Since Avery Bradley will not suit up on Tuesday, there is no reason to worry about Kyle Lowry’s matchup against a Celtics defense that ranks 18th in overall efficiency. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s NBA contests.
Damian Lillard, Trail Blazers, $16,500 – In the very same matchup last week, Damian Lillard garnered a 70-80-percent ownership in cash games on FantasyDraft against a Lakers team that ranks 29th in PG efficiency. Over the course of the last two seasons, Lillard has not produced less than 44.75 fantasy points in any game against the Lakers and yet his price is quite reasonable. Something to keep an eye on is the fact his 14 field goals attempted on Jan. 5 was the fewest he had attempted in a game against this team by far over the course of the last two years. Although it was his first game back from an ankle injury, C.J. McCollum edged him out in terms of usage rate (USG%) 30.2-22.1. Still, he dished out 10 assists (AST) and grabbed five rebounds (REB) so this is probably nitpicking. Expect a high ownership percentage for Lillard once again in what should continue to be an incredibly favorable matchup.
Kyle Lowry, Raptors, $15,100 – The most important news tidbit of the entire slate, other than both Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade not suiting up (we will get to that), is the fact Avery Bradley has already been ruled out of Tuesday’s tilt against the Raptors. Instead of being guarded by one of the game’s better defenders, Kyle Lowry should be free to do as he pleases against a Celtics defense that ranks 17th in defensive efficiency against the PG position (even with Bradley occasionally sliding over). Even with Bradley active, Lowry has lit up the Celtics for 44-plus fantasy points in three of his last four outings against the Celtics. With the Raptors listed as favorites (-4.5) in one of the projected higher scoring games of the slate (218 over/under), the man who ranks second in the NBA in minutes per game (MPG) should certainly prove to be one of the safest options on the entire slate.
Jeremy Lamb, Hornets, $10,100 – Despite a small sample size (two games), Jeremy Lamb is averaging a whopping 37.4 fantasy points per game (FPPG) without Nicolas Batum this year. Comparatively, Lamb averaged just 16.7 FPPG in the 25 games in which both he and Batum suited up. To be fair, the sample size sans Batum is a little skewed because Lamb managed a monster 18 point (PTS), 17 REB against the Knicks on Nov. 26. Regardless, Lamb has managed at least 29 fantasy points in both games without Batum. Now, Kemba Walker will likely draw a difficult matchup against Patrick Beverley who presumably will play through his recent wrist issue. Assuming he forces Walker to work harder than usual, more of the offense will need to funnel through other options…and Lamb is a prime alternative. With more shots likely available for Lamb against an uptempo Rockets squad (fourth in pace), Lamb should be locked and loaded into all lineups regardless of format.
LaMarcus Aldridge, Spurs, $13,200 – Okay so most are going to snarl at the prospect of rostering a Spur and think to themselves “this is probably too risky for me on an eight game slate.” In this case, there is little cause for concern as the team is playing a standalone game (no game on either the day prior or after) and LaMarcus Aldridge is averaging a hefty 35.0 MPG in January. Aldridge’s FPPG totals are up this month because he is on fire (65.0-percent shooting) but the production does not seem totally unsustainable. For one, Aldridge’s 14.5-percent rebound rate this month would be the highest of any full month this season if it were to continue as would his 15.0 field goal attempts (FGA) per game. Basically, the uptick in minutes has directly led to the uptick in production because his USG% as remained virtually the same each month including January. Similarly to last year, the Spurs are consistently only playing two players more than 30 MPG: Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard. Beyond them, the playing time is inconsistent from game-to-game but Coach Gregg Popovich realizes those two players are his team’s staples. So far this year, the Bucks rank 17th in defensive efficiency against opposing PFs and Jabari Parker ranks dead last in defensive rating and defensive box plus/minus (DBPM) amongst the Bucks starters. In other words, Aldridge draws a very favorable matchup just as he is hitting his stride. UPDATE: LaMarcus Aldridge has been ruled out with gastroenteritis so Kawhi Leonard emerges as a prime play. Pau Gasol and David Lee also see an uptick in value.
Tobias Harris, Pistons, $12,500 – Considering both Andre Drummond (52), Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (49), Reggie Jackson (47) and Marcus Morris (46) all played huge minutes last game in double overtime, one would reasonably infer at least a few of them will have their normal minutes scaled back on Tuesday. On the other hand, Tobias Harris only played 38 minutes against the Trail Blazers and is used to playing those sort of minutes allotments as evident by his 33.1 MPG average last year and 32.7 MPG average this year. His playing time rated as slightly above average while the other starters’ playing time qualified as outliers. Assuming the others need to have their minutes toned down to keep their legs fresh, Harris should see an uptick in minutes compared to the norm because he is the only fresh consistent contributor on the team. Additionally, the Kings rank 27th in defensive efficiency versus opposing SFs and 20th against opposing PFs so it will not really matter which position he plays; either way, his matchup will be a plus. Vegas expects this to be a close game (2.0 point spread) so expect a solid performance from literally the only member of the team’s core who was not overworked on Sunday.
Nikola Mirotic, Bulls, $9,700 – After disappointing a fair amount of people on Monday evening, it is time to go right back to the Nikola Mirotic well with both Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade out. Sure the Bulls are likely going to get roasted by a healthy Wizards team but Mirotic and the remaining six or so regulars need to play at least three quarters worth of minutes by default…even if there is an unusual amount of garbage time. If the Bulls are surprisingly able to keep the game close, Mirotic’s upside increases that much more. In 52 minutes without both Wade and Butler on the court, Mirotic sports a ridiculous 30.3-percent USG% and by default he is probably their best remaining offensive player. He will no doubt draw the start which should ease some concerns and averages 0.92 FPPM with the star duo off the court. With 30 minutes virtually guaranteed for Mirotic, he actually projects as an incredibly safe option…way safer than last night now that he has to get a minutes boost by default and he will have to carry the offense in order for it to work. Also consider: Michael Carter-Williams, Doug McDermott