Fantasy Basketball: Week 18 Waiver Wire
Here's who you need to add for this week and beyond as we head into the post-trade deadline and All-Star break
The trade deadline is over, and the All-Star game is upon us -- both among the most important milestones in the Fantasy season.
The 2019 trade deadline saw more than 30 players change teams via more than a dozen trades. Before the dust had settled, buyout season began -- between the 3 pm EST deadline Thursday and Monday morning, several players have already been bought out, gone through the league's waiver process, and signed with new teams -- adding to the already large number of players landing in new situations.
Meanwhile, the All-Star break -- there are no games between Friday and Wednesday -- frequently marks the unofficial kickoff of tanking season. Non-playoff teams frequently start using their older veterans less, opting instead to give more experience to the younger players who (they hope) represent the future of the franchise. If this swap results in fewer wins, well, they tend not to get too upset about that.
The All-Star break also means some unusual schedules, both for NBA teams and Fantasy leagues. CBS's default format for head-to-head leagues treats the weeks of February 11-17 and February 18-24 as two separate contests, but some leagues combine the two into a single, prolonged "Week 18" spanning the entire February 11-24. Make sure you know your settings.
For Week 18 (February 11-17), the Knicks play three times, while the Lakers, Suns, Kings, Spurs and Jazz play once. The Knicks are also one of only six teams that play on Thursday's short slate -- along with the Thunder, Hornets, Magic, Hawks and Pelicans -- giving them even more value in daily lineups leagues.
As always, the players in this article must be rostered in less than two-thirds of CBS leagues. Players are listed in the order that I recommend adding them, assuming they are equally good fits for your team.
Adds for all leagues
Zubac has only played one game since being traded to the Clippers last week, and, frankly, he underperformed compared to my expectations. He "only" scored 23 points, grabbed nine rebounds and blocked three shots in 23 minutes – I wanted more minutes and more scoring. Zubac has already been named the starter on his new squad, and he plays well when given the opportunity. In games when he's played at least 27 minutes, he's averaging 20.6 points, 10.8 rebounds and 2.4 blocks. Even if he's only going to see between 20 to 25 minutes each night, he's worth picking up. But if he picks up a full-size starter workload, he could become one of the best pickups of the entire season.
Rabb has started each of the last three games for the Grizzlies -- first because the Grizzlies were resting Marc Gasol ahead of a trade, and then because the Gasol trade went through. In those three games, he's averaged 14.7 points, 9.7 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.0 steals and 1.0 blocks in 30.7 minutes. Unfortunately for Rabb, the Grizzlies' return package in the Gasol trade included a capable big man in Jonas Valanciunas. On the other hand, the Grizzlies have no hope of making the playoffs, and so Rabb has been named the starter going forward in a classic case of if developing our young players also puts us in better position for the draft lottery, well, we'll try not to get too worked up about it. Rabb's per-36 numbers this season imply that his recent run is no fluke, and that he should be able to remain a highly productive Fantasy contributor as long as he continues to see minutes.
Jonathan Isaac, Magic (65 percent rostered)
Isaac barely qualifies for this article, and he's actually probably a better pickup than Zubac or Rabb. He's mostly listed lower because his value wasn't impacted by the trade deadline and because of his high roster rate. He's blocked 15 shots in the past five games, and is blocking 2.3 per game over his last 10. He's scored in double-digits in six of his past seven, after only reaching that mark in a third of his games before this stretch. After a lot of hype and a year and a half of waiting, he's finally putting it all together.
Kenrich Williams, Pelicans (48 percent rostered)
The Pelicans. That's a team. With a lineup. And a rotation. And with 25 games still to be played. That's about all the facts we know about the Pelicans moving forward. The unmet trade demand from Anthony Davis threw the franchise and the rotation into turmoil, and it's really hard to trust anything or anyone in New Orleans going forward. Davis has played in the past two games, including 34 minutes on the second night of a back-to-back, defying the presumption that his minutes would get limited and that they'd try to hold him out of some games. If Davis continues to play anywhere near the 36.7 minutes he's averaged so far this season, then Williams' workload could shrink once Jahlil Okafor (ankle) returns.
