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USATSI

The NBA took Thanksgiving Day off, and all that eating and drinking led to a wacky week. LeBron James caught and then quickly un-caught COVID-19*, Kemba Walker and Blake Griffin got benched (they were All-NBA players two seasons ago!), Ja Morant and Devin Booker and Bam Adebayo got hurt, the Timberwolves got good (OK that started before Thanksgiving, but it's still really weird), and John Wall got rejected (from his attempt to return to play).

*Note: un-catching Covid is not a thing. It turns out James simply had a false-positive test.

There were so many injuries and rotation changes that the biggest waiver-wire beneficiaries from the Walker benching and the Booker injury got relegated to the "other recommendations" section (though Alec Burks, 72% rostered, would have been this week's top add if he qualified).

Whether you're trying to recover from Thanksgiving or managing a Fantasy team, it's a good week to get active. As usual, 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

Jarred Vanderbilt, Timberwolves (61% rostered)

Some Vanderbilt numbers for your consideration:

Games 1-10: 19.0 minutes, 5.1 points, 6.0 rebounds; played in every game but started only three

-- Permanently enters starting lineup for Game 11 --

Games 11-12: 16.0 minutes

Games 13-19: 25.0 minutes, 6.9 points, 10.0 rebounds

Games 20-22: 34.5 minutes, 4.5 points, 13.0 rebounds

So what if Vanderbilt is apparently allergic to scoring? He's secured a massive role in this Minnesota rotation, he gets tons of rebounds, and he's pretty useful in steals and blocks, too. He takes such few shots that it doesn't really matter, but it's also nice that both his FG% and FT% are excellent.

Alex Caruso, Bulls (59% rostered)

You're sick of reading about Caruso, and I'm sick of writing about him. But he needs to be on Fantasy rosters. The Bulls big four have been back for five games now – games during which Caruso averaged 12-4-5 with 2.4 steals and 1.4 3s in 29.3 minutes. He's an all-leagues must-add.

Anfernee Simons, Trail Blazers (38% rostered)

Simons was already averaging 23.6 minutes and 12.5 points this season, and both of those are likely to go up with Damian Lillard (abdomen) out for at least eight more days. Lillard was averaging a ton of minutes with a giant usage rate – 35.7 minutes, 21.5 points, 18.4 FG attempts, and 9.1 3-point attempts – and Simons is going to have to pick up most of that slack. CJ McCollum's stats mirror Lillard's to a point that it's almost bizarre (35.5 MPG, 20.6 PPG, 18.7 FGA, 8.2 3PA), so there isn't really any upward mobility there. Norman Powell can increase his workload a little bit, but not nearly enough to account for the massive hole Lillard leaves, and the rest of Portland's backcourt depth chart is profoundly uninspiring. 

In the first game without Lillard, Simons started, played 36 minutes and attempted 14 shots. And that was on a night when his shot wasn't falling. Simons is averaging 19-4-3 with 3.3 3s per-36 minutes this season, and 36-ish minutes per game while Lillard is out is exactly what we should expect.

Kevin Huerter, Hawks (46% rostered)

Another repeat name who should be universally rostered. Frankly, unless you're in desperate need of rebounds or steals, Huerter should actually be this week's top add – I only lowered him to try to trick the editors into putting someone else's name in this week's headline. Since entering the starting lineup after the De'Andre Hunter injury, Huerter is averaging 12-4-3 with 1.9 3s on fantastic shooting efficiency, and that's including the game he left early due to injury and both of last week's duds. 

De'Anthony Melton, Grizzlies (49% rostered)

Melton was great to start the season, averaging 12-5-3 with 2.6 stocks and 2.1 3s in 28.8 minutes as a starter over the first 11 games. But his workload plummeted after Dillon Brooks returned to action. He's not rosterable when the team is healthy, but with Ja Morant (knee) facing an extended absence, Melton should be back on a lot of rosters. 

Through Morant's first two absences, Tyus Jones got the start and played more minutes, but Melton is still likely to be the better pickup (the third game without Morant was Thursday's historic blowout of the Thunder, and nothing can be learned for Fantasy from a game that lopsided). Those games overlapped with Melton returning earlier than expected from a groin injury, so it's possible they were limiting his workload deliberately. Even if he continues coming off the bench, as long as Melton gets back above 25 minutes per game, he's a solid pickup in almost all formats.

Daniel Gafford, Wizards (64% rostered)

His slow start crushed most of the preseason optimism surrounding Gafford, but he's started to turn things around since Thanksgiving. After averaging just 8.5 points and 4.6 rebounds in 19.7 minutes before the holiday, he's averaged 14.3, 10.0, and 25.3 over his past three games, including a double-double in each game. I'm not sure there is much upside beyond what he's shown over these last few games, but a 14-10 double-double with more than one block per game (averaging 2.1 on the season) is absolutely add-able.

