Pels’ Bells

Anthony Davis is out and Tyreke Evans is hobbled so many of the other Pelicans players are excellent value plays against the Kings. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s NBA contests.


Jimmy Butler, Bulls, $15,700 – On most nights, starting your cash lineup with Jimmy Butler is a smart idea. More minutes equals more opportunity in daily fantasy basketball and literally no player plays more minutes than Butler. He leads the league in minutes per game by almost a full minute over James Harden and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope who are tied for second. Butler and the Bulls are 7.5 point favorites because playing in Los Angeles is a whole lot different than playing on the Road for the Lakers. The Lakers allow 101.9 points at home and score 95.2 points (-6.7 point average margin) versus 109.7 points allowed to 97.1 points scored on the road (-12.6 point average margin). In other words, the blowout concerns are much less in Staples Center despite playing a superior opponent. Furthermore the Lakers allow the most fantasy points to both opposing point guards (PGs) and shooting guards (SGs) so this is literally the best possible matchup Butler could ask for. Assuming this game stays close, it’s within reason Butler reaches 50 fantasy points but he’s certainly a safe bet for 35 and that’s what makes him an elite cash play.

Jrue Holiday, Pelicans, $12,000 – There are a whole lot of reasons to like the Pelicans’ point guard on Thursday. For one, Tyreke Evans will likely be on a minutes limit due to his ailing right knee. He’s officially listed as questionable so there remains the possibility that does not even suit up as well. Regardless, looking at it conservatively, let’s say Evans plays but less minutes than usual. This will open up more minutes for Jrue Holiday as the main ball-handler because Evans himself likes to dominate the ball. The less time Evans spends on the court, the higher Holiday’s usage will be for the game. Remember, Eric Gordon will miss the next 4-6 weeks with a broken finger so he is no longer a factor either. Without Evans or Gordon on the floor Holiday averages 1.23 fantasy points per minute versus 1.05 with both of them. His usage rate also increases 27.7 percent from an initial 25.9. Lastly, the over/under of this game is 216.5, by far the highest of the evening, and it’s expected to be a close game (New Orleans is a 2.5 point favorite). Considering Sacramento allows the seventh most fantasy points to the PG position, Holiday is the definition of a must-start.

Toney Douglas, Pelicans, $7,100 – Get used to this pattern because this isn’t the last you’ll hear of Pelicans in this article. There is plenty of value to be had on a team without their true number one scoring option (Anthony Davis) and their second scoring option (Tyreke Evans) likely on a minutes limit. Recently Toney Douglas has transformed from a bench-warmer to a minutes-eater as he’s played 11, 24 and 25 minutes in the three games since Gordon broke his hand. For his career, Douglas averages 29.72 fantasy points per-36 minutes or about 0.83 fantasy points per-minute. If we project Douglas for another 25 minutes, he should score around 20.75 fantasy points in a neutral matchup. At this projection, Douglas would just about satisfy the value needed for tournaments (almost three times). However the pace of this game and the fact that Sacramento is the second least efficient defense against opposing backcourts lead me to believe he could actually score more. The 25 minutes are far from guaranteed so even if he only plays around 20 he should approach value. There seem to be multiple routes for Douglas to reach value which promotes confidence for using him in all formats. Admittedly he’s best left for tournaments because Norris Cole will start and play more minutes but the price is cheap enough that he can used anywhere.


DeMarcus Cousins, Kings, $20,200 – I’m not going to waste too much time here. DeMarcus Cousins is coming off a stinker due to playing 45 minutes in double overtime thriller the night before. The Pelicans will be without their best interior defender who likely wasn’t going to man up on Cousins much anyways. No team allows more fantasy points to opposing centers (Cs) than the Pelicans, and even if you consider Cousins a power forward (PF) starting next to Willie Cauley-Stein, who is going to guard him, Ryan Anderson? I think not. In a game that should be played a crazy fast pace, Cousins simply cannot be faded.

Danilo Gallinari, Nuggets, $12,600 – Washington struggles to defend opposing small forwards (SFs) as evident by having allowed the second most fantasy points to the position. Otto Porter Jr. really isn’t a bad defender but the Wizards play at a quick pace so Porter’s defensive rating sits at 106 almost by default. Danilo Gallinari is amidst the best season of his career averaging a career high in both points and rebounds per game. It’s not even like he’s all of a sudden playing a ton more minutes than he ever had; he averaged nearly the same minutes per game (MPG) in 2010-11. He is just an improved player because his per-minute averages have improved as well and he is averaging 32.38 fantasy points per game (FPPG). This month Gallinari has taken his game to an even higher level as he is averaging 23.3 points and five rebounds in January. While Gallinari’s minutes are typically down on back-to-backs (31.8 MPG), the matchup mitigates the concern. The Nuggets’ SF has played like a $14,000 player this month yet his price still sits at $12,600 so I am going to continue to take advantage in a well above average matchup.

Ryan Anderson, Pelicans, $11,300 – Onto the third Pelican, and yes, three Pelicans are actually viable on a single slate. The second highest projected over/under on the slate is Denver/Washington at 207.5 so this game’s 216.5 projection is nothing to sneeze at. With Davis, Anderson averages 13.4 shot attempts per game and 28.1 FPPG. Without Davis, those numbers see an uptick to 16.6 shot attempts and 29.9 FPPG. Neither Cousins nor Cauley-Stein specialize on stepping out and covering three point shooters so they should have a difficult time with him. In fact, the Kings may choose to deploy Omri Casspi on Anderson for a majority of the game and that matchup doesn’t scare me either. The fact of the matter is Anderson is option 1B in the offense behind Evans (who is less than 100-percent) when Davis is out and he’s priced as a third option. Whenever an asset is that mispriced, especially in the game of the night, he’s an auto-cash play.

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, 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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