There’s nothing like the early-season waiver wire in the NBA.

Patience serves owners well in the long slog that is baseball. In football, there is no stone unturned prior to fantasy drafts. But in hoops, new systems, improved players and changes in role aren’t nearly as known. Don’t hesitate to react quickly if we see good stuff out of emerging youngsters like this:

 

LEAN ON LEONARD

The Blazers completely cleaned house this offseason. They lost LaMarcus Aldridge, Nicolas Batum, Robin Lopez, Arron Afflalo and Wes Matthews. Meanwhile, they added very little. It’s going to be the Damian Lillard chuck and duck show, but big man Meyers Leonard is an underrated talent. He averaged 0.9 treys per game last year despite playing just 15.4 minutes a night and was at 6.7 rebounds per game in the preseason on just 24.7 minutes. Now Leonard is looking at something in the 28-31 minute range, giving him serious upside. 

 

STAN THE MAN

Rookies such as Karl-Anthony Towns, Jahlil Okafor and Emmanuel Mudiay are already on everyone’s radar. But No. 8 overall pick Stanley Johnson of the Pistons has the sneaky upside. He’s starting off in a bench role behind Marcus Morris, the underwhelming twin of Markieff. Johnson has the ability to overtake that starting gig before too long, as shown by his impressive preseason. Morris’ 18-10-4 opening night line is a temporary hurdle.  

 

BOOGIE ON BOJAN

Deron Williams is gone, Joe Johnson is a shell of himself and the Nets have already used Bojan Bogdanovic in big spots. He played 34.3 minutes a night in the playoff series against the Hawks last year, making 1.8 treys per game. Bojan’s main competition for minutes this year is Wayne Ellington, who has played for six teams in his seven-year career. There’s always room for a specialist on our roster, especially in head-to-head formats.

 

NFL PICKUPS OF THE WEEK

1. Darren McFadden, RB, Cowboys – Joseph Randle (oblique) is hurt. But even if he wasn’t the Cowboys want to make a change. 

2. Chris Polk, RB, Texans – Alfred Blue may get the start with Arian Foster done, but Polk is more versatile and talented. 

3. Ladarius Green, TE, Chargers – Bond with Philip Rivers continues to grow. 35-year-old Antonio Gates battling knee issues. 

 

NFL Matchups

Fire up these borderline wideouts in Week 8:

1. Golden Tate vs. KC – Perfect spot for new OC Jim Bob Cooter to get Matthew Stafford going. The Lions won’t be able to run on the Chiefs.  

2. Stefon Diggs at CHI – At this point, Diggs is the clear-cut No. 1 receiver for Teddy Bridgewater. Yes, he’s passed Mike Wallace.  

3. Martavis Bryant vs. CIN – With Ben Roethlisberger likely back, it’s time for this potent Steelers offense to erupt. 

 

 

NFL NEWS

The Chiefs don’t like Knile Davis anymore. That’s become extremely obvious in the wake of Jamaal Charles’ knee injury, as Davis has just six carries in the last two games. Meanwhile Charcandrick West has gotten a long leash. Although West struggled to 9-33-0 in his first game following Charles’ injury, the impressive athlete rebounded for 22-110-1 against the Steelers Sunday. Even more importantly, he functioned as the primary red-zone and passing-down back.