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Fantasy Basketball Waiver Wire Spotlight: Robert Covington (PHI)

Waiver Wire Spotlight - Week 11

Robert Covington (PHI, SF/PF)

One of the rising sharpshooters in the NBA, Covington has begun to take advantage of the opportunity available to him Philadelphia. Due to the lack of assets in Philadelphia at the Forward positions, Covington has gotten a starting role locked up which warrants fantasy owners to take a look at Covington’s production.  Covington is currently owned in just 34.4% of leagues, so he provides exceptional value with his shooting for someone that could be found on the waiver wire.  In the 2014-2015 season, Robert Covington is amongst the league’s elite shooters. Covington has posted 11.8 Points, 3.6 Rebounds, 0.9 Assists, and 0.9 Steals on the season so far. Covington is also currently ranked 12th in the NBA in 3’s per game averaging 2.3 3-pointers a game.

On a Per 36 Minute Basis, Covington ranks 9th in 3PM Per 36 Minutes with an outstanding average 3.8. Covington’s tremendous value doesn’t just lie within his 3-point shooting. Covington is among the leagues best free throw shooters as well. Covington ranks 35th in the NBA in FT% with his average of 90.7 FT%. Due to his top-tier 3-Point and Free Throw shooting, Covington locks in an exceptional 61.1% True Shooting Percentage (TS%). Covington’s 42 FG% isn’t as phenomenal as his 3-point or free-throw shooting, but it is still a decent percentage; owners shouldn’t worry too much about this factor when looking into picking up Covington. Over the last five games, Covington has shown tremendous production across the board with averages of 17 points, 1.2 steals, 1 block, 6.4 rebounds, and 3.6 3PM. This should be very encouraging for potential owners because it shows that Covington is much more than a one-dimensional 3-Point Shooter.

One of the most important things when determining the value of a shooter is the system that he is in. Although Philadelphia is struggling, to say the least, Coach Brett Brown has given Robert Covington the green light to let it fly. Coach Brown’s trust in Covington led to Covington getting a solid role as a starter for Philadelphia. This combined with an offense led by floor general Michael Carter-Williams allows Covington to get a lot of open looks for three throughout the course of a game. Throughout the season, Covington is currently playing an average of 21.5 minutes a game. This is deceptive to potential owners because early in the season, Covington wasn’t a starter, and wasn’t given that many opportunities. However, since he was given the starting job his minutes per game have skyrocketed.

Over the past 5 games, Covington is averaging 31.4 minutes per game. Robert Covington is an extremely valuable option of the waiver wire due to his ability to provide elite contributions in 3’s and Free throws as well as providing solid numbers in multiple categories such as points, rebounds, steals, and blocks. If Covington is able to keep this up, Coach Brett Brown might give Covington even more minutes which would make his already solid production even better. Covington’s ability to thrive in the 76ers offense along with his starting position locked up should make potential owners see him as a long-term option which supplies elite shooting and decent contributions in all other categories.

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Week 11 Fantasy Basketball Waiver Wire: NBA Category Specialists

The 2014-15 NBA Season is rolling right along, and with that it is time to dive back into the fantasy basketball waiver wire. Today, the focus is on sleepers of the “Category Specialist” variety that can each help out in different areas during Week 11.

Position Eligibility & Ownership Rate Based on Yahoo! Fantasy Basketball Player List

 

Field-Goal Percentage Specialist

Tyler Zeller (BOS, PF/C) - 29% Owned

The minutes given to Celtics centers have been inconsistent as always, Zeller included. He has fluctuated between 12 minutes played and 29 minutes played in the last couple weeks alone. If you average everything out, he has been efficient if not flashy in his limited time, particularly in the two percentages, where he is shooting .623 on FGs and .852 on FTs. That FG percentage might have a lot to do with the inconsistent minutes – Brad Stevens lets him have a lot of run if the matchup is good, and barely plays him when it is not. A higher percentage of field goal attempts come in favorable matchups, so he puts up a .623 FG% despite being not being the sort of elite talent like Andre Drummond or DeAndre Jordan that you expect to shoot over 60%.

While it is hard to rely on Zeller week-to-week due to the inconsistencies in his counting stats, if you are working on a weekly fantasy matchup that is running close in both percentages he is the rare guy who can help you in one without hurting you in the other. In fact, he can actually help you a lot in both. Zeller straddles the line between elite percentage specialist and so efficient he is a must own. Any bump in the consistency of his minutes while somehow retaining that efficiency would land him in the latter category.  For now, keep him on the top of your list of streamers.

 

Free-Throw Percentage / Three-Point Specialist

Tim Hardaway Jr. (NYK, SG) - 29% Owned

With J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert now in Cleveland, a bounty of playing time now lies ahead for Hardaway. in New York. His overall fantasy value is capped due to his awful FG% and non-existent rates in rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks. He does shoot a ton of threes, but he is not a threes-only guy. He has got one other thing going for him -- he gets to the line at a nice rate, too, while shooting over 80%.

Projecting his free throw attempts and percentage to over 30 minutes a game in playing time indicates he should have a top notch impact on free throw % going forward, comparable to that of Paul Pierce or Klay Thompson (though obviously without most of the other good things they do). He also should take a ton of shots, so he could score some nice points, too, if you are willing to risk big hits to your field goal percentage in the process.  If Zeller is a "best of both worlds" percentages guy, Hardaway is more of a "trade one for the other" style of percentage specialist.

 

Blocks Specialist

Hassan Whiteside (MIA, C) - 11% Owned

I suggested Whiteside as a very deep league option in my NBA Centers article for Week 11 – and someone with upside to keep an eye on in general. Right after I sent the article to press, he caught everyone’s attention with his best game yet on Sunday 1/4, hitting 5 of 7 shots in 27 minutes with 11 points, 10 rebounds, 1 steal, and 5 blocks.

With that performance, he has graduated to “blocks specialist” status in even standard leagues now. While it is a small sample size and he should regress, the blocks per minute played he is putting up so far can only be matched by Rudy Gobert. Whiteside will miss free throws and his value outside of blocks is limited – but if you need a short term blocks specialist, no widely available fantasy play comes close to him now that Gobert is owned in all leagues where people are paying attention.

 

Steals Specialist

P.J. Tucker (PHO, SG/SF) - 26% Owned

No one is more steadily decent while being completely ignored in fantasy basketball than Tucker. His ceiling is admittedly quite low because of his lack of scoring. But the guy will not hurt your percentages, he will contribute decent rebounds, he will hit some threes, and he will get steals. In standard leagues, he is my go-to steals streamer because of how little he hurts you to get them – you do not have to sacrifice as much to play him as you would with Tony Allen or Marcus Smart, who are fantasy black holes in multiple categories.

 

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Week 11 Fantasy Basketball Waiver Wire: NBA Deep Sleepers

With the 2014-15 NBA season now over two months old, the waiver wire has taken its typical place in the weekly/daily routine of fantasy basketball managers. The following group of players are not of the typical standard-league variety, but rather options for those participating in deeper formats.

Unless you have the roster space to stash one of these fringe contributors as a sleeper, there is little reason to own any of them outside of leagues with 12 or more teams.

If your New Year’s Resolution was to find the diamond in the rough, then you have come to the right place!

Position Eligibility & Ownership Rate Based on Yahoo! Fantasy Basketball Leagues

 

Deep League Waiver Wire Options

Cory Joseph (SA, PG) - 13% Owned

Coach Gregg Popovich has figured out how to win in the playoffs, and part of that success is to rest his stars during the year so they are fresh. Not only is Parker getting up there in age, 32 now but he has also been dealing with nagging injuries all year. When Parker is hurt, Joseph shines. Joseph is a very good shooter and also puts up assists numbers by default because of the system he is. Joseph played so well while parker was hurt that he started getting more minutes even when Parker plays now because he has proven to the Spurs staff he is a very solid point guard and it helps keep Tony Parker fresh. Over the last two weeks, Joseph averaged over 14 points and almost 4 assists per game.

 

Nikola Mirotic (CHI, SF/PF) - 21% Owned

Mirotic is an enigma to the common NBA fan, but this kid has all the tools to be a star. He was drafted this past year by the Bulls and is the prototypical European basketball player. Standing tall at 6’10” he grabs rebounds and can shoot threes. When Mike Dunleavy is hurt, which he has been recently, Mirotic has started and produced. He just received the rookie of the month award because he averaged 1.4 threes, 10.1 points, and 5.5 rebounds over that month long stretch. Those numbers should only improve as the season goes on and Mirotic gets more acclimated with the NBA game and gets more minutes.

 

Cole Aldrich (NY, C) - 24% Owned

Now that the Knicks have joined the Sixers in a battle for the first overall pick, someone must step up. With Amare being hurt for at least another week, the former Kansas star is a good bet. Aldrich has quietly been very solid this year on an absolutely terrible Knicks squad. Over the last two weeks, Aldrich has averaged 11.1 points and 8.4 rebounds with 1.3 blocks/game. Aldrich will continue to get minutes as the Knicks now just need to put players on the court. Another Knick to watch is Quincy Acy who is only owned in 6% of all Yahoo leagues and scored 19 points with 14 rebounds in 29 minutes of playing time. Both these Knicks big men should put up decent fantasy numbers for the rest of the season.

 

Keeper League Pickup of the Week

Joe Ingles (UTA, SF) - 1% Owned

Ingles is the best player in the NBA you have never heard of. He will not do anything special but is solid in almost every category. He was just named a starter for the Utah Jazz. If you need someone with guaranteed minutes and potential to get better grab Ingles now. Last week, the Australian averaged one three, 7.7 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists and 1.7 steals per game. He can help you in every single category and is on rise as the 27 year old has just started to find his game.

 

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Week 11 Fantasy Basketball Waiver Wire Pickups: NBA Guards

Another week is in the books, and with it comes a trade that is surely going to shake up waiver wires everywhere. In case you missed it some how, guards J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert and Dion Waiters were all involved in a three team deal this week, and the fallout is going to take up a solid portion of our weekly waiver wire pickups this week.

Position Eligibility & Ownership Rate Based on Yahoo! Fantasy Basketball Player List

 

Waiver Wire Pickup For Right Now

Tim Hardaway Jr. (NYK, SG) - 30% Owned

I have talked about Hardaway in this column a couple of times so far this year, so I will briefly rehash what you are guaranteed to get here... points and threes.

What you also will get now, is an increased opportunity for Hardaway going forward, that should play out as an extended audition to show Phil Jackson what he has to offer the Knicks going forward. With Smith and Shumpert now in Cleveland, there is now zero competition for minutes at the wing positions. Throw in the increased speculation that Carmelo Anthony is going to be shut down due to his ailing knee, and Hardaway suddenly becomes the only legitimate scoring options for the woeful Knicks.

Hardaway is going to put up some impressive scoring nights with plenty of three pointers going forward to go with a handful of rebounds. He's also going to have his fair share of poor shooting nights, few assists due to a lack of supporting cast, and little help in defensive categories, but if you can survive those deficiencies, Hardaway could end up paying huge dividens for your team going forward. He is a must add in all formats.

 

Waiver Wire Pickups For Deep Leagues

Shane Larkin (PG, NYK) - 3% Owned

Staying in the Big Apple, the focus shifts to a guy you should think about grabbing if you need a point guard in a deep league in Larkin.

The Knicks made it clear after they traded Smith and Shumpert for nothing that they are playing for the future. They now have only two players that will be rostered next season for more than $2 million, Anthony and Jose Calderon.

Of course now the rumor is that the Knicks are shopping Calderon, and it makes plenty of sense. I'm confident in saying that he'll definitely be dealt, as there is always a market for point guards who can dish the rock and hit threes (even if they are defensive turnstiles). When that happens, the young son of a baseball Hall of Famer is going to find himself as the Knicks starting point guard.

Larkin's scoring is going to be inconsistent, and he's going to be no help at all from three. However, he should be able to slash and dish his way to respectable assist totals. He also could offer elite level production in the steals department, as his 1.3 average in only 24 minutes could easily reach the two-plus total if he starts playing 30 minutes per game.

Larkin is not a must add, but he is a guy to think about grabbing speculatively or in deep leagues of more than 12 teams.

 

Waiver Wire Guard To Keep An Eye On

Dion Waiters (SG, OKC) - 39% Owned

First, let me say that I think it's crazy that Waiters is owned in more Yahoo leagues than Hardaway. He has spent this season as a reserve who's game doesn't mesh well with what Cleveland has been trying to do this year, and it was obvious he was going to be gone.

With that said, I think Waiters finds himself in an interesting spot going forward with the Thunder. Original reports that had free agent-to-be Reggie Jackson heading to the Knicks in return for Waiters could be signs that the Thunder are preparing for life without there sixth man. Don't be surprised if the Thunder, knowing they won't be able to afford to keep Jackson after this year, end up making another trade. They did it with James Harden.

I'm convinced that Waiters is Jackson's replacement, and that there is no way Jackson ends this season in Oklahoma City. While I'm no fan of Waiters' ball dominant, volume shooting, no defense game, the thought of him adding instant offense against second stringers as the Thunder sixth man is intriguing.

I wouldn't add Waiters until Jackson is dealt, and maybe even then I'd wait to see how he plays. The former lottery pick may have found a place where he can finally live up to his potential, and that alone should have you keeping a close eye on Waiters going forward.

 

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Week 11 Fantasy Basketball Waiver Wire: NBA Forwards

Starting off the year 2015, the waiver wire has taken its typical place in the weekly/daily routine of fantasy basketball managers. The following forwards, whether of the “sleeper” variety or just cashing in temporarily on an unforeseen opportunity, almost certainly deserve attention across the various formats during Week 11 of the campaign.

