LeBron James against the worst defense in basketball possibly without Kevin Love? Yes please. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s NBA contests.
Kyrie Irving, Cavaliers, $12,900 – New rule: Start all scorers against Sacramento Kings. Okay so that’s a bit of an exaggeration but the Kings are absolutely porous on defense. On Sunday, the Boston Celtics scored 46 points in the first quarter which tied the Golden State Warriors for the most points in any quarter so far this season. Now there should be no confusion; the Boston Celtics are not the Golden State Warriors. Their outburst was the result of pathetic defense more so than it was fantastic offense. Unsurprisingly the Cavaliers are projected to score a ton of points against the Kings as well on Monday as masseyratings.com projects them at 110 points and 9.5 point favorites. It would not be shocking if this game turns into a blowout but Kyrie Irving should get his whether the game gets out of hand or not especially if Kevin Love sits. Irving averages 0.89 fantasy points per-minute with Love on the floor but that total catapults to 1.20 without him. In one of the best matchups he could possibly ask for (Kings rank 28th in defensive efficiency versus opposing point guards (PGs)), he is a legitimate threat to top 40 fantasy points at a reasonable price.
Derrick Rose, Bulls, $12,600 – The Bulls have played two full games in the past week with Jimmy Butler inactive and another in which he was forced to leave due to injury. In those three games, Derrick Rose produced 42.5, 54.25 and 41.25 fantasy points respectively and the Bulls have already announced Butler will be out “for a while.” During those games, he has enjoyed usage rates (usg%) of 31.3, 37.4 and 36.5 percent…his season average is 26.9 percent. At the very least, Butler will not play on Monday at the Hornets so Rose should continue to see this gigantic bump in usage and oh by the way his minutes have risen to the mid-30’s lately as well. If he’s playing the minutes and all the plays are running through him then he is an absolute monster and this price should be nowhere near high enough to deter anyone from rostering him. Without Butler, Rose is essentially the Bulls’ Damian Lillard.
Evan Fournier, Magic, $8,400 – This play is completely contingent on whether Tobias Harris suits up or not, but assuming he does not, Evan Fournier is once again in play. The same two teams who squared off yesterday (Hawks/Magic) will rematch on Monday and Fournier scored 21 real points. Not only does Fournier start in the absence of Harris but he also averages 0.88 fantasy points per-minute with Harris off the court versus 0.73 per-minute when he’s on. In other words, Fournier receives a bump in minutes, role and effectiveness without Harris so he makes for a steal at this price. At the same time, if Harris suits up, he reverts back to mediocrity and can be overlooked as per usual.
LeBron James, Cavaliers, $17,600 – To review, the Kings’ defense is horrendous. Beyond the one game sample referenced in the Irving tidbit, Sacramento allows the most points per game (PPG) of any team (108.5) and they play at the fastest pace. Once a borderline playoff team, the Kings have now lost seven of eight games and allowed at least 104 points in all eight. Even though the Cavaliers very well steamroll the Kings, a majority of their production will come from Irving and LeBron James sans Kevin Love. There’s only a one game sample this season but James averaged 48.5 FPPG without Love last year in five contests. Many will look towards Russell Westbrook against the lowly Phoenix Suns as the spread in that game is only 8.5 but I would prefer to safe the salary and use James. If serious value emerges, pairing the two superstars is the recommended play because they have the potential to combine for 120-plus fantasy points. If Love does suit up, Westbrook would slightly edge out James for superstar of the night.
Karl-Anthony Towns, Timberwolves, $14,600 – Already in his young career Karl-Anthony Towns is approaching top-15 player in the NBA status. In three February games, Towns is averaging 19.0 points per game (PPG), 13 rebounds per game (RPG), 1.7 assists per game (APG) and 2.0 blocks per game (BPG) en route to 41.4 FPPG. It’s not like he is emerging out of nowhere considering he averaged a double-double with almost two BPG in January as well. We’re witnessing one of the NBA’s best up-and-coming stars develop in front of our eyes and on Monday’s matchup is a joke. The Pelicans allow the most FPPG to opposing centers (Cs) and Towns dominated to the tune of a 20-13 double-double in their only previous meeting on Jan. 19. Now that he is becoming even more polished as a player, his ceiling is even higher than the 42.75 fantasy points from last time. Of all players priced below $15,000, he’s the best bet to drop a 50-burger and you have to love that upside on a 10 game slate.
Enes Kanter, Thunder, $9,200 – Oklahoma City is only the third largest favorite of the slate and are coming off of a difficult loss to the Warriors in a high-scoring affair on Saturday. For that reason, people may project the Suns to play them reasonably close and I disagree with the assessment. The Arizona Republic reports Brandon Knight will be sidelined through the All-Star break due to his groin injury and I think all the Suns’ chances of hanging around evaporate due to the starting PG being deemed inactive. Regardless the game should be a high-scoring affair as the Suns look to push the pace even if they aren’t a very good team. Steven Adams does not fit that sort of game flow especially if Coach Earl Watson decides to only use Tyson Chandler sparingly. With Watson committing to Markieff Morris as his top scoring option, more small lineups are likely in order. Even in a close game, Enes Kanter should see extended minutes in a fast-paced game even with Phoenix going small because is athletic and can score. He’s really a power forward (PF) in a C’s body. The allure of Kanter is enhanced knowing his team could easily blow Phoenix out and in that scenario Kanter could possibly push 30 mintues. He’s very efficient on a per-minute basis (1.1 fantasy points per-minute) so minutes typically equal production for him. In a fast-paced game with multiple routes to reach value at a reasonable price, I am comfortable using him in both cash and GPPs.