Early snags off the waiver wire in fantasy hoops can range from solid gold to a fake watch. Knowing whether to hold a guy or strike the trade market at peak value can set you up for a whole season. These early-season studs are the real deal. 

WILL THE THRILL

Will Barton was a 2012 second-round pick of the Blazers that never got a chance. He’s making up for lost time with the Nuggets. Still only 24 years old, Barton continues to be the Nuggets’ best player on an almost nightly basis. It’s therefore impossible for coach Mike Malone to keep him off the court, as evidenced by his 26.7 minutes per game. Look for that number to rise as the rebuilding franchise takes minutes away from veterans like Jameer Nelson and Randy Foye. 

 

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GODZINGAS

The boos of draft night are a distant memory now. The 7-foot-3 Kristaps Porzingas has a very high fantasy floor because of his unique triple-threat skill set. By that, I mean blocks, rebounds and 3-pointers. Guess how many players averaged at last one of each last year? Zero! The only one closest was Draymond Green, who finished as fantasy’s No. 20 overall player (1.3 blk, 7.9 rebs, 1.7 treys). Porzingod was at 1.7 blks, 9.5 rebounds and 1.0 treys through the first 11 games of November. 

KEEP THAT ISH

Yes, the Pelicans are extremely banged up right now. But that doesn’t mean we should be looking to move Ish Smith. Jrue Holiday, Eric Gordon and Anthony Davis have all had trouble staying healthy and Ish’s skill set can’t be denied. An aggressive point guard who gets into the paint at will, Smith is third on the team in Player Efficiency Rating and is the only one on the roster with a positive Plus/Minus (+1.2). Even when the Pels get bodies back, Smith will be useful in the 25-minute range. 

 

NFL PICKUPS OF THE WEEK

1. Thomas Rawls, RB, Seahawks – A mini Beast Mode who runs violently and was a favorite of the Draftnik community. Lynch’s ab injury could be serious. 

2. Buck Allen, RB, Ravens – The Ravens are in trouble with Matt Schaub at the helm, but Allen is a volume play with Justin Forsett (arm) done.  

3. Brock Osweiler, QB, Broncos – In his first career start, Brock went for 250 yards with 2 TDs on the road in freezing temps without Manny Sanders. 

 

NFL Matchups

Fire up these borderline wideouts in Week 12:

1. Leonard Hankerson vs. MIN – Last week proved Hankerson’s hamstring was healthy. The tape will prove the nine targets to Roddy White were a waste.  

2. Stevie Johnson at JAX – The Chargers have no prayer of running the ball against the Jags’ quietly dominant run defense. 

3. Kendall Wright vs. OAK – Coming off injury, but will work out of the slot against some of the worst corners in the league against a defense that funnels action to the pass.