Position Eligibility & Ownership Rate Based on Yahoo! Fantasy Basketball Player List

 

The sports world suffered from a huge loss on Sunday as ESPN's Stuart Scott passed away at the age of 49.  I never met Stuart Scott and I'm not sure if I was ever in the same state at the same time as he, but that does not mean he did not have an influence on who I am today.  As a teenager I would eagerly wake up at 5:55 every morning in anticipation of watching SportsCenter and hoping that Scott was at least half of the duo that would be delivering the news in the sports world to me.  His comedic delivery and expansive knowledge has been since unmatched by any sports anchor and he was a staple of numerous great commercials.  Although it is no longer the case, SportsCenter was an integral part of my daily routine and it's no coincidence that Scott was heavily featured during that time.  He will surely be missed.

 

Waiver Wire Forward for Right Now

C.J. Miles (IND, SG/SF) – 29% Owned

Not including Monday’s game against the Jazz, Miles has scored 11, 22, 25 and 19 points, respectively, in his last four games.  He’s clearly been given the nod to fire away even if he hasn’t exactly been shooting lights out.  Despite his unimpressive .364 FG% on the season, the ten-year veteran has found himself in a nice groove from downtown since mid-December.  He also adds a wee-bit amount of extra depth in other categories (2.8 rebounds, 1.3 assists per game) to give fantasy owners just enough reassurance he’ll add value if he doesn’t score.  He does possess some baggage considering that it is improbable for him to continue scoring at this pace and there are a plethora of other options at his skills level on the roster, such as Chris Copeland, Solomon Hill and to a lesser extent Rodney Stuckey.  If you do pick up Miles, pay close attention to this Indiana revolving door of swingmen.

 

Waiver Wire Forward in Deep Leagues

Trevor Booker (UTA, PF) – 2% Owned

Yesterday our Trevor mentioned Rudy Gobert as a pick-up at the center position.  If Gobert is unavailable in those deep leagues, and considering the increase in ownership numbers he probably is, then feel free to stream Utah’s Trevor in the short term.

The fifth-year big man formerly known as “Cook Book” can expect to see an immediate jump in minutes at least over the next few games.  In less than a week the Jazz lost both guard Alec Burks and center Enes Kanter to injury.  Though Kanter is expected to miss only a few games, Burks will be miss the remainder of the season after surgery.  Burks was fourth on the team in minutes played (889 minutes) and Kanter is currently fifth with 886.  Needless to say, minutes will be readily available.  Booker isn’t a viable scoring option, but he can give immediate production in rebounds and blocks to teams in deeper leagues.

 

Waiver Wire Forward to Keep an Eye On

Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (PHI, SF/PF) – 3% Owned

Philadelphia isn’t good.  Plain and simple.  However, if they were graded on the “Moe Szyslak's Boxer Scale of Good Looking,” the 76ers have moved up from Kid Moe to Kid Gruesome.  The team is still losing but at least they are no longer getting blown out by 53 points.  Some players like Michael Carter-Williams and Robert Covington are becoming valued fantasy performers depending on the type of league and format.

Mbah a Moute is beginning to show signs of joining his teammates on the fantasy list.  His numbers across the board have improved every month while seeing only a slight increase in his playing time.  It’s a shame he’s been plagued with health problems over the last nine days.  Rather than adding Mbah a Moute immediately, it’s best for fantasy owners to adopt a wait-a-see approach to gauge how he returns from injury.

 

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Week 11 Fantasy Basketball Waiver Wire: NBA Centers

Starting off the year 2015, the waiver wire has taken its typical place in the weekly/daily routine of fantasy basketball managers. The following centers, whether of the “sleeper” variety or just cashing in temporarily on an unforeseen opportunity, almost certainly deserve attention across the various formats during Week 11 of the campaign.

Position Eligibility & Ownership Rate Based on Yahoo! Fantasy Basketball Player List

 

Waiver Wire Centers for Right Now

Rudy Gobert (UTA, C) – 38% Owned

If Gobert is still available in your league, this is my weekly reminder that he is still the best option of any center with below 50% ownership in Yahoo leagues. In a back-to-back against the Hawks and Timberwolves on the 2nd and 3rd, Gobert combined for 14 points, 18 rebounds, and 10 blocks. He is a top-75 player no matter what at this point, but I consider him top-50 in the near term, while starting center Enes Kanter is out with an ankle injury.

 

Cole Aldrich (NYK, C) – 23% Owned

If Gobert is unavailable, I would consider the next best option right now to be Aldrich. I mentioned him as a “blocks specialist” in my recent NBA Category Specialists column for Rotoballer, but with the way he is playing, I think his all-around contribution elevates him above mere specialist or streamer status. In his first nine games since being named starter, Aldrich has averaged 11.0 points, 8.2 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.3 blocks. His efficiency rates in that same span – a .549 FG%, .692 FT%, and 1.4 turnovers per game. Those are all either about average or above average numbers for a starting center in eight of the nine standard roto categories.

Given that Carmelo Anthony may decide to sit out the rest of the season, Amar'e Stoudemire is hurt and surrounded by trade rumors, and Samuel Dalembert reportedly could be waived in coming days, I believe Aldrich will continue to get big minutes in the Knicks front court so long as he remains healthy. He needs to be added in all formats.

 

Waiver Wire Centers in Deep Leagues

Jusuf Nurkic (C, DEN) – 12% Owned

I wanted to celebrate calling out Nurkic in my last column while he was still only 1% owned. He is up to 12% owned now after a run of three games between 12/30 and 1/3 where he averaged 12.3 points, 9.3 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 1.3 steals and 3.3 blocks on a .500 FG% and .750 FT%. True deep leaguers reading this column have probably already missed the boat, but there is still a chance to grab him in moderately deep leagues. And with numbers like those, it is now time for standard league managers to learn his name and keep an eye on him.

 

Chris Kaman (POR, PF/C) – 13% Owned

Portland coach Terry Stotts has been pretty insistent about keeping Kaman in a reserve role despite the absence of starting center Robin Lopez, who is not expected to return until late January at the earliest. However, with the latest news that Joel Freeland is expected to miss at least two weeks with a shoulder injury, the Trailblazers are running out of options to turn to at the five. Besides Kaman, the main options for the Blazers are to play small lineups featuring Dorell Wright, or to give more playing time to the wildly inconsistent Thomas Robinson and Meyers Leonard.

I expect to see a bit more of all these things, but hope springs eternal that Kaman can start seeing close to 25 minutes. He has proven over the course of his career that he can be a fantasy factor given playing time, as a double-double threat with decent blocks and good percentages.

 

Hassan Whiteside (C, MIA) – 1% Owned

Much like Nurkic a week ago, Hassan Whiteside is a young center who is starting to earn the praise of his coach, Erik Spoelstra, in recent games thanks to a good work ethic and some nice on the court performances in limited opportunities. In the Heat’s recent 4 game losing streak between 12/27 and 1/3, Whiteside has been a highlight off the bench. He has averaged 7.5 points, 6.8 rebounds, 0.5 steals and 1.8 blocks in only 18.5 minutes per game. While his poor free throw shooting (.400 FT%) will cap his upside, Whiteside is someone to keep an eye on in deep leagues to see if his opportunities continue to grow.  He could turn into a nice source of blocks and boards in deep leagues.

 

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NBA Waiver Wire: Four-Game Fantasy Basketball Sleepers (1/5 - 1/11)

This weekly column is geared toward anyone playing in a head-to-head format, and especially those of you in weekly lineup leagues. It is a great idea to keep up with which players are scheduled to play four games during the upcoming week (1/5 – 1/11), as fantasy basketball managers can use this information to gain an advantage in games played over an opponent. Simply put, the more games played, the more potential there is for production.

Based on their respective four-game schedules, the following four players should be viewed as “sleepers” for next week. Advising fantasy owners to play the likes of LeBron James or Anthony Davis is a waste of time and effort; hopefully it is common knowledge that studs of that nature should be in lineups regardless of how many games they are slated to play.

Position Eligibility & Ownership Rate Based On Yahoo! Fantasy Basketball Leagues.

 

Top-Four Game Sleepers (1/5 - 1/11)

Cole Aldrich (NYK, C) - 23% Owned

The Knicks are one of the worst teams in the NBA, and are going nowhere this season. They have been plagued by injuries, which is the major reason they only have five wins at this point of the season. However, even bad teams can produce fantasy gold. Injuries create opportunities. This is where Aldrich comes in.

Aldrich has seen an uptick in playing time because he is one of the few healthy bigs New York has right now. Over his last three games he has been a revelation, averaging 10.3 points, 12.7 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 2.3 steals, and 1.7 blocks while playing at least 30 minutes in each game. His shooting has not been pretty, but owners will forgive him if he keeps up this torrid pace in the counting stats. It is a small sample, but it is time to take notice.

Next week New York will play at Memphis, at Washington, Houston, and Charlotte. The Knicks have a very old roster, so it is unlikely that their bigs will get healthy at all this season. Aldrich has an excellent chance to sustain value the rest of the way if he can avoid the injury bug. Owners should pick him up this week, and continue to ride him until he slows down.

 

Tony Wroten (PHI, PG/SG) - 47% Owned

Wroten got the start on Saturday against the Clippers, as Michael Carter-Williams sat out with a shoulder injury. The injury is considered minor, and MCW is saying that he will play on Monday. This is your friendly reminder that Wroten is a must-start whenever MCW does not play.

However, even if Carter-Williams does come back, Wroten is still an excellent play. He has caught fire of late, scoring 20 or more points in four of his last five games. He has also been a sneaky thief, averaging 2.0 steals in that same span.

The Sixers get blown out a lot, which is normally a concern in fantasy, but Wroten appears to be blowout-proof. He typically comes off the bench, but stays on the court even when they are losing big. His usage rate is 28.7, which ranks him tenth in the NBA. The bottom line is, this guy is going to get minutes despite coming off the bench, and he is going to put up numbers because he is such a ball-dominant player. If you can live with bad percentages and a lot of turnovers, Wroten is a tremendous asset in the counting stats.

Philadelphia’s upcoming schedule features Cleveland, Milwaukee, at Brooklyn, and Indiana. These are all favorable spots for Wroten to be productive, and he gets an even bigger bump if MCW is still out. Either way, Wroten should be owned in standard leagues, and you are going to want to play him this week.

 

Jodie Meeks (DET, SG) - 42% Owned

The Pistons got off to a dreadful start this season, but have won four in a row following the dismissal of Josh Smith. Meeks deserves a lot of credit for their sudden turnaround, as he is finally getting healthy. In fantasy, Meeks is more of a specialist, but he offers elite production in a few key areas.

On December 30th, Meeks exploded for 34 points, two steals, and a mind-boggling nine three-pointers! This type of line will not be the norm for him, but it does illustrate the category juice that he can provide in points, steals, and threes. He is a very good free throw shooter (87.6 percent career) and an outstanding three-point shooter (37.9 percent career). He is even better in nine-cat formats due to his very low turnover rate.

The schedule for Meeks next week includes matchups at San Antonio, at Dallas, Atlanta, and Brooklyn. He has scored in double figures in five straight games, and has 15 treys in his last three. If you are looking for help in these categories, Meeks is the guy to pick up this week.

 

Rudy Gobert (UTA, C) - 38% Owned

Gobert was featured in this slot a month ago as a recommended stash. He was already providing late-round value, even in limited minutes off the bench. I told you then if he ever got his hands on a starting role, he would do some major damage. Well, my friends, that time is now.

Enes Kanter missed Utah’s last game with an ankle injury. Gobert got the starting nod in his place, and blew up for 13 points, 11 rebounds, one assist, one steal, and six blocks! It is unclear how much time Kanter will miss, but this is what you can expect from Gobert when he is in the starting lineup.

The sky is the limit for Rudy. He is already one of the best shot blockers in the league. Kanter has not displayed any semblance of defensive ability at any point in his career. Gobert has tremendous upside, but he is already more talented than Kanter in just his second season. The Jazz are simply a better team with Gobert on the floor, and it would be a disgrace if Utah continues to limit his playing time when Kanter returns.

Next week the Jazz will square off with Indiana, at Chicago, at Oklahoma City, and at Houston. Gobert could be the waiver wire pickup of the year. He is severely under owned right now, so stop what you are doing and pick him up in all formats!

 

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Fantasy Basketball Waiver Wire: NBA Category Specialists (1/4/15)

The 2014-15 NBA Season is rolling right along, and with that it is time to dive back into the fantasy basketball waiver wire. Today, 1/4, the focus is on sleepers of the “Category Specialist” variety that can each help out in different areas.

Position Eligibility & Ownership Rate Based on Yahoo! Fantasy Basketball Player List

 

Field-Goal Percentage Specialist

Ed Davis (LAL, PF/C) – 28% Owned

Davis started off 2015 in style with a 20 point game against his former team, the Memphis Grizzlies. Davis has been putting up some excellent numbers for the Lakers since he replaced Carlos Boozer in the starting lineup just before Christmas. He is shooting an outstanding .638 on field goals, and he is good for about 7 rebounds and a block per game to go with that, as well as very minimal turnovers.

The catch with him is that 20 point games will not at all often – even if you just look at the games he has started on the season, he is only averaging 9.9 points a game. There are only so many shots per game that he will get on average, given all the shots that Kobe Bryant and Nick Young take when they are on the floor. And sapping much of the value that he does provide is an atrocious free throw percentage (.517) that will only hurt you more as he gets more minutes and draws more fouls.

