The trade deadline is fast approaching

Week 16 is the last full week of action before the February 9 trade deadline, meaning fantasy managers are running out of time to identify players worth putting away until after that day. Talks aimed at players like Jakob Poeltl, Eric Gordon and Jae Crowder will only intensify between now and the deadline, so some interesting decisions could be made regarding injury management to ensure some guys stay healthy until the deadline. Let’s take a look at some of the main storylines in Week 16.

Week 16 Schedule: Games played



2 games: BOS, UTA

Main storylines of week 16

All eyes are on the Raptors, who are arguably the most important team at the trade deadline

Toronto enters a four-game Week 16 in 12th in the East, trailing Washington and Chicago by two games in the losing column. They’ll play all four games on the go, starting Monday in Phoenix, with matchups against the Jazz, Rockets and Grizzlies following. With the contract statuses of Fred VanVleet and Gary Trent Jr. in the air and the name of OG Anunoby popping up in trade rumors, how much impact will this week have on the thinking of team president Masai Ujiri and GM Bobby Webster? And does that make a player like Precious Achiuwa even more attractive in fantasy basketball than he already is?

Included in 46% of Yahoo competitions, Achiuwa has been delivering value in the 8th round in 9-cat formats for the past two weeks. Anunoby’s recent wrist injury propelled Achiuwa to the starting lineup, but his production improved even before the lineup changes. If things go in the wrong direction, Chris Boucher is also worth keeping an eye on, as Toronto’s lineup could look very different after the trade deadline.

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What does the minute distribution look like between the Spurs centres?

As noted in the intro, Poeltl is a popular name in trade rumours, and something interesting happened with his minutes. Over the past two weeks, he averaged 23.3 minutes per game, with backup Zach Collins playing 22.1. Poeltl’s minutes are almost three short of his average for the season (26.0), and last season he also averaged 29.0 minutes per game. The Spurs’ starting center played 33 minutes in Saturday’s overtime loss to the Suns, the first time he surpassed 25 since Jan. 15 vs. Sacramento (31 minutes).

Collins is in 15% of the Yahoo leagues, and now could be a good time to add him, even with the Spurs playing just three games in Week 16. Ahead of losses to the Clippers and Suns, in which he was 19 and 20 minutes played , he played 22 minutes or more in four games in a row. If Poeltl were moved before the deadline, Collins would clearly have the most to gain in terms of fantasy value.

How long will Mavericks’ Doncic be sidelined?

After spraining his left ankle in Thursday’s victory over the Suns, Luka Dončić sat out Saturday’s loss to the Jazz. Dallas is now 0-6 this season without Doncic, but he may be closing in on a return. He is listed as questionable for Monday’s game against the Pistons, the first of three games the Mavericks will play in Week 16. Josh Green is the player who will be most affected by Doncic’s status as he replaced him in the starting line-up on Saturday. night. In the middle of the best fantasy season of his NBA career, Spencer Dinwiddie would take a beating in the usage department, but other than that he’ll be fine.

Doncic’s presence affects the entire squad, especially with Christian Wood (thumb) still sidelined. Dallas will play just three games without back-to-backs, meaning managers can get a full week out of Doncic. However, Monday’s game can be viewed in a different light than matchups with the Pelicans (Thursday) and Warriors (Saturday) because of the Pistons’ struggles. Hopefully Doncic will be cleared before Monday’s game and play all three. But even playing two, excellent value can still be obtained.

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How do the Lakers deal with Thomas Bryant’s minutes?

With Anthony Davis returning to the game on Wednesday, Bryant’s minutes have dwindled, as you might expect. He played 21 minutes in the Lakers’ January 25 victory over the Spurs and 19 minutes in Saturday’s loss to the Celtics. However, even with the reduction in playing time, Bryant remained in the starting lineup. Add to that the arrival of Rui Hachimura and Bryant no longer looks like the fantasy slot he was before those changes. However, he gets a boost for the Lakers’ first game of the week. Davis and LeBron James are ruled out for Monday’s game against the Nets, leaving Bryant in the starting lineup for at least one more game.

But what happens on Tuesday when the Lakers visit the Knicks? And what will the rotation of the frontcourt look like in the future? It’s no secret that Davis prefers playing the four, but will play the five when necessary. We’ll find out in Week 16 how Darvin Ham will split those minutes as the Lakers try to move up the Western Conference standings. While nothing will change for Davis, who was the best player in 9-cat formats at the time of his injury, there are questions about Bryant and Hachimura. And we should get some answers in the Lakers’ final three games of the week.

Wizards’ Porzing may return on Monday

Kristaps Porzingis was initially out week after week with a sprained ankle and will play against the Spurs on Monday evening. That’s the first of four games for the Wizards in Week 16, but it ends with a Friday/Saturday back-to-back against Portland (home) and Brooklyn (away). The player most affected by Porzingis’ return is Corey Kispert, who has filled the void in the starting lineup. But this will also affect Deni Avdija and Daniel Gafford, the latter being a fantasy stallion for the past week.

As always, with a player returning from injury, the question is whether he will be available for both games or back-to-back, so this could be a three-game week for Porzingis. That would open the door for Avdija and Kispert as streamers, while those who have rostered Gafford will have to ride the wave as he remains in the starting line-up.

How many games will fantasy managers get out of the stars of Warriors?

Golden State will play four games in Week 16, but there will be a back-to-back in the middle. Andrew Wiggins (illness) has been cleared to play Monday night in Oklahoma City, but that game will be followed by a Wednesday/Thursday back-to-back against the Timberwolves and Nuggets. Klay Thompson has yet to play both ends of a back-to-back this season, while Stephen Curry and Draymond Green sat out the second game of the Warriors’ most recent back-to-back (January 19-20).

In Thompson’s case, it’s probably safe to assume that he’ll play a maximum of three games in Week 16. The others may have a better chance of playing all four, even if that Thursday night showdown in Denver is game two. While Jordan Poole has already been seeded into 95% of the Yahoo leagues, the schedule makes Kevon Looney, Donte DiVincenzo and Jonathan Kuminga players to watch.

Is it time to drop White, G. Williams from Celtics?

Boston is one of two teams to play two games in Week 16, with Utah being the other. In the case of the Celtics, Derrick White and Grant Williams have benefited from injury-related absences, with Marcus Smart still sidelined and Robert Williams missing Saturday’s victory over the Lakers. But with Boston’s light week 16 schedule, is there anything to be gained by keeping either one on your roster? Probably not, especially since it’s possible Smart will return for at least one of those games (the Time Lord was an injury management case, so he should be back against Brooklyn on Wednesday night). There’s no shortage of teams playing four games in Week 16, so fantasy managers would be better served mining those rosters than sticking to White or “Batman.”

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Light game days

Tuesday: 5 games

NOP versus DEN

Week 16 Back to Backs

Monday Tuesday: LA

Tuesday Wednesday: No

Wednesday Thursday: MEM

Thursday Friday: CHA, IND

Friday Saturday: ATL, DET, HOU, PHO, POR, WAS

Saturday Sunday: DEN, NOP, NYK

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