Working on the surrender wire is critical to success in fantasy basketball. With so many games, injuries, and endless shifts in rotation throughout the marathon campaign, we need to pull stats from free agencies to maximize imaginary squads.
Being willing to entertain a competition for the last few spots on your fantasy hoops list can prove rewarding. When curating this fluid collective of statistical contributors, it helps to see your back-bank players in direct competition with the talent floating in the open.
The goal of this weekly series is to identify players at each position that are prevalent in free agency in ESPN leagues. Some nominees are specialists who can help in one or two categories, while others provide more varied and important statistical offerings. In the breakdowns below, I’ve ranked players at each position based on acquisition priority, rather than roster percentage across ESPN leagues.
Killian Hayes, Detroit Pistons (listed in 22.7% of ESPN leagues): With at least 17 points in four of the last six games and strong assist and steal ratings to underline his profile, Hayes is one of the most underrated guards in all of fantasy hoops.
Dennis Schroeder, Los Angeles Lakers (28.2%): Schroder played heavy minutes on a flat Lakers backfield rotation and has responded with 80 points in his last three games and seems to have earned an enduring role for a team that needs its scoring pop.
Immanuel Quickley, New York Knicks (19.4%): Speaking of playing time, Quickley is now in the inner circle of Tom Thibodeau, who often nets as many minutes as possible. The third-year guard has averaged a whopping 42.1 minutes since stepping onto the starting lineup in place of a struggling RJ Barrett a few weeks ago.
Donte DiVincenzo, Golden State Warriors (8.9%): Between Anthony Lamb and DiVincenzo, the Warriors are making some interesting contributions from their vigilance following Stephen Curry’s injury. DiVincenzo claims real value as a stable launch option that produces some differentiating defensive courses. The Villanova product has averaged 1.7 steals, 10.4 points, 6.4 rebounds, 3.9 dimes and 2.7 3-pointers in its last seven games.
Quentin Grimes, New York Knicks (6.6%): We’ve talked about how rewarding earning Thibodeau’s loyalty can prove to be, with Grimes securing 36.3 minutes as a key spacer for New York last week.
Josh Richardson, San Antonio Spurs (2.5%): Injuries to Devin Vassell and Keldon Johnson could mean more points and playmaking duties for this experienced wing.
De’Andre Hunter, Atlanta Hawks (16.7%) Atlanta has struggled with front-court injuries for most of the season, although Hunter has returned to form at 37.1 minutes a game in three appearances since returning to the rotation. As long as he’s this busy and productive (18.3 PPG over those last three games), Hunter deserves more attention.
Naji Marshall, New Orleans Pelicans (5.4%): The Pelicans have also been hampered by a series of injuries on their apron, with Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram injured. Marshall has answered the call as a supplemental goalscorer in recent games.
Jalen Williams, Oklahoma City Thunder (15.7%): Recently acquired Small Forward status allows managers to bring this versatile rookie into all lineups. After all, Williams has averaged 13.4 points, 4.8 boards, 3.4 assists, and 1.9 steals and blocks combined since becoming a regular starter for The Thunder in mid-December.
Jalen McDaniels, Charlotte Hornets (10.0%): With 13.5 points, 7.3 rebounds, 2.0 steals and 1.3 blocks in his last four games starting the new week, McDaniels has a bigger role to play with Kelly Oubre Jr. dealing with a tough Injury dealt with, blossomed.
Kevon Looney, Golden State Warriors (16.7%): Looney is a rebounding force with enough passing and defensive power to be more than a pure specialist and is worth adding to the lineup in this recent run.
Zach Collins, San Antonio Spurs (2.3%): Working from a game example is always fun, but Collins was quite productive in a season-high 34 minutes in the team’s last game without Vassell and Johnson. With the team now claiming very little creation from the Post, Collins could shine for a few weeks.
Thomas Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers (29.2%): Bryant has pulled off an impressive line in the past few weeks since Anthony Davis was injured, offering a valuable mix of efficient scoring and volume rebound.
Onyeka Okongwu, Atlanta Hawks (19.9%): Until Clint Capela fully recovers from a calf injury, Okongwu is an imaginative starting-level contributor while working with two elite passing guards in pick-and-roll sets.
Daniel Gafford, Washington Wizards (8.4%): A recent surge in playing time has led Gafford to post fun rim protection and rebound counts while also claiming eligibility for power forward.
Jalen Duren, Detroit Pistons (14.3%): Volume recovery is Duren’s thing too, with the rookie averaging a double-double over the past week. Watch out for a recent ankle problem, but working on the glass has already become something special.
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