Coming off a quiet performance against the Jazz, look for a full 180 against a Chicago Bulls team that struggles against opposing centers. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s NBA contests.
Rajon Rondo, Kings, $14,600 – Coming off of three sub-par performances, Rajon Rondo’s price has now dipped below $15,000 and it’s time to pounce once again. FantasyDraft awards a bonus for double-doubles and Rondo is the NBA’s leaders in assists per game (11.6). Unsurprisingly, his recent cold streak is on the hinges of three straight games failing to reach double-digit assists…but just barely (eight, seven and nine respectively over the past three games). A matchup against the Nets should spark his production once again because they allow the fourth most fantasy points to opposing point guards (PGs). In the team’s one prior meeting this season, Rondo dropped a triple-double with 23 points (PTS), 10 rebounds (REB), 14 assists (AST) and even two steals (STL). There are so many ways Rondo can contribute to a box score and he should have no issue putting together another fantastic line as the Kings’ implied total is the second highest on the slate.
Evan Turner, Celtics, $9,600 – If you haven’t been following the rotation closely, it’s easy to have allowed Evan Turner’s recent consistency to fall through the cracks. Turner is one of those unexciting players who rarely score 20 PTS but he fills up the box score somewhat similarly to Rondo. Rebounding is Turner’s specialty as he ranks 13th among guards with 4.5 rebounds per game (RPG) despite only playing 26.9 minutes per game (MPG). Recently his minutes have been up as he has surpassed 27 minutes in four of his last six games and has played at least 25 in each of his last seven games. It seems Coach Brad Stevens likes the versatility he brings and has decided he is a staple in the rotation for the moment. While the matchup against the Cleveland Cavaliers is not incredibly favorable, the Celtics will need to score to compete and Turner has scored double-digits in eight of his last nine games. The Celtics will also need to find ways to compete on the boards against a team with Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson and Turner can provide a sneaky source of rebounds. For those reasons, I think Turner may play nearly 30 minutes which should be plenty of time to hit value at his mid-tier price. I would caution he is a better fit for tournaments than cash games due to past volatility issues.
Wayne Ellington, Nets, $8,100 – After firing Coach Lionel Hollins, the Nets turned to Tony Brown who immediately switched up the rotation. His first order of business was inserting Wayne Ellington into the starting lineup and Ellington has not looked back since the move. While Ellington’s price now sits at the most expensive it has been all season, he has now scored double-digits in four consecutive games. In fact, he has eclipsed the 20 fantasy point plateau in four of his last six games which would equate to 2.5x value as-is. However, I’m expecting more out of Ellington against a Sacramento Kings team that allows the third most fantasy points to opposing shooting guards (SGs) and plays the fastest brand of basketball. With the teams running and struggling to defend the wing, Ellington should score in the mid-to-high teens of real points and possibly top 3x value. If needing to roster superstars, such as the one coming off, he clears a lot of salary to make it possible while providing serious upside as well. Assuming no other value emerges on the slate (which is usually a bad assumption), he’s by far the best punt play of the night.
DeMarcus Cousins, Kings, $20,200 – Oh man…DeMarcus Cousins versus one of the softest big men in the game is quite the mismatch. In the first meeting all Cousins did was torch Brook Lopez for 40 PTS, 13 REB and one AST (61.75 fantasy points). WHEW. Lopez is a notoriously weak rebounder which means Cousins could rack up an unusually large amount of them and he averages 11.3 per game. Furthermore Cousins has stepped his game up to a whole new level since the last time they met; he averaged 31.5 points per game (PPG) including 1.3 three-pointers (3PM), 12.0 rebounds per game (RPG), 3.1 assists per game (APG), 1.6 steals per game (SPG) and 1.3 blocks per game (BPG) in 15 January games. In other words he averaged a whopping 56.6 fantasy points for a whole month. Again the Kings are projected to score around 109 points so Cousins is assuredly going to need to dominate for the projection to come true. There is no other superstar I’d rather roster regardless of how much cheaper they are priced because his ceiling literally may be 15 fantasy points higher than the next player.
Marcin Gortat, Wizards, $12,000 – I found it a little odd that 76ers/Wizards carried a projected higher total than Nets/Kings but not because the Wizards are involved. My feeling was the odds-makers wouldn’t give Philadelphia credit to stick around with a much better team but Washington only opened as a nine point favorite. Of course John Wall is the first guy you think of when you think Wizards but Marcin Gortat is the one with the superb history against this opponent. In four games last season, Gortat scored at least 33.5 fantasy points in three of the four games and topped 42 fantasy points in each of the final two meetings. Last season it was a bit of a worry opponents would go small against Philadelphia because Nerlens Noel was their only true center and they’d play small a lot without him. This season, the 76ers have two centers and they like to scatter their minutes so Gortat has no reason to play less than his normal allotment of minutes…and actually could play more. Gortat’s minutes have been slightly down recently with the team getting healthier but that has also led to a price drop. He should make efficient use of his 30-ish minutes on Friday and prove to be a useful mid-tier option
Nikola Jokic, Nuggets, $10,800 – Okay so Gortat is a ho-hum mid-tier option who will move the chains and likely provide value but Nikola Jokic is an exciting option that can annihilate value. World, meet Jokic who quietly is becoming an upper-echelon NBA player. Expectations at the beginning of the season were Jusuf Nurkic would regain his starting job and play a majority of the minutes when he returned due to injury but Jokic is simply better. While Nurkic is a great defender, Jokic is the whole package. Over the past seven games, Jokic has double-doubled four times, stolen at least a pass in all but one game and registered at least three AST in all but one game. He is coming off of a down game in Utah but just about every center suffers the same fate in slow-paced affairs against Rudy Gobert. On Friday, Jokic will square off against a Bulls team allowing the seventh most fantasy points to opposing centers (Cs) and the third most rebounds. There is a chance the Bulls are without Jimmy Butler and Pau Gasol although I do expect both to suit up. Regardless, Jokic should get back to his double-double ways and continue to provide sharp DFS players a distinct advantage over the competition. Simply put, he is my favorite play on the entire slate.