Fantasy Basketball Week 12 Waiver Wire targets: Marquese Chriss ready to break out?
He’s got plenty of potential, and now Marquese Chriss is starting to find a role. He’s worth picking up this week.
A familiar name comes in at the top of this week's recommended adds, but the rest of the list is still dominated by a slew of injuries from the days just surrounding Christmas.
A few strong adds still qualify for this article after getting highlighted a few weeks in a row (Jordan Bell, Trey Lyles), but they are getting bumped down to the other recommendations list to avoid getting too repetitive. I would still add those two ahead of everyone else mentioned below.
All players must be owned in less than two-thirds of CBS leagues.
Adds for All Leagues
I know. It feels like we've played this game already, and everyone lost. The Suns are a mess, and no one has any idea what coach Jay Triano is doing with his rotations. That's not necessarily a criticism – young teams out of the playoffs should do some experimenting. But every time we add a Suns big we've ended up dropping him a week later.
All that said, if Chriss ever settles into a steady role above 27 minutes per game, he's likely to be a Fantasy force, with his unique ability to provide nearly 1.5 threes, steals, and blocks per game. Chriss has played at least 25 minutes in three of his last four, and is averaging 25.5 in that span. This could be just another tease, but the upside is high enough that he's worth the risk.
Nikola Vucevic suffered a hand injury on Dec. 23, and Biyombo was immediately thrust into the Magic's starting center role. In the three games since the injury, Biyombo is averaging 8.3 points, 11.7 rebounds, and 3.3 blocks in 32.0 minutes per game. Vucevic is officially without a timeline to return, and it seems likely he's out at least through the end of January. As long as Biyombo is getting big minutes, he is great for rebounds and blocks, okay-to-good in points and field goal percentage, and pretty much irrelevant everywhere else.
Ellington is ahead of Jones based on recent production and the fact that he could become a long-term fixture on your roster (if his current play continues), but Jones' upside over the next month is significantly higher. Ellington shot 43.3 percent from behind the arc in December, averaging 3.5 threes per game. That ranks fifth in the NBA over that span. Of the 19 players averaging at least 2.8 threes per game over the past month, Ellington is the only player whose ownership is low enough to qualify for this article.
The three-point boom is primarily focused on a small population of shooters, which means that a team in need is both falling behind faster than in previous seasons, and will have a harder time finding a player who can provide meaningful help. Ellington is desirable in all leagues, but he is a borderline must-add for teams that struggle in threes and are in a roto league of 12 or more teams.
Two Fantasy-staple point guards got hurt early last week: Detroit's Reggie Jackson (ankle) and Minnesota's Jeff Teague. Both injuries resulted in a backup getting thrust into a much larger role. While Jackson's backup, Ish Smith, was the much bigger prize of the two, if you missed out on him, Jones is a decent consolation. In his first two games without Teague, Jones' minutes increased from 16.6 to 31.0 per game. His numbers thus far have only been mediocre, though. Jones is helping in assists and steals (5.5 and 3.5 per game, respectively) while providing almost nothing in points (6.0 per game), but the near-doubling of his workload means that he is still a player worth adding. When Teague missed four games at the end of November, Jones averaged 11.3 points, 6.5 assists, 4.5 rebounds, 4.0 steals (!) and 1.8 threes. Jones also improved steadily from game to game during that stretch, so there is plenty of justification for the hope that Jones' numbers will pick up in his expanded role.
Other recommendations: Jordan Bell, Warriors (51 percent owned); Trey Lyles, Nuggets (68 percent owned); Frank Ntilikina, Knicks (38 percent owned); Lance Stephenson, Pacers (33 percent owned); Tyler Johnson, Heat (53 percent owned); Terry Rozier, Celtics (33 percent owned)
Deep League Special
Green was picked up by the Rockets last week, and he's averaged 24.5 minutes in his second and third game. If that workload continues, Green should be a solid addition for deep leagues. However, managers should not get too attached, and should drop him quickly if he posts back-to-back games of under 15 minutes this week. Both of Green's high-minutes games were unusual: In the first, the Rockets were blown out and garbage time started early; in the second, the game went to double-overtime. Green is also on a non-guaranteed deal, so the Rockets could drop him with little notice once Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and Troy Williams are healthy.
Short-Term Injury Replacement
Damian Lillard (hamstring) has missed the last four games, and Napier has been excellent in his absence. He nutmegged Joel Embiid, and, more relevant for our purposes, he's providing positive contributions in most categories, including 19.8 points, 4.8 assists, 4.5 rebounds, 2.5 steals, and 2.0 threes per game. Lillard is returning soon, potentially as early as Monday against the Bulls, but Napier has shown that he can be added and started with confidence any time Lillard is out of the lineup.
Hart isn't quite in auto-start territory when Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is out, but he's close. Caldwell-Pope cannot leave California due to an ongoing legal matter, so he won't play Monday in Minnesota. Hart has seen 32.3 minutes per game when Caldwell-Pope sits out over the last month, and he's averaging 16.0 points in those games. But even after Caldwell-Pope returns, Hart maintains some short-term value. The Lakers are one of only eight teams that play four games this week, including Fantasy-friendly matchups against the Timberwolves, Hornets, and Hawks. In the last four games that both have been active for, Hart averaged 8.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 2.3 assists in 31.3 minutes.
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