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Category Strategy: Carmelo's Dilemma

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.

Carmelo's Dilemma

The Knicks have been one of the more entertaining teams to watch this year, if like me, you take odd pleasure in watching the best basketball players in the world completely mail it in on the defensive end of the court. The car wreck that has been the Knicks' season is like a snowball that just keeps rolling down hill, growing exponentially. At this point, they've lost games in every possible fashion, highlighted perhaps by last week's game when Dirk Nowitzki unintentionally went glass at the buzzer to beat them after it seemed the Knicks were finally going to overcome adversity to gut out a tough win against a good team.

I haven't been Melo's biggest fan since he demanded out of Denver, a team that was stacked with championship-level talent, to play on a mediocre New York team. It seemed that the decision was fueled by his wife's desire to be a D-list celebrity and Melo's perceived notion that being in a big city, not necessarily winning basketball games, would make him a bigger star. However, this season I'm back in Melo's camp. He is coming to play every night, giving as much as any player in the league, and you can see the losses wearing on him, but not breaking his competitive spirit. The NBA is better when the Knicks are good (they're terrible), and the NBA Playoffs are more entertaining when Melo is prominently involved (he won't be).

The idea of leaving $30 million on the table (which he would essentially be doing by opting out and leaving town this summer) seems inconceivable, but Anthony has suggested that he would take less money to allow the Knicks to sign other star free agents. If he's willing to take a hit financially in order to win, then fleeing the scene this summer and signing with another team is his best option by far. The Bulls, Lakers and Suns all stand out as teams that would be far more preferable if the goal is to win games. Even the most optimistic Knicks fan would have to admit that they are nowhere near contending, and won't be for the foreseeable future.

In the end, I would expect Melo to stay in New York, where he will make the most money, and who could blame him? But if he is willing to leave, it would signify that he's unwilling to accept mediocrity, because that's all he'll experience with the Knicks.

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

Tony Wroten, PG, Sixers
Wroten has averaged 17.2 points in 27.2 minutes per game over the past five contests, as the acquisition of Eric Maynor has allowed the Sixers to transition Wroten into being a shooting guard instead of a backup point guard. He serves as Philly's No. 1 scoring punch off the bench, and should continue to fill it up over the rest of the season. Wroten is owned in just 27.7 percent of ESPN leagues and 14 percent of Yahoo! leagues, and anyone in search of a points on the waiver wire should scoop him up immediately. Kent Bazemore is another solid option.

REBOUNDS

Reggie Evans, PF, Kings
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I still think P.J. Tucker is the best widely available option here, but Evans is a guy to keep an eye on. He wasn't doing much on the Nets, but in his three games since joining the Kings, he has put up eight-plus rebounds in each contest, although he's unfortunately still not seeing much run. If coach Michael Malone views Evans' energy as an asset and an example for his young players to follow, it's conceivable that he could start earning above 20 minutes per game, and in that case, he'll almost be a lock to start posting double-digit rebounds on a regular basis. He's not quite worth an add just yet, but he's available in almost every league, and owners will want to act quick if he starts seeing more run. Elton Brand is another viable source of rebounds on the waiver wire.

ASSISTS

Jordan Farmar, PG, Lakers
Farmar has battled injuries for much of the season, but he may be finally settling into a stable fantasy role off the Lakers bench, and there's the possibility that if Kendall Marshall continues to struggle, we could see Farmar join the starting lineup. He had 30 points and seven assists in Friday's game, but the assists are far more predictive than the scoring, as he hit a whopping eight of 10 three-point attempts against the Kings. Farmar is averaging almost six assists per game over his last three tilts, and Marshall is scoreless in his last three games, which doesn't bode well for his playing time. Farmar is available in 93 percent of ESPN leagues and 82 percent of Yahoo! leagues. Will Bynum is another option here for deeper leagues.

STEALS

Kent Bazemore, SG, Lakers
Bazemore has averaged two steals in five games since coming over to the Lakers from Golden State, and more importantly, he is seeing 33.4 minutes per game since the trade, making him a legitimate option in all formats as long as he is seeing that much run. The Warriors seemed to be really high on Bazemore in the preseason, but he may have just been one of those players who needs big minutes to be effective, and he certainly wasn't going to get that playing time behind Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. The Lakers have been starting him in a small lineup with Kendall Marshall and Jodie Meeks, with Jordan Farmar coming off the bench, and Marshall's play has dipped, so Bazemore's role on the team seems safe. He's available in almost 75 percent of Yahoo! leagues and 65 percent of ESPN leagues.

BLOCKS

Elton Brand, PF, Hawks
Brand has always been a solid per-minute shot-blocker, and he is seeing 35-plus minutes per game over his last five games. That could dip slightly when Pero Antic and Paul Millsap return from injuries, but Gustavo Ayon and Al Horford are both out for the season, so Brand should remain fantasy relevant down the stretch. He has failed to score in double figures in eight of his last 10 games, so don't look for across the board help, but he is a fine source of rebounds, and he'll offer an above average field-goal percentage. Brand is available in 83 percent of Yahoo! leagues and 88 percent ESPN leagues.

THREE-POINTERS

Marco Belinelli, SG, Spurs
Belinelli has averaged 2.6 three-pointers over his last five games, and boasts a sterling 46.1 success rate on triples for the season. Kawhi Leonard's return to action hasn't hurt his value, as he saw a bench-high 31 minutes in Friday's game against the Bobcats. Belinelli is available in almost 70 percent of Yahoo! and ESPN leagues. Matt Barnes is another option, and those in deeper leagues should keep an eye on how much run Caron Butler gets with the Thunder, as we know coach Scott Brooks loves to play washed up veterans.