Fantasy Basketball Mailbag: Deadline Stashes, Holding Kawhi, Trae vs. Mitchell + Much More

Fantasy Basketball Mailbag: Deadline Stashes, Holding Kawhi, Trae vs. Mitchell + Much More

It's time for another mailbag so thank you in advance for the questions! This week, the fantasy playoffs, the trade deadline and even Lakers coach Darvin Ham all make an appearance. Let's dive in.

Which players do you think will become relevant in a 12-team, nine-cat head-to-head league during the fantasy playoff stretch? - Christopher Mosca (@cwmosca)

Answer: As the Rockets continue to shut guys down going forward, Kenyon Martin Jr. and Tari Eason should play until the end and may finish the season in a flurry. And with the Rockets having a perfect fantasy playoff schedule, I like the idea of making a move for them.

Memphis, OKC and Philly also have perfect playoff schedules and I think the Sixers will start going to Tyrese Maxey more going forward as he ramps up for the real playoffs after finally getting over his serious foot injury. Jalen Williams of OKC is another guy I like a lot, while Brandon Clarke, Santi Aldama and Tyus Jones are all worth trying to get your hands on ahead of the playoffs. And, obviously, studs like Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Josh Giddey, Joel Embiid, James Harden, Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr. are all worth targeting in trades for their playoff schedule.

The Cavaliers, Nuggets, Pistons, Clippers, Timberwolves, Suns, Raptors and Jazz all have the worst playoff schedules, so trying to trade some of those studs for guys with better playoff schedules makes sense to me.

Who are the

It's time for another mailbag so thank you in advance for the questions! This week, the fantasy playoffs, the trade deadline and even Lakers coach Darvin Ham all make an appearance. Let's dive in.

Which players do you think will become relevant in a 12-team, nine-cat head-to-head league during the fantasy playoff stretch? - Christopher Mosca (@cwmosca)

Answer: As the Rockets continue to shut guys down going forward, Kenyon Martin Jr. and Tari Eason should play until the end and may finish the season in a flurry. And with the Rockets having a perfect fantasy playoff schedule, I like the idea of making a move for them.

Memphis, OKC and Philly also have perfect playoff schedules and I think the Sixers will start going to Tyrese Maxey more going forward as he ramps up for the real playoffs after finally getting over his serious foot injury. Jalen Williams of OKC is another guy I like a lot, while Brandon Clarke, Santi Aldama and Tyus Jones are all worth trying to get your hands on ahead of the playoffs. And, obviously, studs like Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Josh Giddey, Joel Embiid, James Harden, Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr. are all worth targeting in trades for their playoff schedule.

The Cavaliers, Nuggets, Pistons, Clippers, Timberwolves, Suns, Raptors and Jazz all have the worst playoff schedules, so trying to trade some of those studs for guys with better playoff schedules makes sense to me.

Who are the players you are looking to stash ahead of the trade deadline next week? - Fantasy Noob (@fantasy_noob) 

Answer: While I do think this is going to be a fun and active trade deadline, I'm not the type of fantasy manager who runs out and grabs a bunch of guys "just in case something happens." However, I don't think it's crazy to do so, either. Jae Crowder to the Hawks is being kicked around in Atlanta and while I don't think I'd personally trade John Collins for Crowder, if the Hawks do it, he's a guy worth stashing. He's a two-way player who would likely make an immediate impact in Atlanta.

Additionally, Collins would likely benefit from a change of scenery and might benefit from a trade. If Bojan Bogdanovic leaves the Pistons that opens up space for Isaiah Livers to have a strong finish, and if Kyle Kuzma is moved from Washington, my guy Deni Avdija could finish the season with a flurry. I think those are the guys I'd start thinking about at this point. 

What do you think of Jabari Smith right now? - mike r (@mikeR9977)

Answer: Smith has scored in single digits in three of his last four games and in six of his 12 games this month. While scoring isn't everything, when your player doesn't score it's a total buzzkill. Smith averaged 11.1 points, 7.0 rebounds, 0.8 steals, 1.2 blocks and 0.8 3-pointer in his 12 January games and has been a 16th-round fantasy player over that stretch. That's borderline unacceptable.

The good news is that the Rockets have a great playoff schedule and Smith may get more and more opportunities as the season winds down. I'd try to hang onto him if you can, but if you want to drop him for a hot free agent, it's not going to sting too badly. You'll just have to hope he doesn't become a silly-season monster when the Rockets are out there goofing around in March and April while hoping for ping-pong balls. In short, he's been a disappointment thus far. 

Do you know who I can call to inform the Lakers that Darvin Ham isn't a very good coach? - g (@LALocalOne)

Answer: That would be Jeannie Buss and Magic Johnson, but I don't have their phone numbers handy. In all seriousness, while I don't claim to know if Ham is a good coach or not, it's not really his fault that he was dealt the team he was dealt, or that Anthony Davis will be lucky to play in half of their games this season. But the Lakers got a nice win on Tuesday night against the Knicks and should have beaten the Celtics on Saturday. If AD can stay healthy, the Lakers can still sneak into a play-in situation (if not better) and no one is going to want to face James and Davis in a 7-game series. The 13-seed Lakers are somehow just 3.0 games behind the 6-seed Mavericks in the West and there's a lot of basketball left to be played.  

