Another week, another slew of injuries around the NBA. John Collins also joined Deandre Ayton and Wilson Chandler with a 25-game suspension for failing a drug test, so that's added a whole new layer of chaos to adding and dropping players in fantasy. Assuming there’s no stunner and this doesn’t get reduced, we won’t see Collins out there until just before Christmas. This truly came out of nowhere.
On the other hand, one thing that was more predictable than the ending of a rom com is that Kawhi Leonard is not expected to play in a back-to-back set for the foreseeable future. He reportedly had a tendinopathy issue from the Spurs days and it’s not something that is just going to go away. NBA spokesman Mike Dunn said Kawhi is “not a healthy player” when it comes to him sitting in back-to-back games, so fantasy owners who ignored the warning signs may have an annoying situation on their hands late in the fantasy season.
A lot can happen in a fantasy season and the majority of the time it’s something that we didn’t see coming whatsoever, so already accepting additional risk on draft day to take a load-management guy is something most fantasy owners should have avoided. Anyway, let's go over what happened since Monday. There's a lot.
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Injuries from the week
It's not an "injury" here, but John Collins will miss the next 23 games due to a suspension. Jabari Parker has been the clear winner in two games while it’s been a three-way split at center and a few extra wing minutes available. He shouldn't be available in your league.
Gary Harris sprained his ankle on Tuesday and could miss Friday’s game. The Nuggets are shady with their injuries, so we may not get a clear answer here. Malik Beasley and Monte Morris could get chances to get their seasons going after a terrible start while Torrey Craig and Michael Porter Jr. could see more time.
Mitchell Robinson had concussion-like symptoms after a Markieff Morris elbow to his face, and he is not going to play on Friday. He was playing through it at first, so perhaps it won't be too long -- you never know, though. Taj Gibson is on the radar as an add while Bobby Portis and Kevin Knox get bumps up.
Jeremy Lamb (ankle) missed Wednesday’s game, but it may have been because of the back-to-back factor. If not, we’ll see more Aaron Holiday, Justin Holiday and Doug McDermott. Aaron would be the guy to grab.
Avery Bradley (leg) missed Tuesday, but coach Frank Vogel said that Bradley has a good chance to be back for the weekend.
PJ Washington suffered a lower leg contusion in the thrilling win over the Pacers on Tuesday, but it sounds like he might be OK. He's probable for tomorrow.
The Warriors injuries aren’t really “new” ones, but Kevon Looney and D’Angelo Russell are missing more time than expected. Eric Paschall has been outstanding while Glenn Robinson III, Damion Lee and Alec Burks look like the winners on the perimeter. Ky Bowman has been effective, but his value would see a hit once D-Lo is back.
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In the previous two weeks, we did a little deeper dive on some bigger topics that are the main stories for the waiver wire, and just fly through the rest of the guys to consider. The first week focused on Devonte’ Graham and Kendrick Nunn off to hot starts, and last week covered all of the Warriors adds. This week, we’ll even it out a bit, and I had a few people ask to up the ownership percentage a bit from the 25%. We’ll go 35% for this edition to see how it goes.
Frank Ntilikina (3%) - He’s really stepped up since coach David Fizdale tried to make up excuses out of thin air to not play him against apparent foul-drawing machine D.J. Augustin. In the last three games since those ridiculous “foul concerns” comments, Ntilikina averaged 7.7 points, 2.0 boards, 3.0 dimes, 1.7 steals, 1.3 blocks and 1.0 treys on a 53/43/0 shooting line. The usage is never really going to be there, but Ntilikina always had the upside for some fantastic defensive stats. Elfrid Payton is not untouchable once he’s back and Dennis Smith Jr. hasn’t been able to click on his new team. Ntilikina had a lot of buzz for his improved jumper and it looks a lot better in this young season, so maybe the offense shows up more in the stat sheet. He’s severely under-owned.
Kent Bazemore (32%) - Rodney Hood had a minor leg injury on Monday and it sounds like he’s going to be fine. However, Hood’s bad luck on injuries over his career and how he usually takes a lot of time served as a reminder how valuable Bazemore could be if Hood did have to miss time. Bazemore is still getting 10 minutes of overlap with Hood and the two of them have been the SF/PF at times in the last two games to help offset the loss of Zach Collins (shoulder), and basically any injury to the rest of the rotation would get him even more minutes. He doesn’t have much upside now, but there are a lot of things that can go his way to get him more value.
