Alexis: The Relentless Pursuit of Perfection

The Pelicans only have nine remaining active players and Alexis Ajinca is one of the few men standing with the ability to make a difference in daily fantasy basketball. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s NBA contests.

Guards:

James Harden, Rockets, $19,000 – After not allowing more than 102.8 points per game (PPG) in any of the first four months of the season, the Bulls allowed 107.7 PPG in February and are currently allowing 105.7 PPG in March. The injury to Joakim Noah certainly isn’t helping either is the back injury Jimmy Butler is currently dealing with. They simply are not the same as they were earlier in the season and James Harden already took advantage of their defensive landslide earlier this month. On Mar. 5, Harden dropped 36 points (PTS), five rebounds (REB) and eight assists (AST) versus the Bulls en route to 51.75 fantasy points. Butler was active in the prior meeting so literally nothing has changed since then in terms of Bulls personnel. Therefore, Harden should once again explode against a team putting up very little fight against any and all opponents as of late.

Toney Douglas, Pelicans, $9,400 – With all the pieces currently out for the Pelicans (Anthony Davis, Ryan Anderson, Eric Gordon, Tyreke Evans, Bryce Dejean-Jones, Alonzo Gee and Norris Cole), Toney Douglas has taken the responsibility of the top scoring role. He has now scored double digit PTS in nine consecutive games. During that streak, he has scored at least 24.75 fantasy points in all but one game. The reason I like him on Thursday is because he’ll face another bad team who is also missing a key component (Danilo Gallinari). Furthermore, Denver ranks 21st in terms of defensive efficiency to opposing point guards (PGs) and also allows the 13th most fantasy points to the position. If there ever were a game the Pelicans were going to compete, this would be it. If the game remains close, Douglas should play a full allotment of minutes and could push 20 real PTS. He absolutely needs to be considered as he’s legitimately the best player the Pelicans have left and playing in a favorable matchup.

Jamal Crawford, Clippers, $8,000 – Bye bye Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan and J.J. Redick on Thursday as Coach Doc Rivers already announced the trio will sit for rest purposes. The best remaining scorer active by process of elimination will be Jamal Crawford and his role on offense increases substantially without them as you might suspect. Crawford’s usage rate (usg%) increases from 18.4-percent with Paul, Jordan and Redick on the floor to 25.8-percent without them. In each of his last four games sans Paul, Crawford has managed at least 26.25 fantasy points. When Crawford is awarded the opportunity to shoot, he generally takes it, and he will be called upon to do so many times in this game. Even if Crawford starts cold, he will continue to launch, so he actually possesses a reasonably high floor for a pure shooter. Dollar-for-dollar he is one of the best few plays on the board this evening.

Forwards/Centers:

Kevin Durant, Thunder, $18,000 – Keep an eye on the news because the fact that the Clippers are resting three of their top players leads me to believe the Thunder may do the same. If that is the case, Enes Kanter would emerge as an elite play. However, until I hear otherwise, I am going to act like Kevin Durant is playing. Assuming he suits up, he sports one of the best histories I’ve ever seen against an individual opponent. Over the past four seasons, Durant has only failed to reach 50 fantasy points twice in 11 meetings and never fell below 40 fantasy points on any occasion. For the Clippers, the DvP data does not exactly suggest it is a positive matchup but Durant but he has always seemed to get it done. Without Chris Paul, both Durant and Westbrook are viable but the guard spots are easier to fill than forward/center on this slate. Therefore, I’ll take Durant and the slight discount if both the superstars both happen to suit up (which I am not completely confident in at this point).

Pau Gasol, Bulls, $12,900 – On Tuesday, a report surfaced prior to game time that both Pau Gasol and Jimmy Butler’s minute limits would finally be lifted. Gasol then went on to nearly triple-double in 33 minutes with 10 PTS, 11 REB, seven AST and four blocks (BLK). As a member of the Bulls, Gasol has simply dominated the Rockets. In three meetings, he has scored at least 40 fantasy points in each including two games of 53.5 fantasy points or more (both double-doubles of at least 20 and 10). The Rockets play at the NBA’s seventh fastest pace so Gasol and the Bulls will have to speed up their typical pace to compete. Combine all of this with the fact that Gasol only comes with a price tag less than $13,000 and there is officially no reason to fade him in cash games.

Alexis Ajinca, Pelicans, $7,300 – Did I mention the Pelicans are decimated? Only three players on their roster are averaging more than a fantasy point per-minute at the roster’s current construction: Douglas, Tim Frazier and Alexis Ajinca. People seem to forget Ajinca averaged 28.6 fantasy points per game (FPPG) in 12 games without both Ryan Anderson and Anthony Davis last season. Ajinca does possess the ability to produce as he has nearly averaged 1.0 fantasy points per-minute for his full career. At his current price, Ajinca has surpassed 3x value in three of his past four games and barely fell short (19 fantasy points) in the outlier. Big men have burned the Nuggets all season as they rank below average in defensive efficiency to both frontcourt positions. Seeing as Ajinca has played 30-plus minutes in back-to-back games, he is one of the best punt options on the slate. Minutes equal production in fantasy basketball and it certainly helps when the minutes are coming from an efficient player in a positive matchup.

*Stats are accurate as of Wednesday, Mar. 30

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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