Welcome to Week 4. By now managers should be getting a better sense of their teams and which positions and categories are strengths and weaknesses. This information should guide your decision making. While everyone should add this week's top pickup if he's available, after that, your teams' nuances should matter more than my ranking (if you don't need defensive stats, don't add Matisse Thybulle!).
That said, whatever your team needs, there are lots of good options available on this week's waiver wire.
No members of the Magic qualify for this article this week, but regular readers know that I'm a big advocate for several magicians, including Franz Wagner (80% rostered). However, it's a tough week for them, as they are one of only two teams (along with the Wizards) who play just two games.
As we do every year, the players in this article must be rostered in less than two-thirds of CBS leagues. That said, this early in the season, I may fudge the boundary there a little bit as rosters settle out. Players are listed in the order that I recommend adding them, assuming they are equally good fits for your team.
Double-check your league
A few names right at the cut line, rostered in roughly two-thirds of leagues, who are still under-rostered. Double-check to make sure they aren't available in your league.
Seth Curry, 76ers (68% rostered)
Alperen Sengun, Rockets (67% rostered)
Cam Reddish, Hawks (68% rostered)
Adds for all leagues
Jalen Brunson, Mavericks (63% rostered)
Hello again, old friend. Brunson made frequent appearances in this space last season, especially in the midst of his core-of-the-sun hot 52-47-93 January. Though he couldn't quite keep up that pace all season, the always efficient backup guard still finished the season with shooting splits of 52-41-80. And he's picked up this season at a similar pace, despite shouldering a bigger role. Though he's playing more minutes and attempting more shots, Brunson is still averaging 48.4% FG and 42.3% 3Pt. Before this week, Brunson was low-end add-able in standard leagues, averaging 11-4-5 in 25.5 minutes off the bench. But then the clock turned to November.
This week, he's entered the starting lineup, and to dramatic effect. He's averaging 28-9-3 in his new role, playing 33.5 minutes. Importantly, Dallas is playing well in these games, which hopefully motivates them to keep Brunson in the starting lineup. First, the Mavericks lost a mostly competitive game to the Heat, and then they won against the Spurs.
Additionally, this surge is happening while Dallas is mostly healthy – no member of their backcourt has missed either game, though Kristaps Porzingis (back) and Maxi Kleber (oblique) were both out. As long as Brunson is a starter, he is a must-add in all leagues.
Matisse Thybulle, 76ers (25% rostered)
Thybulle is fun, in part because he's so weird. He scores fewer points than any other Fantasy-relevant player, full stop. His 5.1 points per game ranks 264th in the league, yet he's a top-60 player in 9-category settings, and top-80 in 8-cat. His 4.0 "stocks" (steals plus blocks) per game leads the league, and though Al Horford is nipping at his heels with a 3.9, no one else is above 3.5.
He's finally secured stable minutes, averaging 22.3 when coming off the bench and 34.0 in his two fill-in starts. He provides only token quantities of rebounds, assists, and 3s, and he's a massive drain in points. But his defensive production is irreplaceable. He's not for every team, but there are multiple teams in every league that should be adding him.
Points league managers beware – different leagues have different settings, and there is wide variance in how steals and blocks are valued. When the NBA announced their "official" Fantasy default settings a few years ago, they called for three points for each stock, while CBS' default awards only one point. In a CBS default league, Thybulle is much more of a fringe prospect. In leagues with three or four points per stock, that's an extra 8-12 points per game, effectively making Thybulle a must-add.
Carmelo Anthony, Lakers (66% rostered)
Anthony has been good so far, and LeBron James (abdomen) missing another week will probably extend his relevance. Anthony is a fine addition for a lot of rosters, though his current roster rate is perhaps already higher than it should be. It's hard to imagine that he'll be able to maintain 17 points on 51% FG shooting – the former is his highest in five years, and the latter would be a career high. He's also on track to set a career high in blocks, 3s, and 3-point field goal percentage, while matching his best steals-per-game figure since the Obama administration. Add him, use him, just don't get overly attached. Even if he remains rosterable for most of the season, it won't always be this good.
