By Gabe Allen, RotoWire
Special to Yahoo Sports
The injuries are already starting to pile up. This week, Tyler Herro (ankle) and Jamal Murray (hamstring) were the biggest names added to the growing list. While no one should be rooting for injuries — come on, you’re better than that — their existence does provide opportunities for other players to step up who would not otherwise have the chance to do so. As such, most of this week’s suggested pickups play for a team that’s dealing with injuries to a key player or two. Some previously recommended adds are in the same boat, namely Jalen Suggs and Kelly Olynyk, who were mentioned last week. However, aiming to avoid repeats, here’s a new batch of players to consider snagging heading into Week 4.
Jeremy Sochan, San Antonio Spurs (45% rostered)
Sochan has had a few sloppy showings, and his shooting percentages aren’t helpful for category formats. Still, his well-rounded stat line of 9.4 points, 5.3 boards, 4.6 assists and 0.9 steals per game affords him considerable value in points leagues. The most notable area of improvement through nine games has been his assist-to-turnover ratio. Last year, he dished out 2.5 dimes compared to 1.7 turnovers. This year, he has almost doubled his assist average while committing only 1.9 turnovers per night.
Dorian Finney-Smith (45% rostered) and Royce O’Neale (20% rostered), Brooklyn Nets
With Nic Claxton (ankle), Ben Simmons (hip) and Cam Thomas (out) out, fantasy managers in need of short-term streaming options could do far worse than Finney-Smith and O’Neale.
Finney-Smith has scored in double figures in seven of eight contests this season and continues to thrive as a small-ball center amid Claxton’s absence while sporting career highs across several categories, including scoring (13.8 PPG), rebounding (6.0 RPG), made threes (3.4 3PG), blocks (0.9 BPG), and field-goal and three-point shooting percentages (48.2% FG, 45.0% 3PT). Meanwhile, O’Neale is struggling from the field (33.3% FG), but otherwise contributing a solid line of 8.6 points, 6.8 rebounds, 3.3 assists compared to just 1.0 turnovers and 1.1 blocks in just under 32 minutes per night. Until Brooklyn is closer to full strength, both Finney-Smith and O’Neale are worthy of consideration in most formats.
Killian Hayes (44% rostered) and Marcus Sasser (35% rostered), Detroit Pistons
Hayes is off to a strong start this year, apart from his typical shooting woes. While his field-goal percentage (39.1% FG) through nine games represents a career high, it’s his only real blemish. Averaging 10.0 points, 4.8 assists compared to only 0.9 giveaways, 3.1 boards, 1.3 steals and 1.1 threes in over 30 minutes per game, he might continue to be more involved than Jaden Ivey (illness) even once the sophomore guard is healthy.
If Hayes isn’t available in your league, or if you’re searching for someone with a bit more upside as a scorer, rookie Marcus Sasser has been showing impressive flashes. After earning less than 15 minutes in each of the first four games to begin the campaign, Sasser has stepped up over the last five outings, averaging 16.4 points (55.9% FG, 48.1% 3PT, 100.0% FT), 3.8 assists, 3.4 rebounds, 2.6 threes and 1.6 steals in 27.7 minutes.
It would only make sense for the Pistons to prioritize the development of young players like Hayes and Sasser, and veterans such as Alec Burks (forearm) and Joe Harris (shoulder) may be less involved going forward even once they have recovered.
Tari Eason, Houston Rockets (35% rostered)
Eason (leg) stuffed the stat sheet despite seeing limited minutes off the bench during his season debut, posting nine points, nine boards, two assists and one block in 14 minutes. It’s unclear what kind of role he’ll be able to carve out for himself this season, but the sophomore forward has already earned a reputation for making the most of his playing time. The upside is there, making Eason a solid speculative add at the very least.
