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Waiver wire: Look to rookies for extra punch

by | Fantasy Writer
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With the unofficial first half of the season at its end, it is time to think about strengthening your roster for the stretch run. Players that missed some time before the All-Star break due to injury appear to be getting healthier and some teams are playing their best ball at this point. With the way the condensed scheduled has handicapped some teams -- especially those with a ton of veterans -- we'll likely see the pace pick up in the second half, which should do wonders for their value in Fantasy.

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Also, rookies that did not see a ton of playing time earlier in the year are starting to get some run as their respective clubs fall out of contention.

This week we are looking at Tristan Thompson.

Thompson has looked more comfortable since returning from an ankle injury and is seeing some more run with Anderson Varejao out. He ended Week 8 (Feb. 13-19) by scoring in double digits in back-to-back games, including recording his first career double-double against the Kings on Feb. 19. He leads all rookies with 5.5 rebounds per game and is blocking 1.3 shots and scoring 7.1 points per game through 23 contests. Thompson, the No. 4 overall pick in the 2011 draft, has opened coach Byron Scott's eyes and should see his minutes increase in the second half with Cleveland not playing for much. While his free-throw shooting has not been that impressive, Thompson is definitely worth a look in deeper Fantasy formats heading into Week 10 (Feb. 27-Mar. 4), as well as some larger leagues.

Guards

Add 'Em

Isaiah Thomas, Kings
Owned: 64 percent
Analysis: Thomas has been one of the hottest adds off the waiver wire over the last week or so and with good reason. He scored a season-high 24 points against a tough Heat defense to begin Week 9, which capped off a five-game stretch in which he averaged 16.6 points with 5.6 assists and 3.6 rebounds. He also shot nearly 53 percent over that span, including a solid 52 percent from downtown. The rookie will likely continue to start for the Kings as long as he is playing well and he has a pretty favorable schedule on tap for Week 10. With the Jazz, Clippers, Lakers and Suns due up, consider Thomas a worthy addition in most Fantasy leagues.

Tony Allen, Grizzlies
Owned: 47 percent
Analysis: Allen has looked good since returning from injuries to both his hip and knee and is proving to be more than just a defensive presence in Memphis. He averaged 12.8 points with four rebounds and 2.5 steals during a six-game stretch that ended on Feb. 20, and shot 51 percent from the field over that span. The 30-year-old has always been known for his ability to fill up the stat sheet but usually does not post points like this, so owners should take advantage as long he is putting up double-digit scoring. Fantasy owners in deeper formats should definitely consider grabbing Allen off waivers.

Avoid 'Em

C.J. Watson, Bulls
Owned: 18 percent
Analysis: Watson filled in admirably while Derrick Rose was out but now that the reigning MVP has returned, his production is expected to take a big hit. His days of seeing nearly 30 minutes per game are likely over as he returns to the bench in Chicago. Watson averaged 12 points with 3.6 rebounds and 1.2 steals during the five-game stretch Rose was sidelined. And while he has been shooting the ball better this season -- especially from beyond the arc -- owners should not expect the same type of production. The 27-year-old remains a decent handcuff option in deeper formats but owners would be wise to avoid Watson heading into Week 10.

Jimmer Fredette, Kings
Owned: 34 percent
Analysis: After being taken 10th overall in the 2011 draft, Fredette has struggled to adjust to the NBA and has not done much for owners of late. While he was able to do some scoring when Marcus Thornton was banged up, fellow rookie Thomas has been stealing his minutes recently, leaving Fredette with minimal playing time. He did not see the court in Sacramento's first game of Week 9 and is averaging just 6.3 points through seven games in February. The 22-year-old remains a viable handcuff option but owners in deeper formats should not be looking to add Fredette at this point.

Forwards

Add 'Em

Gustavo Ayon, Hornets
Owned: 52 percent
Analysis: Due to a rash of injuries in the frontcourt for the Hornets, Ayon has made the most of his playing time and is starting to gain some momentum in Fantasy. He posted back-to-back double-doubles to end Week 8 and continues to see significant minutes. He also has done a decent job with his defensive numbers. The rookie can be sporadic with his scoring at times but his ability to rebound and redirect shots should continue to play well alongside Chris Kaman. Keep in mind that his role might will likely change once Emeka Okafor, Jason Smith and Carl Landry return from injury but in the meantime, consider Ayon a viable pickup in Fantasy.

