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Breathe easy, kids. The regular season resumes on Thursday (while Yahoo’s Freeroll Friday also returns!), which means those in head-to-head and standard roto leagues should be nearing trade deadlines. Meanwhile, the DFS players among us can get back to the number crunching to create a money-making lineup during the time of day some of us should be crunching digits at work.
This is also the week in which we should see some teams (Hawks, Kings and Lakers, Hello!) go into full tank mode. While the merits of tanking is a worthy subject, take a look at this week’s breakdowns to spot the hidden gems of youth that should see more playing time.
Mario Hezonja, G, Magic: Sizzling in his last three games before the All-Star Break, Hezonja averaged 22.7 points, 6.3 rebounds and three steals while filling in for the injured Aaron Gordon. He’s now at 50 percent ownership at CBSSports.com and even with Gordon likely to return in the next week or two, Hezonja should still hold some Fantasy value in a reduced role, especially in deeper leagues. Hezonja will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, and at only 22, the former lottery pick could wind up in a situation that makes him a 2018-19 Fantasy sleeper.
Bam Adebayo, C, Heat: Currently at 41 percent ownership at CBSSports.com, Adebayo has been a source of cheap production, averaging 10.1 points, 7.1 boards and 1.4 blocks per game this month. Like Hezonja, Adebayo’s production has been the product of an injury (Kelly Olynyk). Likewise, Adebayo has played well enough (16.96 Player Efficiency Rating) to deserve playing time. Also, you never know when the next Hassan Whiteside injury may come along, which would raise his value significantly.
Wilson Chandler, F, Nuggets: Wait, weren’t the Nuggets trying to move him before the trade deadline? After spending January as an afterthought, Chandler averaged 18 points in his last three games before the All-Star Break and added five rebounds and 3.3 assists. He’s now at 47 percent ownership in CBSSports.com leagues and will continue to get the bulk of the minutes at the three. With Paul Millsap still 3-4 weeks away from returning to the lineup, there’s no reason for Chandler to look over his shoulder when it comes to shots and usage rate.
Dewayne Dedmon, C, Hawks: Atlanta is on cruise control to gather as many ping-pong balls for the Lottery (my friends at nbadraftlottery.com project the Hawks to select Michigan State’s Jaren Jackson Jr.), which is why Dedmon’s first opportunity with extended minutes has been mostly overlooked. Dedmon has a solid 17.10 PER while making the most of his 16.6 percent usage rate. He had a pair of double-doubles before managing eight points and seven boards in 25 minutes of a blowout loss to the Pistons before the break. He’s owned in 62 percent of CBSSports.com leagues and should be a good source for rebounds and a boost to a Fantasy team’s field goal percentage the rest of the way.
Royce O’Neale, F, Jazz: With a name fit for a 1970s action flick, O’Neale has been making opponents look like suckas and jive turkeys with three games of at least 30 Fantasy points in his last seven, including a season-high 37.50 FP effort against the Spurs on February 6. He’s gone from averaging just three minutes per game in October to 35.7 minutes per game in three starts. O’Neale comes cheap at FanDuel ($4,300), a price any DFS-playing soul brother can dig.
Ivica Zubac, C, Lakers: You’re a flat-out liar if you had Zubac in your DFS lineup on Thursday night when the G-League grad put up 33.75 FP against the Timberwolves. Zubac had 19 points and 11 boards in just 20 minutes and should continue to see his minutes rise, as the Lakers intend to use the rest of the season to evaluate their young talent. Full of youth (20) and size (7’1″, 240lbs.), now may be the time to start gambling with his $3,000 pricetag at DraftKings.
J.R. Smith, G, Cavaliers: In case you forgot how wicked sick Smith’s hops still are, we present Exhibit A, your Honor. The walking NBA embodiment of “streaky” appears to be in the early stages of such a run, recording a combined 61.50 Fantasy points in Cleveland’s last two games before the ASB. Smith is white-hot from beyond the arc (60.6 percent in his last five), making him a nifty play at FantasyDraft for just $9,000.
Thon Maker, C, Bucks: You’ll want to consider plunking down $3,800 at FanDuel for Maker on Friday. For some reason, Maker brings his A-game against the Raptors, having recorded a combined 57.40 FP against We the North. Maker in your DFS lineup means more money to add a beast like Maker’s teammate, Giannis Antetokounmpo ($11,700), who produced 47.30 and 41.50 FP in two previous games against the Raptors.
Thursday: Bradley Beal, G, Wizards (at Cavaliers, $8,700/FanDuel): B-Double has scorched the Cavs’ 27th-ranked scoring defense for 45.80 and 42.50 Fantasy points in the two previous meetings this season. Even with a revamped roster, I don’t see the Cavs slowing Beal down.
Friday: Josh Jackson, F, Suns (vs. Clippers, $5,700/DraftKings): Jackson has at least 30 FP in eight of his last 11, including a season-best 46.25 FP against the Nuggets on February 10. His usage rate has hovered near 26 percent over the past month and while his game is still raw, Jackson is putting the pieces of his game together faster than expected.
Saturday: Joel Embiid, C, 76ers (vs. Magic, $11,700/FantasyDraft): Orlando is 27th in opponents’ rebounds allowed per game, and Embiid pulled down 14 in 29 minutes against them on November 25, a game in which he recorded 43.50 Fantasy points. Expect more of the same.
Sunday: Clint Capela, C, Rockets (at Nuggets, $32/Yahoo): The last time Capela faced the Nuggets, he racked up a season-best 56.50 FP. Capela has nine double-doubles in his last 12 games and came a combined three rebounds and a field goal short of making it a perfect dozen. He’s one of the few players who’s had the best of Denver’s Nikola Jokic this season, a club with a minute membership.
Hornets, Cavaliers, 76ers, Wizards
Celtics, Bulls, Mavericks, Nuggets, Pistons, Warriors, Rockets, Clippers, Lakers, Grizzlies, Heat, Bucks, Timberwolves, Pelicans, Knicks, Thunder, Magic, Suns, Trail Blazers, Kings, Spurs, Jazz
Hawks, Nets, Pacers, Raptors
Winners: Steph Curry and Friends return from the Break with a must-stack matchup at home versus a Clippers team that the Warriors have averaged 131 points against in two lopsided wins earlier this season before welcoming the Thunder for a Saturday night matchup. Kevin Durant put up 42.70 Fantasy points in a loss at OKC on February 6, but the 69.40 FP he tallied against the Blazers in the final game before the break could be a precursor to a monster second half. He’s worth the $10,200 at FanDuel.
Losers: Let the record reflect that I’m not picking on the Grizzlies. The schedule continues to do no favors for Memphis, who welcome a revived Cavs averaging 120.5 points since overhauling their roster. There’s a sliver of hope in Saturday’s trip to play a Heat squad that limped into the break having lost seven of eight. Then again, the Grizzlies have lost seven straight, failing to score more than 92 points in four of their last five. If you must have a Grizz in your DFS lineup, Tyreke Evans ($7,600 at DraftKings) is the best option, having scored at least 40 Fantasy points in three of his last seven contests.