A Con(ley) Artist

Mike Conley is averaging more than 40 fantasy points this month and he will now face a Bulls defense that is struggling to guard PGs. For the Grizzlies main ball-handler, this is a match made in heaven. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s NBA contests.

Guards:

Mike Conley, Grizzlies – Mike Conley is arguably playing the best basketball of his career this month as he is averaging a whopping 40.9 fantasy points per game (FPPG). Of course, part of the reason for the success has been Coach David Fizdale’s willingness to extend Conley’s minute allotments as he is averaging a hefty 36.5 minutes per game (MPG) this month. Furthermore, after producing a 31.8-percent assist rate in November and 30.8-percent assist rate in December, Conley has upped that mark to 40.7 in January. Virtually all statistics indicate an uptick in production/efficiency and now he will square off against a Bulls team that ranks 27th in defensive efficiency against opposing PGs over the course of their last 10 games. Michael Carter-Williams is simply a poor defender so Conley should have his way with him. Even though the cost to roster Conley is on the rise, his production suggests the change is warranted.

Reggie Jackson, Pistons – Multiple factors are in play to deem Reggie Jackson one of the best few plays on the entire slate. For one, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has been diagnosed with a Grade-2 left rotator cuff strain and is listed as doubtful for Sunday. With Caldwell-Pope off the court, Jackson’s usage rate (USG%) improves from 28.4 to 29.5-percent although it should be noted his overall efficiency has decreased. In this case, the matchup should alleviate the efficiency concerns because the Lakers rank 29th in PG efficiency defense. Last but not least, Jackson is averaging 20.0 points per game (PPG) in the month of January and playing nearly 32.0 MPG so he is amidst a stretch where he is hitting his stride. Oh by the way, no team is implied to score more points than the Pistons (108) on this slate. Combine all these factors and it is easy to see why Jackson is one of the first few players to lock and load into all lineups.

Victor Oladipo, Thunder – Another year, another season in which the Kings rate poorly in efficiency defense to opposing SGs. This trend should not be surprising considering the Kings made no real substantial changes at the position in the offseason after struggling to defend two guards in 2015. For a player who averages 0.92 FPPM for his career, Oladipo is simply underpriced for a guy who has played 32-plus minutes in all but one game this month. Against an average opponent, 32 minutes would equate to 29.44 fantasy points and this is no average opponent. The Kings rank 28th in defensive efficiency to the SG position and the 212 over/under suggests Vegas believes the teams will play closer to the Thunder’s typical pace than the Kings. Although Oladipo has been a bit disappointing over his last three games, this has caused his price to dip to its lowest level in two months. For that reason, Sunday is the perfect time to pounce.

Forwards/Centers:

DeMarcus Cousins, Kings – Steven Adams presents a difficult individual matchup for DeMarcus Cousins but the matchup is certainly not unbeatable. In three of Cousins’ last four meetings against Adams, he has topped 57 fantasy points and scored 33 or more actual points. Especially at home, Cousins is a prime candidate to force the player guarding him into early foul trouble. Additionally, the Thunder play at the eighth fastest pace and the Vegas over/under suggests their pace is expected to speed up the Kings’ offense as well. When they get sped up, extra opportunities are available for Cousins to score, rebound, assist, steal and even block so the pace enhances his already astronomical ceiling. Rostering Russell Westbrook is certainly a viable strategy but Cousins comes at a substantial discount with a very reasonable chance at 60 fantasy points himself. If value were to emerge, rostering both would be ideal, but Cousins is a viable alternative to the star PG in both cash games and tournaments.

Andre Drummond, Pistons – An interesting trend that has developed this season for Andre Drummond as he has averaged 40.1 FPPG at home this season versus just 35.4 FPPG on the road. In a matchup against a Lakers team on the second end of a back-to-back, this trend simply needs to be overlooked. Only two teams rate worse in terms of defensive efficiency against opposing Cs and the Lakers are one of only four teams to have allowed 55-plus percent field goals to the position. In seven games this month, Drummond is averaging 42.2 FPPG which is easily his best month of the season. Most notably, he is averaging 34.9 MPG this month whereas he had not averaged more than 30.6 MPG in any month prior to January. Sure he had a 52 minute outlier in double overtime against the Trail Blazers but he also had played at least 34 minutes in four of his other six games this month as well. Coach Stan Van Gundy is beginning to run his rotation like Tom Thibodeau where all his starters play huge minutes and that is a great thing for the players’ fantasy prospects. In an elite matchup, Drummond is absolutely worthy of a roster spot.

Brandon Ingram, Lakers – If looking for a cheap option, Brandon Ingram makes a decent amount of sense on this slate despite the usually limited upside. Unfortunately, since Luol Deng sat out yesterday’s tilt versus the Clippers, the prospect of him sitting out the second end of a back-to-back has been negated. Regardless, Ingram still leads the team in minutes per game (MPG) on the second game of back-to-backs this season at 31.3. Minutes equal production in daily fantasy basketball and Ingram’s recent game log proves just that; over the course of his last five games heading into Saturday, Ingram has topped 19 fantasy points in four of them including 21-plus in three of them. In fact, the only game in which he failed to reach 19 fantasy points during that span was against the Spurs. Nothing stands out in the matchup against the Pistons but Ingram remains incredibly cheap especially for his extensive minutes. He is averaging 0.70 FPPM this month which would equate to about 21.70 fantasy points in an average outing…aka enough to justify using Ingram in any and all formats at this cheap price.

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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