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.

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The Toronto Raptors had a very disappointing 2020 season thanks to problems at the center position, injury woes, and no real home games. This offseason was a very important one for the Raptors, and thanks to the moves they made, 2021-22 will be a major improvement. From drafting very promising forward Scottie Barnes, resigning key players such as Gary Trent Jr. and Khem Birch, and getting a good return for Kyle Lowry, the Raptors are poised for substantial improvement.

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“You might win some but you just lost one.”

This is precisely how I am feeling one week removed from suggesting it would be time to consider benching Lonzo Ball. Thankfully, I was wise enough to not suggest he is a drop candidate as he went on somewhat of a tear last week averaging 15.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, 6.5 assists, 1.5 steals while bombing away from deep, and connecting on 3.5 threes per game.

What L Boogie (see opening line) did to my projection of him was the equivalent of saying to me, “keep my name out your mouth”. I am man enough to admit when I was wrong so, LB, you have my sincere apology. With that having been said, the Pelicans remain a team on the outside looking in so keep your eye on their win/ loss columns as it could dictate what route they go when it comes to “resting” their key players.

No worries over here though family because with a new week comes a new opportunity to find the late-season micro move that could be just the edge you need for some success in your league. This week is no different. Sure, does it become more like finding a needle in a haystack at this point in the season, compared to early on when the salmon were swimming upstream? No doubt it does. However, some of the best results came to us because the journey was not easy and fantasy basketball is no different.

“Practice? We talking about practice? Not the game, not the game I love but practice?” Shout out to the legend that is AI but unfortunately, we are talking about practice and I hope you have been practicing rummaging through your waiver wire for that missing puzzle piece to help close out the season.

This week it is time to say adios to:

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The ridiculous and predictably bad “condensed” NBA schedule has finally reared its ugly head. The injuries are rolling in faster than me when they say there’s free cake in the break room, and fantasy teams everywhere are hurting. Hopefully you have multiple IL spots. I have two in the league I run usually, but we upped it to three midseason.

If your commissioner didn’t have such foresight, RIP. But there’s good news: You don’t have to hurt anymore.

When players go out, that means other players step up to fill the void. So who should we be grabbing for the week? Who is going to win us our fantasy playoff matches?

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If your league has been around a while, you have likely started the fantasy playoffs already. If not, you’re likely starting them very soon. There’s always a shift that happens after the all-star break as teams decide they need a drastic shift or they choose to tank.

As a result, players often slip into fantasy relevance that were once forgotten, or borderline, plays. All rankings in this article were taken from Basketball Monster and are the 9-category player rankings for the last two weeks of the season in PER GAME value, not total value.

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Being in the zone is one of the greatest feelings in the world. Everything you chuck up has an increased probability of going in for some reason. Is it just perception? No, because the numbers bear it out. Is it some feeling or boost you get from confidence? Are the muscles and synapses firing faster and more efficiently to allow for greater accuracy? Are the stars aligned? Is the code in the matrix error-free? Whatever the case may be, it is amazing and I want it all the time. Unfortunately, that isn’t possible, and even if it was, then the script would flip because then the zone would be about missing a shot because we would be so accustomed to making everything. Ah, the conundrums of living. Last night, Landry Shamet was on one.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
30 2 3 0 0 1 7/12 10/15 3/4

The 30 points were a career-high. Over the last four games, he’s played 38, 21, 36, and 26 minutes, scoring 30, 20, 17, and 19 points respectively. The usage rate has been 22, 33, 19, and 20. That’s been good for top 70 value. Now, the 76ers are dealing with injuries so he will turn back into a pumpkin but enjoy this heater while it lasts.

Here’s what else I saw yesterday:

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Hey everybody, it’s me Keith! Sorry, I’ve been watching a lot of Blue’s Clues and every episode starts like that… Anyways, let’s get down to business.

It’s officially NBA silly season with the trade deadline already in distant memory, and plenty of teams are not super interested in winning basketball games right now. If a team can finish 10th and get into the play-in, they may be more interested in resting their guys and getting a better draft pick.

So which teams are doing that? And, more importantly, which players benefit the most from this shift?

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I used to love watching Animal Planet. That is, when they actually used to show freaking wild animals in their natural habitat. Now it’s a bunch of BS shows that IDGAF about. Anyways, watching a cackle of hyenas or a pride of lions working together to take down prey was always an exhilarating watch. That’s usually because the prey was a big, burly beast who could F shit up. It would take hours and a coordinated precision to take it down. Sometimes they trudged home empty-handed, but every once in a while, they would overcome and feast. Last night, a pack of Pacers Voltron’d up and took down the hurly-burly Grizzly for a 132-125 victory. Domantas Sabonis produced 18 points, 15 rebounds, nine assists, and one steal. Malcolm Brogdon contributed 29 points, nine rebounds, 11 assists, and one steal. Caris LeVert went for 34 points, five rebounds, three assists, one steal, and three blocks. It took 48 minutes, but the Pacers finally defeated the Grizzlies, 132-125 as Jonas Valanciunas was a freaking beast, going for 34 points, 22 rebounds, two assists, and two blocks. He shot 16-for-25 from the field.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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