After scoring 33 points last night, it’s clear Lance Stephenson’s role in the offense will expand without both Mike Conley and Mario Chalmers so continue to ride the train. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s NBA contests.
Khris Middleton, Bucks, $13,200 – On Saturday, the three games that sport the highest over/unders are the Suns/Warriors (226.5), Rockets/Hornets (215.5) and Spurs/Thunder (213.5). While Rockets/Hornets is certainly intriguing with a spread of only 4.5, the other two games actually aren’t incredibly enticing for fantasy purposes. Therefore, a lot of my focus on this slate is going to be on Pelicans/Bucks which sports a 5.0 point spread. Sure the Rockets/Hornets possesses both a higher projected total and closer spread but the issue with that game is most of the production on both offenses comes via players with steep prices. At James Harden’s price, he needs 57 fantasy points for 3x value and Kemba Walker would need 46.2 fantasy points for similar value in a matchup versus a solid defensive point guard (PG) in Patrick Beverley. On the other hand, Khris Middleton draws a matchup against a Pelicans team starting Toney Douglas at shooting guard (SG) which is actually a downgrade defensively from their norm (some combination of Eric Gordon, Norris Cole, etc.)…Oh and their norm already allowed the fifth most fantasy points to opposing shooting guards (SGs). Even when Middleton slides over to small forward (SF), which he does occasionally according to nbawowy, the Pelicans also rank 29th in defensive efficiency to opposing SFs. Factor in Middleton’s remarkable consistency recently, as he has managed at least 30.5 fantasy points in each of his past 15 games, and he emerges as a borderline must-start in cash games.
Lance Stephenson, Grizzlies, $8,900 – With Mike Conley ailing and Mario Chalmers having been released after rupturing his Achilles, Lance Stephenson took over a majority of the ball-handling duties on Friday. Okay so Briante Weber will be active on Saturday but still it’s hard to overlook Stephenson’s 33 point (PTS), seven rebound (REB) and four assist (AST) explosion on Friday en route to 53.75 fantasy points. Stephenson struggled to fit in with the Hornets and Clippers because both teams possess ball-dominating PGs. Now with both of the top PGs out, Stephenson can factor into the ball-handling (as he did with the Pacers) and that’s when he is most comfortable. Weber may take some minutes away from him on Saturday but Stephenson’s ceiling is still immense especially at a sub-$9,000 price. He should be close to 100-percent owned in cash games and clearly, looking at yesterday’s explosion, is equipped with a healthy amount of upside for tournaments as well.
Hollis Thompson, 76ers, $7,400 – An ugly scene unfolded on Friday as Jerami Grant and Robert Convington collided which led to Covington being taken off in a stretcher. Grant also left and was being checked for a concussion so the already thin 76ers got thinner…not to mention Richaun Holmes left with an Achilles strain. Without Okafor, Thompson had already been taking on a larger chunk of the offense as he had taken 13-plus shots in two of his last three games and eclipsed 22 fantasy points in each of his last three. After the Covington/Grant catastrophe, Thompson finished the game with 11 shots which equated to 11 PTS and 27.75 fantasy points. There is little doubt both Grant and Covington are forced to sit once again on Saturday because the 76ers are a bad team so there is no reason to risk their health even if their injuries were minor (which neither appear to be). Consequently, Thompson will be relied upon for another 10-plus shots and has a shot to surpass 24 fantasy points for the fifth time since Feb. 21. At this bargain bin price, he makes all the sense in the world to roster in order to pair with a superstar.
Anthony Davis, Pelicans, $17,600 – Speaking of superstars, Anthony Davis owns quite an impressive history versus the Bucks. One game stands out in my memory and that was the tilt between the two teams on Mar. 9 of last season. In that contest, Davis and Giannis Antetokounmpo just simply went at one another and it was basically a two man game for most of the second half. Davis finished with 70 fantasy points, which only slightly topped his 61 fantasy point outburst in the previous meeting, and has scored at least 48.25 fantasy points in both games since. The Milwaukee Bucks this season allow the 10th most fantasy points to opposing power forwards (PFs) and ranks 22nd in defensive efficiency versus opposing centers (Cs). Coach Alvin Gentry moves Davis around between both the frontcourt positions but, judging by previous outcomes, it will not matter. The Bucks just do not possess the personnel to slow him down and he should have a field day at an extremely reasonable price considering his skill set. Four players are priced higher on Saturday and Davis’ ceiling is as high if not higher than any of them.
Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks, $15,500 – For the past few weeks, my motto has been “if Michael Carter-Williams is out, then auto-consider Giannis Antetokounmpo.” Now that Carter-Williams has been ruled out for the remainder of the season, price is the only obstacle with the “Greek Freak” because he clearly is putting it all together. Here is Antetokounmpo’s game log in terms of fantasy points since Feb. 29: 67, 37, 65.75, 72, 41.25 and 44.75. During that span, Antetokounmpo has double-doubled twice, triple-doubled twice and scored at least 22 PTS in each of the “outlier” games. He is one of the few players that can fill every single category in the box score on a consistent basis and now is being set free as a ball-handler. As mentioned in the Davis tidbit, the two epically dueled in one game last season. This new and improved version of Antetokounmpo is ready to duel with Davis yet again and it would not be surprising if the two put on a show once again. Start him in any and all formats.
Andre Drummond, Pistons, $14,100 – Last night Andre Drummond disappointed a lot of people and his price remains the exact same on Saturday. Many may have a bad taste in their mouth and choose to fade but I don’t believe that is a good idea. While his opponent on Friday (Hornets) ranked middle-of-the-pack in terms of defensive efficiency, Saturday’s opponent (76ers) ranks 29th and allows the most fantasy points to the position. In Drummond’s last meeting against Philadelphia, he concocted a 12-18 double-double and that was actually a letdown from his back-to-back 50-plus fantasy point performances in the two prior meetings. Drummond is simply too great of a talent to be held down for too long and he actually ranks as one of the best per-dollar investments on the entire site. At his current price, he averages 3.07x value or more than enough to justify rostering him in an average matchup in tournaments. If he once again eclipses the 50 fantasy point plateau, he will crush value so do not overlook the big fella because of one subpar performance. He will make up for it on Saturday; the question is whether or not you will have him in your lineup for the restitution.
*Stats are accurate as of Friday, Mar. 11