Fantasy Hoops: Week 22 Waiver Wire targets, schedule analysis
Fantasy playoffs are either here or near, and Alex Rikleen says there’s help available on the waiver wire if you need it.
Most head-to-head playoffs start either this week or next week, so if you made it to the elimination round, congratulations. If you are one week away still, then best of luck. In either case, I have some good news: there are waiver wire options available to help.
The schedule is unusually balanced this week, with 22 teams playing three games. Teams can build in some advantage by targeting players on the eight teams with four games: the Rockets, Clippers, Pelicans, Thunder, Blazers, Kings, Spurs and Raptors. Additionally, teams in daily lineup leagues can gain some upper hand by targeting the Kings (the only team on both lists), Heat, and Bucks, each of which plays on both Monday and Wednesday. Monday and Wednesday house only four games, so managers are unlikely to fill their starting lineups.
An important reminder: the further we get into the season, the less important a player's "overall value" is. Marc Gasol is still a top-40 Fantasy player, but if you can win rebounds and blocks without him, and you'll need to take a competitive field goal percentage battle to advance, then Gasol should probably be on your bench. That's a slightly extreme example, but it illustrates the point. The time to consider "overall value" has passed. Players have to be evaluated for how they fit your team's needs.
As always, players must be owned 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
Multiple times this season, Rozier has show us what he can do when given an expanded role. During Marcus Smart's last prolonged absence, Rozier averaged 15.0 points, 5.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 2.5 threes and 1.1 steals in 29.6 minutes. Well, Smart (hand) is out again, and there is no news yet on how long he'll be on the sidelines. Kyrie Irving (knee) is also banged up, though it's still possible he doesn't miss any time at all. Rozier is easily the best overall value available right now, as long as Smart and/or Irving are injured.
Nemanja Bjelica, Timberwolves (47 percent owned)
Frankly, I'm surprised there isn't more Bjelica hype throughout the Fantasy realm. While it is certainly true that the Fantasy world gets less excited about non-scorers, that should be counterbalanced by Bjelica's 37.7 minutes per game over his past six games. He adds value in each of the other eight categories, including 8.3 rebounds and 2.0 threes per game over this recent run. We know how Timberwolves' coach Tom Thibodeau hates substitutions, so Bjelica's role should be considered pretty stable moving forward.
Reggie Bullock, Pistons (39 percent owned)
Bullock is encroaching on Wayne Ellington's (24 percent owned) regularly scheduled slot in this article. Bullock has at least one three in 22 straight games, averaging 2.6 per game in that span. He also has scored in double-digits in 13 straight, averaging 32.8 minutes per game.
Justise Winslow, Heat (34 percent owned)
Winslow is one of several players on this list who only qualify because of where we are in the Fantasy schedule. Earlier in the season, someone with the same production would be an "other recommendation" or left out entirely. But as Fantasy teams shift from maximizing overall value to value added to my specific roster, players like Winslow become more viable.
Winslow is averaging 30.5 minutes per game in March, which is more than enough to warrant ownership, and more than he saw during any previous six-game stretch this season. What makes him attractive is that he adds value in rebounds, assists and steals with minimal harm in other categories. One cautionary note: throughout his career, Winslow has had a poor field goal percentage; don't be fooled by his current hot streak of 52.5 percent in March. That will almost certainly fall back to Earth soon.
A few players worth looking at are similar to Winslow in that they are: A) guys to consider adding now who you wouldn't have earlier; and, B) share overlapping, but not identical strengths with Winslow. Ed Davis (20 percent owned) is averaging 11.3 rebounds per game in just 22.7 minutes over the past six games. That rebounding rate is outrageous, but he is a good source of rebounds and field goal percentage for teams willing to accept a limited specialist. Winslow's teammate, Kelly Olynyk (28 percent owned), provides value in very similar categories as Winslow, but with different comparative strengths. Olynyk is better in threes and passing, while Winslow is better in steals and rebounds.
Andrew Harrison, Grizzlies (41 percent owned)
Harrison has now missed almost two weeks for what the Grizzlies initially told us was a small, short-term injury. It's been more than a week since they said he'd return "in a week or two". If Harrison is indeed close to returning, then he might be the best source of assists available on the waiver wire. The sophomore point guard was averaging 15.0 points and 5.5 assists in 31.8 minutes in his first four games after the All-Star break.
Other recommendations: Dillon Brooks , Grizzlies (36 percent owned)
All of these players can be considered in shallower leagues, especially if their skills are a good match for a team's needs. These players are specifically recommended for deeper leagues because their overall value is low enough that the dropoff might outweigh the strategic advantages of their specific skill sets.
VanVleet is someone to target in dynasty leagues, as the second-year pro has become a solid rotation player over the course of this season. He's still only averaging 24.2 minutes since the All-Star break, and that number is unlikely to increase – it's already up almost 33 percent over his pre-All-Star break workload. He adds some value in assists, steals, threes, and free throw percentage, and he doesn't do much damage anywhere. An added benefit is that the Raptors play four games this week.
It was only two weeks ago that I described Len as someone who should be owned in all leagues – why the sudden about-face? When the NBA warned the Bulls about resting Robin Lopez and Justin Holiday, they sent a message to all lottery teams. The league was not going to permit a repeat of the 2016-17 Suns, who shut down Tyson Chandler, Eric Bledsoe and others after the All-Star break.
Therefore, when Tyson Chandler recovered from his shoulder injury, he rejoined the rotation. My "buy" order on Len was based on the assumption that Chandler's season was over -- or, if not over, then he'd see only occasional spot-usage, similar to how the Suns used Greg Monroe earlier this season. With Chandler back in the mix, Len's Fantasy value is near zero.
Nwaba was even more directly impacted by the league's warning, as the entire reason Nwaba had become a hot Fantasy commodity was that the Bulls had decided to remove Holiday from the rotation. As with Len and Chandler, now that Holiday is back, Nwaba just doesn't play enough to help most Fantasy teams. Both players are wasting space on your roster.
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