With so many injuries around the league heading into Week 4 (Nov. 14-20), there are plenty of places for Fantasy players to find value. There should be plenty of action on the waiver wire as teams jockey to fill holes, and here are the moves I will be making this week.
Add These Guys
Death, taxes and J.J. Barea flummoxing opposing defenses for the Mavericks, These are the only sure things in life. Barea is off to a fantastic start, averaging 17.3 points and 5.6 assists through the team's first seven games, and he has started four of them in place of an injured Deron Williams. It doesn't look like Williams is going to be back particularly soon -- shocking, I know -- so Barea should continue to see solid playing time for the time being. You might have to be concerned about him sitting some back-to-back sets, as he did last week, but with the way he has played so far, it's hard to to be too concerned about that if you can get him off the waiver wire. Beggars can't be choosers, after all.
You should already own Tyler Johnson, who enters play Sunday averaging 13.3 points, 4.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.3 steals per game as Miami's sixth man, but he certainly isn't the only young guard in Miami worth noticing. Dion Waiters might be the bigger name, but it's Johnson and second-year combo guard Josh Richardson who should get you excited. Richardson got off to a late start to the season thanks preseason knee surgery, but he has started to figure things out, scoring 28 points over his past two games, the second stepping into the lineup for injured Goran Dragic. Richardson emerged as a key contributor for the Heat last season, and has a chance with Dragic out to put up solid numbers if he can find his jumper. That has been off in the early going, but he still managed to contribute 12 points, three rebounds, four assists and a couple of steals Saturday against the Jazz. As long as Dragic is out, that could be a pretty typical stat line for Richardson.
Maurice Harkless has had an up-and-down career, but he entered this season at just 23 years old, the fourth-youngest player on an exceptionally young Portland team. Harkless has a nice, well-rounded skill set, but has needed a consistent jumper to really make an impact, and he may have found one. It's early, but Harkless is nailing 40 percent of his 3-pointers so far this season, while attempting 3.5 of them per game, double his career rate. That has helped him cement his place in the starting lineup, and an injury to Al-Farouq Aminu should only help. Harkless can switch between either forward spot, and he has averaged 1.3 blocks and 6.3 rebounds per game over the last four, with two 3-pointers in each game. He has had some big scoring games too, hinting at even more room to grow into his game. At the very least, you have to like Harkless' ability to fill up the box score in his current role, and if he continues to add to his game, there is even more room for growth.
Victor Oladipo has been a bit disappointing early in his Thunder career, and Ersan Ilyasova is already out the door, so it might be fair to say that Domantas Sabonis has been the most pleasant surprise of the season so far for the Thunder. The rookie has started each game for the Thunder, providing expected playmaking, as well as some unexpected floor-spacing for a Thunder team that needs both from its big men. Sabonis, who hit just five 3-pointers in his entire college career, has already hit 13 in his first nine NBA games, including 10 over the past five. He has added 10.6 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game in that span, and has managed to carve out a larger-than expected role in the frontcourt as a result. Sabonis' combination of shooting and assists from a frontcourt position provides surplus value to Fantasy players too, making him an intriguing add.
Those of you playing in H2H scoring can safely skip ahead, because this doesn't concern you.Even when Bismack Biyombo was starting for the Raptors last season, he averaged just 21.4 Fantasy points per game in CBSSports.com standard leagues. That is fringe-y Fantasy value at best, even at center. That's because he really is just a two-trick pony; he rebounds, and he blocks shots, and he doesn't do anything else. The good news is, he can do both things well enough to retain Fantasy appeal in category-based formats even in a limited role. He averaged 8.0 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game in 22.0 minutes per game last season, and has put up identical numbers in his first eight games after signing a massive contract with the Magic this offseason. As a floor, it's hard to complain about that kind of production, especially because he could be one lineup shuffle away from even more minutes.
Cut 'Em Loose
Kris Dunn got his chance and didn't do much with it. The rookie started five games with Ricky Rubio sidelined by an elbow injury, and showed some flashes of the skills that made him so sought after in last June's draft -- the tenacious defense, the impressive athleticism and playmaking that could make him a star some day. However, his flaws were also on full display, as Dunn shot just 28.0 percent from the field and eventually ceded minutes to the less-heralded Tyus Jones. Dunn could be a very good player some day, and his potential as a stat-sheet stuffer makes him an extremely intriguing Fantasy prospect down the line as well. However, Rubio is back from his injury, and Dunn returned to the bench Saturday as a result. The skill set is still raw, and Dunn didn't show enough in his time as a starter to necessitate a spot on your team if you need the roster spot.
It was pretty obvious that Luol Deng really took off last season after the Heat switched him to power forward, as he averaged 15.2 points and 8.1 rebounds per game after the All-Star break. And it probably wasn't a coincidence. Deng's flagging athleticism made it much harder for him to hang among quicker wings. As he enters his 30's, Deng is much more useful as an offensive player facing off against slower big men who will have trouble tracking him on the perimeter. The Lakers have moved Deng back to small forward, and it has had a pretty predictable impact on his production, as he has declined across the board in nearly every relevant category. The Lakers are actually sneaky-deep too, which has limited Deng to just 24.3 minutes per game. At this point in his career, Deng simply cannot provide much for Fantasy players in this kind of role, and can be safely dropped. There just isn't much upside, even if he finds his way.