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Playing the Waiver Wire for Week 23

by | Fantasy Writer
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We've come to the end. If you're reading this, it means you're one of the lucky ones who somehow avoided season-derailing injuries or value-killing trades. You've made the right starts, sits, adds and drops. You hit on the risers and avoided the fallers, so congrats.

But you're not out of the woods yet.

That's why I've taken a look ahead at Week 23 find the best free agents for your finals rounds, factoring in schedules, playoff seeding and injury concerns.

Standard league guard: Vince Carter (56 percent) GS, @LAC, @LAL, @SAC

Carter's role with the Mavericks basically boils down to a designated hitter. He jogs around firing up threes, and lately they've been going in. Over the last four weeks, he's averaged 22 Fantasy points per game and ranks in the top five for three pointers made over that span.

He doesn't do much other than score, but an upcoming slate against possession-maximizing teams should give him a boost in assists and rebounds. There are plenty of guys like him (Nick Young, Gerald Green), but none as widely available as Carter. This isn't your boom-or-bust assist guard, but he's been steadily scoring enough to make a safe play.

Upside play: Ramon Sessions (60 percent) @DET, @MIA, @CHI, TOR

What happens when a score-first guard gets placed on a tanking team and starts assisting on occasion? About 25 Fantasy points per game happens -- what Ramon Sessions has produced since being traded to Milwaukee.

He's coming off back-to-back 20-plus point, 5-plus assist games propelling him to the top of the most added list. His schedule isn't the best for Week 23, but he does play four times against eastern conference opponents. It's very hard to rely on any of the Bucks, but Sessions' abilities make him a constant double-digit scoring threat with potential for assists and rebounds to edge out the competition.

Roto guard: Shaun Livingston (30 percent) HOU, @NY, DET, @PHI

Livingston is tied for third in the league among point guards in field-goal shooting (47.1 percent), a top-20 free-throw shooter (84.8 percent) and has averaged just a hair under two steals per game over the last 30 days. So basically you can count on Livingston to play 25-plus efficient minutes, with potential for steals and assists.

The Nets have a nice schedule in Week 23, especially catching Philadelphia at the tail end. In four games against the 76ers this year, he's averaged 7.3 points, 4.0 rebounds and 7.7 assists on 57.1 percent shooting. So at worst, he's efficient and steal-prone. At best, he can pretty much help out in any category other than three pointers.

Upside play: Mario Chalmers (64 percent) TOR, MIL, MIN, NY

A string of home games against bad teams and the possibility of Dwyane Wade and Ray Allen missing them means Mario Chalmers will have the ball in his hands a lot more down the stretch. If you know anything about Chalmers' track record, you know he's only capable of playing great and terrible -- nothing in between.

He was the latter Wednesday night against Indiana, so I'm guessing he'll be looking to get back into his teammates' and coaches' good graces for the rest of the regular season. So if you're sure about your team and just need an injury fill-in to stem the tide, you might choose someone steadier. But if you need a miracle, pick up Chalmers and hope that he doesn't morph into Wario when you need him most.

Standard league forward: Tiago Splitter (46 percent), @IND, GS, @OKC, MEM

You know how prone Popovich is to rest his stars, so why not capitalize on that tendency by picking up Splitter? He's kind of boring, but lately he's shown some passing ability, finishing with five assists in his latest outing.

He'll definitely make a good handcuff for Tim Duncan down the stretch, but even if San Antonio sends out their usual starting five, Splitter can still be productive in pick-and-rolls and on the offensive glass. He has recorded four double-doubles in his last seven games, and with the way the Spurs move the ball, low-end assists won't be hard to come by.

Upside play: Andray Blatche (65 percent), HOU, @NY, DET, @PHI

Blatche is one of the riskiest propositions in Fantasy. He hasn't done much lately, but to me that means he's about due for one of his heat-checking performances of high scoring and moderate peripheral stats. The Nets' three-game stretch against bad Eastern Conference teams increases the odds of a payout on this dice roll.

Jason Kidd hasn't had many answers for when Kevin Garnett might return to the floor, so Mason Plumlee will be the only person standing in Blatche's way for extended minutes. He averages double-figure points and about seven rebounds a game against the Knicks, Pistons and 76ers, so he'll at least get to 20 Fantasy points, and has the potential to do more.

Roto forward: Chris Andersen (13 percent) TOR, MIL, MIN, NY

Ignore his stats from Wednesday's game against Indiana, because Andersen has been historically ineffective against the staunch Pacers. Instead, take a look at his previous 30 days, specifically in the blocks department. Birdman has swatted more shots than Anthony Davis over that span despite having played 200 fewer minutes.

He's also made a ridiculous 67 percent of his field goals on the season as well as 70 percent of his free throws, which isn't too shabby for a big man. Andersen's picked it up in the scoring and rebounding departments as of late, and if Bosh or LeBron get any rest down the stretch, Birdman will be swooping in to collect those minutes.

Upside play: Jordan Hill (57 percent) POR, @SAC, DAL, @LAC

The Lakers have come full circle with Hill once again earning Fantasy relevance. With Pau Gasol dealing with vertigo, Hill has put together two 28-point double-doubles in the last three games. I call him the upside play because there's a nine-pointer shoved in between those scoring outbursts.

It's pretty simple really: If Hill gets the minutes, he'll be effective. He's a scrappy rebounder whose shots come very close to the rim, which has led to a 70 percent field-goal rate over the last week. But sometimes Mike D'antoni just ignores the fact that Hill has put up several Kevin Love-esque lines this year, and rolls with Robert Sacre, Chris Kaman or someone even smaller. A schedule that features up-tempo teams and poor defenses gives Hill a good shot at producing in Week 23.

