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Waiver Wire: Cole heating up for Week 3

Fantasy Writer
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There have been several surprises in Fantasy thus far and the waiver wire is fresh with ripe players ready to be picked. Some have been complete surprises while others have benefited from a change of scenery. A new crop of players has seen increased roles and while it is still too early to tell how they'll fare long-term, some early season performances have been far too impressive to ignore.

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This week we've chosen to highlight a pair of players that likely weren't on your radar on Draft Day.

1A: One-time Fantasy stud Tracy McGrady started Fantasy Week 2 (Jan. 2-8) with a solid performance against the Heat, in which he scored 13 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter, and also hauled in seven rebounds with four assists. He has scored in double figures four times in Atlanta's first five games and has been seeing more than 20 minutes off the bench.

The Hawks are counting on him for scoring in the second unit and as long as his 32-year-old body can hold up -- along with the lack of perimeter scorers in Atlanta -- he should be able to keep producing for owners. Consider McGrady a viable pickup for Week 3 (Jan. 9-15) with games against the Nets, Pacers, Bobcats and Timberwolves.

1B: Miami guard Norris Cole, the rookie out of Cleveland State, currently backs up Mario Chalmers but his production off the bench has opened a few eyes. The Heat have the pieces to win it all this season and a point guard that can facilitate the offense without turning the ball over is just what they need. While Cole will not be counted on for much scoring with the likes of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh around him, he has shown early on that he knows how to get the ball in the hands of playmakers and already has become a favorite of the Big 3.

The 23-year-old scored seven points with two rebounds and a steal in his NBA debut against the Mavericks while playing 24 minutes, and did even better his second time out with 20 points, four assists, four rebounds and three steals against a tough Boston team. Cole scored in double figures four times through the first six games and his ability to play defense and knock down open shots will go a long way. The Heat will face off against some decent point guards during Fantasy Week 3 in the Warriors, Clippers and Nuggets, so Cole should see some decent run. He looks to have all the tools to be a viable Fantasy option so adding Cole early on could be a prudent move for owners in need of guard help.

Guards

Add 'Em

James Anderson, Spurs
Owned: 15 percent of leagues
Analysis: With Manu Ginobili expected to miss more than a month due to a broken hand, Anderson will step into the starting two-guard spot for the Spurs and has some favorable matchups in Week 3. He has one difficult opponent (Portland) but otherwise will face teams that have been mostly unimpressive thus far in Milwaukee, Houston and Phoenix. Anderson averaged 7.2 points with 2.6 rebounds while seeing slightly more than 20 minutes coming off the bench, and his production should improve with an increase in minutes. Owners should keep in mind that his role will diminish once Ginobili returns, but that won't be until early February, at least.

MarShon Brooks, Nets
Owned: 59 percent of leagues
Analysis: Brooks has shown that he can score through the first two weeks of the season and is beginning to see a larger role in New Jersey because of it. He scored 17 points or more four times through the first six games and coach Avery Johnson has come out and said the rookie will be moved to the starting lineup eventually. Even if he doesn't, as long as Brooks is seeing solid minutes off the bench, he should be able to keep up his production. The Nets play two cupcakes in the Suns and Jazz in Week 3 so owners in need of some scoring and low-end rebounding should give Brooks a look heading into the upcoming scoring period.

Avoid 'Em

Anthony Parker, Cavaliers
Owned: 4 percent of leagues
Analysis: Parker's numbers are down across the board so far this season as the Cavaliers have been looking elsewhere for scoring. He averaged 6.8 points through the first four games, down from the 8.3 he posted a year ago, and his rebounding and assist totals have dropped off dramatically. Since he has the ball in his hands less this season, he is mainly limited to shooting 3-pointers, and he is doing that at a low clip. The 36-year-old should remain on waivers in the majority of formats, especially with the emergence of Kyrie Irving in Cleveland.

