You can’t win a championship at the beginning of a season, but you can lose one. Much as it pains me to say, I think I’ve already lost.

After a successful Writer’s League last year that ended against Kostas in the semifinal and a pretty intensive offseason of thinking about hoops, I came into this year’s draft feeling like I was in decent shape to post a good showing again. But this year ain’t last year. Stats and success don’t carry over, and if you’re resting on laurels rather than applying lessons learned, there’s no way to bank Ws on account of “experience.” If you’ve been following Kelder’s weekly recaps, you might have noticed that my team isn’t anywhere in the mix. Indeed, you’ve got to scroll almost the way to the bottom of the table to see my name. A record of 19-34-1 is good enough for 11th and I feel all but certain the hole that I’ve put myself in is going to be too deep to recover from. I’m not quite ready to quit on some other struggling squads, but I think it’s safe to let go of preseason expectations at this point and set a different goal for the remaining three-quarters of the season here in the Writer’s League.

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With the off-season starting to settle and the season less than two months away, it is a great time for every fantasy basketball fan to start preparing. Since 2017, I’ve been doing a review of last year’s projections in order to make this year’s projections better, as well as to identify potential opportunities and hazards in the upcoming draft. If you are interested to learn about the math behind the process and how I calculate the accuracy of the projections, check the initial article and I’d be happy to answer questions in the comments.

So without further ado, let’s dive straight to it.

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The Pacers beat the Thunder in overtime on Friday night behind the fantasy star of the night, Domantas Sabonis, who was questionable to play coming into Friday but suited up against his former team to get revenge. He finished with 24 points, 18 rebounds, 10 assists, two steals, and two blocks. He found a way to get it done in almost every category. He is a top-30 player this year and should enjoy an increased role with Malcolm Brogdon and Myles Turner out for the foreseeable future. Justin Holiday added 22 points and five rebounds on 4-7 three-point shooting, but numbers like this are unable to be counted on in the long run. 

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For the first time this year, the fantasy star of the night comes from a losing team. It is well deserved as Dejounte Murray has gone from zero games with 30 or more points, to two of those games in just a week. Murray followed up his 32 point triple-double from Wednesday with a 30-point near triple-double on Friday. He finished with 30 points, 14 rebounds, and eight assists. Murray sits inside the top-20 players and has been on an absolute tear of late, but this upside may not last long as Derrick White is very close to returning from the league’s health and safety protocols. 

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Coming off a game in which he went scoreless in 22 minutes, Evan Fournier went OFF for a career-high 41 points, including 10 made triples. At one point I saw an actual fireball coming off his fingers as he flung up splashes before they barely touched his fingers. He added eight boards, a steal and a block to his line. He’s rostered in most leagues (64 percent), but maybe you can sell high on him if his national TV performance swayed some opinions in your league.

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It is only fitting that we end 2021 with LeBron James as the fantasy star of the night. The ageless superstar scored 43 points while adding 14 rebounds, four assists, two steals, and two blocks en route a 139-106 win. He has been amazing over the past seven games but it has only translated to two wins during that stretch. James sits inside the top-three fantasy players this year and could pass Nikola Jokic for the top spot if he continues this high level of play. Russell Westbrook posted his fourth straight triple-double in the win, finishing with 15 points, 13 rebounds, and 12 assists. Although Russ has his ups and downs on the court, he remains an elite fantasy option with nightly triple-double upside. He has struggled with turnovers and poor shooting numbers this year which has resulted in poor category play. He sits just inside the top-100 and should not move much from this spot.

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Bledsoe has scored in single digits 25 times this season. He’s outside the top 200 on a per-game basis. There was a time when he was a perennial top 40 player. Life comes at us fast. On what was championship Sunday for many, Eric Bledsoe turned back the clock and produced his best performance of the season.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
24 4 11 2 0 1 3/9 8/17 5/10

Now, Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram did not play in this one but whatever. A chip is a chip. If Bledsoe led any of you to a chip, you are obligated to buy a jersey of his. And you better wear that bad boy proudly. If anyone starts clowning you, just punch them in the face and say that your face Bledsoe that I could wear this jersey proudly around town.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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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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What is up everybody! If you’re still reading this column, then either you’re my biggest fan (Hi, Son!) or you’re still in the hunt for your fantasy basketball championship. As I mentioned last week, most of my teams are D.O.A. (Drunk off absynthe) after some massive injury and trade woes (including Oladipo, who had both). I’m likely finishing in the top 50 in RazzJam despite my top picks all missing significant time, so I’m cool with that. But you, my dear Son (best editor ever, bee-tee-dubya), you might be in a position to win. So, let’s do away with the singular player approach and take a look at the hot players that you could still acquire for your basketball squad. And! In case you didn’t know, I’m ranking pitchers every week over the summer on the baseball side of Razzball, and I’m in charge of QBs over on the fantasy football side. If you need fantasy help in those sports, come on over and ask away! 

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Rundown of tonight’s dynamic slate of 10 Games with five Triple-Doubles on this Hump Day.

RAPTORS -VS- (W) PISTONS
Fred Van Vleet: Blessings to my dude for battling Covid-19 this month and making a full recovery.
First game back and understandably rusty.  The three steals and the 7-of-8 from the charity make it much more palatable.  Yum.  
FVV is actually 3rd on the planet in steals rate at 1.7 SPG.

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It’s been many thousands of years since Moses climbed Mr. Sinai, received the Ten Commandments, then delivered them to the people below. It must’ve been an exhausting one for Moses because we hadn’t heard from him since. Last night, though, Moses Brown delivered the fantasy goodies to the believers who rostered him for DFS or season-long leagues, making all lift their heads to the sky and yell, Hallelujah! 

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
20 16 0 0 5 1 0 9/16 2/3

Brown received the start and played 30 minutes. He’s now started the last two games. Now, both Al Horford and Darius Bazley were out so this may not be the New World Order. With that said, OKC is going to play and develop their young cats and Horford could be traded by the deadline. Moses has been a top 55 player over the last four games, providing 12.5 points, 10.3 boards, and two blocks while shooting 60% from the field and 80% from the free-throw line. Like manna from the heavens.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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I doubt Rudy Gobert has ever been an underdog. He has probably towered over everyone by a foot or more ever since he was born. When he popped his head out of Mrs. Gobert, he tried to calibrate how far it was to the floor but his eyes weren’t developed enough yet. Just a blur. He then proceeded to punch his right arm out of Mrs. Gobert then reached. And reached. And reached. And reached. Until he finally felt the coldness of the floor below. I ain’t stepping on that he thought because he had yet to learn language. Mrs. Gobert, taken aback by the length of her baby, gasped then leaned back in surprise. Mr. Gobert, though, just grinned. He crumpled up a piece of paper then threw it at his newborn son. Instinctively, baby Rudy swatted it away and the rest is history. Always a giant amongst boys, Rudy lived life with the gods. Until the fateful day that he licked some microphones. Never has a man so big morphed into one so small. An underdog by the name of Rudy was born once again. But we are a fickle species, and it did not take long for our Rudy to become a giant once more.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
24 28 1 2 4 0 0 8/10 8/13

Dayam. That was the fifth career 20/20 game of Gobert’s career. Over the last 13 games, he’s been a top 15 player on a per-game basis. Over the last four games, he’s the number five player!!! Rudy! Rudy! Rudy! And that’s with zero tres, little dimes, and terrible free-throw shooting. Rudy! Rudy! Rudy! On the season, Gobert is averaging 14.4 points, 13.6 boards, and 2.8 blocks while shooting 64% from the field.

Here’s what else I saw yesterday:

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