I used to enjoy watching Get Smart, a satirical secret agent show. Agent Maxwell Smart is a fumbling, bumbling, stumbling secret agent who always saves the day somehow. One of the catch phrases of the show is “Missed it by that much!” Which would’ve been appropriate to say whenever Marcus Smart jacked up a shot, as he could barely hit the side of a barn in past seasons. This season, though, he’s vastly improved the shooting and is therefore able to put up lines like this:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
21 6 4 3 1 1 2/5 8/14 3/3

The 21 points tied a season high! Smart is shooting 42% from the field and 36% from downtown this season. Over his first four seasons in the league, he had never posted a mark better than 37% from the field and 33% from downtown. As a result, while he always provided boards, dimes, and stocks, he was never able to crack the top 100 for fantasy on a per-game basis. This season, he’s a top 85 player and has had streaks where he’s been a top 60 player. Get Smart y’all!

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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Not that anyone is keeping score, but I made James Harden the highlighted player last week, so it feels kind of weak to be back here raving about the bearded one in back-to-back weeks. That said, there’s absolutely nothing weak about this ridiculous scoring effort. He actually posted an absurd 27 points in the first quarter alone, so anyone watching it live knew it could be a special night.

FG FT 3PT Points Reb Assists Steals Blocks TO
19/34 14/17 9/13 61 7 1 3 0 3

Shooting 55.9% from the field and 14-for-17 from the line is massive for any fantasy team. He didn’t put up his usual assist numbers, but we can’t really complain about a 60-point game. While a 61-point game is huge (this was actually Harden’s 2nd 61-point game of the season), he’s deep in the MVP race and should continue to bolster fantasy squads that are making their championship runs.

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Collin Sexton, the 8th overall pick of the Cavs in the 2018 NBA Draft, started the season off slowly. He came off the bench the first 10 games of the season, averaging 23 minutes, 10.5 points, and shooting 40% from the field. He was inserted into the starting lineup for game number 11 and has held onto that role all season. There were ups and downs, as the shooting efficiency was poor and the contributions in the other categories were minimal. For fantasy, he was a top 250 player. Something has clicked, though.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
25 2 3 0 0 4 4/7 10/18 1/1

Sexton has now scored at least 20 points in seven straight games. He’s been a top 35 player over that span. Maybe he ate a blue pill or something. Anyways, you know the warning: call a doctor if erection last longer than 4 hours. Well, Sexton has been going on for much longer than that and he’s in straight DGAF mode right now, averaging over 17 shots per game. Here’s the thing, though. He’s shooting 56% from the field. He’s not going to be able to maintain that efficiency forever. And when that comes down, you’ll be holding a limp biscuit because Sexton doesn’t contribute much in the other categories. Very miminal contributions in the D cats and around 3 boards and dimes each. Enjoy the hot streak, but this Sexton will not last forever.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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Speaking in generalities, I’d say people on the East Coast are more straight up. In New York, time is money so people don’t want to dilly dally. In Los Angeles, there’s the whole Hollywood vibe. I will say, though, that driving in rush hour may show the true colors of an individual. In Philly, they just don’t give a F. Santa Claus? Here are some batteries for your noggin. With that said, there’s been plenty of B. S. in Philly these days:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
26 10 8 1 0 2 0 10/16 6/8

Ben Simmons aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaallmost messed around. If my handy dandy abacus didn’t fail me, he has 10 trip-dubs on the season. There have been many other games where he’s been so close. Anyways, the turnover are plentiful and you won’t get any treys (the ultimate stay-in-yo-lane), but the points, boards, dimes, and steals are plentiful. He had been languishing in the top 60 area for much of the season, but over the past seven games, he’s been a top 25 player because he’s increased his free throw percentage from 60% to 72% on 5.1 attempts. Hopefully that ain’t no B. S.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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As the season winds down and we jockey for position in roto leagues or load up on categories in the head-to-head playoffs, it’s imperative that we track down some category specialists to get us over the top. And with so many new fantasy contributors due to injury or tanking, the specialists aren’t necessarily the same old names. Fortunately, that makes some of them available in most leagues.

Let’s get right to it. Looking at per-game numbers for the last month, which takes us back to the trade deadline, here are the best likely-available guys to grab. Note that I skipped turnovers. Since those are so sporadic, I’d just go with the season-long numbers there. For head-to-head matchups, you might even be able to just sit a few players at the end of the week that can’t help you in any other categories to win turnovers.

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O is the most important letter in the alphabet. Without it, we cannot spell food. It is so amazing that it can transform into a number without changing shape, and without 0, a game can never end. Before you saying anything, ties are stupid. Let’s not forget about the Big O, often elusive but well worth the wait. So, is there any wonder why Kelly Olynyk is today’s lede?