Jodie Meeks, 76ers
Owned: 12 percent of leagues
Analysis: After averaging a career-high 10.5 points a season ago, Meeks has struggled in the early goings and shot just 36 percent from the floor through the first four games. That includes going 3 for 13 (23 percent) from beyond the arc. He scored in double figures just once during the first two scoring periods. Meeks does not contribute in other categories so when he struggles to score, he essentially has no value in Fantasy. He will play against the Pacers, Kings, Nicks and Wizards -- twice -- during Week 3, but owners would be wise to leave Meeks on waivers at this point.

Forwards

Add 'Em

Markieff Morris, Suns
Owned: 28 percent of leagues
Analysis: After struggling to score in his first few games in the NBA, Morris has turned things around in Phoenix and is starting to make some noise in Fantasy. He has been one of the hottest additions off the waiver wire in CBSSports.com leagues and is also doing some decent rebounding. He shot 58 percent from the field through the first five games and with a wide-open offense in Phoenix, he will have every opportunity to succeed. Keep in mind rookies go through slumps from time to time but he should still see his minutes even in games in which the Suns get blown out, especially with Marcin Gortat still dealing with a thumb injury. Morris has a ton of upside so try and scoop him up for Week 3, especially with teams like the Cavaliers and Nets on the schedule.

Al Harrington, Nuggets
Owned: 67 percent of leagues
Analysis: Harrington entered the season as a serious question mark in Fantasy, but thanks to some of Denver's players being locked down in China, he has seen an increased role and is making the most of his time on the court. He averaged 15.7 points with 6.5 rebounds and 1.5 steals through the first six games, all while shooting 52 percent from the field. Also contributing to his resurgence is that he has been able to stay healthy, which was a problem last season, and he appears to be in line for a bounce-back campaign. Harrington has a rare skill set for a player his size and can contribute for most owners with his production thus far. The Nuggets play the Hornets, Nets, Heat and Jazz in Week 3 so consider Harrington a worthwhile addition.

Avoid 'Em

Austin Daye, Pistons
Owned: 23 percent of leagues
Analysis: Daye put on a show during the preseason, but since real games have started he has been unimpressive. He scored a combined 11 points through the first five games and shot an abysmal 22 percent from the field. A lot of that had to do with the fact that he saw only 10 minutes per contest, but it looks as though the Pistons are not going to be calling his number too often in the near future. Detroit currently has a logjam at forward with Jonas Jerebko, Charlie Villanueva and Jason Maxiell and since Daye is not about to supplant Tayshaun Prince from the starting lineup, his chances of producing are slim. Despite showing some solid progress in his first two seasons in the league, leave Daye on waivers in the majority of Fantasy formats until further notice.

Glen Davis, Magic
Owned: 40 percent of leagues
Analysis: Davis has struggled to find his role in his first season with the Magic and has not been putting up many points for Fantasy owners. He posted double-digits just once through the first six games and averaged 3.8 rebounds over that span. His shooting percentage of less than 36 percent has not helped his cause either. Ryan Anderson has been seeing most of the time at the four spot and with the way he has been producing early on, it will be difficult for Davis to surpass him in the near future. Add to the fact that Orlando will play just twice in Week 3 and owners should leave Davis on waivers.

Centers

Add 'Em

Ian Mahinmi, Mavericks
Owned: 7 percent of leagues
Analysis: Mahinmi averaged less than 4 points during his first three seasons in the NBA, but with Tyson Chandler no longer in Dallas he has seen his role increase. It hasn't hurt that Brendan Haywood has struggled and as a result the 25-year-old has seen his minutes go up. His scoring has mirrored his minutes and he is also doing a better job on the boards. The Mavericks seem to be very high on the Frenchman and he could end up starting over Haywood at some point down the line. While he does not rebound the way a typical big man would, his scoring and defensive stats alone make him a viable option in Fantasy right now. Owners that are thin at center should grab Mahinmi with games against the Pistons, Celtics, Bucks and Kings in Week 3.

