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D’Angelo Russell will miss Sunday’s tilt against the Mavericks so Lou Williams will be relied upon to step up his role in the offense. At a reasonable price tag, he is not someone you want to overlook tonight. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s NBA contests.

Guards:

Kyle Lowry, Raptors, $15,600 – Only four teams rank worse in defense efficiency to opposing backcourts than the Suns and none are allowing a higher three-point percentage. Meanwhile, Kyle Lowry is having the most productive season of his career in terms of fantasy points per minute (FPPM) and player efficiency rating (PER) plus he ranks sixth in the entire NBA in three-point percentage (43.8-percent). As if that were not enough, Lowry ranks second in the NBA in minutes per game (MPG) behind only Zach LaVine (and only by 0.1 MPG). Essentially, Lowry should have plenty of time to torch a defense that does not defend guards well especially from behind the three point line. If this is not a spot where Lowry could possess 60 fantasy point upside then I am not sure what is.

DeMar DeRozan, Raptors, $15,300 – One Raptors guard is just not enough on the small slate because there is not a whole lot else to choose from. DeMar DeRozan is in play as well for a majority of the same reasons as Lowry. Beyond just the Suns ranking poorly defensively against guards, they play at the fourth fastest pace in the league as well which calls for more possessions for the Raptors. Nearly all of the team’s usage runs through the guards, especially DeRozan, as he ranks fourth in the NBA in the category (34.6-percent) behind only Russell Westbrook, DeMarcus Cousins and Joel Embiid. In fact, his usage rate (USG%) is so high that he actually edges out James Harden at the moment. In his first meeting with the Suns this year, DeRozan played 35 minutes and scored 24 real points but did not manage to crack 30 fantasy points. Over the course of a large sample size, this should be a matchup he should excel in according to the numbers. Expect him to come closer to 40 or even 50 fantasy points this go-around than the measly 30 he flirted with last game.

Lou Williams, Lakers, $11,200 – With D’Angelo Russell already ruled out of Sunday’s contest, all the other Laker guards will enjoy an uptick in usage and minutes. In 13 games without the team’s starting PG this year, Williams’ USG% has increased from 30.0-percent (without Russell) to 31.5-percent…aka nearly Damian Lillard’s USG% for the season. Most importantly, Williams’ MPG have increased from 23.3 to 27.2 which should help solidify his floor because that means there are four more minutes for him to put up a plethora of shots. All the minutes have led to Williams actually leading the Lakers in fantasy points per game (FPPG) sans Russell with 32.5. Although the matchup is not ideal against the slow-paced Lakers, Williams did torch this very team for 27.5 fantasy points in 23 minutes in their first meeting earlier this year. Assuming Williams comes off the bench once again, he will be facing a beatable group of Mavericks bench guards that is missing maybe their most important piece (J.J. Barea). There is just a larger portion of the offense available for Williams’ taking without Russell so he is a fantastic option despite the snail’s pace of the opponent.

Forwards/Centers:

Karl-Anthony Towns, Timberwolves, $18,000 – During the Nuggets last 10 games, they have been struggling against opposing Cs mightily on the defensive end. Although they rank inside the top 10 in defensive efficiency versus the position for the season, they only rank 26th over their last 10. Most notably, they have allowed the most PPG to the C position over that span including a FG percentage allowed of 53.8-percent. Vegas loves this matchup for him so much that they unveiled some prop bets including this fun one:
“Which scores most points:

  • The winner of the Packers/Falcons game
  • The loser of the Steelers/Patriots game
  • Karl-Anthony Towns against the Nuggets”

Since there is an over/under of 60.0 points in the Packers/Falcons game, Vegas clearly has high expectations for the star C. Oh by the way, Towns has topped 51 fantasy points in each of his two meetings against the Nuggets this season including his first career triple-double the last time these teams squared off. Towns is averaging a ridiculous 49.6 FPPG this month, so combined with the nice matchup, there simply is no reason to fade him on this slate.

Jonas Valanciunas, Raptors, $11,600 – Patrick Patterson practiced in full yesterday, which does not help the cause, but he is still just listed as questionable for Sunday’s tilt. Additionally, Lucas Nogueira has already been ruled out with an eye injury so that should only further stabilize Valanciunas’ minutes in this contest as it has recently. Sans Patterson, Valanciunas has topped 30 minutes in four of his nine games this month including 27-plus minutes in six of nine. After playing just 24.2 MPG in December, the 27.7 he is averaging this month is a big step up and closer to what should be the norm moving forward. Since the Suns will likely have a true C on the court at all times between Tyson Chandler and Alex Len, Valanciunas should see a healthy amount of minutes even if Patterson were to suit up. Last time versus the Suns, Valanciunas dropped eight points (PTS) and 10 rebounds (REB) in 10 minutes through three quarters and then sat the fourth. While there certainly is a potential for a similar rotation this go-around, Nogueira played a bunch of those fourth quarter minutes. He’s safest in tournaments, but especially if both PFs are out, Valanciunas is worthy of cash game consideration as well due to his recent upward trend in minutes.

Tyson Chandler, Suns, $10,900 – Playing on the second end of a back-to-back is certainly worrisome for a 34 year old C but he alleviated some of those concerns in his last back-to-back; in that game (on Jan. 3), Chandler played 32 minutes and grabbed a whopping 20 rebounds against the Heat en route to 35 fantasy points. This month alone, Chandler is averaging 33.0 FPPG and averaging 10.6 points per game (PPG), 15.6 rebounds per game (RPG) and 0.7 blocks per game (BPG). He is on quite a tear right now despite the fact he is an old guy playing for the future. Still, he simply cannot be overlooked especially if factoring in Chandler played 27 minutes last time against the Raptors and produced 29.75 fantasy points. If he can flirt with the 30 minute mark once again, he should have no issue at least flirting with value (if not easily exceeding it).

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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