Even though Derrick Rose’s injuries have been frustrating to deal with this season, put your faith in him one more time as he’ll square off against the NBA’s worst defense. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s NBA contests.
Stephen Curry, Warriors, $18,300 – According to masseyratings, a game featuring Golden State will once again feature the highest projected total of the slate, as is tradition with this juggernaut team. Another tradition with the 62-7 Warriors is Stephen Curry setting the world on fire with his scoring ability. In the first and only meeting versus the Timberwolves this season, Curry scored a whopping 46 points (PTS) on 60-percent shooting with eight three-pointers (3PM). Dating back to last season, Curry has scored 43.5 fantasy points in each of his last five meetings versus Minnesota and has scored at least 48.75 fantasy points in three consecutive games. Unsurprisingly, the defense versus position (DvP) numbers align with the success because the Timberwolves have allowed the 10th most fantasy points to the point guard (PG) position this season. While the blowout concerns are certainly understandable against a team with a winning percentage of .319, the worries are at least slightly diminished with the Warriors as the road team. Unless the Warriors are up 40 in the first half, Curry should play three quarters in an excellent, projected fast-paced matchup, so he probably possesses the highest floor of any player in action Monday. Insert Curry into your lineups and sleep like a baby because he’s the reigning MVP and he averages the second most fantasy points per game (FPPG) in the NBA behind only Russell Westbrook (who has the night off).
Lance Stephenson, Grizzlies, $11,600 – Lance Stephenson proved he was human on Saturday as he produced his first mediocre outing since the injury to Mario Chalmers. Now many will correctly correlate his downtick with the returns of Zach Randolph and Vince Carter to the rotation but I am willing to set those facts aside against the NBA’s second worst defense in terms of points allowed per game. Yes, the Grizzlies will travel to Phoenix where they will actually be favored against a porous Suns team sporting a record of 19-50. Stephenson had eclipsed a 20-percent usage rate (usg%) in each of his prior three games to Mar. 19 including at least 25.8-percent in two straight. Sure the return of Carter and Randolph both unfavorably affect him but the matchup against the Suns could successfully cancel out the negatives of the rotation adjustments. Although his minutes were down, Stephenson still flirted with 20-percent usage and led the term in plus/minus with a whopping plus-27. The Suns allow the most FPPG to opposing shooting guards (SGs) and allow the second most FPPG to opposing small forwards (SFs). Hell even if Stephenson shifts over and plays some PG, the Suns allow the second most fantasy points to that position as well. Essentially this is going to be a close game between two bad teams so the Memphis regulars should all be in play. Stephenson is probably best left for tournaments considering his price, at least until we see how the rotation shapes up with Carter and Randolph back over the long term. Ray McCallum (35 minutes last game) is the Grizzlies guard best suited for cash games considering his near-minimum ($6,300) price.
Derrick Rose, Bulls, $10,800 – My first instinct when gazing over the matchup between the Bulls and the Kings was to immediately recommend Jimmy Butler. Star players against the league’s absolute worst defense is typically a good strategy and I actually believe him to be viable. However, Butler, who is averaging 37.3 minutes per game (MPG) this season, has yet to top 34 minutes in any game this month. Again, he certainly could get it done in slightly less minutes against an absolutely horrific defense but he is priced around where he typically sits even at his peak ($13,900). Therefore, Derrick Rose presents the better value of the two as his upside stretches far beyond his price tag. Over the span of Rose’s past seven games, he has topped 31 fantasy points five times. During that span, Rose has faced a bottom 10 defense in terms of fantasy points allowed just once and he actually struggled the most in that game (Mar. 17 versus Brooklyn). Considering his minutes have been holding steady around 30 and he is not coming off a back-to-back, I think he is a pretty safe bet to flirt with 30 fantasy points yet again which would equate to 2.78x value. If he were to finish just one standard deviation above his likely floor, mind you this is against the absolute bottom of the barrel defense, he would easily top his value threshold. Many do not like rostering him due to his propensity to be scratched late but the Bulls really do not have that luxury on Monday as Pau Gasol will miss yet another game. Safety and Rose do not typically go hand-in-hand but I think Monday is one of the few exceptions where they do.
