Stuck in the Middleton With You

Khris Middleton is amidst a monster January and there is no reason to believe the Sacramento Kings are going to slow him down. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s NBA contests.

Guards:

Kyle Lowry, Raptors, $15,500 – Although there are a duo of games that most will look to stack due to their outlier projected totals, the Toronto Raptors’ projected 106.3 points ranks fourth among teams on the slate. Comparatively to other sites, Kyle Lowry’s price is incredibly low. On competing sites, Lowry costs around 17.5 percent of overall budget while his price remains at only 15.5 percent on FantasyDraft. Few matchups are more enticing to opposing point guards (PGs) than facing the Denver Nuggets and their fourth to last ranked PG defense in terms of efficiency. They have also allowed the third most fantasy points to the position this season. Over the past two weeks, Lowry had scored at least 45 fantasy points in every game (four consecutive) until Saturday’s disappointment against the Pistons. Look for him to get back on track against a miserable backcourt defense and I prefer him to the slightly less expensive DeMar DeRozan if needing to choose just one.

Khris Middleton, Bucks, $12,600 – Only two games are projected to score over 200 combined points on Monday evening according to masseyratings: Washington/Oklahoma City (217.5 over/under) and Milwaukee/Sacramento (212.5). Khris Middleton has low-key been one of the NBA’s top minutes eaters this season as he averages 35.9 per game overall. This month alone he has averaged 37.8 minutes per game (MPG) which would rank slightly below Jimmy Butler’s league leading 38.1 MPG. His minute uptick this month has led to 20.7 points per game (PPG), 4.4 rebounds per game (RPG), 4.9 assists per game (APG) and 1.1 steals per game en route to 35.3 fantasy points per game (FPPG). The Sacramento Kings play at the NBA’s fastest pace and allow the second most fantasy points to opposing shooting guards (SGs). According to NBAwowy, Middleton has played SG in each of the Bucks’ three most common lineups this month so this matchup is nothing short of the crème de la crème.

J.R. Smith, Cavaliers, $9,800 – Here is J.R. Smith’s minute game log since new Coach Tyronn Lue took over: 39, 35, 23 (blowout), 33, 26. While the 26 seems discouraging, LeBron James, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving were easily carrying the offense against the San Antonio Spurs so Lue elected to stink with the defensive-minded Iman Shumpert to complement them for larger minutes than usual. For the season, Smith averages 29 minutes and it appears in most games he will hover above the 30-minute mark if my read on the current rotation is correct. Therefore, I think you have to like him against an Indiana Pacers team that struggles against opposing SGs. The other day I wrote up backup SG Will Barton and Gary Harris was the Denver SG who exceeded expectations. There is only one SG on Cleveland with the potential to light up the scoreboard and I think Smith will do so in an expected close game with the Cavaliers expected to score around 101 points.

Forwards/Centers:

Kevin Durant, Thunder, $18,500 – Clichés are admittedly annoying but this needs to be said: death, taxes and opposing small forwards (SFs) lighting up the Wizards are the three surest things in life. Furthermore, any time Kevin Durant faces his hometown team there is a bit of a narrative aspect to the game as well. However, this game will be played at home so the narrative is not quite as strong comparatively to the game being played at the Verizon Center. People may look at the first meeting, see Durant’s 34 fantasy points and choose to avoid but that would be a gigantic mistake. Durant only played 17 minutes in that game because he left with a strained hamstring. He was averaging two fantasy points per-minute and was on pace (take it with a grain of salt) for 72 fantasy points over a full 36 minute allotment. Assuming Durant makes it through this one fully healthy, it’s hard to envision him not dropping a monster game.

Rudy Gay, Kings, $12,000 – DeMarcus Cousins left Saturday’s game with an ankle sprain that did not look good. He had to be helped off the court after Marc Gasol dove on his ankle and is listed as questionable for Monday. If the past is any indication, the Kings will choose to take the conservative route with their superstar and hold him out until he’s fully ready. Therefore, I’m expecting Rudy Gay to experience a boost in value and usage rate (usg%) in Cousins’ absence. Gay’s usg% sits at 21.7 percent in games Cousins plays but balloons to 29.3 percent when he sits out. In eight games sans Cousins this season, Gay’s FPPG output has actually decreased compared to when he played. Last season shows this is just likely a case of a small sample size because he averaged 35.4 FPPG with Cousins versus 39.6 without him in 2014-15. In a game against the Bucks, who allow the sixth most fantasy points to opposing SFs, he should be in for a solid performance solely due to the plus matchup. Even if Cousins plays, I think the price is cheap enough that Gay would remain a viable cash play in what should be a track meet having the potential to produce the most total points of any game on the slate.

Myles Turner, Pacers, $10,700 – Very few love this kid more than I do. In an earlier Today’s Plays article, I suggested I wouldn’t think twice about rostering Turner until his price reached $11,000. Guess what: his price still has not made it there. If identifying a weak spot in Cleveland’s defense, power forward (PF) stands out as it’s the only position where the Cavaliers rank below average in terms of defensive efficiency. Kevin Love has never been known as a defender especially in the post and Myles Turner loves the drop step in the post. The matchup is not great in terms of his block or rebound potential because he will likely have to step out on Love as a shooter which will keep him away from the basket on defense. Turner was given his first real shot at extended minutes on Jan. 17 and has not looked back. Since then, here is his fantasy point game log starting with the breakout performance on the 17th versus the Nuggets: 42.25, 27.5, 46.5, 30.5, 25.0, 30.0 and 31.25. Four of those six games would equate to 2.80 times value or more than enough for cash game consideration. With his skill set and possible extended stretches against Tristan Thompson as well, I have no problem taking the shot on Turner in tournaments either.

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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