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NBA Bench Risers: Waiver Wire Sleepers for Fantasy Basketball (Week 18)


NBA teams have a multitude of players coming off the bench, each with a unique role to fill. As a fantasy owner, you need to decide which of those players can contribute across multiple categories and have the potential to make the most of their time on the court.

To find bench players that can contribute more than just energy and defense during their time on the court, I will analyze usage rate and Per 36 statistics.

Below are my Week 18 bench risers and waiver wire adds for fantasy basketball. These are some bench players whose stock should be rising based on their recent play and could be great fantasy pickups for deep leagues.

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Rising NBA Bench Performers

Note: I will only be selecting players who are not regular starters and who are owned in less than 50% of Yahoo! leagues.

Willie Cauley-Stein (C, SAC) 43% owned - With DeMarcus Cousins out of Sacramento, opportunity has finally come knocking for another former Wildcat. Cauley-Stein should inherit a lot more minutes and most likely the starting center job. His averages off the bench aren't eye-popping at just 7.5 boards per-36, with 1.4 steals and 1.3 blocks. He has flashed the ability to finish strong around the basket and could increase his 16 points per 36 minutes average now that his usage promises to jump up.

Cauley-Stein's offensive game is still limited at this point, but the fact that he mainly hangs around the rim is a good thing. His Effective FG% of .561 would place him 20th in the league, tied with Hassan Whiteside, if he had enough attempts to qualify. To become a real fantasy asset, Cauley-Stein will have to increase his rebounding numbers. The fact that Cousins dominated the boards with an 18% Reb% and is no longer in town should be enough. Don't expect Boogie-like numbers this season, but there's a reason Cauley-Stein was the sixth overall pick in last year's draft. Now is his time to shine.

Tim Frazier (PG/SG, NO) 34% owned - Another winner from the Cousins deal may be backup point guard Tim Frazier. He was a smart pickup early this season while Jrue Holiday was out, but he has played sparingly since Holiday and Tyreke Evans have both returned to action. Now it appears Frazier will see some time on the floor at shooting guard as well as backing up Holiday at the point.

In his first 20 starts, Frazier averaged about 12 points and eight assists per game. Those figures match his career per-36 averages. As a reserve, those numbers were cut in half. Although Frazier may still be coming off the bench, the Pelicans are razor thin at the guard position behind Holiday and E'Twaun Moore to the point they are trying out free agents to fill a roster spot. Even though Moore will likely start, Frazier could get more minutes than him, with the potential for a huge role should the oft-injured Holiday go down again. Frazier won't be worth starting in your fantasy lineup unless Holiday is out, but he could be a nice depth addition at point guard and insurance policy.

Channing Frye (PF/C, CLE) 39% owned - Maybe you've dug yourself too deep a hole in the three-point categories or just need a few extra points to boost yourself in the standings. In that case, having a pure shooter like Frye at the center spot could solve your problems. Frye has suddenly become fantasy-relevant with the news that Kevin Love will be out approximately six weeks. Unless the Cavs pull an unexpected last-second trade, it appears Frye is their short-term solution. He responded with 21 points and 10 rebounds on Valentine's Day, only to shoot 1-for-8 the next night. Like any shooter, he'll run hot and cold, but the fact he played over 30 minutes in each contest is encouraging enough.

Frye's current .408 3P% is the second-highest mark of his career. This could mean that he's due for some regression, but then again he hasn't played on such a talented team for most of his career spanning 12 seasons and five teams. Having a center who shoots .843 from the charity stripe can also be beneficial, especially if your first center is Dwight Howard, Andre Drummond, or DeAndre Jordan. You can only expect about 7.3 rebounds per-36 from Frye, but if you're adding him, you aren't doing it for big man stats anyway. Frye is enjoying the second-highest usage rate of his career and the highest since his rookie season (20%). Expect him to keep firing away up until the close of the regular season.


By popular demand, RotoBaller has aggregated all of our fantasy basketball NBA waiver wire pickups into a running list of NBA waiver options, so bookmark the page and check back often for updates.