Welcome to your midweek guidance for week one!  For those of you who are new to the site, the aim of this weekly post is to identify players who can help you win a weekly matchup in head-to-head category leagues.  The methodology is simple:  I find fantasy-relevant players who are rostered in 50% or less in Yahoo and/or ESPN leagues, analyze their schedules, and determine where they provide value in category formats.

While this post is primarily geared toward 12-team league managers, there will be deeper league candidates as well.  This information is intended to help you use weekly roster additions to “stream” players who enable your team to overcome small deficits or increase your advantage in must-hold categories.

Streaming is a tactic that involves using one or more roster spots to maximize the number of games played in a single roster spot.  For instance, if you have four weekly additions in your league, you can potentially leverage back-to-back sets to squeeze as many as seven games out of one roster spot.

Since it’s week one, I’ll provide a caveat to all of my player recommendations.  Unless the players at the end of your fantasy bench are out of their team’s rotation (e.g. Thaddeus Young) or have extremely low upside (e.g. Royce O’Neal), I would be cautious about hastily dropping anyone at this stage.  There are players on this list who will likely crack the top 100 during the season.  That being said, don’t panic drop someone who underperformed in their first game without considering whether or not you’ll get more value from streaming their roster spot.

There are eight teams playing a back-to-back set this week: Bulls, Cavaliers, Pacers, Pelicans, Suns, Spurs, Raptors, Grizzlies.  Aside from Memphis (Saturday/Sunday), all teams’ back-to-back sets are played on Friday and Saturday:

The following teams have only one game remaining this week and hold fewer opportunities for streaming: Nuggets, Jazz, Pistons, Wizards, Trailblazers, Timberwolves.

With that context, here are some players to consider as we approach the final four days of the matchup:

Three Category Contributors

  • Cole Anthony (Points, Assists, FT%): Over the final 17 games of 2020-21, Anthony started for the injured Markelle Fultz and averaged 16.3 points to go along with 4.3 assists.  He rebounds well for a guard and gets to the stripe enough to help your FT%.  With Fultz out for another month or so, Anthony will hold down starting PG for the foreseeable future (Plays Fri, Sun).
  • Terrence Ross (Points, Threes, Steals): Ross tends to gradually disappear from waiver wires throughout the year as managers realize how difficult it is to find scoring at the end of a fantasy bench.  He’s going to huck and chuck while chipping in some steals (Plays Fri, Sun).

Two Category Contributors

  • Khem Birch (Rebounds, Blocks): In his 17 starts at the end of the 2020-21 season, Birch was the 83rd ranked player on averages of 12.2 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks.  Nick Nurse trusts him more than Chris Boucher, so we can expect him to continue receiving 25+ minutes per night (Plays Fri, Sun).
  • Ricky Rubio (Assists, Steals): Rubio was slept on in a lot of drafts due to uncertainty surrounding his role in Cleveland.  Some of those reservations were dispelled on Wednesday when he put up a double-double.  He is a high floor, low ceiling player, and will soon be picked up in most fantasy leagues if he continues receiving 25 minutes per game (Pays Fri, Sat).
  • Chris Duarte (Points, Threes): After several solid showings in Summer League and the pre-season, Duarte thrived while starting in place of Caris LeVert in the Pacers’ opener (Plays Fri, Sat).
  • De’Anthony Melton (Threes, Steals): Taylor Jenkins finally listened to our cries to Free De’Anthony Melton – for now.  With Grayson Allen in Milwaukee and Dillon Brooks injured, Melton has an opportunity to shine.  He did exactly that on Wednesday night, so grab him if you still can. (Plays Sat, Sun).
  • Marcus Morris Sr. (Points, Threes): The Clippers play on two low-volume game days, which makes Morris an ideal streaming target if you’re in need of points and threes.  He shot the ball relatively efficiently last season (47%).  It remains to be seen if that was an anomaly or a sustainable improvement (Plays Thurs, Sat).
  • Justin Holiday (Threes, Steals): The steals waned in the previous two seasons, but he’s a sneaky source of blocks (0.6/game in 2020-21) and connected on 2.4 threes last season.  With TJ Warren out, Holiday should pick up where he left off as a starter (Plays Fri, Sat).
  • Goran Dragic (Threes, Assists): Though the minutes were limited on Wednesday, the Dragon should get his share of secondary playmaker opportunities alongside Fred VanVleet (Plays Fri, Sat).

One Category Contributors

  • Grayson Allen (Threes): History tells us that the six assists that Allen dished on Tuesday were likely an anomaly, but ten attempts from deep could become a semi-regular occurrence while he’s in the starting lineup (Plays Thurs, Sat).
  • Desmond Bane (Points): The Grizzlies expect Bane to take a step forward from his rookie season.  If he can increase his scoring while maintaining solid efficiency, he will end being rostered in the majority of leagues.  The early returns are promising (22 points against the Cavs on Wednesday) (Plays Sat, Sun).
  • Jae Crowder (Threes): Believe it or not, there was a time when Crowder’s line resembled that of Mikal Bridges, minus the ultra-efficient FG%.  Those days are long gone, but Crowder can still launch from downtown and collect some rebounds (Plays Fri, Sat).
  • Cameron Payne (Assists): Cam Payne is the rare assists streamer who won’t hurt your efficiency stats.  He’s more of a deep league option for those without access to Cole Anthony, Dragic, McConnel, or Rubio (Plays Fri, Sat).

Hit me up in the comments for recommendations.  Good luck!