Because of that, Davis remains more of an elite FG%/rebounds/blocks specialist in category leagues, instead of a must-own player.

 

Blocks Specialist

Cole Aldrich (NYK, C) – 21% Owned

Maybe more intriguing than Davis, though much less of a known commodity, Aldrich is the Knicks newest starter at center. Aldrich has always shown some talent, but he has had injury problems through his career that have limited his opportunities. When you are spending an early round draft pick is when you worry about a guy being injury prone. When you want to grab a guy off waivers it does not matter – you are only losing out on the opportunity cost of picking up someone else if he gets hurt.

Aldrich is definitely worth a flyer in the short term, given that he has averaged 10.9 points, 8.4 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.5 blocks in 8 games since emerging as the Knicks starter. The Knicks are in free-fall with the news that Carmelo Anthony may sit out the rest of the season. They do not have anything to lose by letting Aldrich play, to see if he can keep up this performance and stay healthy. You do not have anything to lose, either.

 

Steals Specialist

Ronnie Price, (LAL, PG/SG) – 7% Owned

Price began to find some time in the starting lineup at point guard a little bit before Davis entered the lineup, about a week into December. Unlike Davis, Price has not been as consistently good, and the old starter – Jeremy Lin – will put up a bigger fight to get his job back than Boozer will. In his run as starter, the 9-year vet only average 7.3 points, 3.5 assists and 1.5 rebounds – a terrible showing in the main categories. However, he has provided excellent numbers in threes (1.5 per game) and especially steals (an outstanding 1.8).

While I would never suggest a guy like Price as a long term option, he is exactly the sort of guy you should keep in mind as a pick up for a Sunday game in a head-to-head category matchup where you find yourself in a close contest for steals. He will almost always get you at least one, and has as much upside as anyone outside of Chris Paul or Ricky Rubio to steal two or three.

 

Three-Point Specialist

C.J. Miles (IND, SG/SF) – 20% Owned

Miles has been on fire since missing time in mid-November with an injury. Between the start of December and January 2, Miles is averaging a ridiculous 2.7 threes per game. He has been given free reign by the Pacers to chuck it up whenever he is on the court as their second string offense works through him.

He has a lot of holes – he is injury prone (he has been sitting the second game of back-to-backs to help avoid aggravation), and he does not bring much in rebounds, assists, steals or blocks. While these holes would sink your team if you tried to rely on him as a full-season option, he makes an excellent spot start as a three-point specialist.

 

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Week 10 Fantasy Basketball Waiver Wire: NBA Guards

Happy New Year everyone!

As we bring in 2015, it is time to really start refining those fantasy basketball rosters and hitting the waiver wire hard. The following guards, whether of the “sleeper” variety or just cashing in temporarily on an unforeseen opportunity, almost certainly deserve attention across the various formats during Week 10 of the campaign.

Position Eligibility & Ownership Rate Based on Yahoo! Fantasy Basketball Player List

 

Waiver Wire Guard for Right Now

Jared Dudley (MIL, SG/SF) - 25% owned

Dudley always seems to end up playing himself into lineups somehow, and it seems as if he has done it again for coach Jason Kidd and the Bucks.

Dudley has game. He's a big guard who can defend, rebound, and hit threes. That's a terrific combination, especially in terms of fantasy basketball. All the guy needs is minutes, and he's going to be productive.

After spending much of the season as a bit player struggling for minutes, Dudley has spent the last week playing between 24 and 35 minutes each game. The result has been early round production of 16.7 points, six rebounds, 2.3 steals, and 2.3 triples per game. He's even more valuable lately in 9 category leagues, thanks to a paltry 0.7 turnovers per game.

Dudley is hot right now, but like all shooters, a cold streak could be just around the bend. The fact the Bucks' rotations have been all over the place doesn't help Dudley's cause either, but while he's hot he needs to be owned in way more than a quarter of all Yahoo leagues. If he's out there, grab him and ride him until his minutes drop again.

 

Waiver Wire Guard in Deep Leagues

Cory Joseph (SAS, PG) - 17% Owned

Point guards are gold in fantasy leagues, and they become even more valuable in deeper leagues, where the point guard pool is spread thinner.

Joseph has had little fantasy value playing behind Tony Parker to start the season, but with Parker having a nagging hamstring injury, and a coach that is hell bent on resting his veteran starters regularly, Joseph makes for an interesting grab if you need help at the point.

Joseph is averaging a solid 10.1 points and 3.3 assists per game this year in limited minutes, but has seen those numbers greatly increase over the last week as Parker's injury replacement. In that time, a span of four games, Joseph is playing 33 minutes per game, and averaging 16.5 points, 4 rebounds, 4.3 assists, and 1.5 steals per game on a ridiculous .737 shooting percentage. That's top 50 value.

Joseph is turning the ball over 3.3 times per game with his increased run. He's also no help at all in the three point categories. He's also no way he continues to hit more than 75% of his shots, or plays 30-plus minutes per game once Parker returns. With that said, he's a nice grab for points, assists, and steals while Parker is sidelined, and worth a grab in deeper leagues until he cools off or Parker returns.

 

Waiver Wire Guard to Keep an Eye On

D.J. Augustin (DET, PG) - 7% Owned

The Detroit Pistons are a complete mess, but that may end up increasing Augustin's fantasy value.

Starting point guard Brandon Jennings has played terribly this year for the most part, and he seems to always have one foot in coach Stan Van Gundy's doghouse. That issue prompted Augustin's name to pop up in here a few weeks ago. After watching what Van Gundy did to Josh Smith, it's pretty clear that no under performing player is safe in Detroit, and that SVG is going to get the guys he doesn't like off this team no matter what.

I'd be willing to bet that Augustine ends up the number one point guard on this team before the season is done. If that happens, he immediately becomes a must add player as a source of points, assists, and threes. He's not worth owning until that happens, so this is a situation that astute fantasy owners should be keeping a very close eye on.
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Week 10 Fantasy Basketball Waiver Wire: NBA Forwards

Heading into calendar year 2015, the waiver wire has taken its typical place in the weekly/daily routine of fantasy basketball managers. The following forwards, whether of the “sleeper” variety or just cashing in temporarily on an unforeseen opportunity, almost certainly deserve attention across the various formats during Week 10 of the campaign.

Position Eligibility & Ownership Rate Based on Yahoo! Fantasy Basketball Player List

 

Waiver Wire Forward for Right Now

Corey Brewer (HOU, SG/SF) – 38% Owned

Since his trade from Minnesota to Houston Brewer has found a home coming off the bench as a valuable second scoring option for the Rockets.  In four games with his new team, Brewer is logging just under 25 minutes per game while averaging 16.25 points- up from 10.5 with Minnesota- and compiling at least a .500 FG shooting percentage in three of those four.

Fantasy owners can expect Brewer’s points and minutes to remain high as Houston remains as a top-eight pace team while slugging along to the tune of a 105.1 offensive rating, good enough for 18th in the league.  The Rockets will need Brewer’s shooting and scoring to keep up with their style of play and stay as a high seed in the mighty Western Conference.

 

Honorable Mention

Shabazz Muhammad (MIN, SG/SF) – 47% Owned

Muhammad has been on the radar for a few weeks now so it should come as no surprise that he is once again on this list.  Even with the return of Kevin Martin likely coming very soon, Muhammad is versatile enough to play different positions on the floor so his losing minutes is not probable.

The Timberwolves have had a tough season and are clearly in rebuilding mode, but Muhammad will continue to be a bright spot for any fantasy owner.  For more analysis, this piece from early December still holds up for the Minnesota swingman.

 

Waiver Wire Forward in Deep Leagues

Danny Granger (MIA, SF) – 5% Owned

There are probably several voices in your head asking questions right now when those words above are recited.  Another Miami forward?  Is this guy serious?  Is Granger still in the league?  Do the words “knee” or “injury” mean anything to this jabroni of an author?  Yes, yes, yes and yes.

The ten-year journeyman has logged no fewer than 18 minutes in Miami’s last five games and exploded over the last two games for 39 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 steal while shooting .700 from the field.  Naturally Granger does come with some health baggage considering his history but there’s no evidence to support the idea that he will suffer from an imminent injury.

Frankly, considering that Chris Bosh and Josh McRoberts are currently out and Shawne Williams remains as sporadic as ever, Granger will probably be leaned on heavily as a second or third scoring option for the immediate future.

 

Waiver Wire Forward to Keep an Eye On

Jonas Jerebko (DET, SF/PF) – 4% Owned

Detroit swingman Kyle Singler may very well be the big immediate winner with the waiving of Josh Smith, but Jerebko offers perhaps the most upside between the two.  The Swede is not really worth an add yet, unless owners are in deep 16 or 18 team leagues, but his playing time has increased considerably since Smith left town.

When conducting the side-by-side comparison with Singler, Jerebko has a higher player efficiency rating, total shooting percentage, total rebound percentage, assist percentage....yada yada yada, he trumps Singler in every single advanced metric.

It is true that Singler's numbers may be skewed because he is playing against tougher competition as Jerebko was mainly getting garbage time this season, but it really should not be long before head coach Stan van Gundy can no longer ignore the obvious.

 

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Week 10 Fantasy Basketball Waiver Wire: NBA Centers

Heading into calendar year 2015, the waiver wire has taken its typical place in the weekly/daily routine of fantasy basketball managers. The following centers, whether of the “sleeper” variety or just cashing in temporarily on an unforeseen opportunity, almost certainly deserve attention across the various formats during Week 10 of the campaign.

Position Eligibility & Ownership Rate Based on Yahoo! Fantasy Basketball Player List

 

Waiver Wire Center for Right Now

Rudy Gobert (UTA, C) - 32% Owned

I wrote about Gobert last week, but if you missed it, pick him up before you even start looking at any other options. He has blocked two or more shots in nine straight games despite inconsistent minutes.

 

Alex Len (PHO, C) - 23% Owned

Like Rudy Gobert, Alex Len is a very young player who is starting to make some noise in the Mountain Time Zone. Len has been particularly good in the second half of December. He has started scoring at least a little bit, with 9.8 points a game between the 17th and the 26th. Over the same time frame he also averaged 7.6 rebounds and an outstanding 2.8 blocks a game.

He has been way better than fellow Suns center Miles Plumlee, and the minutes are starting to reflect his performance. While Len does not have the same value as Gobert in similar minutes due to a lower rebounding rate and slightly worse free throw shooting, Len may actually have a better route to get minutes. It is a lot harder to for the Jazz to bench Derrick Favors or Enes Kanter for Rudy Gobert than it will be for the Suns to bench Miles Plumlee for Alex Len.

In the end, I like Gobert better as a bench stash because I love the rates and he has a bigger upside if he does get starter’s minutes. But if you need a center who has upside for more minutes in the short term, Len is actually a better bet.

 

Waiver Wire Center in Deep Leagues

Jusuf Nurkic (DEN, C) - 1% Owned

Staying with our theme of young centers in the Mountain Time Zone, Jusuf Nurkic is a 20-year-old 7-footer out of Bosnia who was technically drafted by the Bulls 16th overall, though they had already agreed to trade the rights to that pick to Denver in the deal that allowed Chicago to get Doug McDermott with Denver’s original 11th overall pick.

Nurkic has drawn the praise of Nuggets coach Brian Shaw in recent days for his confidence and fearlessness. Since he has earned a regular spot in the rotation (about 16 minutes a game) on December 13, Nurkic is averaging 7.4 points, 5.8 rebounds, 1.1 steals and 0.9 blocks per game with a .489 FG% and .650 FT%. That is not quite useful in any but the deepest of leagues yet, but you can see the upside in those rates coming in only 16 minutes a game.

Shaw’s praise indicates he may see even more minutes as the season progresses. With even 20 minutes a game, his current stats extrapolate to a guy who can score close to 10 points a game with 7 rebounds, 1 steal, and 1 block, which is solid production for a bottom of the lineup fantasy center. And with an injury ahead of him, or a trade of starter Timofey Mozgov, he could really break through.

 

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NBA Waiver Wire: Four-Game Fantasy Basketball Sleepers (12/29 – 1/4)

By joshuak8 (Flickr: NBA: Indiana Pacers at Charlotte Bobcats) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia CommonsThis weekly column is geared toward anyone playing in a head-to-head format, and especially those of you in weekly lineup leagues. It is a great idea to keep up with which players are scheduled to play four games during the upcoming week (12/29 - 1/4), as fantasy basketball managers can use this information to gain an advantage in games played over an opponent. Simply put, the more games played, the more potential there is for production.

Based on their respective four-game schedules, the following four players should be viewed as “sleepers” for next week. Advising fantasy owners to play the likes of LeBron James or Anthony Davis is a waste of time and effort; hopefully it is common knowledge that studs of that nature should be in lineups regardless of how many games they are slated to play.

Position Eligibility & Ownership Rate Based On Yahoo! Fantasy Basketball Leagues.

 

Top Four-Game Sleepers (12/29 – 1/4)

Tristan Thompson (CLE, PF/C) - 49% Owned

Thompson has been a starter in years past for the Cavaliers, but the additions of LeBron James and Kevin Love have pushed him to the bench this season. That is, until Anderson Varejao got hurt...again. Varejao suffered a torn Achilles tendon, and had surgery to repair it on Friday. He will be out for the rest of the season.

As a result, Thompson’s stock is soaring. He has entered the starting lineup in place of Varejao at center. He played 40 minutes in Cleveland’s last game, which is notable but probably will not be the norm. However, he should continue to see 30+ minutes a game easily as he really has no competition for playing time in the Cavaliers rotation right now.

