- Josh Whitling, Fantasy Basketball
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During the first several weeks of the season, waiver-wire activity is typically a dash to add the best player available in order to increase overall team value. But now that the unquestioned starters and early-season gems have been plucked off waivers, for the most part, it's time to start addressing specific team needs. Often, a player who doesn't seem worth a roster spot becomes desirable when you notice your team is in last place in a certain category in roto leagues or loses a category every week in head-to-head formats. Here are some players who provide help in specific categories and might be worth adding in order to address the needs of your individual roster:
Andris Biedrins, C, Warriors (2.2 percent owned): Once a fantasy favorite, this 7-footer has seen his career derailed by injuries that have forced him to miss 92 games over the past three seasons. Those injuries also have limited his time on the floor when healthy, as he has averaged a mere 23 minutes per game over the past two seasons. He already has missed three games this season because of an ankle injury but has played relatively well lately, averaging 6.8 rebounds and 1.0 blocks per game in his past five contests. Of players who have played in at least 10 games, he ranks eighth in rebounds per 48 minutes with 16.9. The Warriors would love for him to be able to handle minutes in the upper 20s, and he doesn't have serious competition for playing time, so if he stays healthy, he easily could average 8 to 9 rebounds and 1 to 1.5 blocks per game.
Ian Mahinmi, C, Mavericks (2.2 percent owned): He is averaging 5.2 rebounds per game in just 20.1 minutes and has nowhere to go but up. He's in a time-share with the aging Brendan Haywood, and as the Mavs shift toward developing a future identity, he's the one who's in the middle. Fouls have limited his playing time, but as he matures, he should see his minutes and numbers improve.
Reggie Evans, PF, Clippers (0.1 percent owned): Only Dwight Howard, Andrew Bynum and DeMarcus Cousins average more rebounds per 48 minutes than Evans' mark of 17.8. Unless an injury occurs in the Clips' frontcourt, he's going to give you only about 20 minutes per game, but he will grab seven or eight boards in that span and is perhaps the best rebounding specialist in the game.
Derek Fisher, PG, Lakers (4.7 percent owned): Fish started the season sluggishly, as many believe the demands of labor negotiations took a toll on this 15-year vet. But he still is starting at point guard for the Lakers, has played 30 or more minutes in three of the past four contests and is averaging 5.4 assists per game in 10 January contests after averaging just 3.0 per game in five December bouts. Only 22 players average more assists per game than Fisher, so even though his only other contribution is minimal steals (1.1 per game), if you need dimes, he's an option.
Jordan Farmar, PG, Nets (1.3 percent owned): Farmar has established himself as one of the best backup point guards in the league, and last season he proved his ability to produce when given opportunity by averaging 13.7 points, 9.1 assists, 1.5 3-pointers and 1.0 steals per game in 18 starts. He started the season slow, but in his past nine contests, he has averaged 4.2 assists per game with 1.7 3s in 21.7 minutes. Beyond the starting point guards, Farmar provides steady assists and 3s, and he has significant upside should Deron Williams miss any time.
Earl Watson, PG, Jazz (0.7 percent owned): Devin Harris has been atrocious this season, and Watson is proving more capable of facilitating the offense, as he ranks 10th in the league with 10.7 assists per 48 minutes. Watson also is higher on the Player Rater than Harris, as well as other more commonly owned point guards such as Jameer Nelson, Ramon Sessions and Norris Cole. His 4.7-assists-per-game rate is higher than those of starting point guards Jrue Holiday, Mario Chalmers and Tyreke Evans, and even though his contributions elsewhere are minimal, he's worth a look in a deep league if you need assists.
Mike Miller, SG/SF, Heat (16.8 percent owned): He's in line to get plenty of open looks from downtown with defenses focusing on Dwyane Wade and LeBron James, and even though he'll see limited minutes, this is a guy who averaged 2.9 3s per game a few years ago. The career 40.5 percent shooter from long range could easily average 1.5 to 2.0 3s per game in a specialist role for the Heat.
