Especially early in the NBA season, it can be tough to decide whether or not to add a flashy player from the waiver wire in the face of a more dependable end-of-bench guy. Luckily, The Sideline Observer has your back. There are five factors in the Sideline Model for Waiver Wire Pickups™: Minutes, Talent, Team Build, Fantasy Team Build, and Personal Connection.
Also known as the Cody Zeller clause, this factor is perhaps the most important when deciding whether or not to add a player. Very few ballers are able to put up fantasy-relevant stats on fewer than around 25 minutes a game (see JaVale McGee’s blocks as an exception). So make sure that your target is going to be playing consistent minutes.
A fold in this factor could be a time limit on minutes — an opening in the starting lineup due to injury is a common occurrence that caps a player’s ability to put up numbers.
Known as the Aaron Jones conundrum in fantasy football, this factor speaks to a player’s ability, regardless of the minutes he is getting. Just like Jones, there are often players with oodles of talent that just can’t stay on the court, for whatever reason. See Mitchell Robinson for much of his rookie year. If the talent is there, you’ll notice strong per-36 numbers and big games whenever he plays significant enough minutes.
#3: Team Build
Often referred to as the Gordon Hayward paradigm in recent years, this element is not as essential, in that even if a player is getting minutes and has the talent, he might just happen to be the fifth or lower option for his team. Hayward, presumably, is still a talented player; he’s just been stuck behind more talented players in his few seasons on the Boston Celtics. Make sure your player doesn’t need a ton of touches to do well (three-point specialists, rebounders, or defensive players), and this factor shouldn’t be too much of an issue.
#4: Fantasy Team Build
This mostly applies to category leagues, but if positionality is an issue, it could apply to points as well. Make sure your potential add lines up well with your punts – if he’s strongest in the category or two that you’re punting, it probably isn’t worth it. But if we’re talking about someone that could have trade value down the road, don’t hesitate to grab him and pick up that free value. This factor is simple but important.
#5: Personal Connection
This piece might not be important but can make the game a lot more fun. This goes along with the age-old investing advice that “you should invest in the companies you love using.” If you’re going to enjoy having this player on your team, and you’re fairly confident in the other four elements of The Sideline Model for Waiver Pickups, then this should seal the deal.
These might be simple, but follow these five guidelines and you should have an easier time making decisions that can feel more difficult than they actually are.