Week 5 is in the books, and fantasy managers are left scrambling for backups after a slew of injuries. Here's a quick rundown of everyone who went down and will presumably miss some time.
Nikola Jokic entered health and safety protocols on November 15
Return to be determined
Ja Morant sustained a Grade 1 sprain of his left ankle on November 18
Tyrese Maxey suffered a small fracture in his left foot on November 18
No surgery required, out three to four weeks
Damian Lillard suffered a Grade 1 calf strain in his right leg on November 19
Will be re-evaluated in one to two weeks
Jimmy Butler is dealing with knee soreness and hasn't played since November 16
Will miss the next two games, considered day-to-day
Mike Conley strained his knee on November 19
Will miss at least the next two weeks
Kevin Love has a hairline fracture in his right shooting thumb on November 17
And most notably, Cade Cunningham may be on the verge of undergoing season-ending surgery.
There's a chance that the day-to-day injuries linger much longer, so it's important to find viable replacement players immediately. Cam Payne and Jevon Carter were great pickups ahead of Week 5 and provided solid production for fantasy managers sans Chris Paul and Jrue Holiday.
But let's talk about some waivers for Week 6. It's a new week, so I'll break down several players who are rostered in less than 50% of Yahoo fantasy basketball leagues.
Before we get to this week's waiver pickups, here are the games played by each team in Week 6.
Four games: 76ers, Bucks, Cavaliers, Celtics, Clippers, Hawks, Heat, Jazz, Nets, Pacers, Pistons, Thunder, Timberwolves, Trail Blazers and Warriors
Three games: Bulls, Grizzlies, Kings, Knicks, Lakers, Magic, Mavericks, Nuggets, Pelicans, Spurs, Suns and Wizards
Two games: Hornets, Raptors and Rockets
Okay, now that you know when teams play and when it might be best to utilize them, let's get to the pickups.
Killian Hayes - PG/SG, Detroit Pistons (45% rostered)
Concerning news dropped on Saturday morning that Pistons point guard Cade Cunningham is dealing with a stress fracture in his left shin that may require surgery. He's still weighing his options, but his absence immediately puts backup point guard Killian Hayes in the must-add territory in 10 and 12 team points and H2H fantasy leagues. Hayes will be great for racking up assists and steals. The knock on Hayes is that he's turnover prone and will likely bring down your shooting percentage in H2H leagues. However, his confidence seems to be growing by the game. Hayes put together his best outing of the season on Friday night.
And Hayes followed that up on Sunday with nine points (3-8 FG) with six assists, one rebound, two threes and a block in 28 minutes. In his last six games, Hayes is averaging 1.7 threes made while shooting 41.7% from beyond the arc. Hayes is kind of killing from deep!
But statistically, Hayes is one of the least effective offensive players in the league. That said, he'll be the de facto starter for the Pistons and his ability to rack up assists and steals at a high rate outweigh the cons. The Pistons also play four games in Week 6 so expect a considerable amount of counting stats this week and potentially much longer.
Advice: Must add in all points leagues and H2H leagues this week. Though, Hayes is better for points leagues.
Shake Milton - PG/SG, Philadelphia 76ers (40% rostered)
The injury bug is hitting the Sixers hard. James Harden continues rehabbing his foot injury; now, Tyrese Maxey (foot) will likely be out until Christmas. That leaves De'Anthony Melton (70% rostered) and Milton to fill a significant void in Philadelphia's backcourt. Milton has been an afterthought this year, earning the fewest minutes per game since his rookie season. So it only took two injuries to star players for him to find fantasy relevancy again.
But he's taking full advantage of his increased minutes.
In his last two games, Shake averaged 21.0 points, 4.5 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 2.0 3PM and 0.5 steals in 34.2 minutes per contest. His shooting splits over those two games were 59/44/75, but he also accumulated nine turnovers. I don't expect his shooting efficiency to remain that high, nor do I think he'll turnover the ball 4.5 times per game. Still, the other categories are compelling enough to roster him while Maxey and Harden are out. The Sixers have four games on tap in Week 6, and I'm comfortable grabbing Milton in both points and H2H leagues.
Advice: Add in 12 team points and H2H leagues. Stream for Week 6 in 10 team leagues
Jalen Williams - SG/SF, Oklahoma City Thunder (33% rostered)
The rookie combo guard continues to impress, earning more minutes for the Thunder and tallying counting stats. In his last three games, J-Dub is averaging 13.3 points, 5.3 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 3.0 3PM and 0.7 steals in 32.4 minutes. He's also shooting efficiently over that span — 50% from the field and 43% from three-point range. I've been saying to hold onto him for weeks, and he's starting to show why he's worth it.
