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The injury bug has been spreading throughout the NBA, where key stars will be looking at extended time in the sidelines. The latest key fantasy stars to drop include Rudy Gobert and D'Angelo Russell.

Unfortunately, injuries do happen often than not and it’s only the nature of the game where we as fantasy players, have to be prepared. This could be an opportunity to engage in trade offers, or pick up players from the waiver wire who has short-term value.

Now let's look back on week 4 and get prepared for Week 5.

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Week 5 Schedule

4 Games – Wizards, Jazz, Raptors, Kings, Trail Blazers, Suns, Timberwolves, Lakers, Warriors

3 Games – Nets, Celtics, Hawks, Bulls, Cavaliers, Nuggets, Pistons, Rockets, Pacers, Clippers, Grizzlies, Heat, Bucks, Pelicans, Knicks, Magic, Sixers, Spurs

2 Games – Thunder


Week 4 Breakout Performers

James Harden, SG/SF, Houston Rockets

Harden had a monster week, averaging 36.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, 10.5 assists to go along with 2.5 steals and a blocked shot heading into Sunday night. Harden would also hit six 3-pointers during this span, and he averaged a massive 14 free throw attempts this week. Aside from just scoring and filling up the box scores, Harden is locking up the free throw category for owners, as he's hitting 81 percent on the season. There's very little reason to believe he can't keep this up, as the Rockets lead the NBA with 44.7 attempts from deep this season. They love to play fast and this is only better news for Harden owners.

Nikola Jokic, PF/C, Denver Nuggets 

Some weren't confident in taking the 6-foot-10 Serbian in the first-round in most drafts. However, he's responded to the naysayers quickly as he's established himself back into first-round value after a slow start. Through three games this week, Jokic has averaged 22.7 points, 13.3 boards, 5.3 dimes on 53 percent shooting from the field. The "Joker" also hit 2 3-pointers to go along with 2.3 steals and a block to round out the week. He's versatile and he's for real. Don't sleep on one of the most underrated talents we have in the NBA today.

Kristaps Porzingis, PF/C, New York Knicks 

Kristaps Pozingis has been killing it all year, and he was certainly due to be mentioned in this section. The "Unicorn" did unicorn things and averaged 31 points with four 3-pointers and 2.5 blocked shots per game this week. He certainly doesn't mind being "the man" in New York, and he most certainly does not miss Carmelo Anthony. The most impressive thing about the performances this week was that Porzingis did his damage in only 27.7 minutes per game. Porzingis is up to first-round value on the year and looks to stay there all year. Porzingis is set for a huge year and only health can hurt the "Unicorn" this season.

Kevin Love, PF/C, Cleveland Cavaliers 

It's been bit of a revival week for Kevin Love, as he put up numbers similar to his Minnesota Timberwolves days. Through three games this week, Love put up 26 points, 12.3 rebounds on 55 percent shooting from the field. The Cleveland Cavaliers definitely needed this production from Love as they recover from their slow start to the season. This is great to see for Love owners as playing next to LeBron James can certainly cause you to take a hit in production. Love is currently ranked #20 on the year.

Dennis Smith JR, PG/SG, Dallas Mavericks 

The rookie has struggled mightily with efficiently early on in the season, but has turned it around big time this week. Smith JR. has flashed his first-round upside this week, as he averaged 21.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, 7.5 dimes with 1.5 steals and a blocked shot heading into Sunday. He's been the 10th best player this week, due to a solid 44 percent shooting and only 1.5 turnovers. He's  going up against Russell Westbrook on Sunday night, so this will be a tough test to overcome. This was obviously a small sample size, but it goes a long way as Smith Jr. was absolutely brutal to start the season, struggling with turnovers and shooting from both the field and the charity stripe.

Pau Gasol, PF/C, San Antonio Spurs 

The 37-year old Spaniard has been a great fantasy asset throughout his Hall of Famer career, as he continues to put up impressive numbers. Gasol flashed his brilliance as he put up 16.0 points, 7.7 boards and 5.0 dimes through three games this week. He was efficient as always, hitting 69 percent of his shots from the field and averaged 2.3 3-pointers per game as well. He may be old, but he's still fantasy-friendly as they come. Don't expect this to be a trend, but Gasol is still a valuable player to have on the end of your bench.

