Chief Markieff

Since Anthony Davis has slid over and played almost solely center as of late, Markieff Morris should flourish against the Pelicans’ other collection of players who will attempt to guard him in a game expected to be both high-scoring and close. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s NBA contests.

Guards:

James Harden, Rockets, $22,900 – Writing up James Harden is not exactly insightful most of the time because he is the highest priced player but this is simply not a spot to fade him. If you faded him his last time out, you missed out on 51 points (PTS), 13 rebounds (REB), 13 assists (13) and most importantly a ridiculous 96.25 fantasy points. Now, he will face a Pacers team that ranks 27th in defensive efficiency against opposing PGs over the last five games. Most notably, the Rockets are listed as 3.0 point favorites in a game with the highest projected total on the entire slate (at least until Vegas releases the total for the Warriors/Trail Blazers tilt). Harden’s offense is well-rounded and the Pacers rank middle of the road in a plethora of categories including field goal percentage allowed in the paint (14th), against isolation plays (12th highest FG percentage allowed) and rating as one of the worst seven defenses against pick and roll ball-handlers according to scoring frequency percentage. All-in-all, Harden is an elite play in what is expected to be a high-scoring affair, especially considering he has topped 57 fantasy points in three of his last four meetings against the team. Assuming value emerges, you will want Harden anchoring your cash game teams. UPDATE: With Stephen Curry ruled out, the duo of Kevin Durant/Draymond Green makes for the most logical alternative to rostering Harden (and probably the preferable option at this point).

C.J. McCollum, Trail Blazers, $13,300 – Until the line opens, it is not clear whether Vegas projects this game to remain close but there are a lot of factors leaning in the Trail Blazers favor. For one, the Warriors will be on the second end of a back-to-back whereas they will not. Secondly, the Trail Blazers will be playing at home so they will enjoy the home crowd advantage. Having said all that, C.J. McCollum should at least have a decent chance to play a full allotment of minutes in what will no doubt be a lightning fast-paced affair (both teams rank in the top 10 of pace). Although Damian Lillard did not suit up the last time these two teams met, McCollum carried the team on his back and the team put up a solid fight against the Warriors, only losing by six (125-117). With Lillard back in action, the team should certainly pack the scoring potential to stick with the Warriors; the question is can they play enough defense? Golden State quietly has been struggling with defensive efficiency against opposing backcourts lately as they rank 22nd over the last five games. This may be a classic case of the Trail Blazers catching the Warriors at the right time and McCollum’s price has dropped to a level where there is still plenty of room for profit. With Lillard active this month, McCollum has averaged 37.7 fantasy points per game (FPPG) compared to 39.8 for Lillard so he is clearly the superior value of the two…at least on paper (both could have monster games).

Norman Powell, Raptors, $11,100 – Finally Norman Powell’s price has reached fair levels without DeMar DeRozan and Raptors beat writer Ryan Wolstat wrote Saturday morning that DeRozan is “still considered doubtful.” Assuming that is actually the case, Powell should be in line for a healthy amount of usage once again. Over the course of the last two games, Powell’s usage rate (USG%) has ticked all the way up to 28.9-percent or close to the exact amount Kyle Lowry had been averaging with DeRozan off the court to this point. During this recent span without DeRozan, Powell has averaged a whopping 20.0 PTS per game (PPG), 5.5 REB per game (RPG) and 30.4 FPPG. At this price tag, a similar performance would equate to 2.74x value or enough to put a team on pace for 274 fantasy points. For the season, the Magic rank 19th in efficiency to opposing SGs so the upside stretches beyond 2.74x.

Forwards/Centers:

Myles Turner, Pacers, $12,600 – Two aspects where the Rockets have struggled on defense this season: in the paint and against opposing Cs. Both obviously apply directly to Myles Turner’s game and he even can step back and hit a mid-range jumper as well. To expand on the earlier point, the Rockets rank second worst in terms of FG percentage allowed within five feet and 19th in defensive efficiency to opposing Cs. After averaging 30.0 FPPG in November and 30.8 in March, Turner has stepped his game up all the way to 34.4 FPPG in the month of January so far including 31-plus fantasy points in three straight games. The most noteworthy trend of all is that Turner’s minutes are up to 32.4 per game after not topping 31 in any previous month. With more minutes available as of late, Turner should have more than enough time on the court to produce in a favorable matchup.

Markieff Morris, Wizards, $12,300 – If Markieff Morris were going to match up with Anthony Davis on defense, this matchup would not exactly be considered appealing. Since Davis has moved to the five spot almost exclusively as of late, Morris is more likely to be matched up with the likes of Terrence Jones or Dante Cunningham during his time on the court. This makes a significant difference because not only is Davis a great defender but his wing span causes havoc especially for smaller players. Instead, the red hot Morris will face players his size and will have an opportunity to build on his streak of 31-plus fantasy points in seven straight games and in nine of his last 10. During the span of his last seven games, he has managed at least 36 fantasy points five times and accrued at least 40 fantasy points thrice. Why is this all happening? Morris is enjoying the highest REB percentage, assist (AST) percentage and USG% of any month so far this season in the month of January…all by substantial margins. With the Warriors only listed as 1.0 point favorites, Morris should be able to maximize his potential in a game that comes down to the wire.

Andre Iguodala, Warriors, $7,700 – A recent piece of information that has flown under the radar is the fact Andre Iguodala has been pretty consistent without David West in the rotation. West is not supposed to be reevaluated until next week so he will miss Sunday’s tilt against the Trail Blazers. In West’s absence, Iguodala has managed at least 21 fantasy points in each of his last four games while only scoring more than 5 PTS once during that span. According to nbawowy, only the starters have played more minutes this season than Iguodala with West off the floor. As icing on the cake, Iguodala has scored at least 24.75 fantasy points in two of his last three meetings against the Blazers. At this price tag, Iguodala does not need to do a whole lot in order to pay off for his fantasy owners. If his recent sample size is any indication, he should be able to do enough to at least flirt with (if not exceed) 3.0x value.

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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