The Thunder have a very fantasy-friendly week with matchups against the Knicks, Nuggets, Bulls and Rockets. He should have a great week ahead, assuming Thunder HC Mark Daigneault doesn't randomly pull him from the rotation (I doubt it'll happen). Buy in now, and don't be surprised when he ends up on the All-Rookie team.
Advice: Steam in 10 team points and H2H leagues. Add in 12 team points and H2H leagues.
Caleb Martin - SF/PF, Miami Heat (30% rostered)
Jimmy Butler will rest for the Heat's next two contests, and Martin will be a solid addition to your fantasy lineup in Week 6. There's no concern over his playing time, as he's started in every game this season. And before Sunday's blowout loss to the Cavaliers, Martin was averaging 11.4 points, 5.4 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 2.2 3PM, 1.2 steals and 1.0 blocks across 37.3 minutes per game in his previous five outings.
He's been providing eighth-round value over that span despite shooting 44% from the field and 67% from the free-throw line (low volume, though). With the Heat playing four games in Week 6, he should do a little bit of everything for fantasy managers.
Advice: Stream in 12 team points and H2H leagues.
Jevon Carter - PG/SG, Milwaukee Bucks (35% rostered)
Bucks G Jrue Holiday came off the bench in Saturday night's loss to the Sixers, granting Jevon Carter another opportunity to start. Carter played 27 minutes with Holiday back and produced seven points with two rebounds, three assists, a three and two steals. In four games without Holiday present, Carter posted a pristine 20.0 points, 3.3 rebounds, 8.0 assists, 2.8 3PM, 1.3 steals and 0.8 blocks in 35.7 minutes per game.
He's currently 92nd in per-game value, but Carter's provided third-round value over the past two weeks. He's played well enough to be the first man off the bench once Holiday re-enters the starting lineup, and that makes him worth rostering. The Bucks play four games this week and are still undermanned, so Carter is a worthy stream in deep competitive leagues.
Advice: Stream in Week 6 in 12+ team H2H and points leagues
Bruce Brown - SF/PF, Denver Nuggets (48% rostered)
Okay, back again. For the third time in as many weeks, I recommend picking up Brown in all leagues. I'm happy he's up 14% from last week, but I will not rest until he's over 50%. Brown is on a serious heater over his previous five games, averaging 14.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, 6.0 assists, 1.2 3PM with 1.2 steals and 0.8 blocks in 31.4 minutes per contest. He’d be a good stream for the Nuggets’ Tuesday/Wednesday back-to-back set. Plus, he’s been quite the playmaker with Nikola Jokic out, posting at least seven assists in consecutive games. Even with the Nuggets only playing three games this week, I’d hold Brown with an eye on the future. Michael Malone loves Bruce Brown, and it’s time fantasy managers did too.
Advice: Add and hold in 12+ points and H2H leagues
Torrey Craig - SF/PF, Phoenix Suns (26% rostered)
Craig is the starting power forward for the Phoenix Suns for the foreseeable future. Since becoming the starter, he's averaging a mere 9.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists,1.8 3PM,1.1 steals and 1.1 blocks in 27.5 minutes per contest. But he's been more effective in his last five matchups, registering 12.5 points, 6.6 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 2.0 3PM with 1.0 steals and 1.0 blocks in 30 minutes per night.
Cam Johnson doesn't have a set timetable for his return, and with Craig playing well and earning 30 minutes now, he can be a good streaming option for Tuesday or the Suns' Friday/Saturday back-to-back set in Week 6.
Advice: Stream in 12 team H2H leagues
Quentin Grimes - SG/SF, New York Knicks (8% rostered)
Evan Fournier is fading fast, and Grimes is arguably their best perimeter defender. He's ramping up and played 32 minutes in his last contest. His time to shine is on the horizon.
Paul Reed - PF/C, Philadelphia 76ers (1% rostered)
B-Ball Paul is a guy I'd be looking to stream in Week 6 with news that C Joel Embiid is dealing with a foot sprain and will miss the next two games (Tuesday/Wednesday) and be evaluated after that. Montrezl Harrell is also an option, but Reed is a better athlete and has more defensive upside than his counterpart. Reed has only played more than 20 minutes in a game six times in his career. He averaged 11.6 points, 6.5 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.6 steals and 1.5 blocks in those six games with a 21% usage rate.
AJ Griffin - SG/SF, Atlanta Hawks (2% rostered)
John Collins is on the trade block (again), and Griffin will step into a more prominent role if/when this happens. He hit a game-winner on Saturday night and continues to get more minutes in the Hawks rotation.
Thaddeus Young - PF/C, Toronto Raptors (13% rostered)
Young provided second-round value to fantasy managers on a per-game basis in Week 5. The veteran power forward is stuffing the stat sheet for the Raptors as they continue to deal with a plethora of injuries. Just be aware Toronto only plays two games in Week 6 (Wednesday/Saturday), so you may have to be selective when deploying him into your lineups.