Working the waiver wire is crucial to succeeding in fantasy basketball. With so many games, injuries and endless shifts in rotations throughout the season, we need to source stats from free agency to maximize our imaginary rosters.
In this weekly series, we identify players available in more than 40 percent of ESPN leagues at each position. Some nominations are purely specialists capable of helping in one or two categories, while others deliver more diverse and important statistical offerings. Either way, we believe the names below -- ordered by ownership rate at each position -- can contribute positively to fantasy rosters.
Darren Collison, Sacramento Kings (Rostered in 58.7 percent of ESPN leagues): In the wake of Rudy Gay's season-ending injury, Collison is enjoying a sizable increase in usage and offensive upside, as he's averaging 19.5 points and an elite offensive rating of 129 points per 100 possessions over the past four games.
Marcus Smart, Boston Celtics (32.8): 17th on the Player Rater among point guards over the past week, Smart is sixth in the league over the past 10 games in steals. Sourcing steals is a difficult task, given how scarce the stat proves, so finding a guard with such sticky hands on defense proves rewarding. Even when Avery Bradley returns to action, I admire Smart's ability to blend assists with steals as the team's third guard.
T.J. McConnell, Philadelphia 76ers (25.6): As the league leader in passes per game over the past six contests, it makes sense to find McConnell fifth in assists per game over this successful sample. As the ball-dominant distributor on a surging team, McConnell is a useful addition for those in need of an uptick in dimes.
Matthew Dellavedova, Milwaukee Bucks (9.9): The rise of rookie Malcolm Brogdon has proved impressive, but this also has led to the market forgetting about Delly's capable skill set as a deft distributor. Averaging 13 points, 5.4 assists, 1.8 3-pointers, and nearly a steal over the past five games -- all starts -- Dellavedova is worthy of consideration in all formats of at least 12 teams.
Tyler Johnson, Miami Heat (53.8): With just three bench spots in standard ESPN leagues, it's difficult to endure injuries to utility guards such as Johnson. It's fitting, then, to see Johnson dropped in 12 percent of leagues over the past week, given a lingering shoulder injury that held him out of the past five games. Listed as probable for Miami's Monday tilt with the Nets -- one of the friendliest fantasy matchups in the league -- it's time to acquire Johnson in order to net his healthy share of the team's offense.
Dion Waiters, Miami Heat (50.0): Ninth in the NBA in drives per game on the season, Waiters' busy offensive role for the Heat has led to 19.6 points per game and nearly five dimes per game over his past nine outings, all starts. While we can expect increased competition for touches once Johnson and Josh Richardson return to form, Waiters' role as the team's aggressive isolation option drives value.
Courtney Lee, New York Knicks (10.7): Lost in the drama surrounding Carmelo Anthony's situation in New York is Lee's recent statistical success, as the shooting guard is seventh on the Player Rater at the position over the past week, thanks to hitting half of his attempts from beyond the arc in 34 minutes of exposure per game over his past four starts.
Wayne Ellington, Miami Heat (6.7): This is clearly the Heat edition of the waiver wire column, as Ellington has emerged as a valuable shooting specialist over the past week. Ranked sixth among shooting guards on the Player Rater over the past seven days, Ellington is averaging 3.2 made 3-pointers and 1.8 steals over his past five appearances. Even as a rental while he's hot from the field, Ellington is a valuable addition to consider.
Kent Bazemore, Atlanta Hawks (55.2): The departure of Kyle Korver opened up significant offensive opportunity for Bazemore, as he's averaging 15.3 shots per game over his past four, compared to 9.9 over his first 41 games of the campaign. When we consider his positive defensive contributions, Bazemore becomes a valuable perimeter asset, thanks to the uptick in offensive workload.
Robert Covington, Philadelphia 76ers (42.2): A talented perimeter defender, Covington is averaging 1.9 steals and 1.2 blocks in January. This rare, proficient blend of defensive production is buoyed by 1.9 3-pointers per game over this sample.
Jaylen Brown, Boston Celtics (2.2): We're interested only in streaming Brown in truly deep and competitive weekly formats, as he's enjoying a valuable surge in opportunity with 58 minutes of playing time over his past two outings. Quality work on the glass supports our interest in the rising rookie.
Marcus Morris, Detroit Pistons (53.8): Minutes are the fuel for fantasy success, so it's entirely relevant to note Morris is averaging a robust 36.8 over his past nine starts. With such steady exposure, Morris contributes positive production in points, boards, steals and 3-pointers.
Terrence Jones, New Orleans Pelicans (33.2): Finally afforded steady minutes as the complementary scoring option to Anthony Davis, Jones is averaging 20.5 points, 7.5 boards, and 1.5 blocks over his past four games. Given this successful shift in usage, Jones merits universal ownership.
Al-Farouq Aminu, Portland Trail Blazers (25.4): An elite interior defender helping shift Portland's overall defensive metrics over the past month, Aminu affords investors a coveted combination of rebounds and defensive rates.
Clint Capela, Houston Rockets (54.3): On a team driven by impressive pace, Capela is the Rockets' key rim protector. With at least one block in all but one of his past seven games and at least 12 points in four of his past five, Capela is once again a must-own commodity.
David Lee, San Antonio Spurs (33.0): In the wake of Pau Gasol's injury, Lee is averaging 12.6 points and 9.8 boards over his past five games. As a valuable rental capable of double-double production, Lee is an intriguing addition in all formats.
Bismack Biyombo, Orlando Magic (18.2): Biyombo doesn't offer a diverse collection of statistics, but that's just fine, given he's capable of providing strong rebounding and block rates when afforded enough on-court exposure. If the Magic make any moves involving Serge Ibaka or Nikola Vucevic, Biyombo would become a must-add asset, given the subsequent surge in minutes he would see in such a scenario.