Standard Center: Zaza Pachulia (22 percent) @DET, @MIA, @CHI, TOR

Sometimes his stats look like Zaza Pachulia's (10, two and two last game). But other times, they look like Joakim Noah's (14, six and eight two games ago). That assist number is what makes Pachulia intriguing. Typically he hovers around three or four a game, which is still great for a free agent big man, and every once in a while he doubles that.

Right now the Bucks are working with Ramon Sessions, Brandon Knight and O.J. Mayo -- none of whom are known for their passing. This means that anytime Pachulia's getting heavy minutes (27.5 per game over the last two weeks), he'll be capable of good assist numbers.

Roto Center: Gorgui Dieng (58 percent) LAC, MEM, @MIA, @ORL

We thought Dieng was only good for blocks, but he's been rebounding like a mad man and scoring in bunches since getting the starting nod. He's just like a lot of the other big men on this list in that he doesn't attempt shots outside of his comfort zone.

The tail end of his Week 23 schedule should offer Dieng ample chances for high rebound numbers and block totals. His field goal percentage and even free throw percentage will also give you a boost in categories leagues.

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Player News
Suns bench P.J. Tucker for missing team bus, again
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(7:53 pm ET) The Suns will start PF Marcus Morris on Friday, in place of P.J. Tucker.

Tucker goes to the bench after missing the team bus to shootaround. It's the second time this season that Tucker has missed the bus. 


Pistons C Joel Anthony (groin) won't play Friday
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(7:12 pm ET) Pistons center Joel Anthony will not play in Friday night's game against the Rockets, according to the Detroit Free Press

Anthony is out due to a sore right groin. Anthony is averaging 1.2 points and 1.5 rebounds per game. 


Clippers' Blake Griffin misses practice, may sit Sunday's game
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(7:02 pm ET) The plan was for Blake Griffin to practice Friday and possibly be ready for Sunday's game against Warriors. 

That plan is now in doubt. 

According to the Los Angeles Times, Griffin missed Friday's practice as he continues to recover from a staph infection in his right elbow that required surgery. Griffin was spotted shooting jumpers early in practice but with his left hand. 

"I don't know yet," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. "We'll see. We have two days of practice, so we'll know more [then]."

The Clippers have been without Griffin for 11 games. They've on seven of those contests. 


Heat's Chris Andersen, Mario Chalmers active against Wizards
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(6:56 pm ET) The Heat announced they will have forward Chris Andersen and guard Mario Chalmers available against the Wizards on Friday

Both were listed as questionable heading in. Andersen is dealing with general soreness and Chalmers has a sore knee. Both are expected to play. 


Heat's Dwyane Wade, Luol Deng ruled out against Wizards
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(6:53 pm ET) The Heat announced that guard Dwyane Wade and forward Luol Deng will not play against the Wizards Friday night. 

Wade has a sore right hip and Deng has a right thigh contusion. 

The depleted Heat will likely see a lot of minutes from Tyler Johnson, who is starting. Goran Dragic will likely be asked to contribute a lot more than normal. 


Celtics' Avery Bradley (elbow) 'felt better' Friday, Jae Crowder starting
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(6:45 pm ET) Celtics coach Brad Stevens said guard Avery Bradley "felt better" on Friday and could possibly travel down to Orlando for Sunday's game, per the team's website

Bradley did not travel to New Orleans for Friday night's game. He's nursing a sprained left elbow that was sustained Wednesday against the Jazz. 

With Bradley out for Friday's game, the Celtics are going with Jae Crowder in the starting lineup. According to The Boston Globe, Stevens said he's going with Crowder over Isaiah Thomas because he doesn't want to disrupt Thomas' rhythm off the bench. 


Rockets' Patrick Beverley, Terrence Jones will play Friday night
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(6:39 pm ET) The Rockets will have guard Patrick Beverley and forward Terrence Jones available for Friday night's game against the Pistons, according to the Houston Chronicle

Beverley was dealing with a foot injury and Jones a back ailment. 

Both were considered questionable heading into Friday. 


Raptors' Ross, Lowry replace Vasquez, Johnson in starting lineup
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(6:35 pm ET) Forward Terrence Ross will start in Friday night's game against the Wizards, the Raptors announced. 

Also starting is guard Kyle Lowry, who will be back on the court after missing the previous three games to rest various injuries. Both Ross and Lowry are replacing Greivis Vasquez and James Johnson in the starting lineup. 

Ross has notched back-to-back games with 12 points — on Monday against the 76ers and on Wednesday against the Cavaliers. 


Magic C Nikola Vucevic won't play Friday night
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(6:25 pm ET) Magic center Nikola Vucevic has been ruled out of Friday night's game against the Kings due to a sore left ankle, according to the Orlando Sentinel

Starting at center instead will be DeWayne Dedmon.

Vucevic is averaging 19.7 points and 8.0 rebounds per game this season. 


Raptors G Kyle Lowry to play, not have minutes restriction
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(6:14 pm ET) Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry will play Friday night against the Hornets without a minutes restriction, according to TSN. 

Lowry has missed the previous three games to rest a myriad of injuries. Raptors coach Dwane Casey said Lowry's playing time will depend on his conditioning for the game after the missed time. 

This season, Lowry has averaged 18.0 points, 7.0 assists and 1.5 steals. 


 
 
 
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