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Waiver Wire: Biyombo climbing the ranks

Fantasy Writer
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With teams more than 20 games into the season, there are still a ton of question marks in Fantasy. Roles are still being defined and adjusted as some teams continue to move starters to the bench and vice versa. Injuries also continue to pile up with the condensed schedule and some players that were looking good earlier in the season have been unable to maintain consistency. This has opened the door for guys whom owners might not be too familiar with, but good thing we're here to sift through the waiver wire for them.

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This week we are looking at Bismack Biyombo.

Biyombo was unable to do much with his playing time early on, but he has stepped up his production of late and is starting to see an increased role. Bobcats coach Paul Silas has said he plans to use the rookie primarily, if not exclusively, at center moving forward. While he is not as big as some of the other centers in the league, he played physical against Orlando's Dwight Howard and posted his first career double-double in that contest.

Biyombo played in Spain while the lockout was going on and appears to be finding his groove. He should be able to continue to put up decent scoring and rebounding numbers on a Charlotte team that is desperate for production in the frontcourt. While he will face off against the Lakers and Portland in Week 6 (Jan. 30-Feb. 5), he also has a contest against the Suns, who are not known for their defensive prowess. Consider Biyombo a viable pickup in deeper Fantasy formats heading into the upcoming scoring period and beyond.

Guards

Add 'Em

Luke Ridnour, Timberwolves
Owned: 65 percent
Analysis: Despite the additions of Ricky Rubio and Jose Juan Barea at the point guard spot, Ridnour has been able to keep his stats up so far this season and is actually averaging more than the 11.8 points he posted a season ago. He put up 14.4 points with 5.6 assists and 46 percent shooting over a five-game stretch that ended on Jan. 23 and continues to see 30-plus minutes per contest. He has also been running with Rubio in the backcourt and has shown no signs of losing his current role. The 30-year-old is not as valuable as some of the other guards out there but with double-digit scoring, a fair amount of assists and a steal per contest, Ridnour has value in deeper Fantasy leagues.

Ronnie Brewer, Bulls
Owned: 4 percent
Analysis: With Luol Deng suffering from ligament damage in his wrist and being considered "week to week," Brewer stands to gain the most on the Bulls. He has already stepped into the starting lineup -- scoring in double digits his first time out -- because of the injury and has a fairly favorable schedule in Week 6. Chicago will take on Washington, Philadelphia, New York and Milwaukee during the upcoming scoring period. Brewer proved in his days with the Jazz that he can consistently score in double figures when given the minutes and he is also helpful in Fantasy for some low-end rebounding and defensive stats. The 26-year-old should see a boost in his value while Deng is out so consider picking Brewer up in deeper Fantasy leagues in the short-term.

Avoid 'Em

Nate Robinson, Warriors
Owned: 36 percent
Analysis: Robinson was able to put together a few decent performances while Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis were injured but his minutes have gone down since both have returned, which has hindered his production. After averaging 14.7 points with 4.8 assists over a six-game stretch, he started Week 5 having scored in single digits in three straight contests. While he has still been able to post some respectable assist totals, he will likely not remain on the court long enough on a nightly basis to be a solid contributor in Fantasy. While he is not a bad stash candidate -- considering how often Curry gets hurt -- owners would be wise to avoid Robinson in larger formats heading into Week 6.

Kawhi Leonard, Spurs
Owned: 60 percent
Analysis: Leonard was a hot pickup in Fantasy after Manu Ginobili went down with his injury and was putting up some decent stats for owners for awhile, but his production has tailed off. He started Week 5 with a goose egg against New Orleans, which ended a poor four-game stretch for the rookie. He averaged just 3.5 points with shot 23 percent from the field over that span. While he has still done a decent job on the boards, his value will rise and fall with his scoring. Leonard will face off against the Grizzlies, Rockets, Hornets and Thunder during Week 6, so leave him on waivers for the time being.

Forwards

Add 'Em

Grant Hill, Suns
Owned: 38 percent
Analysis: Hill had a difficult time finding his shot in the early goings, but his performances of late suggest he is turning things around. He started Week 5 with a season-high 19 points and hauled in eight rebounds, and shot 49 percent from the floor during a five-game stretch that ended on Jan. 24. The 39-year-old has revived his career since coming to Phoenix in 2007-08. With the Suns' wide-open offense, he should be able to pick up his production going forward. Hill will face off against the Mavericks, Hornets, Rockets and Bobcats during Week 6 -- which should help his resurgence -- so start getting the seven-time All-Star active in deeper Fantasy formats.

Jason Smith, Hornets
Owned: 26 percent
Analysis: Smith has done a decent job since being moved into the starting lineup and should continue to see an improved role as long as he is in the good graces of coach Monty Williams. He averaged 10.4 points with five rebounds and 1.8 blocks during a five-game stretch heading into Week 5 and has some favorable matchups for Week 6. He will face off against the Heat to start the scoring period before taking on the Suns, Spurs and Pistons. The 25-year-old does not have the track record of other Fantasy options but consider him a worthwhile addition for Week 6.

