Kemba Walker isn’t Johnny Cash but he’ll bring you the money on Sunday. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s NBA contests.
Kemba Walker, Hornets – Only two teams have allowed more fantasy points to opposing point guards (PGs) than the Brooklyn Nets. Very few players have been more consistent since the month of February began than Kemba Walker. In each of his five games this month, Walker has managed at least 40.25 fantasy points and hasn’t scored less than 20 real points (PTS). He is a virtual lock for 16 or so field goal attempts (FGA) per game, and against a Brooklyn team that ranks fourth worst in efficiency, that type of volume should equal a healthy amount of fantasy points. Walker’s price isn’t exactly the steal of the century but he dropped 39.75 fantasy points in his only meeting against the Nets this season (Nov. 18) on just nine shot attempts. His ceiling stretches far beyond that in this matchup and I wouldn’t be surprised if he pushes the top overall score on the slate. Make sure he is one of the first few names you insert into your cash lineup on Sunday.
DeMar DeRozan, Raptors – Memphis will head to Toronto to square off against the 35-18 Raptors and I’m sure you’re thinking to yourself, “But the Grizzlies aren’t a team to target, right?” Wrong. The loss of Marc Gasol strips the Grizzlies of their top rim protector and their opponents tend to fare noticeably better. Without Gasol, the Grizzlies’ offensive rating drops from 105.4 to 104.4 and their opponents’ offensive rating increases from 105.4 to 106.2. DeMar DeRozan will draw a difficult matchup against Tony Allen in theory but Allen has only played more than 20 minutes once in the past five games. Sure the team traded Courtney Lee and Jeff Green at the deadline but they acquired P.J. Hairston and Chris Andersen and now seem committed to extending JaMychal Green’s minutes. Only one of the Grizzlies six most used lineups in their first game after the trade deadline included Allen and four included Green. Maybe they’ll go slightly smaller to combat the Raptors but the point is Allen alone should not be a reason to fade DeRozan who is amidst a monster season. Last season DeRozan posted one solid game (36.75 fantasy points) and one dud against Memphis so the sample is hard to gauge. Tournaments are probably the better fit for him but he, like the aforementioned Walker, has been a staple of consistency recently. Go ahead and take the plunge in any format.
Derrick Rose, Bulls – One of the most dramatic splits in DFS over the past few weeks has been the production of Derrick Rose with and without Jimmy Butler. Rose’s usage rate (usg%) rises a significant 5.7 percentage points (from 26.6 to 32.3-percent) in games where Butler plays versus games where he does not. He is averaging a whopping 37.8 fantasy points per game (FPPG) in five games sans Butler this season and here is the full stat line: 21.4 points per game (PPG) on 44.6 percent shooting (18.4 FGA per game), 5.2 rebounds per game (RPG), six assists per game (APG) and 1.0 steals per game (SPG). By comparison, Damian Lillard is averaging 24.9 PPG, 4.3 RPG and 7.3 APG yet he was priced $16,300 last night against the Warriors. Considering Rose is still significantly cheaper than his current output and the Lakers allow the most fantasy points to opposing PGs, fading him is simply foolish.
Nerlens Noel, 76ers – Now I know this is not yearly fantasy basketball but in the yearly game Nerlens Noel has ranked as a top 10 player over the past two months. According to a tweet from Max Rappaport, here are Noel’s statistics this season playing alongside Ish Smith: 12.4 PPG, 8.6 RPG, 2.0 APG, 2.0 SPG and 2.2 blocks per game (BPG) while playing 29.4 minutes per game (MPG). During that stretch he has shot 64.6-percent FG from the field and produced a 113 offensive rating and a 99 defensive rating. Those numbers do not translate quite as well to daily fantasy as he is only averaging 33.5 FPPG during the stretch but it just shows the versatility to his game. The weakness in the Dallas defense is against power forwards (PFs) because Dirk Nowitzki does not possess the athleticism anymore to compete with versatile young studs. If there is a player who can easily out-athletic Nowitzki it is Noel and I expect the 76ers to focus on that matchup if they are going to compete with the Mavericks. This game certainly has some blowout potential but that’s always a risk for Philadelphia players yet they still seem to find their minutes. Even if Noel’s shot is off, he can fill up a box score in so many ways that he can accidentally sneak into value. DFS’ers love a guy who can still be productive on an off-night which makes rostering him a comforting feeling knowing he likely will not single-handedly ruin your squad.
Rudy Gobert, Jazz – Typically I am not so hell-bent on rostering safe players as opposed to those oozing with upside but Sunday’s slate is filled with stable assets in excellent spots. Heading into Sunday, Rudy Gobert has double-doubled in five consecutive games and blocked at least one shot in each of those contests. Furthermore, he has scored at least 33.5 fantasy points in six consecutive games and eight of his last nine. Gobert is widely known as a defensive specialist but he is proving his game can translate to the fantasy format as well even though players do not receive fantasy points for “rim protection.” Portland has struggled against big men all season and actually ranks exactly fifth worst in efficiency to both of the frontcourt positions. Coincidentally they also allow the fifth most fantasy points to the center (C) position and do not really have anyone with the size and strength with battle Gobert on the boards. For those reasons, I see another double-double on the horizon for the “Stifle Tower” so insert him into your lineup if you’re into that kind of thing.
Julius Randle, Lakers – Finally Byron Scott made a decision that makes some sense as he announced Julius Randle would be remaining in the starting lineup for the remainder of the season. Cue the “Hallelujah” chorus sound effect because Randle has been deserving of the role all season and it took until mid-February to commit to him. Regardless, the move has been made and Randle should be headed for a nice second half. The Bulls are one of the best rebounding teams in the game but they also allow the 12th most rebounds to opposing PFs and the third most rebounds to opposing Cs. Depending on the lineup, Randle plays both throughout the course of a game so, like Gobert, I like his prospects to score at least 10 points and grab 10 boards.
*Stats are accurate as of Saturday, Feb. 20