November 14, 2019, 2:17 pm
Hey Hoop Ballers! Welcome back to another edition of Deep League Digging – my weekly column scouring the darkest reaches of the fantasy NBA landscape in search of diamonds in the rough for deep league owners.
After spending the past few weeks looking at some hot starters, it is time to settle in with a good old fashioned waiver wire watch. I won’t bore you with much exposition here, but based on the percentage of leagues that many of the these players are rostered in, the market appears to be a bit slow in reacting to some standout performances and additional opportunities open due to injury. Many of the players I will highlight below don’t have very sexy stat lines, and they are far from household names in the NBA, but that opens up the door for savvy managers to swoop in and acquire some money for nothing with a bit of diligence on the wire.
As always, I’ll be focusing on players that are rostered in less than 5 percent of leagues, since that is roughly the level of players available in leagues with 16-teams or more. I am trying to cover everything from 16-team leagues to 30-team leagues, so consider your league size before acting on any analysis presented. If a player is must-roster in 30-team leagues, that may only translate to streaming value in 16-team formats. Conversely, if a player is roster-worthy in 16-team formats, it is generally safe to consider them a must-roster player in larger leagues.
Kenrich Williams, F, Pelicans (7% rostered) – It is really hard to pin down fantasy value on this Pelicans squad so far thanks to inconsistent rotations and a handful of injuries to key players, but with Zion Williamson on the shelf, Lonzo Ball dealing with what appears to be a nagging soft tissue injury and Brandon Ingram suddenly popping up with knee issues, Williams will have at least short-term value. He doesn’t provide a huge lift in any one category, but will chip in with steady, across-the-board production as long as he is seeing 25-30 minutes per night.
Moritz Wagner, F/C, Wizards (5% rostered) – Wagner has been a pleasant surprise so far this year after an uninspiring rookie campaign. In roughly 18 minutes a night, he is averaging 10.9 points on 57.4 percent shooting, 0.8 threes, 4.9 rebounds and 1.1 blocks. That is fantastic per-minute production that may still be sitting around on the wire in a number of 16-team leagues. I really doubt that he continues to shoot over 50 percent from the floor given the relatively high percentage of his shots that come outside of the paint, but his role appears steady and it is rare to find a 10 point per night scorer averaging over a block still around on so many deep league wires.
Trey Lyles, F, Spurs (3% rostered) – Lyles is another pretty low upside play off the wire, but his per-minute rebound production has been impressive so far. In only 20 minutes per night, Lyles is pulling down eight boards – nearly double his per-minute rebound rate from last season. He doesn’t offer a ton else outside of rebounds, but while he is posting these types of numbers he should probably be on someone’s roster in most 16-team leagues and deeper.
Jake Layman, F, Wolves (3% rostered) – Layman has seen a sudden uptick in playing time lately, averaging close to 30 minutes per game over the past week. In that time he is scoring 13.5 points on 54 percent shooting from the field with 1.8 triples, 1.0 steals and 1.0 blocks. That type of production will almost certainly taper off – in particular the shooting efficiency – but the Wolves seem to like Layman, and as long as he is seeing these many minutes, he cannot be left on any deep league wires.
Sterling Brown, G/F, Bucks (3% rostered) – With the news that Khris Middleton is set to miss 3-4 weeks with a thigh contusion, Sterling Brown should be in line for additional minutes. He has been playing pretty well, and appears to be working himself into a rotation role, so he could hold steady value in 20-team leagues and deeper even after Middleton returns. Most of his fantasy appeal comes from steals, but he is also a strong rebounder and can chip in with the occasional three.
Garrett Temple, G/F, Nets (3% rostered) – We talked last week about Garrett Temple as an early season standout player that was flying well under the radar. If he is still around on the wire in any deep league, be sure to pick him up now following the injury to Caris LeVert. His stat set is that of a pretty straightforward three and D wing, but while the minutes are there look for Temple to average roughly top-100 type numbers. In deeper leagues where Temple is likely already rostered, look for Dzanan Musa, F, Nets (<1% rostered) to also get a boost from LeVert’s absence. The second year player has an incredibly limited NBA resume, but has posted some impressive scoring lines this season (with literally almost no other stats).
Royce O’Neale, F, Jazz (2% rostered) – Royce O’Neale continues to start and play consistent minutes for a Jazz team that appears to be really hitting their stride after four consecutive wins. His stat set is about as well-rounded as can be as this season he is averaging 6.2 points on 56 percent shooting with 1.1 threes, 4.3 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 0.6 steals and 0.4 blocks in 28 minutes per game. He may not be the best option in head-to-head leagues, as he really doesn’t provide much of a lift in any one category, but that type of top-150ish production needs to be rostered in all deep leagues.
Omari Spellman, F, Warriors (1% rostered) – Spellman is a very low upside play, but the Warriors frontcourt (and entire roster) is in pretty rough shape. He’s been seeing a consistent 15-20 minutes per night, and while he hasn’t done a ton with those minutes, the fact that he is on the floor and pulling down 5.5 boards with 0.8 steals and 0.5 blocks on the season makes him worth rostering in 20-team leagues and deeper.
Edmond Sumner, G, Pacers (<1% rostered) – Sumner is still recovering from a hand injury, so consider him more of a watch list player or luxury stash if you have an open IR spot (hard to believe given how injury riddled the start of this year has been). However I believe that he is simply too talented to not see decent minutes while Victor Oladipo remains out, and perhaps could start to chip away at T.J. McConnell’s minutes. The Pacers’ rotation is crowded, but keep an eye on Sumner as a potential source of assists and steals available in plenty of deep leagues.
Terrence Davis, G, Raptors (<1% rostered) – As long as Kyle Lowry is out, Davis has the chance to post top-150 numbers, and may even play himself into a larger role. He demonstrated the ability to contribute across the board in Summer League, and has largely backed that up in the NBA when given minutes as he is averaging 8.3 points on 1.8 threes with 3.3 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 0.5 steals and 0.3 blocks in 20 minutes per game over the last week. He is still around on plenty of wires and needs to be rostered in all deep leagues for as long as Kyle Lowry is out.
Tony Bradley, C, Jazz (<1% rostered) – Tony Bradley will be in the Jazz’s rotation for as long as Ed Davis remains sidelined, making him worth a look in super deep leagues. He hasn’t done a ton with the opportunity since Davis was injured, averaging only 4.3 points with 5.0 rebounds in 12 minutes per game, but rebounds are nice and can be tough to find off the wire.