Tristan’s game at times leaves a lot to be desired. He has career averages of 10.5 points, 8.4 rebounds, 0.9 assists, 0.6 steals, and 0.8 blocks per game, while shooting 47.8 percent from the field and 63.1 percent from the line. As you can see, Thompson can score a little with a good shooting percentage and is a pretty good rebounder, but he does not offer much upside in any other category outside of the occasional steal or block. His free throw shooting is terrible, and his passing is non-existent. He has a little more appeal in 9-cat leagues due to his low turnover rate.

With Cleveland’s Big Three around, there will not be many plays run for Thompson. He will need to be active on the offensive glass to put up some numbers, but that is something he can do well. The Cavs frontcourt defense is pretty awful now without Varejao, so they really need Thompson to be more active on that side of the ball.

Next week the Cavs will have matchups at Atlanta, Milwaukee, at Charlotte, and Dallas. Despite his shortcomings, Thompson is still a recommended add for this week and beyond. Varejao is not coming back, so unless the Cavs make a trade, Thompson will get a lot of playing time. He is a nightly double-double threat, and should chip in a few defensive stats along the way. If you are in the market for big man stats, Thompson should be a solid addition to your fake basketball team.

 

Alex Len (PHO, C) - 17% Owned

Len has really started to come on lately. He went off for 10 points, 11 rebounds, and a whopping five blocked shots in his last game. The most impressive thing is that Len did all this damage in just 23 minutes!

His outstanding play has earned him more time on the court, at the expense of Miles Plumlee. Len was a lottery pick (#5 overall) of the Suns just two years ago, and is the superior talent. He suffered through an injury plagued rookie season, but is healthy now and beginning to play at a high level.

Len has recently overtaken Plumlee in the starting lineup for Phoenix. This has provided a nice boost for his production, as he has had at least seven rebounds in each of his last four games. Even though Plumlee’s minutes are trending downward, he will still have a spot in the rotation.

Foul trouble has been another issue that Len has struggled with. This is to be expected of a young player who is still adjusting the NBA game. However, until he can get it under control, Len is unlikely to play more than the 20-25 minutes a game he has been receiving. Fortunately, he has proven capable of putting up numbers in limited action.

The upcoming schedule for the Suns features games at New Orleans, at Oklahoma City, Philadelphia, and Toronto. Len is only scratching the surface of his upside, and should continue to get better as the season progresses. He makes for an excellent add not only this week, but for the remainder of the season as well.

 

George Hill (IND, PG/SG) - 76% Owned

Hill finally made his season debut at home against New Orleans on December 23rd. He had been sidelined with a series of knee and quad injuries dating back to the preseason. Fantasy owners should be salivating now that he is back.

Indiana has eased Hill back into action so far, slowly increasing his minutes with each game. Even in limited action, the results have been pretty good. Through his first two games, Hill is averaging 14.0 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 0.5 steals, and 2.5 three-pointers. He is shooting 50.0 percent from the field (including 45.5 percent from downtown) and 75.0 percent from the line.

Those are solid totals for anybody, but Hill has done this in limited action and coming off the bench with the second unit. On Saturday, he made his return to the starting lineup and responded with 12 points, six rebounds, five assists, and two three-pointers on 5-9 shooting. He is going to destroy his career averages.

The Pacers are a hot mess right now. Their biggest problem is staying healthy, but they also are having trouble finding consistent scoring. Hill is a veteran presence and the offense will run through him. He has posted a high 24.1 usage rate so far, and this number could rise even further as he gets more minutes. This means that more production is on the way.

Next week Hill squares off against Chicago, Miami, at Milwaukee, and at LA Lakers. He is an outstanding play from this point forward. If he is still floating around on your waiver wire, stop what you are doing and go pick him up. Otherwise, send a trade offer to the owner that has him before he really blows up.

 

Jarrett Jack (BKN, PG/SG) - 29% Owned

Jack has been on fire ever since Deron Williams went down with a calf injury. In his last three games prior to Saturday, he has averaged 19.7 points, 4.0 rebounds, 7.7 assists, and 2.0 steals on an amazing 53.7 percent shooting. He seems to do this everytime he gets an opportunity.

What is even more impressive is the fact that Williams made his return on Friday at Boston, although he was eased back into action. You would think that his return would be bad news for Jack, but in fact the opposite has been true. Jack has remained in the starting lineup, with Williams coming off the bench. His minutes have not taken a hit at all, remaining in the mid to high 30s range.

There have been numerous trade rumors surrounding Williams, so there is a good chance that Jack remains a useful commodity for the rest of the season. Even if Williams sticks around, Jack has surely carved out more playing time with his strong showing. On Saturday, Jack played the most minutes, took the most shots, and was the highest scorer on the team.

The Nets have a favorable schedule next week, including matchups with Sacramento, at Chicago, at Orlando, and at Miami. None of these teams are particularly adept at defending opposing point guards. Jack makes for a fine play next week as there are not many teams with a four-game schedule. Owners would be wise to hang on to him for the time being to see how the situation plays out.

 

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Week 9 Fantasy Basketball Waiver Wire: NBA Guards

Happy Holidays everyone. There has been some big moves made this past week in the NBA, namely the trade of Rajon Rondo and the release of Josh Smith. These two huge moves means there will be a ripple effect in fantasy waiver wires everywhere.

This week, we are going to focus on NBA guards you should strongly consider adding, as they will seemingly see an increase in production as a direct result of these moves.

Position Eligibility & Ownership Rate Based on Yahoo! Fantasy Basketball Player List

 

Waiver Wire Guard For Right Now

Marcus Smart (BOS, PG) - 46% owned

With Rondo sent to Dallas, and the Boston Celtics going nowhere, it makes sense that Coach Brad Stevens would give his young players as much run as possible. This alone makes Smart a must add in leagues with 12 or more teams.

Smart is not Rondo, but he is good for some threes and great defensive stats. So far, however, Smart has been underwhelming in three games without Rondo, and Stevens has used three different starting point guards in that span. There is also concerns about Smart's scoring ability, especially his jump shot, that may leave him in a bench role for now.

Eventually, Smart is going to receive more minutes. If he is available in your league, grab him now.

 

Waiver Wire Guard For Deeper Leagues

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (DET, SG) - 20% Owned

When Josh Smith was waived by the Pistons, Stan Van Gundy made it perfectly clear that the new plan is to play Detroit's young players in an attempt to see what is there for the future. This is great news for a guy like Caldwell-Pope.

"KCP" has had issues with efficiency to this point, but is averaging 12.5 points while knocking down 2.0 treys per game at a 36.3 percent clip. He is also getting more than 30 minutes per contest, meaning there should be plenty of chances to improve those numbers going forward.

 

Waiver Wire Guard To Keep An Eye On

Jameer Nelson (BOS, PG) - 34% Owned

Nelson has been one of the worst point guards in the NBA this season. He has offered little to fantasy owners and looks as if he is on the last legs of his NBA playing days.

With that said, a change of scenery may due Nelson some good. It seems the Boston starting point guard gig is going to belong to Marcus Smart, but just in case Brad Stevens decides he wants to use a veteran floor general to lead his young talent, and help develop his young point guard, Nelson is worth keeping an eye on. It is unlikely, but stranger things have happened.

If Nelson can recapture a bit of his former self, he can be a nice source of threes, points and assists.

 

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Week 9 Fantasy Basketball Waiver Wire: NBA Centers

A quarter of the way into the 2014-15 NBA season, the waiver wire has taken its typical place in the weekly/daily routine of fantasy basketball managers. The following centers, whether of the “sleeper” variety or just cashing in temporarily on an unforeseen opportunity, almost certainly deserve attention across the various formats during Week 9 of the campaign.

Position Eligibility & Ownership Rate Based on Yahoo! Fantasy Basketball Player List

 

Waiver Wire Center in Standard Leagues

Rudy Gobert (UTA, C) – 24% owned

Our own Brad Baird highlighted Gobert in last week’s Four-Game Sleepers article, saying “If and/or when he consistently receives starter’s minutes, he is going to do a ton of damage.” I am completely on board the Gobert hype train with Brad. The main hesitation, of course, is that he will not consistently get starter’s minutes so long as Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter are healthy.

The good news is that even without starter’s minutes, Gobert has been worth owning this year, posting usable numbers given his excellent field goal percentage, and lofty block and rebound rates. And now that he has had a chance to prove himself a bit, he is at least sometimes seeing starter’s minutes, if not consistently. Even with both Favors and Kanter in the starting lineup, Gobert posted 30 minutes off the bench on Saturday against the Hornets, scoring 11 points on 5/6 shooting, bringing down 12 rebounds, and blocking 2 shots.

Gobert’s downside is that he only ends up with 20 minutes a game with big game like Saturday mixed in with 15 minute duds, but still doing enough to be worth owning, if only for the blocks and FG% alone. Gobert’s upside is that the tanking Jazz find more and more minutes for him as he keeps developing, and he becomes a must-start center and dominant force in blocks.

I will leave you with one fact about Gobert – of all the players in the NBA who have played at least 200 minutes this season, no one has blocked more shots per minute of play than Rudy Gobert. Not Roy Hibbert, not Serge Ibaka, not Andrew Bogut -- not even Anthony Davis! Gobert’s upside is simply too high for you to leave on the waiver wire.

 

Waiver Wire Center in Deep Leagues

Kyle O'Quinn (ORL - PF/C) - 11% Owned

While it seemed Kyle O’Quinn would be buried as Channing Frye got healthier, it seems he might not have seen the last of his time in the starting lineup. On Sunday against Philadelphia, O’Quinn started ahead of Frye, playing 26 minutes and posting one his usual quirky but useful lines – 8 points on 3/7 shooting, 1 three, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 4 blocks, 2 turnovers.

That is the good news. The bad news is that the lineup the Magic trotted out starting O’Quinn somehow lost at home to the 76ers, so that cannot possibly be a point in his favor unless the tankers really are in charge and they are terrified that the Magic might somehow make the playoffs in the East.

Nonetheless, O’Quinn’s well-rounded and efficient game featuring excellent percentages and defensive stats with decent rebounding and the occasional three has been quite valuable this season. It is not like it was all his fault they lost to Philadelphia. The possibility of him keeping the starting role ahead of Frye is enough to warrant a pickup in all deeper leagues – and even some leagues of standard depth.

 

 

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NBA Waiver Wire: Four-Game Fantasy Basketball Sleepers (12/22 - 12/28)

This weekly column is geared toward anyone playing in a head-to-head format, and especially those of you in weekly lineup leagues. It is a great idea to keep up with which players are scheduled to play four games during the upcoming week (12/22 - 12/28), as fantasy basketball managers can use this information to gain an advantage in games played over an opponent. Simply put, the more games played, the more potential there is for production.

Based on their respective four-game schedules, the following four players should be viewed as “sleepers” for next week. Advising fantasy owners to play the likes of LeBron James or Anthony Davis is a waste of time and effort; hopefully it is common knowledge that studs of that nature should be in lineups regardless of how many games they are slated to play.

Position Eligibility & Ownership Rate Based On Yahoo! Fantasy Basketball Leagues.

 

Top Four-Game Sleepers (12/22 - 12/28)

Cory Joseph (SAS, PG) - 8% Owned

Joseph has played very well of late. Heading into the weekend, he is averaging 11.6 points, 4.3 rebounds, 4.0 assists, and 0.9 steals on an impressive 52.6 percent from the field over his last eight games. He has played at least 30 minutes in all eight.

Since Tony Parker went down with a hamstring injury, Joseph has been logging huge minutes out of necessity. He is currently the only healthy point guard on the Spurs roster, as Patty Mills has yet to take the court this season. Coach Gregg Popovich often rests his starters, so Joseph is not only getting heavy minutes, but is also being relied on to produce.

Next week Joseph will go up against the LA Clippers, Oklahoma City, at New Orleans, and Houston. He does have some tough matchups against the likes of Chris Paul and Patrick Beverley, who are both excellent defenders. However, Joseph should still be able to produce on sheer volume. It does not hurt that three out of his four games are at home. Neither Parker nor Mills are expected to return anytime soon, so Joseph should be a nice asset in the short-term.

 

Marreese Speights (GSW, PF/C) - 29% Owned

Speights is a bit of a risk because he does not play a ton of minutes. He usually checks in around 20 minutes a game, which is less than what you typically want when searching for consistent production. The fact that he does not start is also less than ideal.

Despite all of these negatives, Speights still finds a way to put up numbers. He is shooting a stellar 52.9 percent from the field to go along with 79.1 percent from the line, which is very impressive for a big man. When given playing time, he has proven to be an asset in points, boards, and blocks.

Coming off the bench actually helps him, and he does a lot of damage in limited minutes. His usage rate is sky high when he is in the game because the Warriors lack scoring options on their second unit. If he ever got 30+ minutes a game on a consistent basis, he would be a must-start player.

The main thing working in Speights’ favor is the injury to Andrew Bogut. This has opened up more minutes for Speights to do his thing. Festus Ezeli will continue to start, but fantasy owners should not be concerned with that. Despite the starter label, Ezeli barely plays and hardly does anything noteworthy when he does see the court.

Speights will square off against Sacramento, at LA Lakers, at LA Clippers, and Minnesota. These are all pretty favorable matchups. His value is directly tied to Bogut’s health, but Bogut is likely to be out for about a month, so Speights nice run should continue for a while.

