Jordan Farmar among late helpers
With the regular season dwindling away, it's crucial to be especially strategic with your pickups. When addressing which players will assist you in improving your standings, it isn't always based upon what your team's biggest needs are at this point. It's more about in which categories you have the best chance of making improvements. In roto formats, that means identifying where you're locked in a close race and bolstering your team's ability to provide in those categories. If you're languishing in last place in a category and the next competitor is far ahead of you, punt that category and focus upon your tight races, even if it means improving from second to first place in a category. In head-to-head play, identify which categories will be most heated in your upcoming matchups and pick up players who will contribute in those areas. It's your job to identify which categories you need to bulk up to help your team improve down the stretch, and it's my job to tell you which players can help you do so.
Glen Davis, PF/C, Boston Celtics (33.1 percent owned): Big Baby has provided efficient scoring off the bench for the Celtics all season, but has really upped his rebounding totals recently, with 8.4 rebounds per game in eight March contests. His next-closest month is 6.2 rebounds per game in December, so without Shaquille O'Neal and Kendrick Perkins in the middle for the Celtics, much of the rebounding responsibilities have fallen on Davis' shoulders, and he's stepping up. Shaq is expected to be out until at least April 1, and will likely play a minimal role in any regular-season contests for the Celtics as the team tries to keep him fresh and healthy for the playoffs, so look for Davis' success in the middle to continue. The rest of his peripherals are pretty empty, although he used to provide only the scoring punch (13.0 points per game on 47.6 percent shooting in March), and now he's added improved rebounding to his repertoire.
Antonio McDyess, PF/C, San Antonio Spurs (0.3 percent owned): We all knew it would happen, and now it has -- Tim Duncan is getting rest down the stretch as the Spurs prime for their playoff run. McDyess' role has thus increased recently, which provides an excellent rebounder with a prime opportunity to shine. He's averaging 7.0 rebounds per game in his past five games, including 12 boards in 25 minutes of play on Wednesday. He's playing 23.8 minutes per game in that stretch, compared to 18.4 for the season, which provides more of a chance for him to flex his rebounding muscle. His 13.7 rebounds per 48 minutes ranks 18th in the league and is ahead of notable rebounders like Kevin Garnett, Pau Gasol and Al Horford. So, with his increased floor time, McDyess has become a helpful addition if you're in search of boards.
Jordan Farmar, PG, New Jersey Nets (21.1 percent owned): Farmar shone earlier in the season whenever Devin Harris was sidelined, and now it's his turn to put up huge numbers with Deron Williams on the bench. Farmar is averaging 8.0 assists per game in his past five contests, and 14.4 points, 8.4 assists, 1.3 3-pointers and 1.5 steals per game in 10 starts this season. Williams is returning to the team Friday, although his ability to play going forward is questionable, and it's highly unlikely the team will press him into any sort of extended minutes. This means Farmar should get considerable run, and put up excellent assist numbers to go along with helpful totals in steals and 3s from this point forward. He's a "must-own" in basically every format, and if the news breaks that Williams is going to miss the rest of the season, Farmar will flirt with "must-start" status.
Tracy McGrady, PG/SG, Detroit Pistons (12.0 percent owned): McGrady has been resurrected from the doghouse of exile in Detroit and regained his starting position in the lineup, which is good news for fantasy owners as he's averaging 4.8 assists and 1.2 steals per game in 35 starts this season. He's at 5.0 assists per game in his past five contests, running the point with Richard Hamilton in the starting lineup as Rodney Stuckey comes off the bench. His stats will never be what they were when he enjoyed superstar status in the league, although when T-Mac is getting run he's still a helpful contributor in fantasy hoops, especially in dimes.
