Fantasy playoff time is getting closer

Week 19 includes the calendar flipping from February to March, the final full month of the regular season. This means the fantasy playoffs aren't far away, and much of the league is still competing for seeding, a playoff spot, or a play-in tournament spot. The lack of tanking teams means most players are in play for fantasy leagues but is Week 19 when that will begin to change? And there are some key injury updates to keep an eye out for next week, in which the majority of the league's teams will play four games.

Week 19 Schedule: Games Played



2 Games: CLE, DEN

Top Storylines to Watch

-- Warriors' updates on Curry, Wiggins

Stephen Curry has missed the last seven games with a left leg injury, and Sunday's contest against the Timberwolves will be number eight. Without a concrete timeline for a return to action, Curry is due to be re-evaluated on March 1 (Wednesday). With the Warriors facing the Trail Blazers the night prior, he'll be up to nine games missed. Wednesday's evaluation should give the team (and fantasy managers) a better idea of how much longer Curry will be sidelined. Add to this the absence of Andrew Wiggins, who will have missed four games due to personal reasons, and the Warriors head into Week 19 down two starters.

Donte DiVincenzo, rostered in 42% of Yahoo leagues, has been a 6th-round player in 9-cat formats over the last month. The absences have also given Kevon Looney new life fantasy-wise, with the veteran center being an 8th-round player over the last month. We've also seen Jonathan Kuminga move into the starting lineup, but the fantasy returns haven't been as high there. Whether or not any of these three have fantasy relevance come playoff time will depend on how much longer Curry and Wiggins are sidelined and how Curry's minutes will be handled once he's cleared to return.

-- Is it time for Durant's Suns' debut?

The day fantasy managers and Suns fans alike may finally be here, with it being reported by multiple outlets that Kevin Durant is targeting Wednesday's game in Charlotte to make his debut for the team. His insertion into the lineup will change everything for the Suns, who traded Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson (Jae Crowder also, with the Nets moving him on to Milwaukee) and a treasure chest of draft picks to Brooklyn for one of the most lethal scorers in NBA history.

How will Durant mesh with Devin Booker, Chris Paul, and Deandre Ayton? How will those three have to adjust their games with KD on the court? And who fills the role of the fifth starter: Josh Okogie or Torrey Craig? There are a lot of questions for Monty Williams to answer, and this will impact the Suns' title hopes and fantasy basketball. It'll be fun to watch. Phoenix plays three games in Week 19 without nay back-to-backs, but there may be some steps taken to lighten Durant's workload early on.

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-- Another back-to-back lurks for the Clippers

The Clippers have lived a charmed life over the last month or so regarding their schedule, with the team's most recent back-to-back being played on January 28-29. That will change during Week 19, as the team has a Thursday/Friday road back-to-back against the Warriors and Kings. Kawhi Leonard has yet to play both ends of a back-to-back this season, while Paul George was supposedly on a minutes restriction for Friday's wild 176-175 double-overtime loss to the Kings. Regarding the latter, he played 41 minutes in that thriller before being pulled at the end of the first overtime, so who knows what the parameters of George's "restriction" may be.

The Clippers' desire to rest their two most important players may run counter to the need to solidify the rotation ahead of the postseason, with Russell Westbrook, Eric Gordon, and Mason Plumlee being the noteworthy additions (Bones Hyland was a DNP-CD on Friday). The Clippers are scheduled to play four games in Week 19, with Leonard and George possibly looking at a three-game week due to the back-to-back.

-- How will the Pistons juggle minutes in the frontcourt?

Due to injuries and a four-team trade made at the deadline, Bojan Bogdanović has been the lone constant in the Pistons' frontcourt. This obviously won't impact the NBA's postseason race, as Detroit is headed back to the draft lottery. But it will have an impact on fantasy basketball, especially with Jalen Duren (ankle) and Isaiah Stewart (hip) dealing with injuries. Duren is dealing with soreness in both of his ankles and was held out of Saturday's game against the Raptors, while hip soreness forced Stewart to the bench during the third quarter of that defeat.

The Pistons begin a three-game Week 19 in Charlotte on Monday, and this could be a big week for Marvin Bagley and James Wiseman. While the former started in place of Duren on Saturday and put up 10 points and 10 rebounds before fouling out, Bagley was outstanding in his first game back from a lengthy absence due to two broken fingers on his right hand. Bagley put up 21 points, 18 rebounds (career-high), and one blocked shot in 28 minutes off the bench. Wiseman (39% rostered) and Bagley (20%) are both available in many fantasy leagues, but how will Dwane Casey handle the minutes when all four young big men can play? We could get our first answer Monday night.

-- Hornets' Williams continues to emerge in the middle

Rookie center Mark Williams had the best game of his career on Saturday, finishing Charlotte's win over Miami with a line of 18 points, 20 rebounds, one steal, and one blocked shot in 29 minutes. The Hornets played that game without the injured P.J. Washington (foot), with JT Thor replacing him in the starting lineup. But Williams is the headliner, and he could be in for a big final six weeks of the season, even with the Hornets playing for lottery odds. Rostered in 63% of Yahoo leagues, Williams is providing top-75 value in 9-cat formats over the last month. Thor and Kai Jones will be worth tracking during Charlotte's four-game Week 19, but not at the expense of Williams, as he's a player who is sure to be drafted in fantasy leagues next fall.

-- How much longer with the Nuggets be without Gordon?

Aaron Gordon, who had a good case for inclusion in the All-Star Game, has been out since February 9 (six games) with a rib injury. Denver only plays two games in Week 19, so not having Gordon may not be of significant impact there. However, the concern would be his availability for Week 20, in which the Nuggets will play four games. Vlatko Čančar has replaced Gordon in the starting lineup but there hasn't been much fantasy value to be had. Rostered in three percent of Yahoo leagues, Cancar is ranked 200th in 9-cat, per-game value over the last two weeks. Maybe Jeff Green picks up additional minutes off the bench, but he hasn't been a great fantasy option, either.

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-- Lakers' Russell dealing with a sprained right ankle

D'Angelo Russell sprained his right ankle during the first quarter of the Lakers' February 23 win over the Warriors, an injury that sidelined him for Sunday's game against the Mavericks. The Lakers will play four games in Week 19, which begins with a road back-to-back against the Grizzlies (Tuesday) and Thunder (Wednesday). They'll be back home after that, finishing the week with home games against the Timberwolves (Friday) and Warriors (Sunday). Russell did travel with the team to Dallas, so this isn't a case of simply leaving him home with an eye toward a Thursday return.

Dennis Schröder, who wasn't a consistent fantasy option when he was the starting point guard before the trade deadline, is back in the starting lineup while Russell sits. That said, instead of looking into adding Schroder, fantasy managers may be better off expending their energy on adding Malik Beasley. Rostered in 49% of Yahoo leagues, he's returning 5th-round, per-game value in 9-cat formats over the last two weeks. Beasley gives the Lakers much-needed perimeter shooting, and it was made clear to him by Darvin Ham during Thursday's win that he's got the green light to shoot.

Light Game Days

Monday: 4 Games


Thursday: 4 Games


Week 19 Back-to-backs

Monday-Tuesday: None

Tuesday-Wednesday: BKN, CHI, HOU, LAL, MEM, MIL, OKC, POR

Wednesday-Thursday: PHI

Thursday-Friday: GSW, LAC

Friday-Saturday: ATL, MIA, MIN, SAC

Saturday-Sunday: HOU, MIL, SAS, WAS