Now that March Madness is over, here are a few games to mark on your calendar this week to keep feeding your sports appetite.
After a thrilling season of college basketball we saw Stanford take home their first Women's NCAA Basketball title in 29 years while on the men's side Baylor handed Gonzaga their first and only loss of the season and earned the school's first Men's NCAA championship. Since we didn't have the tournaments last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it was amazing getting to see the highlights and the drama return, and both tournaments delivered on the promise of madness.
Gonzaga all season until they played Baylor tonight 😂 #NCAAChampionship https://t.co/2O2M1ZiXBy— El Maestro (@El Maestro)1617678325.0
But now that we'll have to wait until next year to get more college basketball action, here's a rundown of some of the best matchups in the NBA as their season is getting closer to their postseason, and in the MLB where teams are just ramping up nearing the end of the first week of their season.
Utah Jazz vs. Phoenix Suns Wednesday April 7
We start with the top two teams in the NBA's western conference who play on Wednesday night. The Utah Jazz bring the league's best record to Phoenix to take on the second place Suns. If you haven't been paying attention to the NBA and are now craving more basketball, now is a perfect time to jump in.
That wasn't a typo you just read either; the Jazz and Suns are ahead of the likes of the Clippers and Lakers in the standings, and these are two very good teams you need to get acquainted with. If only someone could have suggested you do it sooner by, I don't know, writing a feature article about one of them in the first week of the season.
DEVIN BOOKER. Another 30 point performance. https://t.co/DN07ZaMsnd— Phoenix Suns (@Phoenix Suns)1617675411.0
Chris Paul continues to make everyone around him better, including Alfonso Ribeiro in those State Farm commercials. But more importantly his presence has expedited the development of all of the young talent around him in Phoenix, resulting in the Suns being a team we talk about in terms of "they can win now" versus "they can win someday."
The Jazz are basically the Spurs during the Duncan era. They're a very fundamentally sound team that plays basketball the way you should play it, and it's not very fun to watch most of the time. But that's not a shot at them, it's a testament to their coaches and players for putting together an excellent game plan and executing it night in and night out.
Longest win streaks in the NBA this season: Utah Jazz - 11 Utah Jazz - 9 (active) Utah Jazz - 9 Hawks - 8 Bucks - 8 Nets - 8— John Keeffer (@John Keeffer)1617514941.0
If you haven't seen these teams play it's a great opportunity to see two of the best fight it out as they battle for positioning atop the western conference.
Washington Wizards vs Golden State Warriors Friday April 9
I know what you're thinking. Why would I spend my Friday night watching a Wizards game? Well a lot of this rests on Bradley Beal returning to action who has missed the last five games with a hip injury. But if Beal is good to go against the Warriors, we'll get to see the aforementioned Beal go head to head with Stephen Curry. Beal is currently leading the league in points per game with 31.3 ppg, and Curry is third in that category averaging 29.4.
People seem to forget Steph Curry led the Warriors to 73-9 WITHOUT Kevin Durant— Ben Stinar (@Ben Stinar)1617637387.0
Even if Beal is unable to go, my backup argument for watching this game is that you then get a matchup of Curry vs. Russell Westbrook who is fresh off leading the Wizards to a win over the Raptors behind the former MVP's triple double on Monday. Either way it's a low stakes game with some talented scorers, and it's going to be fun.
Russell Westbrook insane game: 35 PTS 14 REB 21 AST The first 35/10/20 game in NBA history. https://t.co/MnS5NHOAHH— StatMuse (@StatMuse)1617067788.0
Atlanta Braves vs. Washington Nationals Wednesday April 7 3:35 pm EST
The reason I had to denote the time of this game is that it's the second game of the scheduled double-header we'll see between these teams on Wednesday. Due to some positive Covid-19 test results the series that was meant to start last week will actually begin today on Tuesday April 6.
GOT 'EM! Bryce Harper tried to stretch this into a double, but @Braves' Ronald Acuña Jr. had other plans 💪 https://t.co/bESXJlYJPY— FOX Sports: MLB (@FOX Sports: MLB)1617481262.0
Furthermore, the reason that this game is on this list is that the Braves and Nats are going to play three baseball games in the span of about 27 hours. This is the last game on the schedule within that timeframe. That means we could very well see some weird stuff, and in baseball we love weird stuff.
