LaMarcus Aldridge is averaging more than 40 fantasy points per contest this month and will square off against his ex-team in the revenge-iest of all revenge games. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s NBA contests.
John Wall, Wizards, $17,600 – Coming off a triple-double on Wednesday against the Bulls, I expect John Wall to be a very popular pick in cash games on Thursday against a porous 76ers defense. In three prior meetings this season, Wall has averaged a whopping 56.8 fantasy points per game (FPPG) versus Philadelphia…and they have all come this month. Wall triple-doubled in the first game, double-doubled in the second game and then he scored 37 real points (PTS) in the latest game. The 76ers allow the sxith most fantasy points to opposing point guards (PGs) and rank in the bottom seven of defensive efficiency to the position so it’s not difficult to see why Wall has enjoyed so much success. At his current price, Wall would need 52.8 fantasy points for value and he has averaged more than that this season in the current matchup, so start him with confidence.
Jimmy Butler, Bulls, $14,500 – Derrick Rose played 29 minutes on the front end of a back-to-back on Wednesday evening so he is questionable at best to play on Thursday. Sure the Bulls lost by 21 to the Wizards but the matchup gets easier on Thursday as the Nets head to the United Center. Due mostly to the score, Jimmy Butler only played 29 minutes on the front end of the back-to-backers as well which is next to nothing for him. He should be rejuvenated and ready to go. With his reasonably fresh legs, he is an excellent bet for a productive performance against a team that ranks 25th in defensive efficiency versus opposing shooting guards (SGs). Butler is averaging 40.1 FPPG versus the nets in two meetings this season and both Rose and Pau Gasol suited up in each of those guys. Without Gasol at the very least, Butler will have to shoulder a heavier load of the offense. Against a defense allowing the greatest opponents’ field goal percentage this season, it’s hard to imagine Butler not at least flirting with value, deeming him a very enticing cash play on the slate.
Lance Stephenson, Grizzlies, $10,100 – One thing is clear at this point: Lance Stephenson enjoys running the offense without Mike Conley and Mario Chalmers. Here is his fantasy point output the past three games: 53.75, 36.5 and 49.25 respectively. He has enjoyed a usage rate (usg%) of at least 25-percent in the 49-plus fantasy point outings and he will continue to be relied upon as the main ball-handler with this depleted version of the Grizzlies. Clearly, the $10,100 price tag does not accurately reflect the serious upside he possesses and he simply needs to keep being plugged in until he reaches $12,000.
Giannis Anteotkounmpo, Bucks, $16,700 – Speaking of players enjoying running the offense, no player has excelled more in that role recently than the Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo. The “Greek Freak” is nearly averaging a triple-double in the month of March thus far (21.9, 8.9 and 8.5) with two steals per game (SPG) and 1.9 blocks per game (BPG) aka 51.5 FPPG. Fifty one and a half fantasy points per game he is averaging this month. He has triple-doubled in nearly half his games this month (missed a triple-double by one AST or it would be half) and will be facing a depleted Grizzlies team. You can basically throw out all season-long data for the Grizzlies because all their top players are out. The most applicable data would be the fact that they rank third to last as a team in defensive efficiency over the past five games. As long as this game remains close, and the Bucks do not blow out their opponent, Antetokounmpo is yet again going to post a monster line and will make his fantasy owners smile even if/when their bracket gets busted (that’s a March Madness reference).
LaMarcus Aldridge, Spurs, $12,900 – This is the definition of a “revenge game” as LaMarcus Aldridge’s old team will head to San Antonio to meet his new squad…the Spurs. He has had mixed results against his old team this season as he scored 33.5 fantasy points on Nov. 11 and followed that up with only 17.0 on Nov. 16. In other words, it has been almost exactly four months since the last meeting and Aldridge has understandably taken time adjusting to his new role with a different (better) team. Although Aldridge is averaging just 33.39 FPPG this season, he is averaging 41.8 FPPG this month. Portland does allow the 13th most fantasy points to opposing power forwards (PFs) so the matchup is basically neutral. If he can just approach his average this month, he should easily squash value at his mid-tier price tag. Factor in the added motivation of playing his old squad and I feel great about using him in all formats.
Nikola Jokic, Nuggets, $11,600 – Trusting Coach Mike Malone is a difficult proposition because he’s sort of the Scott Skiles of the West Coast but he possesses an elite talent: Nikola Jokic. If Malone would just play Jokic a full allotment of minutes on a nightly basis, he would morph into a fantasy superstar in no time. For the season, Jokic averages 1.2 fantasy points per minute (FPPM) or approximately the same output as Damian Lillard (!). Jokic’s skills have been on full display recently as he has topped 30 fantasy points in six of his last seven games including two over 40. His one dud came versus Washington when his coach predictably screwed with his playing time and allocated him just 16.5 minutes. I’m assuming Coach Malone knows he’ll need to play big for a majority of the game to match up with Atlanta’s twin towers so Jokic should be a staple in the game-plan. Assuming he hovers around 30 minutes, the sky is the ceiling for this kid against a Hawks team that struggles versus opposing centers (Cs). Jokic is best left for tournaments solely due to his coach but he can be considered cash viable in a game where his size is absolutely needed.
*Stats are accurate as of Wednesday, Mar. 16