For most of you, this upcoming week marks the final matchup of the regular season for your fantasy league. Many of you already know if you’re in the playoffs by now or not, as well as who your matchup in the first round will be. This is where the fantasy specialist comes in handy. It’s key to know your opponents strengths and weaknesses before starting your playoff push. Look at how your categories matchup against your opponent and make note of the ones that are close. With those in mind, it’s time to search the waiver wire for the right player that will help tip the scales into your favour.
A fantasy specialist is a player who excels in one particular category, without hurting you in the rest. Quite often the most effective specialist is one who gets steals, blocks or three-pointers because these categories produce low totals throughout the week, making it possible for one player to contribute enough to turn the tides. They can often be found on the waiver wires this time of year and a savvy owner will be ready to rotate them into their starting line-up come playoff time to get that extra edge.
Perhaps no one on the Raptors fit this bill better than Terrence Ross. This specialist does his damage from behind the arc! In fact, Ross has hit 28 three-point shots in his last 10 games alone, including 17 in his last four outings. He’s also been a solid contributor in the points category as well, always an important category in the event of a tie. Over the last 30 days T.Ross has averaged 13.1 PTS off .505 FG% and .833 FT%, while hitting 2.8 three-pointers per game, with 1.9 REB, 0.6 AST, 0.9 STL and 0.4 BLK per contest. He may not contribute much to your rebounding, assist, steal or block totals, but the numbers still show that he’s capable of giving you something in any of those categories on any given night.
The reasons he’s such an effective specialist stems from his efficiency. Terrence’s impressive field-goal percentage over the last month is backed up by his .415 three-point shooting percentage on the season, converting on 118 of 284 attempts so far in his sophomore year. His minutes have been on an upward trend, averaging close to 28 min. per game this past month, as he continues to show defensive promise in Casey’s system. At this point in his rookie season, Ross often stood around looking lost on defence and didn’t seem strong enough to hit the three point shot. Clearly he had hit the rookie wall. In comparison, this year he’s moving his feet and staying in front of his cover, he’s rotating quickly, he’s hustling down loose balls and flashing on fast breaks. He’s also able to consistently hit shots from beyond the three-point line and seems ready to play into the playoffs. We’ve yet to see the best of the young man, but so far the developmental schedule for TDotFlight31 appears to be on time.
With only two games on tap for the Raptors this past fantasy week, one of which is still to come, it was hard to choose most of the guys if you play in a weekly league. That said, this upcoming week has four games on the docket (Brooklyn, Detroit, Memphis, Phoenix), meaning lots of floor time for your favourite Raptors players.
Gotta Have Em!
DeMar DeRozan – Season player rating drops from 45th down to 49th, and is owned by 100% of the leagues at ESPN. DeMar continues to treat his fantasy owners right, averaging 23.5 PTS off of .483 FG% and .818 FT%, hitting 0.5 three-pointers, with 2.5 REB, 6.0 AST, 1.0 STL and 0.5 BLK in the last two games. His efficient performances have been bolstered with double-digit trips to the free-throw line. In the last four games he’s earned 49 looks from the free-throw line, converting 39 of them. With defences trying to key in on him, DeRozan has continued to make his opponents pay by punishing them with on-point passing when driving the lane, finding his teammates the open look and picking up the assist. With an Atlantic division game on the line to start the week and potential statement games against the defence of Memphis and playoff bound Phoenix to end the week, look for DeMar to come in top form and ready to fill the stats sheets.
Kyle Lowry – Season player rating drops from 12th down to 14th and is owned by 100% of the leagues at ESPN. In true pit bull fashion, Kyle came ready to play despite rolling his ankle in the triple overtime loss last week to Washington. Despite the injuries the little warrior has averaged 12.5 PTS off .208 FG% and .917 FT%, with 3.0 REB, 7.5 AST and 1.5 STL in the last two games. Despite the awful field-goal percentage Kyle has managed to offset it with 6 free throw shots per game, as well as add 2.0 three-pointers in that stretch. With four games on this week’s schedule and five games in eight days, any nagging injuries are bound to rear its ugly head. Expect Kyle to show up and give 100% as he always does. However, expect coach Casey to rest him if any of the games are well in control as he alluded to in Friday night’s press conference after the game.
Amir Johnson – Season player rating drops from 66th down to 75th and is owned by 53.4% of the leagues at ESPN. Amir continues to impress averaging 9.0 PTS off .615 FG%, with 9.0 REB, 3.0 AST and 0.5 BLK in the last two games. A perfect player to fill an open power forward or center slot and still available in nearly half the leagues at ESPN. Johnson has been crafty with the pick and roll play as of late, taking of defenders leaving him on the double team. Down the stretch Casey will continue to rely upon Amir to get the job done and help solidify third in East and the Atlantic title. Despite not earning a steal in the last two contests, expect Tall Money to continue to fill the stats line.
Keep An Eye On…
Terrence Ross – Season player rating slips from 120th down to 125th and owned by 17.2% of the leagues at ESPN. After missing only one game, Terrence came back from his ankle injury with 18 PTS off .500 FG%, 2 REB, 1 AST, 1 STL and 1 BLK against Sacramento. He swiftly sunk six three-pointers all within the flow of the offense. Ross has developed nicely throughout the season, showing his first signs of maturity. It will be interesting to see how he and the team handles the step up of play and intensity from the opposition expected come playoff time.
Patrick Patterson – Season player rating rises from 138th back up to 137th and owned by 0.8% of the leagues at ESPN. 2Pat continues his excellent contributions averaging 13.5 PTS off .556 FG% and hitting 2.5 three-pointers, with 5.5 REB, 1.0 AST, 1.0 STL and 1.5 BLK over the last two games. He’s playing such efficient basketball right now, the way he moves his feet on the defensive end, fishing those passing lanes and protecting the rim, there isn’t anything this guy won’t do. When he can get 8 to 12 shots, Patterson becomes quite an effective fantasy option. When looking back over his last seven games however, he’s only been able to hit that zone three times. Despite that, adding 2Pat into an empty roster spot for a game certainly seems like a gamble worth taking. He is an interesting three-point specialist to keep in mind as he plays the power forward position, where players who hit 2+ three-pointers per game are few and far between.
They Try and Try
Jonas Valanciunas – Season player rating drops from 106th down to 110th and is owned by 71.8% of the leagues at ESPN. Jonas continues to struggle from a fantasy perspective. Over the last two contests he has averaged 12.0 PTS off .800 FG%, with 5.0 REB, 0.5 AST, 0.5 STL and 0.5 BLK per game. On the plus side, he’s finishing at a very high rate. The downside is that he’s only averaging 7.5 shots over the last two games. The saddest part is that those shots are up from the 6.6 he’s averaged over the last 30 days. Unfortunately his production just isn’t there and neither is his minutes, currently earning 24.5 min. per game, that’s 3 min. below his season average. As he continues to go through some sophomore struggles, expect coach Casey to keep a tight leash on the big fella with the ability to slide Hansbrough and Hayes into the line-up in his place.
Greivis Vasquez – Season player rating drops from 173rd down to 180th and is owned by 35.6% of the leagues at ESPN. The rematch against Sacramento was the first in nine games that Greivis failed to hit a three-point shot. Over the last two games he has averaged 8.0 PTS off .333 FG%, with 3.5 AST and 1.0 STL. Despite his numbers slipping from the weeks previous, I believe we will see some good production in the week ahead. With 5 games in 8 days, Coach Casey made it clear that he would like to rest Lowry if given an opportunity to. This bodes well for Vasquez if he can keep the floor time away from de Colo, but they are the 2 most likely recipients of any extra run from resting Lowry.