Tiago Splitter, Spurs
Owned: 20 percent of leagues
Analysis: Splitter has been the first big man off the bench for the Spurs this season and has impressed the coaching staff with his play. He averaged 7.8 points with 5.8 rebounds and 1.6 blocks through the first five games, while seeing nearly 24 minutes per contest. He stayed home to play in Brazil during the lockout and showed up to camp in excellent shape and it has made a huge difference in his production. He should continue to see solid minutes off the bench behind DeJuan Blair and the aging Tim Duncan, and as owners know, center is one of the thinnest positions in Fantasy. Splitter has three easy matchups in Week 3 against Milwaukee, Houston and Phoenix so he appears to be a viable pickup, both in the short-term and down the line.

Avoid 'Em

Brendan Haywood, Mavericks
Owned: 21 percent of leagues
Analysis: Haywood inherited the starting center job when Tyson Chandler left in the offseason but his early struggles have opened the door for Mahinmi, and he could see his role diminish even more if he fails to turn things around. He averaged 5.2 points with 5.7 rebounds and a block through the first six games, but has yet to score in double figures. The Mavs could change up the starting lineup if they decide they need more scoring with the first unit. His defensive stats will keep him relevant in Fantasy but owners should view Haywood as more of an option for deeper category-based formats until he picks up the production.

Darko Milicic, Timberwolves
Owned: 26 percent of leagues
Analysis: Milicic has struggled to score and continues to underwhelm as a rebounder. He averaged 7.2 points through the first five games, and while he shot 56 percent from the field over that span, his stats in other categories have been down. The two blocks per game he posted a year ago have withered to 0.6 this season, and his assists and steals also have fallen. The 26-year-old would likely be more productive if he played more minutes, but since the Timberwolves probably won't run him out for more than 20-25 minutes on a nightly basis, it hinders his chances of putting up respectable numbers in Fantasy. Minnesota has a ton of young players who can play down low, so Milicic is not looking like a hot pickup for Week 3.

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Player News
Andray Blatche heading to China
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(9/20/2014) Free-agent center Andray Blatche has signed a one-year deal with the Xinjiang Guanghui Flying Tigers in China. Blatche's deal with pay him almost $2.5 million, and he'll be able to rejoin an NBA team in March, Yahoo! Sports reports.

Report: Kings add Ramon Sessions
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(9/20/2014) The Kings have agreed to a two-year, $4.2-million deal with free-agent guard Ramon Sessions , Yahoo! Sports reports.

The team is reportedly using its bi-annual exception provision to sign Sessions, who averaged 12.3 points, 4.1 points and 2.4 rebounds in 83 games between two teams last season.


Omer Asik ready to clean up in return to starting role
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(9/17/2014) Last season was a rough one for Omer Asik, who had to deal with returning to a reserve role after really shining as a starter the previous year. He should be much happier with his role this season, as the Pelicans acquired him this offseason with the intention of installing him as the starting center.

The Pelicans should have a fearsome frontcourt with Asik starting next to Anthony Davis, and Davis' presence should free Asik up to do the kind of work he excels at. Asik isn't a great offensive player, but he can be a dominant offensive rebounder, and should have many chances to clean up the boards with teams keying in on Davis offensively. Among players who have logged at least 5,000 minutes in the NBA, Asik is 22nd all-time in offensive rebounding percentage.

Asik had trouble staying healthy last season, but that was the first time he had ever missed a regular-season game in his career, so we can probably write that off as a fluke. He averaged a double-double with 1.1 blocks per game in 30.0 minutes per game two years ago, and should be capable of similar production as he returns to a starting role.

Asik should be viewed as a starting Fantasy option this season, though he may not have the upside of some other younger centers at this point. 


Tobias Harris' Fantasy value a mystery at this point
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(9/17/2014) Perception is a funny thing. Just ask Magic forward Tobias Harris, who enjoyed by far the most productive season of his career in 2013-14 but was somehow viewed as a Fantasy disappointment.

