• Hello friends and welcome to the official second half of the NBA regular season for 2022-23. As we approach the All-Star break and the fantasy playoffs, teams are either locked into a competitive position in the top half of a league or clawing their way into the playoff picture one week at a time. In either case, specialization to bolster certain categories at this point can be helpful, as you only really need five categories to win a matchup in 9-cat formats. If you are really struggling to lock in your fantasy hoops playoff hopes, a pivot to a 5-cat or 6-cat lineup that is a heavy punt in everything else may be the move for you. If you are a team that has chased all 9-cats this season, just be sure that there is not a single team in your league that can take five of them from you in a playoffs matchup — that is all that matters once the fantasy season ends. In either case, I am here to help you find the gems to help you lock in your winning squad. 

    In this edition of Working the Wire, I will revisit the last week’s takes to see if there was a win or a loss for each player, while also introducing a few new names that are rostered in less than 50% to look at after Week 13 due to new intel. Remember to take this list and use it how you need it. If an obvious surging player is already scooped up in your competitive league, then our hope is to help you find the next gem ahead of time. If managers are ignoring the more obvious value on the wire, then fire away without spilling the beans on these potential studs while waivers reset for many come Monday morning. The quick hitters worked well last week, so I will keep those going for the target list this week.

    (Positions and rostered percentages are from Yahoo leagues.)


    Win or Loss?

    Jalen McDaniels, SF/PF, Hornets (47% rostered last week)

    Last week: 10.0 PTS, 4.0 REB, 1.0 AST, 0.7 STL, 0.3 BLK, 1.0 3PM, .423 FG, .625 FT, 2.3 TO

    Loss. McDaniels’ time as a reliable replacement for Gordon Hayward (hamstring) and Kelly Oubre (hand) might be over after head coach Steve Clifford announced Hayward would be back “soon” while showing doubtful on the injury report. McDaniels had a dud of a game on Saturday, so keep an eye on if he is officially a drop or not this week with Hayward’s return looming.

    Royce O’Neale, SG/SF, Nets (41% rostered last week)

    Last week: 11.0 PTS, 7.5 REB, 5.0 AST, 1.5 STL, 1.0 BLK, 2.0 3PM, .412 FG, .800 FT, 1.5 TO

    Win. O’Neale was a solid candidate to be the replacement option for Kevin Durant (knee) in the Nets lineup but proved his worth even more last week. Now 54% rostered in Yahoo leagues, he is no longer a widely available asset on the wire. Moving forward, his shooting may take a bump up but do not expect it; as for everything else, this is who O’Neale can be for you.

    Dennis Schroder, PG, Lakers (41% rostered last week)

    Last week: 9.7 PTS, 2.3 REB, 4.3 AST, 0.7 STL, 0 BLK, 0.3 3PM, .257 FG, .909 FT, 1.0 TO

    Loss. Schroder shot the ball terribly from the field and also slowed his roll from the 23.8 points per game that was attractive a week ago. At this point, he is only a deep-league target for some assists and solid free-throw shooting. Otherwise, in 12-team leagues, he is far too unreliable to be counted on as a streaming asset.

    Daniel Gafford, C, Wizards (38% rostered last week)

    Last week: 9.5 PTS, 5.0 REB, 1.0 AST, 0 STL, 0.5 BLK, 0 3PM, .857 FG, .875 FT, 0 TO

    Small win. Gafford shot the ball at an awesome clip, but only played two games this week while getting just one block in the pair of contests. Moreover, the team got blown out in one game while Gafford appeared to get hurt in the other. At this point, he is too solid of a hold for big man stats in standard leagues, but managers must be wary if any injury is to arise.

    Tyus Jones, PG, Grizzlies (37% rostered last week)

    Last week: 16.0 PTS, 1.7 REB, 4.7 AST, 2.3 STL, 0 BLK, 2.0 3PM, .513 FG, 1.00 FT, 1.0 TO

    Big win. Jones is arguably the best backup point guard in the game at times, showing flashes of how Jalen Brunson was extremely serviceable behind Luka Doncic prior to joining him as a starter. For Jones, he is likely not going to take Dillon Brooks’ job but can be counted on for elite assists-to-turnover ratios whenever he plays. Also, the shooting is absolute money.

    Quentin Grimes, SG/SF, Knicks (37% rostered last week)

    Last week: 10.3 PTS, 5.3 REB, 2.0 AST, 1.3 STL, 0 BLK, 1.8 3PM, .324 FG, .909 FT, 1.3 TO

    Win. Even as the Knicks finally had a clean injury report, Grimes remained in the starting lineup at the shooting guard spot. He continues to grab about a steal a game while knocking down a couple triples on solid percentages from the free-throw line. His field-goal shooting this week left much to offer, but he will be better in the future. Hold for now to see how he stabilizes.

