Trist-ed Metal

Tristan Thompson’s price has dropped to its low point for the season so now is the perfect time to buy on him in a matchup against the fourth fastest-paced team in the league: the Suns. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s NBA contests.

Guards:

Goran Dragic, Heat, $13,000 – What player leads the NBA in drives per game? You guessed it: Goran Dragic. Assuming the Mavericks go with the same starting lineup as last game, Dirk Nowitzki will man the middle and he is a poor rim protector to say the least. As a matter of fact, the Mavericks as a whole rank 29th in FG-percentage allowed inside six feet. Sure the Mavericks ranking dead last in the NBA in pace will not help Dragic’s cause but his efficiency should help make up for the reduction in overall possessions. On a strange five game slate lacking many plays that jump off the page, Dragic should be a lock to flirt with 20 real points despite the measly 197.0 point over/under.

Austin Rivers, Clippers, $10,200 – Considering Chris Paul will miss the next 6-8 weeks, and Blake Griffin is already out with a knee injury, Austin Rivers is going to have to shoulder a larger portion of the offense for the foreseeable future. In games in which both Paul and Griffin have suited up this season, Rivers has produced a 18.6-percent usage rate (USG%) while that number has increased to 22.7-percent with both of the team’s stars sidelined. Additionally, the Timberwolves rank 26th in defensive efficiency to opposing PGs so far this season and have allowed the fourth highest three-point field goal percentage to the position. If there is one thing Rivers can be counted on, it is attempting shots from beyond the arc. In the seven games without Paul and Griffin, Rivers has attempted 4.3 shots from beyond the arc including five-plus attempts thrice. With the hole in the defense coinciding with the position the offense should come from on the Clippers, Rivers should be in for a big scoring night. His upside stretches well beyond his price tag and he should be locked and loaded into cash game lineups.

Raymond Felton, Clippers, $9,500 – Rivers himself will not be able to make up for both Paul and Griffin’s absence in the offense so Raymond Felton will be counted upon to step up as well. At this price tag, Felton has averaged 3.05x value this season sans the team’s two best players, meaning an average performance from Felton would but a fantasy team on pace for 305 fantasy points. Interestingly enough, the Clippers opened as 2.5 point favorites at home despite missing the duo of big guns. If this game proves be a close, reasonably high-scoring affair (205 point over/under), then both Rivers and Felton are going to have to step up their offensive game. In fact, Rivers and Felton are two of only four Clippers who have average more than 12 points per game (PPG) with the current construction of the team. As icing on the cake, Felton is averaging 9.6 combined assists (AST) and rebounds (REB) without Paul and Griffin so he should be able to fill up the box score. The price tag is simply too cheap for his extended role.

Forwards/Centers:

LeBron James, Cavaliers, $19,200 – With the Cavaliers playing in front of their home crowd, there is less of a risk for Coach Tyronn Lue to limit the starters’ minutes even in a blowout. In one game against the Suns earlier this season, James played 40 minutes but finished with only 43.5 fantasy points because he did not fill up the box score as per usual. Hell, he only managed 12 combined REB/AST plus only one STL/BLK. The good news is he shot 64.7-percent from field (11-17) so he was scoring with ease. Over the course of a larger sample size, there is no reason why James should not rack up the AST, REB, steals (STL) and blocks (BLK) against a Suns team that ranks third in pace and 16th in defensive efficiency against opposing SFs. Oh by the way, the Suns rank 24th in overall efficiency defense as well so the 11.5 point spread this game opened with may even prove to be low. However, it is encouraging the line is not 14 or 15 like the type of spreads the Warriors usually earn in Oracle Arena…it at least gives hope that all the starters should be able to play well into the fourth quarter. Initially, Kevin Love said he would not miss additional time with a back injury he suffered last game against the Warriors but he was a limited participant during Wednesday’s practice and is now listed as questionable for this game. If he were to sit out, James would improve from an excellent play to the best overall play on the slate due to the usage bump. Either way, he is someone who you want to roster on this brutal overall slate.

LaMarcus Aldridge, Spurs, $12,600 – Yes, the slate is so frustrating that a Spur, LaMarcus Aldridge, actually stands out as a borderline must-start. Since the start of the new year, Aldridge has only failed to logged 30-plus minutes once and has only failed to produced 36-plus fantasy points twice (in seven games). Similarly to last year, Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard are the only two starters who can consistently be relied upon to play extensive minutes (as long as they suit up). Since this is a standalone game, there is virtually no risk of Aldridge being rested. If anyone, one of the old players will possibly be rested which includes Pau Gasol. If he or Tony Parker were to sit, that would only increase Aldridge’s role in the offense. For the season, the Nuggets rank 24th in defensive efficiency to opposing PFs and have allowed the 15th highest effective field goal percentage against post ups. When the teams squared off just 14 days ago, Aldridge dropped 28 PTS and four REB in 33 minutes en route to 38.5 fantasy points. He should be able to grab a few more boards this go-around so he is one of the few mid-tier priced players on the slate who possess 50 fantasy point upside.

Tristan Thompson, Cavaliers, $8,000 – Regardless of the status of Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson rates as one of the better bargains amongst the F/C grouping due to the declining price tag. This is the cheapest Thompson has been literally all season long so this limits the production necessary from him in order to hit value. At this price tag, Thompson has hit 2.69x value in five of his last six games and the Suns rank eighth worst in rebounding differential this year. Basically, they are a team that is habitually outrebounded and Thompson is necessary to match up against Tyson Chandler. Over the course of their last three meetings, Thompson has averaged 29.4 minutes per game (MPG) against Chandler and the Suns including at least 28 minutes in each. Furthermore, this is just a crazy price tag for a player who has averaged at least 23.0 fantasy points (2.88x value) in each month since October. This is simply a case of buying on a player at the correct time and the price tag will never be more enticing…especially if Love were to sit this one out.

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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