Part of that stemmed from Harris' issues with availability, as he missed 20 games and got off to a slow start to the season as a result. It really took until January for Harris to find his stride, but he averaged 15.2 points and 7.1 rebounds per game from Jan. 1 on, without missing a contest.

Harris was probably better than the general perception of him a year ago, but the power of expectations hurt him. And now he enters his fourth season as something of a career crossroads, and it is hard to say just how Fantasy owners should approach him this season.

The Magic added Channing Frye and Aaron Gordon to the roster this season, further confusing what was already one of the most crowded frontcourts in the league. Harris can play both forward spots, but he is probably best used as a small-ball power forward; the presence of Frye, one of the league's elite stretch-fours certainly complicates matters for Harris, then.

At just 22, Harris still has a world of potential ahead of him. However, he probably profiles best as a reserve Fantasy option heading into the season, given concerns about his role.   


Hype may be too high for Giannis Antetokounmpo
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(9/17/2014) No matter what he accomplishes in his second NBA season, Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo is likely to be a historical outlier, given his age. The question is, how much of a leap can the now-20-year-old take next season.

Only 15 players in NBA history have logged as many minutes in a single season as a teenager as Antetokounmpo's 1,897, so he is occupying fairly rarified air already. His age is a big part of why he is considered a big-time breakout prospect for Fantasy purposes, but he has a long way to go from a statistical standpoint.

Antetokounmpo was good for a 19-year-old rookie, but his season averages of 6.8 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game left a lot to be desired. It is easy to dream about a Antetokounmpo taking a big step forward, but that next step is never guaranteed -- for every Anthony Davis there is a Michael Kidd-Gilchrist whose development follows a slower, less linear path. 

Antetokounmpo was very good -- for a 19-year-old. However, Fantasy owners don't get extra points, rebounds or assists if the degree of difficulty is higher, so you are betting on Giannis taking a huge step forward at the age of 20. Antetokounmpo has become something of an internet darling, and his play in Summer League and the FIBA World Cup dominated much of the offseason discussion, which only helped build the hype to potentially unsustainable levels. 

He is a lottery ticket, for sure, but he is one that might not be worth the cost at this point. 


Improved jump shot all Jimmy Butler needs
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(9/17/2014) Bulls guard Jimmy Butler had the breakout season many expected from him a year ago, but there were still plenty of flaws apparent in his game as he finished his third NBA season. With a better team around him, Butler just might have enough help to vault him to stardom.

Butler's jump shot abandoned him last season, especially after a toe injury forced him to miss 11 games in November and December. He was shooting 43.7 percent from the field and 38.5 percent from three-point range prior to the injury, but connected on just 39.3 percent of his shots overall and 27.1 percent from three-point range from that point on.

We can blame Butler's season-long shooting slump on the injury or his increased offensive role, but he should have neither excuse available for him this season. Butler should be healthy, and the Bulls added plenty of offensive firepower this offseason, in the form of Pau Gasol and Doug McDermott, not to mention a hopefully healthy Derrick Rose. Butler took 154 shots off the dribble last season, per Stats.NBA.com, and made just 30.7 percent of them. With a better team around him, Butler should get many more opportunities to shoot with his feet set.

Butler has the skill set to be a tremendously efficient offensive player, given how often he bullies his way to the free-throw line. Last season, Butler filled up the box score extremely well, but his poor shooting limited his Fantasy value somewhat. If a new role helps his efficiency, he could be one of the very best guards in the league in category-based formats. 


Lance Stephenson set for bigger role in new setting
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(9/17/2014) Though there were fits and starts, Lance Stephenson finally began to live up to his considerable promise last season. Now in a new home in Charlotte, will Stephenson take another step forward in 2014-15?

