Al Jefferson’s minutes are trending upwards and he’ll square off against a Pelicans team allowing the second most fantasy points to opposing centers. “The Big Sweat” is worthy of your consideration. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s NBA contests.
James Harden, Rockets, $19,200 – With nine games on the slate, my tendency is usually to lean towards a more balanced approach since mid-tier options seem to decline in price with more games on tap. However, Wednesday’s slate already is loaded with values and the late inactives have yet to rear their ugly heads. Therefore, it makes a lot of sense to pay up for a few sure thing superstars such as James Harden against a Philadelphia team allowing the third most points per game (PPG) this season (107.2). During his time with the Rockets, spanning six previous meetings, Harden has eclipsed 48 fantasy points each and every time against the lowly 76ers. Furthermore, the 76ers rank 24th in terms of defensive efficiency against opposing shooting guards (SGs) and Harden’s latest meeting against this NBA version of a dumpster resulted in 50 real points (PTS) and 71.75 fantasy points. He is not exactly a bargain but, similar to a Rolex, the quality of the product is worth the expensive price tag.
Chris Paul, Clippers, $17,500 – Over the past two seasons, Chris Paul has squared off against the Thunder on five occasions and each have resulted in at least 46 fantasy points. Oklahoma City is averaging the second most PPG of any team this season and playing at the 10th fastest pace. In order to remain competitive with the Thunder, opponents need to keep pace offensively and Paul has made sure his Clippers remain competitive each and every time out. Amazingly, Paul has combined for at least 29 combined PTS and assists (AST) in each of the five ballgames and double-doubled thrice. Combine the uptick in pace with the fact that the Thunder rank in the bottom six of defensive efficiency to opposing point guards (PGs) and it’s easy to comprehend why the matchup is so conducive to Paul. Not only will Paul be relied upon as the team’s number one scoring option (25.2 PPG versus Thunder over past two seasons) but Paul ranks fourth in the NBA in assists per game (APG) as well. He can do everything, and will do everything, once again against the Thunder so he rates as one of the handful of safest plays on the large slate.
Mario Chalmers, Grizzlies, $9,500 – Prior to Monday’s shorthanded win against the Cavaliers, the Grizzlies ruled out starting PG Mike Conley for at least two games. Monday marked the first game and Wednesday will mark the second, meaning Mario Chalmers will draw the start once again. For the season, Chalmers has averaged 20.5 fantasy points in games Conley has suited up versus 36.5 without Conley as a member of the Grizzlies. All Chalmers has accomplished without Conley is averaging a 16.7-4.4-7 stat line to go along with 2.1 steals per game (SPG). Without Conley, Chalmers is more than the next man up; he transforms into one of the focal points of the offense. At $9,500, the price does not accurately reflect his role, and although the matchup is brutal (Celtics rank first in defensive efficiency to PGs), Chalmers just needs to produce 78-percent of his average with Conely out. Assuming a tough matchup zaps about 25-percent of his value, his price is right on the money and he should still be considered a solid bargain.
Kevin Durant, Thunder, $18,900 – As much as Chris Paul enjoys the matchup against the Thunder, Kevin Durant may enjoy it even more so against the Clippers. Over a span that stretches four seasons, Durant has scored at least 40.25 fantasy points in each of the last 10 meetings against Paul and co. This is a pretty remarkable streak of consistency as even superstars have letdown games. Hell, you’d think the Thunder would at least have blown out the Clippers in one of the games enough to end the streak or maybe Durant would have one poor enough shooting night…but nope. DeMarcus Cousins costs $300 fewer dollars but he matches up against the Cavaliers and their top rated center (C) defense this season. In other words, if paying up for one forward/center, Durant’s level of safety warrants him as the top overall play at the position.
Al Jefferson, Hornets, $9,000 – This price feels strange for Al Jefferson because a fully healthy, mid-season form Jefferson should hover around a $14,000 cost. At this point, Charlotte is in the thick of the playoff race as they rank sixth in the Eastern Conference and they are preparing for the playoffs. It makes sense to keep Jefferson fresh and not push him too hard in order for him to be playing his best ball when it matters most. The playoffs start Apr. 16, or about a month from now, so Jefferson needs to start ramping up soon to be a full-strength come playoff time. On Monday, Jefferson played 25 minutes or the most he has since returning from injury on Feb. 19. I wouldn’t touch him on the second end of a back-to-back but Jefferson has had a day to rest and will face an elite matchup against the Pelicans’ poor interior defense. Only the 76ers allow more FPPG to opposing Cs than the Pelicans and Jefferson should see about 25 minutes yet again. In those sort of minutes against an extremely weak opponent, it would be surprising if Jefferson did not at least flirt with 3x value. He is absolutely worth the risk in order to roster studs such as Harden and Durant.
Andrew Bogut, Warriors, $8,600 – Golden State is well-known for their incredible small ball lineups which play at near record-breaking efficiency levels. Wednesday night is not a great night to rely on their smaller options considering they’ll be matching up against a team with Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert in the frontcourt. In order to compete on the boards and defend that kind of size, Andrew Bogut will absolutely be relied upon for extended minutes. The matchup is not an easy one but Bogut seems to produce with extended minutes against anyone because he is an excellent passer, rebounder and blocker to go along with his solid scoring ability. In other words, Bogut can fill a box score and will not necessarily need to score points against a very difficult interior defender/rim protector in Gobert. Many will look at the brutal matchup by the numbers and stray away but I think the matchup guarantees him additional minutes and that is more enticing than the matchup is dissuading. At this dirt cheap price, I’ll lock him in for cash games knowing I’m taking a 1.03 fantasy point per-minute producer who could play close to 30 minutes.
*Stats are accurate as of Tuesday, Mar. 8