There's no way to sugar coat this, folks – the waiver wire is pretty thin this week. But do not despair! While there are no great all-around options, there are valuable specialists with long-term appeal in almost every category, and an imbalanced Week 21 schedule creates tons of opportunities for active and attentive managers. 

Part of the reason the waiver wire is thin is because some congratulations are in order: Cameron Johnson is finally rostered in too many leagues to qualify for this article. We did it! And I only had to recommend him in 11 straight articles to get us there. While we're talking about Johnson, I'll note that he's still available in 27% of leagues, and it's worth double-checking to see if yours is one of them.

As usual, 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

Cameron Payne, Suns (65% rostered)

Aaron Holiday (12% rostered) has been a disappointment since Chris Paul's (thumb) injury, leaving the door wide open for Payne to claim the lion's share of the vacated point guard minutes. Payne played his first game in over a month Wednesday, but we didn't learn much from that debut – he was on a minutes restriction and the game was a lopsided blowout.

That said, Payne started, pushing Cameron Johnson back to the bench, which is a good sign for Payne's workload once the restriction is lifted. Payne is inconsistent, but he's a good per-minute scorer and passer. It looks like he'll have a high minutes load, which should make him an all-leagues pickup, even if the night-to-night experience may at times get frustrating.

Unless you're in a pretty deep league, it appears safe to drop Holiday.

Gabe Vincent, Heat (15% rostered)

Kyle Lowry (personal reasons) has missed the past three games. Vincent was excellent in the first two, and a disaster in the third. Vincent has been having a good season, and it seems safe to assume the bad game was just a weird outlier. If Lowry keeps missing time, Vincent should be a great play. He's immediately droppable when Lowry returns, however.

Isaiah Jackson, Pacers (49% rostered)

Jackson has played four complete games since the trade deadline, and the results have been mostly in line with expectations, for better and for worse. The best news is that he's started all four games while the Pacers have boasted a fully healthy frontcourt (other than Myles Turner, which… who knows if he's going to return). The worst news is that, despite the starts, he's averaging just 21.0 minutes. Foul trouble contributed to his limited minutes in three games, but so has a deep depth chart – he played just 23 minutes in the game when had only two fouls.

Jackson is such an efficient per-minute producer that he's a solid pickup even at 21 minutes per game. He's averaged 13-5 and 2.8 blocks over those four games, which is in line with his season-long per-minute productivity. He's an excellent add, especially if you're looking for blocks. 

Jalen Smith, Pacers (30% rostered)

Smith may be coming off the bench, but he's played more minutes than Jackson over the last four games. In that stretch he's averaging 14-10-1 with 2.0 3s in 29.3 minutes. His defensive contributions are minimal, but there's a ton of value here if you can withstand that hit. Between these two Pacers, Jackson has more upside, but managers should pick based on their roster's needs – Jackson for defense, Smith for rebounds and 3s. 

Alperen Sengun, Rockets (54% rostered)

Our site doesn't handle gifs in the middle of an article well, so I just want you to imagine that this entire paragraph is the Never Give Up, Never Surrender Galaxy Quest GIF. Ok, I don't know if that's true, but I'm submitting this after my editor is asleep so it's too late to ask (Editor's note: I have no idea what this means but I trust Alex here).. And if I knew the answer, I'd have to talk about Sengun's recent minutes instead of rambling on about web design and gif usage, and I definitely don't want to talk about Sengun's recent minutes. P.S. Rockets, if you're reading this, please give Sengun more minutes, I'm begging you.

Raul Neto, Wizards (30% rostered)

He's chugging along averaging 13-3-5 with 1.5 steals on good shooting efficiency since the trade deadline. He's not spectacular, but a reliable source of assists with absolutely no competition for his current role.

Lonnie Walker, Spurs (27% rostered)

Do you need points and literally nothing else? Well have I got the pickup for you. Walker is averaging 20.3 points over his last six games, scoring at least 17 in each outing. He also gave managers one (1) total steal and one (1) total block during that stretch. Ouch. 

Ok, I'm being a little harsh. He's useless on defense, but his 3.2 rebounds per game isn't awful for a point guard, and he's averaging 2.2 3s during this run. His field goal efficiency will inevitably cool off eventually, which will drive down his points and 3s a bit. That said, his role on the post-trade deadline Spurs means he's likely to remain a solid source of both throughout the remainder of the season. 

Drew Eubanks, Trail Blazers (5% rostered)

Eubanks has taken over the starting job since Jusuf Nurkic (foot) got hurt. He's on a 10-day contract, but given that he's starting and playing well, it would be shocking if Portland didn't transition him to a normal contract when that ends (Editor's note: he just signed another 10-day contract Friday morning). Eubanks made little impact in his first start, but he scored 13 in each of his next two, averaging 9.0 rebounds. His minutes are limited and he doesn't do much besides score and rebound, but he's a passable standard league pickup available almost everywhere.

Other recommendations: Ivica Zubac, Clippers (64% rostered); Cameron Thomas, Nets (36% rostered); Jaxson Hayes, Pelicans (38% rostered); Jae Crowder, Suns (48% rostered); Daniel Gafford, Wizards (34% rostered); Matisse Thybulle, 76ers (18% rostered); Grant Williams, Celtics (9% rostered); Bruce Brown, Nets (21% rostered)

Nuggets watch

Michael Porter Jr (47% rostered)

Porter's roster rate is on the rise after a string of positive reports about his back injury, most recently that he's set to begin practices and scrimmages with the Nuggets' G League team this week. The news is exciting, but we must keep perspective – absolute best case scenario, he returns sometime late in Week 21 or early Week 22. Whenever he returns, he'll start out with a minutes restriction. Even if he progresses through that quickly, I can't imagine a scenario where Porter is playing a full workload before Week 23. That gives him three weeks of availability before the end of the season. Fortunately, the Nuggets have no back-to-backs after Week 21, but we're still talking about less than three weeks of Fantasy potential.