By the end of last season, the Pacers were a mess, and Stephenson caught plenty of the blame for that. Still, he might have been arguably the team's most consistent player throughout the season, averaging between 25.8 and 29.7 Fantasy points per game from before and after the All-Star break as well as the playoffs. For as much of a mess as that team was, Stephenson emerged as something of a rock, at least for Fantasy purposes.

The Hornets are actually built in a somewhat similar way to the Pacers, so there wont' be much of a stylistic shift for Stephenson to get used to. Per MySynergySports.com, 11.8 percent of the then-Bobcats' possessions ended in post-ups, actually down from the 13.2 percent mark the Pacers' posted. Stephenson struggled at times with his post-entry passing, though his off-target feeds might find their mark more often when being lobbed in to the soft hands of Al Jefferson, as opposed to Roy Hibbert.

The Hornets might lean even more heavily on Stephenson than the Pacers did, since Indiana liked to spread the ball around with their starting five. The Hornets, on the other hand, look to be extremely top-heavy, and Stephenson will get plenty of chances to be the second or third option. We have him projected for 29.1 Fantasy points per game, and consider Stephenson a borderline top-50 Fantasy option for this season.  


Move to Houston won't alter Trevor Ariza's trajectory
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(9/17/2014) Trevor Ariza parlayed a career-year into a lucrative free-agency contract with the Rockets this offseason -- stop me if you've heard this story before.

Ariza was largely a disappointment in his first stint with the Rockets, though it did lead him to the best per-game numbers of his career. Still, Ariza was obviously miscast as a primary offensive option the last time he was in Houston, and that won't be a problem this time around.

Ariza joins a Rockets team with two established stars, and will likely spend much of his time trying to fill the departed Chandler Parsons' role. That should suit him nicely, as Ariza has just enough of an off-the-bounce game to serve as the team's third ballhandler when the shot clock gets deep. Ariza attempted 11.1 field-goal attempts per game last season, and should see a boost given Parsons' role; he attempted 13.3 shots per game.

Ariza's improved three-point shot seems legitimate, as he is shooting 38.6 percent from long range over 738 attempts since 2012. However, he will no longer have John Wall feeding him for juicy corner 3-pointers; Wall to Ariza was the league's most productive corner-three combination last season. His shooting numbers may take a hit with his move.

Even acknowledging the loss of Wall's help, we know the Houston offense is set up to get every player the most efficient shots possible, so Ariza shouldn't see much of a dip in his efficiency. His ability to fill up the box score makes him a perfect No. 2 option at forward in category-based leagues, especially now that he is a high-volume shooter. 


Despite new role, don't write off Isaiah Thomas entirely
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(9/17/2014) Suns guard Isaiah Thomas might see one of the biggest dropoffs in his Fantasy value from last season to this, as he joins the crowded Suns' backcourt.

The Suns might have three All-Star caliber guards in the backcourt now, with Thomas likely to backup Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe this season. That should put a serious dent in Thomas' value; Thomas finished 13th in Fantasy scoring among guards a year ago, but is projected to finish just 43rd this season.

Still, Thomas is definitely someone you'll want to add to your team when drafting, and almost certainly before the rest of the No. 4-type guards he is grouped with. Thomas is likely to see his numbers fall off from the 20.3 points and 6.3 assists he averaged a year ago, at least at first. However, it wouldn't be a surprise to see him end up starting upwards of 25 games throughout the year, given Bledsoe's injury-proneness. Bledsoe has missed at least 25 games in two of the last three seasons for knee issues.

Thomas probably profiles as more of a bench option for Fantasy purposes next season, but you'll be targeting him much earlier than nearly any other reserve. His upside as a handcuff option for either Bledsoe or Dragic is sky-high, and will make him well worth your attention on Draft Day. 


Eric Gordon cleared for contact
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(9/17/2014) Pelicans guard Eric Gordon has been cleared to take part in full-contact offseason drills ahead of training camp, The Times-Picayune reports.

Gordon underwent season-ending knee surgery last April, but is expected to be ready for the start of the regular season. 


 
 
 
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