There is no good time for an injury in fantasy basketball.
But some points on the calendar are more problematic than others, say, during or just ahead of your league playoffs, perhaps.
That makes everything a potential minefield right about now. Obviously, the big stuff such as Brandon Ingram's season-ending health scare can possibly burst a postseason bubble. But even lesser ailments like Jrue Holiday's abdominal strain or Jeff Teague's foot inflammation can sink a season if not swiftly and correctly addressed.
Luckily, the waiver wire always has something intriguing to offer, so we'll spotlight three potential pickups—available in 50-plus percent of Yahoo Sports leagues—to either help you cover up for present injuries or prepare for future ones.
Kenneth Faried, PF/C, Houston Rockets (49 Percent Owned)
A five-game absence (adductor) likely helped Kenneth Faried slip below our 50-percent threshold, and you shouldn't hesitate to pounce on this late-season value.
The Manimal's limitations as a shooter will hold back his categorical contributions and possibly keep him in the 20-minute range moving forward. But even then, he can be an asset for rebounds, field-goal percentage, points or blocks.
His first game back from an injury was a sampling of what he offers. He totaled 16 points in just 20 minutes of work, hitting half of his 10 field-goal attempts and all six of his free throws. He also snagged nine rebounds and rounded out his line with both a steal and a block.
Before his injury, Faried reached double digits in his first 15 games with Houston. He may not recreate all those numbers, but his averages from that stretch were 15.8 points on 60.2 percent shooting, 9.9 rebounds, 1 block and 0.7 steals.
Marcus Smart, PG/SG, Boston Celtics (47 Percent Owned)
For the longest time, Marcus Smart appeared miscast in the modern NBA. He was either a point guard who didn't distribute much or a shooting guard who couldn't shoot. Either way, he struggled making his fantasy value even approach that of his real-life contributions.
But the fifth year has been a switch-flipper for Smart. His 41.9 field-goal percentage and 37 three-point conversion rate are both career bests.
With shooting shifting from detriment to borderline strength, he's becoming an across-the-board asset. In fact, he's a top-25 contributor in nine-category leagues over the last two weeks.
Over his last seven games, he's up to 12.7 points on 58.8 percent shooting (93.3 at the stripe), 3.9 assists, 2.9 rebounds, 2.4 steals and 2.1 threes. If you couldn't use those numbers, let me be the first to congratulate you on your league title.
Robin Lopez, C, Chicago Bulls (40 Percent Owned)
One regrettable part of fantasy sports is the amount of owners who pull the plug long before the season ends. That said, their inactivity can lead to some inexplicable bargains, like Robin Lopez being available in 60 percent of leagues despite blow-torching defenders for more than a month now.
Granted, his ownership was always playing catch-up this season. He's not always a must-own, and that looked especially true this season with the rebuilding Bulls smartly prioritizing prized rookie Wendell Carter Jr. over Lopez.
But Carter has been out of the picture since mid-January (thumb surgery), and Lopez hasn't wasted the opportunity. Normally more of a clean-up artist, the 30-year-old has almost functioned like a primary option. Over his last 14 games, he's averaging 16.6 points on 60.4 percent shooting, 5.9 rebounds, 1.6 blocks and 1.6 assists.
The next three weeks are all three-gamers for Lopez and the Bulls, so if that's all the volume you'll need, this a no-brainer way of filling a center void.