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Category Strategy: Under the Radar

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.

Under the Radar

To suggest anyone other than Lebron James as the fantasy MVP is ludicrous, except when you listen to my criteria. Lebron James is easily the player who has gotten you the most juice fantasy-wise, but I'm more concerned with where you draft a player in relation to their production. The MVP numbers LBJ has put up are expected as the unanimous No. 1 pick. Players like Kevin Durant, Brook Lopez, Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol have produced beyond their ADPs, just to name a few. Tyreke Evans and to a much lesser extent Brandon Jennings were not drafted or late-round fliers who became lucky lottery tickets (Evans the mega-ball jackpot, Jennings the scratch-off type).

I've spent the last several weeks perusing over my several fantasy teams to figure out what has gone right and what has gone wrong. Do I still have a shot at winning, or do I try to figure out some crazy scheme with trades or waiver pickups to have a chance? I looked at my teams and found a few common denominators as to who has my squad in contention. The three players who seem to consistently be on my teams doing well are Monta Ellis, Josh Smith and David Lee.

ADPs usually change every few weeks, so for argument's sake I'll look at the seven leagues I drafted online, which are your everyday run-of-the-mill leagues that any competitor could join. Most of these league drafts took place before the season, though one came a week after the season started and another almost halfway through the season. Let's look at the three candidates I mentioned and their per game averages, starting with the highest ADP:

Monta Ellis, SG (ADP 30.7) -
25.7 points, 4.1 rebounds, 5.3 assists, .41 blocks, 2.18 steals, one three-pointer made, 45.6 FG percentage, 74.1 FT percentage

Josh Smith, PF (ADP 39.1) -
15.4 points, 8.6 rebounds, 4 assists, 2.09 blocks, 1.62 steals, 0 three-pointers made, 51.3 FG percentage, 62.1 FT percentage

David Lee, PF (ADP 41.7) -
20.3 points, 11.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists, .45 blocks, 1.02 steals, 0 three-pointers made, 55.8 FG percentage, 80.3 FT percentage

There's a lot of uncertainty in my assessment here; percentages are based on total shots taken, the season isn't over, etc. Looking at the simple stats, Lee wins three categories, Ellis four and Smith one. However, out of those wins Ellis won only two significantly (points and steals) while Lee's three are all arguably significant. I'd concede that Ellis is eligible at shooting guard, a much thinner position than power forward. Throw in the difference in ADPs and Lee looks much better. Then again Smith was in the top-2 in six of the eight categories. There's a case to be made for all.

What do you think?

Now onto our weekly look at player minutes, roto categories that waiver-wire players can help with and new position eligibility.


Jrue Holiday, G, PHI -
Holiday has benefitted the most from Allen Iverson's absence from the team. The UCLA rookie now has averaged 35.7 minutes over his last three games and has the ability to produce double-digit scoring with about five assists per game (provided Iverson doesn't return, which is a real possibility at this point). Take a look if you need point-guard help; he'll be a lot more valuable than Chris Duhon going forward.

Hakim Warrick, F, CHI -
Only a Scott Skiles player could sit the bench in Milwaukee and produce when given the minutes on a decent team. I was absolutely wrong last week in predicting Warrick would have minimal fantasy value for the rest of the season. He's been stellar since joining the Bulls, averaging 12.3 points, 7.7 rebounds and 1.3 blocks. The Bulls should continue to give him about 24 minutes off the bench, making him a nice pickup in deeper leagues.

Eddie House, G, NYK -
House has gotten more run since his trade to the Knicks. He's played an average of 31.3 minutes in three games with New York, a sharp increase over the 17.8 minutes he was getting with Boston. Be aware that House is a streaky shooter; he can put up 20-plus points one night, then score in the low single-digits. He's deadly from beyond the arc and is serviceable for now at shooting guard in weekly leagues when the Knicks have a four-game slate.


Here are some players who can help your fantasy squad in specific categories.


Rasual Butler, G, LAC -
Butler has a bigger scoring role now that Al Thornton has been traded. Butler has six straight games of at least 14 points for an overall average of 17.3 points per game. Oddly, he's had a block in five of those six games and also provides solid help with three-pointers. He is available in about half of basketball leagues out there, so grab him if you need points.


Chase Budinger, G, HOU -
Budinger has shot the three-ball well lately, hitting 77.8 percent (7-for-9) of his three-pointers over his last three games. He appears over the ankle injury that bothered him during January and could earn more playing time as the Rockets fall more and more out of the playoff race. He's got a lot of upside and at least makes for a nice sleeper next season.

Rebounds and Blocks

Chris Hunter, C, GS -
Here's my darkhorse pick of the week. Coach Don Nelson is apparently fed up with the lack of production from Andris Biedrins and going in a different direction for time being. Hunter played 21 minutes to Biedrins' nine on Tuesday night and finished with seven points, eight rebounds, three assists and a block. If Nelson gives Hunter just 8-10 minutes more per game, he'll be a double-double threat. Watch the next couple of games to see if Hunter's minutes increase.


Every league has different rules regarding eligibility. Always check your rules to make sure your league recognizes the new position a player may be eligible to play.

No new eligibility this week.


Article first appeared on 2/25/10