No Michael Carter-Williams means it’s time to auto-fire up Giannis Antetokounmpo once again especially in a fast-paced matchup against the Thunder. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s NBA contests.
Russell Westbrook, Thunder, $19,200 – This is a weird way to start a Russell Westbrook tidbit but half the 76ers team has been ruled out yet again for Sunday’s contest. Therefore, plenty of value emerges on their roster making rostering a superstar feasible. For that reason, I am going to roster the player averaging the most fantasy points per game (FPPG) in the league: Westbrook. Michael Carter-Williams will not play Sunday which makes Milwaukee’s defensive numbers versus opposing point guards (PGs) this season misleading. Fill-in starter O.J. Mayo’s defensive rating this season sits at 109.8 versus Carter-Williams’ 106.4. When backup Jerryd Bayless enters the game, he sports an even worse defensive rating of 111.2. In other words, there is a gigantic drop in defensive effectiveness versus the position when Carter-Williams sits and Mayo isn’t even a true PG. Since Milwaukee cannot throw their best defensive option at Westbrook, they are simply going to have no answer for Westbrook. In two meetings over the past two seasons, Westbrook dropped 45.25 and 54.75 fantasy points against Carter-Williams respectively so there’s no telling how high his ceiling could stretch against the backups.
DeMar DeRozan, Raptors, $13,600 – As always with the Raptors, the question is whether to use Kyle Lowry or DeMar DeRozan in a favorable matchup. In previous articles I have noted Patrick Beverley’s struggles this season and commented on his career high (in a bad way) defensive rating this season. Still, James Harden is a much worse defender so it is no surprise Houston ranks worse in both defensive efficiency and fantasy points allowed to opposing shooting guards (SGs) as opposed to PGs. Occasionally DeRozan slides over and plays small forward (SF) as evident by his presence at this position in two of the Raptors’ seven most common lineups this season. Even in those instances he is in good shape because the Rockets have allowed the second most fantasy points to opposing SFs. Basically I like the prefer the idea of DeRozan facing weaker defenders especially considering the $2,100 discount from Lowry. Oh and by the way he scored 38 real points (PTS) on Friday night partially due to making a whopping 24-25 free throws. If he continues with that sort of aggressive mindset against the Rockets, he should have himself another monster game.
Khris Middleton, Bucks, $13,300 – The last time Khris Middleton completed a game without scoring 30.5 fantasy points the calendar read “Feb. 1.” Yes, Middleton has gone over a month without laying an egg which speaks to his amazing consistency. According to masseyratings, Thunder/Bucks is the second highest projected total of Sunday’s slate (211.5) and the Bucks are expected to score 103 points. Middleton has now scored 21-plus points in five consecutive games so he quite clearly is going to contribute to their scoring output…which by the way is projected at nearly four points over their season average of 99.1 per game. After a big game on Friday versus the Timberwolves, Middleton’s price increased exactly zero dollars so he warrants consideration in all formats once again.
Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks, $14,500 – The best news a prospective Giannis Antetokounmpo owner could hear was Carter-Williams being deemed inactive a day in advance. Heading into Sunday, we now know the “Greek Freak” will handle a majority of the ball-handling duties and has been nothing short of phenomenal taking on the added responsibility. Sans the team’s main PG, Antetokounmpo’s usage rate (usg%) rises from 21.6 to 23.5 and his FPPG output increases from 33.9 to 38.8. Amazingly, the Greek Freak has eclipsed 65 fantasy points in three of his past six games. To restate, 50-percent of his last six games have resulted in 65-plus fantasy points. Those are Westbrook-ian totals! In what should prove to be another fast-paced, high-scoring affair, fade this beast at your own risk. Note: I do not recommend the fading strategy whatsoever.
Alex Len, Suns, $11,100 – Moving Alex Len to the starting lineup has resulted in four straight double-doubles. Both Len’s production and price are on the rise but paying for him is still fine as long as the production continues to ascend along with the cost. Last game Len literally produced the best stat line of his career at least in terms of fantasy points as he scored 31 PTS with 15 rebounds (REB), one steal (STL) and two blocks (BLK) en route to 55.25 fantasy points. On Sunday, the Suns will square off against the same Grizzlies team he dropped 50 fantasy points against literally last week (Feb. 27). As long as Marc Gasol remains out, there is no reason to fear the Grizzlies’ interior defense. Even assuming Len’s production regresses slightly from his 22-16 line last week, he still should hit value rather easily.
Richaun Holmes, 76ers, $7,000 – Sometimes when two teams play each other on back-to-back occasions, starting the players who went off in the previous game can be a trap. One game samples are not worth putting too much stock into…however, the 76ers barely have any healthy bodies considering Jahlil Okafor, Nerlens Noel, Nik Stauskas and Kendall Marshall have already been ruled out of Sunday’s game. By default, Richaun Holmes will need to play around the mid-20s in minutes for the second consecutive game and he managed 30.50 fantasy points against the Heat on Friday evening. If he can stay out of foul trouble, which is typically his Achilles heel, he should be able to at least come close to replicating his production from last time out.
*Stats are accurate as of Saturday, Mar. 5