Kawhi Leonard entered the All-Star Break en fuego yet his price is as cheap as it’ll ever be. Take advantage while you can. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s NBA contests.
Chris Paul, Clippers, $16,100 – Basketball is back, baby! As much as I enjoyed winging the hockey articles like they were my high school science papers, it feels great to have a sport I know and love back in action. The first slate post-break admittedly isn’t incredibly pretty and roster construction isn’t for the faint of heart. Typically avoiding the Spurs is a reasonable idea but, with only three games scheduled, there is no choice on Thursday evening. In fact, this could be a slate worth using more than one of their opponents but let’s start with Chris Paul. The Spurs’ susceptibility on defense is at the point guard (PGs) position as they allow most fantasy points to the position and “only” rank third best against the position in terms of efficiency…Comparatively to shooting guard (SG) through power forward (PF), third best actually can be considered their flaw (which just shows how amazing of a defensive team they are). Paul hasn’t seem to have been impressed over the past few seasons as he has scored at least 39.5 fantasy points in four of the teams’ five meetings including three 50-plus fantasy point outbursts. Tony Parker has played some of the best defense of his career this season but he has also played the fewest minutes per game (MPG) of any season. Essentially, Paul is just too consistent to worry too much about the matchup, although unfavorable, because he can produce in so many ways and has proved time and time again he can compete against the best.
Kyrie Irving, Cavaliers, $14,200 – On competing sites, Kyrie Irving is priced as highly as 16-percent of the budget but FantasyDraft is offering an 11.25-percent discount and only charging 14.2-percent. Some will forget due to the extended layoff but Irving was one of the hottest players in fantasy right before the break. He had dropped back-to-back 50-plus fantasy point performances and scored at least 30.75 fantasy points in eight consecutive games prior to the All-Star Break. This article is written on the night before but the possibility also remains Kevin Love will be dealt and the Cavaliers could be out one of their top three scoring options. Even if they are not, the Cavaliers are 13 point favorites at home in a game projected at 207 points, meaning Vegas is implying they should score around 110 points. The second largest implied total is the Spurs’ 104.5 so Cleveland projects as above and beyond the top offense on the slate. Rostering LeBron James certainly isn’t a bad idea (especially in cash games as a safer play than Paul) but Irving is the easier of the two to fit under the salary cap and probably the better bet per-dollar.
E’Twaun Moore, Bulls, $9,800 – The Chicago Bulls will be without Jimmy Butler for approximately the next three weeks and I covered the rotation changes without him in my RotoCurve article this week. Essentially E’Twaun Moore has been locked into the starting lineup without Butler and played at least 29 minutes each game. Those minutes have led to at least 25 fantasy points each game including two games over 30 fantasy points. Moore actually had already been catapulted into the starting lineup prior to Butler’s injury and has played at least 27 minutes in each of the last eight games (Butler was injured four games ago). Coach Fred Hoiberg recently has been running a Thibodeau-ean system where the staples on his team all play 30-plus minutes and the rest of the minutes are scattered. Moore is amongst the trusted base so his floor remains around the 25 fantasy point area it has been as of late. This isn’t the greatest matchup in the world for Moore but the price is low enough where he should still fall into 2.5x value by accident and could eclipse 3x if he gets it going. Similarly to Irving, one of the Bulls’ main producers has been mentioned in trade talks so if Pau Gasol were to be traded before the game then Moore would gain even more value. He easily stands out as the best mid-tier option on the slate.
DeAndre Jordan, Clippers, $13,500 – Like his PG Paul, DeAndre Jordan has enjoyed a surprising amount of success against the Spurs’ elite defense over the past two seasons. In each of the past three meetings, Jordan has eclipsed 42 fantasy points including a 58 fantasy point eruption on Feb. 19, 2015. Why has his effectiveness improved in recent meetings? Coach Gregg Popovich has committed to the “Hack-a-DeAndre” strategy pretty heavily. In the past two meetings alone, Jordan has shot 48 free attempts combined (20 and 28 respectively). Jordan is a rebounding machine so double-digits in the category are already a virtual lock considering he ranks second in the NBA per-game (and first in the NBA in the month of February). The challenge when rostering Jordan is whether he’ll hold his own in points (PTS) to complete the double-double. With all the free throw opportunities, he should hover around the mid-teens at the very least in both PTS and rebounds (REB) with upside for more in each category. Oh by the way he costs over 11-percent less as compared to competing sites so you’re getting a bargain on FantasyDraft. Deploy him in both cash games and GPPs.
Kawhi Leonard, Spurs, $13,300 – Kawhi Leonard entered the break having scored at least 40 fantasy points in three consecutive games and eclipsing 39 fantasy points in four of his final five. Based on Leonard’s middling effort against the Clippers earlier this year, some may choose to fade him but that will be a mistake. This is the lowest Leonard has been priced on FantasyDraft since the beginning of the season and it’s flat-out too cheap. If Leonard just reaches his average in terms of fantasy points per game (FPPG) this season, he would produce 2.86x value at his salary. On a three game slate, this is more than viable for cash formats. However, if he yet again reaches the 40s like he has been with regularity as of late, he will surpass 3x value and more than hold his own in any format.
Gordon Hayward, Jazz, $12,600 – Only three teams play at a faster pace than the Washington Wizards which should be a nice uptick in tempo for members of the NBA’s slowest-paced team: the Utah Jazz. All of the Jazz are priced at their usual slow pace so any game which they are expected to be sped up presents a buying opportunity. Beneficially to Gordon Hayward, only one team allows more fantasy points to opposing small forwards (SFs) than the Wizards. Furthermore at this price Hayward averages the seventh most fantasy points per-dollar of any player on the slate. Combine the pace, matchup and value at the current price and Hayward is a cream of the crop cash play.