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Category Strategy: Injuries Open Opportunities

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.

CATEGORY STRATEGY

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

MINUTES

Maurice Harkless, SF, Magic - Yahoo!: 38% ESPN: 64.6%

For a player of his ilk, Harkless has a pretty incredible streak of playing 41-plus minutes in each of his last five contests. His numbers during that span aren't out of this world, but he is still very useful from a fantasy perspective, simply because he's seeing so much court time. Harkless is averaging 17 points and seven rebounds per game over that span, and perhaps even more importantly, he's averaging 1.2 blocks and 1.6 steals in his last five games. It's hard to say just how good Harkless is, since he wouldn't see this much run on a lot of other teams in the league. The ceiling of a fringy top-50 fantasy player is there if everything breaks right, because of his versatility and the fact that the Magic should continue to struggle and give Harkless a lot of run next season.

POINTS

Wesley Johnson, SF, Suns - Yahoo!: 12% ESPN: 12.1%

Johnson is averaging 15.3 points over the last two weeks and is a legit option in deeper formats if you need to squeeze a few more 15-20 point games out of someone as the season winds down. His last contest was against the Pacers and the stout defense of Paul George, who held Johnson to a modest 11 points. But in his three previous games, he was averaging 19 points and four three-pointers, so if he can get back to that pace, he'll be a nice add. The Suns are a bit of a circus right now, playing the brothers Morris and starting P.J. Tucker, with guys like Michael Beasley and Luis Scola both still factoring into the rotation despite playing zero defense, but Johnson is one of the few who seems to be really taking advantage of his opportunities.

REBOUNDS

Jonas Valanciunas, C, Raptors - Yahoo!: 27% ESPN: 57.2%

Valanciunas may have been scooped up in a lot of heady leagues after his 14-point, 13-rebound, four-block effort in 39 minutes Friday against the Pistons, but if he's still available, now would be the time to grab him. This was someone who I expected to be a big fantasy sleeper this season, but injuries, coupled with a few interesting decisions by coach Dwane Casey, derailed that scenario. However, in the final games of the season, Valanciunas could very well display much of the promise I expected to see from him all season long. Look for something in the range of 8-10 rebounds per game from Valanciunas the rest of the way as long as he's playing 30-plus minutes per game.

ASSISTS

Beno Udrih, PG, Magic - Yahoo!: 6% ESPN: 4.1%

Udrih has seen a big boost in short-term value with Jameer Nelson and Arron Afflalo missing time due to injury, but even once Nelson returns to the lineup, I still like Udrih for assists on the waiver wire at least as much as any of the other candidates. He has shown the ability to get around five assists per game over a stretch even if he's playing a backup role, and it's no lock Nelson comes back and immediately starts playing 36-plus minutes given how well Udrih played Saturday against the Hawks (20 points, eight assists, seven rebounds). Some other guys who could be a sneaky source of dimes on spot start situations would be Kendall Marshall (the Suns showed last week that they aren't opposed to giving Goran Dragic an occasional day off), Brian Roberts (if Greivis Vasquez struggles to return from injury), and Mike James (5.6 dimes over his last five games).

STEALS

Corey Brewer, SG, Nuggets - Yahoo!: 21% ESPN: 13.2%

Brewer averaged a steal per game in December, 1.2 spg in January, 1.5 spg in February, and a whopping 2.3 spg in March, without really seeing any increase in playing time from month to month. Look for him to close the regular season strong, as he has recorded at least one steal in 20 of his last 21 games.

BLOCKS

Andre Drummond, C, Pistons - Yahoo!: 22% ESPN: 32.4%

In Drummond's long awaited return to the court, he had two blocks Friday in 19 minutes, and won't have a minutes restriction the rest of the season. Look for him to get 18-28 minutes each night, in which case he should have no problem averaging close to two blocks per game for the rest of the regular season.

THREE-POINTERS

C.J. Miles, SG, Cavs - Yahoo!: 20% ESPN: 14.6%

Miles is on a sneaky run of solid play recently, averaging 14.4 points and 2.4 three-pointers over his last five games. He sees around 25 minutes per game and has been hitting his treys at a 41.4% clip over that span, which is pretty solid production for someone who is available in so many leagues. However, he definitely won't be of much help in the other counting stats.

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