Super Freak

Giannis Antetokounmpo, aka the “Greek Freak,” draws an elite matchup against the fast-paced Houston Rockets and is more than worthy of his price tag. Check out Ricky’s recommended plays to help you fill out your NBA roster for tonight’s games.

Guards:

Stephen Curry, Warriors, $18,500 – Unsurprisingly the Warriors sport Vegas’ highest implied total on the Friday slate as they take on the Pacers for the second time this season. The first meeting was held in Indianapolis and the Warriors defeated the Pacers 131-123 in regulation. Both are top seven paced teams this season so a track meet is bound to break out anytime they play one another. I do not always agree with the odds-makers but I am well on board with projecting the Warriors to go off. Stephen Curry averages just about 30 points per game (PPG) and 51.73 fantasy points per game (FPPG). If Curry just produces his average, he’ll finish at 2.73 times value and I think both teams are going to run more than normal. He is one of the safest overall cash plays, and if Indiana manages to keep it close, Curry should be able to match the 29-10 double-double from the first meeting. With a major value having already emerged at one of the forward/center spots, Curry can be fit comfortably into a lineup on Friday evening.

Klay Thompson, Warriors, $13,200 – Did I mention I think the Warriors are going to score a ton of points? Even in cash games I am on board with stacking both Warriors guards in one lineup. Indiana’s weakness defensively all season has been against the shooting guard (SG) position. They have allowed the seventh most fantasy points to the position for both the season and over the past two weeks. Coincidentally, they also rank seventh to last in SG efficiency over the last 10 games as well. Essentially what I’m saying is they are exactly the seventh worst defense against the position in every way possible…and Klay Thompson is pretty, pretty good. Like most shooters, his shot is a little streaky but he is coming off a streak of 20-plus points in two of his last three games. If you look back to Dec. 31, he scored 30-plus points and then scored at least 26 points in each of his next four games before suffering through a mini-cold streak. It appears his shot is back recently and the matchup is ripe. Part of the issue for Thompson is games need to remain close in order for him to play big minutes. Due to his skillset as a pure shooter, he’s typically best left for GPP-only but I think he should be able to find plenty of shooting space against a Rodney Stuckey-less Pacers team. Heck, George Hill is unlikely to play as well which means some combination of Monta Ellis, Glenn Robinson III, Chase Budinger and C.J. Miles will attempt to guard him and that will not end well for the Pacers.

Deron Williams, Mavericks, $11,100 – Sometimes the price is just too cheap. First of all Dirk Nowitzki is listed as questionable for the game although I suspect he will try and give it a go. Even assuming Nowitzki plays, Deron Williams is going to be required to play big minutes because backup J.J. Barea stands no chance against Russell Westbrook. They may allow Devin Harris to give it a shot for a while but I expect Williams will be forced to play 35 minutes or more which he has done in four of his past five games. In the first meeting, Williams registered a usage percentage (usg%) of 26.4 which is significant because his season total is 22.1. In a fast-paced battle revolving around the dueling point guards (PGs), Williams decided to put the offense on his back. Oklahoma City is the top defense against opposing power forwards (PFs) so the fact that Serge Ibaka somewhat neutralizes Dirk Nowitzki provides solid reasoning for the usage uptick. I expect more of the same in this matchup and it would be surprising if Williams did not at least flirt with 30 fantasy points (which is nearly three times value).

Forwards/Centers:

Pau Gasol, Bulls, $15,000 – The Boston Celtics roster includes two excellent perimeter defenders in Marcus Smart and Avery Bradley. In two previous meetings this season, Jimmy Butler has averaged 27.5 real points and 45.5 fantasy points. Bradley only played in one of those previous two matchups and Butler actually scored more fantasy points with the elite defender active. While Butler remains viable almost regardless of opponent, Boston’s weakness defensively is against opposing big men. They rank in the bottom half of fantasy points allowed to both the PF and center (C) positions. Gasol’s minutes have been on the rise sans Joakim Noah who will miss the remainder of the season. With Noah active, Gasol averages 30.8 minutes per game (MPG) versus 33.1 MPG in games without the energetic big man. Similarly to Butler, Gasol has dominated the Celtics in both their previous meetings as he put up a 16-15 double-double and a 17-18 double-double respectively. Oh by the way he added exactly four assists in each of those contests. The Celtics did not find the magic missing piece since Jan. 7 (the date of their latest meeting) so Gasol should continue to destroy them down low. Instead of spending up for Draymond Green or Paul George, take the discount and watch Gasol produce a similar tally for a $1,400 or so discount.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks, $12,900 – If you believe in the term “mid-season form,” Giannis Antetokounmpo has been personifying it over the past five games. During that stretch, Antetokounmpo has failed to reach 38.25 fantasy points just once. All other four games resulted in a double-double with sporadic assists and defensive statistics mixed in. On Friday, Milwaukee will head to Houston to face a team that has struggled to defend opposing forwards. They have allowed the third most fantasy points to opposing small forwards (SFs) which is where Antetokounmpo has played a majority of his minutes since the beginning of the month according to NBAwowy. He has also played some minutes at PF with Jabari Parker off the court and Houston is the worst team defensively in terms of both fantasy points allowed and efficiency so switching positions momentarily should not affect his effectiveness. Oh by the way, the Rockets play at the eighth fastest pace so the Bucks may have to alter their slow style slightly on the road. If/when the pace speeds up for the Bucks, they tend to allow Antetokounmpo to handle the ball with Jerryd Bayless playing on the wing in order to hit open jumpers. In other words, Michael Carter-Williams’ style is more conducive to slower-paced games while Antetokounmpo’s role grows in faster games such as the one coming up. Outside of foul trouble, I expect him to fall into a double-double with a handful of assists by accident which more than justifies the mid-tier price.

Frank Kaminsky, Hornets, $9,000 – Both Cody Zeller and Nicolas Batum have already been ruled out on Friday and Al Jefferson continues to be sidelined after arthroscopic knee surgery. Someone is needed to eat up frontcourt minutes for the Hornets and I believe the man that will benefit most will be Frank Kaminsky. With both Zeller and Jefferson active, Kaminsky averages just 21.3 MPG and 17.0 FPPG, but sans Jefferson Kaminsky’s average increase to 25.8 MPG and 21.5 FPPG. Now Zeller will exit the picture as well and Kaminsky averages 0.84 fantasy points per-minute with both the starting big men off the floor. Factor in that Kaminsky will have to play around 30 minutes by default due to lack of healthy bodies and the math suggests (0.84*30) suggests Kaminsky should approach value by accident. Orlando has struggled against opposing big men over the past two weeks so with a little bit of luck he could surpass three times value making him one hell of an intriguing tournament play (as well as a safe cash option).

Ricky Sanders

Ricky Sanders

Ricky Sanders is a fantasy sports expert with over 15 years of playing experience. After starting several freelance fantasy sports blogs, Ricky moved up in the fantasy industry when he joined Going9 Baseball. He wrote fantasy baseball content and had a weekly radio spot on the site’s SiriusXM Satellite Radio show. Shortly thereafter, in early 2013, Ricky joined RotoExperts as a three-sport fantasy contributor, eventually becoming one of the site’s lead basketball writers. While writing for RotoExperts, Ricky was introduced to daily fantasy sports and immediately fell in love. With help from some of his mentors, some of the best DFS players in the world, he honed his skills and became the daily fantasy expert he is today. When RotoExperts created a daily-focused website called DailyRoto.com, Ricky was brought on as one of the main contributors. He still makes frequent appearances on the RotoExperts SiriusXM Radio show and on the FNTSY Sports Television Network, talking daily fantasy sports. He also continues to write for a few DFS content sites: RotoCurve and The Fantasy Fix. Ricky is a proud and active member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. He has agreed to be a writer and representative for the FantasyDraft brand and serves as an ambassador to the site. He has no more access to the site than the typical user. Don’t hesitate to contact Ricky with questions on Twitter @RSandersDFS.

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