Paul George, Pacers, $15,500 – Yesterday Isaiah Thomas proved yet again top scoring options against the 76ers are virtually always fantastic investments. Thomas averages 37.65 FPPG overall but eclipsed that total for the third time in four meetings on Sunday evening. Paul George, on the other hand, dropped a whopping 61 fantasy points in his one prior meeting against the 76ers this season on Nov. 18. Philadelphia’s defense hasn’t exact improved drastically since that time, especially against small forwards (SFs), as they have allowed the fourth most fantasy points to position and rank bottom four in defensive efficiency versus the position. George has improved on his FPPG output in each month since December and has worked his way up to 46.0 FPPG this month (averaging 43.07 for the season). Coming off a 45 PTS game against Oklahoma City, he should be able to ride his scoring momentum to another extremely productive day. Despite his reasonable price tag, he possesses as much upside at the forward/center position as anyone not named DeMarcus Cousins.
LaMarcus Aldridge, Spurs, $13,300 – As of late, LaMarcus Aldridge has catapulted Kawhi Leonard as the top option in the offense. This month, Aldridge leads the team in scoring with 24.0 points per game (PPG) while Leonard ranks just behind him at 23.5 PPG. Amazingly, the two of them are the only Spurs averaging more than 9.3 PPG this month. Virtually all the offense is coming through two players and each of the pair’s minutes are up in March. For the season, Aldridge is averaging 30.4 minutes per game (MPG) but that total is up to 33.4, exactly three minutes more, since the beginning of the month. Realistically when the Spurs signed Aldridge, an adjustment period should have been expected and Aldridge is simply finally becoming comfortable with his new role on his new team. On Monday, he’ll head to Charlotte to face a Hornets team that has allowed the ninth most fantasy points to opposing power forwards (PFs) and also ranks ninth worst in defensive efficiency to the position. After an up and down first half of the season, Aldridge is yet again flashing his skills as one of (if not the single best) post players in the entire NBA. Having scored at least 31.5 fantasy points in each of his past 10 games, Aldridge possesses a high floor, which is rare for Gregg Popovich coached players. All-in-all the combination of his excellent matchup and the fact that the team relies heavily on his offensive skills deems him as one of the safest plays on the entire slate.
Marreese Speights, Warriors, $7,700 – Even though Andrew Bogut was forced to miss Saturday’s tilt versus the Spurs, Marreese Speights only scored 6.75 fantasy points in 11 minutes. Speights is one of the NBA’s most efficient producers in terms of fantasy points per-minute (FPPM) at 1.21 so the lack of efficiency in the last game may turn a few people off of him. Warning: do not be one of those people. For one, the Spurs are the NBA’s best defense in terms of both PPG allowed and efficiency. Also, the Warriors started a small lineup and the Spurs countered by going small themselves and starting Boris Diaw. To illustrate just how strange the game plan was for both teams, Tim Duncan only played eight minutes in that contest as well. Both teams basically decided to eliminate the center (C) position from factoring too heavily into the final outcome. On Monday, that will not be the case against a Timberwolves team who possess both Karl-Anthony Towns and Gorgui Dieng who both can and will play C over the course of the game (as well as Greg Smith off the bench). In other words, the Warriors will likely alter their strategy and may even choose to start Marreese Speights in this one. Even if they do not, he should both play more minutes than he did against the Spurs and produce in a much more efficiency manner…like he has all season. If Speights even comes close to 20 minutes, he should easily approach 3x value (23.1 fantasy points) considering he had scored at least 22.25 fantasy points in each of the previous four games to his latest dud. Crazily enough, Speights factors into the cash game conversation and he simply can be rolled out in all formats…especially if he is named a starter.
*Stats are accurate as of Sunday, Mar. 20