 

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (CHA, SF) - 13% Owned

Kidd-Gilchrist has been injured for the majority of this season, but made his return to the court on December 10th. It has been a slow process, as the Hornets have eased him back into action. However, MKG finally appears to be rounding into form.

The former lottery pick posted a big double-double in a win on Saturday versus the Utah Jazz. He poured in 13 points, 11 rebounds, two assists, one steal, and three blocks on 50.0 percent from the field. This was easily his best game since his return.

This is the type of game that the Hornets envisioned when they took him 2nd overall in the 2012 draft. MKG has been a bit of a disappointment though, due to injuries and inconsistent play. He will probably still be a roller coaster ride, as his offensive game is still a work in progress.

Kidd-Gilchrist has a few things going for him right now though. One thing you can count on is his outstanding play on the defensive side of the ball. Lance Stephenson is also hurt right now, so someone has to pick up the slack on the wing. MKG should continue to play at least 30 minutes per game, even when Stephenson comes back.

The schedule coming up for Charlotte features Denver, at Milwaukee, at Oklahoma City, and Orlando. The opportunity will be there for MKG to be productive going forward. Only time will tell what he does with it. However, he is worth a look this week, at least while Stephenson is out of commission.

 

Nikola Mirotic (CHI, SF/PF) - 16% Owned

Mirotic has been a beast over his last two games, averaging 20.0 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.5 steals, 1.0 blocks, and 4.0 three-pointers a game. The increased production coincides with the injury to Taj Gibson. These are the type of across-the-board numbers that Mirotic can put up though when he receives the playing time.

Playing time is the issue with Mirotic though. He is the low man on the totem pole in the Chicago frontcourt. His fantasy value right now hinges on the health of Pau Gasol, Joakim Noah, and Taj Gibson. However, if any one of these guys suffers an injury, Mirotic will get a lot of run and has proven to be an asset when he does. Given the injury history of that trio, Mirotic is a pretty good bet to have value as the season wears on.

Chicago’s schedule next week includes Toronto, at Washington, LA Lakers, and New Orleans. Gibson is not expected to be out for very long, so Mirotic’s recent run could be short-lived. It is probably only a matter of time though before someone else goes down. If you are looking for a guy with some upside, give Mirotic a look this week when there are very few teams with a four-game schedule.

 

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Week 8 Fantasy Basketball Waiver Wire: NBA Category Specialists

The 2014-15 NBA Season is rolling right along, and with that it is time to dive back into the fantasy basketball waiver wire for Week 8 of the campaign. Today, the focus is on sleepers of the "Category Specialist" variety that can each help out in different areas.

 

FG Percentage Specialist

Thomas Robinson (POR, PF) – 8% Owned

After Robin Lopez fractured his hand, it was largely assumed some portion of Chris Kaman and Joel Freeland – guys with experience playing center in the NBA – would start at the 5 for the Trailblazers.  Instead, shockingly, Portland coach Terry Stotts trotted out a lineup in Lopez’s first game out (December 17th against the Bucks) with Robinson starting in the frontcourt alongside LaMarcus Aldridge.

Robinson is a fourth year power forward who spent most of his first three years looking like a total bust, with two teams (Sacramento and Houston) giving up on him in the process.  He entered this year buried on the bench for Portland. He looked like a completely new player in this new opportunity, though.  It seems like he may have turned himself into the credible NBA player he looked like he was when the Kings selected him 5th overall in the 2012 draft (when there was even serious talk about him as the first overall pick, ahead of Anthony Davis).

In what was his first career start, Robinson hit 5 of 8 shots, scored 15 points, pulled down a ridiculous 16 rebounds, and added 1 steal and 1 block.  He did shoot a Dwight Howard-esque 5 of 15 on free throws, but free throw shooting days as ugly as that and with that many attempts will not come every day.  He should hover more around 50% free throw shooting and attempt more like 4 or 5 a game.

If you are seeking to add field goal percentage with good rebounding and decent defensive stats at the expense of some free throw percentage, Robinson is a great add.  And if you are punting free throw percentage (or it is not penalized in your league, such as in most points leagues) you should race to the waiver wire.

 

Blocks Specialist

Chris Andersen (MIA, PF/C) – 3% Owned

Perhaps in celebration of the new Michael Keaton movie about him (that movie is a biopic about Andersen, right?) the Birdman is getting some heavy runtime!  Andersen has had to assume a much larger role than usual for Miami of late, as they have lost Josh McRoberts for the season and Chris Bosh has been missing time with a calf injury.

While he will likely return to the bench when Bosh returns, Andersen seems likely to keep playing decent minutes for the Heat.  Birdman will not score a lot – he never does – but he will deliver an excellent field goal percentage on the attempts he does have and you can expect about 1.5 blocks a game if he can stay over 20 minutes in playing time.

This combination of defensive stats and efficiency makes him a nice streamer for blocks, as well as a good deep league add.

 

Steals Specialist

Marcus Smart (BOS, PG) – 44% Owned

Many fantasy owners have already begun to overreact to the Rondo trade by racing to the wire to add Smart.  Something about real life trades makes people really want to make moves themselves.

It is true that Smart is likely to get a ton of minutes for a tanking Celtics squad, though it may be capped somewhat by the presence of Jameer Nelson (though there is a decent chance they flip him in a few weeks, too).  However, he is still a huge work in progress on offense.  He is an absolute albatross when it comes to FG% and provides extremely low assist rates for a PG, so you should not be dropping more complete offensive starters like Courtney Lee or Jodie Meeks for him.

However, if you have other incomplete, speculative, or injured players you are comfortable dropping, Smart does make a reasonable add for his excellent steals rate, a category where he could reasonably end up as a top 5 player the rest of the way (especially with steals-god Ricky Rubio currently out).  He will also add plenty of three pointers, as the Celtics continue to let him launch the ball at a high rate.

If he is still available in your league, grab him if you have an obvious guy to drop, but do not force it if you would have to drop a productive player.

 

Three-Point Specialist

Jodie Meeks (DET, SG) – 29% Owned

As I alluded to above, I would personally rather have Meeks than Smart in standard leagues. This is because Meeks is not going to destroy your field goal percentage like Smart might.

Meeks will also improve your FT% (he has averaged over 4 free throws a game on the season so far and hit 100% of them) and turn the ball over less, two factors that are perpetually underappreciated in favor of sexier statistics.  And for as many threes as Smart as likely to hit, I believe Meeks will still hit more – he is a better shooter than Smart and he is the only guy on Detroit who reasonably should be taking a lot of three point attempts (while Boston has good three point shooters all over the court, from Jeff Green to Kelly Olynyk)

The final little factor in Meeks’s favor – one that especially comes to play in Yahoo leagues – is that Meeks is a SG – one of the more scarce positions – while Smart only qualifies at PG, which is probably the easiest position to fill right now.

If Meeks is available in your league, grab him.  He is a great source of threes with some decent steals and very nice efficiency.
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Week 8 Fantasy Basketball Waiver Wire: NBA Guards

Nearly two months into the 2014-15 NBA season, the waiver wire has taken its typical place in the weekly/daily routine of fantasy basketball managers. The following guards, whether of the “sleeper” variety or just cashing in temporarily on an unforeseen opportunity, almost certainly deserve attention across the various formats.

Position Eligibility & Ownership Rate Based on Yahoo! Fantasy Basketball Player List

 

Waiver Wire Guard For Right Now

Jodie Meeks (DET, SG) - 32% Owned

Stan Van Grundy loved this guy enough that Detroit over paid him this offseason, and now that Meeks has returned from a back injury, he will be a big part of the Pistons' rotation.

Not only do the Pistons desperately need a shooter, but it has been obvious so far this year, that SVG is not really in love with any of the guards he has on the roster. Coach Van Gundy has also stated that he plans to use Meeks both on and off the ball, meaning the long-range threat should end up being much more than just a three point specialist.

Meeks is coming off of a 20-point effort and looks as if he is going to become a huge part of Detroit's offense. Consider him, at the very least, a must grab in any 12-team league.

 

Waiver Wire Guard in Deeper Leagues

Jerryd Bayless (MIL, PG/SG) - 3% Owned

The backcourt/wing spots in Milwaukee were a bit crowded going into the season, but with Jabari Parker now done for the year, there will be a more minutes to go around. That could greatly benefit Bayless.

Bayless has been productive of late, averaging 10.8 points, 3.4 assists, 3.4 rebounds and 1.2 steals over the last five games. In addition, he has shot 50.0 percent from the field and a perfect 18-of-18 from the charity stripe during the same span.

An uptick from the 23 minutes per game he has received so far this month could result in Bayless approaching top-50 value.

 

Waiver Wire Guard to Keep an Eye On

Tim Hardaway, Jr. (NYK, SG) - 20% Owned

I feel a bit dirty telling anyone to add any Knicks' player. The team stinks, period, and outside of Carmelo Anthony, nobody playing in the Garden is a must-add option in fantasy basketball. With that said, Hardaway is someone to keep an eye on, especially if you need scoring.

Hardaway is not going to help you in a ton of categories, but he is a guy who can drain shots from beyond the arc and knock down free throws while not turning the ball over. Also, his playing time has increased significantly during the past seven days and his production has done the same. Hardaway is averaging 17.8 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.8 threes in 33 minutes over the last four games.

If you can survive a sub-40 percent shooting from the floor, Hardaway may be worth a look. With J.R. Smith's injuries and the Knicks desperately needing a spark, he could continue to see big minutes.

 

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Week 8 Fantasy Basketball Waiver Wire: NBA Forwards

By Keith Allison from Hanover, MD, USA (Kris Humphries) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia CommonsNow more than a month into the 2014-15 NBA season, the waiver wire has taken its typical place in the weekly/daily routine of fantasy basketball managers. The following forwards, whether of the “sleeper” variety or just cashing in temporarily on an unforeseen opportunity, almost certainly deserve attention across the various formats.

Position Eligibility & Ownership Rate Based on Yahoo! Fantasy Basketball Player List

 

Waiver Wire Forward for Right Now

Tyler Zeller (BOS, PF/C) - 25% Owned

Judging solely by the eye test, Zeller has been a hot hand for the Celtics since his insertion into the starting five, even with his dud of a game on Monday night.  Boston head coach Brad Stevens has implied that he’ll go with the hot hand and at this juncture of the season, Zeller has been more consistent than the sporadic Kelly Olynyk.

Offensively there’s a lot to like about Zeller’s game.  His 137 ORating is tops on the Celtics while his .701 TS% is incredibly high for a big man.  It’s pretty incredible that Zeller is being used on only 15.7% of plays while he’s on the court yet he still possess that high ORtg number.  Bet dollars to donuts that he won’t be able to keep up that high pace throughout the season, but owners that need low-end big man offense should pick up Zeller for the short term.

 

Waiver Wire Forward for Deeper Leagues

Kris Humphries (WAS, PF/C) - 18% Owned

It looks like Humphries has finally shed whatever Kardashian baggage was hanging on to him and is starting to ball like the player who was taken in the first round in 2004.  Starting PF Nene Hilario appears to be healthy again but Humphries has earned his playing time the old fashioned way: crashing the boards and playing big boy defense.  It should come as no surprise that Humphries’ value to teams in deeper leagues is mainly in the rebounding and defensive categories.

Even with Nene back, Humphries should still see 20-25 minutes per game and continue to be a valuable piece of the Wizards off the bench.  Five of Washington’s next six games offer excellent opportunities for Humphries to see a lot of production offensively and defensively.

 

Waiver Wire Forwards to Keep an Eye On

The Miami Forward Platoon

Shawne Williams (MIA, SF/PF) – 12% Owned

Chris Andersen (MIA, PF/C) – 3% Owned

Udonis Haslem (MIA, PF) – 0% Owned

Josh McRoberts is injured….again.  Obviously McBobby did something to upset the basketball gods in the offseason because his 2014 campaign has been plagued by injury.  He will be out indefinitely, most likely the year, and to further add insult to injury- literally- Chris Bosh has been limited in playing time and practice due to a nagging calf injury and there’s no timetable for his return.  Considering that calf injuries range in severity, there’s no telling when Bosh will return.

These two injuries will provide plenty of opportunities between the three of what is being dubbed the “Miami Forward Platoon.”  Actually no one is really coining that term but it sounds like an official fantasy term.  The best bet to have the most production is clearly Williams.  The trouble with him is that his roller coaster season is so high and low that owners can’t really count on him from night to night.  Haslem has remained as close to a ghost as possible and head coach Erik Spoelstra seems to be keeping the veteran on a short leash.  That leaves the Birdman as the heir apparent to the four-man position.  He clearly is the front runner in terms of rebounding and defense but his offensive game leaves little to imagination.  As it stands right now, owners should watch how this plays out as the next two games should give plenty of insight into which one of these three makes the most of the opportunity presented.  Just don’t expect a Hunger Games style bloodbath between them.

 

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Week 8 Fantasy Basketball Waiver Wire: NBA Centers

Nearly a couple of months into the 2014-15 NBA season, the waiver wire has taken its typical place in the weekly/daily routine of fantasy basketball managers. The following centers, whether of the “sleeper” variety or just cashing in temporarily on an unforeseen opportunity, almost certainly deserve attention across the various formats.

Position Eligibility & Ownership Rate Based on Yahoo! Fantasy Basketball Player List

 

Waiver Wire Center in Standard Leagues

Mason Plumlee (BKN, PF/C) - 34% Owned

One substantial warning right off the bat on Plumlee: in a league in which you care about free-throw percentage, he is not worth the risk. The former Duke star is so bad at the stripe that it almost ruins any other contributions. Do not roster Plumlee in a roto league, and do not play him in head-to-head format if free-throw percentage is a competitive category in your current matchup. However, with all of that said, Plumlee does hold value in other stats due to injuries and advanced age in the Nets' frontcourt.

