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The Week Ahead

The Week Ahead

by Jonas Nader
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

With only three days of the regular season left, things are about to get even crazier in the NBA. As I said in the Monday Daily Dose, at this point teams are usually resting up for the playoffs, fighting for playoff seeding or tanking for a draft pick. There are even some teams still playing veterans in meaningless games because of coaches wanting to pump up their resume (I’m looking at you, Kurt Rambis). Anyways, let’s take a quick team-by-team look at what we can expect to see this week. For NBA news and fantasy advice, click here to follow me on Twitter!

 

Note- Injury report is accurate as of 2:00 pm ET

 

Atlanta Hawks- The Hawks are trying to hold off the Celtics and the Heat in order to keep the No. 3 seed in the East, and they’re currently one game ahead of both teams. The good news is that the risk of their key players picking up a rest day is pretty low. Paul Millsap, Al Horford, Jeff Teague and Kent Bazemore should be safe plays this week.

 

Schedule- Tuesday vs. Cavaliers, Wednesday vs. Wizards

 

 

Brooklyn Nets- They have a 21-59 record, so it has to sting that they owe their first-round pick to the Celtics. That hasn’t stopped them from shutting their keys guy down, and they’re currently evaluating all of the lower-end players on their roster. Thomas Robinson has emerged as the only reliable player in recent weeks and has been putting up double-doubles for fun, but he injured his knee on Sunday and is questionable for Monday’s game. The only other players I would consider playing from the Nets are Sean Kilpatrick and Markel Brown in deeper formats.

 

Schedule- Monday vs. Wizards, Wednesday vs. Raptors

 

 

Boston Celtics- They are the No. 4 seed in the East and have the same record as the No. 5 seed (Miami). They are only one game behind the Hawks for the No. 3 seed, so they likely won’t be resting any studs this week. Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Evan Turner and Jae Crowder all look like solid plays.

 

Schedule- Monday vs. Hornets, Wednesday vs. Heat

 

 

Charlotte Hornets- They are the No. 6 seed in the East and can’t fall any further than that. However, they are just one game behind the Celtics and Heat, and coach Steve Clifford already said he has no plans to rest his key players. This means that Nicolas Batum, Kemba Walker and Marvin Williams are safe to use in all formats.

 

Recent injuries- Cody Zeller (bruised sternum) is questionable for Monday's game, so Al Jefferson and Frank Kaminsky could be looking at more minutes.

 

Schedule- Monday vs. Celtics, Wednesday vs. Magic

 

 

Chicago Bulls- They were eliminated from the playoff race when the Pacers beat the Nets on Sunday, and they have already started shutting down their key guys. Derrick Rose (rest) and Pau Gasol (knee) will not play again this season, and it’s possible that Jimmy Butler could be next. Butler is on track to play on Monday which makes no sense to me, but I would expect his minutes to be limited. If the Bulls are smart, they will use this week to evaluate guys like Bobby Portis, Doug McDermott and Cristiano Felicio.

 

Recent injuries- Gasol (knee), Rose (body), Taj Gibson (ribs) and E’Twaun Moore (hamstring) will not play again this season.

 

Schedule- Monday vs. Pelicans, Wednesday vs. 76ers

 

 

Cavaliers- They are two games ahead of the Raptors for the No. 1 seed in the East, but they need to win one more game to secure the top seed because the Raptors own the tiebreaker if they finish with the same record. As always, don’t be surprised to see Kyrie Irving, LeBron James and Kevin Love get one final maintenance day before the postseason. J.R. Smith and Tristan Thompson could have big nights if any of the three key guys get a rest day.

 

Recent injuries- Mo Williams (knee) and Iman Shumpert (knee) are both day-to-day. Williams isn’t in the rotation and Shumpert’s absence has opened the door for Smith to play more.

 

Schedule- Monday vs. Hawks, Wednesday vs. Pistons

 

 

Mavericks- They’re currently the No. 7 seed in the West and are just one game ahead of the No. 8 seed (Jazz). They have two incredibly tough games left on the schedule, so they will not be resting any key players. Dirk Nowitzki belongs in all lineups, while Deron Williams and J.J. Barea are both worth a look if they play. Wesley Matthews has been ice cold and is too risky to use in most cases, while Justin Anderson has been impressive apart from a couple duds and is  also worth a look. Don’t laugh, but Raymond Felton has been pretty impressive as well. 

 

Recent injuries- Deron Williams (sports hernia) is expected to play Monday, but Barea (groin) is a game-time call.

 

Schedule- Monday vs. Jazz, Wednesday vs. Spurs

 

 

Nuggets- They don’t have much to play for, so they have been giving their younger guys an extended look. Kenneth Faried (rest) likely won’t play again, so Jusuf Nurkic and Nikola Jokic will be strong plays during the final game of the season on Wednesday vs. Portland. Other than those two bigs, I wouldn’t trust any other Nugget in season-long leagues with just one game on the schedule. Emmanuel Mudiay is worth a look in DFS, though.

