• As the NBA has named its All-Star starters as of Week 15’s conclusion, many fantasy leagues are heading towards the playoffs. You loyal readers have heard me talk about how these low-key waiver moves can swing your team in any scenario that you are in. If you are winning and heading towards the playoffs with an open roster or streaming spot, then go ahead with a stash that can help you win the league (potentially Jonathan Isaac). Otherwise, in a more dire situation, try to lock down categories with these sweet specialists that can take you home more category wins in the last few weeks (like Alex Caruso with steals). We had a ton of wins last week! So, join me as we try to continue taking proper action on all the correct grabs for your teams after this past week of games.

    In this edition of Working the Wire, I will revisit last week’s takes to see if there was a win or a loss for each player, while also introducing a few new names rostered less than 50% to look at after Week 15 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 to your competition on these potential studs.

    (Positions and rostered percentages are from Yahoo leagues.)

    Win or Loss?

    Caris LeVert, SG/SF, Cavs (50% rostered last week)

    Last week (4 games): 8.8 PTS, 2.0 REB, 5.0 AST, 0.8 STL, 0 BLK, 2.0 3PM, .316 FG, .429 FT, 1.0 TO

    Loss. LeVert got a bunch of minutes to prove himself, but he only really had success with his 3-pointers and assists. However, the inefficiencies were simply too large to ignore. He is a drop and more of a daily streamer if Donovan Mitchell or Darius Garland miss time. In the future, any manager who grabs LeVert must manage expectations with percentages, especially.

    Alex Caruso, PG/SG, Bulls (46% rostered last week)

    Last week (four games): 6.3 PTS, 4.0 REB, 1.5 AST, 2.3 STL, 0.3, 0.5 3PM, .529 FG, .833 FT, 1.3 TO

    Win. As a specialist for incredible steals and solid efficiency, Caruso did exactly what managers should have expected from him. He is good for a steal nearly every time he suits up, while his assists are likely to be better than the 1.5 he averaged this week. Moving forward, tame your expectations regarding his scoring while looking for these steals to continue. He is a hold.

    Tyus Jones, PG, Grizzlies (41% rostered last week)

    Last week (four games): 7.3 PTS, 2.5 REB, 5.0 AST, 2.3 STL, 0 BLK, 1.0 3PM, .364 FG, 1.00 FT, 0.5 TO

    Win. Another specialist like Caruso above, Jones is someone who you can count on for some really solid assists or steals as a backup. In games that Ja Morant has to miss, Jones is the main player to benefit from more minutes. His assist-to-turnover ratio remains elite while he has more upside this season from beyond the arc compared to most seasons.

    Jonathan Isaac, SF/PF, Magic (35% rostered last week)

    Last week (three games): 6.7 PTS, 2.7 REB, 1.0 AST, 1.7 STL, 0 BLK, 1.3 3PM, .444 FG, 0 FT, 0 TO

    Small win, but please exercise patience there. I understand that the numbers are not pretty yet but anyone who watched these games live will attest that Isaac has got some gas left in him once his conditioning is stabilized. “The Minister of Defense” still has a fluid jumper and rangy ability on defense that should be able to garner 2.0-plus defensive statistics each game soon.

    Patrick Williams, PF, Bulls (33% rostered last week)

    Last week (four games): 14.0 PTS, 6.5 REB, 1.3 AST, 1.0 STL, 0.8 BLK,1.5 3PM, .500 FG, .889 FT, 1.5 TO

    Big win. Williams was a monster this week, netting managers 1.8 defensive stats each game while having solid efficiency towards his 14.0 points. The rebounds at 6.5 per game are very serviceable at the power forward spot and the triples are a nice bonus for this defensive specialist. Williams is a hold as he has entrenched himself again as the starter out in Chicago.

    Dennis Smith Jr., PG, Hornets (27% rostered last week)

    Last week (four games): 7.8 PTS, 3.8 REB, 3.5 AST, 0.5 STL, 0 BLK, 0 3PM, .382 FG, .833 FT, 1.3 TO

    Loss, as LaMelo Ball’s injury was not as serious as it seemed at first. Ball came back sooner than expected and Smith’s production subsequently plummeted back to the levels that only have him rostered in the deepest of formats. Unless Ball goes down with an injury or gets shut down towards the end of the season, Smith can be left alone in standard formats.

    Daniel Gafford, C, Wizards (26% rostered last week)

    Last week (three games): 13.0 PTS, 9.0 REB, 2.3 AST, 0.3 STL, 3.3 BLK, 0 3PM, .650 FG, .619 FT, 1.3 TO

    Slam dunk win (no pun intended). Gafford is killing it as the Wizards starting big and has some time to continue doing decently well since Kristaps Porzingis (ankle) should be treated with care as he returns to action on Monday. Gafford might not have the open road to be a double-double threat with 3.3 blocks next to KP, but he is still a starter and worth holding.