We could see minor league call-ups whose only professional game is this one. We could see pitchers being used as pinch hitters. We could see position players being called upon to be relief pitchers, maybe even a half inning called by only one announcer because the other had to make a bathroom break run.
Considering we don't even know who the probable pitchers are for this one yet, it's a safe bet that we're going to get weird.
Washington Nationals vs Los Angeles Dodgers Saturday April 10
I promise you that I didn't intend to list three Washington sports games on here, but it's just how the schedules played out.
This day was supposed to be all about the star power that the Lakers and Nets were going to bring to Brooklyn in primetime, but thanks to injuries to LeBron James and Anthony Davis, it will instead be a game worthy of a blackout rather than a national spot.
So instead we turn to another L.A. team taking on an east coast powerhouse in the MLB, and if it's star power you want, these teams can bring it. Even though we don't have projected starting pitchers yet, it's likely we see Trevor Bauer toe the mound for the Dodgers, and it's unlikely we'll see Max Scherzer ready to go by then as he's going today in their season opener.
Hi hello Opening Day is TOMORROW Let's watch some *crushed* Juan Soto homers to get us ready 🙌 ⬇️ https://t.co/SWGADq3deS— Sarah Langs (@Sarah Langs)1617236372.0
But on the offensive side there is an endless supply of power for both teams. Mookie Betts and Cody Bellinger lead the way for the 4-1 Dodgers while Juan Soto and Trea Turner highlight the lineup for the Nationals.
If you're bummed you're missing out on the Lakers and Nets matchup we've been waiting for, tune in for this one as it could turn into a barnburner of a Saturday night.
Depending on the trades (or non-trades) you made at the NBA trade deadline, you could be feeling like your roster is a container ship stuck in a canal.
Fortunately, there is no deadline for waiver pickups and drops. Here are some hot names and cold players to consider as you make your tweaks for a playoff push.
Enes Kanter Center Portland Trail Blazers
Enes the Menace has been on one the last week. In the four games, the Turkish big man has been throwing his weight around and averaging 15.5 points on 70.3 percent shooting, 14.5 rebounds, two assists and a block.
Thanos ? or maybe Jesus 🤔 https://t.co/xmd9BgFdBl— Enes Kanter (@Enes Kanter)1616882996.0
However, his hot run may be short-lived as Jusuf Nurkic is back in the lineup after spending two months recovering from injury. Nurkic's return cut into Kanter's minutes significantly this past Sunday: a trend that will most likely continue as Nurkic gets back into game shape.
Alec Burks Guard/Forward New York Knicks
No Rose, no Randle, no Bullock, no problem. Alec Burks rode in like the Survey Corps rescuing Eren Jaeger, saving the Knicks from a drop in production with some of their main weapons out. Burks, who has played for six teams in three years, averaged 22.7 points, 3.3 made threes, 6.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists and one turnover the last three games—all wins.
Rose and Bullock are due back soon, so expecting him to sustain this level of production would be foolish. Picking him up after those two fully return to the rotation would be risky, but if either is out again, he has proven he can produce in a pinch.
Danny Green Guard/Forward Philadelphia 76ers
Revenge is a dish best Green. Buoyed by his 28-point effort against the Lakers, the three-point specialist averaged 18.7 points on 54.5 percent shooting from the field and 5.3 made threes in three games last week.
Danny Green and Caruso talking about the old days https://t.co/k5S62uzLe6— Josiah Johnson (@Josiah Johnson)1616734239.0
Green won't contribute much else in fantasy, but this three-point make volume can win you the category most weeks. If you're sick of punting the category, there aren't many options that are better.
Derrick White Guard San Antonio Spurs
You will never know who will be surging on the Spurs on any given week outside of DeMar DeRozan, but Derrick White's managers were appreciative of his efforts last week. White hasn't been in the mix until recently because of a problematic toe injury, but in four games last week he averaged 15.3 points, 3.3 made threes, three assists and 1.5 blocks in 33.1 minutes.
