Watchlist Essentials: Six Fantasy Basketball Players Who Need To Be On Your Radar

In fantasy basketball, drafting a decent squad is only half the battle. Knowing who and when to add someone off the waiver wire can go a long way in securing future success. However, unless you're in the shallowest of shallow leagues, you can't afford to wait and see if a player is going to be valuable. You need to be proactive, but the only way your diligence will pay off is if you know who to pick up beforehand.

After all, if you were in a deep league last year, you couldn't have afforded to wait and see if Kris Humphries would pan out after the Nets traded Derrick Favors, or if Hedo Turkoglu would experience a renaissance after moving back to Orlando. If you didn't add them the instant they saw an increased role, it was probably too late. The same goes for Marcus Thornton when he was dealt to the Kings; he needed to be owned the second it happened.

But if scouting potential waiver wire studs is important, who exactly should be scouted? Tough to say. Fantasy isn't an exact science, and we're all basically weathermen when we guess who will pan out and who will suck. After all, who the hell thought Kyle Lowry would become one of the five best point guards in fantasy basketball? In my estimation: no one. Still, there are players in the league who show flashes brilliance every time they step on the court, players who deserve universal ownership if an injury or trade paved the way for them to see the court on a consistent basis.

Here are five potential stat-stuffers who should be on everybody's watch lists:

Goran Dragic

Kyle Lowry is a beast and his role isn't going to diminish any time soon. But Goran Dragic, Lowry's backup in Houston, is barely a step off from him. He's had the misfortune of playing behind studs his whole career, but in the limited time he's seen an increase in minutes, he's been awesome. In a playoff game at San Antonio a few years ago, he even scored 24 points in a single fourth quarter. Dragic is something of a mix between Jose Calderon and Ricky Rubio. He's not a horrible shooter, and he sports a totally acceptable assist-to-turnover ratio; he has a fantastic ability to make layups, something John Wall should really study in the offseason. In a thirty-minute-per-game role, there's no reason why he shouldn't produce a very respectable line. Clearly, the only way Dragic is going to get a lot of playing time is if Lowry sticks his hand in a snowblower, ala Joe Sakic, and misses the rest of the year. But should that happen, don't hesitate to click the '+' button next to Dragic's name.

Omer Asik

Asik is the best-kept fantasy secret in basketball. He's the next Marcin Gortat, the next Marc Gasol. He's waiting, dying to get a decent role, and the moment he does he'll not only average double-double numbers in the vain of Kris Humphries, he'll even block two shots per game. To the untrained eye, Asik's 5.6 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game look utterly pedestrian... that is, until you consider that he's only playing 16.3 minutes per game. His Per-48-minutes averages are insane; he'd be averaging 3.6 blocks per game, almost a full block more than Andrew Bynum and Dwight Howard, and his 16.6 rebounds per game would be the ninth best rate in the league, even above Kevin Love. He deserves to be the trendiest name in fantasy, because unlike constant disappointments such as Tyrus Thomas and Anthony Randolph who also have tantalizing Per-48 stats, Asik has actually had monster performances with the guys in front of him still completely healthy. Should the situation arise where Joakim Noah misses some time, Asik needs to be owned ASAP. He's that good.

Wilson Chandler

What a weird, weird situation this is. Chandler made the terrible mistake of signing with a Chinese team in the offseason on the presumption that there wouldn't be an NBA season this year. He was almost vindicated... almost. At the moment, Chandler is still meeting out his requirements in China, but he's free to rejoin the NBA in March. Whoever he signs with, there'll be an immediate scramble to add him in 90% of fantasy leagues, so be aware that you may have to stash him weeks before he actually plays a single game. Rest assured though: a healthy Wilson Chandler is definitely someone you want on your team. Last year, he averaged 15.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, 1.6 three's and 1.3 blocks per game with the New York Knicks and Denver Nuggets. For someone with shooting guard eligibility, those are tremendous numbers. Only D-Wade offers that many blocks and rebounds from the two-guard position, and not even Wade hits that many three's; Wade also averages way more points and assists and steals, but that's beside the point. The fact is that Chandler is a terrific player, and isn't likely to latch onto a team where he won't get a lot of playing time. If you can afford to wait for him to return, start calculating when to pick him up.

Tyler Hansbrough

It's very likely that Tyler Hansbrough has drifted to your free-agent pool. He finished last season on a flourish, averaging 16.8 points and 7.1 rebounds per game in March of 2011. The problem with Hansbrough is that he's now coming off the bench, as Indiana has stockpiled a plethora of other big dudes between Danny Granger, Roy Hibbert and David West. The odds of the three of them staying healthy the rest of the year would seem to be a longshot. And hey, Indiana's looking so good they appear like they could have all the motivation in the world to rest their regulars in the final weeks of the year, which could open the door to Hansbrough being relevant again. He offers very little blocks and steals for a power forward, but his percentages are excellent and he's a gifted scorer. If he can somehow get his 30-minute-per-game starting role back, he'll warrant your attention. In the meantime, keep an eye on how many minutes Granger, Hibbert and West play the rest of the year.

Randy Foye

Poor, poor Randy Foye. He was just an okay in Minnesota and Washington, but now whenever he comes off the bench for the Clippers, he looks fantastic. In six spot-starts this season, Foye has averaged 10.7 points, 4.3 rebounds, and over one three, steal and block a game. Those aren't earth-shattering numbers, but the diversity in production is phenomenal for someone at the point guard position. Unfortunately, Mr. Foye is trapped in fantasy hell at the moment. Of all the teams he could be on, he happens to be on the one with Chris Paul, Mo Williams and Chauncey Billups. So yeah, getting to the head of the depth chart is going to be nearly impossible. Still, should one of the three get hurt again, and should Foye take over either the starting shooting guard or point guard positions, don't hesitate to add him to your fake team.

Derrick Favors

If you're in a competitive league, this guy probably isn't available at the moment, what with Al Jefferson missing some games with an injury. When A.J. returns, Favors might get kicked to the waiver wire once again, and should that happen -- or should he be available in this instance -- fantasy owners should take a good, hard look at him. With the previous five guys on this list, only Chandler is probable to get a decent role on a team in the near future; the rest, we can only speculate about. Favors is different. Utah has stockpiled so many big guys to such a degree that it's impossible to conclude that they won't deal any of them. Paul Millsap is the likeliest of them to amscray. In his brief time as a starter, Favors' have only been so-so. But he's young, and is on a team that appears to be catering to him, like when they started him over Millsap at the beginning of the year. It's not only possible but probably that Favors will finish the season as the Utah Jazz' starting power forward, and for that alone, he deserves your attention.

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