Paul George, SG/SF/PF, Oklahoma City Thunder 

Perhaps the only Thunder who hasn't missed a beat in this "OK3" experiment. Paul George has been flirting with first-round value all year and he exploded with a season-high 42 points Friday night against the Los Angeles Clippers to break the Thunder's four-game losing streak. "PG-13" is averaging 21.3 points, 5.8 rebounds, 2.4 assists with a league-leading 2.6 steals on the year. The Thunder struggling as a team is actually a great sign for all George owners, as he may very well have to shoulder heavy minutes all year as the Thunder want to improve their playoff seeding.


Week 5 Standard Leagues - Waiver Wire Pickups

Thabo Sefolosha, SG/SF, Utah Jazz (4% Ownership)

With Rudy Gobert out 4-6 weeks due to a bone bruise in his right knee, it will take a team effort from the Jazz to fill the void in the middle. Sefolosha was signed by this Jazz to off season to provide the perimeter defense Jazz was seeking. This will be the opportunity as he will likely be inserted into the starting lineup with Derrick Favors moving to the center position. Sefolosha won't get you many points, but he will provide the steals, rebounding, and solid percentages. The versatile forward finished the 2016-2017 campaign with the Hawks averaging 7.2 points, 4.4 rebounds, 1.7 assists and a team and career-best 1.5 steals in 25.7 minutes of action.

Kyle Anderson, SG/SF, San Antonio Spurs (11% Ownership)

As usual, it's tough to trust any Spurs outside of Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Pau Gasol. However, with Leonard slowly recovering from his quad injury and now Danny Green out with a hamstring injury, the Spurs are suddenly short on reliable wings. Kyle Anderson has been a sneaky source of fantasy value, as he's now averaging 8.3 points, 6.5 boards, and 2.5 assists per game on the year. He's not hurting you anywhere, as he's sitting on 0.8 steals, 0.8 blocks on 50 percent shooting as well. As long as Kawhi Leonard is out, Anderson deserves a long look in most competitive leagues.

Bobby Portis, PF/C, Chicago Bulls (58% Ownership)

Bobby Portis came back from his suspension with a vengeance. Since his return to the team, Portis has put up 21, 20, and 17 points, two of these performances being double-doubles. Portis has flashed his upside before, and deserves a look in all formats until he cools off. It also helps that rookie Lauri Markkanen went down with an ankle injury and did not return Saturday either. Even if these games were garbage time specials, the Bulls are a pretty awful basketball team. There will be plenty of garbage time to be played this season.

Marquese Chriss, PF/C, Phoenix Suns (55% Ownership)

There's a good chance that Marquese Chriss was dropped in most leagues, and I advised those who read my column last week that it was a perfect opportunity to jump on a guy who could be a big difference maker come fantasy playoffs. Chriss still struggles a lot with fouls, and that really limits his minutes on the floor. However, he should be viewed as a vital piece to the Suns rebuilding process. He flashed his upside Saturday night, as he put up 13 points, seven boards, to go along with three 3-pointers and five blocks. Pick him up and hope he starts to figure it out.

Frank Ntilikina, PG/SG, New York Knicks (21% Ownership)

The eighth overall pick from the 2017 NBA draft has been a pleasant surprise, very much to the Knicks 7-5 record after starting the season 0-3. Ntilikina has been very good defensively, and very good at swiping at balls in passing lanes. He's very much still a project, but he's demonstrated the ability that he belongs in the NBA with his play making abilities. Ntilikina is playing just under 20 minutes per game, and he's already averaging 5.0 and 1.6 steals on the year. When the Knicks decide to start him, he could be a very sneaky mid-round player going forward. Don't wait until that happens, pick him up and treat him like a low-risk, high-reward stash.

