A great fantasy draft will get you into the playoffs, but so many leagues are often won on the waiver wire and that has never been truer than right now with the NBA on pace for a record-setting amount of DNPs from big-name players. Guys like Devonte’ Graham, Kendrick Nunn, Aron Baynes and Luke Kennard are all flirting with early-round value, and all of those guys were written up right here within days of the season opener. So no matter how many injuries your fantasy team piles up, you can still maintain a competitive edge by locating the players on the wire before they break out. If you have questions, you can always reach me right here on Twitter!
Week 5 Games Played:
5 games: PHX
4 games: BKN, CHA, CHI, CLE, DAL, HOU, LAC, MIL, NOP, NYK, POR, SAS, UTA
3 games: ATL, BOS, DEN, DET, GSW, LAL, MIA, MIN, OKC, PHI, SAC, TOR, WAS
2 games: IND, MEM, ORL
45% to 36% Owned in Yahoo Leagues:
Danuel House (43%)- He’s back on the waiver wire in a bunch of leagues after a back injury took him out of commission for three games. Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni is “hopeful” to have House back for Monday’s game, adding that he still has a little pain in his lower back. Assuming he has a good mattress unlike Derrick Favors (he once missed a month of NBA action and blamed it on his bed), House should be fine in a day or two and his per-game ranking in 9-cat of No. 53 is head turning because it includes the game that he left early after 12 minutes. He’s averaging 11.8 points, 4.9 rebounds, 1.2 steals, 1.0 blocks and 2.5 triples in 29 minutes, and once he’s healthy he’s going to get a ton of burn with Eric Gordon (knee) out several weeks.
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Terrence Ross (42%)- After shooting like Dion Waiters to open the season, Terrence Ross is officially heating up. He’s coming off a 20-point outing vs. the Spurs, and over the last three he’s averaging 15.0 points, 2.3 rebounds, 1.0 steals and 2.7 triples. Those are 8th-round numbers in 9-cat, and that just so happens to be the same round he finished last season. This is who he is, and to make him even more appealing, coach Steve Clifford said he may get more opportunities in the pick-and-roll. “He’s really good with his pull-up jumpers. He forces the big to be out, and he can hit the roll,” Clifford said. “He’s big, and he can see everything.” He ranks in the 52nd percentile for pick-and-roll ball-handlers, so he does have that skill in his bag.
Alec Burks (42%)- I actually like Ky Bowman a bit more than Burks, but there’s room for both to make some noise in fantasy leagues with D’Angelo Russell set to miss at least a couple weeks with a sprained thumb. Burks dropped 20 points in his last outing, but before that game his production was a rollercoaster that would make even Danny Green’s stat lines jealous.
With Russell off the floor, Burks’ usage jumps from 17.1% to 22.1%, and he has per-36 stats of 21.9 points, 5.9 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 0.9 steals and 2.8 triples. The Warriors are only going to have eight or nine active players, so you better believe the workload is going to be there. Let’s pick him up and see if he can deliver.
Dillon Brooks (39%)- Speaking of rollercoasters, Dillon Brooks is another guy with one of the most volatile box scores of the season. For example, the dude had a combined five points vs. the Magic and Mavericks last week, then proceeded to average 18.7 points, 2.3 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.7 steals, 0.7 blocks and 2.3 triples in his last three games. For the season he’s been a 9th-rounder in 9-cat, but he’s one of those guys that you ride when he’s hot and keep your distance from when he’s cold.
35% to 26% Owned in Yahoo Leagues:
Nicolas Batum (35%)- Am I running to the wire to grab Nicolas Batum? About as fast as Kendrick Perkins going baseline to baseline. There is some low-end appeal here though, especially after he hit 29 minutes in his season debut after a finger fracture kept him on the shelf for weeks. Batum hit 1-of-4 from the field for three points, but it’s the peripheral stats that caught my eye with nine rebounds, six assists, one steal, one block and one triple. I don’t think he has a big role late in the season for obvious reasons, but Miles Bridges has been pretty bad and Batum may be a good veteran presence on the floor to help the kids as an unselfish playmaker who can stretch the floor.
Kelly Olynyk (34%)- Olynyk has replaced Meyers Leonard as the power forward to own in Miami, but that’s not saying much. He had 13 points, five rebounds, three steals and three triples in his last outing, his second solid game out of his last three. If you’re looking for consistency then Kelly probably isn’t for you, but he’s has multiple stretches of mid-round value in years past because of his points, percentages, 3-point shooting and out-of-position dimes. But one thing that really stands out is the schedule, as Miami plays games vs. the Cavaliers, Bulls and Hornets in their next four.
