Dealing with the denial wire is critical to success in fantasy basketball. With so many games, injuries and endless rotation changes throughout the marathon campaign, we will need to get stats from free agents to maximize our imaginary lineups.
The willingness to entertain the competition for the last few places on your fantasy hoops list can be helpful. When curating this volatile body of statistics, it’s helpful to consider that your players at the back of the bench are in direct competition with free-will talent.
The goal of this weekly series is to identify players in every position widely available in free agency in the Sportzshala leagues. Some nominations are specialists capable of helping in one or two categories, while others offer more varied and important statistical offerings. In the breakdown below, I’ve ranked the players in each position based on acquisition priority, not percentage of Sportzshala league rosters.
Shake Milton, Philadelphia 76ers (reported in 14.8% of Sportzshala leagues): Enjoying a scoring resurgence reminiscent of his amazing 2020-2021 season, Milton jumped over an important scoring and creativity milestone for a rotation in Philadelphia, where James Harden and Tyrese Maxey suffered no major foot injuries.
Cameron Payne, Phoenix Suns (27.5%): Monty Williams revealed over the weekend that Chris Paul is still recovering from a lingering heel injury. It matters given that Payne’s status as a fantasy starter is contingent on Paul’s absence, and the backup is posting star numbers as a temporary starter for the Suns.
Reggie Jackson, Los Angeles Clippers (21.0%): The Clippers continue to face serious injuries to their two superstar wings, which means additional offensive duties for Jackson in recent games as he averaged 18 points and five assists in his last five games on Sunday’s list.
Killian Hayes, Detroit Pistons (7.6%): While Cade Cunningham and a few other defensemen root for the Pistons, Hayes has taken on top distribution duties in Detroit. Scoring results are inconsistent, while strong passes and interceptions add value in deeper leagues.
De’Anthony Melton, Philadelphia 76ers (30.3%): As mentioned in Melton’s case, Philadelphia lost several key stars to injury, passing a ton of touches to players like Melton. One of only three players in the league to have at least two steals per game this season, joining OG Anunoby and Dejounte Murray. Melton’s improved offensive profile as a temporary starter makes him the perfect fantasy addition.
Malik Beasley, Utah Jazz (48.8%): A proven bucket, Beasley serves Jordan Clarkson as a jazz microwave now that Clarkson is a steady starter. While he’s in that role, Beasley brings in enough 3-pointers and rebounds to be more than just a scorer.
Bruce Brown, Denver Nuggets (17.9%): Over the past week, Brown has averaged 12 points, 6.3 boards, 6.8 dimes and 2.1 combined steals and blocks as a link for a Denver team that needs him on both sides of the floor.
Jayden McDaniels, Minnesota Timberwolves (23.0%): As Minnesota’s most dynamic perimeter defenseman, McDaniels has averaged an amazing 2.5 blocks and interceptions per season and has even shown an improvement in offensive scoring in recent weeks.
Caleb Martin, Miami Heat (9.1%): Injuries have taken a toll on Miami’s already thin rotation, which has meant many minutes for Martin in recent weeks. The two-sided talent brings amazing stealing speed and good shooting results for fantastic investors.
Jabari Smith Jr., Houston Rockets (40.0%): Would you be interested in the top three who averaged 19.3 points, 9.7 boards and decent defensive records last week? Available in most Sportzshala leagues, Smith is starting to shine for a Houston team finally showing life.
Chris Boucher, Toronto Raptors (50.8%): A fantasy force of late, Boucher is thriving as a top scoring striker while Pascal Siakam is on the mend. Boucher, who is now a big part of the Raptors’ rotation, has taken his rebounding to the next level this season.
Denis Avdia, Washington Wizards (6.3%): It may be an exception or an encouraging trend, but this young forward has had impressive passing and rebounding records in recent games. The Wizards have been having a hard time lately, and now is the time to speculate about Avdia.
Kelly Olynyk, Utah Jazz (36.4%): He doesn’t rebound or score in streaks, so it’s easy to miss Olynyk on the bounce wire. On the other hand, he’s one of those links in a team that does a little bit of everything, like Denver’s central version of Brown. With one of the best interception rates for a center and enough assist in the passing and shooting categories to be useful, Olynyk is an atypically useful option.
Marvin Bagley III, Detroit Pistons (15.0%): Seeing the court amidst several injuries in Detroit’s frontcourt, Bagley has scored double-figure points in five straight games and has averaged two combined steals and blocks over the past week, scoring minutes for the lottery-bound lineup.
Mason Plumlee, Charlotte Hornets (20.8%): You won’t get a lot of points from Plumley, but you will get a lot of boards and an unusually large amount of dimes from this playmaking center. The Hornets are attacking a lot through Plumley while LaMelo Ball is left out as the big man posted a career-best assist percentage this season.