 

Schedule- Wednesday vs. Blazers

 

Recent injuries- Faried (back, rest) is not expected to play Wednesday.

 

 

Pistons- They are the No. 8 seed in the East, but they have officially claimed a playoff spot. They have the same record as the No. 7 seed (Pacers), but Indiana owns the tiebreaker. Don’t expect Reggie Jackson, Andre Drummond, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope or Marcus Morris to rest because the Pistons don’t want to play the Cavaliers in the first round. 

 

Schedule- Tuesday vs. Heat, Wednesday vs. Cavaliers

 

 

Warriors- They are having a historic season and have the No. 1 seed in the West locked up. However, all of their studs will play in the final game of the season on Wednesday vs. Memphis because they will set the record for the most wins in NBA history (73) with a victory. This means that Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and even Harrison Barnes are safe to use this week.

 

Schedule- Wednesday vs. Grizzlies

 

 

Rockets- They have to win their final two games of the season and will need some help as well. The Rockets are currently the No. 9 seed and are one game behind the No. 8 seed (Utah) and two games behind the No. 7 seed (Dallas). Needless to say, James Harden, Trevor Ariza, Patrick Beverley and Dwight Howard won’t be rested this week. They are the only Houston players you can trust in fantasy, though.

 

Schedule- Monday vs. Wolves, Wednesday vs. Kings

 

 

Pacers- They have qualified for the postseason and are sitting in seventh place in the East. The Pistons have the same record, but Indiana owns the tiebreaker. Even with the Pacers battling for playoff seeding, Paul George is considering resting for the final two games. The Pacers do have two very winnable games even without George, so his owners should keep a close on the injury report. Monta Ellis, George Hill, Ian Mahinmi and even Myles Turner are worth deploying this week, though Turner is pretty risky for his inconsistency. 

 

Schedule- Tuesday vs. Knicks, Wednesday vs. Bucks

 

 

Clippers- They have secured the No. 4 seed in the West and can’t move up or down in the standings. Chris Paul, J.J. Redick, DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin are expected to play on Tuesday vs. the Grizzlies, but they will likely rest on Wednesday vs. Phoenix. If they do sit on Wednesday, I’ll be eager to use Cole Aldrich and Jamal Crawford in all my lineups. 

 

Schedule- Tuesday vs. the Grizzlies, Wednesday vs. Suns

 

 

Lakers- They have tanked successfully and have secured the second worst record in the league. Byron Scott might be a terrible coach, but at least the Lakers will get a sweet pick because of him. They now have a 55.8 percent chance to keep their top-3 protected pick this summer. Kobe Bryant will play in both games this week, while D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson and Julius Randle should all get a heavy dose of minutes.

 

Schedule- Monday vs. Thunder, Wednesday vs. Jazz

Grizzlies- They are limping into the postseason and have no shot of making it out of the first round of the playoffs. They are the No. 6 seed in the West and are 0.5 games behind the Blazers, but it’s still possible that some of their key guys will get a rest day. Keep an eye on the status of Matt Barnes, Tony Allen and Zach Randolph this week.

 

Recent injuries- Tony Allen is day-to-day with a strained hamstring.

 

Schedule- Tuesday vs. Clippers, Wednesday vs. Warriors

 

 

 

Heat- They are the No. 5 seed in the East and are still fighting for playoff seeding. The No. 4 seed (Celtics) has the same record, while they are just one game ahead of the No. 6 seed (Hornets). The Heat may be tempted to give Dwyane Wade a night off (the back-to-back set scares me), but it depends on how bad they want to move up in the standings. Hassan Whiteside and Goran Dragic look like very strong plays this week in all formats.

 

Recent injuries- Justise Winslow (knee) is day-to-day but is not expected to miss any time.

 

Schedule- Tuesday vs. Pistons, Wednesday vs. Celtics.

 

 

Timberwolves- They have nothing to play for except a draft pick, but they have been impressive lately and will continue to give their young studs as many minutes as they can handle. Karl-Anthony Towns, Ricky Rubio, Andrew Wiggins, Zach LaVine and Gorgui Dieng are safe to use in all formats.

 

Schedule- Monday vs. Rockets, Wednesday vs. Pelicans

 

 

Bucks- They are tanking for a better pick and have been acting shady lately, and you just never know who they could rest next. Khris Middleton, Jabari Parker and Giannis Antetokounmpo should be pretty safe to use, but coach Jason Kidd is full of surprises. If Greg Monroe gets another maintenance day, John Henson becomes a must-start player in all formats. 

 

Schedule- Monday vs. Magic, Wednesday vs. Pacers.

 

 

Pelicans- They have been tanking ever since they shut Anthony Davis and several other players down, but there are still some hidden gems on the roster that have been making some noise. Alexis Ajinca, Tim Frazier and Toney Douglas are worth starting in all leagues, while Luke Babbitt, Jordan Hamilton and James Ennis all have some sneaky value in deeper formats as well. They don’t have many healthy bodies, so they won’t be resting anybody.

