Despite most looking to focus their attention on both the Cavaliers/Warriors and Thunder/Clippers games, Joe Ingles finds himself in a fantastic spot with the team facing a defense that struggles against opposing three-point shooters. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s NBA contests.
Chris Paul, Clippers, $18,100 – Is there any question that Chris Paul is going to come to play in a battle against another elite PG in the NBA? Throughout the course of his career, Paul has dominated Russell Westbrook as evident by the fact he has topped 42 fantasy points in each of the last 11 meetings. In fact, Paul has topped 52 fantasy points in each of his last five games against Westbrook and Blake Griffin remains out of the lineup. This season alone, Paul is averaging 50.6 fantasy points per game (FPPG) without Griffin compared to 41.5 with him in the lineup. To this point, the Thunder rank 21st in PG efficiency defense and play at a substantially faster pace than the Clippers, so clearly this is a quite favorable matchup. With all of these factors working in his favor, Paul is the first of four high-priced players worth building around on a pretty crazy four game slate.
Kyrie Irving, Cavaliers, $14,700 – Is there any question a partial Cavaliers/Warriors stack is of the utmost importance on this slate? Both teams will play their starters a healthy number of minutes in order to attempt to win this rematch of last year’s NBA finals and therefore plenty of fantasy production is to be expected. Despite ranking third in overall defensive efficiency, the Warriors actually rank 15th in PG efficiency defense. In the first meeting against the Warriors, Coach Tyronn Lue barely took Kyrie Irving off of the court as he played 44 minutes en route to 25 points (PTS), six rebounds (REB), 10 assists (AST), seven steals (STL) and a whopping 63.0 fantasy points. Although seven steals cannot be expected once again, a healthy minute allotment can and that should only lead to production in this fast-paced affair. Do not forget Irving averaged 27.1 points per game (PPG), 3.9 rebounds per game (RPG) and 3.9 assists per game (APG) versus the Warriors in the NBA Finals last season so these monster numbers against the team are nothing new.
Andre Roberson, Thunder, $7,800 – Quietly, Andre Roberson has emerged as a reasonably consistent producer as of late as he has topped 20 fantasy points in four of his last six games and has not fallen below 16.75 fantasy points during that span. On Monday, Russell Westbrook will draw a difficult matchup against an elite defender in Chris Paul so the usage will need to be spread elsewhere. For the season, the Clippers rank sixth in defensive efficiency against Cs as well so either Steven Adams or Enes Kanter will have their hands full as well. Therefore, scoring will be needed from some of the other positions and Roberson certainly fits the bill. He has played fewer than 30 minutes once since Jan. 2 so there will plenty of time for him to accrue fantasy points across the board. Hell, the man has produced eight steals in his last two games alone and has managed at least eight rebounds in three of his last six games so he finds ways to get it done. In a game in which Vegas expects both teams to top 100 points, Roberson rates as a solid cash game punt in order to fit the other monsters.
Joe Ingles, Jazz, $7,700 – Speaking of cash game punts, Joe Ingles will benefit on Monday from the absence of Rodney Hood because it should directly lead to more minutes for him at SG. People might think Ingles is a scrub but he actually leads the NBA in three point percentage this season at 45.0-percent, slightly edging out Channing Frye (44.6-percent) and Kyle Lowry (44.5-percent). Additionally, the team draws one of the best possible matchups he could ask for against a Suns team that has played at the third fastest pace this year and ranks 26th in backcourt efficiency defense. Most notably, they allow the second most three pointers per game to opposing backcourts (5.7) and the absolute best percentage (41.5-percent). Oh by the way, Ingles has averaged 31.5 FPPG in five games without Hood this season. For Ingles, this is a match made in heaven and he rates as above and beyond the best value play on the entire slate.
Kevin Durant, Warriors, $18,200 – If worried about LeBron James’ defense on Kevin Durant, well, you better check yourself before you wreck yourself. When the teams first met this season, Durant proved just how unstoppable he is on a team full of weapons as opposed to the old school Thunder teams with him and Russell Westbrook as the only standout offensive players. James tried to guard him but Durant dropped 36 points on the Cavaliers on 23 shot attempts and made 12 of 12 free throws. With all the defensive rotations necessary to keep up with the Warriors, Durant drew multiple matchups against players such as Kevin Love and Iman Shumpert who have absolutely no chance against him for a variety of reasons. Furthermore, due to the fast pace of the game, Durant was able to grab 15 rebounds to boot.
LeBron James, Cavaliers, $18,000 – On the other side of the very same matchup, LeBron James is set up for a killer performance as well. For one, Kevin Love has struggled when defended by Draymond Green who is quite clearly one of the best defenders in the entire league. Also, James has dominated both Kevin Durant (50-plus fantasy points against him in each of the last five meetings) and the Warriors (60-plus fantasy points in three of his last five regular season meetings) in recent memory…not to mention his averages of 29.7 PPG, 11.3 RPG, 8.9 APG, 2.3 steals per game (SPG) and 2.3 blocks per game (BPG) against a Durant-less Warriors team in the finals last year. The spread of 7.5 is a little bit scary but there is no doubt who is going to have the ball in his hand a majority of the time for the Cavaliers. Surprisingly, James has not fared incredibly well in games with a projected total of over 220 points as he has failed to reach 45 fantasy points in three of the five total occurrences. For that reason alone, Durant projects as the better cash game play of the two but both are certainly viable in any and all formats.
Honorable Mention: Enes Kanter, Thunder, $12,000 – Steven Adams is listed as questionable for Monday so Kanter would emerge as a prime value if Adams were to sit out. If so, the duo of him and DeAndre Jordan (facing Kanter’s pathetic defense) would be worth substituting for one of the aforementioned superstars.