Dillon Brooks (19%) - He has caught fire in the last three games, averaging 21.3 points, 5.0 boards, 1.3 dimes, 1.0 steals and 2.3 treys on a 48/39/93 shooting line. He’s been able to get into the paint more with 26 points in the paint over these three games and his usage rate in the last three games are all at least 2.8 percentage points higher than any of his first four games. Prior to his injury-plagued 2018-19, Brooks finished his 2017-18 season with a bang, averaging 20.8 points, 4.7 boards, 4.2 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.8 treys in his last six games of that season. His current run is unsustainable and the matchups against the Wolves, Rockets and Suns did help, but it’s kind of hard to leave him on the wire, especially with Grayson Allen (ankle) out and Tyus Jones still not getting enough overlap with Ja Morant.
De’Andre Hunter (24%) - He’s not in the “run, don’t walk” category like Jabari Parker, but it makes sense for him to pick it up. In the last two games, the Hawks have been using Hunter and Vince Carter as the SF/PF combo for 14 minutes and that’s part of the reason Hunter hit a career-high 36 minutes on Tuesday. The Hawks were blown out on Wednesday against the Bulls, but garbage time didn’t really affect his minutes with eight minutes in the fourth. Per 36, Hunter has also scored two more points with one more board, 0.7 dimes and 0.9 more treys without Collins compared to when he’s with him. He’s a rookie and he’ll have bad games, but increased opportunity in his minutes could get make him fantasy relevant.
Coby White (29%) - Even before the Otto Porter (foot) injury, coach Jim Boylen made some major changes to his rotation with smaller lineups, including going back to Lauri Markkanen at the five. Two games ago, Boylen didn’t use Markkanen at the five for the first time this season, but he opted for more Thaddeus Young next to Lauri to open up more minutes for the forwards and guards. White hit 30 minutes for just the second time in his career and he was still at 13 minutes in the first half before the Otto injury. If Otto is going to miss time, there will be more minutes for White, Tomas Satoransky and Kris Dunn. White will struggle at times because he’s a rookie, but he could have some bright spots along the way. By the way, hopefully you didn't panic on Sato.
Daniel Theis (7%) - Sure, the talk of “hockey subs” for the centers can make him fade often, but he should be owned more. While I’d love to put Robert Williams in this spot, Theis has played great and looks like a lock to stay in the first unit.
Glenn Robinson III (13%) - I don’t want to double dip too much, but GR3 has stepped up more than anticipated in the last week. He’s somehow getting shots in the offense now with a 17+ usage rate in 31+ minutes in three of his last five games. Prior to this stretch, he hit both of those benchmarks just twice in his entire career. This is uncharted territory for GR3, but he figures to lose some usage once D’Angelo is back. He’s also been great on the boards with 8.7 per game with 2.3 treys and 2.3 dimes over his last three. He’s the guy to grab over Alec Burks, Damion Lee and the others. Burks is definitely worth an add in competitive leagues after his big game on Wednesday, though (he doesn’t get his own paragraph to prevent double double-dipping).
Jarrett Culver (9%) - He looked terrific on offense in his first real chance on Wednesday, scoring 15 points with five rebounds, seven assists and two 3-pointers in 30 minutes. He was able to get into the lane at will, which makes sense next to floor-spacing guys like Karl-Anthony Towns and Robert Covington. Culver busted out in garbage time last weekend and it’s helped him keep his playing time at 24+ minutes in each of the last three. Perhaps he’s played well enough to take minutes from Shabazz Napier (hamstring) Treveon Graham and/or Jake Layman. It makes a lot of sense to add him at least until Napier and/or Jeff Teague (illness) can return.
Goga Bitadze (17%) - Another double dip, but Goga was excellent in the last week. The Pacers used Alize Johnson for the first time this season in a win last night, so maybe coach Nate McMillan is trying to figure out how his second unit can be bigger. Goga will likely take a big hit when Myles Turner comes back, but maybe he can carve out a role in the 18-20 minute range. Considering he can block shots well and add some scoring, he’s a solid hold to see how it plays out.
Kris Dunn (5%) - Much like Coby White, Dunn would benefit from Otto missing time. He’s been a star in the steals department, which should be enough to get him to close to top-100 value if Otto is out.
