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Fantasy basketball: Dr. A’s weekly risers and fallers

Several unexpected players have returned surprisingly solid fantasy value over the past two weeks while some huge names have been letting their fantasy managers down by struggling in multiple fantasy categories.

Jalen Johnson and Isaiah Hartenstein are turning it on, while Jaylen Brown and Kyle Kuzma are heading in the wrong direction. Here’s a look at five risers and five fallers.


Jalen Johnson, SF/PF, Hawks (56.1% rostered in ESPN leagues): Johnson has returned from a 14-game absence (fractured wrist) with a vengeance and has helped the struggling Hawks win their past two games while returning top-30 fantasy value. In his first four games back, Johnson has averaged 19.5 points, 11.0 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 1.0 steals and 1.3 3-pointers. And in his past two games the scoring jumped to 26 points along with 2.0 steals and 2.0 triples. The Hawks will have another crowd-control problem at small forward when De’Andre Hunter (knee) is back from his injury but you have to think the front office is working on trade scenarios to free up room for Johnson to get 30 minutes a night, while also trying to get some power forward help. Pascal Siakam, anyone?

De’Anthony Melton, PG/SG, Sixers (30.7%): Melton is dealing with a back injury and usually won’t turn heads with his scoring but has been a top-40 player over the past two weeks. He’s averaged 15.3 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists, a whopping 2.8 steals and 2.8 3-pointers over his past four games. He’s not necessarily a great shooter but he’s an excellent free throw shooter and was playing at a high level before he got hurt. Now’s a great time to target him in a trade while he’s watching in street clothes. He won’t play Friday but is hoping to return Saturday against the Jazz.

Grayson Allen, SG, Suns (24.7%): Allen was on this list last week and just won’t go away. He’s been a top-40 player over the past two weeks and the fact the Suns’ Big Three can’t stay healthy has worked in his favor. Allen has scored in double figures in 11 straight games and has averaged 15.3 points, 3.4 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 0.91 steals and 3.0 3-pointers over his past seven. Kevin Durant is out with a hamstring injury and Bradley Beal’s next injury is likely looming. Allen should be rostered in more leagues.

Isaiah Hartenstein, PF/C, Knicks (16.8%): Hartenstein has played at least 30 minutes in 10 of his past 11 games and roasted the Bulls with 10 points, 20 rebounds and 5 blocks Wednesday. His scoring comes and goes, as do the blocks, but he’s averaged 8.5 points, 14.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.5 steals and 4.0 blocks in his two January games. He’s been a very effective fantasy center over the past couple of weeks, returning top-50 value.

Brandin Podziemski, SG, Warriors (21.4%): Podz has been a top-70 player over the past couple of weeks and has scored in double digits in seven straight games. Over that stretch he’s posted averages of 12 points, 6.6 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 1.6 steals and 2.1 3-pointers. Yes, Draymond Green appears to be on his way back to the Warriors but I believe that Podz has endeared himself to coach Steve Kerr and the Warriors with his motor and hustle, and he’ll continue to get around 25 minutes a night.


Bradley Beal, PG/SG, Suns (79.7%): Beal is finally playing and has actually been productive, scoring at least 20 points in each of his past three games. But Durant has been out and Beal’s shooting has been hit-or-miss. When he scored 21 points against the Clippers on Wednesday he hit just 7-of-20 shots. He’s posting 18.3 points, 3.3 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.0 steals, 1.0 blocks and 0.5 3-pointers over his past four games on 49% shooting (28-of-57). That’s good enough for top-85 fantasy value and I think the past four-game sample is about as good as it’s going to get for Beal this season. He’s played in just 10 games this season and the time to try to trade him is now.

Tyrese Maxey, PG/SG, Sixers (99.6): Maxey has been outside the top 100 over the past two weeks and while he’s still scoring on most nights, he’s averaged 25.2 points, 3.0 rebounds, 5.5 assists, 0.3 steals and 2.7 3-pointers on 53-of-120 shooting (44%). The lack of steals and blocks are hurting his ranking, but he’s also hit just 26-of-35 (74%) free throws over his past five games, which is also contributing to him being outside of the top 100. He’s obviously a great player and there’s no reason to panic on him, but if your team has been struggling, his poor shooting percentages and nonexistent steals could be some of the reasons why.

Zion Williamson, PF, Pelicans (98.2%): Zion has managed to stay healthy this season and is playing every night, but is still just a top-120 fantasy player. He hasn’t had more than four rebounds in three straight games and has averaged 22.5 points, 6.7 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 0.5 steals, 0.7 blocks, 0.2 3-pointers and 3.2 turnovers over his past six. He’s also hit just 30-of-43 (70%) of his free throws over that stretch. Simply put, Williamson’s name is bigger than his game and there are still no guarantees he’ll stay on the court. If you’re looking to trade him, he could bring a much more valuable (and reliable) fantasy player in return.

Jaylen Brown, SG/SF, Celtics (99.2%): Brown has ranked in the 130s over the past two weeks with averages of 22.6 points, 6.6 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.0 steals, 0.0 blocks, 2.2 3-pointers and 3.6 turnovers over his past five games. He’s hit just 22-of-30 free throws (73%) over that stretch and while the overall numbers aren’t terrible, he’s simply not playing at the high level he was earlier in the season. If your team is struggling with turnovers, steals, blocks and free throw shooting, Brown could be the reason that it’s happening.

Kyle Kuzma, SF/PF, Wizards (93.4%): Kuzma has ranked in the mid-160s over the past two weeks with averages of 19.2 points, 5.8 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 0.2 steals, 0.3 blocks, 2.8 3-pointers and 3.2 turnovers. He hasn’t been getting to the line much and his field goal shooting has been fine for the most part, but the lack of rebounds, steals and blocks combined with the turnovers is hurting his fantasy value. He’s also starring for a Wizards team going nowhere and you have to wonder if he’ll finish out the season without being shut down, assuming he’s not traded first. If you look at his ranking for the entire season, he’s been just an 11th-round fantasy player, and he drops to a 14th-round player over the past two weeks.


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