With both Brook Lopez and Kevin Garnett out, Plumlee is getting a ton of playing time. In the back-to-back on December 12th and 13th, he played a total of 73 minutes, scoring 29 and pulling down a total 23 rebounds while shooting over 60 percent for the field. He has a history of providing excellent defensive stats, averaging 1.6 blocks and 1.3 steals per 36 minutes during his young career.

If those defensive stats along with the double-double potential is something you are in search of, Plumlee is a great short-term option.

 

Waiver Wire Center in Deep Leagues

J.J. Hickson (DEN, PF/C) - 8% Owned

Hickson comes with much the same free-throw percentage warning as Plumlee. Hickson’s free-throw shooting is not quite as bad as Plumlee’s, but his upside elsewhere is not as high. Hickson shoots for a decent field-goal percentage and the rebounds are there when he is given the opportunity. However, he contributes very little in the defensive categories, averaging only 0.8 steals and 0.9 blocks per 36 minutes over his career.

If you are seeking scoring and rebounds in a deep league, Hickson certainly has a solid opportunity for playing time on his hands. Kenneth Faried has been banged-up, and Hickson has been starting in his place. One thing to keep in mind, Hickson is splitting many of those minutes at power forward with Darrell Arthur.

On top of Faried being down, Javale McGee is now likely out for the season. That makes rookie Jusuf Nurkic the backup at center for the Nuggets behind Timofey Mozgov, with J.J. Hickson the third option. Being the third option at center gives Hickson just a couple more minutes, but those few minutes are enough to move the needle in deeper leagues. It may even allow him to retain some relevance in those deep leagues even when Faried returns to full strength.

 

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NBA Waiver Wire: Four-Game Fantasy Basketball Sleepers (12/15 - 12/21)

This weekly column is geared toward anyone playing in a head-to-head format, and especially those of you in weekly lineup leagues. It is a great idea to keep up with which players are scheduled to play four games during the upcoming week, as fantasy basketball managers can use this information to gain an advantage in games played over an opponent. Simply put, the more games played, the more potential there is for production.

Based on their respective four-game schedules, the following four players should be viewed as “sleepers” for next week. Advising fantasy owners to play the likes of LeBron James or Anthony Davis is a waste of time and effort; hopefully it is common knowledge that studs of that nature should be in lineups regardless of how many games they are slated to play.

Position Eligibility & Ownership Rate Based On Yahoo! Fantasy Basketball Leagues

 

Top Four-Game Sleepers (12/15 - 12/21)

C.J. Watson (IND, PG) - 7% Owned

Watson has spent the majority of this season recovering from an injury, but has returned to play in the last nine games. He has mostly come off the bench with the second unit. However, with the combination of his solid play and the struggles of Donald Sloan, coach Frank Vogel made the decision to insert Watson into the starting lineup.

Sloan was playing so poorly that he fell out of the rotation entirely. Watson has played well as a starter, averaging 18.0 points, 2.0 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 0.5 steals, and 3.0 three-pointers in his first two games. He has played more than 30 minutes in each. It is a small sample, but Watson has shown the ability to put up numbers as a starter in the past. He should be a nice asset in points, threes, and assists.

The Pacers are trying to find a combination that works, and Watson is simply a better player than Sloan. George Hill is still not close to making a return, so Watson should continue to have solid value in the short-term. His upcoming schedule is favorable, with games against the LA Lakers, at LA Clippers, at Denver, and at Minnesota. The Clippers are tough on point guards, but the other matchups are excellent. Watson will be a nice play this week.

 

Tyler Zeller (BOS, PF/C) - 22% Owned

Zeller has slowly but surely earned more and more minutes with his solid play so far this season. Coach Brad Stevens recently put Zeller in the starting lineup, and has to be pleased with the results. He has scored in double-figures in four of his last five games, with at least five rebounds in each. The big man is usually good for a block a game, along with stellar percentages; he is shooting 65.4 percent from the field and 83.0 percent from the charity stripe.

The problem with Zeller is that he is essentially in a time share with Kelly Olynyk, which limits the upside of both players. They are each logging about 25 minutes a game, which is enough to put up solid numbers, but neither is likely to put up a huge line either. Zeller is about as consistent as they come though, so if you are in need of big man stats you could do a lot worse than Zeller. This week he gets some juicy matchups, including games at Philadelphia, Orlando, Minnesota, and at Miami.

 

Patrick Patterson (TOR, PF/C) - 25% Owned

When DeMar DeRozan went down with an injury, it looked as though Greivis Vasquez was going to be the biggest beneficiary. Vasquez started out hot for a couple of games, but has since fizzled out a bit. It has been Patterson that has played more consistently in DeRozan’s absence.

Patterson is averaging 14.0 points, 6.7 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.0 blocks and 2.7 three-pointers over his last three games heading into Sunday. His biggest value comes from his ability to knock down threes in bunches from the power forward/center position. These type of numbers make him worth owning already, but if Amir Johnson or Jonas Valanciunas were to suffer an injury, Patterson would become a must-start player. Given the injury history of those two guys, this is a likely scenario at some point this season.

Next week Patterson will face Orlando, Brooklyn, at Detroit, and New York. None of these teams are particularly strong defensively, so he is in line for a productive week. If you are looking for a big man with some upside, give Patterson a long look.

 

Rudy Gobert (UTA, C) - 19% Owned

Gobert has been a favorite stash target of mine for a while, and now he is getting the opportunity to get his name out there. He made his first career NBA start on Sunday, filling in for an injured Derrick Favors, and he did not disappoint. The Frenchman posted a full line of seven points, nine rebounds, two steals, and three blocks.

This is the type of line you can expect from the second year player. His offensive game is still very raw, but defensively he is a stud already. Gobert’s free throw shooting is not good at all, but he shoots for a high field goal percentage and will be a tremendous asset in rebounds, steals, and blocks.

The downside is that Favors’ injury is not expected to keep him out very long, so Gobert will likely head back to the bench when he returns. If you have the room to stash Gobert though, I would highly recommend it. I fully expect him to supplant Enes Kanter in the starting lineup at some point this season. It is only a matter of time before the Jazz get tired of Kanter not playing defense ever, and realize that they are better off with Gobert in the starting lineup and Kanter playing with the second unit.

Next week he will play at New Orleans, at Miami, at Orlando, and at Charlotte. All four games are on the road, but none of these assignments are too daunting. Even if Favors does come back quickly, Gobert has shown that he can still hold value in limited minutes. If and/or when he consistently receives starters minutes, he is going to do a ton of damage. Pick him up now and see how it plays out.

 

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Week 7 Fantasy Basketball Waiver Wire: NBA Blocks Specialists

By Zereshk (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia CommonsThe 2014-15 NBA Season is rolling right along, and with that it is time to dive back into the fantasy basketball waiver wire. Today, the focus is on sleeper options that can help your team out in the blocks department.

 

Blocks Category Specialists

Wesley Johnson (LAL, SG/SF) – 31% Owned

Guys who can average a block per game at a guard spot are few and far between in fantasy basketball, but that is exactly what Johnson was able to do last season, and he is once again off to a good start in that area this season. He has been particularly hot in recent games. In the first five games he has played in the month of December, Johnson has averaged 1.6 blocks per game. Even better, he has also averaged 1.4 threes in the same stretch.

While a scoring average in the single digits along with low assists and rebounds usually relegate a player into uselessness, Johnson’s outstanding contributions in blocks and threes make him worth owning in most leagues. He is particularly useful on teams that are punting assists, where you want to max out the secondary stats (such as blocks and threes) that you are getting out of your guard positions.

 

Tristan Thompson (CLE, PF/C) – 38% Owned

I did not expect myself to be bringing up Thompson – a player who has notoriously underperformed in blocks over the course of his career – in an article about blocks specialists. However, I am beginning to like what he is doing this year. After blocking only 35 shots in 82 games last season, Thompson already has 18 blocks this season. He has looked especially good in the Cavs current eight game-winning streak (up through December 9), where he is shooting 62.7 percent from the floor, scoring 10.4 points a game, bringing down 7.8 rebounds and averaging 1.0 block a game.

Maybe it is a small sample size. But maybe it is that playing with Kevin Love and LeBron James is helping his game in a lot of ways, and he has started to take seriously the team’s need for interior defense and rim protection outside of Anderson Varejao. I can only speculate on what is going on inside Thompson’s head or in the Cavs locker room, but right now I want whatever Cleveland is selling. If Thompson really is going to get a block a game to go with his usual good numbers in points, rebounds and field-goal percentage, he is worth owning universally.

 

Tiago Splitter (SA, C) – 6% Owned

In his first game back after a lengthy absence, Splitter only played eight minutes, but he managed to block two shots in his cameo. The Spurs will almost certainly keep limiting his minutes for the foreseeable future, keeping him around 10 in the near term, and likely around 20 or below for at least a month.

In standard leagues, you can afford to wait this out. In deeper leagues – those with 14 or more teams, for example – now is the time to take a chance on Splitter if he is still available. While Splitter has never been a blocks specialist – he only averaged 0.5 blocks in 22 minutes per game last season – he can provide some value there without seriously compromising you elsewhere. He is worth a flyer for a playoff run if your league goes quite deep.

 

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Week 7 Fantasy Basketball Waiver Wire: NBA Guards

With the 2014-15 NBA season well into its second month, the waiver wire has taken its typical place in the weekly/daily routine of fantasy basketball managers. The following guards, whether of the “sleeper” variety or just cashing in temporarily on an unforeseen opportunity, almost certainly deserve attention across the various formats.

 

Waiver Wirte Guard For Right Now

Nick Young (LAL, SG/SF) - 61% Owned

I should not have to put Young here, but at an ownership rate that is currently less than injured guards DeMar Derozan and Kevin Martin, I feel I must. "Swaggy P" should be owned in much more than just 61 percent of leagues.

I do not know if it is the Lakers terrible start, or Young's poor field-goal shooting percentage (38.5 percent), or the fact that Kobe Bryant looks like he wants to score every basket for the Lakers this season, but something is keeping fantasy mangers away.

Granted, Young has not done much besides score, but that is the point. He is the only guy on that team not named "Kobe" that scores a significant amount of points. Sure his shooting percentage is lacking, but Young is offering solid numbers in free throws and a terrific 2.2 three pointers per game at a 40.6 percent clip.

If Young is on your waiver wire, he is also one of the few guys who can explode for a truly prodigious scoring night. In other words, if Nick Young is out there, snatch him up now.

 

Waiver Wire Guard For Deeper Leagues

Rodney Stuckey (IND, PG/SG) - 36% Owned

Here is another guy that is vastly under owned in my opinion. Stuckey is a flawed player indeed, but he has a starting gig right now. Also, the guy he replaced, George Hill, does not seem that close to returning from injury yet. That is a formula for plus fantasy value.

Stuckey has no outside shot, but is a good source of points and assists while getting to the free-throw line more than most guys in the league. He is not going to be much help in the steals department, but also does not turn the ball over very often, giving him added value in 9-Cat leagues.

If you need a point guard, and Stuckey is out there, give him a look.

 

Waiver Wire Guard To Keep An Eye On

Marcus Smart (PG, BOS) - 28% Owned

Smart put up his best game as a pro Monday night, scoring 23 points to go along with five assists and two steals. Prior to that, he had done next to nothing in very limited playing time this season.

The extended playing time came as the Celtics were about to get blown out, until Smart and the rest of the Boston bench brought the team back only to ultimately lose by one in double OT. Smart is certainly going to go back to his limited minutes, but there was a glimpse of light here.

Who knows, maybe Smart's performance will convince the Celtics brass that they have their point guard of the future, and that they can feel comfortable in trading Rajon Rondo who many feel could be on his way out of Boston sometime this year. It is something to keep in mind.

Outside of the deepest of leagues, it is tough to recommend picking up Smart right now. However, it is advisable to keep a close eye on what happens with him going forward.

 

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Week 7 Fantasy Basketball Waiver Wire: NBA Deep Sleepers

By Keith Allison from Hanover, MD, USA (Kris Humphries) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia CommonsWith the 2014-15 NBA season well into its second month, the waiver wire has taken its typical place in the weekly/daily routine of fantasy basketball managers. The following group of players are not of the typical standard-league variety, but rather options for those participating in deeper formats.

Unless you have the roster space to stash one of these fringe contributors as a sleeper, there is currently little reason to own any of them outside of leagues with 12 or more teams.

Position Eligibility & Ownership Rate Based on Yahoo! Fantasy Basketball Leagues

 

Deep League Waiver Wire Options

Jodie Meeks (DET, SG) - 13% Owned

Meeks is yet to suit up this season, but just started practicing and is eyeing a return right around Christmas Day. If you have room on the roster, then stashing Meeks now could turn out to be a great move.

Last season, while shooting an impressive 46.3 percent from the field and 40.1 percent from beyond the arc, Meeks averaged 15.7 points and 2.1 treys per game for the Lakers. In addition, he made good on 85.7 percent of his free-throw attempts and contributed on the defensive end with 1.4 steals per contest.

It may take a little time for Meeks to get his rhythm back, but when that happens, he is a deadly shooter that will have a guaranteed spot in the Pistons' rotation.

 

Luke Babbitt (NO, SF) - 0% Owned

No, you did not misread that, I am suggesting that you may want to pick up a player that is owned in less than one percent of Yahoo! leagues. With Eric Gordon injured, Babbitt has been starting and playing well enough to keep the role, at least in the short term.

