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Dr. A’s weekly risers and fallers: Jaren Jackson Jr. and Michael Porter Jr. make the list


Our new weekly fantasy basketball column — Risers and Fallers — takes a look at players you should think about getting your hands on, as well as others you might want to start thinking about getting off your roster.

Let’s take a look around the league, starting in Memphis.

Risers

Jaren Jackson Jr., PF/C, Memphis Grizzlies

Over the last month, Jackson has been a Top 10 fantasy player with his 16.6 points, 7.6 rebounds, 1.1 steals and whopping 3.4 blocks while shooting it well from everywhere (52.1 FG% and 79.6 FT%). Jackson has helped propel the Grizzlies into the No. 2 spot in the West and they’re just .5 game behind the Nuggets for the top seed. It also doesn’t hurt that they’ve won 11 straight games and it’s hard to believe that JJJ is just 23 years old.

Add to it that the Grizzlies finish the regular season on a 4-3-4-4-4-4 weekly-schedule run and JJJ looks like one of the top add priorities in the entire league. He’s going to come with a hefty asking price but making a move for Jackson makes a ton of sense. And if you’ve already got him, just hang on and enjoy the ride. If he keeps progressing at this rate he’s going to be a first-round fantasy pick for the next eight years or so.

Nic Claxton, PF/C, Brooklyn Nets

Claxton has been a Top 15 fantasy player over the last 30 days and has become one of the Nets most consistent and important players. He has averaged 12.8 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 0.8 steals and 3.5 blocks over the past month, hitting 70.7% of his field goal attempts.

His free throw shooting is a sub-60 problem but that’s the only hole in his game at this point. He’s finally been turned loose to handle most of the center duties in Brooklyn by himself and the Nets finish up the regular season with a solid weekly schedule for the fantasy playoffs (4-4-3-4-3-4).

He’s worth trading for if you don’t have to break the bank and he’s a perfect trade candidate between one manager wanting to unload his free throws and another already punting them. Claxton finished Thursday’s game with 18 points, 10 rebounds, a steal and three blocks after failing to have a single rebound in the first half.

Walker Kessler, C, Utah Jazz

Kessler has been a Top 20 player over the last couple weeks which were highlighted by his 20-point, 21-rebound, two-block performance against the Timberwolves on Monday. Walker is working with three straight double-doubles right now, has scored in double figures in four straight games, and has hit double digits in rebounds in six of his last seven.

Yes, Kelly Olynyk (ankle) is hurt again but the Jazz are just now starting to figure out what they have in Kessler. After a surprisingly strong start to the season the Jazz are now floundering, sitting in sixth place in the West with four teams trailing them (including the Clippers and Warriors) by just .5 game and the Blazers just 1.0 game back.

If they completely fall out of the hunt, Olynyk should become an afterthought and they’ll likely just let Kessler do his thing in order to gain experience for next year. And even if the Jazz do stay in the hunt, one of the reasons they’re going to be there is Kessler. I love his outlook for the rest of the season and he’s probably been the most surprising rookie we’ve seen this year.

Kyle Anderson, SF/PF, Minnesota Timberwolves

Anderson is having a nice January and has been flirting with triple-doubles over his last three games. His January averages were 10.4 points, 6.0 rebounds, 6.4 assists, 1.9 steals, 1.1 blocks and 0.9 3-pointers coming into Thursday night and then he went off for 20 points, 10 rebounds, six dimes, two steals, a block and two 3-pointers in that game. Over his last three, SloMo has averaged 15.3 points, 10.7 rebounds, 8.0 assists, 2.3 steals, 1.0 blocks and 1.3 3-pointers. Not bad for a guy rostered in just 16% of ESPN leagues.

I have no idea how long he’ll keep this going but he should be rostered everywhere right now. He’s been worth a seventh-round pick for the season and has been a second-round value over the last two weeks. He should be rostered everywhere and I’m not sure even the eventual returns of Rudy Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns can slow his roll, so to speak.

Jalen Duren, C, Detroit Pistons

Duren has been a Top 40 player over the last couple of weeks and has averaged 11.0 points, 10.5 rebounds, 1.5 steals and 1.0 blocks while shooting it well from both the field (75%) and line (80%) over that stretch.

