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Playing the Waiver Wire for Week 14

Fantasy Writer
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So much of success in the realm of Fantasy sports is figuring out which ripple will dissipate before the shoreline and which will turn into a wave. This season has been dominated by the impact of injuries, and each new one requires us to re-evaluate team outlooks and the repercussions they will have for Fantasy purposes.

Last week, DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay went down with injuries that seemed serious enough to possibly change the fortunes of many Fantasy teams. Gay and Cousins use a combined 58.5 percent of the Kings' possessions when they are on the floor, so both of them going down for any amount of time was obviously going to result in a huge change in how the Kings attacked their opponents.

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In the aftermath of Cousins and Gay's injuries, three separate Kings have found themselves among the 10 most-added players in CBSSports.com leagues over the last week. Jason Thompson (up 11 percent to 46 percent owned), Derrick Williams (up 10 to 46) and Marcus Thornton (up 9 to 21) have all seen an increase in interest, but that is likely to turn out to be fleeting given how the last few days have gone.

All three have had their moments, but none have produced well enough to make the Kings rethink their hierarchy in the absence of two of their biggest pieces. The Kings have lost all five games since Cousins and Gay went down within minutes of each other on Jan. 22 at Houston, and the trio of Williams, Thompson and Thornton has provided little in their stead.

Thornton went off for 42 points in the first game after Gay's injury, but totaled just 30 in the next two games before returning to his limited role with Gay back Wednesday. Similarly, Thompson and Williams each provided a pair of double-doubles over the last five, but gave just pedestrian production otherwise.

As it turns out, the Kings are top-heavy for a reason. This team has a clear top-three when it comes to talent, and there just isn't anyone on the roster worth much beyond them. For Fantasy purposes, Gay and Cousins combined with Isaiah Thomas to form one of the best triplets in the league, but their excellence also highlights the team's lack of depth.

With Gay back and Cousins returning sooner than later, expect all three of these players to return to your league's waiver wires in the coming days. Unless the Kings undergo a dramatic makeover, don't expect things to change, and don't hang on to these role players.

Most Added

Terrence Ross, F, Raptors: Though he brings an intriguing mix of athleticism and long-range shooting to the table, Ross has yet to consistently showcase his full skill set in his year and a half in the league. He offered a tantalizing 44-minute glimpse of what he is capable of last Saturday, as he dropped 51 points in one of the season's most-entertaining performances yet. Unfortunately for Fantasy owners hoping that would signal a start of a breakout, Ross' massive performance looks more like a supernova than the birth of a new star. He followed his 51-point game with just 22 over the last two games, and does not seem to be benefitting much from the brief absence of DeMar DeRozan. With DeRozan likely set to return, Ross simply has not shown enough sustained excellence for Fantasy owners to rely on. He remains a fascinating prospect with high upside, but the competitive Raptors simply aren't going to turn the keys of the offense over to him, and he doesn't do enough other things well to justify being a consistent Fantasy starter. Don't waste a high waiver-wire priority on him. (63 percent owned; +26 percent)

Boris Diaw, F, Spurs: With the Spurs getting beat up by injuries recently, Diaw has stepped into a much larger role. That should continue moving forward with Kawhi Leonard, Manu Ginobili and Danny Green all dealing with issues that should open up plenty of opportunities for Diaw to contribute. He remains uniquely skilled, but he doesn't impact the box score quite as much as he used to, even when he sees big minutes. Over the last five games, Diaw is averaging 15.2 points per game and he isn't relying on particularly hot shooting -- his 55.8 percent mark from the field is identical to his season-long number. Diaw should be able to top 20 Fantasy points per game pretty easily given the team's current rotation questions, and makes for a solid waiver-wire pickup in most Fantasy formats until the Spurs get healthy. (37 percent owned; +15 percent)

Markieff Morris, F, Suns: The Suns have been difficult to figure out this season with a pretty wide open rotation and some redundant skill sets on the roster. Things have settled down a bit recently, however, and Morris has been a beneficiary. Since playing just 17 minutes over consecutive games midway through the month, Morris had scored in double figures in eight straight games. He is averaging 18.6 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game in that span. Morris might be playing a bit over his head during this hot streak, but he is also a key part of the Suns' unique offense, so he shouldn't see his role disappear at any point. Morris might be nearing peak value, but I also don't think anyone who adds him right now is going to regret it. (77 percent owned; +13 percent)

