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Waiver Wire: Look for all-around production

Rotowire.com
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This was not a week of big movement on the waiver wires, as only two players were added or dropped in more than 20 percent of CBSSports.com Fantasy Basketball leagues since we last checked in. Cavaliers forward C.J. Miles found himself on the wrong side of transactions most often (dropped in 21 percent of leagues), while Magic forward Gustavo Ayon saw his ownership spike to a season-high 39 percent.

That large spike in ownership for Ayon puts him closer to where we expected him to be at the beginning of the season after the Magic acquired him for free-agent-to-be Ryan Anderson. Ayon found himself in the starting lineup for the first time in the team's game against the Jazz last Sunday, where he played 37 minutes -- his previous season high was 28 minutes, a mark he established the previous night.

Ayon was sneaky-good as a rookie last season for the Hornets, averaging 10.6 points, 8.8 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.8 blocks and 1.5 steals per 36-minutes. He averaged just 20.1 minutes per game for the season as a whole, but he eventually managed to work his way into the starting line, just as he has in Orlando. While his ascension in Orlando required an injury to Glen Davis to open up a spot, Ayon could take advantage of this opportunity.

Ayon does not have much in the way of scoring ability, but he makes up for that with an impressive all-around game that makes him a potentially useful option in category-based Fantasy formats especially. In two games since Davis went down, Ayon is averaging 10.5 points and 12.5 rebounds in 65 total minutes of game time. That sample size is obviously small, but it's an indication as to what Ayon can produce when given the opportunity.

A season ago, Ayon took just 21.1 percent of his shots from farther than nine feet from the basket, so he clearly understands his limitations as an offense player. Don't expect much scoring from Ayon, but if he starts seeing 30-plus minutes per night, he has the ability to fill up the box score for you.

Most Added Guards

Jamaal Tinsley, Jazz: With Mo Williams out indefinitely with a severely sprained right thumb, Fantasy owners are obviously looking to his replacement for some help in the coming (possibly) weeks. Tinsley's stat line is pretty uninspiring overall for owners looking for a lifeline, as he averaging just 3.5 points and 4.9 assists per game. However, the 34-year-old showed the ability to still make some plays earlier in the season when Williams was forced to sit, as he averaged 8.0 points and 7.2 assists in 33.0 minutes over five starts. Tinsley has averaged less than 4.0 points per game in each of the last four seasons (while not even playing in 2010-11), so the upside to adding him is obviously limited. That being said, owners who are desperate for a Williams replacement can turn to him, as he should have a consistent role with Williams on the mend. (21 percent owned; + 19 percent)

Shannon Brown, Suns: Brown has taken on a bigger role for the Suns in the month of December, averaging 15.0 points per game in 11 games. Given that, it is surprising to see his ownership track up so slowly as he has also been pretty consistent, scoring in double figures in all but two of those games. The larger role in the offense has caused Brown's efficiency to take a hit, as he has needed 13.7 shots per game to get that scoring total, however that can be spun to a positive; Brown is probably a better shooter than his 30.6-percent mark from long range indicates, so if that regresses to his mean his scoring could even see a boost. Brown is owned in just under half of all CBSSports.com leagues at this point, a number that should probably be higher. (49 percent owned; +14 percent)

Alan Anderson, Raptors: Various Raptors have been featured in this column throughout the season, as they have been a team in flux for much of the year. Anderson is the latest (though not the last) to pique the interest of Fantasy owners, after a string of solid scoring performances. Anderson has been a big part of the team's current (as of Wednesday night) five-game winning streak, as he has played at least 20 minutes in each contest and is averaging 14.0 points per game. Anderson missed 17 games with a foot injury, but has actually been a pretty big part of the team's plans, when healthy. Anderson is averaging 10.4 points per game on the season despite shooting just 33.3 percent on the season. If Anderson can get his shot to fall a little bit more, he would be worth picking up, even outside of deeper formats. (24 percent owned; +11 percent)

