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Playing the Waiver Wire for Week 12

Fantasy Writer
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The most recent winner of the NBA's never-ending injury sweepstakes is Pelicans guard Brian Roberts, who went from utter irrelevance to the most-added player in CBSSports.com Fantasy leagues over the last week thanks to Jrue Holiday's stress fracture injury.

Holiday's injury is likely to cost him a month or so of action, and Roberts will be the primary recipient. In the first four games following Holiday's absence, Roberts has been thrust into a starting role and 30.0 minutes per game in that role. His production hasn't been fantastic yet, averaging just 11.3 points, 4.3 assists and 3.8 rebounds per game in that span, but those are certainly numbers worth owning in most Fantasy formats.

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There is some evidence that Roberts might be able to do even more than that down the road, as he thrived in a five-game cameo as a starter last season. In those five games, he averaged 12.6 points and 10.0 assists per game, albeit in 41.7 minutes per game. Still, he has shown some upside in a starting role, and he has one of the league's premiere pick-and-roll big men in Anthony Davis to help him rack up easy assists.

Austin Rivers is also seeing a bump in his playing time, topping 20 minutes in each game since Holiday's injury. He has cut into Roberts' assist totals a bit, but Rivers could return to his previously smaller role once Tyreke Evans returns from an ankle injury. While Evans will be the team's primary playmaker when healthy, he is also a more potent offensive force than Rivers, giving Roberts just one more option when it comes to racking up assists.

Roberts might not be the sexiest Fantasy option around, being a 28-year-old with limited success at the NBA level on his resume. Still, assists are the rarest commodity in the game, and Roberts is in prime position to provide a bump there. Fantasy owners have made Roberts the most-added player this week, but he is still sitting at just 40-percent ownership. Given his role and the likelihood for an increase in production, Roberts is worth adding in most deeper formats, and should top 50 percent before long.

Most Added

Randy Foye, G, Nuggets: Foye has been shooting the ball incredibly well recently, and that is pretty much the entire reason he is the second-most added player in our leagues. He is averaging 19.2 points on just 11.6 field-goal attempts per game over the last five, and is doing that without getting to the free-throw line much. His increased value has not come from some change in his approach to the game; he is just shooting and making more shots than usual. Foye is a solid shooter, but he is making 55.2 percent of his field-goal attempts over the last five and 53.8 percent over the last 10. If you are adding Foye with the expectation that he is going to score in the high-teens like he has been recently, you are in for a world of disappointment. However, Foye has plenty of value in category-based Fantasy formats given his high-volume three-point shooting. (56 percent owned; +27 percent)

Kris Humphries, F, Celtics: Last week, I referred to Humphries as "the definition of waiver-wire fodder", and my opinion hasn't changed much despite another significant jump in his ownership this week. One thing has changed since we last looked at Humphries, and it might be enough to make his current ownership level stick. Humphries started his fifth game at center Wednesday against the Raptors, giving him center eligibility in CBSSports.com leagues for the remainder of the season. While his 9.8-point, 9.0-rebound averages in eight January games are pretty mediocre for the forward position, it does make him a borderline starting candidate at center. You probably shouldn't expect much in the way of secondary statistics, but if he can remain near a double-double while playing 25-30 minutes, Humphries has a place on many Fantasy rosters. (56 percent owned; +24 percent)

Patrick Patterson, F, Raptors: Like Foye, Patterson's rise is fueled more by a hot shooting stretch than anything else. Patterson has the ability to be one of the better stretch-fours in the game, but he was shockingly cold to open the season with the Kings. Since a trade to Toronto, however, he is connecting on 50.4 percent of his field-goal attempts and 48.0 percent from three-point range. Patterson isn't really taking better shots since the trade; 61.4 percent of his shots came within five feet of the rim or beyond three-point range prior to the trade, compared to just 50.4 percent since. Patterson's true talent level likely lies somewhere between his slow start with the Kings and his blazing run with the Raptors, and neither outcome points to a useful Fantasy option beyond deeper leagues. (27 percent owned; +11 percent)

Shaun Livingston, G, Nets: Livingston has been playing more recently due to Deron Williams' continued ankle concerns, averaging 36.5 minutes per game in the month of January. Even with that big increase in playing time, Livingston is averaging 10.5 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game over that span, hardly numbers that should make Fantasy owners run out and grab him. With Williams likely to return within the next few games, there is little reason for anyone who already hasn't snagged Livingston to do so. (27 percent owned; +16 percent)

Most Dropped

Ryan Anderson, F, Pelicans: Anderson has been diagnosed with a herniated disc in his back as a result of a collision with Gerald Wallace, and this one very well could cost him the remainder of the season. As things stand, Anderson is out two months at least, and is not willing to rule out the possibility of undergoing season-ending surgery. Given his timeline, and the very real possibility he will need to go under the knife, it is hard to justify keeping Anderson around. I've already dropped him in one league, and would not think twice about doing so in the vast majority of yearly Fantasy leagues. (82 percent owned; -14 percent)

