Saving Private Ryan

With Anthony Davis likely out on Sunday, Ryan Anderson will step into the team’s lead-scoring role which means he could go bananas. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s NBA contests.

Guards:

Victor Oladipo, Magic, $13,900 – No Nikola Vucevic? No problem. Victor Oladipo has been proving lately why he was worthy of the number two overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. On Friday, Oladipo set a career high with 45 points (PTS) on a ridiculous 16-22 shooting (72.7-percent). It was the third consecutive game Oladipo scored at least 23 PTS and he is now averaging 21.9 points per game (PPG) in March (10 games). Without Vucevic, Oladipo is averaging a whopping 40.3 FPPG and it’s clear he marvels at the opportunity to carry the offense on his shoulders. While the FPPG sans Vucevic paint a picture, the more than three percentage point increase in usage without him fully explains the phenomenon. The matchup against the Raptors isn’t incredibly favorable but neither was Cleveland really last game and he still went nuts. As long as he continues to act as the top scoring option, he’ll remain viable as long as he stays below $14,000.

Isaiah Thomas, Celtics, $13,300 – Philadelphia ranks in the bottom seven of defensive efficiency to all five positions so literally any and every opposing player draws a favorable matchup against them. Unsurprisingly, the Celtics’ best offensive threat has enjoyed success against the 76ers in three previous meetings this season; he has averaged 25.7 PPG en route to 40.3 fantasy points per game (FPPG). Right now, Thomas is above and beyond the top option on offensive considering he is the only player on the Celtics averaging more than 13.8 PPG in the month of March (eight games) thus far. For reference, Thomas is averaging 26.4 PPG this month, or nearly double the night highest scorer. In a matchup versus a defense that hardly puts up a fight against any position, Thomas is one of the safest bets on the entire slate. He is a building block for cash games but has the upside necessary for tournaments as well.

Toney Douglas/Tim Frazier, Pelicans – Considering the Pelicans management put together a conference call in regards to Anthony Davis’ multiple injuries on Saturday morning, the odds of him playing on Sunday seem doubtful at best. For one, they have no reason to rush him back since they have zero prayer of making the playoffs this season. Secondly, the injuries seem more severe than just a one game absence so it’s sounding like he’ll miss extended time (if not shut him down for the season). Therefore, the Pelicans have a gigantic gap to fill in the offense without their leading scorer. In other words, both Toney Douglas and Tim Frazier should see an increase in usage rate (usg%) and overall role on offense. Douglas is my preferred option of the two considering Frazier has shot at least 60-percent in each of his two games with the Pelicans which is clearly unsustainable. The good news for Frazier is he has played at least 26 minutes in each game as a member of the Pelicans so his role should remain set for the foreseeable future. Douglas is still the way I’d lean as he’ll likely get the start and he played 31 minutes in the last contest and he has scored at least 24.75 fantasy points in five of the last seven games. Without Davis, he should be able to build on those totals and he did bust out for 46.25 fantasy points on Mar. 14 so his ceiling is clearly substantial. Both of these guys are nice salary savers in order to fit some of the studs. Choosing which guy to start may come down to who rounds out a roster you feel good about.

Forwards/Centers:

Carmelo Anthony, Knicks, $15,100 – To be honest, Carmelo Anthony, like many players, is not quite as effective on the second end of back-to-backs. Anthony averages 40.89 FPPG overall but that number drops to 39.0 and his minutes per game (MPG) drop from 35.4 overall to 34.3. Even factoring in the potential minute or two difference, Anthony is still firmly in play against the worst defense in the NBA. The Kings have allowed at least 104 points in 15 consecutive games and at least 106 in 14 out of those 15 occurrences. Overall, the Kings allow a whopping 109.6 PPG which ranks dead last in the NBA by nearly two PPG. So while playing Anthony on back-to-backs isn’t quite optimal, starting him against this “defense” is. The Kings allow the eighth most fantasy points to opposing small forwards (SFs), but like the 76ers, you can basically just start the opposing team’s best player against them and expect him to exceed expectations. The Kings rank in the bottom 11 of defensive efficiency to all five positions and play at such a fast pace that almost no other analysis is necessary. Start Anthony and reap the benefits. UPDATE: Carmelo Anthony has been diagnosed with a migraine. If he sits, upgrade Arron Afflalo to near must-play status.

DeAndre Jordan, Clippers, $13,600 – The Pelicans roster possesses exactly one stout interior defender: Anthony Davis. They will not be without him possibly for the remainder of the season. Prior to his injury, the Pelicans allowed the second most fantasy points to opposing centers (Cs) even though Davis switches over and plays C a bunch. Obviously his loss is huge for the Pelicans on offense but it is equally as impactful on defense. Without his presence, DeAndre Jordan should simply have a field day as he is already averaging 39.7 FPPG without Blake Griffin this season. Considering the lack of resistance Jordan should have on the offensive end and on the boards, he should easily eclipse his average without Griffin assuming the Pelicans can keep the game close for long enough. The score of the game is a concern if rostering Jordan in GPP but I think he still is a lock for cash games as he’s likely to be extra efficient in this contest.

Ryan Anderson, Pelicans, $11,400 – The significance of Anthony Davis’ absence has been eluded to multiple times already but it affects no one greater than Ryan Anderson. Not only will Anderson move from the bench to the starting lineup in his absence but he morphs into the top scoring option on the team…as evident by his 21.4 PPG average without the “Brow” in seven games this season. Anderson transforms from a useful bench scorer (27.4 FPPG) to a fantasy stud (37.2 FPPG) in the absence of the team’s best player. The matchup is not great in terms of defense versus position as the Clippers allow the fourth fewest fantasy points to opposing power forwards (PFs) but that almost doesn’t matter. Anderson’s role without Davis is far superior to his price so we’ll have to keep rolling him in there until his price properly adjusts.

*Stats are accurate as of Saturday, Mar. 19

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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