He will need to improve his accuracy to be a little more valuable from a fantasy standpoint, but if he continues to get healthier, he will be an interesting player to track because he's definitely getting the minutes to be a good producer.
Jordan Clarkson Guard Utah Jazz
The Filipino Flame Thrower has been having a career year, but last week won't be going on the season highlight reel. Even with his 28-point game on Sunday, Clarkson averaged 15.3 points on 33.8 percent shooting, 1.8 assists and 0.5 steals.
Jordan Clarkson wanted no parts of contesting a Grayson Allen dunk. https://t.co/15KWJw8tY9— BlueDevilStop (@BlueDevilStop)1616896700.0
If he's not scoring, Clarkson isn't contributing much to a fantasy managers team, so this week has been a big blow for people who were depending on him for his points and shooting percentage. He is still an important part of Utah's success, so he will have chances to improve, but he is too volatile to be depended on right now.
Keldon Johnson Forward San Antonio Spurs
One Spur thrives while another one dives. For Keldon Johnson, diving has become a more frequent occurrence.
In four games last week, Johnson averaged 9.3 points on 42.4 percent shooting, 4.5 rebounds, 0.8 assists and no steals. If you were hanging on to Johnson and hoping he would step up after LaMarcus Aldridge was benched and bought out, you can comfortably let him go.
James Wiseman Center Golden State Warriors
After missing three straight games prior to last week due to being in the NBA's health and safety protocol, Wiseman didn't do much to help fantasy managers when he returned. In three games last week, the Warriors' rookie averaged 11.7 points on 44.1 percent shooting, 5.7 rebounds and 0.3 blocks.
Steve Kerr after James Wiseman took a step back 3 https://t.co/rFCIpxjqlc— Josiah Johnson (@Josiah Johnson)1616816584.0
Wiseman is finding out the talent level from college to pros is huge and he's having a tough time making the adjustment. He will get better, but whether he gets better this year may be a question fantasy managers aren't willing to wait around for.
Joe Harris Guard/Forward Brooklyn Nets
Harris has been a beneficiary of playing with three All-NBA players, providing efficient shooting when called upon. But even the best shooters have off weeks.
In three games, Harris only shot 39.1 percent from the field and made 1.7 threes per game. His 8.7 points didn't help his fantasy value either.
Like Danny Green, if he isn't shooting well and scoring, Harris doesn't have much else to contribute to fantasy rosters. But with him averaging 14.2 points with 3.3 made threes for the season, it's only a matter of time before he helps you win a couple of categories again.
Going into 2021 there are only a handful of elite options at second base to add to your fantasy team.
D.J. LeMahieu and Ozzie Albies are clear cut studs that won't last beyond the second or third round in most drafts. The next tier includes the likes of Whit Merrifield, Ketel Marte and Jose Altuve, so there is still plenty of production to be had there. But once you start getting past those guys, question marks begin to surround the remaining options, and you're going to have to decide whether or not to reach on someone like Jeff McNeil or wait on a prospect like Gavin Lux.
Here are the top 20 second basemen for fantasy baseball according to FindBet.
Brett Gardner on DJ LeMahieu: He's one of the best I've seen at leading by example. https://t.co/2GXrga7aVh— YES Network (@YES Network)1616531400.0
The third place finisher in the AL MVP race last season is fresh off signing a new contract worth $90 million over the next six seasons, as the Yankees prioritized retaining LeMahieu. D.J. has been one of the best hitters in the league for several years, and he's helped by being in one of the best lineups in the MLB today. No matter where LeMahieu hits in the Yankee order, he's so good at finding holes in the defense and getting on base that D.J. is going to produce for your fantasy team across the board.
LeMahieu has some of the best pop in his bat at the position and should be among position leaders in hits, runs, runs batted in, average, and home runs. If that's not enough to warrant a pick inside the top 20 I'm not sure what is.
Ozzie Albies' home run. https://t.co/RLjbYGBAy9— Baseball GIFs (@Baseball GIFs)1614799160.0
It's very easy to overlook Albies considering he plays on the same team as Ronald Acuna Jr. But that probably means that you're forgetting that Albies is only 24 years old and he has plenty of time to get better, which is scary considering he's already one of the best middle infielders in the game. In his only full seasons (his first season he only played 57 games, and in 2020's already shortened season managed to play in only 29 games) Albies earned an all star nod and a silver slugger award.