Kyle Lowry, Miami Heat (35% rostered)
Lowry showed signs of life as a scorer on Wednesday against the Grizzlies, marking the first occasion that he has reached his career scoring average (14.5 PPG) all season. Having delivered a full line of 17 points, 11 boards, nine dimes, four treys and one steal in 35 minutes, the 37-year-old point guard may prove capable of shouldering a more significant load offensively while Tyler Herro (ankle) is out for the next couple weeks. Lowry has still been getting it done in other areas, averaging 5.3 dimes, 4.9 boards, 1.8 threes and 1.4 steals, but a scoring boost (6.9 PPG), even in the short-term, would make him a viable option in all formats.
Moritz Wagner (34% rostered) and Goga Bitadze (24% rostered), Orlando Magic
In the three games since Wendell Carter Jr. (finger) went down, Wagner is averaging 15.0 points, 6.7 boards, 1.3 threes, 0.7 assists and 0.7 steals in 21.7 minutes. Those in need of some short-term help in the scoring and rebounding departments ought to consider Wagner for the next couple weeks. On the other hand, those in need of blocks might want to add Bitadze, who has averaged 9.7 points, 7.0 rebounds, 2.7 blocks, 0.7 assists and 0.7 steals in 23.1 minutes over the last three. Carter is expected to miss at least another week and a half, during which time Wagner and Bitadze will likely continue to evenly split the center minutes.
Xavier Tillman (29% rostered) and Luke Kennard (6% rostered), Memphis Grizzlies
Many fantasy managers are dropping Tillman (-21% Last Day), who is set to miss his third straight game on Friday due to knee soreness. However, he had been producing well-rounded stat lines prior to his injury, averaging 8.3 points, 7.5 boards, 2.5 assists, 1.7 steals, 1.0 blocks and 0.7 threes in 26.3 minutes through six appearances this season. Assuming he raises his dreadful field-goal percentage (36.8% FG) closer to his career mark (54.0% FG), Tillman will see his rostered percentage rise significantly once he’s healthy again. If someone in your league couldn’t afford to stash him or simply became impatient, I’d recommend pouncing on the opportunity to add him now rather than streaming Bismack Biyombo or Santi Aldama.
For those in deeper formats, Luke Kennard is worth a look now that he seems to have recovered from his recent concussion. He has quietly combined for 28 points, seven threes, seven boards, five dimes and two swipes in 59 minutes over the last two games.
Nick Richards, Charlotte Hornets (20% rostered)
Richards is on the radar in deeper leagues thanks to his quality contributions in the field-goal percentage (75.0% FG) and blocks (1.7 BPG) departments. While he’s also chipping in 7.1 points and 5.9 rebounds per night, his potential is limited unless sophomore Mark Williams gets injured. Still, Richards does have decent deep-league value, and anyone already rostering Williams would be wise to consider adding his backup for safekeeping.
Keyonte George, Utah Jazz (15% rostered)
George has already supplanted Talen Horton-Tucker in the starting lineup, and the rookie turned in seven points, nine dimes versus only one turnover, two boards and one trey in 31 minutes during his first career start. Based on his first start alone, George shouldn’t be so widely available. If he’s on the wire in your league, I’d add him now before it’s too late. One more solid showing and his rostered percentage will likely skyrocket.
Reggie Jackson, Denver Nuggets (14% rostered)
Jackson registered 20 points, six assists, three treys and two boards in 32 minutes during Denver’s second game without Jamal Murray (hamstring). With Murray expected to miss the remainder of the month at minimum, Jackson is an intriguing add, especially in deep leagues.
Sam Hauser, Boston Celtics (4% rostered)
Hauser has been one of the only bright spots off Boston’s bench thus far. Having drained 12 triples over the last four games while reaching double figures in scoring three times, Hauser is a decent option for those in need of threes in deeper leagues.
Recent recommendations: Jalen Suggs, Kevin Huerter, Kyle Anderson, Kelly Olynyk, Grayson Allen, Lonnie Walker IV, Alex Caruso, Dario Saric