    Jeremy Sochan, PF, Spurs (21% rostered last week)

    Last week (three games): 20.7 PTS, 7.0 REB, 4.0 AST, 0.3 STL, 0.3 BLK, 2.0 3PM, .440 FG, .857 FT, 2.3 TO

    Big win. The upside here is absolutely obvious with a normally defensive-focused player since Sochan absolutely filled up the stat sheet with points, rebounds and assists. At this point, it is clear he will be a player to hold onto towards the end of fantasy seasons because of the open runway to improve with 30-plus minutes to get reps in for a tanking team.

    Delon Wright, PG/SG, Wizards (16% rostered last week)

    Last week (three games): 7.7 PTS, 3.3 REB, 3.3 AST, 2.0 STL, 0 BLK, 1.0 3PM, .450 FG, 1.00 FT, 1.0 TO

    Another win. Wright is a prime steals specialist to target if you need steals in any capacity. Though Caruso had some better steals numbers this week, many people may have grabbed Caruso while Wright is readily available in most standard leagues. With Rui Hachimura out and Kendrick Nunn serving more as a scorer than passer, Wright still has room to play well.

    Larry Nance Jr., PF/C, Pelicans (16% rostered last week)

    Last week (four games): 8.8 PTS, 7.3 REB, 1.0 AST, 0.3 STL, 0.5 BLK, 0.5 3PM, .520 FG, .875 FT, 0.5 TO

    Small loss, but personally I would stash still if you are in a good standings spot and are hunting for punt-points ability across the board. On the season, Nance is averaging 1.0 steals and 0.7 blocks per game in only 22.6 minutes per game. Also, his 60.6% from the field this season is really helpful for anyone trying to lock that category down with big man statistics.

    Post-Week 15 Targets

    Daniel Gafford, C, Wizards (45% rostered)

    There is no reason that Gafford is this widely available when considering his recent run as the starting center for the Wizards; even with Porzingis in, any manager trying to stack big man stats can count on Gafford for a block or two with a few boards each game.

    Alex Caruso, PG/SG, Bulls (44% rostered)

    Caruso is nabbing steals and the Bulls certainly need his defensive presence to remain competitive; as a top-75 asset over the last two weeks of games, there is no reason to drop AC Fresh just yet while he is playing the passing lanes so well off of the bench.

    Jeremy Sochan, PF, Spurs (39% rostered)

    The brightest spot of the season for the Spurs in many ways, Sochan has entered the top-100 conversation over the last two weeks due to this surge; the encouraging news is that his defensive numbers have even more room to grow as he

    Tyus Jones, PG, Grizzlies (39% rostered)

    While Jones remains an elite assist-to-turnover ratio guy, if you need cheap assists off of the waiver wire then the older of the Jones brothers is your guy. Widely available, grab him if the schedule is right and you need upwards of five to six assists in a game even off the bench.

    Patrick Williams, PF, Bulls (38% rostered)

    A top-50 player in 9-cat rankings over the past two weeks, Williams is shooting the ball quite well and also able to make a defensive impact at times; despite the slow start this season, he is rounding into more of the player we thought could exist this season.

    Jonathan Isaac, SF/PF, Magic (38% rostered)

    A stash candidate if there ever was one, Isaac will likely only need 18 to 22 minutes in order to be effective as a defensive stalwart for the Magic; risk is inherent here due to his history, but the payoff may be massive if he ever starts or achieves the aforementioned minute count.

    Deni Avdija, SF/PF, Wizards (31% rostered)

    Over the last week, Avdija was a top-70 player due to his large increase in rebounds and his ability to nab two steals per game; while the pilfers may not stay, all it really will take for him to round himself into a better player is better field-goal shooting with Hachimura gone.

    Larry Nance Jr., PF/C, Pelicans (25% rostered)

    More of a stash candidate due to his all-around potential outside of points production, Nance continues to provide deep-league potential as a result of his surges when Jonas Valanciunas gets in foul trouble or is benched; give Nance a look if you need a deeper stash.

    Delon Wright, PG/SG, Wizards (24% rostered)

    Still chugging along as an elite steals specialist, Wright also supplemented with some counting stats on his way to ranking within the top-40 over the last two weeks; with this type of production, Wright is worth the grab for most teams no matter what your roster build looks like.

    Jericho Sims, C, Knicks (10% rostered)

    Though Sims and Isaiah Hartenstein are battling for minutes, the one thing that is holding true with the statistics is the rebounding; Sims averaged 9.3 boards per game in three games over the last week, so his value is clear as a specialist with rebounds and field-goal percentage mainly.

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