One of the most intriguing teams in the short term is the Milwaukee Bucks. The Forecaster suggests that they aren't a team to try to stream from this week, as they rate only a "4," with three games that are all on the road and a back-to-back set that includes a tough matchup against the Miami Heat. Not the best schedule, by any means.
However, the Bucks also feature Giannis Antetokounmpo, one of the best players in the NBA (and in fantasy), as well as (usually) a team full of strong supporting pieces that are fantasy-intriguing in their own rights. Today, though, is a bit of a perfect storm as far as injuries and returns on that team that make it extremely difficult to predict their production in the short term.
Let's start at the top, where Antetokounmpo twisted his left ankle in the fourth quarter of Thursday's game and was seen limping in the locker room afterward. He is currently questionable for Friday's game, and his last opportunity to get back on the court before next week's schedule would be on Sunday. If he sits both of those games, it would lead to some question as to his availability for the week ahead.
Eric Bledsoe was already dealing with an ankle injury that forced him to leave Monday's game early and sit out Thursday's game completely. He is also questionable for Friday, with no set prognosis as to his return date.
Malcolm Brogdon, the reigning NBA Rookie of the Year, suffered a partial tear of his left quadriceps tendon on Thursday against the Timberwolves. He is expected to miss six to eight weeks, the team announced Friday.
Finally, on the other end of the spectrum, star forward Jabari Parker is expected to make his return and season debut on Friday after missing the past year with a torn ACL. Parker projects to eventually start and perhaps become an impact scorer again, but on Friday he is expected to play only about 15 minutes as the team ramps him up. No announcement has been made as to how long he'll be under a minutes restriction, or how that restriction might change from game to game over the next week.
Thus, as of this writing, four of the projected five starters for the Bucks can't be recommended this week for health purposes. Even with a poor rating, Antetokounmpo would normally get the nod, but injuries plus a bad schedule is daunting even for the Greek Freak. In fact, because of all of the injuries and injury restrictions, Khris Middleton could suddenly be a lot more attractive as a starting option for the next week. He's normally productive anyway, but when Antetokounmpo sits he has absolutely exploded this season. Here are Middleton's lines in those four games:
35 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, 2 3-pointers
23 points, 14 rebounds, 10 assists, 1 steal, 1 3-pointer
31 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal, 1 block, 4 3-pointers
40 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 steals, 3 3-pointers
That's an average of 32.3 points, 8.5 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 2.0 steals and 2.5 3-pointers in those four games.
While all of his teammates are looking possibly benchable, if Antetokounmpo's ankle injury lingers it could certainly thrust Middleton to the top of the production-per-game list next week.
Matchup ratings are based upon a scale from 1 (poor matchup) to 10 (excellent matchup). These are calculated using a formula that evaluates the team's year-to-date and past 10 games' statistics, their opponents' numbers in those categories and their performance in home/road games depending on where the game is to be played. The column to the left lists the team's total number of games scheduled, as well as home games, and lists the overall rating from 1-10 for that team's weekly schedule.
The week ahead
This is a week where every team except one plays either three (16 teams) or four games (13 teams), with the San Antonio Spurs as the one team to play only twice. As such, most of the teams have moderate scores between "4" and "7" on the Forecaster, with only 10 teams outside of that range (five over "7," five under "4").
The Spurs, meanwhile, come in with the minimum score of "1" on the Forecaster. This puts all Spurs into the fade category, with LaMarcus Aldridge as likely the only Spurs player who might still get regular play this week. The Memphis Grizzlies and New York Knicks both rate a "2" on the Forecaster with three games, though that's likely due to their own offensive struggles as much as their schedules. With Tyreke Evans sitting until the trade deadline, the only sure starters from those two teams combined are likely Kristaps Porzingis and, surprisingly, the red-hot Enes Kanter. The Minnesota Timberwolves and Philadelphia 76ers have three games and both rate a "3" on the Forecaster, but there are some huge impact players on those two teams, and guys like Karl-Anthony Towns, Joel Embiid, Jimmy Butler and Ben Simmons are no-brainer starters with three games, regardless of the schedule.
At the other extreme, there are four likely teams from which to draw stream candidates: the Houston Rockets (Forecaster score "10"), Cleveland Cavaliers (8), Indiana Pacers (8) and Washington Wizards (8). The Golden State Warriors also have a Forecaster score of "8," but that's because their offense is so great that the Forecaster believes almost every matchup to be optimal for them. They have only three games in the period, and with all four of their primaries healthy, there aren't a lot of available streaming options on that team anyway.
Here are some streamable options worth considering from those teams:
Markieff Morris, Washington Wizards (54.6 percent available): Morris has had a big week, averaging 19.0 points (56.3 FG%, 87.5 FT%), 6.8 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 2.0 3-pointers, 1.0 steal and 0.8 blocks during the past four games. He has stepped up with John Wall (knee) sidelined and appears to be a potential impact player this week.
Tomas Satoransky, Washington Wizards (93.5 percent available): Satoransky has moved into the starting point guard slot for the Wizards with Wall (knee) down. His numbers are modest, but in his past three games he is averaging 8.3 points, 3.7 rebounds, 5.7 assists, 1.3 blocks and 1.0 3-pointers. With starter upside and a good schedule this week factored in, this type of production could add up over a four-game slate.
Channing Frye, Cleveland Cavaliers (96.6 percent available): Frye hasn't gotten much run this season, but he was moving back into the rotation before Kevin Love's hand injury. Now that Love is down, the Cavs need Frye's ability to stretch the floor from the power forward slot. In the past two games, Frye is averaging 18 points, 5 rebounds and 2 combined blocks/steals in 21 minutes per game.