Fantasy Basketball Week 21 Waiver Wire: Adds for all leagues plus schedule notes

Welcome back, everyone. I’m glad you’re here, but there’s bad news. Guys, this is not embellishment: this week rude. There is one very good pickup on the list, but after that it quickly falls off. However, we must remain vigilant.

We must never let a boring pool of candidates lead us to complacency. Replacement candidates may not be as good as we’d like, but that doesn’t mean we should hang on to fallen or injured outcasts. The players listed below can still upgrade your teams.

As always, the players in this article must be registered in less than two-thirds of the CBS leagues. The players are listed in the order I recommend adding them, as long as they are equally good for your team.

Adds for all leagues

Dennis Smith Jr., Hornets (49% of participants)

LaMelo Ball (ankle) is done for a year. This should lock up Smith’s floor. He will likely play at least 28 minutes per game before the end of the journey. In a recession week for bounces, that’s enough to take the top spot in this column. When playing at least 28 minutes this season, Smith is averaging 12-4-7 with 2.0 steals. This may exaggerate his performance for the remainder of the season, but highlights that he can be a great source of passes and interceptions.

Malachi Branham, Spurs (50% squad)

This is a bad week for rejections, and I’ve mentioned Branham in much deeper weeks, so of course he’s pretty much number one here. Branham left Tuesday’s game early with a hip injury, although he returned to action Thursday. However, either because of the hip or the return of Devin Vassel (knee), Branham had one more game to play. Vassell’s return will probably cut Branham’s minutes down the road, but Branham showed enough in the 10 games before his hip injury that I’m still interested. In that stretch, he was 18-4-3 with 2.2 3 in 32.7 minutes. As long as it can stay over 25 minutes per game, this production is still a viable fantasy asset.

Kyle Anderson, Timberwolves (with 57%)

Again, a week of denial due to denials and a player I’ve already recommended multiple times. As I summarized here last week, the Slow-Mo decision tree is very simple: is Karl-Anthony Towns playing? Do you need points? If “no” to both, Anderson should start.

Matisse Tibull, Trail Blazers (20% of participants)

After the trade deadline, I recommended Cam Reddish (claimed at 25%) and Shaedon Sharp (claimed at 25%) as potential pickups, using a strong argument: “Somebody needs to start small forward.” Well, that brilliant insight is still valid, but apparently I was favoring the wrong players. Two starting spots were available as Jerami Grant and Anferny Simons were eliminated. Tibull and Reddish filled them. But in Portland’s first game after the deadline, with both Grant and Simons active on Wednesday, Tybull remained in the starting lineup while Reddish moved to the bench. Tybull has averaged 30.3 minutes per game since touchdown in Portland, which is more than enough time to impress the fantasy. He is unreliable offensively but is one of the best fantasy defenders in the league, throwing 1.8 steals and 1.7 blocks for his new team. If you’re scoring points, Thybulle is a must-have addition. It is otherwise much less valuable, but this defensive production is still useful for most formulations.

Marvin Bagley, Pistons (53% of players)

The Pistons have too many centers. This offends Bagley, but unlike most of his depth-table opponents, he can at least pretend to be a power forward with some degree of conviction. That opens up extra minutes for the former No. 2 overall, who recovered from injury last week with two exceptional performances. While I doubt he’ll double-double again with 21 points in a row, these outings underline Bagley’s ceiling. Another important caveat: these games were played when Jalen Düren (ankle) was away. There is a high chance that Bagley will be rejected again in a week or two, but his potential ceiling is much higher than anyone else’s. Especially while the opportunity cost is low, it’s worth the flyers.

Tari Eason, Rockets (46% of participants)

It’s been a bad week and Eason has been playing well lately, so I want to get him back in our sights. The Rockets don’t really have veterans with fake injuries on the bench, but a silly season in the NBA could still lead to some rotation changes aimed at future development. Eason is a promising rookie who looks like a solid building block for the future, so finding extra court time for him makes sense as a priority (not that the Rockets always do things that “make sense”). He averaged 12-9-2 with 2.0 steals in 26.8 minutes in his last four games. He will probably guarantee himself a place on the list if his number of minutes stays the same.

