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Waiver Wire: Crawford good for a late push

Fantasy Writer
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The All-Star break has come and gone, so it's time for teams to make their push for the playoffs. Fantasy owners are also doing the same and the waiver wire remains a solid way to beef up your roster. With only a few more weeks until the playoffs start in Fantasy, moves now can go a long way to determining who will be playing in the championship game. While some of these players will not be solid options for the remainder of the year their short-term value is looking good.

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This week we look at Jordan Crawford.

After mentioning Crawford as someone to avoid off the waiver wire a couple of weeks ago, he seems to have taken it personally as he is playing his best ball of late. He came into Week 10 (Feb. 27-Mar. 4) averaging 21.2 points with three assists and a steal in his previous five contests and shot 54 percent from the field over that span. That stretch culminated with a season-high 32-point performance against the Kings and he seems primed to make a solid run in the closing months of the season.

It also helps that Nick Young has been struggling while Crawford has taken off. The 23-year-old has seen consistent minutes all season long and that should not change going forward, especially with his recent play. With games against the Warriors, Lakers and Trail Blazers on the schedule for Week 11 (Mar. 5-11), consider Crawford a worthwhile addition in the majority of Fantasy formats.

Guards

Add 'Em

Marco Belinelli, Hornets
Owned: 41 percent
Analysis: Belinelli played well pretty much the entire month of February and Fantasy owners have started to take notice. He has been one of the biggest benefactors of Eric Gordon's injury and also saw some extended run while Jarrett Jack was out. Belinelli entered the All-Star break averaging 16.6 points with 3.2 rebounds and a steal in his last five contests and shot a solid 56 percent from 3-point land over that span. The 25-year-old is having a career campaign in his second season in New Orleans and should be considered a viable option heading into Week 11.

Luke Ridnour, Timberwolves
Owned: 55 percent
Analysis: Ridnour struggled to score on a consistent basis in the beginning of February but has looked better of late and is still putting up some decent secondary stats. He finished the unofficial first half having averaged double-digit scoring with more than five rebounds and four assists in his last five games while shooting 50 percent from the floor over that span. While he went just 1 for 8 (12 percent) from downtown during that stretch he has not been shooting the ball well from 3-point land all season long. Even the terrific play of Ricky Rubio hasn't pushed Ridnour out of the starting lineup and he should be able to keep things going heading into Week 11. The 31-year-old will face off against the Clippers, Trail Blazers, Lakers and Hornets during the upcoming scoring period so consider adding Ridnour in most Fantasy formats.

Avoid 'Em

Baron Davis, Knicks
Owned: 59 percent
Analysis: Davis made his long-awaited season debut during Week 9 but has not done much for owners just yet. He scored a combined four points in his first three contests and went just 1 for 12 (8 percent) during those contests. With the emergence of Jeremy Lin, the Knicks have found a point guard they can rely on and Davis will have to find his role on a squad filled with talent. The 32-year-old should be able to improve his stats as he gets used to the Knicks' offense, so keep an eye on his progress. Davis has proven in the past to be a more-than-viable option in Fantasy-- when he stays healthy-- but owners in larger formats should leave him on waivers.

Anthony Morrow, Nets
Owned: 50 percent
Analysis: Morrow has been pretty disappointing since dropping 42 points on Feb. 3 as he has scored in double digits just four times in 10 games since then. He averaged eight points with 1.4 rebounds and 1.4 steals in the five games prior to the All-Star break and shot just 27 percent from the field over that span. Morrow also lost four teeth in a game against the Knicks but luckily he did not miss any time. He continues to see consistent minutes in New Jersey but the return of MarShon Brooks has cut into his production, and forced the former Warrior to the bench. Morrow can be a viable Fantasy option in larger formats when playing well but leave him for deeper leagues until he picks up the pace.

Forwards

Add 'Em

Jason Thompson, Kings
Owned: 47 percent
Analysis: Thompson has picked up his production recently and is starting to look like the player he was his first two years in the NBA. He entered the All-Star break averaging 8.4 points with 7.6 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in his previous five contests, despite shooting 41 percent over that span. The 25-year-old has earned himself a regular spot in the starting lineup and is trending up in Fantasy. Thompson could definitely help owners in deeper formats, so consider picking him up heading into Week 11.