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
22 11 1 2 1 1 5/7 8/14 1/1

Continues to start and played a whopping 45 minutes! Since entering the starting lineup 12 games ago, Kelly O has averaged 26.9 minutes, 13.7 points, 5.2 boards, 2.4 dimes, 0.8 steals, 0.7 blocks, and 1.7 tres. He’s been shooting 52% from the field, 43% from downtown, and 95% on 1.9 attempts from the line. Over the last eight games, though, the minutes have rocketed up to 32.3 minutes and he’s been a top 25 player! Oh, Kelly O! You make me want to bellow and bestow good tidings for providing fantasy inferno. A few weeks ago, I was worried what would happy to Kelly O once James Johnson returned to the mix. I no longer have any worries from that angle. The one concern I do have is will Spoelstra stick with him if the shooting efficiency comes down, because Kelly O is not going to shoot 57% from the field forever. He’s more like a 48% shooter. Until that time, though, enjoy the ride.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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Vince Carter was the #5 overall pick waaaaaaaaaaaaaay back in 1998. This is his 23rd season in the NBA! 7-Eleven has nothing on him because it closes from Eleven to 7. Half-man, Half-amazing? Naw. All man, All amazing! Last night was just another reiteration of that fact:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
21 4 1 1 0 0 7/11 7/14 0

Played 26 minutes off the bench and led the Hawks in points! He’s 42 freaking years old! For you inquiring minds, he’d need to play a few more years to hold the title of the oldest player to ever play in an NBA game. Nat Kickey was 45 years, 363 days old when he played two games in 1947. That shouldn’t count but it does. For someone a little more relevant, Kevin Willis played five games during the 2006 season at the ripe age of 44 years, 224 days. Now, this lede is basically an homage to the awesomeness of Vince Carter, but he’s actually been a fantasy asset. Over the past four games, he’s averaged 27.4 minutes, 13.5 points, 3.5 tres, 3.3 boards, 2.3 dimes, 0.8 steals, and 0.5 blocks! Good for top 85 value. Granted, the Hawks are banged up, as John Collins, Taurean Prince, and Omari Spellman have been out due to injury, yet……Nothing but amazing.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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It must be hard to be the second fiddle night in and night out. Constantly being ignored and written off while your teammate garners all the praise. I think the most obvious dynamic duo of this kind in the NBA is Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. A slightly less obvious one is the front court duo of Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert.  Gobert almost always has a better fantasy line and puts up the gaudier defensive numbers and Favors’ stats would easily benefit if Rudy were to go down with an injury or if he was on another team. Well, for one glorious night, Robin saved Batman and got the villain. Favors went off for the line of 23-18-0-1-3-2 on 10-of-12 shooting and 3-of-4 from the line and led the Jazz to a victory over the Bucks. Derrick Favors is a man who has enjoyed a solid, if unspectacular NBA career. He’s one of the few remaining players who have played for the New Jersey Nets, a team I remember fondly. He’s actually been with Utah for nine years and has been a staple in the starting lineup for pretty much all of that time. He’s shooting a career best 57.8% FGs and is having his best blocks season since 2016. So today, take a second to think about the sous-chef, the vice president, the Derrick Favors’ of the world and how important they really are.

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There are times when it’s okay to love your cousin. If he/she is hot….and you are the only people on an island in the middle of nowhere. If you live down South. Ha! I kid. Seriously though, many places allow love and marriage to a cousin. Even in the US of A, 19 states allow marriage to first cousins and 41 allow them to live together. In Amish society, their group is relatively small in number and marriage outside of their religion is forbidden. Simple suppy, demand, and survival equation there. Don’t sweat it fellow fantasy basketballer, though. You can love DeMarcus Cousins without shame or remorse.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
24 11 3 1 3 1 1/4 9/15 5/5

Played 31 minutes, the first time eclipsing the 30 minute mark all season. Steve Kerr did mention recently that he will ramp up the minutes for Cousins. Well, it’s good to know that Kerr is not a liar. Over the past four games, Cousins has been a top 30 player, averaging 16.5 points, 1 tres, 11.3 boards, 3.3 dimes, 1.5 steals, and 2 blocks. The 41% from the field isn’t good (43% on the season), but he’s shooting 88% from the line (78% on the season). Man, I was wrong about Cousins, as I didn’t think he’d be able to come back from that Achilles injury. Much love Cousins. Much love.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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The All-Star Break means three more weeks, or 2.5 more matchups, until the head-to-head playoffs begin in most leagues. And even for Roto-Leaguers, we’re already 70% of the way through the season. At this point, you know your teams. Or, at least you can if you take a few minutes to examine them. Odds are that there are stat categories that hardly matter to you by now. Once again, that can be because of a punt strategy or simply because of the way your team and league shook out. For example, though I didn’t intend to punt any categories this season, I ended up dead last in FG% in a roto league with no chance of catching up. That category doesn’t mean anything to me now, so I can ignore it. Similarly, in the head-to-head Razzball Experts League, I have little chance to win assists in any given week. I could try to make that up or I could double down and load up on the other categories. I have a feeling your teams may have also lost some categories early. Or maybe more likely, you have a team that just dominates a category or two to the point that you can ignore it and still win. And even if you don’t find yourself far out in front or way behind in any categories, there are likely a few roto stats where you’re too far away from the teams above and below you to worry about them.

So, today it’s time to check up on who might be available and extra-valuable to YOUR team. We’re not just looking at traditional hot waiver wire pickups. Some of them would apply, but glance through this list after you know what stats you can safely ignore, and see if somebody’s right for you. Consider using the opposite train of thought when deciding who to drop, too. You’re lapping the competition in rebounds? You may want to drop an end-of-the-roster big instead of a worse overall player.

You’ll see the top players I recommend that are available in at least one-third of Yahoo leagues here, along with their 8-category and 9-cateogry punt rankings that are based on the per-game performances of the past 60 days (through 2/12) according to Basketball Monster.

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