Avoid 'Em

Jon Leuer, Bucks
Owned: 9 percent
Analysis: Leuer had a nice little run in which he scored in double figures five times over a six-game span, but he began Week 5 with his third straight scoreless performance and has seen his minutes drop off significantly. The Bucks currently have a logjam at the forward spot and the rookie out of Wisconsin has been unable to distinguish himself as a candidate for more minutes. While he has shown flashes of being a viable option in Fantasy, continue to ignore Leuer in the majority of formats heading into Week 6.

Marvin Williams, Hawks
Owned: 62 percent
Analysis: Williams averaged 11.8 points and 6.7 rebounds while seeing around 27 minutes over the first eight games this season, but his production has dropped off significantly of late. He started Week 5 with a six-point performance, which capped off a five-game stretch in which he put up just 7.8 points and shot just 35 percent from the field. The 25-year-old continues to start in Atlanta but since his scoring has been erratic, he is proving once again why he is not as valuable in Fantasy. Leave Williams for deeper formats heading into Week 6.

Centers

Add 'Em

Timofey Mozgov, Nuggets
Owned: 7 percent
Analysis: Mozgov capped off Week 4 with a 16-point, seven-rebound performance and played a season-high 30 minutes. He has stepped up when Nene has been banged up and his ability to provide some low-end scoring and rebounding makes him an intriguing option in Fantasy. While he remains too inconsistent to start in the majority of formats, deeper leagues and category-based formats seem like a perfect fit for the 25-year-old. Owners should expect a high shooting percentage from him on a nightly basis and with his value at a thin position in Fantasy, Mozgov might be worth a look with the Grizzlies, Clippers, Lakers and Trail Blazers on the schedule for Week 6.

Ian Mahinmi, Mavericks
Owned: 17 percent
Analysis: Mahinmi has been able to take his game to the next level this season and is seeing some decent minutes in Dallas. He started Week 5 with 17 points and nine rebounds against the Suns and has scored in double figures six times thus far. While his production can be sporadic at times, the Mavs seem to favor him over Brendon Haywood and the 25-year-old has a favorable schedule for Week 6 with the Suns, Thunder, Pacers and Cavaliers on the docket during the upcoming scoring period, so consider Mahinmi a worthwhile addition in deeper formats, especially at a thin position in Fantasy.

Avoid 'Em

Ben Wallace, Pistons
Owned: 1 percent
Analysis: Wallace has been able to earn some starts in Detroit but it has not led to more production from the veteran. He began Week 5 with his ninth scoreless performance of the season and is not doing much on the boards for the Pistons. The 37-year-old continues to see limited minutes and is no longer the defensive presence he was in his younger days so continue to ignore Wallace in all Fantasy formats at this point.

Enes Kanter, Jazz
Owned: 16 percent
Analysis: Kanter has shown flashes of being an option in Fantasy so far during his rookie campaign, but his current role in Utah hinders his value. He scored in double figures just once through his first 15 games -- which came on Jan. 17 against the Clippers -- and he has not come close to repeating the 11 rebounds he posted in his NBA debut. While the No. 3 overall pick in the 2011 draft has a ton of upside, he is currently stuck behind Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap, and Derrick Favors is also standing in his way for more minutes. Continue to stash Kanter deeper Fantasy formats.

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Player News
Omer Asik ready to clean up in return to starting role
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(5:39 pm ET) 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
(5:00 pm ET) 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
(4:41 pm ET) 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
(3:51 pm ET) 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
(3:02 pm ET) 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
(2:09 pm ET) 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
(12:28 pm ET) 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
(11:34 am ET) 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. 


Jrue Holiday cleared for contact ahead of camp
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(11:26 am ET) Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday was able to participate in full-contact offseason drills last week, the first time he has done so since undergoing season-ending surgery last January.

"Getting out playing has been a joy," Holiday told The Times-Picayune. "I've been running and jumping and stuff, but getting my rhythm back on the court is definitely a big thing right now for me."

The Pelicans open training camp Sept. 30, and Holiday is not expected to have any limitations as the team prepares for the start of the season. Holiday averaged 14.3 points, 7.9 assists and 1.6 steals per game last season prior to the injury.


Kent Bazemore focused on conditioning in recovery
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(11:18 am ET) Newly signed Hawks guard Kent Bazemore did not pick up a basketball until August, preferring to focus on conditioning in his recovery from foot surgery in April.

"I think the injury was definitely a blessing," he told the Daily Press, "because I was able to step away from the game of basketball. I took myself out of my element all summer. I did stuff I'm not used to doing."

Bazemore signed a two-year deal with the Hawks this offseason, and is expected to compete for playing time on the wing immediately, as he is fully recovered from the surgery. 


 
 
 
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