Carmelo Anthony (34%)- The chances of me adding Carmelo in a standard league are probably the same as Ben Simmons’ career 3-point percentage, but to each their own. If anything, Melo should be a fine source of points and triples, and there are plenty of forward minutes available in Portland. My issue with Melo is the lack of supporting stats, and there’s no telling how he will look after a year outside of the league. This is what you call a dart throw, but imagine standing an extra 10 feet back.
Nemanja Bjelica (33%)- Yes, he’s still around despite contemplating retirement after LeBron James stole his soul last week (link). If I’m being honest, Bjelica doesn’t pass the “eye test” with countless missed assignments on defense, but he’s been a top-50 fantasy asset in his last three games with 14.3 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.7 dimes, 1.0 steals and 3.0 triples on 60.7% from the field. Marvin Bagley’s (thumb) eventual return in a week or two will toss Bjelica’s value into the abyss, but he’s a fine play this week.
D.J. Augustin (27%)- To his credit, Augustin has taken his demotion to the bench in stride, as his production has actually been on the upswing. In his last five outings, Augustin is putting up 11.2 points, 5.2 assists, 2.6 rebounds, 1.0 steals and 1.0 triples, but the Magic are essentially splitting the minutes between him and Markelle Fultz down the middle which limits the upside of both — they are only averaging 2.4 minutes beside each other in the last five games.
25% and Under in Yahoo Leagues:
Moritz Wagner (25%)- Thomas Bryant (sore left hip) popped up on the injury report and is questionable for Sunday, so Wagner could be set up for a monster game to end the weekend. Bryant got into some foul trouble vs. the Wolves, so Wagner channeled his inner Anthony Davis with a career-high 30 points with 15 rebounds, two assists, one steal, one block and four 3-pointers in 25 minutes. Wagner was actually sneaky good before that outburst but couldn’t stay out of foul trouble. In fact, he leads the NBA in true shooting percentage!
The Wizards have used him exclusively as a five which is a bummer since Bryant is entrenched as the starter, but he did play 41% of his minutes at PF with the Lakers last season so maybe the Wizards give him some burn there. His per-36 stats are off the charts with 24.9 points, 11.5 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 1.4 steals, 2.1 blocks and 2.1 triples, so I’d recommend taking a flier while we see how his role evolves.
Bryn Forbes (23%)- I write him up seemingly every week but his ownership rate rarely ever changes. That’s probably because we all know what he is, and that’s a low-end fantasy asset who only contributes to three categories. Forbes has been a 12th-rounder in 9-cat on the back of his 14.3 points, 2.7 triples and 92% foul shooting. Whenever the Spurs don’t play four games in a week, I’d rather stream Forbes’ roster spot.
Kenrich Williams (21%)- If we put a stat magnet on Tony Snell, his name would be Kenrich Williams. Both players do all the little things for their teams and play big minutes, but Williams just finds a way to produce hustle stats. In his last five games, Kenrich is returning 9th-round fantasy numbers with 8.0 points, 6.6 rebounds, 2.6 dimes, 1.2 steals and 1.6 triples, and he’s doing it efficiently too. The Pelicans are extremely shorthanded these days with eight(!) players on the injury report, so there’s still a window for Kenrich to do some damage.
Norman Powell (16%)- Kyle Lowry (thumb) has been out for four games and we still haven’t heard a target date for his return. Powell has OK in his absence, but notably had a 26-point outing and a 2-point dud as well. But he has been a 9th-rounder in that stretch, averaging 14.3 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 0.3 steals, 1.3 blocks and 2.0 triples. If you exchange the block and steal numbers these stats are right in line with what I’m expecting in the short term.
Frank Ntilikina (15%)- His offense comes and goes, and you definitely don’t want to look at his FG%, but that’s not why you want Frankie Smokes. With this guy, it’s always been about the defense with 2.3 steals and 1.3 blocks over his last six games. Add in the fact that he’s handing out 4.3 dimes per game with 1.0 triples in that span and you can see why he’s returning top-60 numbers in 9-cat. As long as David Fizdale doesn’t mess with him, Ntilikina is a must-own player in category leagues.
Malik Monk (14%)- Based on the how the last couple years have gone, Monk’s recent stretch has surely taken the Hornets by surprise. He’s now played 22+ minutes in four straight, averaging 16.5 points, 6.0 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 0.5 blocks and 1.8 triples. So what changed? He took a page out of Andrew Wiggins’ new book on shot selection. In that span of four games, Monk has just one mid-range attempt. The rest of his shots have come exclusively from inside the paint and beyond the arc. It certainly looks like the light turned on for Monk, and the Hornets giving Dwayne Bacon a DNP-CD means Monk will continue to get a long leash while he’s hot.