Courtney Lee, G, Grizzlies: When he signed with the Celtics two offseasons ago, the addition of Lee was considered something of a coup. A year and a half of subpar production convinced the Celtics that Lee simply wasn't a good fit, and they cut bait in a salary dump trade with the Grizzlies. Lee has been a tremendous fit in Memphis, providing exactly what the teams needs with Tony Allen out. Lee's 14.0 points-per-game average since joining Memphis might be an aberration caused by his unseasonably warm shooting, and he doesn't add much beyond that (2.5 rebounds, 1.3 assists). Still, Lee should probably be owned in more than 30 percent of CBSSports.com leagues, especially in category-based formats, where his shooting has him ranked 108th overall over the last 10 games, better than David West, Robin Lopez and Diaw. In 12-team or deeper leagues, Lee is worth adding while he remains a starter. (30 percent owned; +10 percent)

D.J. Augustin, G, Bulls: This is the last time I will be writing about Augustin, I would imagine. He remains one of the top 10 most-added players only because, for some reason, he is still unowned in 12 percent of CBSSports.com leagues. At this point, that is indefensible, as Augustin ranks eighth among guards in Rotisserie scoring and 17th in Fantasy points over the last 28 days. If Augustin isn't a must-start Fantasy option, he is at least worth owning in absolutely every league, and there is no reason to not snatch him if he remains available. (88 percent owned; +9 percent)

Most Dropped

Wesley Johnson, F, Lakers: Two weeks ago, Joe Polito wrote about Johnson as a possible deep-league roto option, after he moved into the starting lineup and scored in double figures in six games in a row. Since that stretch, he has topped out at eight points in his six games, and is shooting just 36.1 percent from the field. Johnson has been useful in spurts, but the dream is probably dead at this point. He simply doesn't provide enough production to be useful for more than a handful of games at a time, and you should not feel particularly attached to him. He can be easily dropped for anyone mentioned earlier in this column. (33 percent owned; -11 percent)

O.J. Mayo, G, Bucks: I find the fact that Mayo is still averaging 12.2 points per game this season kind of stunning. It seems like every time I look at a Bucks box score, Mayo is finishing with nine points on 4-of-13 shooting, but he has actually managed to score in double figures more often than not. Of course, that ratio is just 21 to 20, so it isn't like my perception is far off here. Mayo has been sidelined for three games as a result of an illness, and that absence is likely to continue to at least five games, which is at least a part of why Mayo has seen his ownership dip just a bit over the last week. Of course, his lack of production is also a big part of it, as he is averaging 8.5 points per game in his 11 January appearances, all off the bench. We have seen Mayo be a solid Fantasy option, and he still has $16 million on his deal over the next two seasons, so it is difficult to see the Bucks just giving up on him. At this point, however, Mayo's production leaves so much to be desired that he absolutely isn't worth stashing if better options come along. We are fast approaching the part of the season where waiting on Mayo is a luxury most teams cannot afford. (65 percent owned; -8 percent)

Flavors of Next Week

-- by Joe Polito (JoePo89)

Jodie Meeks, Andray Blatche, DeMarre Carroll, Gerald Green, blah, blah, blah. We've reached the point in the Fantasy season where you weigh the value of that dude on the end of your bench against the values and inconsistencies of the same three or four names in free agency, ultimately deciding to stand pat because you'll kick yourself if Terrence Ross goes off as soon as you drop him.

Bor-ing.

Drop these guys now!
Player Own %
1. Manu Ginobili, Spurs 69
2. Avery Bradley, Celtics 60
3. Derrick Williams, Kings 55
4. Ryan Anderson, Pelicans 70
5. Glen Davis, Magic 83

Be aggressive. Stream guys based on matchups. Be bold with your roster spots. If you identify a guy like Randy Foye (58 percent), who will be due huge minutes while Ty Lawson deals with a nagging shoulder injury and Nate Robinson gets treated for a sprained ACL, then don't even think twice. I'm talking to you, 60 percent of leagues hanging on to Avery Bradley.