Ekpe Udoh, Warriors
Owned: 17 percent
Analysis: Udoh received his first start of the season to open up Week 9 and excelled with a season-high 19 points. He also hauled in eight rebounds and blocked two shots while playing 38 minutes. While he suffered a minor knee injury in the closing minutes of the contest, he impressed with his performance and could see a larger role going forward. Coach Mark Jackson is considering moving the 24-year-old into the starting lineup on a regular basis, which would do wonders for Udoh's Fantasy value. With the way Andris Biedrins has struggled all season it looks as though Udoh is about to see a boost, so owners in deeper formats should consider grabbing him with Indiana, Atlanta, Philadelphia and Toronto on the schedule for Week 10.

Avoid 'Em

C.J. Miles, Jazz
Owned: 18 percent
Analysis: After a nice little run, Miles has not produced much for owners of late, reulting in a loss in Fantasy value. He opened Week 9 with a 13-point performance against the Spurs but it was his first time scoring in double figures since Feb. 7, and just his third time doing so in 12 February games. Many thought he would be able to take his game to the next level this season -- after averaging a career-high 12.8 points a season ago -- but shooting just 27 percent from downtown has hindered his effectiveness. Until he shows the ability to be more consistent, leave Miles on waivers in the majority of Fantasy formats.

Chase Budinger, Rockets
Owned: 16 percent
Analysis: Budinger has seen his role all but dry up in Houston as he sat out for the second time in the previous three contests to begin Week 9. Since scoring a season-high 22 points on Feb. 8, he has averaged just 5.8 points with 3.2 rebounds in the last five games and is not seeing many minutes off the bench. He had played well after being removed from the starting lineup initially but his recent production suggests he has a long way to go before becoming a viable option in Fantasy again. While things could always change in the second half, leave Budinger on waivers in most formats at this point.

Centers

Add 'Em

Semih Erden, Cavaliers
Owned 10 percent
Analysis: Erden opened some eyes with an 18-and-8 performance against the Pacers on Feb. 15 and has moved to the starting lineup since Varejao went down. He has not been nearly as impressive since then, with a wrist injury hindering him a bit, but the potential is there. The 25-year-old has the skill set to put up some decent scoring and rebounding in the short term and with center being a weak position in Fantasy, Erden is definitely worth a look. Consider grabbing the seven-footer off waivers with Boston, New York, Chicago and Washington on the schedule for Week 10.

Matt Bonner, Spurs
Owned: 18 percent
Analysis: We suggested picking up Bonner a couple of weeks ago and his performance since then has made him even more attractive in Fantasy. He began Week 9 with a 20-point performance -- setting a season high -- and marked the fourth straight game he scored in double figures. He shot 72 percent from 3-point land during that stretch and averaged three rebounds. While he does not hit the boards the way a typical center would, he shoots the ball from downtown more often than your average big man and the injury to Tiago Splitter should earn Bonner some decent playing time going forward. Owners in deeper and category-based formats should consider the 31-year-old worth a look heading into Week 10.

Avoid 'Em

Andris Biedrins, Warriors
Owned: 7 percent
Analysis: Biedrins continues to have the worst campaign of his career and it looks as though he could be losing his starting job to Udoh in the near future. Udoh performed very well when he started for him on Monday and could push the 25-year-old to the bench. He's averaging 17 minutes per contest thus far and putting up 2.4 points with 4.6 rebounds, which has not been a huge help to owners anyway. Even if he retains his spot in the starting lineup, leave Biedrins on waivers in the majority of Fantasy leagues.

Greg Oden, Trail Blazers
Owned: 7 percent
Analysis: Oden's injury-plagued career continues as he underwent yet another surgery on his knee and is expected to miss the remainder of the season. He has played just 82 games since being taken No. 1 overall in the 2007 draft and has not played in a single game since the 2009-10 campaign. Owners who had been holding onto him in hopes that he would return at some point this season should cut ties with the 24-year-old as his fifth knee surgery could put an end to Oden's career.

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