Fantasy fringe players of interest in Week 22 (March 27 through April 2)
By Alex Rikleen
Special to Yahoo Sports
Tim Hardaway Jr, Atl, SG/SF (4 games, 63% owned): 24 teams play four games next week, so any schedule advantages are matchup-based. All of the Hawks games are against teams that will probably miss the playoffs. The 76ers and Nets have improved their advanced metrics lately, but spent most of the season as two of the worst per-possession defenses in the league. The Suns join those two teams among the list of the five fastest over the last 10 games. Their fourth opponent, the Bulls, just shut down Dwyane Wade – though none of the data shows them as overly favorable for fantasy, they seem to be a team on the brink of total collapse. Kent Bazemore may return this week, which would hurt Hardaway’s value, but no date has been set. Ersan Ilyasova is another notable Hawk who receives a boost this week.
Richaun Holmes, Phi, PF/C (4 games, 54% owned): Holmes’ schedule is good, but based on his recent performance, he’d warrant mention here even if the 76ers only played two games against the Jazz this week. He’s been a top-40 player in eight category leagues, and top-30 in nine-category leagues, over the past month. That’s just not the kind of value you can leave on waivers for an opponent to snatch up. The 76ers visit the Nets and Cavaliers this week, both teams that rank in the bottom third for per-possession defense since the All-Star break. Nets opponents also rank fifth in steals over that span.
Paul Zipser, Chi, SF/PF (3 games, 1% owned) and Denzel Valentine, Chi, SG/SF (3 games, 19% owned): The Bulls are one of just six teams to play three games this week, but in formats that permit streaming, they receive a big boost late in the week. They start the week with three days off, and then play three games from Thursday to Sunday. Furthermore, their final off day is Friday, the busiest day of week, when most managers have enough active players to fill their starting lineup anyway. A manager can add one of these players Thursday and get three extra games while using only one acquisition. Dwyane Wade has been shut down, removing a major obstacle to court time for both of these players. Zipser has been starting, but both have seen large minutes, and Valentine has been more productive.
Bojan Bogdanovic, Was, SG/SF (4 games, 54% owned): Like the Bulls, the Clippers’ schedule is better for the first half of the week and daily lineups settings. They play a Los Angeles back-to-back Tuesday and Wednesday. The fact that both games are in LA means they don’t suffer from extra travel, and both LA teams have been defensive sieves lately. Since the All-Star break, both teams have ranked in the bottom six in per-possession defense and in the bottom nine in rebound percentage. The problem is that they end the week with two of the toughest fantasy opponents, the Jazz and Warriors. In many leagues, teams may want to play Bogdanovic Tuesday-Wednesday, and then drop him for one of the Bulls’ wings for the end of the week.
Down and Out: Players to avoid in Week 22
Mason Plumlee, Den, PF/C (3 games): Of the six teams with three games, the Nuggets and Trail Blazers are the only ones without a bottom six defense on their schedule. Two of the three Nuggets’ opponents are in the top eight in rebound percentage since the All-Star break, and all three force below-average field goal percentages. Additionally, Plumlee’s minutes have taken a slight hit lately, averaging only 25.0 over his past two games, after averaging 32.7 minutes in the three games prior. Kenneth Faried’s return last week after a nine game absence adds to the Nuggets’ frontcourt depth.
Allen Crabbe, Por, PG/SG (3 games): The recent return of Evan Turner after a 14-game absence adds to the Trail Blazers’ already crowded wing depth. Before Turner got hurt, Crabbe averaged 25.0 minutes over 11 games. Since Turner’s injury, Crabbe has played 29.2 minutes per game. Turner played just 19 or 20 minutes in his first three games back, but saw that jump to 24 during a productive Wednesday outing. As Turner continues to return to his pre-injury levels, Crabbe is one of several Blazers likely to suffer. Additionally, the Blazers are one of only very few teams with just three games, and none of their games are against very favorable opponents – though none are particularly challenging either.
Jahlil Okafor, Phi, C (4 games – knee): Okafor is doubtful to play Friday, after missing Monday’s game and playing only 17 minutes on Wednesday. Given how the 76ers handled Joel Embiid’s injured knee this January and February, it is hard to have confidence that the 76ers’ staff will provide clear information about Okafor’s availability moving forward. Richaun Holmes is the main beneficiary of any Okafor absences, but Robert Covington also benefits.
Carmelo Anthony, NY, SF/PF (4 games – knee): On Tuesday, a report came out that the Knicks would limit Anthony’s minutes for the rest of the season, but he still played 36 minutes the following evening. Then, shortly before tip-off Thursday, the Knicks announced that Anthony would be unavailable due to a knee injury. It’s hard to get a clear picture based on just these three data points (Tuesday’s report, Wednesday’s game, and Thursday’s late scratch), but Anthony owners should carefully follow this situation over the next few days. If Anthony misses time, Lance Thomas and Mindaugas Kuzminskas see big bumps in value.
TJ Warren, Pho, SF (4 games – foot): Warren sat out Thursday due to a foot injury, and no return date has been announced. The Suns have already shut down Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight, leaving a short bench. Derrick Jones Jr. started in place of Warren Thursday, but left early due to a wrist injury. If Warren misses more time, Jones and Marquese Chriss, are the players most directly impacted. However, since the Suns are currently playing with such a small roster of available players, basically everyone who doesn’t play center sees at least some small bump any time another non-center is injured.
Ownership and stats accurate as of Friday morning
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