Each manager will have to judge for themselves whether their roster, settings, and place in the standings allows them the flexibility to snag Porter. My job is to clarify what it is that you are signing up for if you do. Porter is likely to be out for at least a week, then fill up an active roster spot without providing value while his minutes increase. Once fully active, he's likely to provide roughly top-40 value. TBD whether he's fully active for a few days or a few weeks.

Jamal Murray (53% rostered)

The recent updates on Murray are also optimistic, but there is a notable contrast between the updates on him and on Porter. It's clear that Porter is on track for a quicker return than Murray. Like Porter, when Murray does return, he is likely to spend a few games ramping up his workload. And, like Porter, once fully healthy and minutes restrictions lifted, he's likely to provide roughly top-40 value. However, given the timeline, most rosters should pass. It seems highly unlikely that Murray is fully unleashed for more than a small handful of regular season games.

Deep leagues only

Markelle Fultz, Magic (37% rostered)

Fultz made his season debut last week, and he's looked great through his first two games. But there is a gigantic caveat – he's played only 31 total minutes, and there is no chance that a career 45% shooter will maintain his current 77% FG efficiency. He's been under a strict minutes limit, making the most of his opportunity but topping out at 16 minutes. He's averaging 24-6-9 per-36 minutes, which would make him the best pickup all season if I thought there was a chance he could sustain that production and average 30ish minutes. Unfortunately, he's unlikely to do either.

Fultz is a worthwhile pickup in deep leagues. In standard or shallow leagues, adding him is ok, but you're banking on unlikely upside and probably wasting a roster spot. In the season-and-a-little before his injury, he was putting up 12-3-5 in about 27 minutes per game. That's rosterable, but a league-winning roster in a standard-sized league probably already has better options available. The Magic are tanking and want to keep Fultz healthy while fostering the development of Cole Anthony and Jalen Suggs (not to mention R.J. Hampton).

There is no reason for them to ever give Fultz more than roughly 27 minutes per night. Which means that, in order to improve upon that 12-3-5 line, managers are asking for Fultz to improve his per-minute production in his first month back after returning from a torn ACL. 

Something to watch

Victor Oladipo, Heat (45% rostered)

Oladipo is set to play his first game in almost a year on Monday. The most likely scenario here is that he's not Fantasy relevant – but we don't know that for sure, and the upside is monumental. Oladipo topped out as a top-15 player in 2017-18, and he's had three other seasons inside the top 50. That said, my recommendation is don't add him, but keep a careful watch on how he looks over his first few games.

Oladipo has had multiple surgeries and played just 88 games since the start of the 2018-19 season. The Heat depth chart is overloaded even before he returns, and they already have the best record in the East. On top of that, he's almost certainly going to have minutes restrictions for his first several games – if Miami is even going to use him enough for that to matter. There are a lot of possible paths that lead to the "Victor Oladipo is not a good Fantasy option this season" outcome. Pay close attention, but for now the best course of action is to save your roster spots and waiver acquisitions.

Schedule notes

In Week 21, the league is evenly split between four-game weeks (16 teams) and three-game weeks (14 teams). That kind of balance minimizes the benefits of a four-game week or the harm of a three-game week, though the difference remains important.

Among the teams with four games, the following have no back-to-backs, adding a slight advantage: Hawks, Mavericks, Pistons, Rockets, Lakers, Knicks. Among those teams, the Pistons are the only one to play more than half of their schedule at home.

For daily lineups managers

The day-to-day schedule is where Week 21 gets interesting. Thursday's slate is tiny – just two games – while Wednesday boasts a beefy 12-game slate. Friday is also pretty busy, with 10 games. The rest of the week has between six and eight games per day.

Wednesday's schedule is so busy that most managers won't have room in their starting lineups to use a waiver pickup. That means that, for Fantasy purposes, managers should consider players active Wednesday as having one fewer game during the week. The only teams off Wednesday are the Nets, Cavaliers, Warriors, Pacers, Grizzlies, and 76ers. 

To take that analysis one step further, the Warriors are the only team with a four-game week and no game Wednesday. That makes them the only team with a true four-game week, at least as far as Fantasy managers are concerned. 

The four teams to play Thursday are the Warriors, Nets, 76ers, and Nuggets. Players on those teams get a boost. Though the Warriors have the best schedule, the Nuggets are second. Denver has four games, including games on both Wednesday and Thursday.

The Pacers' schedule is also noteworthy. They only have three games, but they are off both Wednesday and Friday, so managers should have no difficulty incorporating Pacers on the days they do play.

For managers in leagues with strict acquisition limits

The Warriors and Nuggets are the only teams to start the week with three games in four nights, and no teams end the week with a 3-in-4.

Though they don't have a 3-in-4, the imbalanced daily schedule makes the Pacers very attractive for managers in these league formats. They play on Tuesday, are off for Wednesday's and Friday's busy slates (and Thursday's almost-empty slate), and then end the week with a Saturday-Sunday back-to-back. 

Tons of teams have mid-week 3-in-4s. Tuesday-Friday: Clippers, Pelicans, Suns, Hornets, Magic. Wednesday-Saturday: Raptors, Timberwolves, Wizards, Spurs, Heat, Jazz, Nuggets.