Welcome to your midweek guidance for Week 18!  The goal of this post is to identify widely-available players who can help you win your head-to-head matchup.  Though we’ve only witnessed one night of regular season games since my last post, there’s a lot of player news to digest.  On the good news front, the return of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander appears imminent, so we can put those shutdown rumors to bed.  Malcolm Brogdon is probable for today, which caps the value of Chris Duarte after a run of games in which he clocked 35+ minutes.  Kevin Durant and Ben Simmons are reportedly nearing their respective returns to the court, but there’s no target game set for either player as of this writing.

On the flip side, Chris Paul and Jusuf Nurkic are out through March.  Kemba Walker will sit out the rest of the season.  Myles Turner may return in the second week of March, while Draymond Green is still several weeks away from playing.  Finally, Paul George (remember him?) has an MRI scheduled for his elbow today, so we shall see if there’s hope of him making any further fantasy impacts.  If you’re in or approaching your fantasy playoffs, you have to take a hard look at whether or not having any of these guys on your roster makes sense at this point.  My recommendation is to hold Turner for now and wait for news on PG13 if he’s still on your roster.  Draymond and the others have to go if it’s “win or go home” time for your team.

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The following teams play three games to close the week: Celtics, Nuggets, Pistons, and Suns.  The Magic are the only team with just one game remaining this week.  Here are the players I’m watching and adding this week.

Three Category Contributors

  • Isaiah Roby (Rebounds, Steals, Blocks): Roby started the final three games leading up to the All-Star break, posting 7.3 rebounds, 2.3 steals, and 1.3 blocks over that span.  He demonstrates top-100 potential for 9-category leagues, but he’ll likely need to lock down the starting spot to realize it.  The upcoming back-to-back set should reveal a lot about his value going forward (Plays Thurs, Fri).
  • Isaiah Jackson (Rebounds, Blocks, FG%): Jackson has the most upside of the Pacers’ backup bigs.  In the two games he played more than 24 minutes, he posted 21.5 points on efficient shooting to go along with 1 three, 7 rebounds, 1 steal, 1.5 blocks.  Assuming his ankle doesn’t hold him out, he will benefit from Myles Turner’s continued absence (Plays Fri, Sun).
  • Oshae Brissett (Threes, Rebounds, Blocks): If Isaiah Jackson is out again, Brissett is your break-glass-in-case-of-emergency option among the Pacer big man cadre (Plays Fri, Sun).
  • Derrick Rose (Points, Threes, Assists): Kemba Walker will reportedly sit out the rest of the season, opening up some additional minutes for Rose.  Though he doesn’t get to the line often, he’s an excellent free throw shooter who should only help you in that category (**Questionable for Fri, Sun).
  • Drew Eubanks (Rebounds, Blocks, FG%): Sometimes, a player signing doubles as a harbinger of bad things to come.  Hindsight being 20/20, I suppose we all could have guessed that Jusuf Nurkic’s status was in question after Portland signed Drew Eubanks to a 10-day contract on Monday.  It remains to be see if Eubanks plays meaningful minutes, or if the Blazers elect to go small for the rest of the season.  For the season, his “per-24” averages stand at 9.3 points on 53% shooting, 8 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks (Plays Thurs, Sun).

Two Category Contributors

  • Cameron Payne (Threes, Assists): We may need to wait a couple games to reap the rewards of adding Payne, but he’s the logical starting choice with Chris Paul out through March.  In just 20 MPG this season, he managed 10.5 points, 1.1 threes, and 3.6 assists, so expect those numbers to increase along with his minutes (**Questionable for Fri, Sun).
  • Aaron Holiday (Assists, Steals): Prioritize Holiday over Elfrid Payton for Thursday’s game against OKC, as he’s the likely starter until Payne returns.  In the seven games that he’s played 25 or more minutes this season, he averaged 1 three, 3.1 assists, and 1.3 steals (Plays Thurs, Fri, Sun).
  • Elfrid Payton (Assists, Steals): He dropped 9 assists and 1 steal over 21 minutes in a February 12th win against Orlando.  I expect him to get a similar allotment of minutes until Cameron Payne reenters the lineup (Plays Thurs, Fri, Sun).
  • Cameron Johnson (Threes, Rebounds): The ripple effect from CP3’s absence continues… Most of Johnson’s value comes from the 2.5 threes he is averaging on the season, but he is deceptively good on the glass when given the opportunity.  The 31 minutes he received on the night CP3 exited early due to an ejection/injury bodes well for his playing time in the coming weeks (Plays Thurs, Fri, Sun).
  • Trendon Watford (Rebounds, Blocks): Fresh off signing onto a four-year extension with the Blazers, Watford may see an uptick in minutes while Nurkic is out.  He’s played 20 or more minutes in only five contests this season, so it’s difficult to get a read on his strengths.  He’s a purely speculative add 12-team leagues for now, but feel free to add him in straightaway in deeper leagues (Plays Thurs, Sun).
  • Alec Burks (Threes, Steals): His shooting fell off a cliff this season (38%), but he should continue to play starter’s minutes and supply 1.7 threes and 1.1 steals now that Kemba has taken himself out of the mix (Plays Fri, Sun).

One Category Contributor

  • Gary Payton II (Steals): Payton will draw a second straight start tonight, which comes on the heels of a six steal performance on February 16th.  Good things tend to happen when he plays at least 25 minutes, and he’s primed to do just that this evening (Plays Thurs, Sun).

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