Hart has started the last three games with Brandon Ingram (hip) out. Hart himself was injured early in the opener and missed four games. In the one game where both were healthy, Hart was limited because it was his first game back. So we still have no idea what Hart's role will be when this team is healthy – and that's before accounting for the potential eventual return of Zion Williamson (foot). So there are a lot of unknowns here.
But here is what we do know. Hart was named an opening night starter. He's averaging 14-7-2 in 30.7 minutes in the three games he played start to finish. And he has an established track record as an excellent source of out-of-position rebounds while helping in assists and 3s. He's certainly worth rostering until Ingram returns, and has a solid chance to continue producing even after that.
Jarred Vanderbilt, Timberwolves (11% rostered)
I love it when I get to write about one of my favorite late-round draft targets (I also dropped him everywhere and now have to fight to get him back, but let's focus on the part where I was right, not the part where I was wrong). Vanderbilt was barely in Minnesota's rotation for the first three games, but then that suddenly flipped. Since then, he's started three out of four games, averaging 10-9-1 in 25.5 minutes. Many reporters were predicting that Vanderbilt would be the Wolves' starting power forward this season, and after a slight delay, that appears to be becoming true.
His NBA experience is so limited that we don't really know whether his lack of defensive production so far is due to a small sample size or a sign of things to come. That said, he was a potent defender in college, and he averaged 3.5 stocks per-36 minutes last season, so there is at least some justification for optimism.
Herbert Jones, Pelicans (4% rostered)
If you've read this column over the past few years, you know I occasionally get a little prematurely excited about some players. Sometimes those guys eventually work out (Mo Bamba, Jalen Brunson), and sometimes they don't (I can admit I was over-eager on Danuel House). Jones probably fits that "too excited too early" mold – hopefully he ends up alongside Bamba and Brunson and not House.
Jones, a rookie second-round pick, stepped into the starting lineup in Game 2 (after Hart's injury) and was immediately given a giant workload. Through six starts, he averaged 2.7 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.3 steals and 0.7 blocks. After scoring eight points combined in his first three starts, he averaged 10.0 per game in his next four – including his seventh start, which he had to leave early after suffering a concussion.
The Pelicans are a strange team dealing with tons of different health concerns. On top of that, Jones is a rookie who's produced wildly different box scores from one night to the next. And, finally, rounding out the "I don't know what I'm looking at" picture, we don't know when he's going to return from his concussion. All I know for sure is that I've added him to most of my rosters while we wait to find out what he is.
Grayson Allen, Bucks (37% rostered)/Bobby Portis (43% rostered), Bucks
We've already spilled too much internet ink on the Bucks' potential waiver pickups, but Allen remains widely available and Portis' return didn't seem to impact Allen. Portis has played limited minutes in three appearances across four games as they get him back into NBA shape, and Khris Middleton (COVID-19 protocols) missed two of those, so we still have no idea how this rotation will shake out. Historically, Portis has been a great per-minute producer who adds value in almost every category, and he appears to be in line for a bigger role this season.
Streamers wanted/Deep-league special
Georges Niang, 76ers (13% rostered)
Niang is somewhat like an NBA version of the NFL's Jamaal Williams. Although he is usable when everyone is healthy, he's most attractive because of his increased value if the starter ahead of him misses time. Except while Williams needs an injury to one specific player (D'Andre Swift), Niang sees a boost in value whenever any of the 76ers' usual starters is out. The combination of Niang's versatility, the 76ers' shallow bench, and the versatility of their other core players, Niang should be a beneficiary almost regardless of which starter is out.
Philadelphia has been down multiple starters over the past three games, leading to 17.7 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 2.7 assists in 31.7 minutes for Niang. When they were mostly healthy over the first six games, he averaged just 9-2-1 in 17.8 minutes, though his 2.2 3s and efficient shooting kept him on the edge of rosterability in deeper leagues. Tobias Harris (Covid-19 protocols) can't return before Thursday, making Niang a solid streaming option for at least that long, and he'll maintain some deep league appeal even after the team is fully healthy.
The 76ers also have one of the most favorable schedules in Week 4. They have four games, three of which are at home. On top of that, they are off on Wednesday's unusually busy 13-game slate, and they play on both of the week's quiet slates, Tuesday and Thursday.