Phoenix will likely be without many important pieces in their rotation so they will not be able to play with San Antonio. That means it’s Boban Marjanovic time. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for tonight’s games.
Chris Paul, Clippers, $17,600 – Speaking from a fantasy perspective, Chris Paul has exploded since Blake Griffin went down. Paul averaged 17.7 points and 38.7 fantasy points while playing alongside Griffin but those numbers have shot to 19.5 and 46.8 per game since the injury. Similar to the San Antonio/Cleveland game last week, coaches tend to play their stars larger minute allotments in competitive games. In that game, Tim Duncan played 33 minutes (hadn’t played more than 30 minutes in two weeks) and Tony Parker played 35 minutes (tied a season high). Opposing coaches, especially of good teams, want their team to defeat the Cavs for pride and to prove to their team that they can compete with anyone. Paul’s minutes have remained about the same since the loss of Griffin but his usage percentage (usg%) has shot up from 25.3 percent to 29.3, his assist percentage (ast%) has risen from 47.0 percent to 54.8 and he should play a few additional minutes due to the matchup. He has been averaging approximately 2.66 times value in his normal allotment of minutes so if he pushes 40 minutes, he should approach value even at a hefty price tag.
Jrue Holiday, Pelicans, $11,600 – Eric Gordon will miss the next four-to-six weeks with a broken finger which should open up some extra minutes for Jrue Holiday. Since the beginning of the month, all 12 of the Pelicans’ most common lineups with Gordon off the floor have included Holiday. By comparison, only five of them include Tyreke Evans. The loss of Gordon hardly affects Holiday’s fantasy point per minute output as it rises from 1.06 to 1.08. However, this should open up additional playing time as he has not eclipsed the 30 minute plateau over the past five games. Without Gordon in the rotation, Holiday should surely earn himself five or so additional minutes beyond what he has been playing recently and he has produced at least 36.50 fantasy points in three straight contests. The Pistons are a middle of the road defense against opposing point guards (PGs) so the matchup is neutral but the price is simply too low and reflects Holiday’s role with Gordon in the rotation. Without him, I think Holiday is closer to a $13,000 player especially because Tyreke Evans’ knee is hurting and he may not be able to play a full allotment of minutes himself.
Mike Conley, Grizzlies, $11,300 – After missing six games with an Achilles injury, Mike Conley returned on Monday to drop a 15-10 double-double on the New Orleans Pelicans. Now the Pelicans rank second to last in the NBA in defensive efficiency so it was certainly was a just matchup but it’s not like Denver is much better; they are tied for 24th in defensive efficiency due to a four way tie with Brooklyn, Milwaukee and Sacramento. Diving deeper into the matchup, Denver actually ranks third to last in backcourt defensive efficiency which actually establishes the Nuggets as a more favorable individual matchup for Conley than even the Pelicans team he just dominated. Furthermore, Emmanuel Mudiay is one of the most turnover-prone players in the league so Conley’s steal potential (1.3 per game) is increased in this matchup too. He produced 34.25 fantasy points in just 27 minutes in his return and his minutes should be on the rise in a slightly better matchup. While he rarely goes off and scores 30 real points, he’s a safe bet to cover around 30 fantasy points which is why he’s one of my favorite cash options on the slate.
Andre Drummond, Pistons, $15,700 – Andre Drummond’s game has vastly improved over the past few seasons so I’m not sure looking at data from previous matchups makes much sense. Nevertheless, he has faced the Pelicans thrice over the past two seasons and two of those have resulted in 50-plus fantasy point outputs. This season, only the Philadelphia 76ers have allowed more fantasy points to opposing centers as Omer Asik has been beat like a drum (no pun intended). He has been so horrible that New Orleans has begun to experiment with extending Alexis Ajinca’s minutes once again as Ajinca is one of the game’s best per-minute rebounders. With that being said, the matchup is still ripe for Drummond to put together another monster performance. Both teams play at a similar pace so it will be another day at the office for Drummond. The Pelicans allow the fifth most rebounds to opposing centers so I can see a 15-15 type game with some defensive stats and, as is always the case for Drummond, upside for even more.
Paul Millsap, Hawks, $14,600 – As you’ll hear me repeat over and over, I love when guys play in games with an uptick in pace. There is no faster paced team in basketball than the Sacramento Kings so the Hawks too will have to kick up the pace if Rajon Rondo gets out and running. Partially due to the extremely fantasy-friendly pace, the Kings allow the most fantasy points to opposing power forwards (PFs). Considering Millsap is literally one of the most consistent players in fantasy basketball, playing in an elite matchup only raises his already stable floor. His minutes have been slightly down recently but it will not matter with the additional scoring/rebounding/passing opportunities available in this track meet against a poor defense. If Willie Cauley-Stein starts against him you can downgrade his prospects slightly but not enough to consider fading.
Boban Marjanovic, Spurs, $6,300 – At his massive size, Boban Marjanovic will never average 36 minutes per game. As Galin Dragiev points out on Twitter, most of his minutes come against the opposing teams’ backups as well. Still, I like to have fun with numbers especially to illustrate a point. Marjanovic averages a whopping 53.10 fantasy points per-36 minutes which, for reference, is 0.2 less per-36 than DeMarcus Cousins. There’s a possibility the Suns are without Markieff Morris, Jon Leuer, Mirza Teletovic and T.J. Warren tomorrow (all listed as questionable, or in Leuer’s case, doubtful). The Suns are already without Eric Bledsoe for the season and Ronnie Price recently underwent surgery as well. A healthy Suns team already matches up poorly against the Spurs, but without literally half their team, they are absolutely doomed. I expect there to be extended garbage time in this game which means the 7’3” monster on the Spurs’ bench should be unleashed. He could conceivably reach value at this price in five minutes of play but I expect him play 15-20. Assuming Marjanovic approaches 15 minutes, which he should in this mismatch, he will emerge as the best value on the slate…by far.