A tired Hawks team will head to the Staples Center to face the Clippers on the second end of a back-to-back and DeAndre Jordan should take full advantage. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s NBA contests.
James Harden, Rockets, $18,900 – The return of Jimmy Butler may scare people off of James Harden but I disagree with that assessment. After their last game, the Bulls have allowed 100-plus points in 15 consecutive games and they still do not possess a healthy rim protector even with Butler back. Do not get me wrong; Butler is one of the best defenders in the game. Also, Harden’s history against the Bulls is poor considering he has only eclipsed 40 fantasy points once over the past two seasons (four meetings). However, this Bulls team is different and they are struggling mightily at the moment. Their interior defense simply is not the same without Joakim Noah and probably without Taj Gibson (listed as questionable) as well. Apparently Vegas agrees as they have projected this game at a 215.5 total with Houston favored by only 1.5 in Chicago. In what should be a close, high-scoring game, Harden should greatly improve on his less than stellar history. The days of the Bulls’ defensive dominance are over and so are Harden’s days of struggling against this mediocre team. Start him with confidence.
Jimmy Butler, Bulls, $14,800 – Need a contrarian tournament option? How about using a player in his first game off of injury? As mentioned in the above tidbit, Rockets/Bulls is projected to be a high-scoring, close game which should prove to be incredibly fantasy friendly. Furthermore, Coach Fred Hoiberg says Jimmy Butler will not be on a minutes limit in his return so it sounds like he is just going to be thrown fully back into the fire. In terms of individual matchups, it doesn’t get much better than squaring off against James Harden. The Rockets allow the ninth most fantasy points to opposing shooting guards (SGs) and the Bulls badly need Butler’s minutes once again to attempt to stabilize the defense. If Butler isn’t in the game defending Harden, they have no prayer of stopping him. Taking all of these factors into consideration, it certainly is within possibility Butler returns with a bang. Due to the uncertainty, he should be under-owned so it could be a great spot to roster a superstar at less than 10-percent ownership.
Zach LaVine, Timberwolves, $10,400 – On Friday, Zach LaVine scored 20 points (PTS) for the third time in the last four games. The starting lineup just seems to work for LaVine and it makes sense because he can develop consistency by starting games. Coming off the bench takes a special type of player to master and luckily we do not have to worry about that inconsistency anymore with LaVine. This season, LaVine averages 21.1 fantasy points per game (FPPG) in games he comes off the bench versus 31.6 FPPG as a starter. On Saturday, the Timberwolves will face a Brooklyn team that ranks 26th in defensive efficiency to opposing backcourts and Gary Harris lit them up last night. Whether it is Wayne Ellington or Bojan Bogdanovic attempting to guard LaVine, the second year combo guard is simply too quick. He should once again push 20 points which would easily put him at value at this middling price. Deploy him in all formats and sleep like a baby.
Dwight Howard, Rockets, $14,200 – Pau Gasol is toast. There is no way in hell Gasol will be able to compete with Dwight Howard’s physicality and Howard should be able to get whatever he wants against a weak Bulls interior defense. Centers have dominated the Bulls this season as the Bulls have allowed the sixth most fantasy points to the position. Playing to Howard’s strengths, the Bulls have also allowed the fourth most rebounds to opposing Cs and the third most blocks. Gasol gets lazy on the defensive boards so the fact that the Bulls have allowed the fourth most offensive rebounds to Cs also is unsurprising. Add up all these factors and Howard should be licking his chops. It would be shocking if Howard didn’t approach a 20-10 double-double with blocks mixed in and therefore rates as a borderline must-start in both cash games and tournaments.
DeAndre Jordan, Clippers, $13,200 – Speaking of Cs in plus matchups, DeAndre Jordan earns himself a date with Al Horford and the Atlanta Hawks on the second end of a back-to-back. While Jordan was worthy of consideration from time to time when Blake Griffin was active, he has taken his game to a whole other level without him this season. With Griffin, Jordan has averaged 34 FPPG but that number has increased to 39 FPPG without him. The amazing part is Jordan averages 15.0 rebounds per game (RPG) without Griffin…to go along with his 13.5 points per game (PPG) and 2.1 blocks per game (BPG). Atlanta is one of the few teams that allows more offensive rebounds per game than the Bulls and Jordan is one of the few players (literally only two) that averages more RPG than Howard. In other words, if Jordan stays out of foul trouble, he should be a lock for mid-teens in boards at the very least. His price of $13,200 is not nearly high enough to deter me from rostering this beast against a team he should eat for breakfast (well, technically dinner).
Bojan Bogdanovic, Nets, $8,300 – Since Joe Johnson left town, here are Bojan Bogdanovic’s fantasy point totals (in chronological order): 26, 11.75, 28.5, 33.25 and 22.5. At $8,300, we would like Bogdanovic to hit 3x value to deem him viable for tournaments which would equate to 24.9 fantasy points. Considering he has averaged 24.4 fantasy points in Johnson’s absence, obviously this request isn’t too farfetched. Factor in the matchup against a Minnesota team that ranks in the bottom nine of efficiency to both SGs and small forwards (SFs) so he should be fine regardless of what position he plays. As always, Bogdanovic is just going to have to knock down his shots. Inherently, there is always a risk with a pure shooter but the risk is limited at a sub-$8,500 price. He moved up a spot on the offensive totem pole when their veteran shooting guard left town so his scoring is virtually needed at this point. You’re going to need a value play to start the higher-priced studs on the slate so Bogdanovic makes a lot of sense in order to make roster construction work.
*Stats are accurate as of Friday, Mar. 4