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Category Strategy: Assists are Hard to Find

James Anderson

James Anderson

James Anderson is a University of Minnesota graduate, with allegiances to the Packers, Brewers, Bucks (sigh) and Gophers (double sigh). He is an editor and scribe at Rotowire.com, primarily focused on basketball and baseball. In 2013 he was a FSWA finalist for Fantasy Basketball writer of the year.

A couple weekend notes

After touting Chandler Parsons as a must-add for the past two weeks in this space, he should be well on his way to near unanimous ownership (currently owned in 72 percent of Yahoo! leagues). He poured in 31 points Friday on 13-of-17 shooting. Chandler was so unconscious in the first half that, for the first and probably the last time, I received a half-serious text from a friend wondering, "Is Chandler Parsons going to score 50?" Despite his outburst against the Knicks, the reason for adding Parsons wasn't scoring-centric, he's a guy who contributes in all categories. The main lesson out of this is, when in doubt, look at a guy's minutes per game. Playing time is the best indicator to predict future production.

Anyone who pays attention to the Pistons has probably considered adding Andre Drummond as a speculative add, even before Friday's 13-point/13-rebound performance in which he received a career-high 24.4 minutes against the Raptors. Now, however, he's probably the biggest league-wide speculative add, and he should be considered by owners in standard leagues. The hope is that coach Lawrence Frank starts giving Drummond significantly more run than his season average of 16.2 minutes per game after seeing what he did with legitimate minutes. The Pistons won Friday's game, and it would only make sense that they start playing their center of the future alongside their franchise cornerstone, Greg Monroe. Adding Drummond is a bit of a gamble, but now is definitely the best time to grab him before he puts together another great performance. He can help in rebounds, blocks, and field-goal percentage, but he's a dreadful free-throw shooter, think DeAndre Jordan.

CATEGORY STRATEGY

Each week this article highlights players who are widely available in standard leagues that can help in specific Roto categories. However, the information is still highly relevant to players in points leagues and deeper leagues. Remember, while each player highlighted can help in a specific category, there's no guarantee for production in other areas.

SCORING

Markieff Morris, PF, Suns - This is kind of an obvious one if you've been paying attention, but since he's available in more than 80 percent of Yahoo! leagues, it bears mentioning that in his two games since entering the Suns' starting lineup, Morris is averaging 21 points and 1.5 three-pointers per game. Now, he's shot72 percent from the field in those two games, which definitely won't continue, but he has played so well that he should at least be able to hang on to the starting job, which does wonders for his fantasy value.

Patrick Patterson, PF, Rockets - It took a few weeks for Patterson to start really producing, but over his past five games, he is averaging 15.6 points on 54.7 percent shooting while playing almost 28 minutes per game. The third-year power forward has some drawbacks - he doesn't block a lot of shots or rebound well for his position - but if you need help with scoring, Patterson (available in 75 percent of Yahoo! leagues) is the definition of a hot hand right now.

REBOUNDS

Jonas Valanciunas, C, Raptors - There's a pretty good chance that Valanciunas (owned in 26 percent of Yahoo! leagues) was dropped after he struggled to see big minutes to start the year. However, in his last four games the Lithuanian rookie has averaged 28.8 minutes per game and 8.5 rebounds over that stretch. Remember, a lot of draft experts thought that Valanciunas could have been the second player off the board in this year's draft had the Raptors not selected him last year, so solid production should be expected if he gets the minutes. In addition to hitting the glass, he's also a great source of blocks and field-goal percentage.

ASSISTS

Assists can be one of the toughest categories to get assistance in via the waiver wire, because it requires the player to have a specific role in the offense, whereas rebounds, steals, blocks, etc. can be recorded based on skill and effort alone. Players like Jamaal Tinsley and Jose Barea will come out of the woodwork and put up a couple nice assist totals in a week, but they can't be counted on to deliver for a long stretch of time due to typically being stuck in bench roles with limited ceilings. For this reason, if assists are what your team is in desperate need of, making a trade might be the best course of action. Greivis Vasquez, Jose Calderon, and Raymond Felton could all be had in a deal without giving up one of your core players. Marc Gasol, Joakim Noah, and Kobe Bryant have all been dishing out assist totals that are way above average for their positions, so offering one of your best players who doesn't contribute heavily in assists like Nicolas Batum, LaMarcus Aldridge or Al Jefferson would be another method of boosting your team's assist totals.

STEALS

Alonzo Gee, SF, Cavaliers - Gee has been highlighted here a couple times this year, but he's still owned in just 33 percent of Yahoo! leagues. He's averaged 2.0 steals in 34.2 minutes per game over the Cavaliers' last five games.

Eric Bledsoe, PG, Clippers - For deep leaguers, Bledsoe is a great option here. He's averaging 18.8 minutes per game, but there's no reason to think he can't continue to average 1.4 thefts per game, even in limited minutes. He's also capable of winning the steals category single-handedly in weeks where he has a classic Bledsoe game where he goes for five-plus steals. He's owned in 14 percent of Yahoo! leagues, which is pretty appropriate, given his spot in the Clippers' rotation, but for those in search of steals in 12-team leagues, he's as good an option as anyone.

BLOCKS

Larry Sanders, PF, Bucks - Sanders was a hot add a couple weeks ago, but he has since been dropped in about half of those leagues and is now owned in just 31 percent of Yahoo! leagues. It's understandable why he was let go by so many owners. Sanders is basically a one-stat guy, but with Samuel Dalembert and John Henson struggling to see playing time recently, Sanders could go on a nice little run and start seeing closer to 28 minutes per game. He's currently averaging 22.9 mpg, which means even more blocks for his owners if he gets more time.

THREE-POINTERS

Shane Battier, SF, Heat - For owners in deeper leagues, Battier has to be getting pretty appealing if you're in need of three-point shooting. Over his last five contests, he has hit 16 three-pointers while shooting at a 55-percent clip from beyond the arc and playing 30.4 minutes per game. Coach Erik Spoelstra has rode the hot hand to some extent, playing Rashard Lewis sparingly over this stretch, but Battier is also a much more competent defender than Lewis, so it wouldn't be surprising if this developed into more than just a short-term playing time advantage for Battier.

FIELD-GOAL PERCENTAGE

Carl Landry, PF, Warriors - Landry is owned in less than 60 percent of Yahoo! leagues, so if he's out there and you're not extremely satisfied with your team's shooting efficiency, he should be scooped up. He's getting 26-plus minutes per game and shooting almost 60 percent from the field so far this season. Patrick Patterson, Dante Cunningham, Tiago Splitter, and Jared Sullinger are also solid options here.