Isaiah Joe, Thunder (16% of participants)

Thunder turns into a tank? While the bottom four in the NBA are leading the tankathon standings, the race for 5th place is wide open and no team has yet made an effort to claim it. As of last week, every team not in the bottom four was trying to win games and had at least a chance of winning the play-in. If any team takes this path, there is a significant incentive to finish in fifth place. The fifth worst team has a 21% chance of picking the top two players, a 44% chance of making it into the top five, and cannot fall outside of the top nine. However, a team that tries to stay in the play-in race and misses quickly sees those odds drop. For example, the eighth worst team only has a 12% chance of being selected in the top 2 and a 26% chance of being selected in the top 4 (they can’t make the top five).

To be clear, Thunder power don’t tank. Shay Giljeus-Alexander is on covid records because he has covid. They don’t pretend. However, he had two suspicious absences prior to being listed for “ankle soreness” and “thigh sprain”. He missed several games with a hip problem early in the season, and ankle injuries are common enough that it’s entirely possible that Gilgeus-Alexander was legally injured. We cannot know. But given the Thunder’s recent history of aggressive tanking, their five-game losing streak, and these potentially tricky injuries, it would be fair to raise our eyebrows. If they landed in the tank, Gilgeous-Alexander would be shut down quickly, Josh Giddy would likely follow, and Joe would benefit greatly.

Other recommendations: Malik Monk, Kings (47% of participants); Kevin Love, Heath (62% of participants); Malik Beasley, Lakers (60% of participants); Cam Reddish, Trail Blazers (25% of participants); Chris Dunn, jazz (11% of participants); Donte DiVincenzo, Warriors (56%); Jarred Vanderbilt, Lakers (63% of participants); Kevon Looney, Warriors (54% of participants)

Deep League Special Edition

Austin Reeves, Lakers (12% of participants)

Reeves probably won’t win the Fantasy Championship against anyone, but he can be a solid figure in the top heavyweight lineup. He spends an average of 24.5 minutes after the trade deadline, playing at least 25 minutes in six of eight games. Reeves isn’t the biggest beneficiary when LeBron James (leg) misses games, but he does see a significant boost in minutes. With James likely to be sidelined for the rest of the month (he won’t even be re-evaluated until around March 24), Reeves’ workload should remain somewhat elevated. In his last eight games, he’s averaged 13-2-3 with a 1.6 3rd and excellent scoring.

Other recommendations: Jaylene Williams, Thunder (12% of participants); Keita Bates-Diop, Tottenham (8% of participants)

Schedule Notes

Week 21 is relatively easy with just 13 teams playing four times and five playing twice. It is also one of the most balanced schedules of the season, with six to ten games every day.

A light and balanced schedule can create many opportunities, especially in leagues with a daily lineup, to use the schedule to your advantage as your opponents are likely to start with fewer games on their list.

The Bulls, Clippers, Timberwolves, Suns, and Spurs are two-week teams and must be demoted regardless of format.

Weekly league lineups

Weekly managers should aim for four-game weeks as the advantage they give is proportionately greater than during a normal week.

Among teams that have played four games, the Pistons are the only team to play at home all week. The Heat and Pelicans each have three home games in a row. Everyone else is playing at least two on the road.

The Lakers and Magic have the best schedules of any team with three games a week. Both stay at home all week and avoid seeing each other.

Daily league lineups

Daily managers should start by checking their Saturday lineup. Saturday is the busiest day of the week, eight games. While most managers will have some flexibility in their starting lineups on Saturday, some may already have a full rotation and should avoid matchmaking with games that day.

The 76ers and Pistons are the only teams to start the week in a row, and the Pistons are the only teams to start 3-for-4.

Four teams — the Knicks, Thunder, Hornets and Pelicans — are ending the week in a row. For both the Knicks and the Hornets, it’s 3-for-4 and 4-for-6 (i.e., both play Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday).

With multiple days off in a row, some managers can get the most out of their signings by targeting the Tuesday-Friday 3-on-4 (Nets, Wizards) and replacing that player before play starts on Saturday. This strategy can work even better if you use a week 20 acquisition for Celtic, Pacer, or Trail Blazer, as those teams have consecutive Sunday-Mondays.


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