By Alex Rikleen, RotoWire
Special to Yahoo Sports
As the new year finally dawns, it’s time once again to dive into the fantasy waiver wire.
With the season now 10 days old, we’ve dealt with enough games to make some (relatively) safe conclusions about a lot of players. It’s time to cut bait on some late-round gambles like Jeff Teague, and Josh Jackson (yes, that Josh Jackson) looks to be firmly back on the fantasy landscape.
It’s an important time for waiver pickups — most of the best adds of the season will be securely on rosters by the end of the next week or so. That said, it’s still way too early to drop your early- or mid-round picks. Don’t even think about cutting Jusuf Nurkic or Robert Covington.
Before I get into this week’s adds, I want to tell a quick cautionary tale:
Despite his 78th ADP, Brook Lopez got off to an ugly start in 2019-20. After two weeks, he was ranked outside the top 100. Another rough week landed him on many waiver wires. The shot-blocking specialist then ripped off 22 blocks in six games and finished the season with a rank back in the mid-60s.
Without further ado, let’s get to it.
The players below are listed in the order I’d recommend adding them.
This article will focus on players available in at least 50 percent of leagues. That said, especially this early in the season, there are a lot of very valuable players who are widely available but miss that cut-off. I won’t go into depth on those guys, but I’ll include them below in the appropriate order.
Some under-rostered names who might be available in your league:
Josh Richardson, Mavericks (70% rostered); Keldon Johnson, Spurs (57% rostered); Darius Bazley, Thunder (60% rostered); Joe Harris, Nets (56% rostered); Luguentz Dort, Thunder (51% rostered); Kyle Anderson, Grizzlies (64% rostered)
Tyrese Haliburton, Kings (49% rostered)
Haliburton barely squeaks in under the threshold and, frankly, I’m surprised he’s here at all. He’s averaging 27.0 minutes per game, and there’s room for growth there with Cory Joseph still hogging 23.0 minutes. If you’ve watched any Kings games at all this season, it’s clear that Haliburton is the superior option of the two, and that the rookie is already ready for a bigger load. He put up a bit of a dud in his second game, but he’s averaging 13.3 points, 5.3 assists, and 2.7 threes in his other three outings. His Rookie of the Year odds now have him in fourth, behind only this year’s top three picks, and I would expect those odds to tighten further over the next month. Haliburton is a must-roster in all leagues.
De’Andre Hunter, Hawks (40% rostered)
Zach Lowe put it best in his preseason podcast discussing the Hawks: Because of their offseason additions, two of their three young wings are going to have to take a step back in playing time. After four games, it seems pretty clear that Hunter is the one who held onto the big role. He’s averaging 31.8 minutes and has played at least 32 minutes in each of their last three games. Meanwhile, Kevin Huerter is only playing 25.5 minutes off the bench. Cam Reddish is still starting over Bogdan Bogdanovic, but Bogdanovic has a slight edge in minutes and production. If we knew during the offseason that Hunter would start and play more than 31 minutes per game, then his ADP would have been around 100 and he would not be available now. The fantasy community has been slow to adjust to this knowledge — take advantage while you can.
Josh Jackson, Pistons (36% rostered)
Trust me, I’m as surprised as you are.
I’m also treading with caution — these stats attached to a different name might be this week’s top recommended add. But we have to acknowledge what’s happening in Detroit: Jackson is averaging 17.3 points, 6.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.8 “stocks” (steals + blocks), and 1.5 threes. And that’s including a dud second game where he played only 19 minutes. He’s never shot better than 44% for a season, and he’s running hot at 51% right now, so he’ll inevitably cool off some. But it’s very possible he sticks around as a borderline top-100 guy on this weirdo Pistons’ squad.
Bismack Biyombo, Hornets (12% rostered)
Biyombo is boring, but as long as Cody Zeller (hand) is out — at least three more weeks — he’s a reliable source of rebounds and blocks. He’s averaging 7.0 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in 30.0 minutes since Zeller’s injury.
Other recommendations: Malik Beasley, Timberwolves (48% rostered); Isaac Okoro, Cavaliers (10 percent rostered); Killian Hayes, Pistons (32% rostered); Cam Johnson, Suns (24% rostered); Elfrid Payton, Knicks (47% rostered); Tristan Thompson, Celtics (35% rostered); Robert Williams, Celtics (11% rostered)