Fantasy Basketball 2013-14: In The Bonus – Waiver Targets Week 9 – New Year’s Resolution
Happy holidays and a happy new year to everyone. In reaching 2014, many fantasy leagues are approaching the midway point of the fantasy regular season. There’s still a lot of time to gain ground if you’ve fallen a bit behind the pack, and there are still a lot of moves to make between now and the playoffs. There will be injuries, trades and more paving the way for players not currently on our radars to take the main stage and become big factors on fantasy teams. If you like your team but it’s not quite producing the way you had hoped, don’t overreact and make desperation cuts or trades just yet. Instead, let’s make some New Year’s resolutions.
Most people set New Year’s resolutions that are things they should already be doing, such as exercising or not wasting money on needless things. Our fantasy resolution involves the things we should already be doing, and constitutes the basics of GM’ing. We all start on the ground floor for fantasy success, and sadly a big problem amongst your standard leagues is simply that owners become inactive. If you really want the best shot at winning, staying active on the waiver wire and setting your lineup for every single day is key. Personally, every Monday morning I get online and set my lineups in every league for the entire week. This way, my worst case scenario is if I don’t have a chance to make a stream addition or check my team out, I still at least have my base lineup set. There’s no worse feeling than checking your roster after the day’s games have started and seeing empty spots in your starting roster and guys putting up stats on your bench. I set the lineups from Monday to Monday, because Monday is usually the day people forget to check in and set their lineups. Setting it for the next Monday saves you from that common mishap.
The next part of our resolution is keeping up with your team and working the wire. I don’t just say that because I’m a waiver wire writer either. Always making additions—whether you’re streaming the last spot on your team or if you’re just always looking to upgrade your team—is vital when it comes to winning a championship. I always preach against staying content and instead always looking to upgrade your team via add or trade. Simply sitting still and letting other teams get those upgrades will definitely catch up with you down the road. The deeper the league the more likely streaming benefits your team the best, because as seen in my Week 4 Column, having stats rolling in all seven days of the week often times beats the stats that your bottom player compiles in his three to four games a week.
Now that we all have made those simple things part of our fantasy new year resolutions, let’s look over this week’s waiver targets:
Ersan Ilyasova (owned in 42.0% of leagues) – Nobody seems to enjoy getting past the holidays and into the new year more than Ersan does every season. If you look at his early season numbers over the past few years, Ersan is just a very slow starter. As the year goes on, he trends upward every month the season goes on. He’s found himself drop worthy in standard leagues in the first halves of the fantasy season, only to rebound and be 100% owned and a big asset the final few months of the season. This year is a little different though, as John Henson has really stepped up to the plate and Milwaukee has much stronger wing options than they have in previous years. Still, Ersan’s track record in the latter part of the season shows he should be owned in at least 12-team formats and watched very closely in all other leagues over the next month. If he can get to the 14.5 points, 7.6 rebounds, 1.2 steals and 1.5 threes that he averaged last January and February, he’s a player that’ll be able to make a big difference on a team down the stretch of the season.
Andray Blatche (47.0%) – With the recent news of Brook Lopez being ruled out for the rest of this season, I look for Blatche to be the immediate primary benefactor. He’s going to miss a few games (personal reasons) and maybe that gets him dropped in a few more leagues, to your benefit. Blatche has been phenomenal when B-Lo has missed time this season, and in four starts at center this season, he has averaged 29.5 minutes, 16.8 points, 6.3 rebounds, one block and 1.5 steals with great percentages as well. That’s “must-own” status right there. Will he be that good the rest of the way? Maybe not, but he’ll still be worth owning in all formats in my opinion. Even off the bench thus far, he’s been worthy of being owned in deeper leagues, but now that he’s likely starting, he shouldn’t be floating around anywhere.
Martell Webster (47.1%) – Not much to explain here: when Martell is getting minutes—which he is right now—he is a points and trey specialist with good percentages. He should be owned in most 12-teamers and is a nice stream play in shallower leagues.
D.J. Augustine (22.8%) – Count me in with the majority that completely wrote off DJ Augustine, but also count me in amongst the current non-believers. That said, DJA does have to be discussed this week due to a lack of standout performers and the fact that he’s actually been posting good numbers. Kirk Hinrich is easing his way back into the Bulls’ rotation and picked up the start on Christmas Day, but DJ still got the majority of the minutes and had a fair night statistically. In his last five games, he has averaged 13.6 points, 7.4 dimes, 1.6 steals and 2.6 trey balls. If he can continue to put up solid efforts—even with 5-10 fewer minutes a night due to Hinrich—he could be worth a look in at least 12-team leagues.
Xavier Henry (13.0%) – I talked about Xavier as a guy I really liked to step into the starting PG role after all the injuries that piled up in Lakerland, including Kobe’s. I noted that I didn’t think he’d do a whole lot in terms of assists because being a look-to-dish player has just never been his game/role. He also hasn’t picked up his three-point shooting like I had hoped would happen after Kobe was knocked out. Farmar is back starting at PG now, but Henry is still getting his share of minutes and delivering solid outings. He’s not going to be standout in any spots but he will give you worthy points, steals and enough free throws made to boost your FT%. He should be owned in most 12-and-up leagues.
Mirza Teletovic (2.4%) – Mirza came to the Nets last year with the reputation of being a three-point marksman with solid footwork and a fair low-post game. He came over and didn’t show much of that at all besides a decent game here and there. This season he’s gotten better minutes, especially with all the nagging injuries that have plagued the Nets this season, including that of Andrei Kirilenko, who still has no set timetable for a return. Recently, Mirza has come into his own and has been putting up much more respectable number. More importantly, he is finally gaining what could be his first taste of fantasy relevance. With Brook Lopez sidelined for the remainder of the season, Mirza’s minutes should actually stay consistent the rest of the way, so long as he doesn’t ruin the opportunity. Mirza should be snatched up in most 12-teamers and absolutely in any leagues deeper than that. His recent points and block per game are fine, but he’s been super-elite from deep and that’s his money maker.
J.J. Barea (0.8%) – Don’t get me wrong, Barea is not a guy you should be running to add right now, but he needed to be mentioned here. He’s not even in the stratosphere of Ricky Rubio‘s passing and steals but he’s a much better scoring option at the point for Minnesota. Barea—or as I prefer to call him “Ju-Ju-Be”—does a lot with his limited time on the court. He’s a spark plug on offense, and he’s reliable for double-digit points, a handful of assists and close to two treys a game. Deeper formats should likely own him now, and those in shallower leagues need to keep him in mind for streaming nights when needing threes. Also, if anything were to happen to Rubio injury-wise, Ju-Ju-Be would be a must add in all formats as he’d pour in the stats.