By Alex Rikleen, RotoWire
Special to Yahoo Sports
The injuries just keep on coming.
Specifically, the Raptors’ injuries.
Sure, other teams are also getting hit, but Toronto’s M.A.S.H. unit is starting to look like the early season Pacers and Pelicans. Over the last 72 hours, The North lost Pascal Siakam (top-25 in 9-cat so far this season; 36.7 minutes per game), Norman Powell (top 85; 28.9 min/g), and Marc Gasol (top 120; 28.2 min/g).
But the injury bug hasn’t just infested Canada. Over the last week, we also lost Luka Doncic (ankle), Blake Griffin (knee), Eric Bledsoe (leg), Gordon Hayward (foot), Deandre Ayton (ankle), and Devin Booker (arm). Some of those players appear on track to return this weekend — Griffin, Hayward, and Booker have the best outlooks — but it’s been a rough week for the league nonetheless.
Injuries are never good, but the current multitude does do a lot to improve this week’s crop of waiver prospects. If you’re looking for short-term production, this is one of the deepest pools we’ve had all season. Though there are fewer long-term adds, there are still many players available who could improve most lineups.
The players below are listed in the order I’d recommend adding them.
As always, this article will focus on players available in at least 50 percent of leagues.
Donte DiVincenzo, Bucks (28 percent rostered)
Next week’s schedule: at Phi, at Atl, Orl
DiVincenzo is the biggest beneficiary of the Bledsoe injury, and he’s an easy choice for the top add this week. George Hill (19 percent rostered) also benefits, but he’s down below in the “other recommendations” list. Bledsoe is expected to miss at least another week, so DiVincenzo may not last long on your roster, but he’ll be worth it for as long as it lasts.
Points chasers may see his back-to-back five-point games and get dissuaded, but that’s foolish and shortsighted thinking. Bledsoe has been out for three games. DiVincenzo ranks in the top 30 in 9-cat over the last three games, boosted by the strength of 7.0 rebounds, 6.3 assists, and 2.7 steals. And while some low-scorer values don’t translate well for fantasy points leagues, all three games rank in the top-11 of DiVincenzo’s 26 appearances this season. He’s a must-add, despite the looming expiration date.
Tim Hardaway (38 percent), Jalen Brunson (37 percent), Delon Wright (46 percent), Seth Curry (16 percent); Dallas Mavericks
Next week’s schedule: SA, at GS, at LAL
Doncic sprained his ankle one week ago and was initially given a timeline of “a couple weeks” with a “moderate” sprain. The Mavericks are remaining optimistic, but I’m expecting at least another week on the sidelines, and probably more. As long as he’s out, all four of these are attractive fantasy options. Hardaway and Curry have picked up a lot of Doncic’s scoring responsibilities, while Brunson has been a passing machine.
Doncic has effectively missed three games (he was injured two minutes into one, and then was sidelined for two), and in that time, Brunson is averaging 10.0 assists per game, along with quality scoring, rebounding, and three-point shooting. Wright is dealing with a finger injury of his own, which has kept him limited through the last three games, making him the least appealing of the bunch — by the time we’re confident that Wright is back to 100%, Doncic might be back in the lineup.
Danuel House, Houston Rockets (26%)
Next week’s schedule: at Sac, at GS, Bkn, at NO
House is in the throes of a slump. Over the last two weeks, his season-long rank has fallen from the top 60 to just outside the top 100. It’s painful, but I’m not deterred, and I still think he’s someone who should be rostered for the rest of the season. His workload is completely stable — even through this slump, he’s averaging 31.4 minutes per game — and he contributes in almost every category. He does minor harm in scoring and his shooting numbers, but that damage is limited, and he’s a great source of threes and steals who also contributes in rebounds, assists, and blocks.
Isaiah Thomas, Washington Wizards (48%)
Next week’s schedule: at NY, at Det, NY
Thomas has returned from his calf injury and picked up right where he left off. He’s still an injury risk, and he can only be counted on for points, threes, and a smattering of assists, but he does enough in each category to warrant a long-term spot on your roster. In his two games since returning, he’s averaging 19.5 points, 4.0 threes, and 3.5 assists.
Chris Boucher (18%), Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (9%), Terence Davis (1%); Toronto Raptors
Next week’s schedule: at Ind, Bos, at Bos, Okc
This was an awful week for the Raptors, and they’ll need Siakam, Gasol, and Powell to recover quickly if they want to stay in the race for home-court advantage in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Unfortunately for our purposes, while the injuries open up a ton of minutes in the rotation (93.8 minutes per night!), the two biggest beneficiaries are probably Serge Ibaka (75%) and OG Anunoby (69%), both of whom are already widely rostered — though it’s still worth checking on those two, as they are available in 1-in-4 leagues.
Boucher probably has the most upside of these three, but he’s failed to produce consistently even when given extra opportunities. His best stretch came while Ibaka was out in November when he posted at least 11 points and eight rebounds in four out of five games. But Ibaka missed 10 games, and Boucher was a net negative during most of that window. They’ll need to give him extra run while Siakam and Gasol are out, and he’s definitely had his good games, but there is a very real chance Boucher doesn’t produce.
Hollis-Jefferson has also worked his way into the big-wing rotation, but he’s not a great fantasy producer even under the best circumstances. Both Boucher and Hollis-Jefferson are no-hesitation adds in 16-team leagues and are worth adding for their upside in shallower settings — just go in with realistic expectations.
The story with Davis is similar. He hasn’t done anything yet that would give us confidence in him as a fantasy producer, but he’s about to inherit a massive opportunity. Davis has had a few moments this season that imply a solid future, and the undrafted rookie has earned a consistent role in the Raptors’ tight rotation. He also has way more fantasy upside than the other members of this backcourt who might see their minutes rise following Powell’s injury. Again, he’s worth picking up for the potential, just don’t drop anyone good for him.
Other recommendations: George Hill, Bucks (19 percent rostered); Kevin Huerter, Hawks (42 percent rostered); Dillon Brooks, Grizzlies (37 percent rostered); Nerlens Noel, Thunder (39 percent rostered); Enes Kanter, Celtics (43 percent rostered); Frank Kaminsky, Suns (22 percent rostered); Duncan Robinson, Heat (40 percent rostered); D.J. Augustin, Magic (29 percent rostered); Derrick Jones Jr., Heat (12 percent rostered); Willie Cauley-Stein, Warriors (50 percent rostered); Nemanja Bjelica, Kings (40 percent rostered); Marquese Chriss, Warriors (9 percent rostered); Kris Dunn, Bulls (24 percent rostered); Matisse Thybulle, 76ers (11 percent rostered)