 

Schedule- Monday vs. Bulls, Wednesday vs. Wolves

 

 

Knicks- They don’t own their first-round pick and have no incentive to tank, but coach Kurt Rambis is trying to save his job by playing his veterans in meaningless games. That’s good news for Carmelo Anthony and Robin Lopez, and as of right now they’re still expected to play in the season finale. They are the only two players on the roster you can trust right now.

 

Recent injuries- Kristaps Porzingis (shoulder) is not expected to play again this season. 

 

Schedule- Tuesday vs. Pacers

 

 

Thunder- They have secured the No. 3 seed in the West and can’t move up or down in the standings. Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka could get one more maintenance day before the playoffs, so Enes Kanter shouldn’t be on the wire in most leagues. 

 

Schedule- Monday vs. Lakers, Wednesday vs. Spurs

 

 

Magic- They can’t make the playoffs and may tank their last couple games to get a few more ping pong balls for the lottery. Aaron Gordon and Victor Oladipo are both likely out for the season with concussions, so the only players you can trust this week are Nikola Vucevic, Evan Fournier and Elfrid Payton. Mario Hezonja is also a decent option.

 

Recent injuries- See above.

 

Schedule- Monday vs. Bucks, Wednesday vs. Hornets

 

 

76ers- They have secured the worst record in the league and will have a 25 percent shot at the No. 1 draft pick, but they made a terrible mistake by letting Sam Hinkie leave the front office. Anyways, the 76ers are running out of healthy bodies, so expect big things from Ish Smith, Robert Covington, Jerami Grant and Nerlens Noel this week.

 

Recent injuries- Carl Landry is day-to-day with a back issue and Isaiah Canaan (shoulder) is done for the season.

 

Schedule- Tuesday vs. Raptors, Wednesday vs. Bulls

 

 

Suns- Their season didn’t go as planned, but they have an incredibly bright future because of the emergence of Devin Booker. They will continue to tank the last two games of their season, but Booker, Alex Len, P.J. Tucker and Tyson Chandler should all see heavy minutes. 

 

Recent injuries- Tyson Chandler left Saturday’s game vs. the Pelicans with an undisclosed injury, so be on the lookout for an update. 

 

Schedule- Monday vs. Kings, Wednesday vs. Clippers

 

 

Blazers- They are trying to lock up the No. 5 seed in the West and only have one game left of their season, so I can’t see them resting their studs. Damian Lillard, C.J. McCollum, Mason Plumlee, Al-Farouq Aminu and Moe Harkless should be safe to play.

 

Schedule- Wednesday vs. Nuggets

 

 

Spurs- They lost a tough game vs. the Warriors on Sunday to end their unbeaten streak at home, so they may be tempted to keep resting their key guys with the No. 2 seed locked up. LaMarcus Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard are the only players I would use in weekly lineups, even if they play just one game.

 

Schedule- Tuesday vs. Thunder, Wednesday vs. Mavericks

 

 

Kings- They have already shut down DeMarcus Cousins for the season and Rajon Rondo and Rudy Gay could be next. The Kings want to keep their top-10 protected draft pick, so they will try to tank their next two games. Darren Collison, Seth Curry and Willie-Cauley-Stein are really the only safe plays this week unless Rondo and Gay keep playing. 

 

Schedule- Monday vs. Suns, Wednesday vs. Rockets

 

 

Raptors- They will need to win both of their remaining games and will also need Cleveland to lose their final two in order to get the top seed in the East, but that’s very unlikely. With a back-to-back set coming up on Tuesday and Wednesday, the Raptors may give Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan another day off. Apart from those studs, the only other Raptors I would play this week are Norman Powell and Jonas Valanciunas, assuming he isn’t rested as well.

 

Schedule- Tuesday vs. 76ers, Wednesday vs. Nets

 

 

Jazz- They are currently the No. 8 seed in the West and one game behind Dallas and one game ahead of Houston. They obviously won’t be resting their key guys, so Gordon Hayward, Rudy Gobert, Rodney Hood and Shelvin Mack are strong plays. 

 

Recent injuries- Derrick Favors is day-to-day with knee soreness, but Trey Lyles becomes a must-start player if Favors misses any more action. Lyles had 22 points, six boards and four 3-pointers in his last start.

 

Schedule- Monday vs. Mavericks, Wednesday vs. Lakers

 

 

Wizards- Arguably one of the most disappointing teams in the East, the Wizards can’t make the playoffs and may start shutting down their key guys this week. At this point, the only players you can trust are Marcin Gortat, Markieff Morris, Ramon Session and Otto Porter. To be clear, it’s still possible that some of these guys are rested as well.

 

Recent injuries- Bradley Beal is dealing with a sore pelvis again which is the same injury that forced him to miss three games in March, so his season could be over. As for John Wall (knee), the Wizards have no incentive to play their franchise player at less than 100 percent and he already admitted that he likely won’t play again this season.

 

Schedule- Monday vs. Nets, Wednesday vs. Hawks