Get to the Points: Early season waiver strategy advice

Yahoo Fantasy Basketball analyst Dan Titus and contributor Justin Henry decide how aggressive fantasy managers should be on waivers after four weeks of the NBA season

Video Transcript


DAN TITUS: Now that we're in week 4, things are kind of settling in, injuries are happening, but I want to talk about some early season strategies that you're kind of deploying to be successful. We're in a league together, both in the top 4 right now. Not that, that's like a flex or anything like that, but it's a pretty competitive league, you know what I'm saying?

So we know what we're doing. But I kind of want to know, what's your strategy in terms of if there's a guy on waivers, how aggressively are you going after him? Are you spending all your FAB? What's your thought process into like making your pickups?

JUSTIN HENRY: Early season, especially when it comes to FAB, and this is something I've translated from fantasy football and fantasy hoop as well, I try not to spend my FAB early. I hold it on, because as the season goes on, it becomes exponentially more valuable. So early on, I think there's a temptation. You see a player breaking out early and you want to spend 50% of your FAB on them to make sure you get it.

A lot of those players tend to die down and it's easy to give up on their studs or see a rookie that's doing well. But there's a tendency for things in the NBA to even out as the season goes on. And you might have some injuries or more pressing needs later on. So I'm very cautious of using FAB early. I will use a waiver priority very early, though, if needed.

DAN TITUS: Yeah, I think you brought up a good point last week about panicking and fantasy players tend to panic really early on when people aren't showing early season success. And I think that there's a healthy balance of, when do you spend the bag and when do you not? So recently, I just paid over $25 for Bennedict Mathurin. I still feel like that's going to work out for me, but that just took out a 1/4 of my budget.

So you got to factor in, this is a long game here. So you got to kind of play it depending upon how aggressive your league is. So if you see people spending over 20 for certain guys, you know what the expectation is. But if people are spending 5, 6, here and there, you can put in kind of a low-bid offer and potentially still get a good guy.

One of the things I would recommend for people to check out for free is Hashtag Basketball. So you can look at the schedule grid. So when you do that, if you can get an advanced look at everybody that's going to be playing throughout the week, you can kind of target those lighter slates, because you're not going to be able to play some of those bench guys on the 11 game slates, 12 games, which tend to be Monday, Wednesday, Friday, the nationally televised type games. So use that tool to find out where you can kind of pinpoint where you can actually get some extra games, especially in daily leagues, some extra games to get a leg up on your opponent.

JUSTIN HENRY: And Dan, that tool has been a consistent tool I've used for fantasy playoffs, especially. Because especially around the trade deadline, or when you're making trades, if you can kind of look ahead to fantasy playoffs and see who has those 4-game weeks, potentially even a 5-game week, right? Or when you want to avoid those 2-game weeks in the fantasy championship week, those are the players that I'm looking to move around and I'll use that tool as well. But what about you, Dan?

I want to talk about this too. What are some things you're looking for? You mentioned Bennedict Mathurin as a player you wanted to spend early on.

What are some traits of players that you're looking to pick up early? Because there's always the hot name or the players can put in and out of your lineup. But if you're going to go for the gusto, what are you looking for early on in the season?

DAN TITUS: Yeah. I think really, it boils down to usage, the role, and then also coach speak. And I try not to play into too many narratives, but I think it's important to understand where someone's place is in that rotation, right? Like, are they a starter?

Are they a guy that's at least going to be 6 to 7th man? What kind of production can you get out of these guys? And then, obviously, you look at the data to see if it supports your theory or your narrative. And so like Bennedict Mathurin is a guy that I was like, well, to me, it makes sense because, number 1, he's young.

Number 2, they don't want to pay Buddy Hield. So they've already inserted him over Buddy Heild. So I think he's prioritized. Yeah, he's going through a little shooting rut right now, but this Pacers team is playing with extreme pace.

And that's one of the things I also look for is, who's getting more possessions per game? So that you can get into those high potent offenses to get more fantasy production out of. So a couple of various factors, but what do you kind of evaluate?

JUSTIN HENRY: Yeah. I'm definitely looking at starters, like new starters for teams that maybe we undervalued. So you look to a guy like Kelly Oubre in Philly now, and obviously, prayers up to Kelly Oubre. Hopefully everything is good after the accident with him. But you look to a guy like Kelly Oubre who's increased his production when James Harden was out of the lineup and he earned a new role on that team just based on his early season production.

So shout out to you if you were able to pick him up. But that's one of the things I'm looking for, new roles. And if you're getting the minutes, if you're getting the usage, and the coaches tend to trust you in their systems, it makes it easier for me to trust you on my fantasy team if I see you getting 25, 30 minutes a game.