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Category Strategy: Play Through

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.

This doesn't really have much to do with fantasy hoops, but after watching a lot of poorly played, poorly refereed and poorly sponsored college hoops over the weekend, an issue that has long bothered me about basketball coaching came to the forefront in several games, and I feel compelled to address it.

Coaches at all levels of basketball are out of control when it comes to managing a player who is in foul trouble. If a player has two fouls early in the game, his coach almost universally decides that he must be pulled and replaced with a significantly less-skilled player. The thinking being that it is of utmost importance to have that player available for the entire game.

Well, what should the goal be here? Shouldn't the coach want to get the most minutes possible out of his best players? If a player plays 38 minutes and fouls out with a couple minutes remaining in the game, is that not more valuable than if that same player does not foul out? But because his coach was monitoring his foul situation, he only plays 32 minutes? There are definitely times when a player is losing his cool and the fouls are going to start adding up because of frustration, but generally, the only way a player can play the most minutes possible is for coaches to manage minutes without factoring in a player's fouls.

This seems like a pretty simple concept, and certain coaches are certainly better at letting players play through their foul trouble, but it's something that nobody ever talks about.

CATEGORY STRATEGY

Each week, this article highlights players who are widely available in standard leagues that can help in specific roto categories. Remember, while each player highlighted can help in a specific category, there's no guarantee for production in other areas.

POINTS

Jerryd Bayless, PG, Grizzlies - Yahoo!: 13% ESPN: 11.7%

With Marc Gasol out indefinitely with an abdominal tear, the Grizzlies went small on Saturday against the Celtics, with Bayless seeing 38 minutes off the bench en route to a season-high 30 points. This isn't likely to happen again, but even in the four games prior to that offensive explosion, he was averaging 17.8 points and 2.5 three-pointers per game, so it's reasonable to expect him to continue to be a solid source of scoring in mid-sized leagues. Gerald Henderson is still the best option here, but he's been scooped up in most leagues, and Bayless is a better bet than Rodney Stuckey, who also had an out-of-character 30-plus point game recently.

REBOUNDS

Shawn Marion, SF, Mavericks - Yahoo!: 59% ESPN: 54%

This space should just be titled The Weekly Pumping up of Reggie Evans Paragraph. He's been the best rebounder in the world this month and shows no signs of slowing down. However, owners who have paid attention have scooped him up in most competitive roto leagues. If Evans is not available, Marion could be out there since he missed eight games with a calf injury and was dropped in many leagues. In his first game back, he hauled in 13 rebounds, and he has always been an excellent rebounder for someone with small forward eligibility.

ASSISTS

Mike James, PG, Mavericks - Yahoo! 4% ESPN: 2.5%

For those in standard leagues, Andre Miller remains the best option for assists among guys who are only owned in about 50 percent of leagues. In deeper leagues, however, Mike James is worth taking a look at, as he is averaging 27 minutes per game over his last four contests and has dished 20 assists over that span.

STEALS

Maurice Harkless, SF, Magic - Yahoo!: 30% ESPN: 31.1%

Harkless has averaged 38.5 minutes and 3.3 steals per game over the past week, making him among the best options in the league for help with thefts. Another great option here is Corey Brewer, who has 15 steals over his past four games.

BLOCKS

Ed Davis, PF, Grizzlies - Yahoo!: 18% ESPN: 6.3%

Davis isn't playing a ton, even with Marc Gasol injured, but he's still averaging 2.2 blocks while seeing almost 15 minutes per game for the Grizzlies. That number is a little inflated because of a recent five-block game, but expecting steady numbers for deep leagues while Gasol remains out seems realistic.

THREE-POINTERS

Martell Webster, SF, Wizards - Yahoo!: 46% ESPN: 73.8%

Webster has been scooped up in most ESPN leagues, but in Yahoo!, he's still available in more than half of leagues. He's an elite option (3.4 three-pointers per game over the last two weeks), but in deeper leagues, Caron Butler and CJ Miles also offer a couple three-pointers per game.

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