It is only natural. You hear about an injury so the inclination is to elevate the backup and look for value. Let’s be real though because you know things are never that simple. That is why you are here.
When we last left Kemba Walker the Boston point guard was having knee issues so it shouldn’t have come as a surprise that they would look to shore up the position in the off-season. That led the Celtics to sign Jeff Teague to a contract to back up Walker while also drafting Payton Pritchard in the first round of this year’s draft.
With that being said the news that Walker will miss, at a minimum, the first few weeks of the season following an injection in said knee shouldn’t have come as a shock. Following the stem cell injection Walker is on a strengthening program for his left knee and I’m not sure it is the best sign that his game availability won’t be updated until the first week of January.
Based on his performance Walker’s aren’t exactly small shoes to fill as he averaged 20.4 points and 4.8 assists per game. That production won’t come from just one player and it’s not wise to expect Teague to just step right in and replace Walker. Teague is also not the same player he was in the prime of his career with Atlanta when he averaged 15 to 16 points per game with roughly seven assists. But at 32-years old he isn’t exactly washed up either as, at least temporarily, he steps back into a starting role.
Last season Teague played an average of 25 minutes per game and averaged 10.9 points and 5.2 assists per game. On its own merits there is fantasy value in that alone and two years ago he averaged a career high 8.2 assists per game so we have to trust his ability as a playmaker and distributor.
Teague’s offense has seen a slight, but steady, decline over the past few seasons and while he might get a few more open shots in Boston he also isn’t going to be a top offensive option. At the same time though there will be plenty of opportunity for assists from Teague but we have to keep in mind that there is a ceiling here.
From a DFS perspective it doesn’t matter that this is likely a temporary development as we are just taking it day by day anyway. But for those days that Walker is sidelined, Teague should be able to step right in and keep the Boston offense moving. If anything this would be a slight upgrade for their other wing players as, in order, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Marcus Smart should receive some increased responsibility.
We do have to at least pay some attention to Pritchard as he is now elevated to the backup role and with it comes some value. He did have success in college but it remains to be seen how that will translate to the NBA and things will be even harder for him without a traditional training camp or pre-season. This is a wait and see option for me and Pritchard will have value solely as a cost saving option in shallower slates unless he truly takes an unexpected step forward.
If we mark Teague down for 14 points and seven assists per game as a conservative projection you likely won’t be disappointed as there is room for a little more. Some games and match-ups will be better for Teague from a DFS perspective and I’m intrigued to see where he starts the season from a pricing perspective. At least at the start of the season we could get starter production for a back-ups price which works well in cash games.
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