The Middle(ton) Class

Over the past 16 games, Khris Middleton has been a model of consistency, registering at least 30.25 fantasy points in each contest. He is once again worthy of a roster spot on Sunday against a Nets team allowing the highest opponents’ field goal percentage of any team. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s NBA contests.

Guards:

Rajon Rondo, Kings, $13,800 – Sunday’s slate is a strange, small slate with only four games on tap. The slowest paced game on the slate is the only tilt between two teams that would make the playoffs if the season ended today and two of the other games feature matchups between two subpar teams (at least 12th in their respective conferences). The only game left is a battle between the fastest paced Sacramento Kings and the slowest paced Utah Jazz who are both on the brink of the playoffs in the Western Conference. ­­Usually the extreme downtick in pace would lure me away from players priced as if they’re playing at their normal track meet style but Rondo’s price came down with the matchup. He went from $14,200 to $13,800 and he also sports a solid resume versus the Jazz this season: 48.75 and 35.5 fantasy points in the two meetings respectively. With literally no one else to pay up for at the position other than D’Angelo Russell (who should be in your lineup as well), Rajon Rondo is incredibly easy to squeeze into your lineup at a rather affordable price compared to his norm (has hovered around $15,500 at certain points this season).

Khris Middleton, Bucks, $12,900 – After writing about Khris Middleton in yesterday’s Today’s Plays article, all he did was drop a 19 point (PTS), 10 rebound (REB) and eight assist (AST) double-double against the Pelicans. On Sunday, I am going back to the well against a Brooklyn Nets team that ranks 20th in defensive efficiency versus opposing small forwards over the last five games (roughly around when Joe Johnson was released) and allows the 10th most fantasy points to opposing shooting guards (SGs). As mentioned in yesterday’s tidbit, Middleton plays a majority of SF but moves around at times and plays SG as needed as well. Following last night’s monstrous performance, the streak has now been extended to 16 straight games with at least 30.25 fantasy points…and his price even dropped $400. Being priced as a mid-tier option, the goal is for a player to produce at least 3x value in order to justify rostering them in tournament formats. At Middleton’s current price, he would have eclipsed 3x value in eight of his past nine games. In other words, he is as close to a lock to provide value as anyone on the slate and will be the first player I insert into lineups.

Jerryd Bayless, Bucks, $8,700 – Jerryd Bayless is one of those players who can prove to be maddeningly inconsistent. Over his past 10 games without Michael Carter-Williams, he has failed to reach 24 fantasy points five times and eclipsed 31 fantasy points on all of the five other occurrences. He is basically boom or bust which could lead someone to only consider him in tournaments for Sunday’s slate (which I could understand). However, Brooklyn allows the third most fantasy points to opposing PGs and Bayless has now scored at least 33 fantasy points in each of his last two games (at least 17 PTS in each). He seems like he is growing accustomed to his role off the ball with Giannis Antetokounmpo taking over a majority of the handling duties. Facing a Nets team who allows the sixth most three point goals per game, both Bayless and Middleton should prove to be the kryptonite. With a price still holding firm below $9,000, the potential reward warrants what risk there may be in rostering him. He is one of the few players on the slate with the potential to reach 4.5-5x value.

Forwards/Centers:

Carmelo Anthony, Knicks, $14,800 – The news on both Lance Thomas and Arron Afflalo sounds grim at least in regards to their prospects of playing Sunday. Thomas is for sure out as he’ll miss the remainder of the road trip due to a knee issue and Afflalo sounds doubtful with a strained abdominal muscle which typically takes a few weeks to heal. Carmelo Anthony already averages 35.4 minutes per game (MPG) this season and 21.8 points per game (PPG) so all these injuries really do is slightly further solidify both his minutes and production…but they were already secure to be honest. With less depth, Anthony is virtually guaranteed to flirt with 40 minutes against the NBA’s third worst defense in terms of points allowed per game. Oh by the way, the Lakers rank dead last in defensive efficiency to opposing SFs and allow the fourth most fantasy points. If Middleton is option 1A in terms of safety on the slate, Anthony is certainly 1B.

Derrick Favors, Jazz, $12,600 – On a night where the Kings are in action, you can virtually guarantee I’ll be recommending at least one player against them…especially with only four games to choose from. Why not? The Kings play at the fastest pace, allow the most PPG and allow the seventh highest field goal percentage. Simply put, they are a dream matchup for virtually any opponent because they speed up the game and are not overly concerned with playing defense. Making the case for Favors, Sacramento allows the second most fantasy points per game (FPPG) to opposing PFs. In one previous meeting this season, Favors dropped a 14-10 double-double with four AST en route to 35 fantasy points. Although Favors has been quiet over his past two games, I expect him to bounce back in just about the best matchup he could ask for.

Gordon Hayward, Jazz, $12,200 – Only rostering one member of the Jazz is simply not enough because the Kings allow a whopping 109.6 PPG. If the Jazz come anywhere close to 109 PTS, it will be a team effort as they rarely have players erupt for 40-plus due to their slow-paced nature and balanced roster structure. Some may look to Rodney Hood or Shelvin Mack (both GPP viable) but my preference is Gordon Hayward and his versatile skill set. At $12,200, Hayward averages 2.82x value and that is just accounting for his season average. Very likely against the league’s worst defense, Hayward should top his average production and therefore should approach 3x value at the very least. The price tag alone validates Hayward as a viable option, so factoring in the miserable opponent should be the icing on the cake.

*Stats are accurate as of Saturday, Mar. 12

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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