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?

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Steve Urkel and CJ McCollum have so much in common. Just look at them. Both are underappreciated and often get brushed aside. In Urkel’s case, he’s got an annoying, nasally voice, the style is juvenile, and he’s just a straight-up nerd. McCollum plays alongside Damian Lillard, who spits hot fire off the court and goes NBA Jam He’s Heating Up on it. But man, both are ballers on the hardwood. Here’s Urkel:

McCollum had his own heroics last night:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
23 7 5 2 3 1 1/7 9/18 4/4

Yes, he did that. He rarely is a maven on defense but he got busy last night. In his career, that was the eighth time in his career that he’s notched at least two steals and two blocks in the same game. Since returning from injury, McCollum has played eight games, scored at least 20 points in four with two of those over 30, and garnered a usage rate over 30 in four of those contests. Last night, the usage rate was 22. With Norman Powell now in the mix, it will be interesting to see how the pie is spliced between Lillard, McCollum, and Powell. Regardless, McCollum gonna get his and could finish as a top 40 player in fantasy.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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Here we are, down to the nitty gritty portion of the fantasy NBA basketball season where some fantasy managers are getting desperate while others are looking to position themselves for a nice postseason run. If your team is one of those on the bubble, you’re probably looking for some easy w’s in your quest to make the playoffs.

Some leagues have a bit over a month to go while others will extend until the end of the season, but either way if you want to compete you need to start winning NOW. The good news is that I’ve got your back, and we can do this together. So let’s do it.

One of my favorite strategies if I ever find myself on the bubble in a league is to look at my competition and where they can be exploited. Take a look at whoever you are playing this week right now and take a look at their win-loss record in each category. Are they 9-1 in one category? If you happen to have a similar record in that category, you can still beat them with some proper planning. Are they 5-5 in a category? Even if you are weak there, you can easily turn the tides by being smart.

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Mason Plumlee: With Flake Griffin sitting, it’s the point center show in the Motor City.  This savvy Dukie can wheel and deal, pound and confound, folks.  Underrated center in the Association, who by the way has raised his FT% to 67%, which doesn’t sound like much, but up from career average of 56%.  See, old dogs CAN learn new trix.  Shhh, he taught Joker all he knows.  Case in point, 10 assists with only 1 turnover!

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Boban Marjanovic! Not just a cameo but a start! He finished with 12 rebounds but shot just 3-for-11 from the field for seven points. This was just a spot start for the Joel Embiid matchup. You can safely leave Boban on the wire.
Jalen Brunson has been one of the steadiest backup PGs in the league. He wasn’t exceptional on Thursday, but he was effective with 11 points on just five shots, with five boards, a pair of treys, and a steal. Over the past 14 days, Brunson (28 percent owned in Yahoo!) has been a top-100 player. He can get you points while actually helping your percentages, with some threes and assists kicked in as well.

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Boy oh boy did we have some great matchups under the Friday Night Lights this week ladies and gentlemen. Battles amongst some of the best players in the league with a few interesting storylines.

We had the battle of the top 2020 NBA Draft picks as No. 1 overall pick Anthony Edwards going toe-to-toe with No.3 overall pick LaMelo Ball. Then there was the matchup between two up and coming Western Conference teams as Zion Williamson and the New Orleans Pelicans faced off against Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks. And of course, to close the night, we got a dogfight between the King, LeBron James, and the Phenom, Ja Morant, as the Los Angeles Lakers and the Memphis Grizzlies went blow for blow till the very end.

Definitely some interesting games with some amazing performances by some of the top talents in the game. So, with that, here are the standout performers from Friday Night’s slate of games!

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Rookies are traditionally seen as volatile fantasy assets, and for good reason—every year there are some duds and some studs. Last year, the perceived cream of the crop and number one overall pick on Draft Night and in our hearts, was none other than Zion Williamson from Duke University. He wound up playing only 24 games, but the per-game numbers lacked across-the-board production, landing him just outside the top-150 for fantasy value. Meanwhile, his fellow Blue Devil teammates, RJ Barrett and Cam Reddish were unrosterable in category leagues. Even runaway ROY Ja Morant was just a mid-rounder when all was said and done. On the flip side, you had a guy like Kendrick Nunn who, when given the opportunity produced similar value to Zion but went mostly undrafted in fantasy leagues.

Every Friday I’ll be checking in on the 2020-21 Rookie Class to see where they stand with respect to their peers and the rest of the Association. The season is young but I like what I’m seeing from a rookie crop that had been dismissed as historically weak.

For now, I’m sticking to rooks who play 20+ minutes, as where there are minutes, there are opportunites.

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The NBA season may only be 72 games this season, but it’s still going to be a long and grueling slugfest regardless. The players we consider locks for value now will be the drops of tomorrow, and the undrafted players will suddenly become league-winners overnight.

But how does that happen?

Injuries are an unfortunate part of the game. Lineup shifts are a real thing too as people slide into and out of minutes. A lot of that is hard to predict but likely trade candidates, on the other hand, are less difficult to forecast.

Please, blog, may I have some more?