Daniel Green, SG, Spurs (6.7 percent owned): Green has assumed a major role in the Spurs' rotation with Manu Ginobili sidelined, and is averaging 1.9 3s, 1.2 blocks and 0.7 steals in 21.1 minutes per game this month. He has topped the 30-minute mark in two of his past four contests, including 38 minutes played Wednesday. More minutes should equal more production, and along with the 3s, his blocks and steals are legit. His senior season at UNC, he averaged 2.0 3s, 1.8 steals and 1.3 blocks per game. A player contributing in both 3s and blocks is rare, and even though his stats will dip when Ginobili returns, Green can help fantasy teams now and has a skill set designed for fantasy hoops.
Jodie Meeks, SG, Sixers (3.1 percent owned): Meeks was a surprising fantasy contributor last season, but his numbers are down across the board this season, primarily due to the depth and unselfish nature of the Sixers' roster. But he has heated up in his past nine games, averaging 2.2 3s per contest with at least one trey in each game. He's getting more run as well, topping 30 minutes in each of his past four contests, so look for his numbers to creep closer to last season's production, when he averaged 1.9 3s per game.
John Salmons, SG/SF, Kings (24.7 percent owned): Salmons' overall numbers have been so disappointing this season that he has been dropped in a majority of leagues, although he's still racking up steals, with 1.5 per game this month. He has averaged at least one steal per game in each of the past six seasons, so even though he's a disappointment all around, the steals are there. His contribution in 3s should increase as well, as he is shooting just 20.8 percent from downtown and is a career 36.4 percent 3-point shooter. He should end the season with more than a steal and a 3 per game, and even though his overall numbers are disastrous, there's some value in these specific categories.
George Hill, PG/SG, Pacers (23.9 percent owned): Many expected him to experience a bump in production moving out of a backcourt dominated by Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, but Hill is averaging fewer minutes per game this season with the Pacers than he did last season with the Spurs. Thus, his numbers are down, and he has been dropped by a majority of owners who drafted him. But he's averaging a career-high 1.6 steals per game in 25.2 minutes, good for 10th in the league, with 3.02 steals per 48 minutes. He's also one of the few widely available players averaging double-digit points per game, so even though his season has been a disappointment overall, like Salmons, he retains some value thanks to his swipes.
Carlos Delfino, SG/SF, Bucks (13.3 percent owned): His offensive numbers are down so far this season because he's shooting 37.6 percent from the floor in January, but he's stealing the ball at an impressive rate of 1.5 per game. He should have no problem maintaining this, as he averaged 1.6 steals per game last season, and if you can handle the hit in field goal percentage, he and Delonte West are the only players owned in fewer than 15 percent of leagues who accrue at least 1.5 steals per game.
Taj Gibson, PF, Bulls (5.0 percent owned): Like his second-unit frontcourt mate, Omer Asik, Gibson puts up excellent per-minute numbers on the defensive end, with 1.4 blocks per game in just 20.1 minutes per contest. That production is dependable, as he averaged 1.3 per game in 21.8 minutes last season, and has some upside with both Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah prone to injuries.
Jermaine O'Neal, C, Celtics (2.2 percent owned): He's a shell of his former self, but O'Neal is still producing in the blocks department, with 1.6 per game on the season and 2.0 per game this month. He's also averaging 7.2 rebounds per game in his past five, so even though his production is limited, he provides enough blocks and boards to help owners in deep formats.
Bismack Biyombo, PF, Bobcats (0.8 percent owned): As advertised, the rookie is swatting the ball at an astounding rate of 5.96 blocks per 48 minutes. He's not getting enough run to be worthwhile in standard leagues, although if you're desperate for blocks in deep formats, he's rejecting 1.5 per game, and his playing time will only increase.
Josh Whitling is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.
Josh Whitling discusses some of the top single-category helpers in fantasy hoops, including Andris Biedrins, Mike Miller and Taj Gibson.