Even though the Spurs are a formidable foe, DeAndre Jordan sports a nice history against them and his price is awfully enticing. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s NBA contests.
Chris Paul, Clippers, $16,700 – On most nights, avoiding the Spurs is a smart strategy but there are exceptions to every rule. Last season, Chris Paul averaged 44.0 fantasy points per game (FPPG) versus San Antonio which is an impressive total against an elite defense. However, this season he has even improved upon his output and has averaged a whopping 53.6 FPPG in two meetings versus the Spurs. Okay, so the above totals are a little misleading because they include games in which Blake Griffin suited up. In two games without Griffin versus the Spurs over the past two seasons, Paul has eclipsed a 20-10 double-double in each and scored 54.75 and 58.25 fantasy points respectively. Facing a formidable foe within the same conference, Coach Doc Rivers will extend Paul’s minutes in order to leave with a victory. Sans Griffin, the Clippers struggle to find offense with Paul off of the court, so Paul should once again flirt with 40 minutes in order to assure the offense continuously flows throughout the game (he has averaged 38.7 minutes per game (MPG) in the last two meetings against the Spurs without the team’s star power forward (PF)). Each of his contests without Griffin versus the Spurs easily would have eclipsed 3x value at this price and I suspect it will be more of the same on Tuesday. Despite facing the league’s best defense, start the virtually matchup-proof Paul with confidence.
Ish Smith, 76ers, $12,000 – Hopefully the recency bias comes into play and the masses decide fading Ish Smith is a good idea after a dud versus the Pistons. Prior to producing a disappointing 23.50 fantasy points on Saturday, Smith had eclipsed 30 fantasy points in seven consecutive games. Smith and Nerlens Noel have developed a special kind of chemistry and the two love playing alongside one another. Their styles coexist best when Jahlil Okafor is inactive and it was announced earlier this week that Okafor will miss the remainder of the 2015-16 season. Tuesday will be a rematch of Mar. 11 when the 76ers squared off against the Nets and Smith dropped 32.75 fantasy points despite 4-13 shooting (30.8-percent). Considering the Nets rank 26th in defensive efficiency versus opposing point guards (PGs), Smith’s efficiency is destined to improve in the second meeting. He dished out nine assists (AST) on Friday as well so Smith could even push a double-double in a battle of two of the league’s worst defenses. Against a team allowing the highest opponents’ field goal percentage, Smith is a safe bet once again because even if he isn’t hitting his shots, his teammates should. One way or another, Smith should find himself in the mid-30s of fantasy points yet again after a one game hiatus.
Emmanuel Mudiay, Nuggets, $11,700 – Folks, Emmanuel Mudiay is blossoming in front of our eyes in just year number one. Over the past seven games, Mudiay has sunk below 31 fantasy points just once and he immediately recovered from the letdown with a 23-10 double-double on Monday evening. In his past three games alone, he produced 30 points (PTS) in a game and dropped a 23-10 double-double in another. While it took half a season or so, Mudiay is finally starting to get it. Coach Mike Malone is difficult to trust on most nights as he’ll bench his players on a whim, which actually is the reason for Mudiay’s recent clunker, but I feel confident in Mudiay’s minutes specifically in a winnable game at Orlando. The Magic rank in the bottom six of efficiency to opposing PGs and allow the ninth most fantasy points to the position. Not only is Mudiay on a recent tear and facing a beatable matchup but his price actually decreased $300 from last game despite 41-plus fantasy points last time out. At this price, he is one of the few players on the slate who could legitimately reach 4x value and that sort of upside alone deems him a worthy play in all formats.
DeMarcus Cousins, Kings, $18,900 – Arguably the best center (C) in the game versus the team that ranks dead last in defensive efficiency to the position? Yeah, DeMarcus Cousins is absolutely worth paying up for. The Kings are the league’s worst defensive team and therefore cannot be counted on to blow out any team…let alone the team with the Western Conference’s worst record. One thing is for sure in Kings games; lots of points are going to be scored. Masseyratings projects a 109-106 game in favor of Sacramento and Cousins will surely get his in an up-tempo battle versus one of the league’s worst frontcourt defenses. Through three meetings this season, Cousins is averaging 54.1 FPPG versus the Lakers but he went absolutely nuts in the most recent meeting. On Jan. 20, Cousins went on a rampage and scored 36 PTS with 16 rebounds (REB), three AST, one steal (STL) and one block (BLK) en route to 65 fantasy points. The matchup is so juicy that it’s impossible for me to envision building a cash lineup without him. Cousins’ floor is somewhere around 45 fantasy points assuming he doesn’t get tossed whereas his ceiling could stretch into the 80s. When a player possesses a secure floor and their ceiling could single-handedly eliminate all other lineups without him, he is worth rostering. Period, end of story.
DeAndre Jordan, Clippers, $12,900 – Although DeAndre Jordan managed 40.25 fantasy points versus San Antonio the last time these two teams met, the outing was actually a bit of a letdown. It was the first time since Feb. 19, 2015 that Coach Gregg Popovich decided not to employ the hack-a-Jordan strategy. In other words, Jordan had shot a combined 48 free throws in the previous two meetings but he only attempted two in the game last month. Similar to Paul, Jordan has stepped up his game against San Antonio without Griffin as he has averaged 49.1 FPPG in two contests over the past two seasons. Last week, Jordan’s salary peaked above $14,000 but his salary steeply declined in a matchup that is perceived as poor. Similar to Paul, Jordan’s minutes get extended as he has played at least 35-plus minutes in five of his six meetings versus San Antonio since the beginning of last year. Jordan averaged 41.1 FPPG versus the Spurs last year and is averaging 41.5 this year, which at this price point would equate to about 3.17x value. Again, there is simply no reason to fear this matchup especially at such an affordable cost and the Paul/Jordan connection could end up winning GPPs.
Julius Randle, Lakers, $11,400 – I almost ended an article without mentioning an opponent against the Kings…almost. Looking at Randle’s history versus the Kings, one may glance over him as a potential option. Randle struggled with foul trouble in his first two meetings against the Kings this season but only fouled once when the teams met on Jan. 20. In that game, Randle only shot 18.2-percent (2-11 from the field) but I doubt that continues. Similarly to Mudiay, Randle has hit his stride and had scored at least 27.25 fantasy points in every game this month before only playing 22 minutes in Sunday’s game against the Knicks. For the season, Sacramento allows the second most fantasy points to opposing PFs so Randle should not continue to struggle against this team. I think he finally gets it right on Tuesday and produces while maintaining a low-ownership percentage. He is probably a better fit for tournaments but I have no issues with deploying him in cash games as well.
*Stats are accurate as of Monday, Mar. 14