Trevor Booker, F, Wizards: Booker looked like a sold Fantasy option when he first joined the starting lineup, averaging 9.7 points and 9.5 rebounds per game in his first 10 starts. He has slowed significantly since then, picking up double-digit points or rebounds in just two games each over the last eight. His slump has pushed Nene back into the starting lineup and left Booker scrounging for minutes, averaging 22.7 per game over the last eight. Booker is just a borderline Fantasy-relevant player at the best of times, and can be completely ignored otherwise. Drop him in all but the very deepest of leagues. 16 percent owned; -13 percent)

Flavors of next week

-- by Joe Polito (@JoePo89)

We've already written ad nauseam about J.J. Redick and Jodie Meeks, and my colleague Chris Towers has already covered Randy Foye. I can only assume the reason you haven't added them is because you're all set at guard. Well here's a forward that demands some attention from the Fantasy masses: James Johnson of the Grizzlies. At 29 percent owned, he's probably the free agent forward with the most potential -- especially in category formats.

His most recent stat line is enough to probably land him among the most added players next week. He scored 15 points, grabbed six rebounds, passed out five assists, snagged two steals and swatted six shots. The range of verbs I was forced to use in that sentence shows the kind of versatility he offers. I'm hard-pressed to come up with a handful of guys who can help out in any category on any given night, and on good nights, all of them at once. He's averaged 27.3 minutes a game over his last five, and the Grizzlies have won four of them, meaning there's a good chance this could continue.

For Fantasy purposes, liken him to Terrence Jones, but with fewer rebounds (because he shares the court with Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol) and more assists. Pick him up with the hopes that the Grizzlies are ready to trust an exciting athletic 'tweener the same way the Rockets have with Jones. Johnson is averaging a ridiculous 13.0 points, 7.1 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 2.3 steals, and 2.7 blocks per 36 minutes this year. And as a bonus for Roto players, he's made 88.2 percent of his free throws on the season. He's like a more athletic Josh McRoberts, or a way, way more athletic Boris Diaw. I've already picked him up, because when you look at the rest of the Memphis roster, you can see that they're in dire need of a multi-talented player. With only 15 games under his belt this season, it's hard to trust such a small sample size. Still, if you're frustrated with the Morris twins, bored with Brandon Bass, or tired of waiting on Danilo Gallinari, then what do you really have to lose?

Enes Kanter, C, Jazz, (76 percent): We had high hopes for this Swiss big man coming into the season, so it's nice to see he's found a way to reach his potential in the new year. Kanter has scored in double figures every game since Jan. 2 and has done so with great efficiency, shooting 61.7 percent from the field during that six-game stretch. He's also recorded three of his nine double-doubles on the season over that span. The Jazz are finally utilizing him as a weapon in pick-and-roll and pick-and-pop situations. He's got the footwork and patience to be a mismatch nightmare in the post, so as long as he's getting enough minutes and rebounding, he has the potential to be one of the better centers in Fantasy. Kanter was being drafted in the ninth round, so if he's available in your league, you can grab him at great value. There are only 30 starting centers in the league, so having one of the more talented ones fall in your lap is an opportunity you can't afford to pass up -- even if Kanter slumps back into mediocrity. Consider him a must add in keeper and Roto leagues, and a good upside add in standard scoring.

Andray Blatche, C, Nets, (62 percent): If you can't get your hands on Kanter, you might take a chance on another inconsistent but talented option. Blatche became the hot pickup when Brook Lopez went down but didn't exactly blow anyone out of the water. In fact, he did quite the opposite, averaging just 8.8 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.5 assists over an eight-game stretch. But Thursday in London, Blatche put on the kind of display that warrants giving him another chance, going for 20, 14 and six against the Hawks in 27 minutes. Hopefully Blatche can gain some momentum after this start and play up to his talent level going forward. Jason Kidd has been experimenting with the Nets' lineup on a per game basis, but Blatche's size and skill set should warrant him a regular share of game time as Brooklyn establishes an identity. Because of his upside, I'd take Blatche over Amar'e Stoudemire, Jordan Hill and Kris Humphries.

Luke Ridnour, G, Bucks, (18 percent): "Flavors of next Week" couldn't be a more appropriate phrase for the fluctuating Fantasy options in Milwaukee this season. Ridnour is the latest Larry Drew darling being added in Fantasy. He's started at point guard six out of the last eight games and has run the pick and roll to the tune of 5.5 assists per game over that span. He's totaled 29 assists in his last four games and only two of those were starts. On a team full of combo guards, Ridnour is the closest thing to a point guard the Bucks have. Pick him up in standard leagues where his assist potential matters most. As long as he's getting at least 20 minutes per game, consider Ridnour a good pickup in deep head-to-head leagues.

Wesley Johnson, G/F, Lakers, (35 percent): This one's a long shot. Johnson's started the last six games for the Lakers, and he's scored in double figures and logged 30-plus minutes. The Lakers have lost all of these games, but that might be the goal going forward as their team has been decimated by injuries. This pickup is best kept for deep Roto leagues, as Johnson can help out with a few three pointers, blocks and steals. The Lakers play at a pace that can boost anyone's value, so view him as more of a situational streaming option than a player to hang on to. The second his minutes dip below 30 or he comes out of the starting five, feel free to drop him.

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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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