Welcome to your midweek guidance for Week 15!  In this post, I identify widely available players who can help you win your head-to-head matchup.  Depending on who’s on your roster, this week has offered its fair share of ups and downs so far.  We witnessed the long-awaited return of Anthony Davis, Brandon Ingram, and Khris Middleton, while lamenting fresh injuries to Kristaps Porzingis, Bobby Portis, and Steven Adams.  In Adams’ case, we were left wondering who would gain the most minutes between Xavier Tillman, Santi Aldama, and Brandon Clarke.  After a promising showing on Monday, Tillman’s minutes fell off a cliff on Wednesday, as Clarke and Aldama gobbled up the lion’s share of time at the five.  Suffice it to say, that situation is still developing…

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Regarding last week’s suggestions, Terance Mann failed to impress in his increased opportunity and is a drop and the same can be said for Naz Reid, as he was both underwhelming and Rudy Gobert is back. On the other hand, Kyle Anderson had a great week, but he will also be impacted by Gobert and eventually Towns returning, while Wenyen Gabriel did not provide the blocks he was advertised for and is a clear drop with Anthony Davis closing in on a return. A bad week in suggestions to be honest, let’s hope it’s the exception to the rule.

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I was high on Precious Achiuwa in the offseason, as he showed flashes at the end of last season, both offensively and defensively. He improved his shooting and was able to make it rain from downtown. In addition, he exhibited the ability to make life difficult for Joel Embiid while also being able to switch on the perimeter against guards. Most importantly, though, Nick Nurse spoke glowingly about him over the summer, commenting on his work ethic and finally “getting it.” Then the season started, and it didn’t go as planned. He had two monster games while playing over 33 minutes in each, but after that, was relegated to playing in the teens. To stick a rusty knife into my belly, Achiuwa then succumbed to injury and missed the next 24 games. My Precious once had bling that blinded the eyes, but now was as dull as my jokes. Upon returning to action, he was once again playing in the teens, but slowly but surely, the playing time increased. Christian Koloko was sent down to the G League and my Precious began to glisten once again. Over the last five games, he received 28, 21, 26, 21 and 37 minutes, starting in the most recent contest and putting up 17 points, 11 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks.

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The Magic have been everyone’s favorite fantasy outlet this season, from Bol Bol Euro-stepping into monster jams to Paolo Banchero compiling historic rookie numbers. The play of Franz Wagner has by no means been lost in all the excitement, but his games of late have been next level good. Over his last six games, he’s averaging 24 points on 55% shooting, 68.3 TS%, pitching in about 4 boards, 3 assists, a steal and 3 threes per game. 

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Something tells me the Pelican won’t fare well in that scenario, right? Well, that was the case Wednesday night when the Celtics’ Scottie Pippen, “Robin” or what have you – Jaylen Brown – torched the young Pelicans to the tune of 41 points and 12 rebounds in 34 minutes of action. Brown led Boston to a convincing 125-114 victory over New Orleans and he wasn’t alone – top dog, Batman Jayson Tatum bullied his way to 31 points and 10 rebounds of his own.

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My first and only allegiance will always be to the Brooklyn Nets, but Ja Morant’s Memphis Grizzlies are my second-favorite team in the game today. I personally felt they played the NBA champion Golden State Warriors better than anybody else in last year’s playoffs – and don’t forget that Morant went down and missed time. This team has everything you want from a modern NBA roster – a true, showstopping superstar (Morant), a dominant defender who also contributes offensively (Jaren Jackson Jr.), a confident, lights-out shooter (Desmond Bane) and multiple other quality pieces (Adams, Brooks, Jones, Aldama and Clarke, just to name some).

But this is exactly what we don’t want from a fantasy perspective. We don’t want Bane and Jackson returning from injuries and eating into Morant’s usage as a top-tier fantasy producer. We don’t want these young, deep, talented Grizzlies to be so good that they are blowing people out and limiting our fantasy minutes. Let’s take a look at how this situation played out on Wednesday night in The League.