Most Added Forwards

Jared Dudley, Suns: Dudley might not be appearing in this column for too much longer, as there simply are not many leagues left for him to be added in. Dudley's production in December has been very impressive, especially when you consider the Suns were starting Michael Beasley over him for much of the season before that. Dudley is averaging 14.6 points and 3.8 assists per game, while shooting 53.8 percent from the field, 43.8 percent from three-point range and turning the ball over just once per game on average. It would probably be impossible for Dudley to keep this level of production up, unless he somehow turned into one of the most efficient offensive basketball players in world once the calendar hit December. I don't think Dudley is going to turn into a pumpkin once the clock strikes midnight on Dec. 31, but Fantasy owners might want to sell high on him. (83 percent owned; +17 percent)

Amir Johnson, Raptors: Johnson seems to be the team's preferred option to pick up the minutes left at center after Jonas Valanciunas suffered a hand injury that will likely keep him out four to six weeks. While Aaron Gray ended up earning the start in Valanciunas' first game out Wednesday, coach Dwane Casey told reporters that he fully expects Johnson to be a big part of the team's plans moving forward. Johnson gives the Raptors some much-needed energy and athleticism, and he has the ability to fill up the box score when given the chance to play extensively -- in 25.1 minutes per game over the last 10, Johnson has 8.1 points, 6.8 rebounds, 1.4 blocks and 1.3 steals. Johnson should not be at risk of losing playing time to Gray, so he should continue to build value, especially in category-based Fantasy formats. (37 percent owned; +16 percent)

Matt Barnes, Clippers: I am starting to reach Metta World Peace-like levels of incredulity with Barnes, who improbably continues scoring at a high level for the Clippers. Barnes has scored in double figures in eight consecutive games, while averaging 14.3 points per game over the last 10. The 32-year-old is shooting 56.7 percent in that stretch, raising his field-goal percentage for the season to 50.0, his best mark since a 50-game stint with the 76ers back in 2005-06. Barnes has lived on high-efficiency shots this season, as 82.9 percent of his field-goal attempts have come from three-point range or within three feet of the rim. What makes his success so hard to understand recently is that this isn't anything new for him -- he attempted a whopping 85.0 percent of his attempts from those parts of the floor last year, while shooting just 45.2 percent from the floor. The Clippers are much better as an offensive team than the Lakers team that Barnes came off the bench for a year ago, but it is hard to see him being able to sustain this kind of success. I don't have a problem with riding Barnes while he is hot, but his recent success reeks of flukiness. (48 percent owned; +13 percent)

Most Added Centers

Kosta Koufos, Nuggets: Koufos has quietly played better in recent weeks, averaging 9.6 points and 7.3 rebounds per game over the last 10. He has not been doing much different in this time than before, he is simply doing what he does better -- Koufos is shooting 69.8 percent from the field over the last 10 games, with increases in his per-game production across the board. That would seem to indicate that the way he is playing is at least somewhat anomalous, and might not be sustainable. The issue with relying on either of the Nuggets' centers (Javale McGee being the other, more talented option) is that they play their home games at altitude and love to run, which simply makes it hard for them to withstand big minutes physically. Koufos' value is high right now, but don't expect him to keep making 70 percent of his shots. His value will take a hit once regression takes hold. (32 percent owned; +16 percent)

Robin Lopez, Hornets: Lopez has hovered around 70 percent owned for much of the season, but his recent play might make the remaining owners take note; he has scored 20 points in 3 of the last four games, including a 29-point effort Wednesday on just 10 field-goal attempts. Lopez is shooting 70.4 percent over the last five games, while averaging 18.2 points per game. This has been a nice streak for him, but if you step back a bit his numbers look a bit less impressive. Over the last 10 games overall, Lopez is averaging 11.9 points on a considerably-less-impressive 56.2 percent shooting. Lopez has shown an offensive ability that we did not really know existed this season, but he has also struggled with consistency; he has almost as many games with six or fewer points (eight) as he does with 16 or more (nine). The Hornets have not yet strayed from the plan of giving him about 25 minutes per game on average, though that number can fluctuate in big ways on a nightly basis. Lopez can certainly be considered a low-end starting Fantasy option, when healthy. (70 percent owned; +9 percent)

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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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