The waiver wire has calmed down after several unusually strong weeks. The top three names are all great pickups, but they've probably already been grabbed in the sharpest leagues, and it dries up quickly behind them. That said, a few important stories to keep track of (Pacers, Mavericks) could rapidly flip our perceptions of specific waiver prospects. And, of course, even in down weeks, we must make moves to stay competitive, and there are plenty of players worth considering.
As always, the players in this article must be rostered in less than two-thirds of CBS leagues. Players are listed in the order that I recommend adding them, assuming they are equally good fits for your team.
Adds for all leagues
Trey Murphy, Pelicans (57% rostered)
Murphy has arrived, it seems. Before his 2021 debut, Murphy was a trendy name in the "what rookies outside the top five might break out" conversations – only to get quickly passed on the depth chart by second-round pick Herb Jones. But after a disappointing rookie season, Murphy is becoming an essential piece for New Orleans. With all of their injuries, he's gotten a ton of extra minutes, and he's playing so well that we have to assume he's earned a more prominent role when (if) the lineup is fully healthy. He's hit double-digit scoring every time he's played at least 20 minutes. On top of that, he's scored 20-plus points in three straight games. He's emerging as one of the best spot-up shooters in the league. He's not as good as Jones on defense, but he's not bad on that end, and he's got enough size to keep up.
When I first mentioned Murphy here a few weeks ago, my endorsement was a tepid "let's-see-what-happens." This is now a full-throated "ADD EVERYWHERE, GUYS. WE MIGHT HAVE A LIVE ONE" situation. There's still a chance that this all fades, especially if the Pelicans ever get fully healthy, but we also might be at the start of one of the bigger breakouts of the season.
Kyle Anderson, Timberwolves (24% rostered)
Karl-Anthony Towns (calf) is out for 4-6 weeks, and Anderson has taken over the vacated starting role. He played 39 minutes Wednesday in Towns' first absence, but Jaden McDaniels (illness) was also out, inflating Anderson's total. There isn't much exciting about Anderson as a Fantasy piece, but he's reliable and has ample opportunity for a long window. The forward doesn't score much, but he does a little bit of everything else. "Slo Mo" lacks anything like Murphy's upside, but Anderson can be your guy if you need a steady plug-and-play piece.
Killian Hayes, Pistons (64% rostered)
Hayes' upside and recent production would probably justify ranking him ahead of Anderson, but more than two seasons' worth of disappointment is not easy to forget. Pistons Twitter has started getting really excited about Hayes recently, and his box scores match their improving perception of him. He's averaging 16.5 points and 7.8 assists over his past four games. If we trusted that he could sustain that production, we'd easily rank him in the top 80 for the rest of the season. Cade Cunningham (shin) could return in a couple of weeks, which would hurt Hayes, but we have no idea how long the tanking Pistons will keep their No. 1 pick sidelined. As bad as Hayes has been when at his worst, many applauded his selection in the early lottery in 2020, and he's only 21 years old. I remain cautiously skeptical, but there is undeniable upside. Most managers should try to find a way to add him.
Marvin Bagley, Pistons (63% rostered)
This is the Bagley I hoped would emerge when I featured him in this space back when he made his season debut. If you passed on him then, there's still time to act (for many of you, at least). And now, the production isn't some hypothetical. It's a current reality. After a slow start, Bagley is now putting up 15-7-1 with 1.1 steals and 0.7 blocks over his past eight games. Those numbers are slightly inflated by some injuries to other Pistons' bigs, but Bagley's per-minute numbers are solid, and his shooting splits have been outstanding. If you want him, you'll have to act fast. After Thursday night's 19-and-13 double-double -- his third in four games -- he will not last on waivers much longer.
Markelle Fultz, Magic (54% rostered)
By rights, Fultz belongs in the middle of the "other recommendations" section below. But he just made his season debut Wednesday, and many managers are trying to figure out what to do about him. Of course, the true answer is we don't know what will happen. Orlando has a talented and crowded backcourt, and it would be easy to justify featuring or sidelining almost any combination of their top four guards. At his best, Fultz provides quality assists with decent points and steals. His upside, especially in the scarce category of assists, makes him worth an add. But among the universe of plausible outcomes, many of those include Fultz ending up back on the waiver wire. Add him if you need assists and have both roster space and patience. Otherwise, I think it's OK to pass.
T.J. McConnell, Pacers (8% rostered)
At publication time, it's still possible Tyrese Haliburton (groin; questionable) plays Friday. If that happens, I have no interest in McConnell in the short or long term. But the way Haliburton showed up on the injury report Thursday, with a new soft tissue injury the game after a season-low in minutes, feels ominous. It could be nothing, but this is also how some of those miserable questionable-out-questionable-out cycles start (such as the one about to keep Chris Paul out for his 12th game). If Haliburton does miss time, McConnell would likely see a short window as one of the league leaders in assists.
Other recommendations: Malik Monk, Kings (43% rostered); Zach Collins, Spurs (24% rostered); Bruce Brown, Nuggets (60% rostered); Caleb Martin, Heat (52% rostered); Justise Winslow, Trail Blazers (21% rostered); Norman Powell, Clippers (55% rostered); Reggie Jackson, Clippers (49% rostered); Terance Mann, Clippers (13% rostered); Jalen McDaniels, Hornets (27% rostered); Grayson Allen, Bucks (20% rostered); T.J. Warren, Nets (21% rostered)
Jaylen Nowell, Timberwolves (18% rostered)
Nowell keeps with the tradition of using this space to highlight guys who are "meh fine" when their teams are healthy but pop when someone is out. Unfortunately for Nowell, Jaden McDaniels (illness) will likely return soon, directly cutting into Nowell's minutes. But Nowell is versatile, and Karl-Anthony Towns' (calf) injury should lead to the Timberwolves playing more small lineups. That means Nowell could still see some extended run for a while. When the minutes are low, he provides a small helping of 3s, assists, and steals – not enough to add if it weren't for his upside, but not total dead weight. He's a backup facilitator in his typical role, but when he gets more run, it's often because he's getting more time as a scoring and rebounding wing, adding those categories to his Fantasy repertoire. He's averaged 21-4-2 in 26.7 minutes over his last three games with McDaniels out.
Kemba Walker, Mavericks (7% rostered)
The Mavs recently added Walker from free agency, and he will likely make his debut soon. His year in New York was a disaster, but much of the blame belongs to the coaching staff. Walker is only 32 years old, but he's also never fully recovered from Nick Nurse's All-Star Game sabotage. He's one of my favorite players, so I have a hard time being objective, but I still believe he can be a functional NBA contributor, and the Mavericks could use his skills if they're still there.