Dame of Thrones

Damian Lillard has averaged 73.9 fantasy points per game versus the Golden State Warriors this season so there is no reason to fade him in this elite game enviroment. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s NBA contests.

Guards:

Damian Lillard, Trail Blazers, $17,500 – No individual player has enjoyed more success against the Golden State Warriors this season than Damian Lillard. In two meetings against the Warriors this season, Lillard has dropped an unfathomable 91 points (PTS) on 30-55 shooting (54.5-percent). While the percentage isn’t sustainable over the long haul, producing an absurd amount of fantasy points in an up-tempo matchup against a team he looks forward to playing very well could be. Everyone wants to bring their best against the Warriors because they are simply the best team in the league. Opposing teams know they will have to play their best ball to win and competitive guy like Lillard live for those moments. Assuming Lillard approached the 27.5 shots he has averaged against Golden State this season, there is no reason he should not at least approach the 52.5 fantasy point plateau necessary to meet 3x value. Hell, he has scored 69.75 and 78.0 fantasy points in the previous two meetings so projecting 3x value could actually be selling him short. Any player who has displayed that sort of upside must be on the radar especially when that played has scored 20-plus PTS in 15 consecutive games. Lillard should be the first player you insert into your lineups on this slate and I would be hard-pressed to sub him out regardless of any late value that may emerge.

Jrue Holiday, Pelicans, $14,800 – Mario Chalmers ruptured his Achilles tendon in the Grizzlies’ last game and will miss the remainder of the season. In fact, the Grizzlies went so far as to release him after the game. Mike Conley has been out the past two games with soreness in his left foot and there is no guarantee he plays on Friday. Therefore, the newly signed Briante Weber is likely to start and play big minutes unless the team signs Ray McCallum (as expected) prior to game time. Regardless, Jrue Holiday will square off against either an ailing veteran or one of two inexperienced youngsters. Considering Holiday has now surpassed 50 fantasy points in back-to-back contests, he’s absolutely worth of consideration once again as he continues to excel without Eric Gordon in the rotation. If Norris Cole fails to suit up once again, lock Holiday in as possibly the best overall play on the entire slate.

Evan Turner, Celtics, $9,400 – In the month of March (four games), only three Celtics have averaged more fantasy points per game (FPPG) than Evan Turner: Isaiah Thomas (42.2), Jared Sullinger (31.1) and Jae Crowder (27.9). Coincidentally, only three Celtics have averaged more minutes per game (MPG) this month than Turner: two of the aforementioned trio (Thomas and Crowder) and Avery Bradley (who leads the team in MPG with 34.2 this month). Essentially, Turner is a major part of both the team’s rotation and production and will square against a Rockets team allowing the eighth most fantasy points to opposing shooting guards (SGs). According to nbawowy, the two most common lineups Turner has played in this season are alongside two other guards…meaning he slides over to small forward (SF). Thankfully, no team allows more fantasy points to opposing SFs than the Rockets and they also rank 28th in defensive efficiency to the position. Oh by the way, the Celtics will be facing another fast-paced opponent so it’s no surprise masseyratings projects this game as the second highest total on the slate. At just $9,400, Turner only needs to reach his average in FPPG this month to produce around 3x value and the upside dictates he should possess way more upside than just a standard performance. He makes a ton of sense as a value play in all formats.

Forwards/Centers:

Hassan Whiteside, Heat, $14,600 – Judging by the plethora of fantasy friendly games on tap, people may overlook any and all possible options from the Heat/Bulls tilt. All Hassan Whiteside did to the Bulls in their only meeting this season was drop 26 PTS, 14 rebounds (REB) and four blocks (BLK) en route to 54 fantasy points. The Bulls will be on the back end of a back-to-back while the Heat have been off since Wednesday. As is, the Bulls have struggled to defend opposing big men, specifically centers (Cs), as they rank 25th in defensive efficiency versus the position. Now factor in 35 year old Pau Gasol will have played 35 minutes the night before and the matchup only improves for Whiteside. Furthermore, the Bulls allow the third most offensive rebounds to opposing Cs and Whiteside ranks seventh in the NBA in offensive rebound percentage behind only Enes Kanter, Andre Drummond, Kenneth Faried, Ed Davis, Tristan Thompson and Zaza Pachulia. The Bulls’ weakness is the Heat’s strength and it would be surprising if “kryptonite” Whiteside did not approach 50 fantasy points yet again.