Starting all six games for the Pelicans this month, Babbitt has averaged 6.7 points, 2.7 boards and 2.0 three-pointers in 19 minutes per game. Obviously his overall value is extremely limited, but the fifth-year pro is a true category specialist that can provide an immediate boost in three-point shooting without inflicting too much damage in turnovers or percentages.

 

Kris Humphries (WAS, PF/C) - 19% Owned

With Nene Hilario constantly bouncing in and out of the lineup and having injury issues throughout his career, Humphries is getting plenty of minutes for the Wizards.

In the previous four games leading into Wednesday night's contest (11 points, three boards, two steals in 28 minutes), Humphries averaged 12.8 points, 11.8 rebounds, 1.5 steals and 1.0 block while shooting 50.0 percent from the field. All of that was accomplished while seeing nearly 33 minutes per game.

I think it is officially time that Humphries becomes more known for his ferocious rebounding and inside scoring rather than being Kim Kardashian's ex. If he continues to produce at this level, Humphries should receive significant playing time regardless of Nene's health.

 

Keeper League Pickup of the Week

Nik Stauskas (SAC, SG) - 5% Owned

The eighth overall pick from Michigan just received high praise from his coach, Kevin Malone. After the Kings' victory on Monday night, Malone said that Stauskas earned his playing time through defense. Scoring a career-high 15 points to go with eight rebounds in 30 minutes certainly helped his case as well.

As long as his minutes stay up, Stauskas should get plenty of open shots around a talented group of teammates in Sacramento. The potential is there for the rookie out of Michigan to help any fantasy team with threes, free-throw shooting and possibly some rebounding out of the two-guard spot.

 

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Week 7 Fantasy Basketball Waiver Wire: NBA Forwards

Now more than a month into the 2014-15 NBA season, the waiver wire has taken its typical place in the weekly/daily routine of fantasy basketball managers. The following forwards, whether of the “sleeper” variety or just cashing in temporarily on an unforeseen opportunity, almost certainly deserve attention across the various formats.

Position Eligibility & Ownership Rate Based on Yahoo! Fantasy Basketball Player List

 

Waiver Wire Forward for Right Now

Robert Covington (PHI, PF) - 22% Owned

Break up the Sixers.  Clearly Philadelphia head coach Brett Brown was toying with the rest of the league during the 76ers’ seventeen-game losing streak because Covington has been mostly a non-factor this season, until last week’s win over Minnesota.  Now Philadelphia’s secret weapon off the bench has been putting in work, averaging 29.3 minutes, 21 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3 three-pointers made over his last three games.  The Philadelphia roster isn’t exactly ripe with talent so they’ll have to play any hot hand they have and play it over and over.

 

Honorable Mention

Mason Plumlee (BKN, PF/C) - 31% Owned

Covington’s ownership numbers have climbed exponentially over the last couple of days, so if he is unavailable is your league, look for Plumlee. Plumlee should start in place of Brook Lopez who is injured, yet again, and will miss at least a week.  Plumlee is not a long term answer but a very capable short term fill-in.

 

Waiver Wire Forward in Deeper Leagues

James Johnson (TOR, SF/PF) - 10% Owned

Although Kyle Lowry has been racking up the fantasy stats since the injury to DeMar DeRozan, Johnson’s minutes have increased steadily and his non-scoring numbers have improved ever-so-slightly.  His .168 WS/48 and 119 ORating should be proof enough that the 2009 first round pick still has some game left in his tank.  Lowry, along with Lou Williams and Greivis Vasquez, will more than likely continue to shoulder the scoring load, but Johnson will see continued improvement in every other non-scoring fantasy state.

 

Waiver Wire Forward to Keep an Eye On

Shabazz Muhammad (MIN, SF) - 5% Owned

Um, what?  How is Muhammad only owned in 5% of leagues?  The 22-year-old swingman has gone on a recent scoring binge and plays for an up-pace albeit terrible team.  Injuries to Ricky Rubio and now Mo Williams have Muhammad in the driver’s seat as the top outside scoring option for the Timberwolves.  Any owner that has a lack of Vitamin Scoring will need to grab the Muhammad prescription off the waiver wire as soon as possible.  Everybody else should wait and keep an eye on his ankle injury to clear up to see if he can have an impact in non-scoring categories.  Those owners that are looking for defense should continue to look at other options.

 

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Week 7 Fantasy Basketball Waiver Wire: NBA Centers

By Jose Garcia (Flickr: Dwight Howard And Chandler Parsons) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia CommonsNow more than a month into the 2014-15 NBA season, the waiver wire has taken its typical place in the weekly/daily routine of fantasy basketball managers. The following centers, whether of the “sleeper” variety or just cashing in temporarily on an unforeseen opportunity, almost certainly deserve attention across the various formats.

Position Eligibility & Ownership Rate Based on Yahoo! Fantasy Basketball Player List

 

Waiver Wire Center in Standard Leagues

Tyler Zeller (BOS, PF/C) - 14% Owned

I have been burned plenty of times trying to find gold at center for the Celtics. Remember when Vitor Faverani was a hot pickup at the start of last season? With Kelly Olynyk still full of promise and getting plenty of minutes on the bench, I am going to temper my expectations with new starter Tyler Zeller. Nonetheless, he is still the starter and has been playing pretty well.

Zeller put up a masterpiece against the Lakers on December 5th, making over 90 percent of his shots and hitting 4-of-4 free throws to score 24 points while bringing down 14 rebounds and blocking a shot. He followed by dropping back to earth against much better competition (the Wizards) on the 7th.

Zeller is not going to give you three pointers like Olynyk does – he has attempted only five three-point shots in his career, and missed all five. However, Zelller will get about one block per game when given starter’s minutes, but that is a baseline for a center. He is going to get rebounds, deliver positive results in both percentages and have a fair number of double-digit scoring games.

If Zeller continues getting more than 25 minutes a game – which you never know with Boston – the numbers he can bring are worth adding.

 

Waiver Wire Center in Deep Leagues

Tarik Black (HOU, PF/C) - 1% Owned

With Rockets head coach Kevin McHale saying that Dwight Howard “won’t be back anytime soon,” the time has come to start examining who is going to continue soaking up the minutes in the short term for Houston. One option, likely available in all but the deepest of leagues, is Tarik Black.

The Kansas product has been a nominal starter for the Rockets since November 19th, which should continue as long as Howard remains out. In that time frame, Black has averaged 7.3 boards while shooting 55.6 percent from the field in just under 21 minutes per game.

Black is best left untouched in any standard sized league, as he is only scoring 6.4 points a game and doing nothing in steals (0.3/game) or blocks (0.1/game) in his time as starter. However, Black's rebounds can be helpful, particularly if you need a short-term infusion.

 

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NBA Waiver Wire: Four-Game Fantasy Basketball Sleepers (12/8 – 12/14)

By bwjcaptures (Flickr: bobnets (36 of 58)) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia CommonsThis weekly column is geared toward anyone playing in a head-to-head format, and especially those of you in weekly lineup leagues. It is a great idea to keep up with which players are scheduled to play four games during the upcoming week, as fantasy basketball managers can use this information to gain an advantage in games played over an opponent. Simply put, the more games played, the more potential there is for production.

Based on their respective four-game schedules, the following four players should be viewed as “sleepers” for next week. Advising fantasy owners to play the likes of LeBron James or Anthony Davis is a waste of time and effort; hopefully it is common knowledge that studs of that nature should be in lineups regardless of how many games they are slated to play.

Position Eligibility & Ownership Rate Based On Yahoo! Fantasy Basketball Leagues

 

Top Four-Game Sleepers (12/8 - 12/14)

Greivis Vasquez (TOR, PG/SG) - 36% Owned

The injury suffered by DeMar DeRozan has shaken up the Toronto rotation. DeRozan leaves a ton of minutes behind to be picked up by other guys. Vasquez has been the biggest beneficiary.

The Raptors inserted Vasquez into the starting lineup at shooting guard in place of DeRozan. Since then, Vasquez is averaging 13.0 points, 5.5 assists, and 1.5 threes per game. He probably will not help much in other categories, but can do enough in these three to be worth owning.

Vasquez has been a starter before, so the increased workload is nothing new for him. His minutes have jumped to over 30 a game, so he should be able to sustain solid numbers as long as the minutes are there. DeRozan is not expected back for about a month, so Vasquez should have a nice run in the short term.

His upcoming schedule also gives reason for optimism. Next week he faces Denver, at Cleveland, Indiana, and at New York. None of theseteams are great on defensive end, so get Vasquez active this week.

 

Mirza Teletovic (BKN, SF/PF) - 41% Owned

"Broke" Lopez is injured again. No, I did not misspell his first name. That is what I like to call him because it is not a question of if he will get hurt, but rather when. This time around it is a back injury, and Lopez is expected to be out for at least a week.

Mason Plumlee is likely going to start in place of Lopez while he is out, and is probably worth a speculative add. However, I believe that Teletovic is going to benefit the most from Lopez’s absence. Last week Plumlee was called out by coach Lionel Hollins, and for good reason. He has been mostly dreadful so far this season, and has not received much playing time as a result.

From a fantasy perspective, Plumlee is more likely to hurt you than he is to help you. He is an awful free throw shooter, and will hurt you in that category. He frequently finds himself in so much foul trouble that you would think he has two fouls before the game even starts. These two glaring holes in his game keep his minutes down. Expect him to get more playing time, but it will probably be in the 20-25 minute range.

Teletovic, on the other hand, will probably see closer to 25-30 minutes a game. He has made a few spot starts this season when Kevin Garnett needs rest, and has shown that he is more than capable when given the minutes. In his last start on December 3rd, he exploded for 26 points, 15 rebounds, two assists, and five three-pointers in 43 minutes. While this monster line should not be expected, he should still be able to put up solid numbers in several categories despite coming off the bench.

Brooklyn’s schedule next week includes Cleveland, at Chicago, Philadelphia, and at Charlotte. Owners in need of points, rebounds, and threes from the forward position should take a chance on Teletovic this week.

 

Rasual Butler (WAS, SG/SF) - 12% Owned

Butler is white hot right now, and should not be ignored any longer. He is averaging 18.8 points, 3.5 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.5 steals, and a ridiculous 3.3 three-pointers on 54.3 percent shooting over his last four games. His strong play has earned him some additional court time.

Butler has been around for a long time, as this is his 13th year in the league. He shows up with strong performances occasionally, but they are mostly blips on the radar. Martell Webster will probably return soon and spoil the party, but owners would be wise to ride Butler while he is hot. His schedule next week has matchups with Boston, at Orlando, LA Clippers, and Utah. Check your waiver wire, chances are that Butler is available.

 

Zach LaVine (MIN, PG) - 10% Owned

LaVine has received a second chance as a starter out of necessity, and he has taken advantage of the opportunity. He torched the Spurs for 22 points, three rebounds, 10 assists, two steals, and two three-pointers in his last game. The rookie appears to be getting more comfortable playing at the NBA level.

The status of Mo Williams is up in the air, as he is currently dealing with a back injury. When he makes his return, LaVine’s value will take a hit. However, there is no one to challenge LaVine for minutes right now, so he has an excellent shot at short term value. His schedule this week is extremely favorable with all four games coming at home. He will play against Golden State, Portland, Oklahoma City, and the LA Lakers. Pick him up and enjoy the ride while Williams is out.

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Week 6 Fantasy Basketball Waiver Wire: NBA Shooting-Percentage Specialists

If you are looking at your rotisserie league standings and feeling bad about your field-goal or free-throw percentage, then it might be time to start patching up the deficiency. If you cannot do so in a trade, you may need to sacrifice another category or two with a key waiver add to fill the hole. Here are four guys – one shallow league and one deep league for each percentage – that are worth considering.

 

Field-Goal Percentage - Shallow League

Brandan Wright (DAL, PF/C) - 42% Owned

Source: APWright has been in a bit of a funk lately, so he is getting dropped at a high rate after a hot streak brought him up to nearly 50 percent ownership. I have written about Wright before, but when bringing up field-goal percentage, there is no one else you should consider if he is still available.

Only Tyson Chandler, Anthony Davis, DeAndre Jordan and Derrick Favors really come close to having the same potential impact on overall field-goal percentage that Wright can deliver. Those other four guys are universally owned, and with good reason.

While Wright will not continue at a 73.1 percent clip – it has already started dropping with the cold streak – his rate should stabilize near the 67.7 percent rate he put up last season. On around 5.5 attempts per game, that is great. And if he gets more attempts, look out.

 

Field-Goal Percentage - Deep League

Aron Baynes (SAS, C) - 1% Owned

The Spurs are my go-to team for efficiency, and their bench is full of usable efficient bundles of 15-20 minutes a game with occasional starts – from Marco Belinelli to Cory Joseph to Baynes.

Baynes has been gaining the trust of the coaching staff over the course of the year, as his minutes are trending upward and he receives periodic starts when Tim Duncan gets a day off. In two starts this year, Baynes has posted a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds, then another near double-double with 12 points and 9 rebounds. So those starts are nice if you can catch them.

In a deeper league where it does not matter if he has a few nothing games mixed in, Baynes is still an interesting and efficient regular starter. He has an excellent field-goal percentage of 59.4 and a respectable free-throw percentage at 76.0.

Baynes can be a nice day-to-day streamer in head-to-head format and a nice daily league bargain when Duncan is out. In a 16-team league, or a 12 or 14-team league with big rosters, Baynes should be a permanent piece of a roster for his efficiency alone.

