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Because players get hurt every day in the NBA, the waiver wire in your fantasy league is one of the greatest tools to your eventual success. You know, if you don’t take advantage of it, that is. It amazes me how many people do, but, especially for fantasy basketball, it makes no sense. When a player goes down, someone comes in and takes those minutes. It’s not like football where there are different variables to take into consideration about volume and usage. With just five players on the court, everyone is going to get touches. It’s just going to happen.
And with DeMar DeRozan out indefinitely, there are plenty of touches to go around in Toronto.
Note: Ownership percentages are based off Yahoo! leagues.
Greivis Vasquez, Toronto Raptors (29%)- Before suffering a tear in his groin, DeRozan was averaging a healthy 55 offensive touches per game. Now, it appears Vasquez will reap the most benefits from his absence, outside of Kyle Lowry, of course. In two starts without DeRozan, Vasquez is averaging a solid 13.5 points, six assists, two rebounds and a steal per game. Dwane Casey likes him in the starting lineup more than guys like Louis Williams, and he’s given him 64 minutes during those two games. And, as Mike Gallagher of Rotoworld points out, Vasquez actually led the entire NBA in total assists (704) during his time in New Orleans, so he clearly has the ability of racking up plenty of dimes, a statistic that isn’t very easy to find off the waiver wire. DeRozan will be out indefinitely, and a smart bet would assume until at least the All-Star break, giving Vasquez some nice value for the foreseeable future.
Mo Williams, Minnesota Timberwolves (48%)- I’m still not sure how or why Williams isn’t owned in almost all leagues. The guy has been nothing short of spectacular since taking over for the injured Ricky Rubio. As the starting point guard this year, Williams is averaging around seven points, 2.5 rebounds, 2.4 triples and a whopping 10.4 assists per game for the Wolves. And over his last five outings, the veteran point guard is averaging over 16 points, 10.3 assists, 2.5 boards, 1.5 steals and 2.3 three-pointers per contest. And because Minnesota is so banged up, the only competition for minutes is rookie Zach LaVine, who isn’t a true point guard and is pretty raw still. He’s actually been a top-50 player in all of fantasy over the last two weeks, and need to be basically universally owned, seeing how Rubio won’t be back until at least Christmas.
Wesley Johnson, Los Angeles Lakers (33%)- As a diehard Syracuse fan, Johnson will always have a special place in my heart. And while he’s a bit inconsistent in fantasy, he’s also a little underrated. So far this season, the high-flying Syracuse product hasn’t done a whole lot, but he is still valuable. Only he and Paul Millsap averaged at least one steal and one triple per game last season, so in leagues where you need three-point help or defensive numbers, Johnson is an underrated commodity. He’s still playing almost 33 minutes per game thus far, too.
K.J. McDaniels, Philadelphia 76ers (40%)- Another guy who needs to be basically universally owned, McDaniels is so fun to watch play. He plays with fire, can fly down the court, has great leaping ability and plays some fantastic defense. The rookie is averaging almost a full block and steal per game this year to go along with 10.2 points and 3.5 rebounds. All of that and the guy hasn’t even been in the starting lineup much, if at all, this season. In this system where teams run up and down the floor, McDaniels has all of the upside in the world, and, of course, let’s not forget about this.
James Johnson, Toronto Raptors (11%)- Speaking of defense, Johnson is another low-owned guy who can provide fantasy owners with a nice presence with the defensive numbers. He’s averaging 1.2 blocks and 0.9 steals per game thus far, and again, with DeRozan sidelined, Johnson should see an uptick in minutes as well. Johnson played 28 minutes on Tuesday night, resulting in 19 points, seven rebounds, one block and one steal. If he continues to see close to 30 minutes per night, he’ll draw plenty of fantasy attention, and it will be well-warranted.
Marreese Speights, Golden State Warriors (28%)- Speights is looking like one of the NBA’s leading candidates for Sixth Man of the Year. He’s averaging 12.4 points and 4.9 rebounds per game this season, and he’s simply just played at a very high level all season long for Golden State. Head coach Steve Kerr is quite fond of the big man, saying he’s going to play a lot. And with David Lee dealing with a hamstring injury that requires more rest, Speights will do just that– play. Not to mention the fact that Andrew Bogut averaging just over 50 games played per season throughout his career, he isn’t exactly sipping out of the fountain of health, either. Playing in this offense, Speights is not only going to get a handful of looks, but high-quality looks, as well.
Josh McRoberts, Miami Heat (39%)- McBob returned to the starting lineup for the Heat on Wednesday night, and it appears that he is over his early-season injury. Many fantasy owners have forgotten about McRoberts, but he’s a very valuable player in fantasy circles because of his all-around game. Last year with Charlotte, he averaged a very respectable 8.5 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game, returning fantasy owners with solid mid-round value. Now, with a likely bigger role in Miami, he needs to be picked up in all 12-team leagues after finally cracking the starting lineup.
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