We’re baaacccccckkkkkkkkk!! Dan and I had some slightly important life events taking up most of our time this fall and early winter, but we’re back on the fantasy prowl!
NBA All-Star weekend is a wrap, and this leaves us with only a few weeks until it is fantasy basketball playoff time. Hopefully you’re all in good shape, getting ready to compete for bragging rights and cash – and we’re here to help you succeed. With the NBA off until Thursday, many fantasy owners also take a break. This provides a prime opportunity to have open season on the wire. Let’s take a look at some strategies and players to target as we head down the stretch.
The IR is Your Best Friend
With most leagues extending the Week 17 matchup for two weeks, you shouldn’t have to worry about player acquisition limits. Assuming your league roster has an IR spot, now is the time to pickup one or two players who will be returning from injury soon.
Jeremy Lin – PG, Brooklyn
Lin is expected to be ready for Friday’s game against the Nuggets, and it shouldn’t take him more than a game or two to reclaim the starting spot and play 25-30 minutes per game. Averaging 14 points, 1.3 threes, 1.4 steals and nearly six assists per game provides top-20 PG value at zero cost to you right now. He’s easily the top IR-eligible target right now.
Rodney Hood – SG, Utah
Hood has been an inconsistent scorer for the Jazz this year, tallying double-digit points in 26 games, and failing to reach that mark in 12. His injuries have also been frustrating for owners to withstand but when his game’s on, it’s on. He’s averaging 14 points, 2.1 threes, and 29 minutes per game when healthy, which is solid production from someone owned in just 34% of ESPN leagues. He’s listed as questionable for Thursday’s game, and is worth taking a chance on.
Enes Kanter – C, Oklahoma City
Picking up Kanter is definitely a gamble given that he will be re-evaluated at the end of February, but if he is able to return to action soon after, it’s perfect timing for the playoffs. Kanter gives a nice boost to points, rebounds and FG%, while also not killing FT%. If your team is focused on big men, go stash Kanter.
Healthy Waiver Targets
There are also plenty of healthy players to target through waivers. Below are all players owned in less than 45% of ESPN fantasy leagues that could be key contributors down the stretch.
Tim Hardaway Jr. – SG, Atlanta
The fact that Hardaway is only owned in 43% of leagues blows my mind. Since Cleveland acquired Kyle Korver in early January, Hardaway has been on a tear; in those 19 games, Hardaway has averaged 30 minutes, 15.6 points, 3.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.0 steals, and 2.0 threes!! There are only thirtenn players in the league averaging those numbers. THIRTEEN! So, you get the point, pickup Tim Hardaway.
Dario Saric – SF, PF, Philadelphia
The Croatian rookie has stepped up his game lately. He has now scored in double figures in 12 of his last 14 contests, averaging 15 points, 6.1 boards, and 1.2 threes in that span. With Ilyasova struggling mightily as of late and Covington being a historically streaky player, Saric looks to be a strong candidate for putting up big numbers to close out the year.
TJ McConnell – PG, Philadelphia
If you’re looking for steals and assists, look no further than TJ. Yes, his lack of scoring jumps out on paper, but I guarantee there isn’t a healthy player on your waiver wire averaging 7.8 assists and 1.8 steals over the last month. And I would be remiss not to mention his stellar shooting percentages – 52% and 86% from the floor and free throw line, respectively. Owned in just 36% of leagues, you have a good chance of adding him to your squad right now.
Al-Farouq Aminu– SF, PF, Portland
After a breakout first season with Portland last year, Aminu entered this year with high expectations. Injuries and some poor performances landed him on the wire in most leagues, but he could be a key addition to your roster in the playoffs. Aminu has stepped up lately, recording at least 12 points and five rebounds in four of the last five games. Additionally, he’s averaged 2.8 threes in those games. With Turner essentially sidelined for the year and Mason Plumlee traded to Denver, a lot of minutes have opened up for Aminu. Thirty-nine minutes, 14 points, 15 rebounds, and four three-pointers made in his last game should be enough to draw interest from fantasy owners.
Photo Credit: Keith Allison