Our new weekly fantasy basketball column, Risers and Fallers, takes a look at the players you should think about getting your hands on, as well as others you might want to start thinking about taking off your roster.
Let’s take a look at the league, starting in Memphis.
Jaren Jackson Jr.., PF/C, Memphis Grizzlies
Over the past month, Jackson has been a top 10 fantasy player with his 16.6 points, 7.6 rebounds, 1.1 steals, and a whopping 3.4 blocks while shooting well from everywhere (52.1 % FG and 79.6 FT%)). Jackson has helped propel the Grizzlies to the No. 2 seed in the West and they are just 0.5 games behind the Nuggets for the top spot. It also doesn’t hurt that they’ve won 11 straight games and it’s hard to believe that JJJ is only 23 years old.
Add to that the Grizzlies finishing the regular season on a 4-3-4-4-4-4 weekly schedule and JJJ looks like one of the top addition priorities in the entire league. It will come with a hefty starting price, but making a move for Jackson makes a lot of sense. And if you already have it, wait and enjoy the ride. If he keeps progressing at this rate, he’ll be a first-round fantasy pick for the next eight years or so.
nic claxtonPF/C, Brooklyn Networks
Claxton has been a top 15 fantasy player for the past 30 days and has developed into one of the most consistent and important players on the Nets. He has averaged 12.8 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 0.8 steals and 3.5 blocks in the last month, making 70.7% of his field goals.
His free throw is a problem under 60, but that’s the only hole in his game right now. They’ve finally released him to handle most of the center duties in Brooklyn and the Nets finish the regular season with a solid weekly schedule for the fantasy playoffs (4-4-3-4-3-4).
He’s worth trading if you don’t have to break the bank and he’s a perfect trade candidate between a coach wanting to unload his free kicks and another who’s already clearing them. Claxton finished Thursday’s game with 18 points, 10 rebounds, one steal and three blocks after going without a rebound in the first half.
Walker KesslerC, Utah Jazz
Kessler has been a top 20 player over the past two weeks, highlighted by his 20-point, 21-rebound, two-block performance against the Timberwolves on Monday. Walker is working off three straight double-doubles right now, has scored in double figures in four straight games and has reached double figures in rebounding in six of his last seven.
Yes, kelly olynyk (ankle) is hurt again, but the Jazz are only now beginning to realize what they have in Kessler. After a surprisingly strong start to the season, the Jazz are now awash, sitting sixth in the West with four teams trailing (including the Clippers and Warriors) by just .5 game and the Blazers just 1.0 game behind.
If they’re completely out of the hunt, Olynyk should become an afterthought and they’ll probably let Kessler do his thing to gain experience for next year. And even if the Jazz stay in the hunt, one of the reasons they’ll be there is Kessler. I love the prospect of him for the rest of the season and he’s probably been the most amazing rookie we’ve seen this year.
kyle andersonSF/PF, Minnesota Timberwolves
Anderson is having a good January and has been flirting with triple-doubles in his last three games. His January averages were 10.4 points, 6.0 rebounds, 6.4 assists, 1.9 steals, 1.1 blocks and 0.9 3-pointers coming into Thursday night and then he left with 20 points, 10 rebounds, six ten, two steals, one block and two triples. -pointers in that game. In his last three, SloMo has averaged 15.3 points, 10.7 rebounds, 8.0 assists, 2.3 steals, 1.0 blocks and 1.3 3-pointers. He’s not bad for a guy included in only 16% of ESPN leagues.
I have no idea how long this will go on, but it should be everywhere right now. He has been worth a seventh-round pick for the season and has been a second-round value the past two weeks. It should be included everywhere and I’m not sure even about the eventual returns of rudy goberto Y Karl Anthony Towns it can slow down your roll, so to speak.
Jalen DurenC, Detroit Pistons
Duren has been a Top 40 player for the past few weeks and has averaged 11.0 points, 10.5 rebounds, 1.5 steals and 1.0 blocks while shooting well from both the field (75%) and the line (80%) over that stretch.
The Pistons are one of the brazenest teams in the league right now, and they have no interest in winning any game they don’t accidentally walk into. And Duren not only turned 19 in November, but only appears in 9.7% of ESPN leagues. He is on his way to a great finish and should be included in many more leagues.