The Pistons are one of the more blatantly tanking teams in the league right now and they have no interest in winning any games they don’t accidentally walk into. And not only did Duren just turn 19 years old in November, but he’s only rostered in 9.7% of ESPN leagues. He’s on track for a big finish and should be rostered in a lot more leagues.

Fallers

Onyeka Okongwu, C, Atlanta Hawks

It was fun while it lasted but Clint Capela‘s 10-game calf injury hiatus is over and he’s already started splitting minutes with Okongwu again. Okongwu has been a Top 40 player over the last three weeks and has given the Hawks a nice glimpse into what the center position might look like in Atlanta for the next 10 years or so.

Okongwu has averaged 10.3 points, 9.4 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.0 steals and 2.0 blocks in January but we caught a new dose of reality when Capela played on Monday and Wednesday. Okongwu saw his two-lowest minutes totals (25 and 27) since Dec. 27 and backed up a pair of 13- and 20-rebound games with three and five, respectively, in the two Capela games. Yikes. Meanwhile, Capela played over 20 minutes in each, and scored in double digits and had six rebounds in both of them.

The Hawks are probably going to be looking to move Capela and his massive salary at some point, but they also like his playoff experience and still believe they’re a better team with him than without him. And that’s bad news for Okongwu and his fantasy managers. Hopefully, you were able to deal him right before Capela’s return.

Mitchell Robinson, C, New York Knicks

You might be saying, “thanks, captain obvious,” but in case you missed it, Robinson broke his thumb on Wednesday and will be sidelined for at least three weeks and more than likely a full month. And it’s really too bad.

Robinson had averaged 6.9 points, 10.0 rebounds, 1.1 steals and 1.6 blocks in January and wasn’t shooting enough free throws to hurt anyone. And while it’s bad news for his fantasy managers, it’s also bad news for the Knicks, who are currently the No. 7 seed in the East. Isaiah Hartenstein, Jericho Sims and Obi Toppin will fill in at center over the next month or so, but none of their numbers jump off the page. It’s going to be a committee at center and while I don’t know who will emerge, my guess is that Hartenstein might be the most consistent of the trio.

But what I do know is that the Knicks’ interior defense took a big hit with the loss of Mitchell and fantasy managers are either going to have to stash him on the IR or drop him and move on.

Terry Rozier, PG/SG, Charlotte Hornets

Rozier is still cooking for the Hornets but they are in a tight race for Victor Wembanyama and Rozier is a 28-year-old veteran who has averaged 24.6 points in January. At some point, logic would dictate that the Hornets will shut him down, citing a back injury or some other ailment.

It makes sense to ride him until the wheels fall off, and while there’s no guarantee they’ll actually shut him down, it only makes sense for them to do so. Charlotte has a decent playoff schedule but they also have a two-game week smack in the heart of the fantasy playoffs (Week 22). Now seems like a good time to start thinking about dealing him while his fantasy value is high, even with the loss of LaMelo Ball to an ankle injury on Wednesday.

Chris Paul, PG, Phoenix Suns

Paul has missed 20 games thus far and the Suns are reeling without him, despite barely hanging on against the Nets last night after opening up a 24-point second-half lead. Heading into Thursday’s win, Phoenix had lost 12 of their last 14 games and three straight.

Paul is currently dealing with a hip injury but his 37-year-old knees have a ton of miles on them too, and he’s going to be impossible to trust down the stretch. And given that they’re currently the No. 12 seed in the West, Paul will be a top shut-down candidate if they don’t make an immediate run once he and Devin Booker are healthy. Let CP3 come back and post a couple solid lines and then do what you can to move him.

Michael Porter Jr., SF/PF, Denver Nuggets

It’s starting to look like MPJ is a better real-life player than in fantasy. He has averaged 15.1 points, 4.7 rebounds, 0.7 assists, 0.4 steals, 0.6 blocks and 2.5 3-pointers on 48.3% shooting in January.

He’s barely been worth a 10th-round pick over the last month and nothing I’ve seen leads me to believe he’s going to suddenly turn it around and become the fantasy monster we’ve all been waiting for. And with so much of the offense in Denver running through Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray, with Aaron Gordon also chipping in a healthy amount, Porter seems stuck in role-player land.

Let him get hot for a couple games and then move him for a more reliable/valuable option. And while the Nuggets play a lot of four-game weeks in the fantasy playoffs, they also have just two games in that crucial Week 23.

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