The Basketball Jones

Dwight Howard will miss Sunday’s game and Terrence Jones continues to be the main beneficiary in his absence. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s NBA contests.

Guards:

James Harden, Rockets, $18,000 – While it may not seem Dwight Howard sitting out should affect the team’s shooting guard (SG) but, quoting famous Chef Emeril Lagasse, James Harden kicks it up a notch” without him. In games Howard plays, Harden averages 47.9 fantasy points per game (FPPG). When Howard sits, Harden averages a whopping 53.3 FPPG or 5.4 more per game. Howard gives the team a true post presence and true second scoring option on offense. When he doesn’t play, Harden likes to put the whole offense on his back and it shows because he averages 1.5 more shots per game. Also, Howard likes to play out of the post so Harden will drop it down, Howard will make a move and score. The play ends in points for the Houston Rockets but not an assist for Harden. Sans the starting center (C), Harden can run pick-and-rolls with Jones and looks for all his teammates and not just Howard in the post. Therefore, it’s not a shocker that his assists per game (APG) increase by nearly two when Howard is in street clothes. Oh by the way, Harden has faced the Dallas Mavericks this year twice and Howard sat both those games. All he did was drop 53.75 and 53.0 fantasy points respectively in those two ballgames. Value has already emerged on the slate so there is no reason to fade either he or Kevin Durant especially in cash games.

Deron Williams, Mavericks, $11,300 – Enticing guards are difficult to come by on this slate because there are so many studs and values at the forward/center (F/C) spots. In order to fill my roster with five total F/C’s, the only guard I think is worthy of spending up on is Harden (or maybe DeMar DeRozan). Otherwise, I am quite content saving some salary and rostering the recentlly consistent Deron Williams. Sure Williams’ production has been there lately which obviously is of interest but I put more stock in the fact he has played 35-plus minutes in four of the last five games. Williams has been frustrating in the past when his coaches have been conservative with his playing time but that no longer seems like an issue. Patrick Beverley is a regarded as a solid defending point guard (PG) due to past data but this has been the worst defensive season of his career by far. His defensive rating, or the estimate of points allowed per 100 possessions, had never been above 108 in any of his first three seasons. This year, he has allowed approximately 110 points per 100 possessions and advanced metrics suggest he has been below average. In Williams’ example allow it shows as the Mavericks have played the Rockets twice this season and he dropped 25.5 fantasy points when Beverley sat and 34.25 when he played. Assuming Williams’ minutes remain about the same, and there’s no reason to believe they won’t, he should crack the 30 fantasy point plateau which is solid for cash games.

Avery Bradley, Celtics, $10,300 – The Philadelphia 76ers’ defense is sub-par; only New Orleans, Houston, Los Angeles (Lakers), Phoenix and Sacramento allow more points per game (PPG). While they struggle more against opposing frontcourts, they rank in the bottom half of fantasy points allowed to both guard spots as well. Nerlens Noel is a solid rim protector so slashers could have a difficult time finishing. Most of Avery Bradley’s offense comes via the jump shot so he should be able to avoid the defense’s strength. Also the 76ers turn the ball over more than any team in basketball and Bradley ranks 23rd among qualified players in steals per game (SPG). Bradley has produced two quiet games against Philadelphia earlier this season but I do not expect that trend to continue in this one.

Forwards/Centers:

Kevin Durant, Thunder, $17,000 – As mentioned in the Harden tidbit, too much value has already emerged to consider fading the studs. Oklahoma City played Brooklyn on Nov. 25 of this season and Kevin Durant dropped 52.0 fantasy points. Update: the Nets still do not have anyone who can cover the 6’11” scoring machine. Furthermore, Brooklyn has allowed the fourth most three point field goals this season so Durant should have success both from the field and taking it to the hoop. The only real worry is a blowout because the Nets have the second worst record in the East but Durant should be able to get his even in three quarters. His floor is probably 35 fantasy points which is good enough for me because his ceiling is the highest of anyone on the slate outside of maybe Harden.

Terrence Jones, Rockets, $9,500 – Last second inactives are frustrating obstacles to deal with in the daily fantasy NBA game and the Rockets were no exception on Friday evening. Earlier in the day it was reported changes would be made to the frontcourt but they did not announce what those changes may be. Terrence Jones had started almost all previous games Dwight Howard had sat so he was surely going to be in the lineup, right? Wrong. Despite the fact Jones had scored at least 25 fantasy points in each of those previous starts, the Rockets went small with Clint Capela at C. For that reason, many DFS-ers including myself switched from Jones to the more expensive Capela and it backfired. Capela finished on 25.75 fantasy points and Jones finished with 33. There is no more messing around; no matter who starts for the Rockets, play Jones on Sunday sans Howard. He benefits the most from the absence and has been remarkably consistent without him. At just $9,500, Jones’ floor might be meeting value so he clearly needs to be on your roster.

Enes Kanter, Thunder, $8,400 – Another player already listed as “out” for Sunday is the Thunder’s starting C: Steven Adams. This will be the second consecutive game Adams has missed and Nick Collison started in his place. No worries because Enes Kanter came off the bench and played more minutes than Collison. In fact, he just missed a double-double as he finished with 16 points and nine rebounds. His price right now is cheap even for his usual role off the bench because he can blow up on any given game (especially if the Thunder blow out the opponent). Now that his role will expand, using him at his price is just flat stealing. Kanter averaged 25.3 fantasy points last season in the 53 games Adams missed and that would equal a monster output at his price. If he happens to grab 10 rebounds, he is going to absolutely crush value. Do not be afraid to roster him in all formats.

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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