Albies has the potential to score 100 runs, drive in 100 runs, reach 200 hits, finish around 30 home runs, and should end the year batting around .300. Atlanta has a potent offense and that means Albies should have a lot of chances to hit good pitches. If you miss out on Acuna, don't sleep on Atlanta's other young stud. Feel good about grabbing Albies early to secure one of the top options at a thin position.
Merrifield has been one of the most consistent players both from a fantasy and real world perspective since entering the league in 2016. A rare player that can score for you in every statistical category while virtually being able to carry your entire team in stolen bases. While his stolen base total has decreased over the past two years, 2020 can't be taken into account due to the length of the season.
Most hits in MLB since May 18, 2016 (Whit Merrifield's big league debut): 1.) Charlie Blackmon - 644 2.) Whit Merr… https://t.co/HtxX00yWum— Danny Vietti (@Danny Vietti)1616383375.0
If Merrifield can get his SB total back up closer to 30 and maintain his high batting average, the Royals stand to be much better this season and that can only mean good things for Whit Merrifield fantasy owners. Considering Merrifield appears to be moving to right field full time, this will also be the last year we'll be able to play Whit at 2B/INF in fantasy.
Solid Mid-Round Options
Moustakas is slotted to be the second baseman for Cincinnati which makes him an interesting player for fantasy. Moustakas' ability to hit for power makes him someone to keep tabs on heading into your draft.
Mike Moustakas makes it 5-0 #Reds after an RBI single. https://t.co/8ikWWmE21j— Justin Groc (@Justin Groc)1616035209.0
In most formats he will have eligibility at 1B, 3B, and 2B, so you can move him around your lineup if needed, but in regards to second basemen he possesses some of the best power at the position. If you miss out on some of the elite players ahead of him, and you can solely focus on power numbers, Moustakas is a sneaky good option this year.
Horseshoes and Hand Grenades - Prospects and Everybody Else
Cronenworth is part of the young nucleus that the Padres organization is building to become a championship contender. He may not have the gravitas that Fernando Tatis Jr. brings or the sweeping power of Manny Machado, but he looked the part as a rookie which earned him votes for NL Rookie of the Year, finishing second last season.
Jake Cronenworth has his 2nd RBI of the game after splitting the gap for a double! @Padres | #PadresST https://t.co/07hBLKyzcV— Fox Sports San Diego (@Fox Sports San Diego)1616364748.0
Considering there will likely be a good number of players taken ahead of him at the position, Cronenworth is a good bet to provide consistency at the position. Hitting in one of the best lineups in the MLB will provide a lot of chances for both scoring and driving in runs. You can do much worse for a later round pick as Cronenworth should be a staple of his fantasy owners' lineup throughout 2021.
It appears that the Dodgers are ready to hand the keys to second base to one of the top prospects in baseball in Gavin Lux. Lux has spent time with the major league club having the occasional cup of coffee with the boys in blue. So far he has only shown glimpses into the potential the club is hoping he can tap into.
Although he'll certainly hit towards the bottom of the Dodgers lineup for most if not all of the season, there will be stats to go around. If he can continue his run of play into the regular season it will be a nice boost for the young player to gain some confidence early. He's raking right now in Spring play so he may be climbing the ranks before your draft.
#Dodgers Gavin Lux continues his hot spring with a double down the 3B line past Manny Machado. Now 12 for 29 (.414) in Cactus League games— Bill Plunkett (@Bill Plunkett)1616272495.0
March Madness is giving you the chaotic energy you crave, but don't forget about the other vice you need to satisfy.
The NBA trade deadline is approaching and that means a lot of fantasy fortunes may change with the sweep of a pen and the sending of a tweet. Here are the hottest and coldest players heading into this consequential point of the season.
Joe Ingles Guard/Forward Utah Jazz
Efficiency has always been Ingles' game and he's really flexed that last week. It only took him 32 shots to score 67 points in three games averaging 22.3 points while shooting 68.8 percent from the field, making 5.7 threes a game, grabbing five rebounds and swiping the ball 1.3 times.
