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At long last, Jonathan Isaac is back

Jonathan Issac

Jonathan Issac

© Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

After more than 900 days, Jonathan Isaac played in an NBA game. He was restricted to 8-10 minutes for Monday’s game against the Celtics, but that was all the time he needed to show off some of the skills that made him a valued fantasy option before knee and hamstring injuries shelved Isaac for more than two years. Isaac finished Orlando’s win over the Celtics with 10 points, three rebounds, one assist, two steals, and two 3-pointers. Following the game, Isaac did note that fatigue was an issue during his first stint on the court Monday night, but the second went considerably better.

Isaac finished the game with a usage of 30.8, the highest on the team. How much of that was a function of how the Magic want to play offensively moving forward? And how much of it was Isaac’s teammates doing all they could to get him the ball? Regardless of the answers, now’s the time for fantasy managers who held off on adding Isaac to change that. He’s rostered in 36% of Yahoo leagues, and that number should skyrocket before Orlando hosts Indiana Wednesday night.

The Magic have three more games this week with a back-to-back (at Miami on Friday and Chicago at home on Saturday), so Isaac may be looking at two appearances. Add a likely minute restriction, and Isaac’s impact may be muted compared to the 2019-20 campaign (top 20 in 9-cat). But he’s well worth the wait, even if we’ll also have to see what Orlando’s preferred rotation looks like.

Patrick Williams (36%)

Williams’ modest scoring is one reason he remains outside the top 100 in 9-cat formats. But when you’re part of a starting lineup that includes Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, and Nikola Vučević, it’s known that the scoring opportunities will be limited. That makes production in other categories of even greater importance, which has been missing for Williams. That wasn’t the case on Monday, as he supplemented his 18 points with 10 rebounds, two assists, one steal, and two 3-pointers in a 111-100 win over the Hawks.

The rebounds were a season-high for Williams, who has reached double figures in that category five times in three seasons. He’s grabbed at least five in four of his last five games, and continued progress in that category will enhance his value. Chicago has three more games this week, so Williams won’t lack the opportunities to show that Monday’s performance wasn’t a fluke.

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Tari Eason (17%)

Eason was in the starting lineup for the second consecutive game, as starting power forward Jabari Smith was again sidelined due to a sprained ankle. Eason rewarded managers who streamed him with a line of 11 points, nine rebounds, three assists, three steals, and two blocks in 26 minutes as Houston beat Minnesota to end its 13-game losing streak. Smith was initially listed as questionable for Monday’s game, so he may be back as soon as Wednesday night against the Wizards. That isn’t great for Eason’s fantasy prospects in the short term, but at the very least, he’s worth tracking in preparation for the “silly season.” If the Rockets finally move Eric Gordon, Eason is one player who stands to benefit.

Dennis Smith Jr. (27%)

Smith isn’t starting, but he remains a solid streaming play with LaMelo Ball (left ankle, right wrist) sidelined. He played 29 minutes off the bench in Monday’s loss to the Jazz, recording a stat line of 15 points, three rebounds, and nine assists. Smith’s shooting 38.5% from the field over the last week, but he was 6-of-11 on Monday. Ball doesn’t have a timeline for return, so Smith is worth picking up until that changes. And with Charlotte well off the pace for a play-in tournament slot, there really isn’t a reason to even consider playing Ball before he’s fully healthy. Add in multiple players being the subject of trade rumors, and Smith could be a fantasy target come February.

Jeremy Sochan (23%)

Sochan hasn’t been a great fantasy option this season, as he sits well outside the top 200 in 9-cat formats for the season. However, he’s been a 7th-round player over the last week and finished Monday’s loss to the Blazers with 18 points, six rebounds, four assists, one block, and two 3-pointers in 28 minutes. Sochan’s starting and playing good minutes and the need to further develop his offensive skill set makes him an attractive fantasy option. We’ve seen Gregg Popovich use the rookie at point guard in the past, and the developmental needs may keep Sochan away from the random “rest” days later in the season.

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Trey Lyles (6%)

Lyles isn’t technically used as a center by the Kings, but he is eligible for the position in Yahoo leagues. With Chimezie Metu‘s leg injury leaving the Kings light in the post rotation, Lyles was of greater importance than usual in Monday’s game against the Grizzlies. And he went off, scoring 24 points with seven rebounds, two steals, three blocks, and six 3-pointers in 25 minutes off the bench. Before scoring nine points on 3-of-12 shooting in games against the Thunder and 76ers, Lyles had a six-game stretch in which he averaged 13.3 points, 5.0 rebounds, 0.7 assists, 1.0 blocks, and 1.7 3-pointers in 20.6 minutes, shooting 65.8% from the field and 87.0% from the foul line.

Metu’s injury leaves Mike Brown with one less option to call upon behind starting center Domantas Sabonis, and the backup center position has been a question mark for the Kings. So why not roll the dice on Lyles, even with the Kings only playing two more games this week?