The fantasy basketball playoffs are in full swing! With leagues nearly wrapped with the quarterfinal round, it's time to start looking ahead at next week's matchups and strategizing how to maximize your roster moves for a championship run.
I'll lay out the teams you'll want to avoid and exploit below, each with recommendations of a few players and some look-ahead planning for the next round.
The fantasy gods aren't kind to the Nuggets in Week 22; they play only two games, with one of those games on Wednesday's big 10-game slate. Beyond the schedule, the opponents aren't favorable either; They square off against the Wizards on Wednesday (bottom-10 in Pace this season) and play the Bucks on Saturday (arguably the best defensive team in the league).
While I'm not concerned about Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, Michael Porter Jr. and Aaron Gordon, it's the Kentavious Caldwell-Pope's and Bruce Brown's of the world whom you'll likely have to drop if you're looking to stream.
The Heat will be dealt a similar hand as the Nuggets in Week 22, facing a gritty New York Knicks team Wednesday and hosting the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday. With only two games, you can safely drop Kyle Lowry and fringe assets like Kevin Love, Victor Oladipo and Max Strus.
The Pistons are an easy fade with two games in Week 22, but beyond that, it's becoming increasingly difficult to trust Dwayne Casey and his rotations at this point. Killian Hayes has been great in the past three games, providing over 15 points, 10 assists and 3 rebounds, but his run could end with Jaden Ivey probable Thursday. I'm comfortable holding onto James Wiseman and Ivey until after Tuesday's game versus the Hawks. Still, Hayes, Jalen Duren and Cory Joseph will be hard to roster with their next game falling on Friday's 10-game slate.
If you're abandoning these three squads like I am in Week 22, here are the teams and players I'd be looking to exploit:
Los Angeles Clippers
There are a couple of reasons why I like the Clippers in Week 22. First, their three-game schedule dodges the bigger slates in Week 22. Secondly, they're facing the Thunder on Tuesday and Thursday and end the week against the Pelicans on Saturday.
Some options to stream: Eric Gordon (11%) has been a steady source of threes since joining the Clippers, hitting almost two per contest. Terance Mann (10%) appears to be turning the corner after hitting a slump when initially moving to a bench role several weeks ago. He's had at least 14 points with 4 rebounds while playing at least 25 minutes in two of his last three games.
Of course, these are deeper-league options, but with the Clippers tightening their rotation during their recent four-game win streak, the only other option to stream for low-end rebounds and stocks would be Mason Plumlee (48%).
No back-to-backs in a four-game week is a nice formula for fantasy production. Luka Doncic (quad) and Kyrie Irving (foot) are still nursing injuries, but Kyrie's situation looks more concerning.
I would pick up Jaden Hardy (14%) immediately, as he could be in for a higher workload in Week 22. He's played over 37 minutes in his last three games and is scoring at a high rate, dropping at least 22 points with 3 assists and 3 triples. He's grabbed six or more rebounds in his last two as well.
Another strong option is Josh Green, who's also putting up hefty numbers in Week 21, averaging 21.0 points, 6.0 rebounds, 6.0 assists and 2.7 threes while shooting 57% from the field over his last three games.
The Mavs play the Grizzlies and Warriors at the front end of the week, so it will be an important stretch for a team heading in the wrong direction in the Western Conference standings. Fortunately, they'll play the Charlotte Hornets on Friday and Saturday to finish the week against a fantasy-friendly unit.
New Orleans Pelicans
The Pelicans avoid the bigger slates in Week 22, playing on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. They also have nice matchups versus the Spurs and Hornets but not so much the Clippers.
There is little roster depth to choose from regarding streaming, but keep this in mind if there are any last-minute injuries to players like Brandon Ingram or Jonas Valanciunas. Josh Richardson (19%), Naji Marshall (6%) and Larry Nance Jr. (13%) will likely get a boost in playing time if either Ingram or Valanciunas sits.
Kenyon Martin Jr. (51%) and Tari Eason (40%) could be available in shallow leagues, and if they are, scoop them up. Three of the Rockets' four games are against favorable teams like the Warriors and Grizzlies (twice). Even though facing the Cavs offers some blowout potential, Martin is averaging 16 points with 6 rebounds while shooting 61% from the field over his previous eight games.
Eason only played 18 minutes against the Lakers on Wednesday, but he's been seeing his most minutes of the year in March, playing close to 27 per night and averaging 10.4 points and 6.5 rebounds with 2.1 stocks.
More teams/players to stream next week
Hawks: Onyeka Okongwu, De'Andre Hunter
Bulls: Patrick Beverley
Spurs: Devonte' Graham, Jeremy Sochan, Keita Bates-Diop
Kings: Malik Monk, Trey Lyles
Warriors: Donte DiVincenzo
Jazz: Talen Horton-Tucker, Kris Dunn
Thunder: Luguentz Dort
Pacers: T.J. McConnell, Isaiah Jackson
Grizzlies: Xavier Tillman, Tyus Jones, David Roddy
Blazers: Matisse Thybulle