Working the Wire: Hidden gems from the dumpster

Every now and then, I like to do some dumpster diving on the most-dropped list just to see if any hidden gems have been tossed aside by impatient fantasy owners. While perusing the list this week, I noticed that an abnormal amount of high-profile players are now new additions to the waiver wire. More than just a few former fantasy studs are struggling, and many owners are on the fence about whether to ride out the storm or cut their losses. With that in mind, let's take a look at some of the big-name players who are currently on the chopping block in fantasy leagues.

On the bubble

Brad Miller, C, Kings: Miller is in a tough spot. Not only is he an older player on a team that's going nowhere, but he's also got a couple of talented youngsters who are licking their chops to take his minutes. Not a great combination, if you ask me. Miller was decent enough in the early going, but has struggled as of late with 8.7 points, 6.3 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 0.3 steals in just 24.9 minutes per game in the month of December. Most concerning has been the lack of minutes, and owners have to understand Miller will not return to form unless his minutes increase. Unfortunately, that's not likely to happen (unless he's traded or injury strikes), as the 7-19 Kings will turn more and more to Spencer Hawes and Jason Thompson as the season progresses.

Recommendation: Drop in 10-team leagues, hold in deeper formats.

Corey Maggette, SG/SF, Warriors: Sometimes I think fantasy owners need a refresher on the definition of the term "out indefinitely." Of course we don't ever want to see those words next to our players' names, but it doesn't necessarily mean the end of the world. Just look at Josh Howard -- he was "out indefinitely" this past week, but returned to action Monday. I've seen a lot of e-mails coming in asking if Maggette should be dropped for a hot pickup. Absolutely not. I look at it this way: If you weren't thinking about dropping Josh Howard or Tracy McGrady and you're not thinking about dropping Carlos Boozer, then you shouldn't be thinking about cutting Maggette. He's simply too valuable when he's on the court.
Recommendation: Hold in leagues of all sizes.

Lamar Odom, SF/PF, Lakers: It's always tough to part with a player of Odom's caliber, but that's exactly what owners should be doing right now. Odom had a huge game with Pau Gasol out Tuesday against the Knicks, but that seems to be the only time he's producing these days. With averages of just 8.8 points, 6.3 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 0.9 blocks in 26.2 minutes per game, only owners in deep leagues can afford to hold on to Odom at this point. The lack of minutes is concerning, and his only redeeming quality right now is his per-minute production on the defensive end (steals and blocks).
Recommendation: Drop in 10-team leagues, hold in deeper formats.

Wilson Chandler, SF, Knicks: Don't even think about it. Sure, he's been in a little shooting slump since Al Harrington and Tim Thomas joined the roster, but it's not affecting his playing time. In fact, he's seeing 37.0 minutes in the month of December! His numbers have decreased, for sure, but I wouldn't even consider dropping a versatile player like Chandler when he's seeing that much of the court. Besides, Chandler's numbers aren't even that bad this month: 13.3 points, 5.6 rebounds, 0.8 steals, 0.9 blocks and 1.2 3-pointers in December.
Recommendation: Hold in leagues of all sizes

Samuel Dalembert, C, 76ers: What is wrong with Sammy D this season? I know the Sixers are a mess and he's been playing alongside a dominant post threat for the first time in his career, but that's no excuse for averaging just 4.5 points, 6.4 rebounds and 0.8 blocks in the month of December. I mean 0.8 blocks? Really, Sam? That's simply unacceptable for a guy who swatted 2.3 shots per game in 2007-08. Dalembert should get a big boost now that Elton Brand is out for a month, but don't blindly assume he's going to return to '07-08 form. Brand missed two games earlier this month and Dalembert did nothing with the opportunity. Perhaps he'll regain some confidence over the next month, so hold him for now. Just don't expect any miracles because I have a feeling that his poor play is directly related to the left knee injury that has bothered him since the preseason.
Recommendation: Hold while Brand mends.

Leandro Barbosa, PG/SG, Suns: If you haven't already jumped ship, perhaps the Jason Richardson acquisition will give you the courage to drop Barbosa. Leandro was already struggling to earn minutes in Terry Porter's rotation, with just 22.4 per game on the season, and it hasn't gotten any better with J-Rich around. It's only been three games, but Barbosa clearly isn't part of Porter's plans at the moment -- he's played just 19 minutes per game since the trade. Go ahead and cut him loose, but be ready to pounce if the minutes return because Barbosa is putting up tremendous per-minute numbers this season.
Recommendation: Drop in 10-team leagues, hold in deeper formats.

