There’s only 5 games left! Raptors games that is. How quickly its all gone by. At least the end of this regular season doesn’t mark the end of another Raptors year in the record books. Instead of watching Uzoh and Anderson spoiling the Raptors draft position, we get to see the team fighting for third in the East and the franchises second ever division title. This week, they clinched the team’s first ever winning road record and with favorable matchups ahead they can earn a franchise best record as well, if they win out.
The upcoming week has only 3 games on the schedule, with the first coming on Wednesday in Toronto against the Philadelphia 76ers. Not a surprise that Philly is at or near the bottom of every defensive category kept. Allowing nearly 110 points as well as over 9 three-pointers per game, I expect every starting Raptor to fill the stat line that night. On Friday they play the Knicks who are desperately clinging on to playoff hopes, but are still on the outside looking in. This game has everything needed to turn into a slobber knocker of a game. Expect lower scores, lots of fouls and aggressive defense. Then back on the road to Detroit to face the Pistons on Sunday. Another subpar defensive team allowing over 104 points and 8 threes a game. With nothing to play for, they still may try to play spoiler to the Raptors and come out aggressive.
Injuries have affected the depth of the team, leaving players to step up into starting roles. As a fan, it means that these last 5 games are all that more challenging. However, as a fantasy owner this is an opportunity to take advantage of an available player getting lots of minutes.
Gotta Have Em!
DeMar DeRozan – Season player rating rises from 39th up to 35th and is owned by 100% of the leagues at ESPN. This past week has shown defenses keying in on DeMar, trying to force someone else to beat them. DeRozan responded by putting his other skill sets on display handling the rock and dishing out dimes, while still managing to put up points. Over the last 7 days he’s averaged 23.2 PTS off .459 FG% and .857 FT%, with 3.2 REB, 5.2 AST and 1.2 STL per game. Some well deserved rest over the next couple of days should get DDs energy back up. With a chance to set some franchise records in the games ahead, expect DeRozan to finish the regular season up strong.
Jonas Valanciunas – Season player rating continues to climb from 99th way up to 82nd and is owned by 95.0% of the leagues at ESPN. The big fella was on point all week long putting up some big numbers against some tough competition. Over the last 7 days Jonas has averaged 17.6 PTS off an impressive .694 FG%, with 9.4 REB, 0.8 AST, 0.6 STL and 0.8 BLK per game. Perhaps the best development recently has been his ability to draw free throws, getting to the line 5 times per game and hitting .800 FT% His ability to get to the free throw line and compete on the glass on both ends has made coach Casey look to go back to him down the stretch. This is the player that everyone has been waiting for and just a taste of things to come.
Greivis Vasquez – Season player rating bumps from 161st up to 152 and is owned by 44.9% of the leagues at ESPN. Since covering the starting role for the injured Lowry, GV has had 2 big fantasy games and no duds. Over the last 7 days he has averaged 14.6 PTS off .464 FG% adding 3 three-pointers per, with 2.6 REB, 3.4 AST and 0.6 STL per game. The three ball has been the real X Factor in Vasquez’s game hitting 15 over his last 4 games. General Greivis has really proven to be an excellent acquisition to this team. It’s amazing the negative outlook some still seem to have of him, clearly those people haven’t been paying attention to his contributions since the first few weeks with the team where he started in a slump. His infectious attitude has definitely factored into the teams confidence level down the stretch. Still available in over half the leagues still at ESPN, if yours is one of them, grab this guy and play him until Lowry returns. It’s a no brainer.
Keep An Eye On
Kyle Lowry – Season player rating drops from 12th down to 13th and is owned by 100% of the leagues at ESPN. Kyle’s knee injury has been every fan’s and fantasy owner’s worst nightmare. Thankfully, much of the news has seemed positive and it appears likely he will be back in the lineup before long. With that in mind fans can breathe a sigh of relief, leaving fantasy owners in the balance hoping that their stat stuffer will come back sooner rather than later. With the next game not coming until Wednesday against the Sixers, it is possible we may see Lowry back into the lineup. That said, I wouldn’t bank on that as I assume the organization is looking to make an impact in the postseason and will want him to be ready for then.
Amir Johnson – Season player rating drops from 56th down to 59th and is owned by 64.7% of the leagues at ESPN. When Amir went down with injury this week against Houston, it appeared is that the injuries that he had been playing through finally got the better of him. With the franchise looking to make a splash in the playoffs, expect Johnson to continue to sit on the bench this upcoming week or have his minutes limited if he does come back. In the meantime, I’d consider swapping him out for 2Pat (or some other non-Raptors player if you’re into that kind of thing) who continues to look better each game back as he works himself back into the rhythm of the game. That said, this is Amir we’re talking about, so don’t be surprised if he plays all 48 minutes in Wednesday’s game instead of resting up on the bench.
Terrence Ross – Season player rating dips from 114th down to 116 and is owned by 27.1% of the leagues at ESPN. Over the last 7 days T.Ross has seen both good and bad nights, leaving fantasy owners in the precarious position of should he or should he not be played on any given night. Over the past week he has averaged 11.0 PTS shooting .408 adding 1.8 three-pointers, with 5.2 REB and 0.4 AST. The past week has seen a surge of rebounding from the young fella, averaging 2 more than his season average. The increased floor time on a nightly basis also adds to his fantasy value, if only he could find consistency in his game. Perhaps with some time off and only three games on the schedule he can find some extra energy and that consistency he needs through practice and some well deserved rest.
They Try and Try
Patrick Patterson – Season player rating drops from 163rd down to 168th and owned by 0.4% of the leagues at ESPN. He’s back! And better than ever… Okay maybe not yet, but in each game he gets closer to the 2Pat we’ve all come to love before he went out. After a 12 game absence, he averaged 5.5 PTS off of .320 FG%, with 3.8 REB, 1.0 AST, 1.0 STL and hitting 0.8 three-pointer per game in his first week back. With Amir Johnson out for the foreseeable future, it seems a good bet that Patterson will be given increased minutes as he continues to find his rhythm. With only 5 games left in the regular season, its tough to assume that he will be an effective fantasy option before he knocks off all the rust he’s collected in his time off. As long as he’s ready come playoff time, Raptors fans will be content that he’s taking the floor and getting himself into shape to compete come playoff time.