Dwight Howard, Rockets, $14,500 – Revisiting the Rockets/Celtics game is necessary because multiple assets from this game can and should be considered in all formats. The pace of this game legitimately could rival that of the Trail Blazers/Warriors game and most of the important pieces will come at substantially cheaper prices. Take Dwight Howard for instance who will draw a matchup a Celtics team allowing the fourth most fantasy points to opposing Cs. Maybe more importantly, the Celtics shut down opposing guards and rate as the fourth best defensive backcourt in terms of defensive efficiency behind only the Spurs, Heat and Raptors. Over the past two seasons, James Harden’s productive versus the Celtics has taken a nose dive in three meetings. Here are his fantasy point totals in chronological order: 54.5, 34.5 and 21.75. Clearly the presence of elite defender Avery Bradley has bothered him and the arrival of Marcus Smart can only help as well. If Harden struggles to create his own offense, the Rockets will look to take advantage of their huge mismatch inside. For this reason, I think Howard puts together a monster fantasy game and produces his third consecutive 20-10 double-double.

Rudy Gay, Kings, $11,100 – Whether you agree with it or not (and I adamantly disagree), DeMarcus Cousins has been suspended for Friday’s contest against the Magic due to “conduct detrimental to the team.” Essentially he yelled at Coach George Karl during a timeout on Wednesday which led to the team disciplining him in this fashion. One thing I know for sure is Rudy Gay looks primed to benefit massively from Cousins absence once again because his involvement in the offense always drastically improves when the star C sits. In 45 games with Cousins active this season, Gay’s usage rate (usg%) sits at 21.3-percent but that total has ballooned to 28.9-percent in the nine games Cousins has sat out. Strangely his fantasy point total has remained virtually the same with and without Cousins but that’s mostly due to a 6.5 fantasy point dud versus Minnesota earlier this season. Twice in nine games without Cousins, Gay has erupted for 50-plus fantasy points and he has only sunk below 28 fantasy points once other than the outlier dud. Against an Orlando team allowing the 13th most fantasy points to opposing SFs, Gay seems more likely to approach the outlier dominant performances without Cousins versus the letdown outlier against the Timberwolves. Gay is simply too cheap as he’s priced as a second-to-third scoring option who will act as the team’s top scoring option without their All-Star C. Values like these do not come along everyday so it is important to take advantage when the opportunity presents itself.

*Stats are accurate as of Thursday, Mar. 10

Ricky Sanders

Ricky Sanders

Ricky Sanders is a fantasy sports expert with over 15 years of playing experience. After starting several freelance fantasy sports blogs, Ricky moved up in the fantasy industry when he joined Going9 Baseball. He wrote fantasy baseball content and had a weekly radio spot on the site’s SiriusXM Satellite Radio show. Shortly thereafter, in early 2013, Ricky joined RotoExperts as a three-sport fantasy contributor, eventually becoming one of the site’s lead basketball writers. While writing for RotoExperts, Ricky was introduced to daily fantasy sports and immediately fell in love. With help from some of his mentors, some of the best DFS players in the world, he honed his skills and became the daily fantasy expert he is today. When RotoExperts created a daily-focused website called DailyRoto.com, Ricky was brought on as one of the main contributors. He still makes frequent appearances on the RotoExperts SiriusXM Radio show and on the FNTSY Sports Television Network, talking daily fantasy sports. He also continues to write for a few DFS content sites: RotoCurve and The Fantasy Fix. Ricky is a proud and active member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. He has agreed to be a writer and representative for the FantasyDraft brand and serves as an ambassador to the site. He has no more access to the site than the typical user. Don’t hesitate to contact Ricky with questions on Twitter @RSandersDFS.

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