Who do you trust more in the fantasy playoffs: Bradley Beal or Brandon Ingram? - Franklin (@Franklin_Dog)

Answer: Um, I'm going to have to say "neither," to sort of quote Office Space. The Pelicans need Ingram to get up to speed from his toe injury in order to make a late playoff push, while the Wizards can say the same for Beal. Beal has played in 30 of 50 games for the Wizards and Ingram has played in just 17 of 51 games for the Pels. That's a big advantage for Beal but if the Wizards struggle in February, they could fall out of the playoff hunt, in which case Beal will become a top shutdown candidate.

The Pelicans are still waiting for Zion Williamson to come back and could mount an assault on the West when it happens. And he'll need to take Ingram with him if it's going to happen. I don't trust either of them, but I'd probably roll with Ingram if I had to pick one, simply because he appears to have more to play for. 

Ben Simmons still plays basketball? - Jerry Tauber (@JerryTauber)

Answer: Yes, Jerry. Ben Simmons still plays basketball. But he's missed three straight games (after Wednesday) with a knee injury, has scored in single digits in 11 of his last 12 games, (including a couple zero-pointers), and is also averaging 6.3 rebounds, 7.7 assists and 1.7 steals in January. Do the rebounds, assists and steals make up for the lack of offensive output?

He's basically been worth an 11th-round fantasy player and now that he's not even playing, fantasy managers have to be getting itchy trigger fingers. Yes, he still plays basketball sometimes, but he doesn't shoot, doesn't make free throws and still looks like he's timid on the court. I'm not sad that he's not on any of my rosters. 

If the Pacers start tanking after the All-Star break who is the player to stash now? - hoopstrainer (@hoopstrainer)

Answer: Coach K(elin), my man! Great question. The Pacers were rolling right along until Tyrese Haliburton went down with his elbow and knee injuries. Once that happened, the wheels fell off and the Pacers finished January with a 4-11 record, falling to the No. 10 seed in the East.

But Haliburton is due back on Thursday (finger's crossed) and the Pacers just signed Myles Turner to an extension. They're not ready to cash in on the season and sit 5.0 games behind the No. 6 Heat. If they can go on a run when Hali returns, they're going to try to make a playoff push and forget about tanking. They've already won too many games to get a realistic shot at Victor Wembanyama and they want to build for next year.

I don't see them tanking, meaning that I doubt there are any Indy scrubs you want to be stashing for late in the season. But if I had to pick three of them, I'd say Chris Duarte, Jalen Smith and T.J. McConnell would be the guys. But I don't get the sense the Pacers plan on folding up shop any time soon. 

Are we holding Jonathan Isaac in 12-team, nine-cat redraft leagues? - Sebastian (@nastibasti)

Answer: I think holding Isaac makes sense in some situations but if you're fighting for the playoffs or trying to win a championship, dropping him for a hot free agent might be the better route. Orlando isn't going to make the playoffs and might end up shutting Isaac down in hopes of getting a full season out of him next year, but they also want to see him play and continue to let him develop. Ten minutes a night isn't going to work and Orlando's playoff schedule is decent, but not good enough to continue to sit on Isaac not getting it done. He's a luxury hold at this point. Drop him if you need to, hang in there with him if you can. 

What do you think of this trade: my Trae Young for his Donovan Mitchell? - alo (@mralober)

Answer: Mitchell has had much more fantasy value than Trae thus far and on paper, this deal seems like a no-brainer. However, Mitchell's groin injury could linger and the Cavs have the worst playoff schedule in the league (2-4-3-4-4). The Hawks' schedule is 3-4-3-4-3, which isn't a whole lot better and it really depends on exactly when your league's playoffs run. But my short answer is that I'd rather have Mitchell in a vacuum and if both players are healthy. 

What can I do about Kawhi Leonard? - Daniel T Chuang (@Scientist07)

Answer: Daniel, this is Kawhi we can't have anything nice. See what I did there? We all knew the deal with Leonard coming in -- he is undeniably the godfather of load management. I don't know that there's anything you can do about him. But he's playing now, the Clippers are the No. 4 seed in the West and they need him to play as much as he can. You either try to sell high after Tuesday's big game or you learn to live with the missed games and just ride him until the end.

The Clippers play two games in Week 21 and if that falls in your fantasy playoffs, it might make sense to move him. But generally speaking, if you're going to make the playoffs and he's gotten you this far, you probably just ride it out. The Clippers do have only three more back-to-backs the rest of the way (one of which includes Games 81 and 82), and the next one doesn't arrive until March.

Is Isaiah Pacheco a Top-20 PPR player next season? He's catching passes now. - VengenceofJordanBelfort (@VengenceofB)

Answer: Getting football questions in the middle of a hoops chat was always one of my favorite things at my former job/life so I appreciate this one! In case you don't know, Pacheco is a running back for the Chiefs, and like Vengence said, he's starting to catch the ball. Without claiming to be a football expert, I'm going to say yes. Jerick McKinnon was a fluke this season and I fully expect Pacheco to take over for him next season.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Steve Alexander
Steve 'Doc' Alexander has been covering hoops for more than 20 years and recently joined Rotowire after spending his entire career at NBC Sports.
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