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Category Strategy: Injuries Create Opportunities

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.

Just in the last few days the injury bug seems to have bitten often and hard in the NBA. Could this be due to the lockout and a compressed schedule trying to fit in as many games as possible? Not to mention the occasional night off many players in the league have taken to rest because of soreness or fatigue. Hopefully, the last week was an outlier and we'll see fewer injuries as the season continues. Let's get to some of those injuries and see who's ready to come onto the fantasy radar.

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 it at least offers some players to put on the radar.

Reggie Williams, G, CHA -
With Gerald Henderson sidelined with a hamstring issue the next 2-4 weeks, Williams was given the lion's share of minutes at shooting guard Sunday and responded with a stat-filled line. In 39 minutes, he had 21 points, seven rebounds, six assists and a steal. If you haven't heard much of Williams' name it's because he was out the first six weeks of the season. Keep in mind he nailed 102 three-points for Golden State last season, one of the strengths of his game. He should hold off Matt Carroll considering the athletic difference between the two.

Bismack Biyombo, F, CHA -
Biyombo was effective in his first start of the season Saturday, finishing with 11 points, 12 rebounds, two blocks and a steal for the Bobcats. With the Bobcats dealing with a bunch of injuries (Corey Maggette, DaSagana Diop, D.J. Augustin and Gerald Henderson), a lot of playing time and opportunity is there for the rest of the team. The youngest player in the NBA at 19, Biyombo began his professional career in Spain and, like Serge Ibaka, hails from Congo. Ibaka also came to the NBA as something of a raw player who was considered a project but demonstrated a lot of upside. Biyombo will look to develop along the same path, and with the Bobcats at 3-21, there's no reason not to give the rookie an extended look.

Bill Walker, F, NY -
With the news that Carmelo Anthony will be out the next 1-2 weeks, coach Mike D'Antoni stated Tuesday that Walker and Iman Shumpert will get extra playing time. Shumpert already was logging heavy minutes (more than 32 in four of his last five games), so Walker likely will be the biggest beneficiary. Walker has a good outside game (see Jan. 27 with seven made threes) and should chip in a handful of rebounds with the extended minutes. If the Knicks play the Anthony trade conservatively, keep in mind Walker could be effective not only for the next two weeks but until the All-Star break.

Randy Foye, G, LAC -
The Chauncey Billups Achilles' injury will impact the Clippers similarly to that of the 'Melo injury to New York in that two players will play a bigger role. For the Clippers, those two players are Mo Williams and Randy Foye. With Williams already consistently seeing between 24-32 minutes, it seems Foye would be in line to absorb the majority of the 30.3 minutes per game Billups leaves behind. In the eight games when Foye has played 24 or more minutes, he's averaged 11.4 points, 3.5 assists, 1.9 three-pointers made, 1.8 steals and 1.1 blocks. Let's see if with a consistent increase of minutes he can build on those numbers playing alongside Blake Griffin and Chris Paul.

CATEGORIES

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

Assists

Jeremy Lin, G, NYK -
The Knicks may have found their answer to their point-guard problem - since it seems Baron Davis will make his debut around November. Lin had a monster line Monday with 28 points, eight assists and two steals. Coach Mike D'Antoni won't worry about the eight turnovers that accompanied that line considering the Knicks won and Lin logged 45 minutes. Obviously, it's unlikely that Lin will continue to score in the mid-20s as he has the last two games, but he'll see plenty of minutes with the Knicks so banged up. In leagues with daily transactions he's likely gone, but if you use a FAAB system and need to contend, don't be afraid to throw down a big bid on him.

Rebounds

Jason Thompson, F, SAC -
Thompson was inserted into the starting lineup two weeks ago and hasn't disappointed. The former star at Rider has come on to post 10.9 points and 9.1 rebounds since being inserted into the lineup and has shot 55 percent from the field this season. If he continues to play about 30 minutes a night he should be a constant double-double threat who qualifies at center in some leagues.

Points

Linas Kleiza, F, TOR -
Since missing a game on the first of the month with a sore knee, Kleiza has been on fire, scoring 62 points with 13 rebounds and nine threes in three games since returning. The other good news is that his minutes have steadily increased - 18, 24, 35 - over that span. The team has been mum on the timetable for Andrea Bargnani's return, which means Kleiza should still be shooting at will for the Raptors.

ELIGIBILITY

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

Bismack Biyombo, CHA -
Now eligible at center
DeMar DeRozan, TOR -
Now eligible at small forward

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