Enes Kanter has scored at least 33 fantasy points in four consecutive games and projects as an elite tournament option on Friday against a middling 76ers defense. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s NBA contests.
James Harden, Rockets, $18,600 – No game is projected for a higher total on Friday evening than the battle between the Timberwolves and Rockets at the Toyota Center in Houston. Although the Timberwolves play at a pace near league average, they allow the seventh most points per game (PPG) of any team (105.6). That is music to James Harden’s ears because the Rockets score the fourth most PPG (106.7) and only Stephen Curry averages more PPG as an individual than Harden. Oh by the way Minnesota ranks 22nd in terms of defensive efficiency to opposing shooting guards (SGs) and Harden dropped a 27-11 double-double on the Timberwolves in their sole meeting this season. Obviously the Timberwolves did not possess Karl-Anthony Towns as a rim protector last season, but Harden reached at least 49.5 fantasy points in all four meetings, and blew up for 60-plus fantasy points twice. Harden’s production has been slightly down recently so people may overlook him but I think he’s the superstar to own in cash games (toss-up between him and Curry). There is no reason Harden shouldn’t at least flirt with 50 fantasy points once again plus he possesses the upside to be the highest individual producer of the night against a bad defensive team.
DeMar DeRozan, Raptors, $13,600 – If you have a moderate understanding of the game of basketball, you’ll look at the matchup of DeMar DeRozan versus Avery Bradley and probably think twice about rostering him. Let me be the first to say: “Don’t.” Since the beginning of last season, DeRozan has faced the Celtics on four occasions and eclipsed 35 points every single time. In fact, he has eclipsed 40 fantasy points in three of the four. If you watch his highlight reel from his game on Jan. 20 versus Boston, much of DeRozan’s production came while being guarded by Bradley…and it just didn’t matter. Surprisingly the Celtics actually only rank 13th in defensive efficiency to opposing SGs so it’s not like they are unbeatable. The likeliest reason for DeRozan’s success is the uptick in pace, since the Celtics play at the NBA’s fifth fastest paced. Very often these games prove to be competitive as well, so DeRozan plays his full complement of minutes with the game remaining close down the stretch. DeRozan is an All-Star so he can get it done versus anyone and I prefer him to Lowry at their prices in this enticing matchup.
Ricky Rubio, Timberwolves, $12,300 – Ricky Rubio was made for fast-paced matchups and this game certainly applies. For reference, Rubio dropped 39.25 fantasy points in the only meeting versus the Rockets this season. Similarly to DeRozan, Rubio’s individual matchup appears like a daunting task. In Rubio’s case, the pace is much more important factor than the matchup because Rubio does not rely on scoring for fantasy points. A large portion of Rubio’s fantasy point output comes via rebounds (REB) and assists (AST) and the opportunity for those statistics improves when the pace is sped up. Considering the Rockets play at the fourth quickest pace, the Timberwolves will be playing up in pace…way up. As mentioned in the Harden tidbit, this game is projected to be the highest scoring of the evening so Rubio should have a field day. Sure Rubio can be volatile at times but this is a spot where he can be deployed in all formats.
Alex Len, Suns, $12,000 – Over Alex Len’s past nine games, he has managed at least 30 fantasy points in eight of those including three games over 50. Two of Len’s past three games are the outliers meaning he has cooled off a bit. Still, you have to love Len in a matchup against the lowly Lakers especially because his recent struggles have not been due to a minutes drop. He played 32.5 minutes versus the Nuggets and just struggled and the Suns were blown out of the building by the Jazz on Thursday. Even on his off nights, he reached at least 11 REB in each “dud.” The Lakers rank dead last in terms of defensive efficiency to opposing centers (Cs) so Len should rebound in an epic fashion (literally). Expect a double-double from Len with the upside to reach 4x value which is difficult to find from the mid-tier price range.
Tobias Harris, Pistons, $11,700 – An opposing player versus the Kings is always necessary in DFS cash lineups and my preference is Tobias Harris. Rostering Andre Drummond carries the risk of foul trouble as he can be foul prone at times and DeMarcus Cousins is one of the best at drawing contact. Therefore on this occasion I’ll take Harris who is likely to avoid guarding the big fella and will face a defense allowing the second most fantasy points to opposing power forwards (PFs). Though Harris plays some minutes at small forward (SF), the majority of his minutes come at the PF position. In this game it almost doesn’t matter because the Kings play at the fastest pace in the NBA and allow the most PPG so either position is a great matchup. Harris has failed to reach 32 fantasy points just once in the past five games and is coming off a 19-11-5 double-double versus a vastly superior Atlanta Hawks defense. Coach Stan Van Gundy loves playing his starters huge minutes, so if Harris reaches the mid-30s, he should reach value with ease.
Enes Kanter, Thunder, $9,500 – Unlike all of the aforementioned players, Enes Kanter is best left for tournaments. For one, his price is a bit higher than I am comfortable with for cash. However, the main reason is because Kanter’s role and skill set are both just better suited for GPP formats. Lately, Kanter has improved on his consistency and now has put together six consecutive games of at least 26.75 fantasy points including five over 30. To illustrate how volatile he is, he has not played 30 minutes in any of his previous 22 games. His minutes have been on the rise recently but he still relies upon his efficient nature, averaging nearly 1.2 fantasy points per-minute. In a game where the Thunder are expected to blow the 76ers out of the gym (15.5 point spread), Kanter should see more court time than a game flow that remained close. Kanter is in a unique role where he plays both in competitive games and blowouts but his playing time increases in the landslide victories. Assuming he sees around 25 minutes, he’ll be facing a defense that allows the most fantasy points to opposing Cs so Kanter could even improve upon his efficiency numbers in this one. Taking his recent consistency into consideration, he is actually an elite tournament option because his downside now appears capped and the sky is the limit.
*Stats are accurate as of Thursday, Mar. 17