Don’t Get Thad, Get Even

Thaddeus Young is enjoying additional minutes and production without Joe Johnson and should produce yet again on Monday night against the Clippers. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s NBA contests.

Guards:

Russell Westbrook, Thunder, $19,900 – Remember the other night when Chris Paul was squaring off against the Sacramento Kings and I said using the opposing team’s best player is essentially a must against them? Well that night Paul dropped a whopping 76 fantasy points on the Kings and finished as the highest scoring player of the night. If Paul’s ceiling reaches that high against this team, imagine how high Russell Westbrook’s could be. Okay so Westbrook is unlikely to top Paul’s monster output but there’s no reason he cannot flirt with a similar total given the fact he is averaging 53.89 fantasy points per game (FPPG). In a matchup against the worst defense in basketball, Westbrook is a triple-double threat and could easily score 40 real points. Despite being the top priced player of the night, you’re going to need to find a way to fit him in.

Mike Conley, Grizzlies, $13,000 – Without Marc Gasol, exactly one asset has remained consistent on the Grizzlies from game to game: Mike Conley. For some reason Zach Randolph is having issues producing huge rebounding totals, Matt Barnes exploded for a game and Vince Carter’s price has risen so he is becoming less and less enticing as a punt. Really the only reliable option has been Conley who has reached at least 31.25 fantasy points in five of the six games Gasol has missed this season. Denver has allowed the seventh most fantasy points to opposing point guards (PGs) and coincidentally also ranks seventh worst in terms of defensive efficiency against the position. Without Gasol, Conley’s usage rate (usg%) has risen from 22.8-percent to 25.0 so it’s no shocker his production has stabilized since the uptick. Conley is coming off a productive game yet his price only rose $100 which is not enough to deter from rostering him yet again. Vegas expects the game to remain close (opened with a 1.5 point spread) so Conley should play a normal allotment of minutes and therefore deserves a spot on cash game rosters.

Isaiah Thomas, Celtics, $12,900 – Deciding between Isaiah Thomas and Conley is a difficult decision so I would suggest just rostering both. Thomas is $100 cheaper but draws a much more difficult matchup both in terms of the opposing team’s defensive prowess and pace. As opposed to Conley who will match up against a bottom 10 defense in terms of points allowed per game, Thomas faces the slowest paced team in basketball who allow the fourth fewest points per game (PPG). Still, the best way to beat the Utah Jazz is outside shooting because they possess twin rim protecting towers in the middle. When the two teams squared off just last week (Feb. 19), Thomas scored 25 points (PTS) and six assists (AST) en route to 39.5 fantasy points. Look up Damian Lillard’s history versus the Jazz and you’ll see this whole shooting PGs dominating the Jazz theory is more of a trend. Take advantage of the market’s hesitance to focus on a star in a perceived negative matchup as it could be the differentiation necessary to finish in the PayoutZone.

Forwards/Centers:

Dwight Howard, Rockets, $12,900 – Typically analyzing the matchup is a great place to start when considering a player but this is a simple case of the price being too cheap. While Howard costs 14.6-percent of your budget on competing sites, he’ll only required 12.9-percent on FanDraft which is nearly a 12-percent discount. If Dwight Howard were simply to reach his season average in FPPG, he would finish at almost exactly at 3x value (or enough for GPP viability). He has bested that total in each of his past five games so the bar should even be set slightly higher heading into this neutral matchup all around (Milwaukee ranks middle of the pack in both fantasy points allowed and efficiency). Simply put: Howard is a rock solid play at this price point.

Thaddeus Young, Nets, $12,000 – While the sample size is admittedly incredibly small, Thaddeus Young has averaged 44 fantasy points in two games sans Joe Johnson this season. According to nbawowy, Young only averages 0.2 fantasy points per-minute more when Johnson is off the court versus when they play together so the uptick is likely due to the increase in minutes. For the season Young averages 32.8 minutes per game (MPG) when Johnson plays but he has averaged over 36 minutes in the two games since Johnson’s departure. Oh and Young’s usg% improves from 22.2 to 23.3-percent when Johnson is off the court so he is a larger part of the offense without Johnson. Young’s price has not adjusted to his new and improved role just yet and he’ll be squaring off against a Clippers team that ranks 26th in efficiency to opposing power forwards (PFs) over the past 10 games. He checks all the boxes as Josh Collacchi would say so deploy him with confidence in cash game formats.

Nikola Jokic, Nuggets, $9,800 – Okay, so I know what you are thinking: “What are you crazy? You’re asking me to trust Coach Mike Malone?” While I understand your concerns, the answer is “yes…in tournaments.” Nikola Jokic, one of the most talented young big men in the NBA, has now seen his price dip below $10,000. We’re speaking about a player two games removed from a streak of back-to-back games with at least 43.25 fantasy points so he clearly does not lack potential. Jokic’s minutes have been all over the place lately. Here is his minutes game logs from the past five games: four, 30, 20, 26 and 11. The issue here is Malone likes to ride the hot player during the course of a game so whichever player catches fire is going to play the minutes. In two prior matchups against the Grizzlies, Jokic only played 18 and 14 minutes respectively but Marc Gasol also presented a difficult matchup. Without Gasol, I think Jokic’s post game will be more effective and necessary to defeat the Grizzlies in what is projected to be a very close contest. Considering Jokic averages 1.18 fantasy points per-minute, he is worth the risk at this middling price. If all the cards fall the right way, Jokic could easily surpass 4.0x value which would put you well on the way to winning a GPP.

*Stats are accurate as of Sunday, Feb. 29

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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