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Fantasy Basketball Injury Report: Week 16

With the NBA trade deadline passing yesterday, the teams’ rotations, for the next few days, will be all over the place. Until everyone gets to have their medicals at their new teams, plenty of players will get their big-minute opportunities, and, if you’re paying attention, there’s a good chance of finding fantasy basketball diamonds in the rough. At least for a game or two. For a longer-term advantage, scroll below for the week 16 fantasy report.

Week 16 Fantasy Basketball Injury Report

Joel Embiid, C – Philadelphia 76ers

Injury: Left knee meniscus tear

Projected Return Date: April?

Embiid went ahead and had his surgery earlier this week. According to the 76ers, he will be re-evaluated in 4 weeks and, according to Shams Charania, he will be expected to take 6-8 weeks before returning. The 6-8 week timeline ends in late March or early April. The NBA regular season ends on April 14. Presumably, the 76ers will want for Embiid to play a few games before the playoffs to test his knee and cardio. However, most well-run fantasy leagues end before the regular season and Embiid is unlikely to play big minutes or even multiple consecutive games even if he does return before the end of the fantasy season.

In the last run of 4 Embiid-less games, no one on the 76ers has played particularly well. Tobias Harris and Tyrese Maxey remain the only must-roster players in standard leagues. Paul Reed hasn’t turned out to be quite the like-for-like replacement for Embiid but he is still going to get big minutes and probably shouldn’t be on the waivers. De’Anthony Melton was hoping to return from a lower back injury on Monday but is still out. With Buddy Hield joining the 76ers, Melton’s must-own status becomes less safe and the two might eat into each other’s stats in a way that makes both only marginal fantasy players. But, for as long as Melton is out, I would still add Hield.

Recommendation: Probably safe to drop Embiid. Probably safe to add Reed.

Fred VanVleet, PG – Houston Rockets

Injury: Left adductor strain

Projected Return Date: In a week

VanVleet is expected to miss about a week, which puts the return date right at the All-Star break. The Rockets will have four games before the All-Star game all of which VanVleet could miss. If so, Amen Thompson is the temporary pick-up. In the first game without VanVleet, Thompson had a solid stat line with 13 points, 13 rebounds, 6 assists, and 3 blocks in 34 minutes.

Recommendation: Amen Thompson.

Damian Lillard, PG – Milwaukee Bucks

Injury: Left ankle sprain

Projected Return Date: Post-ASG

Lillard has missed the last two games with an ankle sprain and I wouldn’t be surprised if he misses the rest of the way to the All-Star Game. The Bucks just traded for Patrick Beverley, who might get big minutes until Lillard returns but is still unlikely to get big, fantasy-relevant stats. In fact, looking at the Bucks roster, besides Lillard they’re incredibly poor at the guard positions. Malik Beasley will, too, have an increased role until Lillard returns, and he, too, is unlikely to get the big stat lines we’d love to see.

Recommendation: None.

O.G. Anunoby, SG/SF – New York Knicks

Injury: Right elbow bone spur irritation

Projected Return Date: March

Anunoby had surgery on his elbow and will be expected to miss at least three weeks of NBA action.  The good thing about missing these specific three weeks is that the All-Star break falls in the middle so Anunoby might miss only eight games. The Knicks are an injured mess right now and there’s not much else to do than ride the waves with Donte DiVincenzo and Josh Hart. But, once players start returning, they’re going to diminish each other’s fantasy stats so decisions will have to be made.

Recommendation: None really.

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