Foye scored a season-high 33 points and dished out seven assists. At the moment point guards on the Nuggets are either nicked up, out with injury or suspended. I've said it before and I'll say it again: Randy Foye and Jodie Meeks are pretty much the same guy. Foye will be thrust into a very similar role, tasked with his usual instant offense and some additional de facto point guard duties. Even if Lawson doesn't miss another game, Foye will be picking up stray assists just by being a capable ball handler. Hear that 65 percent of leagues stashing O.J. Mayo? Foye was already averaging three made three-pointers per game over the last 30 days, so what do you think he's going to do with more minutes and more time with the ball in his hands?

Don't mistake my enthusiasm for being an aggressive Fantasy player with a love for Randy Foye or the Nuggets for that matter. Both are fairly limited in their upside. Just know that Foye has been scoring 18.3 points per game over his last 10 contests, and the lack of backcourt options in Denver will have him recording peripheral stats by default. Jordan Crawford, Terrence Ross, Courtney Lee, Manu Ginobili -- these are the guys you should not feel bad dropping to grab an opportunistic Foye.

Gustavo Ayon, F/C, Hawks, (7 percent): I wrote about Mike Scott last week, but Roto players might find Ayon a more useful streaming option. He's the last healthy center on Atlanta's roster, so even if he's scoring and rebounding in single digits, he's bound to end up with some blocks, steals and a solid field goal percentage. He's started the last three games, averaging 7.3 points, 7.0 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 2.3 steals per outing while hitting 64.7 percent of his field goals. Not exciting, but in deep leagues it seems to add up: 27 minutes per game in these three starts plus 54 percent shooting, 1.5 steals and 1.2 blocks per 36 minutes for his career equals some pretty OK Roto production from a guy available in 93 percent of leagues.

DeMarre Carroll, F, Hawks, (53 percent): Yes, he's one of the blah, blah, blah guys I mentioned at the top, but sometimes all you need is a little blah. Carroll is doing for the injured Hawks almost exactly what Martell Webster did at the beginning of the season for the Wizards while Trevor Ariza sat out: Hit corner threes and grab rebounds. Except he's been extra hot over the last two weeks, averaging 15.6 points and 5.8 rebounds while shooting 64 percent from the field and hitting 2.3 three-pointers per game. Helpful forwards can be hard to find, so if you're looking for a pretty consistent 12 and 5 with a pretty defined ceiling, go grab him. Just remember his limitations. Carroll has just one game of 20 or more, three games of 10 rebounds or more and zero games of more than four assists.

Droppable soon?
Player Own %
1. Ramon Sessions, Bobcats 56
2. Terrence Ross, Raptors 64
3. Kawhi Leonard, Spurs 88
4. Shawn Marion, Mavericks 87
5. Larry Sanders, Bucks 82

Devin Harris, G, Mavericks, (7 percent): In case you haven't realized it yet, I love comparing players. I'd much rather tell you who a player is similar to than assign some ranking based on his statistical production thus far. Harris has the potential to be a Jeremy Lin-like bench option for the Mavericks. He's scored 14 points in three straight games and looks like he hasn't lost a step despite missing the first half of the season recovering from toe surgery. He's one of the fastest ball handlers in the league and that speed has translated to the stat sheet so far, as he's averaged 23.3 Fantasy points in just 21.7 minutes per game in those three outings. I compare him to Lin because he's a quick, score-first backup with moderate assist potential. The key here will be opportunity, but Harris' experience and history with the Mavericks suggests he'll end up Dallas' sixth man over the unproven crop of guards we've seen in his absence. He'll get time at the one and the two if he keeps playing this way, so grab him now before he nails down his role.

Timofey Mozgov, C, Nuggets, (35 percent): First-year head coach Brian Shaw has not made fans out of many Fantasy Basketball players, as his frontcourt has been pretty maddening through the first 40 games. Mozgov has shown signs of potential all year, but Fantasy owners hesitate to add him because he could be back to less than 20 minutes per the game the next week. Lately though, Mozgov's been receiving more consistent playing time and has made the most of it. Over the last two weeks, he's averaging 11.5 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.8 blocks in 24.5 minutes per game. It may just be the case that Shaw elects to give Mozgov a good run when the team is facing a formidable center. Denver's had to deal with Al Jefferson and Roy Hibbert during Mozgov's recent run. Shaw recently said he plans to play Mozgov more, so pick him up just in case he's telling the truth.

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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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