Pickups: Shallow formats

Players named in previous weeks who remain quality waiver-wire additions: Boris Diaw, Larry Hughes, Kevin Love, Anderson Varejao, J.R. Smith, Kendrick Perkins, Tim Thomas, Matt Bonner, Craig Smith, Jose Juan Barea (only for deeper leagues now that Josh Howard is back) and Ryan Gomes.

Rodney Stuckey, PG/SG, Pistons (24.3 percent owned): Stuckey was the sleeper pick of the preseason for a reason and he's finally starting to show why. With averages of 13.4 points, 8.3 assists, 1.4 steals and 0.9 3-pointers in nine games this month, Stuckey's breakout has coincided with an increase in minutes (surprise, surprise). Now earning 31.3 minutes per game, Stuckey has finally arrived. Get him now and enjoy the ride.

Mickael Pietrus, SG/SF, Magic (64.6 percent owned): After missing 10 games with a torn ligament in his thumb, Pietrus is set to return to action sometime next week. Prior to the injury, Pietrus was a solid source of points (12.9), steals (0.8) and 3-pointers (1.5) while adding in solid percentages from both the floor (47.5 percent) and the line (84.8 percent). Those numbers are a little below what I was expecting, but they're good enough to make it on most rosters. And since no one in Orlando was able to step up at shooting guard in his absence, Pietrus should have no problem earning his job back upon his return.

Andray Blatche, PF/C, Wizards (3.3 percent owned): Blatche has been mentioned in this column so many times over the past two years I'm almost sick of talking about him. Clearly I have some sort of an obsession with him, despite his inconsistent nature. Maybe he'll finally make me look good this time around. New head coach Ed Tapscott seems to think so -- Tapscott has made Blatche his new starting center, and he has responded with back-to-back strong outings. Last season, Blatche was a fantasy monster as a starter with 11.5 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1.2 steals and 1.9 blocks in 15 starts. He may not duplicate those numbers, but with upside like that, Blatche makes for a great high-risk/high-reward pickup in leagues of all sizes.

Lou Williams, PG, 76ers (3.7 percent owned): Like Stuckey, Williams was a regular on many sleeper lists this fall. He failed to live up to expectations early in the season, but has turned it up a notch as of late with 18.8 points, 1.3 steals and 0.8 3-pointers over his past five games. Williams won't do much in rebounds or assists, but he can be a valuable addition for points, steals and 3-pointers, particularly while the Sixers look to run a little more with Brand out of action.

Jason Kapono, SG/SF, Raptors (2.5 percent owned): Kapono would be a much more attractive option if he could provide more than just points and 3-pointers, but he is who he is, and we shouldn't expect much more than that. New head coach Jay Triano has inserted Kapono into the starting lineup (for now) and Kapono has responded with 14.0 points and 2.8 3-pointers per game in his past five games. He may not stick as a starter, but owners should not hesitate to scoop him up if they need a boost in points and 3s.

Pickups: Deep formats

James Posey, SG/SF, Hornets (20.8 percent owned): Posey is much more valuable in real life than he is in fantasy, and that is probably why he is slightly overrated in fantasy leagues. Don't get me wrong, he can be a solid producer at times, but he's really just a 3-point specialist for fantasy purposes. Still, he is playing well enough to be added in deeper formats with 11.4 points, 6.4 rebounds, 2.6 3-pointers and a steal per game over his past five.

Marco Belinelli, SG, Warriors (0.9 percent owned): All right, Belinelli clearly has some talent and upside, but I can't realistically recommend him in anything other than deep leagues when Don Nelson keeps toying with his lineups. Belinelli has averaged 15.4 points, 3.0 assists, 0.8 steals and 2.0 3-pointers over his past five games, but will he stick in the lineup for longer than a week? Nobody knows, probably not even Nelson himself.

Mike James, PG, Wizards (0.4 percent owned): This past week we discussed Juan Dixon's value with Antonio Daniels gone; now, it's time to discuss Mike James. James replaced Dixon in the starting lineup Wednesday night and had 16 points, two steals and two 3-pointers in a loss to the Pistons. It remains to be seen if he'll stick in the starting lineup, but it wouldn't be a bad gamble to swap Dixon for James if you're looking for a point guard.

Tyrus Thomas, PF, Bulls (8.6 percent owned): After back-to-back solid games, the buzz around Thomas has resurfaced for the moment. We all know he has a ton of upside, so go ahead and pick him up again as long as you realize there's a very good chance he'll return to his normal inconsistent self sometime down the road.

Marreese Speights, PF, 76ers (0.5 percent owned): While Thaddeus Young appears to be the big winner in the wake of Brand's injury, Speights also figures to benefit in the Philly frontcourt. The rookie has looked good in limited minutes this season, and has some upside in points, rebounds and blocks while Brand recovers.

Brian McKitish is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN. He can be reached at bmckitish@yahoo.com.