Hello, everyone. Welcome back.
The trade deadline is getting close, but things are still normal here on the waiver wire. I tend to advise against picking up a player on the chance that a teammate gets traded, so you'll see no discussion of that below. I'll include some discussion of that topic next week, but for this week, we should focus on the many quality pickups that can help your team right now. And there are some outstanding pickups available.
As always, the players in this article must be rostered in less than two-thirds of CBS leagues. Players are listed in the order that I recommend adding them, assuming they are equally good fits for your team.
Adds for all leagues
Jonathan Isaac, Magic (58% rostered)
The last time we saw Isaac, he was a top-35 Fantasy producer. Well, that's no longer accurate. After one of the weirdest, longest injury absences in recent NBA history, Isaac finally returned to action last week. Now, the last time we saw him was Wednesday. He's stuck on a tiny minutes restriction, just 10 minutes per game, but he's already making that time count. Extrapolating his production to per-18 minutes (he'll never get to 36 minutes, but 18-plus seems likely), he's averaging 15-4-3 with 4.0 steals and 3.0 threes. The Magic may continue to slow-play Isaac's roll-out, limiting his value in the short term, but he must be rostered in every league. Despite his limited minutes, he's already in the top 130 in nine-category leagues (in the 180th range in 8-cat).
Brandon Clarke, Grizzlies (47% rostered)
Steven Adams (knee) is set to miss at least three weeks, opening up a big hole in the middle in Memphis. In a perfect world – perfect for Fantasy managers, that is – Clarke would take over as a starter and see the lion's share of Adams' vacated minutes. Clarke has been a top-150 Fantasy player every season of his career, and he teetered on the edge of the top 100 in the two seasons when he played at least 22 minutes. Top-80-or-better production is easily within the range of outcomes if Clarke can maintain roughly 27 minutes per game for a few weeks.
The risk is that Xavier Tillman (5% rostered) might split the work. Clarke has been healthy for five of Adams' six absences this season, and Tillman started over Clarke once (this past Monday) and played functionally the same number of minutes as Clarke another time. Clarke has the edge on the season, but it's much smaller than I'd like. Clarke is still one of this week's top pickups, but I'm prepared to cut bait quickly if Tillman cuts into his work too much.
Kenyon Martin, Rockets (36% rostered)
Martin has been starting in place of Kevin Porter (foot) for the last eight games. Porter's next re-evaluation is only a few days away, but that doesn't necessarily mean he's close to returning. Meanwhile, Martin is thriving in his absence, averaging 13-8-2 in 31.6 minutes while maintaining solid field goal efficiency and chipping in occasional threes. Martin is probably dropable when Porter returns, but we can continue to ride this high until then.
Seth Curry, Nets (24% rostered)
Curry is finally rolling. He's scored double digits in eight straight. Over his last 11 games, he's up to 16-2-2 with 2.9 threes per game. It took him a couple of months to get going, but he's finally looking like the guy who finished inside Fantasy's top 100 last season – the guy the Nets demanded get included in the James Harden-Ben Simmons trade. This is the player I was expecting to see all season, so it should come as no surprise that I think he can keep this production going.
Cameron Johnson, Suns
Just kidding. Johnson's roster rate is now way too high to qualify for this article. It just feels weird to go a whole article without mentioning him.
Other recommendations: Jalen McDaniels, Hornets (46% rostered); Jeremy Sochan, Spurs (49% rostered); Precious Achiuwa, Raptors (28% rostered); Bruce Brown, Nuggets (53% rostered); Monte Morris, Wizards (50% rostered); Daniel Gafford, Wizards (31% rostered); Delon Wright, Wizards (17% rostered); Zach Collins, Spurs (28% rostered); Dennis Smith Jr, Hornets (32% rostered); Isaiah Joe, Thunder (5% rostered); Deni Avdija, Wizards (37% rostered)
Interesting low-priority plays
Listed in order of interestingness, not potential Fantasy value. None have tons of Fantasy value right now. Williams is the only potential standout of the group.
