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

POINTS

Avery Bradley, SG, Celtics
When Bradley sprained his ankle on Jan. 21 and news came out that he would likely miss a couple weeks, he was dropped in far more leagues than was warranted, given his development as an above average offensive two guard. He will make his return Sunday against the Magic, and will form a dynamic backcourt duo with Rajon Rondo. The last time those two played alongside one another, Bradley's offensive game was nowhere near the level it's at right now, and the two sort of mirrored one another, as athletic defensive stoppers with shaky jump shots. Now that Bradley has developed into a true shooting guard, the combo should be a joy to watch. Bradley is averaging 14.5 points on 43.9 percent shooting and has also been good for 1.1 three-pointers per game on 36.2 percent shooting from beyond the arc this season. He's also chipping in 4.1 rebounds and one steal per game, making him ownable in most formats. However, because of the injury, he's available in almost 50 percent of Yahoo! leagues and almost 70 percent of ESPN leagues. Tim Hardaway Jr. is another strong option here.

REBOUNDS

Patrick Beverley, PG, Rockets
Beverley won't save you if rebounds are a gaping hole on your team, but he'll give you a slight boost in that category from the point guard spot, which is rare to find on the waiver wire. Starting point guards aren't typically available in the vast majority of leagues, but that's the case with Beverley. The reason for this is that he's been absolutely dreadful with his shot since returning from injury. In seven games since Jan. 20 he has averaged just 8.1 points on 28.6 percent shooting in 33.7 minutes per game. That's about as bad as it gets. However, over that same stretch he's been averaging five boards, four assists and 1.6 steals per game. That's a pretty nice shot in the arm in three categories that don't typically come from one waiver-wire add. Now, why would you ever add someone that can do that much damage to your field-goal percentage? Well, he's certainly not a great shooter, but he also isn't THIS bad. He's a 40.1 percent shooter for his career, which isn't great, but if you're a team that has LeBron James or a couple stud big men that can help offset that poor rate, the help he offers in other categories will make it worthwhile. He's available in almost 95 percent of ESPN leagues and 85 percent of Yahoo! leagues. Kris Humphries, Jason Thompson and Marvin Williams are other cheap targets here.

ASSISTS

Nick Calathes, PG, Grizzlies
You could trade for someone like Jeff Teague. You could take a flier on Tony Wroten or Ramon Sessions with hopes that injuries to Michael Carter-Williams or Kemba Walker drag on longer than expected. You could add a Lakers point guard of your choosing that is about to return from injury with hopes that they can get a favorable split at the one with Kendall Marshall. You could add Nate Wolters with hopes that the Bucks keep doing whatever it is they're doing right now. Or you could roll the dice on Calathes with Mike Conley potentially out for the next month with a severe ankle sprain. All of these options are flawed. I'll say this for the 308th time in this space. You need to draft assists. But if you choose to go in one of these directions, Calathes might be the best play. In Saturday's game against the Bucks, he and Courtney Lee each played 40 minutes, with Lee leading the team with seven assists. However, Calathes averaged six-plus assists in each of his two years at the University of Florida, and his per-36 minute average of six assists per contest, while not very impressive, dwarfs Lee's career per-36 minute average of two dimes per game. He is available in virtually all leagues right now, but that could change in a hurry.

STEALS

DeMarre Carroll, SF, Hawks
Carroll really could qualify as a solid add for points or rebounds too, but he stands out the most on the defensive side of the ball. Ever since he started seeing 30-plus minutes per game on a regular basis back on Jan. 3, he has averaged 13.2 points, 5.8 rebounds, two steals and 1.7 three-pointers while shooting 52.6 percent from the field in 33.2 minutes per game over a 12-game stretch. He's really a perfect addition to any team in a roto or category league, and he's criminally under-owned right now. He's owned in 31 percent of Yahoo! leagues and almost 18 percent of ESPN leagues, but those numbers are climbing rapidly. Khris Middleton, Patrick Beverley and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope are other solid options here.

BLOCKS

John Henson, PF, Bucks
I don't usually recommend trading for injured players, but Henson's value on the market might be low enough that a proposal would be justified. He's even been dropped in some leagues, which is fairly short-sighted, considering how productive he's been when healthy this season. He has eight blocks in the last five games he's played with Larry Sanders also in the lineup, so having another rim-protector in the rotation hasn't really hurt his production. It's slim pickings out there for shot-blockers, so you might need to get creative, and it shouldn't take an overwhelming package to pry Henson from his owner right now.

THREE-POINTERS

Tim Hardaway Jr., SG, Knicks
Hardaway's emergence as a legitimate third, and even sometimes second, option on offense has also coincided with the Knicks, a team that may have set an early-season record for most harassed team on the internet, going on a nice little 4-1 run over their last five games. Over that stretch, the former Michigan Wolverine is averaging 18 points and 3.4 three-pointers per game. Those numbers are inflated by a 29-point game with six three-pointers against Cleveland's sieve perimeter defense, but even if you remove that game, Hardaway has offered useful production, scoring in double figures and making at least two three-pointers in all of those games. He also really looks the part of an instant-offense two-guard, and is well on his way to getting his name mentioned as a dark horse rookie of the year candidate. He is available in 85 percent of Yahoo! leagues and more than 90 percent of ESPN leagues, and offers value in all but very shallow formats. His shooting could cool down in the coming weeks, but his playing time over the last five games (31.4 minutes per game) should be a good indication of how much coach Mike Woodson trusts the rookie.