By Gabe Allen, RotoWire
Special to Yahoo Sports
With three weeks of the regular season completed, the waiver wire isn’t overflowing with many outstanding options anymore. The major difference-makers appear to be dwindling, but rest assured: There’s always someone on the verge of breaking out. That’s the nature of the game. Change is the only constant.
There are still numerous players whom I suggested adding heading into the second and third weeks of the season who remain pretty widely available. With one exception, there will be no repeats. It’s only right to spread the love around, but sometimes you just have to play the hits.
HEALTHY AND READY
Jalen Brunson, Dallas Mavericks (49% rostered)
I’ve recommended adding Jalen Brunson in virtually every article since I started writing this weekly column last winter. Honestly, I’m beginning to feel like Gretchen Wieners from Mean Girls, and I’m half-expecting the Regina George of the fantasy basketball world to tell me to “Stop trying to make Jalen Brunson happen — he’s never going to happen!”
Nevertheless, I’d be remiss if I didn’t endorse the red-hot Brunson, who has combined for 56 points, 17 boards and six dimes across the last two matchups and is averaging career highs of 15.0 points, 5.3 boards, 4.3 dimes, 1.4 threes and 0.6 steals in 27.5 minutes per game. What more does the man need to do in order to be rostered in more than 50 percent of leagues? Please fix this grave injustice.
Thaddeus Young, San Antonio Spurs (36% rostered)
With Jakob Poeltl (health and safety protocols) expected to be out for several games, Young is an intriguing add across all formats. He has played sparingly for the Spurs thus far this season, averaging only 13.2 minutes across five appearances. And he remains an in-season trade candidate given that he doesn’t necessarily fit the rebuilding team’s timeline. In essence, this upcoming stretch of games represents an opportunity for Young to remind contenders about his versatile skill set and show that even as an undersized (6-foot-8) 33-year-old big man, he’s still spry and belonging on a bigger stage. For those with a short memory, Young was among the very best waiver wire additions last season, so at the very least he’s an exceptional short-term streamer.
Josh Hart, New Orleans Pelicans (36% rostered)
Hart has held down a starting role in four of his five appearances thus far this season and has earned at least 30 minutes in three straight games after missing four of the first six contests due to injury. Even when — or more perhaps more realistically for this cursed franchise, if — this team is at full strength, Hart will be the sixth man, at worst. He has proven himself to be one of the best rebounding wings in the league, and although it’s a small sample size, Hart is managing career highs of 10.4 points on 55.3 percent from the field.
Nicolas Batum, Los Angeles Clippers (32% rostered)
When you combine the fact that Kawhi Leonard (knee) and Marcus Morris (knee) are out with coach Tyronn Lue’s heavy reliance on small-ball lineups, it’s no surprise that Batum has earned at least 30 minutes in three of the last four games. His roster percentage is rising rapidly after totaling 34 points, 13 boards, 10 treys, three steals, two dimes, and two blocks across the last two contests. He’s also a superb short-term add with four games on the schedule next week.
Georges Niang, Philadelphia 76ers (31% rostered)
Niang has provided a strong, steadying presence in his first season with the 76ers, most notably averaging 17.7 points, 5.0 boards, 3.3 threes, and 2.7 assists in 31.7 minutes across the last three games while the team has been short-handed. With starting power forward Tobias Harris (health and safety protocols) expected to miss several contests and with a four-game period on the horizon, Niang is an excellent streaming option for Week 4.
Davion Mitchell, Sacramento Kings (20% rostered)
This rookie class has been so remarkable that it makes sense to invest in Mitchell, even if it’s merely due to FOMO. From a scoring perspective, his efficiency has left a lot to be desired thus far. Nevertheless, through eight games, he’s dishing 3.5 dimes compared to just 0.9 turnovers and has combined for 30 points and 10 dimes across the last two contests. He’s worth a look in deeper formats.
Jarred Vanderbilt, Minnesota Timberwolves (11% rostered)
Vanderbilt seems to have leapfrogged Naz Reid in the frontcourt rotation this season. On a team that’s fighting to hold its own defensively, Vanderbilt looks like the most ideal fit alongside Karl-Anthony Towns, at least when coach Chris Finch decides to play two big men. Vanderbilt has earned at least 27 minutes in three of the last four games, with averages of 11.0 points and 9.7 boards across the three in which he was highly involved. He’s worth a speculative add in deep leagues in case he carves out a consistently demanding role for himself.
INJURED BUT WORTH STASHING
T.J. Warren, Indiana Pacers (34% rostered)
After looking like a surefire future All-Star in the bubble, Warren has basically been in bubble wrap ever since, appearing in only four games during all of 2020-21. He’s reportedly still weeks away from returning to action, but assuming that does happen at some point this season, he should be rostered in over 50 percent of leagues well before he makes his season debut. Players with Warren’s proven track record simply should not be so widely available. The upside is too high. If he’s available in your league, add him now before it’s too late.
Donte DiVincenzo, Milwaukee Bucks (11% rostered)
Grayson Allen has been good for Milwaukee, but DiVincenzo (ankle) is still somewhat likely to reclaim a starting role once healthy. Even if he’s coming off the bench, though, DiVincenzo’s well-rounded two-way skill set lends itself well to fantasy. Last season, he averaged 10.4 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 2.0 threes, and 1.1 steals in 27.5 minutes across 66 appearances.
Markelle Fultz, Orlando Magic (9% rostered)
Sophomore point guard Cole Anthony is off to a scintillating start this season. Nevertheless, the Magic have invested in Fultz (knee) long-term, so he’s likely to play a significant role at some point this season if all goes well. Like Warren and DiVincenzo, Fultz will probably be a very popular add in the near future, once a more definitive timetable for his return is announced.