By Alex Rikleen, RotoWire
Special to Yahoo Sports
It’s always important to be active on the waiver wire. Even when the top prospects don’t look that great, some of your previous adds may have cooled off.
In that case, a waiver move could still improve your team, even if the player you’re adding doesn’t look as good now as the previous pickup did when he was acquired. Furthermore, constant action and vigilance can allow managers to take strategic advantage of the schedule.
I start this Week 14 article with that reminder because, quite frankly, this might be the least inspiring group on the waiver wire so far this season. The wire ebbs and flows, and this week is definitely whichever one of “ebbs” or “flows” means negatively to you, because it looks pretty rough out there.
But that’s no excuse for inactivity. There is still value to be gained, and transactions to be made. Some previous adds — Terry Rozier and Chandler Hutchison were frequent pickups last week (and rightly so) — absolutely need to be dropped.
Fortunately, while the top options aren’t that exciting, at least there are a lot of options worthy of the “other recommendations” category. So do the best you can out there, and tune in next week.
Some very important scheduling notes this week
The Knicks and Wizards play Thursday in London, and due to the overseas trip, it is their only game of the week. The Hawks and Mavericks each only play two games. Only eight teams — the Celtics, Hornets, Pistons, Pacers, Clippers, Grizzlies, Suns, and Spurs — play four times. The remaining 18 teams play three games.
The one-game teams have almost no value as waiver pickups, especially in weekly lineups leagues. It’s almost impossible to use a player who plays only one game in a weekly fantasy lineup — even Bradley Beal probably needs to be benched there.
On the flip side, in a week when almost everyone plays three games or fewer (and some play a lot fewer) the advantage gained by a four-game week is much bigger than usual. Regardless of whether you play with weekly or daily lineups, you should target those eight teams listed above.
This article will focus on players available in at least 50 percent of leagues. Players are listed in the order I’d recommend adding them.
DeMarre Carroll, Nets (41 percent rostered)
Next week’s schedule: BOS, at HOU, at ORL
Insert the Robin-Williams-in-Jumanji “WHAT YEAR IS IT?” meme. No, this article isn’t from 2013, though the inclusion of Carroll and Mahinmi, below, might imply otherwise.
Carroll is back on the fantasy landscape, and with a vengeance. He’s averaging 17.3 points, 5.0 rebounds and 2.7 threes over his last seven games. Those points and threes would blow away his previous seasons if he can sustain it. Fueled by the absence of Allen Crabbe (knee) and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (groin), Carroll has become a force while taking on some new responsibilities.
Carroll is attempting 5.6 threes per game with Crabbe out, a large jump from the 3.8 per game he was hoisting when Crabbe was active. Both injured players could return soon — potentially by the end of next week — and there is nothing in Carroll’s career to imply that he can sustain his recent shooting (54% from the field, 48% from three).
That said, the Nets are not going to limit Carroll as long as he keeps playing like this, no matter who is available. It’s been a while, but Carroll has put together several months’ worth of top-50 fantasy value before, and he’s only 31. In a week where there isn’t much available, why not take a chance that he can keep this rolling?
Kevin Huerter, Hawks (13 percent rostered)
Next week’s schedule: OKC, BOS
The Hawks only play twice this week, but Heurter is potentially a long-term pickup, so the short schedule can be overlooked. At the moment, the best thing the rookie first-round pick has going for him is minutes, averaging 38.8 over his last five while Kent Bazemore (ankle) and Taurean Prince have been out.
Huerter entered the starting lineup back in November, and after a couple weeks of that his workload increased. During the last 10 games before the Bazemore injury, Huerter was up to 32.0 minutes per game.
With the Hawks effectively locked in as one of the NBA’s five worst teams, they’re more likely to tank than to take minutes away from a potentially key piece of their future, which is why the pending return of both Bazemore and Prince is not particularly concerning. Huerter has scored in double-digits in five straight, and he offers some value as an OK-not-great-but-not-bad contributor in all categories.
Richaun Holmes, Suns (24 percent rostered)
Next week’s schedule: at IND, at TOR, at CHI, at MIN
Let’s take a quick trip back to 2017. Just after the All-Star break, when the 76ers were in their final months of Process-era tanking, Holmes saw a rapid increase in minutes. After the All-Star break, Holmes was a top-40 fantasy producer, averaging 13.6 points, 6.9 rebounds, 1.2 blocks and 1.0 steals in just 26.9 minutes per game. We’ve seen him be highly effective before, even in limited minutes.
Well, he’s up to his old tricks again. And despite playing only 19.6 minutes over his last five games, he’s actually snuck into the fantasy top-20 for that stretch. Yes, that’s not a typo — the top 20.
Suns beat reporters are getting increasingly excited about the backup center, who seems to have firmly secured his spot in the rotation. There’s always a risk when starting a player who averages so few minutes, but Holmes has already proven he can contribute regardless of the size of his workload.
Ian Mahinmi, Wizards (9 percent rostered)
Next week’s schedule: NYK (in London)
This feels like a deep cut. Half-a-decade ago, when Mahinmi backed up Roy Hibbert on the Pacers, he was a frequent streaming pickup any time Hibbert missed a game. Since then, however, Mahinmi has been mostly irrelevant to fantasy, posting double-digits in either points or rebounds only 21 times over the last three seasons. But two of those 21 have come in the past week, with Mahinmi seeing a big boost in minutes following the injuries to Markieff Morris (neck) and Dwight Howard (back).
Since the Morris injury, the more recent of the two, Mahinmi is averaging 19.8 minutes, and that’s up to 22.3 over the last three games. He’s also averaging 2.7 steals and 1.3 blocks over those last three — totally unsustainable numbers, but a reminder that he’s a solid fantasy defender.
Due to the Wizards’ schedule, if you play in a daily lineups league you should wait until mid-week to pick up Mahinmi. In most weeks, Mahinmi’s production and poor schedule probably wouldn’t be enough to warrant a full blurb (he’d be relegated to the “other recommendations” section) but there aren’t many good options this week. Howard may return at the end of the month, and Morris is expected to remain out through the All-Star break.
Other recommendations: Austin Rivers, Rockets (22 percent rostered); Bam Adebayo, Heat (31 percent rostered); Josh Jackson, Suns (38 percent rostered); Marcus Smart, Celtics (42 percent rostered); Bryn Forbes, Spurs (35 percent rostered); Terrence Ross, Magic (32 percent rostered); Reggie Bullock, Pistons (23 percent rostered); Gerald Green, Rockets (13 percent rostered); Alec Burks, Cavaliers (13 percent rostered); Patty Mills, Spurs (12 percent rostered); Malik Beasley, Nuggets (16 percent rostered)
One final note: Harry Giles (Kings, 7 percent rostered) finally had a breakout game Thursday, and it makes his previous two games look better in context. Over the three games, he’s averaging 2.0 assists, 2.0 steals and 1.7 blocks.
He’s an immediate add in very deep leagues, and his long-term ceiling is still that of a future All-Star, but Thursday’s 23 minutes also set a season high. He’ll need a lot more than and on a consistent basis that to become standard-league-relevant.