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Austin Reaves remains valuable

Austin Reaves

Austin Reaves

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

With the Lakers being one team that will play four games in Week 21, and LeBron James still sidelined by a foot injury, their roster is worth a look for fantasy playoff matchups. And Austin Reaves, who’s rostered in 40% of Yahoo leagues, is one player worthy of fantasy consideration. While he’s ranked outside the top 150 in 9-cat, per-game value for the season, Reaves has been a top 100 player over the last two weeks. Playing 25 minutes off the bench in Sunday’s loss to the Knicks, he recorded a solid line of 13 points, one rebound, four assists, and one 3-pointer.

With Dennis Schröder (51%) already past the 40% threshold and bound to take a hit due to the return of D’Angelo Russell, Reaves is the only Lakers reserve worthy of being considered at this point in the season. Over his last seven games, he’s averaging 15.1 points, 2.0 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 0.6 steals, 0.4 blocks, and 1.4 3-pointers in 27.3 minutes, shooting 55.9% from the field and 85.7% from the foul line. A helpful addition to end Week 20, Reaves will be worth holding onto through Week 21 due to the schedule, as mentioned above.

At this point in the season, leagues have either already begun their playoffs or will do so next week (Yahoo default leagues begin in Week 21). Therefore, many fantasy managers are scraping the proverbial barrel in search of value adds, more often than not looking for players whose roles will be expanded for injury-related reasons. Let’s take a look at a few of the top pickups from Sunday’s six-game slate.

Dennis Smith Jr. (37%) and Nick Richards (33%)

Already without LaMelo Ball for the rest of the season, the Hornets were without Kelly Oubre (back) and Mark Williams (thumb) for Sunday’s game against the Cavaliers. Smith stepped into the void left by Oubre, while Richards made a second consecutive start for Williams. And both had good days, even if the Hornets lost the game. Smith played 37 minutes, accounting for 14 points, eight rebounds, seven assists, and three steals while committing two turnovers (Terry Rozier had eight). As for Richards, he posted a double-double of 15 points and 12 rebounds while also tallying four assists and three blocked shots in 32 minutes.

Charlotte only plays two games in Week 21, but there’s no reason why they would rush back Oubre or Williams. Managers who streamed Smith and/or Richards should hold onto them until we get an injury update ahead of Tuesday’s game against the Cavaliers, as there will still be time to pick up a player on a team that will be more active if Oubre and Williams are cleared to return.

Devonte’ Graham (25%)

San Antonio is in a similar position to Charlotte, with the team not having a reason to have more established players play through injury. Keldon Johnson (foot), Tre Jones (illness), and Jeremy Sochan (knee) all sat out Sunday’s loss to the Thunder, and Malaki Branham (shoulder) exited after playing a handful of minutes. The absences of Johnson and Jones opened the door for Graham to enter the starting lineup, and he finished Sunday’s game with 20 points, three rebounds, three assists, one steal, one block, and four 3-pointers in 32 minutes. San Antonio plays four games in Week 21, beginning with a home back-to-back against the Magic and Mavericks, which is a good reason to hold onto Graham for a little bit.

Josh Richardson (21%)

New Orleans was again without Brandon Ingram (ankle) on Sunday. While Naji Marshall (9%) remained in the starting lineup, J-Rich was the player who offered legitimate fantasy value. He played 28 minutes off the bench in the Pelicans’ rout of Portland, scoring 19 points to go along with two rebounds, one assist, four steals, two blocks, and four 3-pointers. The shot isn’t always there, but Richardson has been close to a top-100 player over the last two weeks. New Orleans playing three games in Week 21 isn’t great, but Richardson can still have value even after Ingram is cleared to return.

Corey Kispert (7%)

There were no changes to the Wizards’ lineup ahead of the team’s loss to Philadelphia, but Kispert’s performance does need to be acknowledged. He scored a team and season-high 25 points off the bench, shooting 9-of-13 from the field and 4-of-4 from the foul line. In addition to the point total Kispert, the lone Wizard to surpass the 20-point mark, accounted for three rebounds, one assist, and three 3-pointers in 33 minutes. He isn’t in a great spot moving forward due to Washington playing three games in Week 21, and the team is relatively healthy. But Kispert rewarded the few remaining holdouts...or at least those who may have forgotten to drop him.

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