COVID-19 is ravaging the NBA with over 100 players entering the league’s health and safety protocols this season.

As a result, Fantasy Basketball rosters are becoming increasingly difficult to navigate with more players out than there are IR spots on your roster.

Before we discuss how to handle those IR spots, let me make one suggestion that your league should consider adding an extra IR spot (or two). Just this week – even though it is 10 weeks into the Fantasy Basketball season – my league just went from two IR spots to four due to the number of players out in COVID-19 protocols, with a plan to re-evaluate the number of IR spots necessary in a few weeks.

This will prevent owners from having so many players “out” on their active roster and should also reduce the number of cuts needed to be made for players you otherwise would never drop.

NBA COVID-19 TRACKER: Team-by-team list of players in health and safety protocols

Now, with that being said, there are likely a large number of owners who have held on to injured (or absent) superstars like Kawhi Leonard, Jamal Murray, Zion Williamson, Ben Simmons, Kyrie Irving and Klay Thompson, to name a few, in hopes of a possible late-season return for the Fantasy Basketball playoffs.

Which of those players should you hold on to in your IR spots amidst this COVID-19 breakout? We’re here to help you out below.

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Superstars

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Kyrie Irving, Brooklyn Nets

Hold. Irving is reportedly set to re-join the Nets as a part-time player, with head coach Steve Nash recently saying he’ll need “closer to two weeks” from the time he returns to practice. If you’ve held on to Irving this long, it’s worth waiting out another few weeks, even if he’s only playing on a part-time basis.

Kawhi Leonard, LA Clippers

Drop. With all of the players in the league’s health and safety protocols, your roster is probably overflowing with IR-eligible players. It’s not worth holding onto Leonard (ACL), who may not play at all this season in general, never mind during the Fantasy Basketball season, which ends a few weeks earlier than the real NBA season anyway. There has not been any sort of update on Leonard’s status, so feel free to let him go if you were still holding on to the two-time Finals MVP.

Jamal Murray, Denver Nuggets

Drop. For the same reason as Leonard, you can let go of Murray (ACL) if you were still holding on to him. The recovery timetable for a torn ACL is typically a full year and Murray suffered his injury in April last season. Even if Murray came back in a year on the dot, Fantasy Basketball season would already be over.

Ben Simmons, Philadelphia 76ers

Hold. Although there hasn’t been much chatter on the Simmons trade front, it’s still worth keeping the three-time All-Star in an IR spot for the time being. Since Simmons is healthy, if he does get traded, he’ll presumably be ready to play right away. However, if Simmons isn’t delt by the Feb. 10 trade deadline, it’s probably safe to cut him loose (unless new reports surface around that time that would suggest otherwise).

Klay Thompson, Golden State Warriors

Hold. Thompson is reportedly only a few weeks away from making his return to the court, so there isn’t much further explanation needed. If you held on to Thompson to this point, get ready for him to add an instant boost to your team’s scoring, 3-pointers and free throw percentage, among other categories.

Zion Williamson, New Orleans Pelicans

Hold. Owners who drafted Williamson are likely growing frustrated that the All-Star hasn’t appeared yet this season and his return continues to get pushed back. Even though the latest report suggests that Williamson has been shut down from basketball activities with no timetable for his return, it’s worth holding tight on him for a little bit longer – at least until there is another update. With that being said, now would be a great time to try and trade Williamson for anything if someone is willing to roll the dice, because there is no guarantee he plays a single game this season.

The next tier

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Jerami Grant, Detroit Pistons

Hold. Grant received surgery to repair a torn UCL in his thumb on Dec. 17 and is ruled out for a minimum of six weeks, but that means he should return well before the fantasy playoffs. With his name also popping up in trade rumors, Grant could be a valuable boost to your lineup when you need it most during the playoffs.

Jonathan Isaac, Orlando Magic

Drop. Isaac is still recovering from a torn ACL he suffered during the NBA bubble in August of 2020. Although it seemed like the defensive star was going to make his return early on in the season this year, he still has not progressed to being cleared for contact at practice. Magic president Jeff Weltman said back at the end of November that Isaac was making “great, steady progress” but there is still no timetable for his return. It’s fine to cut him loose for now, but keep him on your watch list because he’s a fantasy stud for defensive counting stats.

John Wall, Houston Rockets

Drop. You likely were never holding on to Wall in the first place, but if you are, it’s fine to cut him loose. Even though he is reportedly working toward playing for the Rockets at some point this season, you can wait to give him an add once he does finally return to the court.

TJ Warren, Indiana Pacers

Drop. Like Wall, you were likely never holding on to Warren (foot) given the uncertainty surrounding his return since the start of the season, but if you were, drop him. Warren has been out since December of 2020 with a foot injury and there have been no updates on his potential return to play. Keep him on your watch list though, as the prolific scorer would make an impact if he returns by fantasy playoffs.