Week 22 Matchup Rankings
This weekly ranking is based on opponents’ points given up per possession based on pace.
Playoff should be finished or just about finished across the board, if you’ve made it this far in the playoffs, you probably don’t need my advice. So the rest of the year I will focus on roto or keeper based leagues. If you have any questions or topics you’d like me to cover, send them to me on @WatchTheBoxes.
Right now you should be focusing on gain points in the categories that you can move the most in. While it is much easier to gain quick blocks versus changing your season long field goal percentage, it might be worth focusing on FG% if you stand to gain multiple points with just a small increase. Blocks are probably the easiest category to gain ranks in. There are always block guys on the waiver wire (i.e. Biyombo, Henson, Nurkic), and a few great block nights can really change the landscape of that category.
Steals and three-pointers are the next two categories that can usually be found of the waivers. There are three point specialists that don’t do much else, and both of these categories are low volume stats. Usually there are a few people who do not have a good bunch of shooters or thieves on their team, so the middle of those categories are wide open. With the influx of three-pointers this season, and the insane production of Klay, Curry, Dame, etc… there is a greater deviation on three’s than in years past. Still you should be able to find guys like Bojan or Isaiah Canaan who don’t do much but shoot threes to help you out.
Assists seem like they would be easy to makeup, but there will always be a lack of assists on the waiver wire since most starting guards will be drafted from the beginning of the year, and by this state the stragglers will be picked up. Be on the lookout for injures that would boost point guard production for a bench player to make a move in assists.
Rebounds and points are the next hardest for similar reasons. Elite rebounders or scorers are always rostered, but also everyone can score and rebound. After the elite guys in these categories, the variance between the mid-tier and low-tier players is minimal. This means making up ground when you are behind is all the harder as you cannot really get or find more production than someone who is already averaging more than you. I would only focus on these categories if you stand to make substantial gains in your overall score.
Free throws is actually not that bad of a category to focus on, and often overlooked. Incredibly unglamorous, but you can often find guys on the waiver wire who can actually help move your percentages. Since the total number of free throws is much lower, a few great nights can actually change that percentage enough to bump you past close competitors.
Field goal percentage is just too tough to focus on. Moving a percentage based on totals that large takes too much work. If you want to make significant changes to your field goal you need to start around the trade deadline and change multiple players on your team. This is more of a philosophy change than a quick end-of-year run strategy.
Turnovers are often overlooked, but should be overlooked. Most people punt them because the best players have the most potential to turn the ball over due to usage rates. The real reason you cannot make a run in turnovers, though, is the fact that the best way to gain points in turnovers is to stop playing games. You can focus on big men perhaps, and that might help a tad, but you will suffer in other categories. Unless you are set in your guard categories, keep playing guys no matter their turnovers. Turnovers are too volatile from game to game to make a quick run in. You can perhaps forgo playing a guy or two in his last two games if you are that close in the turnover race, but that is the only stretch of games to make your run in.
What to Watch This Week
Phoenix vs Minnesota
Knight’s return has hindered Devin Bookers’ breakout potential as a full 9-cat guard, but Phoenix has five starters that are playing quality minutes and are worth owning in all formats. A feat that not all teams can actually claim. Down the stretch though, Minnesota can claim that feat. They have five solid young guys who are playing large minutes. Keep them in your rotation for the stretch.
Charlotte vs Philadelphia
Batum is back to his old tricks of filling up the stat line, which probably means he will get hurt soon. Batum could be an amazing fantasy player if he can just stay on the court. He hopefully will for the rest of the season and maybe he can get Kemba to starting hitting his shots. Covington has returned to Philadelphia’s lineup and while he is not starting, he has played close to 30 minutes per game, which is a good sign. Covington is a must-own for the last stretch of the season. Pick him up in all leagues where he is still available.
Miami vs Lakers
It is unknown if Bosh will return this season, and while that is sad news for anyone who likes basketball, it has meant that the rest of the team has had to figure out how to play without him. It has boosted Deng’s value, Dragic has had more room to work and the ball in his hands more, Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson have gotten more minutes, and Whiteside, well he’s just doing Whiteside things. Even Joe Johnson has found his way back from the grave, maybe it’s the weather? Randle has exploded over the last week in what will hopefully be his full unleashing for the rest of the season. There should be no reason for the Lakers to keep Randle from consistently playing major a major role down the stretch, but Byron Scott can always ruin the best of plans.
Brooklyn vs Cleveland
Bojan has surprisingly been a great late season addition to fantasy squads. Thad Young put together a horrible group of games of the last week. Young is still starting, does not seem to be hurt or have any sort of major problems in the rotation. I would imagine this is just an arbitrary slump, and if any owners have cut him from their team, feel free to pick him up. Mo Williams could be a nice late pickup if the Cavs plan on playing him close to the 30 minutes he’s seen over the last two weeks. I would happily take a flyer on him down the stretch.
Orlando vs Bucks
Henson is playing his way back into the rotation after being out with back issues for the last month and a half. Players recovering from back issues usually tend to produce inconsistent results until they are fully healed, but Henson has been out long enough that he could be healthy enough to be owned. He is always consistent with blocks no matter his minutes, but in the last week, he has averaged 21 minutes per game. If Henson can earn more playing time to help bolster the Bucks defense, he could swing your blocks race in a short amount of time.
Detroit vs Chicago
Jackson has completely lost his shot over the last two weeks, killing his production and also allowing his minutes to dip under 30 per game. Jackson has never been a huge factor in steals, but he is struggling to even produce more than a couple steals per month. It is not an ideal time for Jackson to slump in this phase of the fantasy season, but his ability is too great for him to be dropped unless you are in the most desperate of playoff series. In 9-cat leagues it is hard to justify owning all five Bulls starters. It would also require the Bulls to have the same starting lineup for more than two games in a row, which they haven’t had for about five years. Butler does not look like the same guy that was tearing up the rankings before his injury. Since they are in a playoff race, expect him to finish the season out instead of taking any rest (because we all know how great that works out, right Derrick?).
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