After defeating the Orlando Magic 93-83 Sunday afternoon, the Miami Heat are now 11-5 without their starting center, Bam Adebayo. Many of those victories also came without Jimmy Butler and Tyler Herro. Assuming Butler can stay healthy going forward and Kyle Lowry can make a swift return from the NBA’s health and safety protocol, the Heat can begin their quest to move up the Eastern Conference standings.  They’re no doubt eying the Chicago Bulls who currently are second in the conference with a 19-10 record, due to some postponed games. However, even if the Heat is unable to move up from their current position in fourth place in the conference, their focus will be on health and continuity heading into the playoffs. They’ve gotten needed contributions from fringe players on the roster like Gabe Vincent, Caleb Martin, Max Strus, and Omer Yurtseven. The in-game reps these players have received over the past few weeks should only help them later in the season.

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Welcome to your midweek guidance for Week Seven!  The goal of this post is to help you identify players on the waiver wire who can help you win your weekly matchup.  Keeping up with the consolidated injury report is no small task these days.  The past 10 days were not kind to the league’s stars, with several going out for extended absences.  If you’re in the unfortunate position of holding a top-tier player who’s dealing with injury or sickness, it’s time to figure out who will benefit from their time off.  There is no shortage of talent to mine from the hardest-hit teams like Houston, Denver, and Portland.

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As an American living in England, it’s heartwarming to hear about the Thanksgiving traditions that are increasingly embraced by the British public.  And no, I’m not talking about enjoying the fellowship of others, eating great food, or reflecting on the many blessings that we enjoy in our affluent societies.  I’m talkin’ ’bout busting down the doors of the cheap electronics store at 4 AM, crushing skulls underfoot, and stampeding toward the flat screens! USA! USA! USA!  Amazingly, I’ve come across several Brits who harbor resentment toward America for exporting this time-honored tradition, but thankfully their ranks are thinning.  I’m confident we’ll eventually win them all over, one special edition ‘Friends’ box set at a time…

Fortunately for us waiver wire scavengers, there are always Black Friday deals to be found in fantasy hoops if one looks hard enough (and reads this post).  My goal is to highlight players who are on 50% or fewer rosters in ESPN and/or Yahoo leagues so that you can find the best fit to win your head-to-head matchup.

If you entered the Metuverse like I did last week, you hopefully benefitted from the threes, rebounds, steals, and blocks that Chimezie Metu provided in the Kings’ final two games of your matchup.  However, our journey ended abruptly with the firing of Luke Walton and the installment of Alvin Gentry, which has resulted in back-to-back DNP-CDs for Metu thus far.  It’s time to snap back to the real world and find some alternatives.

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Much was made of the Chicago Bulls’ offseason, and rightly so. Following his promotion to president of basketball ops in 2020, Arturas Karisovas attempted to put the GarPax era firmly in the rear-view this summer by flipping the roster over pretty dramatically and moving the center of gravity away from a Zach LaVine-shaped black hole to a more egalitarian committee featuring new-comer Lonzo Ball, a full-season of Nikola Vucevic, and the $85M man himself: DeMar DeRozan. Ink was spilled and hands were wrung about the money spent on the 32-year-0ld DD and how all these new pieces would fit together, but considering Chicago’s position atop the Eastern Conference as we approach the quarter post of the season, it’s hard to feel anything but positive about the early returns on the new-look Bulls. DeRozan in particular has been balling of late, and following Sunday’s performance against the Knicks, DD is now on the cusp of the top-10 in fantasy hoops. Like Sinatra before him, DeMar is doing it his way.

