Fantasy: 5 specialists worth drafting in category leagues

Andrew Joe Potter
Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports / Action Images

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In head-to-head category or rotisserie leagues, you must consider your performance in each individual statistical category, including overlooked ares like shooting percentages and defensive stats.

Here are five category specialists who can help your team, even if their point, rebound, and assist totals are far from All-Star worthy:

PG/SG Marcus Smart, Celtics

The Boston Celtics bought plenty of shiny new toys this offseason, so it's easy to overlook how effective Marcus Smart was in his role last season despite his limited scoring profile.

A tenacious on-ball defender, Smart racked up the 13th-most steals per game (1.6) in the league last season. With Avery Bradley now in Detroit, Smart's defensive prowess will be more crucial than ever. Kyrie Irving is a slightly more effective defender than Isaiah Thomas, but not by much; expect Smart to be deployed as the team's primary on-ball defender to cover for his new star teammate.

Smart also averaged 4.6 assists per game last season, and though he shot just 35.9 percent from the field, his year-to-year growth from the free-throw line suggests his shooting isn't utterly unsalvageable. There's enough offensive production here to stay afloat while taking advantage of Smart's strong defensive contributions.

theScore Ranking: 107 Overall, PG35
FantasyPros ADP: 125 Overall, PG39

SG/SF Nick Young, Warriors

Nick Young has become a meme in recent seasons as much for his off-court hijinks as his propensity for throwing up ill-advised shots. Last season, however, Swaggy P's 3-point attempts actually connected on an elite clip. On a Lakers squad which didn't exactly put on an offensive clinic on a nightly basis, Young making 2.8 3-pointers per game - the 10th-highest average in the league - is nothing short of amazing.

Joining the Warriors means Young won't see anywhere near the seven 3-point attempts per game he got to hoist in Los Angeles, and unless something goes very, very wrong with Klay Thompson, Young probably won't see more than 20 minutes a night on average. That said, this historically strong Warriors team will give bench players like Young plenty of opportunity to pad their stats in garbage time, and given the team's ball movement, Young should still see between two and three made threes per night.

theScore Ranking: 182 Overall, SG70
FantasyPros ADP: 168 Overall, SG58

SF/PF Bojan Bogdanovic, Pacers

If you miss out on one of the true free-throw percentage studs - the DeMar DeRozans and James Hardens of the league - grabbing Bogdanovic in the final rounds of your draft makes a lot of sense. Among players who appeared in at least 40 games and attempted at least three free-throws per outing last season, Bogdanovic's 89.3 percent efficacy from the charity stripe ranked eighth in the NBA.

The Pacers don't have a ton of depth on the wings entering the season, and with Glenn Robinson III suffering an ankle injury that could keep him sidelined through December, Bogdanovic could end up playing over 30 minutes each night by default, a workload he has not seen since coming into the league in 2014. A per-36 scoring average of 16.1 points per game hints at his potential to put up reasonable stats beyond his solid shooting rates if thrust into more minutes.

theScore Ranking: 131 Overall, SF45
FantasyPros ADP: 163 Overall, SF77

PF/C Cody Zeller, Hornets

Zeller is to field-goal percentage what Bogdanovic is to free-throw percentage. Among players who averaged at least five shots per game last season, Zeller ranked 11th with a 57.1 field-goal percentage.

Dwight Howard's presence will relegate Zeller to the Hornets' bench, but Dwight isn't the Dwight of old, and at 31 with a ton of mileage on his body, there's a good chance that Howard's playing time continues to scale back.

In addition to his strong shooting efficiency, Zeller also averaged 1.0 steal, 0.9 blocks, and 6.5 REBs in just over 27 minutes per game. There's a reason Charlotte drafted Zeller No. 4 overall in 2013; he might not be flashy, but he's an incredibly effective player.

theScore Ranking: 165 Overall, PF62
FantasyPros ADP: 154 Overall, PF41

PF/C Lucas Nogueira, Raptors

If you exclude gargantuan Cavaliers center Edy Tavares and his two appearances last season, Lucas "Bebe" Nogueira ranked 12th in the league with 1.6 blocks per game. Combined with 0.9 steals per game, Nogueira's 2.5 "stocks" are fantastic, especially considering he only averaged 19.1 minutes of floor time for the Raptors last season.

No one is going to confuse Nogueira for an offensive maestro, but the considerable length he uses to deflect shots and passes on the defensive end also translates to high-percentage scoring opportunities directly at the rim. If the Raptors trust him enough to send a few more lobs in his direction each game, Nogueira's career 63.9 field-goal percentage will begin to carry serious weight as well.

theScore Ranking: 200 Overall, C76
FantasyPros ADP: 165 Overall, C50

(Average Draft Position figures courtesy: FantasyPros)

(Photos courtesy: Action Images)