Russell Westbrook averages the most fantasy points per game of any player in the game of daily fantasy basketball and he simply cannot be overlooked in a fantastic, fast-paced matchup against the Pelicans tonight. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s NBA contests.
Russell Westbrook, Thunder, $23,000 – Russell Westbrook is the best player in daily fantasy basketball and he simply cannot be ignored in an elite matchup against the Pelicans. Not only does the ball club from New Orleans rank 26th in defensive efficiency against opposing PGs but they rank eighth in pace as well (with the Thunder ranking seventh). Essentially, this is a battle of fast-paced teams so there will be a healthy amount of possessions in this game one way or another. Furthermore, Russell Westbrook has absolutely torched the Pelicans over the last two seasons as he has managed at least 63 fantasy points in four of five outings (and Kevin Durant was active in the outlier performance). Even with James Harden in a reasonably juicy situation himself, Westbrook is above and beyond the top play of the evening.
Dion Waiters, Heat, $12,300 – I know what you are thinking: “Really? Pay $12,000 for Dion freaking Waiters?” Due to a combination of his recent dominance and the favorability of the matchup, the situation dictates Waiters is worth spending up for in this spot. Tyler Johnson did not make the trip with the team so he quite obviously is out (unless he teleports) and therefore Waiters’ role is further solidified as the top scoring wing. Against a Nets defense that plays at the fastest pace in the league and ranks 28th in defensive efficiency, this is especially noteworthy. Waiters is coming on back-to-back games in which he has scored exactly 33 points (PTS) including hitting the game winner against the Warriors on Monday. He is on quite a roll and arguably the worst defense in the league is unlikely to be the one to slow him down. The Heat only opened as 4.0 point favorites so this one could stay close until the end. In other words, Waiters is on 30-plus point watch once again.
Patrick Beverley, Rockets, $10,500 – When looking at Patrick Beverley, everyone’s first instinct is to deem he has no upside and dictate he is a worthwhile cash play but nothing more. On this slate, he certainly is a great investment in cash games but he possesses upside far beyond that as well. While it is true Beverley has not exceeded 3.0x value at this price tag in any of his previous three games, he averaged 3.45x value in the three game stretch prior. The matchup against the Celtics is a favorable one considering Beverley will be facing a ball-dominant opposing PG (Isaiah Thomas) so additional steal opportunities and minutes should be available to him. Additionally, this game opened with a whopping 230.0 over/under so there should be plenty of points scored and plenty of possessions for Beverley to rack up statistics across the board. With the game being played in Boston, the threat for a blowout is significantly decreased despite the fact the Celtics will be on the second end of a back-to-back. If there ever were a spot for Beverley to blow up for 35-plus fantasy points, this would be it.
Al Horford, Celtics, $12,700 – As days continue to go by, Al Horford’s price continues to remain the same despite his ultra-consistent performance. Piggy-backing off a theme from yesterday, Horford averages more fantasy points per game (FPPG) than Dwight Howard, Terrence Jones, Jabari Parker, Goran Dragic, Jrue Holiday and Nicolas Batum and yet he is priced cheaper than any of them in a matchup with an over/under of 230.0 points. On the second end of back-to-backs, Horford still averages 33.0 minutes per game (MPG) so there is still plenty of him to do damage against a defense that ranks 18th in defensive efficiency to opposing Cs. Although this year’s Rockets team does an excellent job at defending the midrange, it is still worth noting Horford has topped 40 fantasy points in each of his last three meetings against this very team including a 46.5 fantasy point outburst against them on Dec. 5. Horford is both underpriced and playing in a conducive game atmosphere to additional production so he should have himself a fine game even with Clint Capela back in the rotation for the Rockets.
Jae Crowder, Celtics, $11,100 – Heading into Tuesday, Jae Crowder was averaging a healthy 35.0 MPG without Avery Bradley and he played 34 once again last night. Without Bradley, Crowder has averaged 32.1 MPG on the second end of back-to-backs as well as 26.7 FPPG in a three game sample. When analyzing the sample closer, Crowder actually produced 35.0 fantasy points the last time partially because he just has been playing better lately; he is averaging 26.9 FPPG this month after averaging 23.5 in November and 26.0 in December. Crowder has only played 30-plus minutes in one of his career meeting against Trevor Ariza and he shot 44.4-percent in that contest. Isaiah Thomas will be dealing with a difficult matchup against Patrick Beverley, with whom he has struggled against in the past, so offense will have to come from other places. Since Bradley is out, Horford and Crowder are my two picks to see a significant uptick. It would not be a surprise to see both push 20 real points and in tune exceed value together.
Enes Kanter, Thunder, $10,600 – Steven Adams returned last game but the good news was Enes Kanter still played over 29 minutes although they were incredibly unproductive. However, that is to be expected against the slow-paced Jazz who possess some formidable inside defenders including Rudy Gobert. Even with Adams in the rotation, Kanter has managed some monster games against the Pelicans over the last two seasons including four 30-plus point games out of the five game sample and three 36-plus fantasy point outbursts. The return of Adams has led to a significant reduction in Kanter’s price tag so following one poor performance is definitely the time to pounce. He is still probably best reserved for tournaments but the Hornets do rank 19th in C efficiency defense (although that number has increased lately with Anthony Davis playing more C). In this fantasy friendly environment, Kanter should have an excellent shot for a significant amount of points and/or a double-double.
BONUS: Nerlens Noel, 76ers – If starting again in the absence of Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor, there are simply too many minutes available for too cheap of a price tag to pass on.