Beware: a monster resides on the Miami Heat bench who will be unleashed against the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s NBA contests.
Kemba Walker, Hornets, $13,800 – Splits are not an aspect I typically focus on in daily fantasy basketball unless the results are substantial. In Kemba Walker’s case, I think the validity of his home/away splits could hold some weight. This season, Walker is averaging 2.0 more points per game (PPG) at home which is actually a less significant differential than his career average of 2.6 more PPG at home (18.3 versus 15.7 on the road). Walker is also shooting nearly three percentage points higher at home this season (44.0-percent at home versus 41.1-pecent on the road). So with this in mind, Walker and the Hornets will square off against the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday who have allowed the second most fantasy points to opposing point guards (PGs) this season. Prior to last game, Walker had scored at least 20 real points (PTS) in eight consecutive games so his nine PT, 26 fantasy point dud should be basically disregarded. Oh by the way that game was in Atlanta. Now, back in the friendly confines of Time Warner Cable Arena, Walker should bounce back in a big way.
Klay Thompson, Warriors, $13,500 – Stephen Curry is listed as questionable for Tuesday’s tilt against the Atlanta Hawks. If Curry were to sit, his absence would certainly enhance Klay Thompson’s outlook but Thompson is a viable play regardless of the MVP PG’s status. In three previous games without Curry over the past two seasons, Thompson eclipsed 44 fantasy points twice. On Feb. 22, Golden State came to Atlanta and Thompson dropped 27 real PTS against them with Curry active en route to 42 fantasy points. The duo of Kent Bazemore and Kyle Korver simply cannot cover him so he should ball with or without Curry. Just to cover all the bases, Thompson’s usage percentage (usg%) increases from 24.5-percent to a whopping 29.8 when Curry is off the floor. Play Thompson if Curry is in, and if by chance Curry happens to actually sit, make it the top freaking priority to roster him.
D’Angelo Russell, Lakers, $10,400 – Many are going to focus on stacking the Hawks/Warriors game but Lakers/Nets should under the radar finish as the most fantasy friendly game on the slate. This contest features a battle of two of the NBA’s worst 11 defenses in terms of PTS allowed per game. The best part of the matchup is both teams feature players whose prices do not reflect their recent role changes and D’Angelo Russell is the posterchild for his phenomenon. It took until Feb. 21 for Coach Byron Scott to commit to Russell as a starter for the remainder of the season but at least it finally happened. In the three games since the move, Russell has averaged 31.67 fantasy points per game (FPPG) and 17.67 PPG. Only four teams have allowed more fantasy points to opposing PGs than the Nets and the Nets also rank bottom five in terms of defensive efficiency versus the position. Eventually Russell’s price will reach $12,000 but until that day he remains worth using especially in plus matchups such as this one.
Hassan Whiteside, Heat, $14,700 – Here are Hassan Whiteside’s averages in games Chris Bosh sits out this season: 18.8 PPG, 16 rebounds per game (RPG), 1.0 steals per game (SPG) and 4.0 blocks per game (BPG) in 32.3 minutes per game (BPG) which equates to 48.4 FPPG. Due to the projected slow pace of Bulls/Heat (only game projected below a 200 over/under), some of the assets in this game may end up under-owned…and no asset is more valuable on this slate than Whiteside. The Bulls rank in the bottom six of defensive efficiency to opposing centers but, more importantly in this case, they allow the fourth most rebounds to opposing centers. When a team is typically dominated on the boards by average centers, they’ll stand no chance against Whiteside…especially considering he comes off the bench and will be playing extended minutes against the Bulls second unit. Look for Whiteside to push a 20-20 (PTS/REB) game and therefore he is deserving of consideration in all formats.
Brook Lopez, Nets, $13,300 – The remainder of this article will revert back to the fantasy game of the night and focus on the battle of the defensively deficient. No team rates worse in terms of defensive efficiency versus opposing centers (Cs) than the Lakers and it’s no surprise considering their personnel: Roy Hibbert, Julius Randle, Brandon Bass and Robert Sacre…to name a few. Back in the day Hibbert was considered a solid defender but that is no longer the case as he is just a sitting duck who happens to block a shot every now and then. An athletic player like Brook Lopez whose offensive arsenal consists of just about every post move in the book should beat Hibbert like a drum. Lopez is amidst a career year as he is averaging the most FPPG he has ever averaged (38.8), topping his prior career high of 37.1 in his sophomore season (2009-10). Last night Lopez topped a 20-10 double-double against a superior defense so there’s no telling how high his ceiling could stretch against the lowly Lakers. One thing is for sure; you do not want to miss out on the potential so make sure he is a staple in just about all of your lineups.
Julius Randle, Lakers, $11,400 – One reliable big man resides on the Lakers roster and that man is Julius Randle. The matchup is as juicy as can be because Thaddeus Young is to defense what McDonalds is to a diet…one wants nothing to do with the other. Brooklyn has allowed the second most rebounds (REB) to opposing PFs and ranks second to last in terms of defensive efficiency to the position. On Nov. 6 these two teams squared off and Randle produced 29.75 fantasy points in one of his first games as a NBA player in just 32 minutes. Having had time to mature, and now guaranteed a starting spot/extended role, he should be able to easily top the previous outing. Randle has not double-doubled since Feb. 21 but I think that streak ends on Tuesday.
*Stats are accurate as of Monday, Feb. 29