Or, maybe not. Okafor was playing fantastically before the injury, but that was also while Davis was out. And, because the Pelicans hate all of us, we have no idea when Okafor will return. Nor do we have any idea if his role will actually impact Williams, or if Williams is more of a replacement for Nikola Mirotic, who was traded away at the deadline and had averaged 28.9 minutes per game. The bottom line: Williams will either continue to see the 36.3 minutes he's averaged over the past four, or his workload will drop into the high 20s once the rest of the Pelicans get healthy -- or something else entirely.
The Pelicans are confusing. Williams has been good lately, averaging 12.9 points, 9.4 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.1 blocks over his past eight games, including four starts. We have no idea if this will continue, or for how long. But, at a minimum, he's worth a short-term pickup.
Other recommendations: Patrick Beverley, Clippers (50 percent rostered); Dwight Powell, Mavericks (37 percent rostered); Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (54 percent rostered); Jeff Green, Wizards (48 percent rostered); Tyler Johnson, Suns (37 percent rostered)
The Detroit Pistons
The Pistons traded away Reggie Bullock and Stanley Johnson at the deadline, opening up a gigantic hole at small forward. Not only are there a ton of minutes available, but all three of these players specialize in the Pistons' most important need: 3-point shooting. Ellington, who was just picked up through the buyout market, seems most likely to take over the starting job and the bulk of the minutes, though that's not yet certain.
While Ellington is not having his best season, he's put together multiple runs in recent years during which he's averaged more than 3.0 made 3s on better than 40 percent shooting. Kennard and Mykhailiuk are both young and unproven, but if either earns the a major role here, it would likely mean that they're putting together a workable Fantasy profile.
The New York Knicks
In a week when every other team plays only once or twice, the advantage of adding a player with three games cannot be understated. These five players are the widely available Knicks Fantasy managers should be considering to maximize their roster's total games.
Robinson is the most talented, has the highest upside and is the player most likely to remain on your Fantasy roster beyond Week 18. His biggest problem is that he is almost comically foul-prone, averaging one foul every 5.8 minutes, which frequently limits his ability to stay on the floor. Nonetheless, he is the top add here.
In a vacuum, Vonleh is a much more attractive pickup than Hezonja. But Vonleh has struggled recently, leading to Hezonja (probably temporarily) supplanting Vonleh in the starting lineup. Hezonja has not exactly set the world aflame in his new role, and the workload was an even split between the two in their most recent game. I'd rather add Vonleh, unless news breaks between the publication of this article and tip-off Monday.
Trier is slumping, while Dennis Smith Jr. is having one of the best weeks of his career. As a result, Trier's minutes and numbers are down, and some might scoff at the thought of adding him. But I'm still bullish on Trier's rest-of-season outlook. In deeper leagues, his extra game is worth rostering this week, especially if he snaps out of this slump.
Mudiay would be listed second on this list if he were certain to play all three games. However, the last official update to his timeline was a little more than two weeks ago, when the Knicks said he'd be out "for at least two weeks". Mudiay has already been ruled out of Monday's game, and it's unclear if he has a realistic chance to get back on the floor before the break.
Kleber is one of the trade deadline's biggest winners, but his aversion to scoring makes him a deep-league-only option for most managers. He's started all five games since the Mavericks traded away DeAndre Jordan in the Kristaps Porzingis trade, and there still aren't any reliable updates implying if or when Porzingis (knee) might return from his injury.
Kleber is averaging 27.2 minutes in those five starts, a healthy, stable role. And while he's only putting up 9.0 points, his 6.2 rebounds, 1.4 threes, 1.2 assists, 0.8 steals and 0.8 blocks make for solid supplemental production. Furthermore, his blocks numbers are likely to increase with time, he's actually far below his season average during this stretch, despite the increased workload. If you're punting points (which, by the way, is a strategy I love), then Kleber is a great pickup worthy of the adds for all leagues section.
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