Dwight Howard has dropped 40-plus fantasy points on the Wizards in each of the previous two meetings this season and yet Dwight Howard is listed at a crazily cheap price tag on Friday. For this cost, he is worth playing in any and all formats. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s NBA contests.
James Harden, Rockets, $22,700 – There are clear alternatives to James Harden in the pricing tier slightly below but Harden and Russell Westbrook are above and beyond the best players in the NBA. Joel Embiid is questionable to play so Harden would be an absolute lock if the 76ers were to be without his rim protection once again. If Embiid does in fact suit up, the game should at least remain close and Harden will have the entire game to take advantage of the 76ers’ 20th ranked PG efficiency defense. Assuming more bargains do not emerge, the pivot to John Wall is certainly a fine pivot, but Harden is above and beyond my highest projected raw point scorer of the entire slate.
Garrett Temple, Kings, $8,400 – Since Rudy Gay left the game on Jan. 19 with a ruptured Achilles tendon, Garrett Temple has played at least 30 minutes in every single game. During that span, Temple has attempted at least nine shots in three of four games and has managed at least 21.75 fantasy points in each contest. In January alone, Temple’s usage rate (USG%) has improved from 11.7-percent in six games alongside Gay compared to 15.8-percent in six games without him. Temple has enjoyed a substantially larger role in the offense and yet his salary has barely risen since the beginning of the month and now he will face a favorable matchup against the Pacers. For the season, the Pacers rank 25th in defensive efficiency against opposing SGs and this game is projected to be both high-scoring (212.0 over/under) and close (4.0 point spread). Assuming Temple sees 30-plus minutes in this contest as well, there is no reason he should not at least flirt with value (if not crush it).
Iman Shumpert, Cavaliers, $8,400 – Speaking of SGs who have been playing a healthy amount of minutes lately, Iman Shumpert certainly qualifies. After averaging 25.3 minutes per game (MPG) in the month of December, Coach Tyronn Lue has cranked Shumpert’s minutes all the way up to 28.1 this month (partially because J.R. Smith has been inactive since Dec. 20). In tune, Shumpert is averaging 19.0 fantasy points per game this month (FPPG); by far the most of any month so far this year. Over the course of Shumpert’s six games, he has not sunk below 18.5 fantasy points in any of them and he has only failed to reach 22 fantasy points once. The Nets allow above and beyond the most fantasy points to opposing teams (including the most steals and second most blocks) and rank 27th in defensive efficiency versus opposing SGs. Shumpert is taking more shots per game this month than any other month this year and he should rack up the defensive stats if on the court for an extended period…especially against this team. At $8,400, he is a safe cash investment that helps squeeze both Harden and the next guy into the same lineup.
DeMarcus Cousins, Kings, $19,600 – Karl-Anthony Towns proved once again last night that opposing Cs are firmly in play against the Pacers. Eventually, Myles Turner is going to prove to be an excellent defender but at this point in his career dominant Cs are manhandling him. As noted in yesterday’s “Today’s Plays” article, top Cs have owned the Pacers. Here are their fantasy point outputs so far this season: DeMarcus Cousins 63.5 fantasy points (in the first meeting), Hassan Whiteside 57.5, Nikola Jokic 51.5, Dwight Howard 49.5 and the list goes on and on. Sure Cousins averages fewer FPPG on the road (partially due to referees calling fewer fouls and him taking fewer FT attempts per game) but this matchup is too juicy to overlook. Not only do the Pacers rank 23rd in defensive efficiency versus the position but they have allowed the second most rebounds per game (RPG) and second most offensive rebounds per game (OREB) to opposing Cs. If Cousins is able to rack up the boards and can score at will then this is setting up to be one of those vintage Cousins blowups (in a good way).
Dwight Howard, Hawks, $12,600 – What the hell is this price tag? After roasting the Wizards for 40-plus fantasy points in each meeting this season, Dwight Howard’s cost has sunk all the way to the mid-$12,000s for no apparent reason. With Paul Millsap virtually full-priced, Howard is clearly the superior value in the frontcourt despite his struggles in the month of January thus far. After averaging 36.9 FPPG in November and 36.7 FPPG in December, Howard is down to 31.0 FPPG this month. The good news is his minutes have remained stable, he simply has shot at a worse percentage and taken 1.0 less field goal attempt per game to this point. In a matchup against a team that plays a similar pace equipped with a true C, Howard will be needed to play big minutes in order to match up. Howard has been able to cash in during the previous meetings so there is no reason he should not be able to once again at a significantly reduced cost.
James Johnson, Heat, $11,200 – Hassan Whiteside is listed as questionable although I would guess he does not play after looking miserable on Wednesday. There was no indication of injury prior to the Heat’s game against the Nets and yet Whiteside came out of the game saying he was playing through a sprained ankle and he “shouldn’t have played.” Considering the Heat are a miserable 16-30 and have nothing to play for, the team would be foolish to push him if he were not 100-percent. Therefore, we can (somewhat) safely assume he will sit and that will boost the value of James Johnson. Whenever Johnson sees an increase in minutes/role, fantasy owners should take notice because of his all-around, fantasy friendly game. According to nbawowy, Johnson has averaged 0.90 fantasy points per minute (FPPM) this season with Whiteside on the court versus 1.04 FPPM without him. Notably, Johnson ranks fourth on the team in USG% sans Justise Winslow and Whiteside, behind only Dion Waiters, Goran Dragic and Tyler Johnson (who will miss Friday’s game as well). The entire Heat trio of Waiters, Dragic and Johnson are in play but Johnson is the most affordable of the group and will be needed for big minutes without the team’s starting C (31.0 MPG this month in games sans Whiteside).