This week I'll start by selecting my All-Under-The Radar team. These are players drafted extremely late who greatly out-produced expectations or players who might not have been drafted at all. So players like Kevin Love, who went in the middle rounds of most fantasy leagues, are not included. I also looked at the whole body of work as opposed to players who had good value during spurts when they were worth plugging into a lineup. Here are the winners.
PG – Kyle Lowry, HOU – Lowry took advantage of an early-season injury to former teammate Aaron Brooks to grab the starting point guard job and never looked back. He's been on fire this month (seven games), averaging 20.7 points, 7.7 assists, 4.3 rebounds, 3.3 threes and 1.1 steals. Did I mention he's doing this while shooting 50.5 percent from the field? With a strong finish, I'd consider him a top-10 point guard for next year.
SG – Wesley Matthews, POR – This was a close one, as I strongly considered DeMar DeRozan and Nick Young as well. Everything between the three was very close; the scoring, rebounding, assists and shooting percentages were similar between them. The difference for me was Matthews' three-point shooting (122 made) and a small advantage in the steals department.
SF – Dorell Wright, GSW – No one imagined we'd be at this point in the season and Wright would be leading the league among small forwards in three-pointers. Not only is he first, he's running away with it. His 157 threes made are 31 more than Danny Granger, who is second. Overall he's second in the league to Jason Richardson, and he has a legitimate chance at beating Ray Allen (149 made).
PF – Elton Brand, PHI – With his checkered injury history Brand ended up on exactly zero of my fantasy teams, even though he dropped to about pick 100. He was consistent across the board, averaging 15 points, 8.5 rebounds, 1.2 steals and 1.1 blocks. The 51.5 percent shooting mark from floor was the best he's had since 2006. On the wrong side of 30 and considering his injury past, he won't end up on any of my teams next year but could put in a similar season. DeMarcus Cousin and J.J. Hickson were also in contention for this spot, but then I looked at their respective putrid shooting percentages and thought otherwise.
C – Tyson Chandler, DAL – Tyson went undrafted in many standard leagues and arguably put up his best career year. While he missed some games, he leads the league in field-goal percentage with a career-high 64.7 percent. His 76 percent from the charity stripe is sixth among centers and hasn't killed that category like other centers do. He could finish the year averaging a double-double as he averages 10.3 points and 9.4 rebounds. I went back and forth for awhile between Chandler and Serge Ibaka here. Ibaka averaged more than a block more per game but lost out to Chandler in every other category. That said, I'll draft the 21-year-old Ibaka before Chandler without thinking twice next year. Channing Frye was also considered, especially taking the 132 made three-pointers into account. However, Frye's poor field-goal percentage (43.4 percent) and rebounds per game (6.6) are two categories in which centers are expected to produce.
Any notable omissions on my list? Anyone disagreements with the picks? Feel free to state your case in the comments section below.
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.
Jodie Meeks, G, PHI – Meeks has seen an uptick in playing time, averaging 36.8 minutes per game over his last five. He has a nine-game streak of posting double-digit scoring and a steal. Regular readers know Meeks isn't new to this space -- he's an outstanding three-point shooter and could help your team if you need a push in that category. For the eight games he's played in March, he's averaging 2.8 three-pointers made while shooting 47.9 percent from the field. You'd be hard-pressed to find anyone on your waiver wire hitting threes at that clip without killing your field-goal percentage.
Chase Budinger, F, HOU – I was surprised to find Budinger sitting on my waiver wire in one of my leagues, so he might actually be available in yours. He's been very good since taking over Shane Battier's starting role and has a little extra value if your league uses a small forward spot. In March he's averaging 14.7 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.4 threes made and one steal per contest. At the very least keep Budinger in mind when prepping for next year's drafts; those March averages could be his floor next season.
Jordan Crawford, G, WAS – Nick Young has been dealing with a sore knee, which was enough to sideline him for Tuesday night's game. Crawford stepped in and had an outstanding game with 27 points, four assists and three rebounds. He's obviously not going to score 20-plus points every game, but he is an immediate waiver wire pickup with fresh legs for the stretch run. He played the full 48 minutes against the Bulls and is worth adding, especially if you are a Young owner.
Francisco Garcia, G, SAC – Garcia has seen his minutes steadily increase since returning from a calf injury that cost him 21 games. Garcia said his leg is doing better, so that shouldn't be a problem going forward. Over his last three games he's played more than 30 minutes per contest, averaging 13 points, 3.3 rebounds, three assists, two steals and 1.3 blocks. He's another who can fill up the fantasy stats across the board, and for a guard he shoots a decent percentage from the field (45.8 percent) and the free-throw line (86.4 percent). For those in weekly leagues, he's got a four-game slate in the next scoring period.
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.
Rebounds and Blocks
Trevor Booker, F, WAS – As mentioned, the injury bug is sweeping through the Washington locker room, giving Booker the opportunity for more playing time. The former Clemson star is a player to keep an eye on for future years; only a season ago he led the ACC in rebounds (9.7 per game) and field-goal percentage (57.1 percent) while finishing second in blocks (2.0). With Andray Blatche sitting out Monday's game, Booker filled the stat sheet with 14 points, 13 rebounds, two blocks and an assist. Tuesday was a different story, as he looked overmatched on the road against the Bulls. The Wizards are another team with little to play for (are they really 1-30 on the road?), so they may choose to rest the guys with aches and pains, which should give Booker plenty of minutes.
Jordan Farmar, G, NJN – I know what you're thinking; Deron Williams is back so Farmar loses most of his value. The 0-for-5 Monday night performance in 21 minutes clearly shows that's true. I still think there's some potential here, though, and it's probably a fair gamble to stash Farmar on your bench if you have room. Over the two games Farmar started while D-Will was out, he totaled 28 points, 16 assists, five rebounds, five three-pointers made and four steals. The Nets aren't playing for anything, and Williams missed four games back in January with a wrist injury that supposedly hasn't fully healed. If the Nets shut him down, Farmar would be a great addition if you're in need of assists.
Always check your league's eligibility rules to make sure a player qualifies.
No new eligibility this week.