were pretty big on this guy coming out of the draft last year, and he really surprised as a rookie overtaking D.J. Augustin as the backup to Russell Westbrook by going 14.6/4.4/5.6/1.9/0.3 in per-36 during 2015-16, with only 2.3 TO. He didn’t shoot particularly well (41%), but a lot of that was due to nearly 40% of his shots being treys. In his one start of 2015-16, he went 17/3/7 against the Spurs who shockingly weren’t resting anyone.

In the Orlando Summer League which wrapped a couple days ago, Payne led the league in scoring at 18.8 Pts a game, averaging 4 AST to only 2.5 TO. Not huge in the AST total, but that’s a ton of usage for a very few giveaways. The deep ball was still a little meh only going 4-14 from the perimeter, but he did have a 14-14 FT game in there. The Thunder squad (or quad, maybe?) went 4-0 in the games he played, and Payne looks primed for a bigger role with OKC.

With all the talk on Russell Westbrook being shopped (and even if he isn’t traded pre-season, a deadline deal would be very likely), a lot of focus has been on what newly acquired Victor Oladipo could do. No Westbrook and no other big-time creators would obviously be big for RainbOladipo. But lost in that noise is what it would mean for Cameron Payne. I think he’d all but certainly shift into the starting line-up (or at least near-starting minutes, if they still wanted to start Andre Roberson), and give a nice low-TO line with a handful of dimes and steals. The FG% might be lacking, but he would become a top-80ish asset in my mind. So while visions of sugarplums and rainbow lines for Oladipo might cloud your Christmas Eve dreams if Westy is traded, don’t forget about the huge opportunity it would give Major Payne. Here’s what else has caught my eye thus far during 2016’s Summer Ball:

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