Amir Johnson, Raptors
Owned: 54 percent
Analysis: Johnson has seen his role increase in Toronto once again and is starting to put up more points. He scored in double figures five times through 11 games in February, including two double-doubles, and continues to have a career year on the boards. The Raptors have been desperate for production ever since Andrea Bargnani went down and the 24-year-old has been one of the players chipping in. Consistency has been a problem for Johnson but he remains a viable addition off the waiver wire heading into Week 11.

Avoid 'Em

Grant Hill, Suns
Owned: 38 percent
Analysis: Hill picked up his scoring heading into the All-Star break and the 39-year-old appears to have rediscovered his stroke. He averaged 13.6 points with 3.6 rebounds and 3.2 assists in his five games before the All-Star break. But owners should not be too quick to grab the veteran off waivers just yet as he has a daunting schedule on tap for Week 11. Phoenix will play Oklahoma City, Dallas and Memphis during the upcoming scoring period. All of those teams have been pretty tough on defense thus far. Hill is no longer the prolific scorer he once was and while the Suns' wide open offense could allow him to put some points together, the seven-time All-Star does not contribute enough in other categories to make a difference in larger Fantasy formats.

Kenyon Martin, Clippers
Owned: 19 percent
Analysis: After missing most of the first half while fulfilling his contract in China, Martin signed on to play with the Clippers for the rest of the season in early February but his numbers have not been that impressive thus far. He put up five points with four rebounds in his first nine games while seeing nearly 22 minutes per contest. While he can supply some decent scoring and rebounding when playing well, the 34-year-old is not the Fantasy option he used to be and is not going to produce more than Chris Paul and Blake Griffin too often. Continue to ignore Martin in the majority of formats heading into Week 11.

Centers

Add 'Em

Bismack Biyombo, Bobcats
Owned: 44 percent
Analysis: Biyombo has been one of the more underrated rookies so far this season and the fact that he plays for a poor team does not help his cause. However, he has been picking up his production of late and is starting to get more looks in Fantasy. He averaged 5.6 points with 8.4 rebounds and 3.4 blocks in his final five games of the unofficial first half and shot 50 percent from the field over that span. The 19-year-old is starting once again for Charlotte and can definitely give some owners a boost with his rebounding and defensive stats. He will play Orlando, Utah, New Jersey and Oklahoma City during Week 11 so consider adding Biyombo in deeper formats, especially at such a thin position.

DeJuan Blair, Spurs
Owned: 64 percent
Analysis: After struggling for much of the season, Blair was able to put together some decent performances before the All-Star break and could be trending up. He scored a season-high 28 points with 12 rebounds against the Nuggets on Feb. 23, which capped off a five-game stretch in which he averaged 13.8 points with 5.6 boards while shooting 56 percent from the floor. He produced well while Tiago Splitter was out with a calf injury and with his teammate still a little banged up, Blair should be able to continue producing. The 22-year-old has proven himself to be a viable option in Fantasy through his first few years in the NBA, so owners in need of a big man should scoop up Blair.

Avoid 'Em

Kosta Koufos, Nuggets
Owned: 12 percent
Analysis: Koufos was seeing some decent run while the Nuggets were banged up in the frontcourt but the return of some key players in the frontcourt has led to him returning to the bench. With Timofey Mozgov and Nene both on the mend, he will likely see his production take a hit and has already seen his minutes decrease. While he gave owners six points with five rebounds in his final five games of the unofficial first half and is putting up career numbers thus far, the 23-year-old still has a long way to go before being a reliable option in Fantasy. Koufos should be considered a low-end Fantasy center best suited for the deepest of formats while in his diminished role.

Ian Mahinmi, Mavericks
Owned: 5 percent
Analysis: Mahinmi had some productive performances at the beginning of 2012 but has regressed and is not seeing as much time off the bench. He entered the All-Star break averaging 1.8 points with 2.5 rebounds in his previous four games and saw less than nine minutes per contest over that span. With Brendan Haywood playing better of late it doesn't look as though the 25-year-old's role is going to improve anytime soon, which is why we recommend continuing to ignore Mahinmi in the majority of Fantasy formats.

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Player News
Lakers sign Wayne Ellington right before training camp
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(9/22/2014) With one week before the start of training camp, the Lakers have signed five-year veteran guard Wayne Ellington to a contract, the team announced. Ellington is now with his fourth team since June, after failing to crack the rotation with the Mavericks in 2013.

Ellington averaged 3.2 points on 43.7 percent shooting from the field over 45 games for Dallas.

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. 


 
 
 
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