Deandre Ayton, Phoenix Suns
He’s been fantastic since returning from suspension, providing top-15 fantasy value by averaging 19.3 points, 12.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 0.8 steals, and 1.4 blocks while starting. Ayton is the rare big man who shoots free throws well (82.6 percent), and he’s taken a major step forward on the defensive end this season. In fact, the 21 year old has gone from disaster on defense to grading out positively for Phoenix (he’s top-20 in DRPM among centers) while producing nice stocks for fantasy managers. Ayton frustrated with the early suspension, but he’s more than made up for it since returning and looks like an option in the first round of fantasy drafts next year.
Marquese Chriss, Golden State Warriors
With Willie Cauley-Stein traded to Dallas, Chriss is Golden State’s new starting center. The team has to be creative with the two-way player (his contract situation is complicated), and Kevon Looney is expected back soon, but Chriss is a former lottery pick who’s averaged 3.2 assists, 1.4 steals and 0.8 blocks while starting this season, so there’s upside here. Looney is a long shot to stay healthy at this point, and Draymond Green is a nightly threat to sit with 2020/21 more on the team’s mind, so Chriss is looking at a big opportunity. He’s still available in 85% of Yahoo leagues.
Serge Ibaka, Toronto Raptors
Marc Gasol left Tuesday’s game with an injury to the same hamstring that cost him multiple weeks earlier this season, and Ibaka’s usage Rate jumps from 17.7% to 25.3% when he’s not sharing the court with the Spaniard. Norman Powell also deserves an upgrade with the Raptors, who are, impressively, winners of eight straight and own the No. 2 seed in the East despite the loss of Kawhi Leonard during the offseason and dealing with a ton of injuries this year. Nick Nurse deserves a lot of credit.
Reggie Jackson, Detroit Pistons
He’s no doubt played a bit over his head since returning to action, shooting an unsustainable 52.4% from three. Still, Jackson’s minutes have increased every game since his return, he’s attempting nearly 14 shots a game off the bench, and Derrick Rose looks likely to be traded soon. With Blake Griffin out and Sekou Doumbouya failing to step up, opportunities are available in Detroit. Enter Christian Wood, who continues to tantalize with another 20-point effort off the bench during Wednesday’s loss, and the big man remains available in 65% of leagues.
Trevor Ariza, Portland Trail Blazers
Ariza has played well since joining Portland, and he’s locked in as the team’s new starting small forward. The 34 year old has been boosted by shooting 50.0% from downtown, which won’t continue, but he’s seeing far more minutes than in Sacramento and is back on the fantasy radar, especially if you’re looking for help in threes and steals. Meanwhile, teammate Damian Lillard is as hot as any player in the league, as he messed around and got the first triple-double of his career Wednesday night and has been the No. 3 fantasy player over the last month. Over the last four games, Lillard has averaged 48.5 points, 8.0 rebounds, 9.8 assists and 8.3(!) threes.
Cam Reddish, Atlanta Hawks
He’s looked much better of late and belongs on the fantasy radar. Reddish has averaged 1.3 steals and 1.3 threes while starting as a rookie (although he moved back to the bench Thursday), and while the 20 year old’s shot has a long way to go, he should continue to improve; he’s quietly been a top-85 fantasy option over the last two weeks. Reddish is eligible at three different positions and remains available in nearly 80% of leagues.
Brandon Ingram, New Orleans Pelicans
He’ll remain plenty valuable, but there’s going to be an adjustment period now that he’s sharing the court with Zion Williamson. Ingram’s current shooting slump will end soon, but it’s worth noting his Usage Rate has dropped from nearly 30% to 21.9% when he and Williamson have been on the floor together. It’s a small sample, but Ingram’s rebound rate has seen a similar tumble as well, so while he’s been a terrific profit this season, Ingram’s value has likely peaked with Williamson now in the fold.
Mike Conley, Utah Jazz
He didn’t do much in 20 minutes off the bench Wednesday and then sat out Thursday, so Conley looks droppable in shallower leagues. He’s averaging career-lows across the board, is the latest point guard to suffer in Quin Snyder’s system and doesn’t appear to be a threat to enter Utah’s starting unit anytime soon.
T.J. Warren, Indiana Pacers
Victor Oladipo returned from more than a yearlong absence, and while he’ll be on a minutes restriction, Warren’s production is likely to take a hit as a result. Warren has thrived in Indiana and will retain plenty of fantasy value, but the No. 35 player over the last month relies heavily on scoring, and Oladipo’s return should decrease his Usage Rate.