    Alex Caruso, PG/SG, Bulls (37% rostered last week)

    Last week: 8.8 PTS, 4.8 REB, 4.5 AST, 2.0 STL, 0.8 BLK, 1.5 3PM, .406 FG, .750 FT, 1.5 TO

    Big win. Caruso stuffed the stat sheet in four games this week, while not hurting so badly in the points or field-goal shooting department. When AC Fresh gets the nod to start for a hurt Bulls player, he can drop a bunch of dimes and nab a ton of steals. The only unfortunate part here is the Bulls only play once this upcoming week due to the NBA game in Paris.

    Larry Nance Jr., PF/C, Pelicans (22% rostered last week)

    Last week: 3.7 PTS, 5.3 REB, 2.0 AST, 1.0 STL, 0.3 BLK, 0 3PM, .444 FG, .500 FT, 0.3 TO

    Loss. Interestingly enough, Nance is more unchained to play well when Zion Williamson (hamstring) is out there as well. Nance is a nice counterbalance next to Williamson, while at the moment it is Jonas Valanciunas absolutely chugging along as an awesome man in the middle. Nance is an understandable drop in standard formats unless you are punting points.

    T.J. Warren, SF/PF, Nets (19% rostered last week)

    Last week: 14.5 PTS, 2.0 REB, 1.0 AST, 0 STL, 0.5 BLK, 2.0 3PM, .462 FG, .333 FT, 1.0 TO

    Win. For whom Warren profiles to play as on the Nets, providing scoring in bursts off the bench, he produced exactly how one could expect in two games last week. The free-throw shooting was an anomaly and he should be better in the coming games. The Nets are more of a carousel of who will fill in well for Durant (knee), but Warren will get his buckets for sure.

    Torrey Craig, SF/PF, Suns (17% rostered last week)

    Last week: 12.3 PTS, 9.0 REB, 1.3 AST, 1.0 STL, 0.7 BLK, 2.0 3PM, .500 FG, .600 FT, 1.7 TO

    Win. Another deeper-league asset advertised as such, Craig did not fail to perform up to his potential. He knocked down triples while also nearly averaging 1.0 steals and blocks alike. Craig is a strong defender who can really pop off for a nice line. In 14-team leagues or deeper he is a hold while standard format managers should watch if Cameron Johnson (knee) returns soon.


    Post-Week 13 Targets

    Naji Marshall, SG/SF, Pelicans (48% rostered)

    As Williamson (hamstring) continues to be week-to-week, Marshall is a solid option to get points up on the board for the Pels while contributing in a few more peripheral counting stat areas.

    T.J. McConnell, PG, Pacers (46% rostered)

    As Tyrese Haliburton (knee) has a week or so until he is re-evaluated, McConnell has emerged as an amazing fantasy play off of the bench with averages at 13-8-8 with two steals per game.

    Tyus Jones, PG, Grizzlies (44% rostered)

    Arguably the king of A/TO ratio in the pool of NBA backup point guards, there are a lot of worse options for you to have at the end of your roster while hunting for assists and efficient shooting splits.

    Quentin Grimes, SG/SF, Knicks (36% rostered)

    Fully entrenched into the starting shooting guard role for head coach Tom Thibodeau, Grimes is a solid option for anyone looking for low-level points, 3-pointers and steals as he stabilizes in the role.

    Daniel Gafford, C, Wizards (32% rostered)

    A consistent top-120 play over the last month, Gafford should be held onto as long as there is a chance to receive minutes in the 20s alongside Kristaps Porzingis and Kyle Kuzma — the field-goal shooting and blocks are awesome.

    T.J. Warren, SF/PF, Nets (31% rostered)

    More of a target if you only need scoring, Warren has been getting buckets off of the Nets bench in a nice way. However, expectations should be managed if you think there will be a huge breakout without Durant.

    Jonathan Isaac, SF/PF, Magic (27% rostered)

    I truly cannot believe I am saying this, but Isaac is finally projected to be back on the floor soon; in case you forgot (since you probably did), Isaac ranked in the top-20 of per game stats when he last was healthy in 2019-20 — take the flier if you are good in the standings.

    Terence Mann, SG/SF, Clippers (18% rostered)

    Mann put up 14-4-3 last week with very solid triples and efficiency as the Clippers try to find a winning formula on their deep roster; as long as Mann is getting more than 30 minutes a game he should do enough on the box score.

    Torrey Craig, SF/PF, Suns (17% rostered)

    Still more of a safe target in 14-team leagues or deeper, Craig has value as a potential cash-counter contributor due to Devin Booker (groin) sitting out still. At this point, Johnson (knee) may return but still co-exist with Craig on the floor.

    Delon Wright, PG/SG, Wizards (8% rostered)

    Purely a steals specialist for managers to look at, Wright has averaged 1.8 steals in 10 games over the last month and should be grabbed off the wire if you can afford poor field-goal shooting or low-end stats elsewhere.

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