Tanking NBA teams could be key to your Fantasy Basketball title hopes

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<a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nba/teams/nyk/" data-ylk="slk:New York Knicks">New York Knicks</a> guard <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nba/players/5160/" data-ylk="slk:Trey Burke">Trey Burke</a> is among the intriguing fantasy adds if you’re looking for help in a particular category. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
New York Knicks guard Trey Burke is among the intriguing fantasy adds if you’re looking for help in a particular category. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Alex Rikleen, RotoWire
Special to Yahoo Sports

The Fantasy trade deadline has now passed in most leagues, meaning waiver wire additions are the only avenue remaining to improve your team.

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It’s also the point in the season where this column becomes more important than a more generalized who do I add? column. We’re four-and-a-half months into a six-month fantasy season. We know what our team is and is not at this point. In most cases, adding the “best overall” player is not going to be the same as adding the player who is the best fit for your team.

This is especially true in roto leagues, but it applies to head-to-head, as well. In roto leagues, we need to focus on the categories in which we can catch the most opponents. In head-to-head leagues, we need to give up on our worst categories, and strengthen ourselves in those where we are competitive but lack a decisive advantage. For the next month, good strategy is more important than good players (that balance often swings backwards over the final two weeks of the season).

In general, we’ll focus on players available in at least 50% of Yahoo! leagues.

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Trey Burke, Knicks (25% owned)

Burke scored at least 18 points in at least 25 minutes in each of the Knicks’ first three games after the All-Star break. I remain a Burke skeptic – I think Emmanuel Mudiay is a better overall fantasy add, and I fear Mudiay and Frank Ntilikina will limit Burke’s continued impact. Those three games have been his three highest-scoring all season. That’s extreme enough to warrant caution, but also strong enough to warrant adding. If he can keep even just 75 percent of this rate over the rest of the season, he’ll be a productive addition.

Other suggestions: Bojan Bogdanovic, Pacers; Josh Jackson, Suns; Taurean Prince, Hawks; Tyler Johnson, Heat; Andrew Harrison, Grizzlies; Allen Crabbe, Nets


D.J. Augustin, Magic (25% owned)

Augustin was one of the most popular adds following the trade deadline, and he’s certainly disappointed compared to some of those initial expectations. That said, he has settled in as the Magic’s starting point guard, averaging nearly 30 minutes per game since they traded away Elfrid Payton. And though the overall production has slightly underwhelmed, he’s been a great source of threes and assists. He has at least two threes in each of his last eight games, and he’s averaging 5.5 assists in his last 11 contests.

Other suggestions: Allen Crabbe, Nets; Taurean Prince, Hawks; J.J. Barea, Mavericks; Marcus Morris, Celtics; Bojan Bogdanovic, Pacers; Reggie Bullock, Pistons; Doug McDermott, Mavericks


JaMychal Green, Grizzlies (40% owned)

It took a while, but Green is finally delivering on some of his pre-season hype. During the preseason, some analysts had him inside their top-90, and his “Expert Consensus Rating” of Fantasy Pros was inside the top 100. Before the All-Star break, he was effectively un-ownable, with an overall ranking outside the top 170.

Whatever Green did over the All-Star break, it worked. He’s double-doubled in every game since, averaging 13.7 points and 12.0 rebounds. He’s seeing a few more minutes per game, but that difference alone does not account for his increased production. What Green’s doing right now is often the recipe for some of the most impactful late-season waiver wire additions:

– Enough talent to have generated early enthusiasm

– Young player on a bad team

– Production increase accompanied by more minutes

– Production increase exceeds what would be expected by the minutes increase alone, but not by so much as to appear unsustainable

Green has the potential to be one of the best waiver wire pickups over the final two months of the season.

Jarrett Allen, listed below, has similarly lofty potential, but he’s too widely owned to be featured in this space.

Other suggestions: Jarrett Allen, Nets; David Nwaba, Bulls; Nemanja Bjelica, Timberwolves; Dwight Powell, Mavericks


Andrew Harrison, Grizzlies (13% owned)

Harrison (wrist) missed the last two games, but the early indication is that it is a short-term injury. Harrison has been starting at point guard with Tyreke Evans (ribs) out, ahead of Mario Chalmers. With an increased role, he’s averaging 15.0 points and 5.5 assists since the All-Star break. Evans will return at some point, possibly soon, but it’s not like this Grizzlies squad is brimming over with talent. Even when Evans is fully healthy, Harrison is likely to maintain a significant role down the stretch.

Other suggestions: J.J. Barea, Mavericks; Tomas Satoransky, Wizards; D.J. Augustin, Magic


David Nwaba, Bulls (28% owned)

It’s unlikely that Nwaba will be able to maintain the 2.7 steals per game he’s averaged over the past three games. That said, the newly-minted starter is averaging 32.1 minutes per game since the All-Star break, and 1.3 steals per-36 minutes this season. Even assuming a slower pace, his promotion to the starting lineup is likely to enable Nwaba to provide a steady source of steals throughout the remainder of the season. The fact that he’s averaging 7.3 rebounds as a guard since the break is also highly enticing.

Other suggestions: Nemanja Bjelica, Timberwolves; Fred VanVleet, Raptors; Kyle Anderson, Spurs


Alex Len, Suns (20% owned)

I am not an Alex Len fan. I’m not convinced he is good at basketball. With that said, Alex Len should be universally owned.

The blocks market is a disaster. It’s the worst it’s been in years. It’s so bad that it should change the way we draft next season, though we can deal with that in future articles. For now, that extreme scarcity means that grabbing Len can effectively eliminate the possibility of an opponent using the wire to bolster their blocks. Even if you don’t particularly need blocks, someone in your league does.

There just aren’t many players averaging at least one block per game since the All-Star break, available enough to qualify for this article, and who do enough elsewhere to justify owning. The other suggestions below all have several major flaws in their statistical profiles – they’ll get some blocks, but they carry more risks.

Note: This is written under the assumption that Jarrett Allen is already owned. He’s actually good at basketball, a better shot-blocker, and better at other stuff, too. If he’s still available, get him instead.

Other suggestions: Jonathan Isaac, Magic; Jakob Poeltl, Raptors; John Henson, Bucks

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