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Category Strategy: Underappreciated

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. Remember, while each player highlighted can help in a specific category, there's no guarantee for production in other areas.

POINTS

Alec Burks, SG, Jazz
He's one of the only guys who's available in a lot of leagues and can offer a big hand in the scoring category. Gordon Hayward is back, but Burks was still second on the team with 14 shot attempts Tuesday against the T-Wolves, good for 18 points. He's averaging 14.6 points per game since the start of December and has shown the ability to go for 30-plus on occasion, which is more than most guys on the waiver wire can say. Burks is only owned in 25 percent of Yahoo! leagues and 31.2 percent of ESPN leagues. Courtney Lee is also a really nice play here, it seems, but I'm a little less convinced by Lee's recent success (17.6 ppg over his last five, on an unsustainable 58.5 percent shooting).

REBOUNDS

Andray Blatche, PF, Nets
I mentioned last week that Tobias Harris would be a solid trade target due to the ongoing and indefinite absence of Nikola Vucevic, but after his 28-point/20-rebound performance Friday, I can't imagine too many owners are in a hurry to part with the young forward. It wouldn't hurt to extend some offers for Harris though, as someone might think they're selling high by trading him, even though to me he's a clear top-60 player in most formats as long as he's healthy, and he lacks name value. However, if you can't get Harris, Blatche is similarly benefiting from the absence of his star center, and we know that Brook Lopez won't return this season, so Blatche should probably be owned in more than the 35 percent of leagues he's currently rostered in. Over his last four games, he's averaging nine boards per contest and is seeing close to 24-to-28 minutes per game, which should allow him to remain a productive contributor to fantasy teams in mid-sized formats.

ASSISTS

Louis Williams, SG, Hawks
Williams picked up seven assists in Friday's game due to Jeff Teague going down with an ankle sprain and playing only 14 minutes, but he had averaged 5.4 assists per game in the five games prior to Teague's injury, so he's certainly capable of being useful in 12-team leagues upon Teague's return. In fact Williams' assist spree has also coincided with a very rough shooting stretch, so people haven't taken notice of his distributing due to the fact he's been shooting less than 33 percent from the field over that stretch. He's a 44.4 percent shooter for his career, so if he can get his shot to start dropping while also offering solid assists totals, he'll outperform his current value. He's available in 80 percent of Yahoo! leagues and 85 percent of ESPN leagues. I'd still prefer the likes of D.J. Augustin and Ramon Sessions (in the short term) here, but they're owned in most active leagues.

STEALS

Khris Middleton, SF, Bucks
Middleton was dropped in a lot of leagues after his scoring cooled off and his minutes dipped, but he's back to seeing 26-to-30 minutes per game, and his defense is one of the reasons why. Over his last four games, Middleton is averaging three steals and one block per game -- numbers that won't hold steady, obviously, but it's a good reminder that he's more than just a big guy who can shoot from the outside. He could be a solid contributor in steals, and he'll also be helpful in three-point shooting as long he continues to see steady minutes, which shouldn't be a problem considering how dreadful Ersan Ilyasova has been this season. While it's fair to be a little wary of Middleton given how quickly he went into the tank recently after his hot start to the season, he should still be owned in more than 11 percent of Yahoo! leagues and 4.1 percent of ESPN leagues. James Johnson and Jodie Meeks are solid options here too.

BLOCKS

James Johnson, SF, Grizzlies
It's been two weeks since I first promoted James Johnson here, and as of this writing, he has yet to record fewer than two blocks in a game since Jan. 5. Naysayers will point to the fact that he doesn't score that much or play big minutes, but in a category or roto league, starting Johnson can go a long way towards winning you blocks and steals (six steals in his last five games), and the last time I checked, those two categories count for 22-to-25 percent of your score in eight-category and nine-category leagues. However, if you still haven't picked up Johnson, chances are you never will, and refuse to go for those less sexy specialists. In that case, I'd look towards Taj Gibson in shallower leagues and Kyle O'Quinn in deeper formats.

THREE-POINTERS

Mirza Teletovic, PF, Nets
This is probably the easiest call of the week considering he just got done pouring in 34 points on 7-of-11 shooting from behind the arc against the Mavericks on Friday. I've pumped him up here at various points in the season, including last week, but he's starting to emerge as a Kyle Korver/Marco Belinelli/Bradley Beal/Ryan Anderson level deadeye and needs to be treated as such. Over the past two weeks, Teletovic is second in the league with 3.6 three-pointers per game, ahead of names like Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant and Paul George and behind only Stephen Curry, the best shooter on the planet. Teletovic is available in 89 percent of Yahoo! leagues and more than 98 percent of ESPN leagues.