Fantasy Basketball: Players to consider dropping for your waiver wire pickups

Boston Celtics veteran Al Horford is getting tough to hold onto in fantasy leagues. (Photo by Matthew J. Lee/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

By Mike Barner, RotoWire

Special to Yahoo Sports

Early in the season, it can be difficult to move on from players fantasy managers were happy to target with one of their final few draft picks. However, holding onto the wrong player for too long could prevent managers from adding a hot waiver wire option who could provide significant value in the long run. Let’s discuss some players who are rostered in a lot of Yahoo leagues to consider dropping.

Al Horford, PF/C, Boston Celtics (49% rostered)

Horford’s production has been on a steady decline the last few seasons. He averaged 9.8 points per game last season, which marked the first season of his career in which he averaged fewer than 10.0 points. The Celtics still had him play 31 minutes a game, though, with Robert Williams often injured. That helped Horford remain relevant in fantasy with 6.2 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.0 blocks and 2.3 3-pointers per game.

The Celtics made a significant change in the offseason, moving on from Williams and bringing in Kristaps Porziņģis. At 37 years old, they knew that they needed a more reliable center to help them back off on Horford’s minutes. With him averaging just 22.0 minutes through their first three games, Horford has put up just 5.3 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 0.7 3-pointers. Unless Porziņģis were to get injured, this is likely a reduced role that the Celtics would prefer to keep Horford in moving forward.

Norman Powell, SG/SF, Los Angeles Clippers (47% rostered)

For Powell to be worth rostering in fantasy, he has to score in bunches. He has never averaged more than 3.7 rebounds per game, and he has posted fewer than 2.0 assists in all but one season of his career. The scoring production has been there, though. Powell has averaged at least 16.0 points and 1.9 3-pointers in each of the last four seasons. An added bonus is that he shot at least 46.1 percent from the field in each of those campaigns.

With Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and Russell Westbrook all healthy, Powell has a modest 21.1 percent usage rate that has left him to average 14.5 points and 2.0 3-pointers per game. The addition of James Harden isn’t likely to help Powell’s case for more shot attempts. Injuries could elevate Powell into a larger role at some point in the season, but with everyone healthy now and Harden coming into the fold, holding onto Powell is not a must.

Obi Toppin, PF, Indiana Pacers (46% rostered)

The Knicks selected Toppin with the eighth pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, but they never really gave him an opportunity to contribute. He was stuck behind Julius Randle, who logged a ton of minutes under head coach Tom Thibodeau. That left Toppin to average 17 minutes or fewer in each of his first three seasons in the league. A move to the Pacers in the offseason left Toppin with the potential for more playing time, making him an appealing late-round target in drafts.

Unfortunately for Toppin, it has been a case of new team, same results. He has averaged only 20 minutes through his first three games with the Pacers. That has contributed to his modest averages of 7.0 points, 5.3 rebounds and 0.7 3-pointers per game. Jarace Walker has barely played, but Aaron Nesmith has logged 27 minutes per game. Toppin still has upside, but with his current limited role, it’s not wild to drop him for someone who can provide more immediate production.

Jalen Suggs, PG/SG, Orlando Magic (35% rostered)

Suggs hasn’t been able to live up to the hype that came with being selected with the fifth pick in the 2021 Draft. One of the main reasons for his struggles has been a lack of efficiency. He shot 36.1% from the field during his rookie campaign, which he followed up by shooting 41.9% last season. His struggles contributed to him averaging only 24 minutes per game last season.

While Suggs has been bumped up to 27 minutes per game so far this season, he has averaged just 11.3 points on 41.0% shooting from the field. Another alarming stat is that he has provided only 1.8 assists per game. With Markelle Fultz leading the charge at point guard, assists could continue to be hard for Suggs to come by. Even if he were to see added playing time at some point in the season, his lack of efficiency and ability to contribute in multiple departments makes him someone difficult to justify holding onto right now.

Patrick Williams, PF, Chicago Bulls (35% rostered)

He’s not officially there yet, but Williams is on his way to being a bust. The Bulls selected him with the fourth pick in the 2020 Draft with the hopes that he could be their power forward of the future. He is a talented player, especially on the defensive end with his ability to guard multiple positions. He has also shot 40.9% from behind the arc for his career.

The problem with Williams is that he doesn’t look for his shot often enough and seems to lack aggression on the glass. After logging 30 minutes in their season opener, he has played 22 or fewer minutes in each of the last three games. The coaching staff doesn’t seem to have much faith in him late in close games, and they have a proven veteran in Torrey Craig who provides a similar skill set. Even Alex Caruso can play power forward late in games with how strong he is defensively. Don’t let the draft pedigree fool you. Williams should only be rostered in the deepest of leagues.