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Fantasy Basketball: As All-Star break approaches, don't take one yourself

The Hawks roster is full of great fantasy grabs.Getty Images

This year’s NBA All-Star break is an exorbitant eight days. Most fantasy owners will use this time off to kick their feet up, take their spouse to see Fifty Shades of Grey and rehab paper cuts incurred during research. Don’t be that guy.

There are a lot of edges to be gained during this time off. Three homework assignments:

Trade deadline prep
The NBA’s annual swap meet, which goes down next Thursday, is one of our last chances to get productive players via the waiver wire. It’s crucial that we get ahead of our opponents by making speculative addsbeforedeals go down. An easy add is Danilo Gallinari, as the Nuggets are expected to move Wilson Chandler and/or Arron Afflalo. Reggie Jackson is also worth stashing as the Thunder have decided to roll with Dion Waiters as their sixth man. Mason Plumlee is another guy I’d try to get on my roster with Brook Lopez and Kevin Garnett are both heavily involved in rumors.

Head-to-head toss
For owners in head-to-head leagues, playoff time is rapidly approaching. That means all our focus should be on five categories, and five categories only. Being merely mediocre across all nine categories is a surefire way to get sent home early, left scratching your head about how such a solid team got bounced. So the first step is to identify the five categories your team is best in and then make moves to bolster them. This All-Star break is a great time to swing trades.

Reflect and adjust
On the surface, it appears guys such as Greg Monroe and Michael Carter-Williams are great fantasy players. They’re not, especially in roto-style formats. Don’t fall in love with two- or three-category assets or guys who bury you in percentages and turnovers. Do go after sneaky good fantasy players like Jeff Teague, Brandon Knight, Danny Green and Chris Bosh. Take a hard look at your roster and think about whose name is bigger than their game and then attack unsuspecting opponents.

NBA Pickups of the Week

James Johnson, SF, Raptors – A volatile season for Johnson is on the upswing again as he appears set in the starting five.

Mitch McGary, PF, Thunder – Even when Steven Adams gets back, McGary has shown his energy is difference-making.

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Spencer Hawes, PF, Clippers — The injury to Blake Griffin opens up a ton of minutes for Hawes when the Clips are forced to go big.

NFL News

New Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan is a talent maximizer – and he has plenty of talent to work with in Atlanta. The Shanahan scheme is especially friendly to “X” wide receivers, which should be music to the ears of contract-year stud Julio Jones. Julio has a great chance to eclipse the dominant seasons of previous Shanny Xs like Andre Johnson (2006-09) and Pierre Garcon (2013). This scheme also runs the ball at elite effectiveness, which provides Devonta Freeman with a big opportunity. Dead-legged Steven Jackson needs to be put out of his misery.

 
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