Hamidou Diallo (3%) - A double-dip guy from Week 1, Diallo has exceeded expectations and is even handling the ball more. He's been able to cut into the wing minutes and has seen more overlap with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander with 48 minutes in the last three games -- just 31 in the first four. A lot can happen to get him more burn and he's earning it.
Bruce Brown (16%) - Despite a triple-double as part of his strong play in Las Vegas back in July, Brown hasn’t exactly been great in massive opportunity. He’s been one of the worst players in the league in scoring off drives, he’s horrible at the rim, and he’s not a great 3-pointers guy. Sure, the minutes are there and they should be for as long as Derrick Rose (hamstring) and/or Tim Frazier (shoulder) are out, but he’ll likely be trending down even before Reggie Jackson (back) returns. Plus, Blake Griffin will cut into his usage, so there's just not much long-term upside.
Taj Gibson (1%) - Coach David Fizdale started Taj for the second half against Andre Drummond, so Gibson should be starting a bunch while Robinson is out with his concussion. He’s likely a higher-floor, lower-ceiling guy for the next week while the Knicks are missing their big man.
Bruno Fernando (1%) - The center minutes have been a disaster with the Hawks, but at least it’s a three-way split now with John Collins out of the mix. Coach Lloyd Pierce had said that Fernando could play some four, but it hasn’t happened yet. The most likely outcome to make Bruno relevant would be an Alex Len injury, which is almost like betting on red or black.
Raul Neto (1%) - Due to a Ben Simmons shoulder injury, Neto stepped up in a big way on Wednesday with 11 points, three rebounds, four assists, three steals and one 3-pointer in 30 minutes. If Ben does need to miss games, Neto could have some value in even 12-team formats.
Darius Bazley (1%) - He’s been really impressive in the last two, averaging 13.5 points, 5.5 boards, 1.0 steals, 0.5 blocks and 2.5 treys. He’s probably only going to be like a top-150 player at best in the short term, but there’s a lot to like down the line when the Thunder do sell off players.
Malik Beasley (4%) and Monte Morris (4%) - Beasley has been horrible after a lot of buzz in the summer, and Beasley stayed late after Tuesday’s game to work on his shot. If Gary Harris (ankle) misses time, maybe Beasley can bring back some of the magic he had from last year. Morris also had some overlap with Jamal Murray on Tuesday, so I’d add him over someone like Torrey Craig, too.
C.J. Miles (1%) - He got hot on Wednesday with 15 points in 23 minutes. Part of it was because of poor play from Rui Hachimura and Troy Brown, and because the Wizards were down big. I’d still prefer Brown by a lot, but maybe Miles moves into the starting lineup on Friday. If you missed it, coach Scott Brooks said Isaac Bonga is out of the starting lineup.
Aaron Holiday (1%) - There was some buzz on Holiday in camp, but he wasn’t getting enough overlap with Malcolm Brogdon to start the season. That changed on Tuesday with 10 minutes of overlap and then getting a start on Wednesday with Jeremy Lamb (ankle) out.
Michael Carter-Williams (0%) - He went off on Tuesday with 13 points, seven boards, two assists, two steals and three blocks in 21 minutes. Terrence Ross (knee) doesn’t sound like he’ll be out for long, so MCW would only be a speculative add.
Omari Spellman (1%) - He has outplayed Marquese Chriss by a lot and could start to push Willie Cauley-Stein for minutes. His minutes would likely drop once Draymond Green (finger) is ready because Eric Paschall has to get his, but keep an eye on the former Hawk.
Nicolas Claxton (0%) - A personal favorite of mine from Vegas, Claxton could get minutes if DeAndre Jordan needs to miss time, per coach Kenny Atkinson. If DAJ is out, Claxton could be a guy to use until the big man is back. Claxton can do a number of things on the stat sheet, so 20 minutes may be enough for him to have value in 16-team leagues.
Chandler Hutchison (0%) - He’s not exactly a per-minute guy, but he would be looking at heavy minutes if Otto is out.
Cody Martin (0%) - He played a stunning 33 minutes out of nowhere on Tuesday. Coach James Borrego went with a lot of Martin in their OT win on Tuesday, which came as a big surprise. In fact, Borrego used a lineup of Devonte' Graham, Terry Rozier, Martin, Miles Bridges and Bismack Biyombo for 17 minutes in that game after not using it at all prior to Tuesday. Martin could start to cut into an underperforming Dwayne Bacon sooner rather than later.