Onyeka OkongwuC, Atlanta Falcons
It was fun while it lasted but Clint CapelaThe 10-game layoff with calf injuries is over and he’s already starting to split minutes with Okongwu again. Okongwu has been a Top 40 player for the past three weeks and has given the Hawks a good look at what the center position in Atlanta might look like for the next 10 years or so.
Okongwu has averaged 10.3 points, 9.4 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.0 steals and 2.0 blocks in January, but we got a fresh dose of reality when Capela played on Monday and Wednesday. Okongwu saw his lowest two minute totals (25 and 27) since Dec. 27 and backed up a pair of 13- and 20-rebounding games with three and five, respectively, in Capela’s two games. Oh! For his part, Capela played more than 20 minutes in each one, scored in double digits and grabbed six rebounds in both.
The Hawks will probably look to move Capela and his huge salary at some point, but they also like his playoff experience and still think they’re a better team with him than without him. And that’s bad news for Okongwu and his fantasy managers. Hopefully, you were able to take care of him just before Capela’s return.
mitchell robinsonC, New York Knicks
You may be saying, “thanks, captain, obviously,” but in case you missed it, Robinson broke his thumb on Wednesday and will be sidelined for at least three weeks and probably a full month. And he is really very bad.
Robinson had averaged 6.9 points, 10.0 rebounds, 1.1 steals and 1.6 blocks in January and wasn’t taking enough free throws to hurt anyone. And while that’s bad news for his fantasy coaches, it’s also bad news for the Knicks, who are currently the No. 7 seed in the East. Isaiah Hartenstein, jericho sims Y obi toppin it will be completed in the center over the next month or so, but none of its issues jump off the page. It’s going to be a committee downtown, and while I don’t know who will emerge, I’d guess Hartenstein could be the most consistent of the trio.
But what I do know is that the Knicks’ interior defense took a huge hit with the loss of Mitchell and fantasy managers will either have to hide him on the IR or leave him and move on.
Terry RozierPG/SG, Charlotte Hornets
Rozier is still cooking for the Hornets, but they are in a close race for Victor Wembanyama and Rozier is a 28-year veteran who averaged 24.6 points in January. At some point, logic would dictate that the Hornets shut him down, citing a back injury or some other ailment.
It makes sense to ride it until the wheels fall off, and while there’s no guarantee they’ll actually put it out, it makes sense that they would. Charlotte has a decent playoff schedule, but they also have a two-game week right in the heart of the fantasy playoffs (week 22). Now seems like a good time to start thinking about dealing with him while his fantasy value is high, even with the loss of LaMelo Ball to an ankle injury on Wednesday.
Chris PaulPG, Phoenix Suns
Paul has missed 20 games so far and the Suns are floundering without him, even though they barely held on against the Nets last night after opening up a 24-point second-half lead. Heading into victory Thursday, Phoenix had lost 12 of its last 14 games and three in a row.
Paul is currently dealing with a hip injury, but his 37-year-old knees also have plenty of miles, and it will be impossible to rely on him going forward. And since they’re currently the No. 12 seed in the West, Paul will be one of the front-runners if they don’t make an immediate run once he and Devin Booker They’re healthy. Let CP3 come back and post a couple of solid lines and then do what you can to move him around.
Michael Porter Jr.., SF/PF, Denver Nuggets
It’s starting to look like MPJ is a better player in real life than in fantasy. He has averaged 15.1 points, 4.7 rebounds, 0.7 assists, 0.4 steals, 0.6 blocks and 2.5 three-pointers on 48.3% shooting in January.
He’s barely been worth a 10th-round pick in the last month and nothing I’ve seen leads me to believe that he’ll suddenly turn around and become the fantasy monster we’ve all been waiting for. And with much of the offense in Denver going through Nicholas Jokic Y jamal murraywith aaron gordon also contributing a healthy amount, Porter seems to be stuck in role-player land.
Let him warm up for a couple of games and then move him for a more reliable/valuable option. And while the Nuggets play many four-game weeks in the fantasy playoffs, they also have just two games in that crucial Week 23.
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