The Walker-ing Dead

Kemba Walker has proven to be a superior play at home over the course of the last two seasons and now he draws a matchup against an extremely poor on-ball defender (Damian Lillard). Therefore, he is worth a start in any and all formats tonight. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s NBA contests.

Guards:

Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks, $18,600 – In terms of backcourt efficiency defense this season, the Rockets literally rank smack dab in the middle to this point (15th). On paper, Trevor Ariza matches up about as well as an opposing player possibly could against Giannis Antetokounmpo but that is not saying much because he quite literally is an actual athletic “freak.” This game opened with a 227.0 over/under and the Rockets are unsurprisingly favored at home by a decent amount (7.5 points). Even so, Antetokounmpo proved in his previous meeting against the Rockets that the uptick in tempo (fourth in pace) that this team cannot hold him down; on Feb. 26 of last year, Antetokounmpo produced 18 points (PTS), 16 rebounds (REB) and 11 assists (AST) en route to a 68.50 fantasy point triple-double. In fact, he has topped 53 fantasy points in two of his last three meetings against this team. While the Rockets have improved defensively this year, Antetokounmpo has exploited an interesting trend this year: he has produced a 100-percent consistency rating in games with a 220-plus over/under this season. Both games have resulted in 60-plus fantasy points for him so it is time to fire him up once again.

Kemba Walker, Hornets, $14,300 – Speaking of trends to exploit, Kemba Walker has posted vastly superior numbers at home for the second consecutive season this year and now he faces a beatable defense in the friendly confines. In 19 games at home this season, Walker is averaging 24.1 points per game (PPG), 4.3 rebounds per game (RPG), 5.7 assists per game (APG) and 46.8-percent FG en route for 41.5 fantasy points per game (FPPG). Meanwhile, he has averaged 22.0 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 5.0 APG and 45.2-percent FG away from the Spectrum Center which equates to just 37.6 FPPG. Many people have criticized Damian Lillard’s defense (or lack thereof) as of late including retired ex-NBA Coach George Karl who believes he is hurting the team. While his words are far from scripture, the Trail Blazers rank 16th in PG efficiency defense and Lillard ranks dead last on the team in both defensive rating (DRtg) and defensive box plus/minus (DBPM). With Walker set to see a healthy amount of minutes against  (and C.J. McCollum’s whose is not much better), he should be an excellent bet to exceed value at this price tag.

Sergio Rodriguez, 76ers, $9,100 – T.J. McConnell is “going to try and play” supposedly but he is listed as doubtful in the game notes. As of Monday, he was listed as out “indefinitely” so it feels like a bit of a stretch for him to suit up already on Wednesday. If he does in fact sit out, Sergio Rodriguez would warrant a start at this sub-$10,000 price tag once again because he should be locked into a 30-plus minute role as he was last game. In 32 productive minutes against the Bucks on Monday, Rodriguez sort of flirted with a triple double as he produced 10 PTS, seven REB and six AST. With Joel Embiid on the floor (and he is expected to play), Rodriguez averages a 39.2-percent assist rate and 0.89 fantasy points per minute (FPPM). On paper, the matchup is not great versus a Raptors team that ranks 12th in PG efficiency defense, but there are simply too many minutes available here to pass on if McConnell sits.

Honorable Mention: Terrence Ross, Raptors, $7,000 – Assuming Lucas Nogueira and Patrick Patterson are both out, expect the Raptors to go small a fair amount against the Raptors on the second end of a back-to-back. If so, Terrence Ross should see extended run once again after playing 30 minutes last night.

Forwards/Centers:

Kevin Durant, Warriors, $18,200 – Kevin Durant versus his old team is both a fantastic narrative and a superb spot for him to explode as the game opened with a 227.0 point over/under. In Oracle Arena, the Warriors are virtually always favored so the 12.5 points the Warriors are giving is nothing new. In 31 minutes against his former team on Nov. 3, Durant dropped 39 real PTS and grabbed seven REB in a game where the Warriors blew the Thunder out. Coach Steve Kerr allowed him to play deeper into the contest than the other starters due to the revenge aspect and that figures to be the case once again. At home this year, Durant easily leads the Warriors in fantasy points per game as he is averaging a whopping 49.3 compared to 44.6 for Stephen Curry and 40.7 for Draymond Green. An average outing would put Durant at 2.71x value but he proved last time he should be able to score more than usual against the seventh fastest paced Thunder. While narratives typically are worth overlooking, this one could earn Durant a couple extra minutes.

Nikola Vucevic, Magic, $12,300 – A few nights ago, Bismack Biyombo took what rotoworld called a “really nasty fall” and apparently his knee swelled up overnight and kept him out of practice on Tuesday. Assuming he were to sit or be limited by the injury, Nikola Vucevic would enjoy an extended role against a Pelicans defense that ranks 22nd in efficiency against opposing Cs. The Pelicans also rank eighth worst in terms of field goal percentage on post ups and that clearly is Vucevic’s specialty. Anthony Davis’ status is worth watching heading up to this game as it could drastically affect the Pelicans’ rim protection (but also possibly turn the game into a blowout). Assuming Biyombo sits and Davis plays, Vucevic rates as one of the best mid-tier values on the slate. If Davis were to sit, Vucevic would still rate as a great play but there would be a larger assumption of risk taken by rostering him.

Zaza Pachulia, Warriors, $7,000 – Cheap options are few and far between on this slate prior to late news being released but Zaza Pachulia stands out as at least a reliable option if no further value were to rear its head. Over the course of his last seven games, Pachulia has produced at least 19.25 fantasy points in each including at least 21 fantasy points in six of the seven. With Steven Adams already ruled out of the contest, Pachulia is going to see most of his minutes against either the undersized Domantas Sabonis or the defensively deficient Enes Kanter. With those as the only options to match up against Pachulia, he should easily flirt with 3x value once again.

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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