J.R. Smith, SG/SF, Cleveland Cavaliers (19% Ownership)

Through the month of November, Smith has played over 30 minutes in every game. The streaky guard is starting to get hot, in which he averaged 16.7 points with 4.0 3-pointers per game last week.  This hot shooting might not be sustainable, but as the Cavaliers continue to search for answers, we wouldn't be surprised if Smith can continue to drain 3-pointers in a high clip. He's someone who can flirt with mid-round value as long as the shot is falling. Ride him until the wheels fall off.


Week 5 Deep Leagues - Waiver Wire Pickups

Justise Winslow, SF/PF, Miami Heat (32% Ownership)

Winslow has been bumped into the starting lineup last week, and he's had a decent game to show for it, including a 14/6/5 game on Wednesday night. The Miami Heat may change starting lineups daily, especially due to the fact they are loaded with depth in the forward position. As long as Winslow is starting and playing over 20 minutes per game, he should be able to provide low-end value for deeper leagues.

Marcus Morris, SF/PF, Boston Celtics (49% Ownership)

Much like Winslow, Morris is another forward who could find himself into the starting lineup depending on the match ups. Morris has played well since returning from knee soreness, averaging 13.3 points and 4.8 boards. He's certainly a player who can get hot on any given night, so you can definitely give him a look.

Isaiah Whitehead, PG/SG, Brooklyn Nets (1% Ownership)

D'Angelo Russell is expected to miss a few games due to a knee injury and Spencer Dinwiddie is battling a hamstring issue. That leaves Whitehead as the only true point guard left on the Nets roster and he could be looking at heavy minutes this week. The second-round pick from 2016 doesn't have a load of upside, so keep your expectations in check and hope he can give you a few quality games short-term.

Ekpe Udoh, PF/C, Utah Jazz (1% Ownership)

We are talking about the DEEPEST of leagues, otherwise Udoh shouldn't really be on your radar. Gobert is out 4-6 weeks, and the Jazz is thin at the center position. Udoh isn't someone you can count on obviously, but he deserves a look if you're desperate and looking to gamble on the fact he may get minutes.

Cory Joseph, PG, Indiana Pacers (13% Ownership)

Joseph has been a quality back-up point guard throughout his career, and is proving again he's resourceful on his new team this season. The Canadian basketball player is averaging a quiet 8.7 points and 3.1 assists, while chipping in a steal per game. He's not going to give you popcorn numbers, but he's certainly someone you can rely on in deeper leagues. If anything ever happens to Darren Collison, he'd become pretty close to must-own status.


Notable Injury Updates

  • Charlotte Hornets shooting guard Nicholas Batum  is close to a return, and he shouldn't be sitting on any waiver wires. If he is, change that immediately.
  • New Orleans point guard Rajon Rondo of the New Orleans Pelicans is expected back in a week or so. His return will make E'Twaun Moore irrelevant.
  • Los Angeles Clippers small forward Danilo Gallinari is dealing with a glute injury, and he may miss a couple more games. Point guard Patrick Beverly will also miss a couple games due to knee soreness. Lou Williams and Austin Rivers will soak up the extra minutes.
  • Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving missed Sunday's game against the Raptors due to a facial fracture and should be back Tuesday against the Nets. He will likely be playing with a mask on to prevent further damage.
  • Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine is on track to return in December. He will be the main focal point of the offense when he returns to the Bulls, dampening the value of Justin Holiday and Jerian Grant.
  • Memphis Grizzlies forward JaMychal Green is on track to return to the lineup Wednesday. The departure of Zach Randolph has given Green a free path at the starting power forward position, a role he should sustain all season. Look for Green to have low-end value in standard leagues and should be picked up if you're in need of a big man.
  • Houston Rockets point guard Chris Paul is getting close to a return, as he's progressing to on-court activities. This may be your last time to buy low on a player like Chris Paul, despite how he hasn't played well early in the season.
  • San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard is healing slower than expected, and he may be out until December. Point guard Tony Parker is expected to be back towards the end of November. LaMarcus Aldridge continues to fill it up and should be viewed as a sell high player. There's no telling if Aldridge can sustain this level of play when they are fully healthy.


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