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The Los Angeles Lakers defeated the San Antonio Spurs 114-116 on Sunday night, making them 3-3 since LeBron James has been sidelined due to an abdominal injury. None of the victories have been particularly impressive, but they’re doing what they need to do—staying afloat until they get healthy. After a lackluster performance that led to a 24-point loss to the lowly Minnesota Timberwolves in their previous contest, Anthony Davis set the tone early for the purple and gold in this game. Davis had 19 points (8-10 FG) in the first quarter and finished the game with 32 points, 15 rebounds, six assists, two steals, and one block. It was the kind of dominating performance the Lakers will need in James’ absence as well as when he returns if the Lakers have any hope of achieving their championship goals. This game also saw Talen Horton-Tucker return from injury, pushing Kent Bazemore all the way out of the starting lineup and into a DNP (Coach’s Decision). Horton-Tucker had a solid game with 17 points, four rebounds, one assist, one steal, and one block. Carmelo Anthony continues to shoot the ball well at home and he received a surprise start in this game. He finished the contest with 15 points (5-7 FG, 2-3 3PT) and five rebounds. He’s still shooting a ridiculous 47.3% from three on the season and an even more ridiculous 56% from three at home. Finally, Russell Westbrook had a quiet, efficient night for the Lakers. I might contend that quiet and efficient should be the goal for most of Westbrook’s contest given his rocky start to the season, but that’s a conversation for another day. Westbrook finished the game with 14 points (5-11 FG, 3-5 3PT), 11 rebounds, seven assists, two steals, and seven turnovers.

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Luka Doncic provided the top fantasy performance of the night in a 123-109 win over the Spurs. He finished with 32 points, 15 assists, and 12 points. Luka has been heating up in recent games and finally exploded for a massive stat line. He remains a top-three fantasy option as an elite provider in the main three categories. Kristaps Porzingis matched Doncic with 32 points of his own in last night’s win. 

The Spurs struggled last night and were led by 20 points off the bench from Devin Vassell. It was an off night for the Spurs as many of their players posted worse than average stat lines. Dejounte Murray and others will look to get back on track in their next game.

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We are exactly two and a half weeks into this young NBA season, which means it’s officially PANIC SEASON!!!!! Some players get off to slow starts and then they turn it around and start to perform closer to their ceilings later in the season.

What does that mean in fantasy? It means we can take advantage of that panic and get us some goodies at discounted prices. So take this list and run with it. Go find someone in a league you’re in that owns one of these guys and shoot them a realistic offer.

DON’T LOWBALL. That’s a surefire way to make sure that no one in your league takes you seriously, and a surefire way to kill discussions before they even begin. Float a reasonable offer, then go from there. I managed to snag Kelly Oubre Jr., Robert Covington, and Russell Westbrook last year when they were playing like poop.

The ranks we’ll be looking at here on the current season and previous season will be PER-GAME rankings. We’re simply too early in the season to look at totals just yet.

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“Who the hell is this paging me at 5:46 in the morning

Crack of dawn and now I’m yawnin’

Wipe the cold out my eye

See who’s this paging me and why”

Remember pagers? I know I am dating myself by acknowledging that I used to have a translucent cocoa-colored one clipped to my pants pocket or belt at all times. Still not sure why I felt the need to be so accessible to people. Must be an age thing because nowadays I love nothing more than when my phone does not ring.

I wish this week’s feature player had a pager so I could send him a 911 message for him to find his game and get it going. Or, I could ask Doc to fire up the DeLorean and take me back to the time when this player was living up to their potential and warn them of what is to come. There I go dating myself once again.

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As is the custom in all articles, the last part before the suggestions is the review of the weekly performance of players mentioned in the last article. Franz Wagner is balling and just had a career-high 28 points game, moving him inside the top 60. Even Chuma Okeke’s return is not looking like it will slow him down so hopefully you went with the advice and have him on your roster. In terms of the buy-low suggestions, Kristaps Porzingis got injured and Michael Porter Jr. continued to underwhelm, but I still view both as terrific buy-low options, even lower now with another week of bad games. Finally, the sell-high suggestions of Ja Morant and Jonas Valanciunas still remain, although the former’s fg% did come down a notch to more logical levels, while Luguentz Dort did nothing to change my view of him as a drop candidate.

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