Rui Hachimura, Lakers (52% rostered)
Hachimura played 22 minutes in his debut for his new team Wednesday. I'm not sure if that's a good sign (fresh off the plane and already a big role in the rotation! The player he was traded for was only playing 13.5 minutes!) or a bad sign (Hachimura isn't nearly good enough to be a Fantasy factor at 22 minutes per game). He may be worth an add while we wait to get more data. If he gets enough minutes and plays well, Hachimura can be a solid source of points and rebounds while maintaining relatively efficient shooting splits. That said, his ceiling is relatively low, his free throw shooting has gone through several lengthy slumps throughout his career, and he provides almost no defensive production. He is addable but far from a priority pickup.
Mark Williams, Hornets (20% rostered)
I love Williams as a prospect, and I've already featured him in this column a few times this season. Unfortunately, his coach makes irrational decisions – that's the polite way to frame it. Already, the Hornets are functionally locked into finishing as one of the four worst teams in the NBA. Although they clearly should be focusing on the long-term development of their core, the Hornets' last two first-round picks can barely sniff the floor. That decision is weird in the case of James Bouknight, 2021's 11th overall pick. In the case of Williams, 2022's 15th overall pick, it's flat-out deranged. Williams is 14th on the team in minutes, yet he still leads the team in PER (a stat that notoriously overweighs volume) and is near the top of the team in most other advanced stats. If your league has deep benches, or you're in a weekly lineups league where you can afford to hold some temporary dead weight, Williams is worth adding and keeping for his upside. If they ever give Williams the minutes he's already earned, he should be a Fantasy dynamo. Unfortunately, if the coaching staff hasn't already seen enough to get Williams above 20 minutes per game, I'm not sure what could instigate such a shift in the future.
Jericho Sims, Knicks (16% rostered)
With Mitchell Robinson (thumb) sidelined, Sims has moved into the starting lineup, averaging 30.5 minutes per game. He's pushed aside concerns that he'd split the extra work with Isaiah Hartenstein, whose role is functionally unchanged while Robinson has been out. The only issue is that Sims is a one-trick pony – he'll get you rebounds but not much else. Robinson is likely to miss at least two more weeks, keeping Sims on the waiver radar, but he's more of a high-value streamer than someone managers need to hold.
Week 16 is unusually balanced, with between five and nine games every day.
In total, the quantity of games is close to the weekly average, though on the busier side. The Celtics and Jazz play twice, 12 teams play three games, and 16 teams play four.
Tuesday and Sunday are the lightest days, with five and six games, respectively.
Daily lineups leagues
Balanced and busy weeks are a big boon for attentive managers in daily lineups leagues. It's easier to fit streamers into your starting lineup (because no nights are overloaded), and the quality of streamers on a night-to-night basis is generally higher (because all of the nights have a decent baseline number of games). These kinds of weeks are the ones where managers can gain the most advantage through streaming or pseudo-streaming.
If you have an extra acquisition to use in Week 15, the Pelicans and Hornets are the only teams that play Sunday and have a four-game week in Week 16. Neither team plays Monday – no teams have a Sunday-Monday back-to-back – though the Hornets have a Tuesday-Thursday-Friday 3-in-4.
The Lakers kick off Week 16 with a back-to-back set and have just one day off before Thursday and Saturday games.
Besides the Lakers, the Warriors are the only team to start the week with a 3-in-4.
The Spurs only have three games, so managers taking a macro view may avoid them this week. But all of San Antonio's games take place over the first five days of the week, making for a convenient drop over the weekend.
At the end of the week, the Hornets, Nuggets, Pelicans, Knicks, and Pacers end the week with a 3-in-4. That list includes all of the teams with a Saturday-Sunday back-to-back – the Nuggets, Pelicans, and Knicks.
Weekly lineups leagues
With a schedule on the busier side, managers should avoid non-stars on the Celtics and Jazz.
Among teams with four games, a few schedules stand out as attractive. The Timberwolves and Knicks get to play all four games at home. The Nuggets and Pistons each have three home games. The 76ers have two home games and three easy opponents – both home games against the Magic and then a trip to San Antonio.
The Spurs, Bucks, and Bulls each play just three games but have all their games at home. The Pacers also play all their three games at home, but their games are tightly packed in a late-week 3-in-4, which makes their scheduling meaningfully less enticing than those others.