Fantasy basketball managers who have reigning MVP Joel Embiid received disparaging news on Thursday night, as Embiid's been diagnosed with a meniscus injury in his left knee. While reports and imaging results have been murky, the fact remains that Embiid will be out through at least the weekend and likely much longer as he and the Philadelphia 76ers medical staff determine next steps for a treatment plan.
The injury occurred during Tuesday night's loss to the Warriors where Warriors F Jonathan Kuminga landed on Embiid's knee on a broken play, scrambling for a loose ball.
Joel Embiid went to the locker room after getting tangled up with Jonathan Kumingapic.twitter.com/Jq0XuAGpPO
— Dime (@DimeUPROXX) January 31, 2024
While the meniscus injury happened on Tuesday, Embiid was dealing with swelling in his left knee prior to this particular injury. Now, fantasy managers could be without their top-3 pick and anchor of their frontcourt for what could be weeks, months or even the rest of the season.
The player you need to add ASAP
Sixers forward/center Paul Reed is expected to fill in for Embiid and he's a must-add in all formats. He’s 38% rostered in Yahoo leagues, so there’s a chance you can snag him in shallow or medium leagues.
In 12 games without Embiid in the lineup this season, BBall Paul's averaged 12.0 points, 6.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.4 blocks per game, or 30.54 Yahoo fantasy points per game. Center Mo Bamba will get minutes in the Sixers rotation as well, but hasn't had much fantasy success this season (or in recent years).
The minutes distribution favors Reed 25:15 so the remaining balance will likely be covered with Sixers running a small-ball lineup with either Marcus Morris or Robert Convington (when healthy) at center.
Which Sixers players will step up in Embiid's absence?
Tobias Harris is another player I’d expect to step up in the wake of Embiid’s injury. His usage jumps to 25.7% with Embiid off the floor compared to only 18.8% when Embiid is active. In fact, Harris improves arguably more than anyone across categories when Embiid isn’t present.
Tyrese Maxey will also shine, as he’ll likely see his assists decrease without JoJo, but he’ll have to take on more of the scoring plus all of the minutes and usage he can handle.
Kelly Oubre Jr. is worth holding for as long as De’Anthony Melton is out and gets an extended leash while Embiid is recovering. Nic Batum and Patrick Beverely will remain deep-league streaming options, but nothing that you act on now as a result of Embiid’s injury.