Jarrett Culver (10%)- He’s just a completely new player than the one we saw earlier this season. Culver’s confidence that he had at Texas Tech is back, and the rookie is starting to trend up with 12.0 points, 3.0 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.7 steals, 0.7 blocks and 1.3 triples in his last three. Unfortunately, Culver hasn’t been hitting his free throws unlike his college days, making him a tough sell if you can’t afford the hit to that category.
We also have to keep in mind that Shabazz Napier (hamstring) is out and Andrew Wiggins (personal) missed the last two games, but I’m really curious to see if they keep giving Culver reps at PG because that’s where he’s been thriving. “I think things are slowing down for him, especially off the pick-and-rolls,” coach Ryan Saunders said. “You’re seeing some of the things he was great at Texas Tech, in terms of the way he was able to freeze defenders, the way he was able to get to the rim, and he’s able to see the floor, too.” And who knows, maybe the Wolves keep starting him too, as the four-man combo of Culver-Covington-Wiggins-Towns is a +19.8 per 100 possessions so far this season (h/t John Meyer of the Daily Wolf).
Ky Bowman (8%)- This one is pretty straightforward. The Warriors have eight or nine healthy players after D’Angelo Russell (thumb) was ruled out for at least two weeks. The last time Russell missed action, Bowman played at least 36 minutes in three straight with 14.3 points, 5.3 dimes, 3.7 rebounds, 1.0 steals and 1.7 triples. A lot of people will flock towards Alec Burks, and while I do think both can have some nice value in the short term, Bowman just offers a bit more on the stat sheet.
Jaxson Hayes (7%)- He’s about to be the only healthy center on the roster with Derrick Favors (back) and Jahlil Okafor (ankle) expected to sit out Sunday. Hayes had 12 points, three rebounds, one steal and two blocks in his shift that lasted 23 minutes, and Sunday might be the first time he eclipses 30 if he can stay out of foul trouble. One of the best shot blockers in the NCAA last season with a sky-high FG%, Hayes is a quality flier since there’s no telling how long a slow healer like Favors will be out for.
Aaron Holiday (6%)- Malcolm Brogdon’s (back) and Jeremy Lamb (ankle) are questionable for Monday, so you can disregard this recommendation if they both end up playing. Holiday wasn’t great vs. the Bucks, but played 34 minutes with an 11-5-4 line to go with three steals and a triple. Plus, he was averaging an 11-4-3 line with 1.8 steals and 1.6 triples over his last five. Again, I’m only looking his way if Brogdon is out.
Damian Jones (4%) Last but certainly not least, Damian Jones is one of my top pickups of the week. Alex Len and Bruno Fernando have been pretty bad for Atlanta, so it’s no surprise that coach Lloyd Pierce turned to Jones as his new starting center. When asked about Jones, Pierce called him an “unbelievable pick-and-roll” player and added that he thinks Jones’ above-the-rim ability will help him “punish” opposing teams when Trae Young looks his way. Since entering the starting lineup, Jones has been a top-80 player in 9-cat with 11.0 points, 4.7 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 1.0 steals and 2.0 blocks in just 20.7 minutes. There’s still plenty of room for growth too, especially while John Collins is suspended.
Chris Boucher came back to earth after a great 3-game run of top-50 fantasy numbers. He played just 14 and 12 minutes in his last two games, and while there’s still no timetable for Serge Ibaka (ankle), feel free to move on from Boucher if he doesn’t get more run vs. the Hornets on Monday. Just trade the immobile concrete block named Marc Gasol already.
Robert Williams has been bothered by a sore ankle but did check in ahead of Enes Kanter in his last game. There’s so much per-minute upside here but the 3-man committee at center means I’m downgrading him to a luxury stash.
Nickeil Alexander-Walker erupted for a 27-4-3 line with six triples in his last game, giving us that Summer League and Preseason vibe. The Pelicans were essentially missing half their roster, but feel free to make a move on him if he has another eruption on Sunday. The upside has always been there, he just needs consistent burn.
Langston Galloway has been red hot off the Detroit bench but for some reason I just can’t pull the trigger on a move for him. It’s mainly because his stat set is hollow beyond his points and 3s, and I don’t trust the usage with Derrick Rose and Blake Griffin still ramping up.
There are LOTS of trade rumors surrounding DeMar DeRozan, so it may not be long before Derrick White becomes a must-own player again. If you’re in a very deep league I’d be keeping tabs on Lonnie Walker too in case DeRozan is dealt. The Spurs have to do something after an abysmal start.
Keep a close eye on Nic Claxton in Brooklyn. This is a 7-footer with ball-handling skills that can run the floor, shoot and protect the rim. He's easily a top-10 rookie for me long term, and the Nets have started using him at the four. If Brooklyn's season goes off the rails, Claxton could be a lot of fun down the stretch.