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Fantasy Basketball Fast Break (Week of 10/16)

Happy opening night NBA fans! The NBA has a short off-season compared to the other major U.S. sports leagues but it always seems to take forever for the new season to get here. Well, we don’t have to wait any longer as the regular season kicks off tonight with a pair of marquee matchups.

First, it’s an Eastern Conference Finals rematch, as the Cleveland Cavaliers host the massively overhauled Boston Celtics. Following that is the home opener for the defending champion Golden State Warriors, who play host to an improved Houston Rockets team led by James Harden and his new backcourt compadre, Chris Paul.

Hope springs eternal for fantasy owners with the start of a new season. There are two types of fantasy owners right now. The first type of owner loves how their draft went and thinks they’re the championship favorite in their league. The other hated their draft and is already scrambling to send out endless trade offers.

With the season tipping off tonight, let’s take a look at the fantasy week ahead.

Games Played by Team This Week



Waiver Wire

Milos Teodosic (PG – LAC)

Who say’s 30-year-old rookies can’t make a significant impact? With Chris Paul now in Houston, Milos Teodosic will take over as the starting point guard and impressed during the pre-season. In three games, he averaged 8.0 PPG, 5.7 APG, 2.0 3PG, and 1.3 SPG in just 25.3 MPG. Teodosic’s precision passing will be benefitted by having Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan to lob the ball to. He’s still unowned in roughly half of leagues, so if you need a boost in assists and 3s, give him a look. And do it quickly because that 50% ownership rate is bound to rise considerably over the next week or two.

Malik Monk (SG – CHA)

With Nicolas Batum out for the next 6-8 weeks, the Hornets are going to be starting Jeremy Lamb at shooting guard. Excuse me if that doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence. Lamb has proven he’s best suited as a backup in this league and his upside is fairly limited. On the other hand, Malik Monk has plenty of upside in scoring and three-pointers. He’s going to get plenty of run with the second unit as it is and could overtake Lamb as the starter soon if Lamb struggles out of the gate. If you need 3s, give Monk a look. At the very least he’ll give you plenty of those, with upside for more.

Justin Holiday (SG/SF – CHI)

You know your team is bad when you’re anticipating a journeyman like Justin Holiday to start and play around 30 minutes a night. Well, that’s just what is going to happen in Chicago to start the season. Those bigger minutes put him firmly on the fantasy radar. He has the ability to score around 15 points four rebounds, and three assists to go along with around two three-pointers and 1.5 steals. He’s still not worth more than a late-round flier, but he should provide decent value until Zach LaVine returns.

Jerian Grant (PG – CHI)

I know, I know. Another player from the Chicago Bills. How dare I! Well, with Kris Dunn out for the next few weeks (see below), Grant is going to run this pathetic excuse for an offense and should provide late-round value until Dunn’s return based on the strength to provide around 12-5-8 on a nightly basis.

Alex Len (C – PHO)

I’ve been promoting Alex Len as a sleeper center for the entire pre-season. This Phoenix team is firmly in a rebuild and don’t have much incentive to keep playing the rotting corpse that is Tyson Chandler. In just 20.3 MPG last season, Len averaged 8.0 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks. Those are solid stats that have the ability to be so much better once he gets close to 30 minutes a night. Len is still unowned in 60% of leagues, so there’s a chance he’s still sitting on your waiver wire. If you need a big man, Len is one to grab. Once Chandler finally is out of his way, Len could put up consistent lines of 15 points, 10 rebounds, and 2 blocks. Who wouldn’t love that as their 3rd or 4th center?

Injury Report

Kawhi Leonard (SF – SA)

After missing the entire preseason, Kawhi Leonard is expected to miss the season opener as well with a quad injury. The Spurs are likely going to proceed cautiously with their superstar forward, so don’t be surprised if he misses another game or two after the season opener. Leonard is a stud but is a risky play for leagues with weekly lineup changes. Kyle Anderson and Rudy Gay should benefit the most from Leonard’s absence.

Nicolas Batum (SG/SF – CHA)

Recent reports have listed the recovery time for Nicolas Batum’s elbow injury at 6-8 weeks. It’s not ideal, but Batum is the type of player you stash even if your league doesn’t have an IR spot. Batum was nearly a top-50 fantasy player last season with averages of 15.1 points, 6.2 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 1.8 3s, and 1.1 steals.

Zach LaVine (SG – CHI)

Don’t worry Bulls fans, a little bit of help is on the way sooner than originally expected.  LaVine recently said that his surgically repaired ACL is no longer sore and was spotted dunking at practice. He’s still a few weeks away from being cleared for full-contact work, but all signs point to him being back in the Bulls lineup around Thanksgiving.

Kris Dunn (PG – CHI)

A dislocated left index finger is expected to keep Kris Dunn out until early-November. Jerian Grant will open as the starting point guard and will likely hold the spot even after Dunn’s return at least while Dunn gets back in the flow. He’s not a great stash outside of deeper leagues.

Isaiah Thomas (PG – CLE)

This injury is easily the most unpredictable in this section. No one seems to have any idea as to when Isaiah Thomas will make his Cavaliers debut. I’ve seen as early as Christmas and as late as mid-March. Obviously, Thomas makes for a great stash in any league regardless of if you have an IR spot or not. However, expecting anything close to last season is foolish. He’s likely going to be eased into things and now has LeBron James and Kevin Love around him taking a lot of shots.

Jabari Parker (SF/PF – MIL)

This is one of my favorite stash options this season. Before his injury, Parker was averaging around 20 points, six boards, and three dimes per game on 49% shooting. He’s someone I envision having a big second half of the season once he gets his legs back under him.

Richaun Holmes (PF/C – PHI)

Holmes is one Embiid injury away from providing mid-round fantasy value. And predicting an Embiid injury is almost as easy as predicting a non-travel call for a star player. Unfortunately, a fractured wrist is expected to keep this high-upside reserve out of action for the next month or longer.

Keep an Eye On

Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum

It looks like both of these #3 picks are going to be in the starting lineup for Boston tonight against the Cavaliers. Brown has been the presumed starting shooting guard since Avery Bradley was dealt to Detroit, but Tatum comes as a slight surprise. Both are great pieces in dynasty formats but their value this year will not be as great.

Brown is really the one to monitor here to see if he can continue to improve his offensive game. It sure looks like he did from watching the summer league, but obviously, that’s against lesser competition. It wouldn’t be crazy to say he could be the third highest scorer this season for Boston. If he’s available in your leagues, give him an add to see how he starts the season.

Regression Alert!

With three potential 20+ PPG scorers around him, Jeff Teague will need to pull a rabbit out of his hat to replicate last season’s scoring numbers. The trio of Karl-Anthony Towns, Jimmy Butler, and Andre Wiggins will likely score 70+ PPG this season. That doesn’t leave a lot of opportunity for Teague, especially with Jamal Crawford scoring off the bench too. I’d honestly rather take Teodosic many rounds later and get similar production.

Got a question about a player not covered here? Then follow me on Twitter @EricCross04 and ask me there. Also, make sure to follow and listen to @The3andDPod every Tuesday as Jon Sauber and I break down the latest from around the NBA and fantasy basketball.

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