Tyus Jones, Grizzlies (27% rostered)

As discussed in the Melton section, I'd rather add Melton than Jones while Morant is out. Jones may hold on to the starting spot, but I expect the minutes gap between the two players to shrink (if not reverse). Jones is a great per-minute passer, and he can provide some help in 3s and steals, but he's actively harmful in points and blocks. If you're desperate for assists, Jones is one of the best pickups available. Otherwise, he's much more of a streamer than someone to regularly rely upon.

DeMarcus Cousins, Bucks (11% rostered)

It may be a little bit before he's fully in shape, and we have no idea what his workload will be when he gets there. But with Brook Lopez out for the season, there is room for another big in the Bucks' rotation. He's nowhere near the top-20 Fantasy producer he was back in Sacramento, but his per-minute numbers were still really good last season. If you have patience and room on your roster for a flier, give Boogie a chance.

Other recommendations: Cameron Johnson, Suns (24% rostered); Immanuel Quickley, Knicks (28% rostered); Devin Vassell, Spurs (53% rostered); Marvin Bagley, Kings (45% rostered); Patty Mills, Nets (53% rostered); Cam Payne, Suns (11% rostered); Pat Connaughton, Bucks (52% rostered); Jeff Green, Nuggets (22% rostered); Eric Gordon, Rockets (42% rostered); Herbert Jones, Pelicans (11% rostered); Kentavious Caldwell Pope, Wizards (34% rostered); Malik Monk, Lakers (16% rostered)

What to do with Dewayne Dedmon?

Dewayne Dedmon, Heat (22% rostered)

Look, Dedmon is absolutely in the realm of add-able players, especially in deep leagues. But he belongs midway through the "other recommendations" section – I'm highlighting him here not to hype him up, but rather to throw some cold water on some over-eager excitement.

We're only talking about Dedmon because Bam Adebayo (thumb) just had surgery on his thumb. We don't have an official timeline on Adebayo yet, but I'm personally assuming a minimum of six weeks, and likely longer (note: I am not a doctor, and I have no info that isn't publicly available). Dedmon is stepping in as the starter and was shockingly effective in that role Wednesday – 11 points, 13 rebounds, three assists, two blocks and a steal. Unfortunately, that production is completely unsustainable. He's likely to put up good-not-great rebounds and blocks, and not much more than that.

Dedmon is 32. At his peak – as a Hawk, three years and three teams ago, in his 29-year-old season – he averaged 11-8-1 with 1.1 steal and 1.1 block in 25.1 minutes. There is no reason to believe he can match that efficiency anymore, and he's not likely to get much more minutes than that, either. He's only played 30 minutes or more 19 times in his nine-year career (he's played in 198 games). 

He's worth adding because waiver wire blocks are scarce and he has a long window of opportunity ahead of him. If he settles in near roughly 30 minutes per game, then he'll be worth rostering in a 12-team league. But my guess is he ends up more in the 25-27 range, making him more of a regular streamer in standard leagues and only worth holding in deeper formats. And if you already have him, I strongly recommend selling high while the sheen from Wednesday's box score still glistens off this shiny new pickup. 

TLDR: a low-priority add and a sell-high.

Schedule notes

There are a few noteworthy elements to the Week 8 schedule.

First, the Spurs play five times, one of the only five-game weeks of the season for any team. That makes them highly attractive in a lot of settings and boosts Devin Vassell's value in particular.

Next, the Raptors, Suns, and Hawks each play only twice. We'll circle back to these three in a minute.

Finally, the schedule is completely uneven, with tiny three-game slates Tuesday and Thursday, but a gigantic 13-game slate on Wednesday. 

That imbalance has a big impact on managers in daily-lineups leagues. Since waiver wire pickups are likely to be the worst players on a roster, this means that teams with Wednesday games effectively have one fewer game during the week. So while the Suns and Hawks only have two games, neither of them play Wednesday. At least as far as waivers are concerned, there is no meaningful difference between players on those two teams and players on the Celtics, Hornets, Bulls, Warriors, Rockets, Pacers, Clippers, Heat, Pelicans, Blazers, Kings, Jazz, or Wizards – every team that plays three games this week also happens to play on Wednesday. The unbalanced schedule is most damaging to the Raptors, who play one of their two games on Wednesday.

The uneven schedule also boosts the Lakers and Spurs, the only teams that play both Tuesday and Thursday. It also provides a smaller boost to the Nets, Knicks, and Mavericks, each of whom have four-game weeks including a game on Tuesday.