Fantasy Basketball: Week 23 Waiver Wire

The end is nigh.

Most teams have only 12 games left. We're at the point in the season where managers in Roto leagues should be dropping fringe-top-100 guys to focus on categories of need. Goodbye, Evan Fournier (89 percent rostered). So long, Gary Harris (72 percent rostered). Unless you need 3s (Fournier) or steals (Harris), Roto managers need to let those two go – and many others like them.

But the waiver wire is a two-part exchange. Every drop enables a pickup, just as each pickup requires a drop. And though drops get easier at this time of year, they're only useful if the corresponding pickup provides value. The good news is, there are a lot of good options available on waivers right now, though, admittedly, not many great ones.

Be careful of the schedule this week because a few peculiarities require attention. The Warriors play five games, while the Nets and Magic only play twice. Eleven teams play just three games, while most of the league (16 teams) plays four games. Since it's a busier week overall, the downside of using a player with only two games is bigger.

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

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Jalen Brunson DAL • PG • 13
60 percent rostered

When tweeting out an impressive dunk, we sometimes see the phrase "[dunker] just ended [dunked on]'s career," but that's meant in jest. What Brunson has done to Trey Burke over the past few weeks, however, may literally end Burke's career. Burke began the season as the Knicks' starting point guard, then got demoted, traded, and -- due to Brunson's impressive play -- demoted again. Burke has four DNP-CDs over the past six games, while Brunson is averaging 19.5 points and 6.0 assists in 33.7 minutes during that span. Brunson is already rostered in the majority of leagues, and at his current pace he won't qualify for this article next week. This is your last chance.

Damyean Dotson, Knicks (46 percent rostered) and Emmanuel Mudiay, Knicks (47 percent rostered)

Speaking of the Knicks, it's Mudiay's and Dotson's turn on the Knicks' backcourt Fantasy carousel. We've gone through cycles of this before, and in each go-around the eventual drop-off comes hard and quick. That makes them tough to use in a lot of weekly lineups leagues. However, especially in daily lineups leagues, both Dotson and Mudiay can be a solid source of points for as long as this lasts. Mudiay's next best categories are assists, then rebounds, while Dotson is more useful for rebounds, threes and steals. Mudiay's drop-off may come as soon as Dennis Smith Jr (back) returns, though all we know right now is that Smith is out at least one more game as he nurses a sore back.

Jakob Poeltl, Spurs (19 percent rostered)

As I mentioned in the open, this late in the season we are sometimes willing to consider players we might have ignored a month or two ago. For a manager willing to divest from scoring, Poeltl could be a savvy add. Despite limited minutes, he's become a great source of rebounds, blocks and field-goal percentage while remaining marginally helpful in steals and assists. He's started the past seven games, averaging 7.7 rebounds, 2.4 blocks, 1.7 assists, 1.0 steals and shooting 71.4 percent from the field.

Tyus Jones, Timberwolves (16 percent rostered)

Derrick Rose (elbow) and Jeff Teague (foot) have missed the past three games, and in typical Timberwolves fashion, we still don't know if they're returning this week or sometime in November. Given the Timberwolves' current position in the tankathon, I'm betting against Tuesday, but we really don't know. Jones was terrible on Sunday, missing all six of his field goal attempts and both of his free throws, but he still played 29 minutes as the starting point guard. Though Sunday's performance was disappointing, I still recommend starting Jones for every game that Teague and Rose remain out. In his three games before Sunday's mishaps, he averaged 13.7 points, 4.7 assists, 1.7 3s and 1.3 steals.

Other recommendations: Jaylen Brown, Celtics (60 percent rostered); Bam Adebayo, Heat (53 percent rostered); Marcus Smart, Celtics (51 percent rostered); D.J. Augustin, Magic (45 percent rostered); Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Clippers (52 percent rostered); Robin Lopez, Bulls (47 percent rostered); Alex Caruso, Lakers (4 percent rostered)

Something's happening

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Maxi Kleber DAL • PF • 42
16 percent rostered

I've been a fan of Kleber all season, and he's received a lot of attention in these columns. So when I saw a couple good games over the last week, I got excited. Upon closer review, however, the numbers are actually somewhat concerning. A major source of Kleber's value this season has come from his shot-blocking, while he's been notoriously ineffective as a scorer. He's an OK rebounder, but definitely not a very good one.

Over his past four games, he's posted three double-doubles, but only blocked a shot in two games. So his perceived value is spiking, but the source of that spike is in categories he usually struggles in, while he's underperforming in what is usually his bread and butter. I'm interested, but worried. I would not trust him in weekly-lineup leagues right now, but I'd be happy to ride with whatever-this-is in daily-lineups formats.

Deep-league special

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Alex Caruso LAL • SG • 4
4 percent rostered

As the Lakers lean deeper into the tank, Caruso's value and role are becoming more consistent. With Lonzo Ball (ankle) and Brandon Ingram (shoulder) out for the season, Caruso has become a steady contributor, averaging 24.7 minutes, 11.7 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.3 steals over the past six games. If we focus only on the last three games, those numbers look even better: 26.0 minutes, 14.7 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.3 steals. Caruso is actually listed in the "other recommendations" section above because he can have value even in some pretty shallow leagues. Due to his late emergence and low roster rate, he's still available in most deep leagues.

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