Fantasy Basketball Week 21 Waiver Wire: Drop Karl-Anthony Towns, Malcolm Brogdon? Responding to key injuries
Alex Rikleen breaks down waiver options who might be available in your league for Week 21.
The injuries are starting to pile up. Last week we got official word that seasons are over for Kyrie Irving (shoulder) and Kris Dunn (knee), and the outlooks are pretty ominous for Ben Simmons (back), Kelly Oubre (knee), Derrick Rose (ankle), Malcolm Brogdon (hip), Clint Capela (heel), Kevon Looney (hip) and many more. And then there's the never-ending Karl-Anthony Towns question.
Injuries are a major bummer, but they also create Fantasy opportunities. Responding to these injuries -- who to drop, who to hold, and who to add -- will be the dominant theme this week.
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.
To drop or not to drop
Karl-Anthony Towns (wrist), Timberwolves
Hold. Towns' injuries have been disappointing, and his production has not lived up to our lofty expectations. But Towns is simply too good to drop as long as we think he'll still play half the remaining games or more. He's probably going to miss at least eight of Minnesota's remaining 20 games, but 12 games of top-15 production is probably better than almost anything you can pick up off the wire.
Clint Capela (heel), Hawks
Depends on your league's settings. The facts that Capela has now missed a month-and-a-half, and that his potential return just got delayed another two weeks, are both very bad. That he was traded to a lottery-bound team in the middle is another red flag. But his next re-evaluation is only 10 days away, and he will be easily the best center on the roster whenever he does return. If you're in a weekly league or a strict games max league, I'd hold him for another two weeks. But if you're in a league where every available player starts each game, it's probably time to let him go.
Malcolm Brogdon (quad), Pacers
Drop, but holding is still OK. This one of the toughest calls in Fantasy right now. Brogdon's return timeline is murky, and many managers probably feel somewhat attached to him after his incredible start to the season. The injury designation, "torn quadriceps", sounds bad, but it doesn't actually give us a ton of info about the severity.
Brogdon's Fantasy production has fallen off dramatically – he's outside the top-150 in the last two month – but with Victor Oladipo (knee) missing almost half of the Pacers games over the past month, it's possible Brogdon's numbers could improve going forward if he can get on the floor. My advice is to drop, but I have to acknowledge that a somewhat realistic possibility is Brogdon returns quickly and Oladipo misses a lot of time down the stretch in a way that boosts the former's numbers.
Kelly Oubre (knee), Suns
Drop. Oubre's set for a re-evaluation on the last day of March, with a best-case scenario of him returning and playing the last eight games of the season. However, realistically, he'll probably miss a few games after the re-evaluation, and be on a minutes restriction for his first couple games back (if he comes back at all). The upside of eight games of The Full Oubre is alluring, but that scenario is absurdly unlikely.
Derrick Rose (ankle), Pistons
Drop. Rose's timeline is uncertain, and the team's phrasing leaves open the possibility that Rose returns in a little more than a week. But we're talking about a 31-year-old with a history of leg injuries on a lottery-bound team, and the Pistons have Rose under contract for next season. They won't, and they shouldn't, rush him back. You can't hold onto a borderline top-100 guy likely to miss up to half (or more) of the remaining games.
Adds for all leagues
Naz Reid, Timberwolves (55 percent rostered)
We've talked about Reid a lot in recent weeks, so we'll keep this short: When Towns is out, Reid is startable in all leagues. When Towns is active, Reid is ignorable.
Another guy we've talked about a lot in this column, so, again, I'll be brief. He's averaged more than 30 minutes in every month since December. His minutes and scoring increased in Steph Curry's first game back. He has no business being available on waivers.
Since I just recommended you drop Derrick Rose, it's only fitting that I recommend his replacements. I'd much prefer Brown to Knight, but with Rose likely to miss most of the remaining games and Reggie Jackson now in LA, there is room for both to be Fantasy-relevant.
Brown is probably the better and more reliable player, and he just returned from a four-game knee injury. He averaged 10.1 points, 7.7 rebounds and 4.0 assists in 34.1 minutes in February, and I expect him to get back to numbers similar to that over the rest of the season.
I doubt Knight's ability to keep his current production going for very long, but he's averaged 16.0 points and 5.4 assists over his last five games. He could have a solid role the rest of the way, and I wouldn't be surprised if he stayed at least deep-league relevant, if not better. Jordan McRae (15 percent rostered) is another option if both Brown and Knight are already off the board.
Curry is set to miss Sunday's game with an ankle injury, but the early prognosis is that this should be a short absence. Curry has been the best 3-point shooter in the NBA for the past few months, making an are you sure you counted right? 54 percent from behind the arc since mid-January. He's benefited from some injuries to the Dallas backcourt, but his workload should stay high until he cools off.
Dario Saric, Suns (39 percent rostered)
Similar to the set of Pistons above – if you're dropping Oubre, it stands to reason that there is someone to add. Saric finished inside the top-80 in 2017-18, the last time he averaged more than 25 minutes per game, so he has a track record for Fantasy success. He entered the starting lineup as soon as Oubre went out, and he's averaged 29.4 minutes since then.
Other recommendations: Juancho Hernangomez, Timberwolves (46 percent rostered); Trey Lyles, Spurs (16 percent rostered); Aron Baynes, Suns (26 percent rostered); Maxi Kleber, Mavericks (31 percent rostered); Gary Harris, Nuggets (38 percent rostered); Donte DiVincenzo, Bucks (25 percent rostered); Jordan McRae, Pistons (15 percent rostered)
It is very possible Collins (shoulder) doesn't see the court this season, and his odds of returning decrease as the Blazers' playoffs hopes fade. But Collins' original timeline had him returning in the next week or two. Stat-wise, Collins can be something of a middle-class Brook Lopez – OK scoring and a bunch of blocks and 3s (Collins is significantly better than Lopez in rebounds and FG%, but with fewer blocks and 3s). Especially if you've already clinched a playoff berth in a head-to-head league, it might be good to add Collins before his re-evaluation, which should happen sometime this week.
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