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Category Strategy: Time to Gamble on Lewis

Kevin Payne

Kevin has worked for Rotowire just under a decade and has covered basketball, baseball and football. A glutton for punishment, he roots for his hometown Bills, Sabres and the New York Yankees. He hosts the RotoWire SiriusXM show every Wednesday and Friday and you can follow him on Twitter @KCPayne26.

-- If you're a Boston fan, you've got to think Pooh Jeter from the Sacramento Kings has the best name in the NBA. ...

-- Sticking with the Kings, he's widely owned (70-80 percent, depending on the site), but Beno Udrih is a must-add. Not only is he playing well (17.2 points, 4.3 assists and 4.1 rebounds over his last nine games), but if Tyreke Evans elected to undergo foot surgery (it's not like the Kings are going anywhere), Udrih could emerge as a top-40 fantasy player. Evans would leave behind 16.7 shots per game, and Udrih would be guaranteed at least 35 minutes a night. If I'm an Evans owner, I'd try to get 50 cents on the dollar for him if possible. His scoring production (16.8 points) is not as good as last year's number (20.1 points); you may get some value based on name recognition alone.

-- If you're looking to gamble, now would be a good time to make an offer to Rashard Lewis' owner. In his last two games, he's played 42 and 43 minutes, taking 35 shots and grabbing 21 boards. He's in a much better fantasy situation in Washington than Orlando; just don't overpay for him. ...

-- Last week I talked about my man-crush on Kevin Love, and this week I'll turn my attention toward Blake Griffin (my "blind squirrel" prediction for ROY). Over his last 19 games (all double-doubles) he's averaged 24.4 points, 13.7 rebounds and 4.3 assists while shooting 53.8 percent from the floor.

On a negative note, he's shot consistently less than 60 percent from the free-throw line and doesn't contribute much in the way of blocks or steals. Same question as last week, where would you take him if you were re-drafting tomorrow? Top-15? You'd take him over early-round picks Chris Bosh, Brook Lopez, Zach Randolph and Al Horford, right? Over the next few weeks I plan re-drafting for this season and will post the results in an upcoming column. ...

-- Speaking of the Clippers, they'd have a ton of upside if the Baron-Davis-for-D.J.-Augustin trade rumor comes to fruition. A team with Eric Bledsoe (20), Al-Farouq Aminu (20), Blake Griffin (21), Eric Gordon (22) and Augustin (23) would be one of the better core teams for the future. The problem with the deal could be the presence of Bledsoe, who likely wasn't drafted in the first round to be the point guard of the future for the second unit.


Each week we'll look at players who have received increased minutes. An uptick in minutes doesn't always translate into improved fantasy stats but at the very least offers some players to put on the radar.

Carl Landry, F, SAC -
Landry has been in and out of the starting lineup numerous times this season but has been back in lately with Jason Thompson sidelined with a cut finger. As a result, Landry has played at least 35 minutes in his last three games and averaged 14.7 points, nine rebounds and two steals/blocks. Thompson is expected back soon, but monitor Landry's playing time to see if he's earned more minutes.

J.J. Hickson, F, CLE -
Mentioned Hickson last week, voicing displeasure with him but figuring he'd still have value at some point this season. His line from Tuesday night - nine points and eight rebounds - isn't notable; the 31 minutes off the bench is. Keep an eye on his minutes as the production should follow if he continues to get this kind of playing time.

Tyrus Thomas, F, CHA -
When I think of Thomas, I think of Anthony Randolph and then wonder if the aforementioned Hickson will fall in the same category as these guys: great sleeper potential who hasn't been seen yet. Thomas played 23 minutes Monday night in the first game of the Hornets' post-Larry Brown era. While 23 minutes isn't anything exciting, it was his most playing time in December. It's possible Paul Silas gives Thomas more time on the court, which would bring him back to fantasy relevance. Track his playing time and stash him if you have the space on your bench.

Anthony Parker, G, CLE -
Parker is the player most likely sitting on your waiver wire who averages the most minutes. Parker is an unspectacular, yet solid, player who can be counted on for mediocre stats across the board. Before Tuesday night, he averaged 13.3 points, 5.3 rebounds, 3.7 assists and two three-pointers made over his previous three games. Parker has logged at least 33 minutes in each of his last seven games, so the opportunity is there to post similar numbers if he maintains these minutes.


Each week we'll look at certain players who can help your fantasy team in the nine categories most leagues use. Remember, while each player highlighted can help in a certain category, there's no guarantee they will contribute in other areas.


Nicolas Batum, F, POR -
Last week's column pointed out Rudy Fernandez's upside with Brandon Roy sidelined, and now Batum is taking advantage, as well. After starting the season hot, Batum came back to earth, shooting only 42 percent from the floor in November. That average stayed steady in December until the last week. He's shooting 14-for-30 (47 percent) from the floor and played at least 32 minutes over his last three games. There's some solid upside there as long as he continues to make his shots.

Rebounds and Blocks

Kurt Thomas, C, CHI -
Thomas deserves a look only in very deep leagues. The second-oldest player in the league only to Shaq, Thomas has received a good share of the minutes left behind by the Joakim Noah injury. He's not going to be a prolific scorer, but the boards and blocks are still there. Over his last four games, he's averaging 7.3 rebounds and 2.3 blocks. It's obvious the Bulls aren't completely satisfied with Taj Gibson's play and might decide he's a better fit with the second unit. Grab Thomas if you're desperate for help in these categories.


Jared Dudley, F, PHO -
Dudley has been hot lately, scoring 27 and 33 points in two of his last three games. Unfortunately, he is inconsistent as his six-point effort from Sunday indicates. During those two high-scoring contests, he drained 10 three-pointers off great feeds from Steve Nash. He'll lose playing time once Vince Carter returns (likely a week), but rumors suggest Carter will need knee surgery at some point, which would open up minutes for Dudley.


Always check your league's eligibility rules to make sure a player qualifies.

Anthony Parker, CLE -
Now eligible at small forward
Malik Allen, ORL -
Now eligible at center