Opposing small forwards have dominated the Washington Wizards all season so imagine what LeBron James is going to do to them tonight. 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 – Kemba Walker has been astonishingly consistent in the scoring department lately as he has scored at least 20 points (PTS) in 10 of his last 11 games…including 22 PTS and 10 assists (AST) on Feb. 22 against the Pacers. In fact, that game was his only double-double of the season so far and he’ll draw a matchup against the Pacers once again on Friday. Obviously he found something he liked in the first meeting, possibly the Pacers’ pace (eighth fastest in the league), and he’ll look to take advantage once again…at the same price. Oh by the way the Pacers rank in the bottom half of defensive efficiency to opposing point guards (PGs) so the one-on-one matchup is favorable as well. Walker just keeps getting it done night after night so lock him in yet again as one of the safest cash options on the slate.
D’Angelo Russell, Lakers, $11,300 – I know, I know, this is getting repetitive. D’Angelo Russell’s price has increased to literally the highest level it has ever been but both Kobe Bryant and Jordan Clarkson are questionable for Friday. There is a possibility neither plays as they both deal with knee injuries which means all the usage will flow through Russell. Overall this season, Russell sports a usage rate (usg%) of 24.1-percent according to nbawowy but his usg% rises to 26.9-percent without both Bryant and Clarkson. Obviously Russell is flourishing in the starting lineup as he has now scored at least 32.75 fantasy points in each of his past four games and at least 39.25 in three of the past four. If Bryant and Clarkson were to sit, or even just one of them, Russell may fall into 20-plus real points for the fifth straight game by accident. Also, Marcelo Huertas is not someone Coach Byron Scott wants playing big minutes so Russell will play all the minutes he can handle. Yet again, Russell is an elite play.
Dennis Schröder, Hawks, $8,900 – Here’s a guy probably best left for tournaments but he warrants serious consideration nevertheless. Sure Jeff Teague starts ballgames but that does not always means he finished them. Dennis Schröder has had a tendency to eat into Teague’s minutes recently mostly because he keeps out-playing him. Teague has played more minutes than Schröder in three of the last five ballgames but Schröder has outscored him in three of those five games (in terms of fantasy points) including 33.25 to 16.25 in their last game against Golden State. Friday’s tilt against the Lakers that may be without two of their main pieces feels like it is a game the Hawks should win handily meaning there could be additional run for Schröder because the starters won’t be needed for long. Furthermore, no team allows more fantasy points to opposing point guards (PGs) so Schröder should be ultra-efficient in the time he is allotted. If the game gets out of hand early and Schröder is able to come anywhere close to the 28 minutes he played last game, he should crush value at this sub-$9,000 price and possibly even score more fantasy points than the starter Teague once again.
LeBron James, Cavaliers, $17,100 – King James is a player I’ll sometimes overlook on larger slates for guys such as Kevin Durant, DeMarcus Cousins and Stephen Curry to name a few but none of those monsters play on Friday evening. At just $17,100, James is the highest priced player on FantasyDraft despite 10 games on tap. Additionally, James draws a matchup against the fast-paced Washington Wizards who also happen to allow the fifth most fantasy points to opposing small forwards (SFs). James is averaging 51.6 fantasy points per game (FPPG) versus the Wizards in two meetings this season but he absolutely dominated in the last meeting. On Jan. 6, James scored 36 PTS with 10 rebounds (REB) and four AST en route to 59 fantasy points. The aspect I like is James had played at least 37 minutes in each meeting and David Blatt was coaching back then so now he should easily hover around 40 with Coach Tyronn Lue. If he plays around 40 minutes, it’s hard to believe he will not produce a fantasy point total well into the 50s. Roster him in any and all formats as he is the favorite to finish with the high fantasy point total of the night.
Brook Lopez, Nets, $13,200 – If Brook Lopez were just to reach his season average in terms of fantasy points, he would produce 2.89x value. The target value in cash on larger slates is 3x value from higher priced players so it certainly isn’t a stretch to think Lopez could get there against a bottom ten defense against opposing centers (Cs). Denver allows the 10th most fantasy points to the position and ranks 20th in defensive efficiency. The two teams squared off on Feb. 8 and Lopez only put up 21.5 fantasy points in 31.4 minutes. He shot 54.5-percent and scored 16 PTS but grabbed just four REB and blocked one shot. Since that time, the team has released Joe Johnson and now will rely even heavier on the scoring of their two bigs (Lopez and Thaddeus Young). People will look back at this dud game and avoid Lopez but that would be a mistake. The game was nothing more than an outlier and over a larger sample you would likely see Lopez average greater than his season average in a positive matchup for him. Look for Lopez to rebound in a big way and consider him a fantastic options for all formats.
Alex Len, Suns, $10,500 – On Thursday night, Alex Len dropped his third consecutive double-double and it’s becoming increasingly clear that he enjoys his new role starting next to Tyson Chandler. Despite starting dual centers, Len is averaging 36.9 minutes per game (MPG) this month to Chandler’s 22.6 so it’s clear which one Coach Earl Watson prefers to play extended minutes at C. Nikola Vucevic has actually improved his defense this season but Orlando still ranks 27th in efficiency versus the C position over the past ten games. Also, Len will play two separate stints at power forward (PF)…one at the beginning of each half. Although the Magic have improved against PFs since Aaron Gordon took over as the starter, they still rank middle of the pack (16th) in terms of efficiency against the position. All-in-all Len is just still too cheap for a nightly double-double threat and therefore needs to be started at this price point. It won’t be long before Len is a $12,000 player.
*Stats are accurate as of Thursday, Mar. 3