C.J. Watson, PG/SG, Chicago Bulls (0.1 percent owned): He doesn't get much playing time, although he makes the most of the minutes he does get. Watson is averaging 4.3 assists per game in his past 10 contests in just 14.2 minutes per game backing up Derrick Rose. He's at 3.8 assists per game in March, and his next-closest monthly average is 2.1 per game in January, so he's making the most of his limited run. His 7.9 assists per 48 minutes is 29th in the league and ahead of players like Chauncey Billups, and his minutes could increase down the stretch as the Bulls try to ensure their superstar's legs are fresh for the playoffs. Watson is a deep-league option only, but has been an impressive player on a per-minute basis backing up Rose.
Mike Bibby, PG, Miami Heat (12.3 percent owned): Bibby has been consistently draining 3s all season, with little contributions elsewhere. Still, 1.9 3s per game is worth noticing, and now that Mario Chalmers is out for a couple of weeks with a knee injury, Bibby should have a chance to shine for the Heat. He's bound to see plenty of open looks with defenses focusing their perimeter stoppers on LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, and should hover around 2.0 3s per game with Chalmers sidelined.
Kyle Korver, SG/SF, Bulls (3.2 percent owned): Korver regularly knocks down close to two 3s per game, with 1.8 per game in his past five and 1.9 per game in March. He's not flashy and won't provide a balanced statistical contribution, but if you're in the type of situation in which every 3-pointer counts, Korver's perhaps the most reliable sharpshooter among the widely available options.
Gerald Henderson, SG, Charlotte Bobcats (3.8 percent owned): The departure of Gerald Wallace allowed Henderson to seize the starting shooting guard role in Charlotte, and he has capitalized, with 1.6 steals per game in his past 10 games and 2.0 per game in his past five. He's averaging 1.3 steals per game in 18 starts this season, and even though he doesn't provide 3-pointers, his steady production in steals is nice, since it's a category that's always difficult to address through the waiver wire. Henderson's numbers should continue to improve as he grows more comfortable with his role, and he should be considered a reliable source of steals for the remainder of the season.
Courtney Lee, SG, Houston Rockets (2.8 percent owned): Lee has picked up his game as the season has progressed, and is averaging 1.4 steals with 1.2 3s per game in his past five contests. With Chase Budinger sidelined, he should get a chance for more run, and is always a helpful player in steals and 3s on a per-minute basis, averaging 1.0 per game in both categories for his career in just 26.4 minutes.
Matt Barnes, SF, Los Angeles Lakers (1.1 percent owned): Barnes is all hustle on the court, and it translates to his stats, although he's not getting very much run on a deep Lakers squad. Still, he's averaging 1.6 steals per game in his past five contests, and after missing much of the season with an injury, is really rounding into shape. He also has the capability to hit 3s, block the occasional shot, rebound and score efficiently, so if you add him for steals help there will likely be peripheral benefits on any given night.
Ronny Turiaf, PF/C, New York Knicks (0.3 percent owned): When he's on the floor, Turiaf is a natural shot-blocker, and he's become a steady player in Mike D'Antoni's rotation, with 1.4 blocks in 19.0 minutes per game in his past five contests. The Knicks are struggling, and there's a chance Turiaf could see his minutes increase as D'Antoni tries to find the ideal lineup to put around Carmelo Anthony. But even if he doesn't, Turiaf is good for about 1.5 blocks per game as long as he's flirting with 20 minutes per contest.
Joel Anthony, C, Heat (0.1 percent owned): Another blocks specialist, Anthony puts up numbers similar to Turiaf in that he'll give you about 1.5 blocks per game on a consistent basis with limited minutes. He's not flashy, and if Ekpe Udoh or Chris Andersen are available and you need swats look there first, but Anthony is available in nearly every league and will provide consistent blocks for the rest of the season. If you're locked in a tight race and in a deep league, he and Turiaf are options for blocks that won't wow, but have proven to be able to contribute consistently and will bolster your team's totals by the end of the season.
Josh Whitling is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.
FANTASY TOP HEADLINES
- Carpenter: Filling category gaps
- McKitish: Top FBA waiver-wire targets
- Stock Watch: Wood up; Davis down
- Fantasy Baseball: H2H category mock draft