Welcome to your midweek guidance for Week Nine!  Many of us are approaching the halfway mark of our seasons, with each matchup taking on increasing importance as we jockey for playoff positioning.  Meanwhile, cold and flu season is in full swing, with the added ingredient of COVID-19 sewing more chaos as teams scramble to field full rosters for game action.  Those of us with players on the Bulls, Pistons, and Raptors are already feeling the burn of game postponements this week.  Nonetheless, with every injury or health and safety setback, there are opportunities.  Look no further than the value that Cody Martin and Kelly Oubre Jr. returned while four of their teammates were out with COVID-19.

This week, it’s the Nets who are dealing with a high number of health and safety-related absences AND possess an excellent streaming schedule.  Suddenly, guys you’ve probably never heard of are returning top 100 value or better.  While it’s sometimes dizzying to keep up with the fluctuations in player availability, keeping tabs on this post and other injury update sources can help you maintain a competitive edge over your opponent.

To that end, I’ve compiled a list of players who are rostered in 50% or less of ESPN and/or Yahoo leagues and offer significant contributions in at least one area for category-league managers.  Take into account the following schedules when determining who to stream as we approach the weekend:

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Three games remaining – Nets, Pistons

One game remaining – Bulls (contingent upon being able to field a team!), Mavericks, Pacers, Clippers, Thunder, Raptors

Here are the players I’m watching and adding this week:

Three Category Contributors

  • Alperen Sengun (Rebounds, Assists, Blocks): Even in the two games prior to Christian Wood’s Wednesday absence, Sengun played more than 20 minutes and averaged 13 points, six rebounds, five assists, and 2.5 blocks.  His fantasy profile and favorable schedule make him a must-add if he’s still available on your wire (Plays Thurs, Sat).
  • Larry Nance Jr. (Rebounds, Assists, Steals): Since taking Robert Covington’s place in the Blazers’ starting lineup, Nance’s minutes have increased in each contest (26, 28, and 31).  Over that span, he averaged 8.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and 1.3 steals.  His free throw shooting has been atrocious of late, but he’s a 68% shooter over his career (Plays Fri, Sun).

Two Category Contributors

  • Kessler Edwards (Threes, Steals): With eight players out due to health and safety protocols or other injuries, the Nets are digging deep in the rotation.  Before Tuesday’s action, Edwards had played 12 total minutes this season.  He played 43 against the Raptors and achieved a double-double to go along with three triples and two steals.  Add him for the Nets’ two games on low-volume days (three total) and pray no one else goes down with COVID (Plays Thurs, Sat, Sun).
  • Nicolas Claxton (Rebounds, Blocks): After a promising start to the season, Claxton suffered an injury and was buried in the lineup behind LaMarcus Aldridge.  Aldridge is sidelined for the foreseeable future, giving Claxton the opportunity to start and play 25+ minutes per contest.  Seizing upon this role, he scored 16 points, grabbed seven boards, and blocked a shot in Tuesday’s game (Plays Thurs, Sat, Sun).
  • Blake Griffin (Rebounds, Assists): Griffin is always a dodgy add in category leagues, as he’s allergic to defensive stats and hurts your percentages.  However, if he continues to play 30 minutes as he did on Tuesday, he’ll produce enough in the other counting stats to be fantasy-relevant for the next four games or so (Plays Thurs, Sat, Sun).
  • Saben Lee (Assists, Steals): The Pistons possess an ideal schedule heading into the end of the matchup, and Lee appears to be one of the players benefiting from Jerami Grant’s absence.  In just 19 minutes per game over his previous three games, Lee averaged 3.7 assists and 1.7 steals.  In the Pistons’ most recent game, he played 28 minutes, garnering six assists and three steals (Plays Thurs, Sat, Sun).
  • Tyus Jones (Assists, Steals): I’ve neglected to mention Jones since the outset of Ja Morant’s injury because we all know what he brings by now.  However, he deserves mention here as a top 60 player over the previous two weeks (8 game sample size) (Plays Fri, Sun).
  • Gabe Vincent (Assists, Steals): Vincent led the ailing Heat to a surprising win over Philly on Wednesday.  Jimmy Butler and Tyler Herro are the statuses to watch going into Friday if you’re looking at him as a streaming option (Plays Fri, Sun).
  • Patrick Beverley (Assists, Blocks): I keep beating the drum for the Honey Badger because he’s still nowhere near being rostered in 50% of leagues.  He’s a top 120 player overall on the year.  Even with De’Angelo Russell back in the lineup on Wednesday, Beverley dropped eight dimes and blocked a shot (Plays Fri, Sun).

One Category Contributors

  • David Duke Jr. (Steals): Duke showcased strong defensive stats and rebounding in Tuesday’s win over Toronto.  The Nets should continue to rely on him as they compete with a short bench over the coming games.  As for the unfortunate name… (Plays Thurs, Sat, Sun).

  • Isaac Okoro (Steals): Okoro is finally producing the type of value that many of us hoped for when we drafted him in the late rounds.  Over the previous eight games, he averaged 27 minutes, 12.6 points, 1.6 threes, and a steal (Plays Sat, Sun).
  • Luke Kennard (Threes): The absences of PG13 and Nic Batum have catapulted Kennard back into top 100 production over the past two weeks.  Proceed with caution if you have limited player additions remaining, as the Clippers only play one more game this week and the return of the Clippers’ starting wings may be imminent (Plays Sat).
  • Cameron Johnson (Threes): We will likely get two more starts out of Johnson before Devin Booker returns, so enjoy it while it lasts.  He’s a great streaming option for Thursday’s low-volume slate (Plays Thurs, Sun).

Hit me up in the comments with any questions or feedback.  Best of luck!