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Category Strategy: Taking Advantage of Injuries

Kevin Payne

Kevin Payne

Kevin has worked for Rotowire just under a decade and has covered basketball, baseball and football. A glutton for punishment, he roots for his hometown Bills, Sabres and the New York Yankees. He hosts the RotoWire SiriusXM show every Wednesday and Friday and you can follow him on Twitter @KCPayne26.

There seemed to be a lot of injuries the last couple of weeks, which isn't surprising now that the season is almost at the halfway point. Most of the players discussed today are taking advantage of minutes a fallen teammate has left behind, so let's get started.

MINUTES

Each week we'll look at players who have received increased minutes. An uptick in minutes doesn't always translate into improved fantasy stats but at the very least offers some players to put on the radar.

Francisco Garcia, F, SAC
Garcia is the latest insertion into the Kings' three spot, starting Sunday night's game. He responded to the starting nod with 20 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks in 40 minutes. Over his last four games he's played at least 24 minutes, indicating he'll get consistent playing time as long as he produces. Garcia is one of the rare players who can contribute across the board and, like I mentioned last week about Beno Udrih, would greatly benefit from a Tyreke Evans shut-down. He won't get 40 minutes every game, but he's earned himself solid minutes for the short term.

Chris Andersen, C, DEN
Andersen finally looks like the tattooed player we all came to know and love from last season. Finally over his back injury, he's averaged 24.5 minutes over his last four games. During that span, he's averaged 7.3 points, 9.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks. Obviously, the big man stats are where his value lies, if you're lacking in those categories. Even if you don't need him, keep in mind that he'd be an immediate pickup in any format if anything happened to Nene Hilario.

Andres Nocioni, F, PHI
Nocioni has seen an uptick in minutes while Andre Iguodala is out with an Achilles' injury. Andres had a season-high 22 points and 12 rebounds on Saturday, playing 41 minutes. While that game will likely end up being his season's best, he does have a couple things to like about him. First, he qualifies as a small forward, which isn't a deep position. Second, he's shooting a career-high 55 percent from the floor. Of course, that number exists as the three-pointer is no longer part of his game. Watch and see if he continues to play stellar minutes and check on IA's status before grabbing him for the upcoming scoring period.

Marreese Speights, C, PHI
Trust me, I doubt you'll see me highlight two Sixers in the same week for the rest of the season. The injury to Spencer Hawes has opened the door to the starting center spot for Speights. On Monday, he started his first game, scoring 12 points with six rebounds in 24 minutes. Not too bad when you consider he played a whole two minutes the five previous games. Speights showed flashes of potential last season, scoring 14 or more points in 14 games. If Hawes ends up missing significant time, take a look in deeper leagues.

CATEGORIES

Each week we'll look at certain players who can help your fantasy team in the nine categories most leagues use. Remember, while each player highlighted can help in a certain category, there's no guarantee they will contribute in other areas.

Three-Pointers

DeShawn Stevenson, G, DAL
Stevenson is in line to get some of the minutes left behind in the wake of the Caron Butler injury. Over his last two games he's made seven shots from beyond the arc but the 20 attempts is the stat to get excited about. Keep in mind that Stevenson is ranked fourth in the NBA with a 46.5 percent mark from three-point land. Grab him if you need help with the trifecta.

Assists

Luke Ridnour, G, MIN
This isn't the first time I've mentioned Ridnour in this column, and his play as of late makes him worth another mention. Jonny Flynn has shown little push to take away Ridnour's starting spot or even minutes. Ridnour has played at least 32 minutes in each of the last four games, averaging 13.5 points and 7.3 assists per night. Until Flynn starts to step up his game, Ridnour is worth a look if you need dimes.

Rebounds and Blocks

Taj Gibson, F, CHI
It was obvious that Gibson was greatly affected by the concussion he suffered Dec. 18. Since that game, he shot 7-for-19 (36.8 percent) from the field in the following five games he played. The good news is he looked like himself Tuesday night, scoring 16 points with 14 rebounds in 25 minutes. It appears he's over the concussion and should be in for some solid games with Joakim Noah sidelined until at least February.

Amir Johnson, F, TOR
Johnson has been suffering from a back injury but has stayed in the starting lineup for the Raptors. With the team dealing with other injuries, Johnson might be pressing himself despite being in pain. His numbers don't reflect this, however, as he's averaged 12 points, nine rebounds and one block over his last three games. He shoots excellent percentages (55 percent from the floor, 80 percent from the line), but the key for him is to stay out of foul trouble. If he does that, he may recognize the potential Toronto saw in him when they handed him a $34 million contract.

Steals

Tony Allen, G, MEM
This is only the second time this year I've highlighted this category, which shows how rare it is to find a player who specializes in steals. Allen has benefitted from a Xavier Henry injury and less-than-stellar play from his teammates to get the lion's share of minutes at the two spot. He's played 28 and 32 minutes the last two games with Henry out and has shown his thievery skills. Over his last six games, he's averaged a whopping 3.4 steals and should continue near this pace as long as Henry is sidelined. Allen's hustle-style of play may have earned him more minutes even when Henry returns, so the situation at least bears watching.

ELIGIBILITY

Always check your league's eligibility rules to make sure a player qualifies.

Ben Gordon, DET
Now eligible at point guard
James Jones, MIA
Now eligible at shooting guard

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