You Had Me at Melo

Carmelo Anthony faces one of the league’s worst defenses in terms of guarding opposing wings so consider him one of the safest plays on the board. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s NBA contests.

Guards:

Chris Paul, Clippers, $16,700 – All of the upper echelon guards are viable on Saturday but the one that makes most fiscal sense to me is Chris Paul. On paper, the matchup versus the Grizzlies is poor considering the Grizzlies allow the ninth fewest fantasy points to opposing point guards (PGs) and play at the fourth slowest pace. However, the overall numbers mostly reflect a healthy Grizzlies team and not this injury-riddled version. Over the past four games, the Grizzlies have essentially played at their opponents’ pace. They played slow against the Timberwolves and Bucks who both rank in the bottom 11 of pace and played quicker against the Hawks and Rockets who both rank in the top nine of pace. The Clippers are virtually middle of the road, so basically Paul will be able to dictate the pace and play at a pace he is comfortable with. The current Grizzlies only possess Briante Weber, a player just called up from the D-League, and Ray McCallum. Neither of them will be able to stay with Paul so expect the Clippers PG to eclipse 43 fantasy points for the 17th consecutive game. The sort of consistency Paul has displayed recently is the reason I am comfortable saving funds to roster him as opposed to the Russell Westbrooks and Stephen Currys of the world.

Lance Stephenson, Grizzlies, $11,100 – Death, taxes and Lance Stephenson scoring fantasy points in the mid-30s as a member of the Grizzlies are the three surest things in life at this point. Stephenson has been flat out ridiculous since the injury to Mario Chalmers led to the team releasing him. In the four games since Chalmers went down, Stephenson has scored 53.75, 36.5, 49.25 and 37.25 fantasy points respectively. On Saturday, he will have the opportunity for a “revenge game” against the team that traded him to the Grizzlies on Feb. 18: the Clippers. While the Clippers are a much superior ball club to the current demolished version of the Grizzlies (due to injury), the Clippers play at a much faster pace than the Grizzlies which will speed up their style of play. In other words, Stephenson and all Grizzlies are priced for their slower pace but yet will have more opportunities to produce with additional trips up and down the court. Although the matchup isn’t great on paper, Stephenson has been flirting with the 30-percent usage over the past four games and his price has not yet caught up to that level of production.

Derrick Rose, Bulls, $10,100 – Wait, what? Recommending an injury-prone player against the NBA’s slowest paced team seems risky, right? Maybe so, but the price is just too cheap for Derrick Rose who has actually played 29-plus minutes in five consecutive games. The team already announced they will be without Pau Gasol once again on Saturday, and Rose’s usage rate (usg%) increases from 27.2-percent in games with Gasol to 30.0-percent without him. Rose returned on Wednesday and played both ends of back-to-back games which could have contributed to why he failed to reach 30 minutes. In his previous two games, he had played 39 and 36 minutes respectively and the Bulls do not play on Sunday. Therefore, Rose should see his minutes extended above 30. At this price tag, he is simply cheap regardless of who they face and how slow of a brand of basketball they play. If Utah has one hole in their defense, it is at the point guard position as they allow the 20th most fantasy points to the position. I know that doesn’t sound like a weakness but it is considering they rank in the top two in fantasy points allowed to all four other positions. As long as Rose remains about $2,000 cheaper than he deserves to be, he is worthy of rostering in all formats.

Forwards/Centers:

Carmelo Anthony, Knicks, $15,100 – Not many words are necessary to describe why Carmelo Anthony’s matchup is so juicy versus the Wizards. For one, the Wizards allow the fifth most fantasy points to opposing small forwards (SFs) and rank below average in terms of defensive efficiency to the position. Secondly, the Wizards play at the fourth quickest pace which is a giant uptick from what the Knicks are used to at the fifth slowest pace. Last but not least, Anthony has scored at least 54.75 fantasy points in each of his two meetings versus the team from Washington this season. What else needs to be said? Anthony is one of the best plays of the entire slate and some exposure to him is absolutely necessary.

Kawhi Leonard, Spurs, $14,700 – The Spurs were absolutely roasted by the Warriors in their only matchup earlier this season but I do not expect the same to happen in San Antonio. People may choose to look at the results from the previous meeting, see all the Spurs under-performed and pass on all of their major assets. For me, I am going the other way as I expect the Spurs to compete with the Warriors in a majority of their meetings at the very least, and if they do then the starters will see their minutes extended. Coach Gregg Popovich definitely did not forget getting his butt kicked in the last meeting so, although he’d never say it to the media, I think he wants to win this game badly. His best chance of winning is play his superstar Kawhi Leonard close to 40 minutes. You can basically throw the defense versus position data (DvP) out the window because the Warriors play at an extremely fast pace (second fastest in NBA) and Leonard averages nearly 1.2 fantasy points per-minute (FPPM) in neutral matchups. Between the negative matchup and positive pace, this matchup projects about average overall except for his likely extended minutes. Leonard averages 2.66x value at his current price but I expect a monster showing from the Spurs considering they are favored over the Warriors by 4.5. His best fit is probably in cash games as he’ll need to exceed his season average in order to hit value but I think he has 50 fantasy point upside sort of like Dirk Nowitzki almost put up against the Warriors last night.

LaMarcus Aldridge, Spurs, $12,900 – Did I mention I expect a big showing out of the Spurs? Crazily Leonard led the Spurs in fantasy points in the first meeting versus the defending champs with 28.25. LaMarcus Aldridge managed a measly 12.75 fantasy points, but again, that game was an absolute demolishing of a pretty stout NBA team. The previous game was played in Oracle Arena while this one will be played at home and that turns the tides completely. Unsurprisingly, Aldridge averages more fantasy points per game (FPPG) at home (33.8) versus on the road (32.2). Again, the Spurs are favored in this contest so there is an excellent chance they actually compete this time. If they compete, their regulars will produce in an infinitely more efficient manner than the prior game and produce a totally different outcome. Fantasy owners may choose to avoid Aldridge solely based on his previous poor outing but that is going to be a giant mistake. Golden State ranks 24th in defensive efficiency to opposing power forwards (PFs) so, combined with the pace, I think Aldridge is a rock solid cash option who should easily reach 30 fantasy points with upside for much more.

*Stats are accurate as of Friday, Mar. 18

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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