 

Free Throw Percentage - Shallow League

Rodney Stuckey (IND, PG/SG) - 32% Owned

Stuckey is one of the streakiest guys in the league, as evidenced by his scoring totals in recent games – 22, 24, 9, 9 and 16 in five games between November 26 and December 4. One thing Stuckey has always done consistently well, however, is drive to the basket and force fouls.

Stuckey has averaged 4.3 free-throw attempts per game in his career, which is a very good total for a guard typically in a part-time role. He tends to hit them too. His 84.4 free-throw percentage on the season is right in line with a career average of 82.8.

While Stuckey will be a frustrating player to own due to erratic scoring and low production in most of the other categories, he can serve as a quick and dirty fix to some free-throw shooting woes.

 

Free Throw Percentage - Deep League

Gary Neal (CHA, PG/SG) - 5% Owned

Neal is a reserve player on a low-profile team who is currently battling an injury, so now might be your best chance to grab him. He has combined some good shooting and nice moves around the basket to provide a solid package of scoring (12.3 points per game), three pointers (1.2 threes per game) and free-throw percentage (89.1 percent on 3.5 attempts per game) on the season.

Neal should be picked up in deeper leagues with the hope that he comes back from his shoulder injury soon. His return to the Hornets' rotation could come as early as Friday night versus the Knicks.

 

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Week 6 Fantasy Basketball Waiver Wire: NBA Deep Sleepers

By Ultraslansi (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia CommonsThe NBA season is in full swing, and that means the fantasy basketball waiver wire is heating up. The following group of players are not of the typical standard-league variety, but rather options for those participating in deeper formats. Unless you have the roster space to stash one of these fringe contributors as a sleeper, there is little reason to own any of them outside of leagues with 12 or more teams.

Position Eligibility & Ownership Rate Based on Yahoo! Fantasy Basketball Leagues

 

Deep League Waiver Wire Options

Greivis Vasquez (TOR, PG/SG) - 30% Owned

Vasquez is not having his best season as a pro, but as of late, he has shown some encouraging signs. In the last week, the former Maryland Terrapin has averaged 16.6 points, 5.2 assists and 2.5 three pointers per game. With a history of being a very streaky player, Vasquez should be a solid option for at least the next week or two. Pick up Vasquez and ride his hot streak.

 

Marcus Morris (PHO, SF/PF) - 12% Owned

Morris just lost the starting job to P.J. Tucker (who I suggested as a possible pickup last week), which is not how you would normally advertise a potential addition off the waiver wire. However, Morris has plenty of talent and the benching could be something that rejuvenates his play.

Morris scored seven points and grabbed six boards in 23 minutes off the bench last time out, as he received more playing time than any other Phoenix reserve. This is a bit of a long shot, but if Morris works hard and produces, it will pay off for fantasy owners in the short and possibly long term.

 

Reggie Evans (SAC, PF/C) - 3% Owned

The Kings just announced that DeMarcus Cousins will not be returning to the lineup until next week due to a viral infection, which means that rebounding monster Reggie Evans will get significant minutes and is a must-add for the short term.

Evans has a large body and gives maximum effort virtually every second he is on the court. In his last game, without Cousins in the mix, Evans put up 17 points and 20 rebounds. Expect his rebounding numbers to be off the charts for the next several days. Pick him up now and thank me later.

 

Keeper League Pickup of the Week

Bojan Bogdanovic (BKN, SG) - 6% Owned

Bogdanovic is a mystery to most NBA fans, and even to Nets fans. Early on, the three-point specialist was not hitting his shots and was utterly useless in fantasy leagues. However, he has been coming on strong of late and is on a bit of a hot streak.

Over the last three games, Bogdanovic has discovered the ability to score from inside the three-point arc and his overall efficiency has shown drastic improvement as a result. During this stretch, the 25-year-old swingman has averaged 12.3 points and 5.0 boards per contest while shooting an impressive 48.5 percent (16-of-33) from the field.

 

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Week 6 Fantasy Basketball Waiver Wire: NBA Guards

Here we are in the early days of the second month of the NBA season, and each week RotoBaller is the place to check if you are thoroughly scouring the fantasy basketball waiver wire in search of potential sleepers at either of the guard positions.

 

Waiver Wire Guard for Right Now

By Keith Allison (Flickr: Greivis Vasquez) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia CommonsGreivis Vasquez (TOR, PG/SG) - 32% Owned

When he gets the playing time, Vasquez has proven to be a solid source of points and assists. He always seems to end up in a bench role, eventually, probably due to his efficiency issues, and that limits his value in the fantasy world. Such was the case this year, as Vasquez once again found himself in a backup role. Then DeMar DeRozan got hurt, and Vasquez has found himself in the Raptors' starting five.

Over the last week, Vasquez has averaged 16.5 points, 5.3 assists and 2.5 threes per game. He has seems to have a green light to shoot, and those numbers scream must-start player. If Vasquez has been slept on in your league, and at a 29-percent ownership rate there is a good chance he has, grab him ASAP.

 

Waiver Wire Guard in Deep Leagues

Wesley Johnson (LAL, SG/SF) - 34% Owned

Johnson is not great at any one thing, but he is solid in various categories. If you are looking for a guy who offers a little bit of everything, he may be your man.

Yes, he got off to a slow start and is playing on a terrible Lakers team that seems willing to watch Kobe Bryant chuck shot after shot, but Johnson has strung together three solid games in a row, offering double-digit points and a handful of rebounds, steals and blocks. This type of production is no fluke, as Johnson and Paul Millsap were the only NBA players to offer owners at least one trey, steal and block per game last season. That is pretty good company.

 

Waiver Wire Guard to Keep an Eye On

Tony Wroten (PHI, PG) - 49% owned

I was convinced that Wroten would drastically lose value once Michael Carter-Williams returned to the Sixers' lineup, especially after Head Coach Brett Brown publicly criticized the priors efficiency issues. However, Wroten has been able to remain productive. More importantly, he has been able to remain a starter.

The Sixers are probably best with Wroten coming off of the bench, but in the world of tanking, that means nothing. There is a good chance he has been dropped in your league, especially after missing a couple of games with a sore knee. If so, Wroten can help you if you are in need of points, assists and steals.

Wroten is going to hurt your field-goal percentage, be no help in threes and amass turnovers at an alarming rate, but if you can withstand those deficiencies, it may be time to give him a look.

 

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Fantasy Basketball Waiver Wire: NBA Forwards - First Month Rundown

By TonyTheTiger (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia CommonsNow that we are a month into the season, it is time to do a full review of the waiver-wire situation at the forward positions. The following players, whether of the “sleeper” variety or just cashing in temporarily on an unforeseen opportunity, almost certainly deserve attention across the various formats.

Position Eligibility & Ownership Rate Based on Yahoo! Fantasy Basketball Player List

 

Shallow League Wire (36% - 50% owned)

Harrison Barnes (GS, SF/PF) – 47% Owned

Since the Warriors’ five point win over the Thunder on November 23, Barnes’ point production has decreased but his 7.8 rebounds per game over his last five is well above his average of 6.2 per game.  Barnes is in the top five in nearly every advanced metric on the Golden State roster, so there’s no reason to think he won’t continue to be at least a third or fourth scoring option for the Warriors from night to night.  He’s worth at least a stash and is a viable starting option on most nights.

 

Iman Shumpert (NY, SG/SF) – 41% Owned

Shumpert’s 51 TS% has taken quite a plunge over the last ten days as he’s drained only 30% of his shots from the field.  Suffice it to say that this has caused him to see less minutes on the court.  That’s not the only numbers that have dropped.  Shumpert’s WS/48 and VORP have dropped considerably over the same span to place him below the league averages in both categories.  Playing for the Knicks is bad enough this season, but seeing less playing time and production while playing for the Knicks is suspect at best.  As a fantasy owner, it would be best to hold off using a roster spot on the 24-year-old.

 

Corey Brewer (MIN, SG/SF) – 39% Owned

If Winston Churchill were alive today he would probably describe Brewer’s game as a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. Perhaps the only thing consistent about Brewer is his inconsistency.  Some nights he is flirting with a triple-double and on other nights he’s barely hitting 28% from the field.  However there is some hope for former Gator.  Wolves coach Flip Saunders has been playing Brewer a lot in close games as he’s routinely played 28+ minutes in seven of the last eight games.  This reason alone is enough to keep Brewer on the radar or keep him on the roster for spot starts in favorable matchups.

 

Standard League Wire (21% - 35% owned)

Tristan Thompson (CLE, PF/C) – 35% Owned

The ownership numbers for Thompson have exploded over the last week primarily due to the contusion sustained by Anderson Varejao.  Thompson was already an adequate fill-in for most fantasy owners but now that Varejao will be missing some time, it’s safe to say that the 2011 first round pick will get plenty of chances in the near future.  Owners should snatch Thompson up if they’re looking for immediate short-term production.

 

Wesley Johnson (LAL, SG/SF) – 29% Owned

Once upon a time in the not too distant past, non-Laker fans would happily tune in after 9:30pm EST to catch a glimpse of a good basketball team putting in work.  Those days have since passed.  However the collapse of the Lakers as a team has allowed certain players get a lot of playing time who otherwise wouldn’t on other teams.  Johnson fits into that mold of player.  He’s played a lot of minutes since November 11 and there’s no reason to think his playing time will drop anytime soon.  In terms of advanced assessment, his teammate Kobe Bryant is being used an estimated- and disturbingly high- 36.4% of every play whilst on the floor, so it’s safe to say Johnson won’t exactly be the go-to-guy.  He’s a viable fill-in.

 

Solomon Hill (IND, SG/SF) – 27% Owned

It seems like something amazing happened last week: the Indiana Pacers sustained no major injuries.  With all the injuries to the Hoosier State’s roster since the end of summer, one guy in particular has taken advantage of the opportunity.  An otherwise back-end bench player on most other teams, Hill has stepped up to become a top scoring option for the Pacers.  With all the offensive opportunities presented to him this season, as well as adding in his already above par defense, Hill should be a near-immediate add in most leagues.

 

Shawne Williams (MIA, SF/PF) – 23% Owned

Barring any future unforeseen injury to Josh McRoberts, Williams appears to be on the back-end of his season high point.  He took advantage of the injury to McRoberts in the early part of the season as he was the hot-hand behind the three point arc for the Heat, but his overall shooting percentage has decreased and as a result, so has his minutes.  Now that McRoberts is returning, Williams’ value will plummet.  Grab him only in the deepest of leagues.

 

Evan Turner (BOS, SG/SF) – 22% Owned

The fourth-year swingman has put up seemingly solid numbers off the bench for the Celtics, but one needs to look deeper at his true potential value.  Turner has low WS/48 and VORP numbers, .033 and 0.0 respectively, for a 4-10 squad.  That just won’t cut it.  Unless there’s an injury sustained by a starter, Turner doesn’t possess any true fantasy value.

 

Kevin Garnett (BRK, PF/C) – 21% Owned

It’s amazing to think that Garnett is in his twentieth- 20! -season.  He’s clearly no longer the player he was in Minnesota or even Boston, but if you’re an owner that is in desperate need of rebounds then Garnett is worth an add.  And if you’re an owner in a league that has an “Attempt to bite an opponent like Mike Tyson” category, then feel free to add Garnett and keep him as a regular starter.

 

Deep League Wire (1% - 20% owned)

Ed Davis (LAL, PF/C) – 19% Owned

One of these days Davis will bust out.  It will happen.  It’s just that he and Lakers coach Byron Scott are making it very difficult for the bust out to happen.  Coach Scott is playing the Davis sparingly as the four-year vet has yet to put in 30 minutes in a game and Davis isn’t really making the most of his opportunities as he has yet to truly assert his himself when on the floor.  He even went 18 minutes against the Raptors on Sunday without attempting a shot.  Yesh.  As of now, he provides 12-14 team league value.

 

Jeremy Lamb (OKC, SG/SF) – 18% Owned

Until Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant return, Lamb remains as a top scoring option for the Thunder.  It’s actually rather surprising to see Lamb not more heavily owned in more leagues.  He’s averaging 12.0 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 2.1 APG and 1.2 SPG.  Those are all more than capable numbers in any league.  Add him now.

 

Luis Scola (IND, PF/C) – 8% Owned

David West has returned so whatever value Scola had over the last week or so has completely diminished.  His fantasy owners should look elsewhere as soon as possible.

 

Paul George (IND, SG/SF) – 7% Owned

Just wanted to see if you’re still paying attention.  Also if you were wondering, “is George on any teams?”  The answer is yes.  Try to exploit any trade with an owner of a team that has George as that owner is obviously not paying attention and you could probably get away with it. [Enter evil laugh].

 

Anthony Bennett (MIN, SF/PF) – 7% Owned

Thaddeus Young and Shabazz Muhammad (add him before Bennett) both possess a threat to Bennett’s playing time and coach Saunders will not sit the hot hand, regardless of upside.  Bennett’s potential is still intriguing but his window of opportunity is closing every day.

 

Khris Middleton (MIL, SF/PF) – 5% Owned

Most followers thought the Bucks would improve in 2014, but so far Milwaukee has been better than anticipated. Because of the surprising improvement of the starters, guys like Middleton have seen less time and as a result less production. Middleton’s case is a tad different as he’s actually been able to exploit inferior matchups when he’s on the court. Still, it is best to avoid him now as he has been relegated to the bench with the re-emergence of O.J. Mayo. He is at best a DFS starter from time to time.