Joe Ingles is on pace to have the highest single-season TS% in NBA history. He’s averaging 73.2 TS%, 54.0 FG%, 49.… https://t.co/05Ly043NP5— StatMuse (@StatMuse)1616253837.0
Ingles is safely having a top-100 season in 9-cat but is only rostered in 54 percent of Yahoo leagues. He is a must-own if available.
Richaun Holmes Forward/Center Sacramento Kings
Holmes may want to stay in Sacramento, but his play is garnering a lot of interest from other teams. In four games this past week, Holmes is averaging 17.5 points on 57.4 percent shooting, 9.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 2.3 blocks and 0.8 turnovers.
A trade could change his opportunities to produce for his fantasy managers, but as of now, he is getting plenty of chances to excel.
Donte DiVincenzo Forward Milwaukee Bucks
He may not be a fantasy folk hero quite yet, but the man they call Big Ragu is quietly building his legend. He's providing top-100 production in 9-cat and had a very good week, averaging 14.7 points, 9.3 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 2.3 steals in the last three games. He also threw in 2.3 made threes to round out his stand-out week.
Delaware’s own Donte DiVincenzo wearing his Villanova jacket after his 20 point night at Wells Fargo Center where h… https://t.co/nsk4Nq2fdR— John Clark (@John Clark)1616036723.0
He won't wow you consistently, but DiVincenzo will produce across all categories enough to keep you in the hunt for a win most weeks.
Danilo Gallinari Forward Atlanta Hawks
Two weeks in a row? Gallinari is (1) having a really good run and (2) not a lot of people believe in him on Yahoo. Gallo started the week strong with a 29-point performance and ended the week averaging 18.3 points on 54.3 percent shooting, three made three-pointers, one steal and 0.3 turnovers.
Gallinari is providing the young Hawks with a dependable veteran presence that they should continue to lean on for the foreseeable future.
Bojan Bogdanovic Forward Utah Jazz
While one shooter (Ingles) thrived in Utah this past week, another struggled to make any impact. Bogdanovic averaged under nine shot attempts the last three games, resulting in 9.3 points on 26.9 percent shooting, 0.7 made threes and 4.3 rebounds.
Over the past 5+ seasons, PJ Tucker has made 100 more corner 3s than anyone else in the NBA Most Corner 3s Last 5+… https://t.co/rranpR7xzH— Kirk Goldsberry (@Kirk Goldsberry)1616074620.0
While he isn't the stud he was in Indiana, he is still averaging 15.1 points per game this season. He won't be putting up these dismal numbers for long.
Coby White Guard Chicago Bulls
Losing your starting job is never easy and Coby White has not responded well to the adversity. In his last four games, White is averaging 9.3 points on 36.8 percent shooting, 1.3 made threes, 2.3 assists and 2.5 turnovers; a far cry from his season averages.
Unfortunately for fantasy managers, the Bulls are winning games with White coming off the bench, so it's unlikely that he will be back to getting starters minutes for the time being. It's time to make the choice to hold White or ship him off.
Steven Adams Center New Orleans Pelicans
The Big Kiwi's role on the Pelicans is pretty clear: rebound the ball and don't hurt the team otherwise. In this case, one out of two is bad for the squad and fantasy managers.
Remember Steven Adams being in OKC and how much better the world was— chilliams (@chilliams)1615945484.0
In the last three games, Adams has grabbed 9.3 rebounds, but he's only scoring at a 45.5 percent clip, resulting in 4.7 points per game. He's also turning the ball over twice per game in that same span.
If Adams isn't scoring efficiently and taking care of the ball, he is a one-category contributor. If you have the chance to unload him for a more versatile player, now is the time.
Kelly Oubre Jr. Guard/Forward Golden State Warriors
Oubre had a good February, but his March has been marred by injuries and inconsistent play. In four games last week, he averaged 11.8 points on 42.2 percent shooting, 0.8 made threes, four rebounds and 50 percent free-throw shooting.
With Klay Thompson out and Andrew Wiggins still struggling with inconsistency, there will be plenty of chances for Oubre to snap out of his slump.