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Duh duh duh duh. Clap clap. Duh duh duh duh. Clap clap. Duh duh duh duh. Duh duh duh duh. Duh duh duh duh. Clap clap.

He’s bearly and he’s brawny. Supposedly good looking. He’s not proficient shooting. His name is Steven Adams.

He plays for the Memphis Grizzlies. When people come to see him. They all end up screaming. His name is Steven Adams. 

Duh duh duh duh. Clap clap. Duh duh duh duh. Clap clap. Duh duh duh duh. Duh duh duh duh. Duh duh duh duh. Clap clap.

Ja Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr. and Desmond Bane get all the shine for the Memphis Grizzlies but it’s players like Adams who give them that grit so that they can grind towards the top of the NBA landscape. He’s a mountain of a man at 6-foot-11 and 265 pounds. He’s known as one of the strongest and toughest guys in the league, and is an excellent screener, which frees up space for Morant and Bane. Last night:

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Following back-to-back years of Top 40 production, Terry Rozier has disappointed so far this season, mainly due to some rookie-level percentages (in fact, his worst percentages since his rookie season as it stands). But he’s just a hot shooting streak away from producing as owners have become accustomed to, and on Friday he helped the Hornets edge the Wizards 117-116. Rozier scored 25 points on 8-of-21 shooting, 2-of-5 from deep, with 5 boards, 8 assists, 2 steals and a season-low zero turnovers. Charlotte has been paying the doctor’s new vacation home so far this season, and Rozier’s percentages should benefit whenever (if ever) LaMelo Ball and Gordon Hayward return. For the time being, the assists are up along with his usage rate, and he’s a great buy target, especially for those punting the FG% category.

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Here’s a story of a man with two first names, who hit the age of 30, an age when most players say goodbye to their primes and buckle up for the descent below. And descend the man with two first names did, playing in 58 and 58 games the next two seasons. Many called him injury-prone and swore him off for fantasy. Father Time leaned back in the La-Z-Boy chair, grabbed the bowl of popcorn and just waited. But the man with two first names spit in the face of Father Time and proceeded to play 70, 70 and 65 games in his age 34, 35 and 36 seasons. So far this season, the man with two first names has missed five of 15 games and caused much consternation for those who drafted him. “We can squeeze one more year out of him!!!”, they said. It’s akin to having one taco left with no more freshly cut limes. You rummage through the whole table and squeeze every last drop out of what’s left. Anyways, the pain that has been felt by the Chris Paul owners has been nothing but elation for the Cameron Payne truthers. Over the last five games, he’s averaged 33.5 minutes, 15.6 field goal attempts, 20 points, 3 rebounds, 5.8 assists and 1.2 steals. On Sunday:

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Hey Dallas, did you overlook your opponent just because they were 1-9? Was it because they were the Orlando Magic? Was it because their best player this year, Paolo Banchero, was out for the game? You only scored 87 points against a very inexperienced team and 53 of those points came from Spencer Dinwiddie and Luka Doncic. The bench depth as a whole has been a weak point for the Mavericks this season. Outside of Christian Wood, players such as Dwight Powell, Reggie Bullock, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Maxi Kleber really haven’t been producing for them.

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The NBA on Friday Night rolled back the clock two nights too early (the end of daylight savings is Sunday 2 a.m.), harkening the days where big men ruled the professional basketball roost. There were myriad starting backcourts taking the night off with injuries and “injuries” (the league loves it when teams rest their stars on Friday night!), leading to a slew of point-forward play and 7-footers trying out for the 3-point contest.

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Darius Garland returned to the Cavaliers, putting up 29 points and 12 assists in a close victory over the Boston Celtics. In both games where Garland and Donovan Mitchell have played the Cavs bigs have struggled to score. Jarrett Allen had 15 points last night while Evan Mobley had 14, both were below regular season averages. As for the Celtics, it’s hard to win games when Jayson Tatum shoots 8-21 from the field. On a positive note his defensive numbers were quite solid last night: nine defensive rebounds and four blocks. 

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