Rock the Mike

Facing the defense that ranks dead last in defensive efficiency against opposing PGs, and coming off a 38 point explosion against the Suns, Mike Conley rates as one of the best plays on the site tonight. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s NBA contests.

Guards:

Russell Westbrook, Thunder, $21,400 – After losing to the Spurs in San Antonio last night, Russell Westbrook, who plays as hard as any player in the league, will be looking for vengeance. In a matchup against a Bulls team that ranks 19th in defensive efficiency against opposing PGs over the last three games, Westbrook should be able to dominate. Dominating the Bulls would be nothing new for Westbrook as he has topped 55 fantasy points in each of his last two meetings against the team. On this slate, he rates as above and beyond the best option as Giannis Antetokounmpo, Anthony Davis and Karl-Anthony Towns all draw subpar matchups. It feels like it has been a whole since Westbrook triple-doubled even though he did so just three days ago. If Stephen Curry were to sit once again, Kevin Durant would catapult Westbrook as the top play. However, it does not appear Curry’s status is in much doubt, so Westbrook should be a safe bet for the mid-50s in terms of fantasy points which is awfully comforting to build around in cash games.

Mike Conley, Grizzlies, $13,700 – While pivoting away from Westbrook could be necessary if other plays emerge, Mike Conley is a player you will just want to lock into all lineups. How come? Well, Conley is coming off a game where he absolutely dominated the Suns to the tune of 38 points (PTS), nine assists (AST) and 65.50 fantasy points which means he will end the month of January averaging 40.2 fantasy points per game (FPPG). If you thought the matchup against the Suns was juicy, you are in for a treat against the Nuggets because they literally rank dead last in terms of PG efficiency defense. Additionally, they allow the most PTS per game (PPG) to the position and they will be playing on the second end of a back-to-back. Emmanuel Mudiay is trending towards suiting up but the difference between his defense and Jameer Nelson’s is nominal as they both rate poorly in terms of both defensive rating (DRTG) and defensive box plus/minus. With the game being played in Denver, it is unlikely to turn into a total blowout, so Conley should have plenty of time to dissect the Nuggets’ porous defense against his position.

Brandon Jennings, Knicks, $10,200 – After injuring his ankle last Friday, Derrick Rose is unlikely to suit up on Wednesday in an elite matchup against the Nets defense (or lack thereof). Following a game where Brandon Jennings scored 21 PTS, grabbed five rebounds (REB) and produced 37.25 fantasy points, his price rose exactly zero dollars…and this matchup is much more enticing. Okay so Kristaps Porzingis sat out last night and he could play tonight (which would affect Jennings’ usage) but the Nets play at the fastest pace in the league and rank 29th in PG efficiency defense. As if that were not enough, Jennings loves to launch from deep and only five teams have allowed a higher three-point percentage to opponents than the Nets. Although he played a whopping 53 minutes against the Hawks, he was forced into 38 minutes once again last night because the team has no legitimate alternatives. With extended minutes on the horizon against a team that ranks 28th in overall defensive efficiency, Jennings is a viable play in all formats for the second consecutive night.

Forwards/Centers:

Al Horford, Celtics, $12,700 – It feels like I write up Al Horford everyday but he is incredibly difficult to pass on at this price point because he is so incredibly consistent. In five games against Jonas Valanciunas over the course of the last two seasons, Horford has failed to reach 32.75 fantasy points just once. This time, the Celtics will be catching the Raptors on the second end of a back-to-back and Valanciunas is only averaging 23.6 minutes per game (MPG) on zero days rest. Unfortunately, that does not enhance the matchup since Valanciunas is a poor defender but it should be noted only three teams have allowed more three-pointers per game to opposing Cs than the Raptors. Avery Bradley is hopeful to return for this game and Horford has actually averaged more FPPG with Bradley this season (35.4) than without (34.9). If Horford can just manage an average outing, he would finish at 2.79x value. For cash games, Horford is just so stable as he has not sunk below 31 fantasy points since Dec. 29. Rostering him very rarely leads to high blood pressure so lock and load him then sleep like a baby.

Harrison Barnes, Mavericks, $12,600 – Harrison Barnes appears to be enjoying playing next to newly signed PG Yogi Ferrell mostly because he does not eat up nearly as much usage as Deron Williams or even Pierre Jackson (the PG to start the game before the team signed Ferrell). Whereas Jackson garnered a 20.9-percent usage rate (USG%) and Williams sat at 23.8-percent, Ferrell has only registered an 18.0-percent rate so there is more to go around for the rest of the team. Over the last two games (both of with Ferrell started), Barnes’ USG% has risen from 26.7 (his season average) to 28.2 and he is averaging 21.5 PPG, 7.0 REB per game (RPG) and 35.2 FPPG during that span. The new roster construction truly has helped him and now he will draw a matchup against Ersan Ilyasova and the 76ers. Over the last 10 games, the 76ers rank 20th in defensive efficiency to opposing PFs (Barnes’ main position as of late) so go ahead and roster the Mavericks’ number one scoring option without hesitation.

Lucas Nogueira, Raptors, $7,400 – As mentioned in the Horford tidbit, Valanciunas always plays fewer minutes on the second end of back-to-backs and the 32 minutes he played last night are actually a lot for him. Therefore, Lucas Nogueira, who is averaging 23.9 FPPG without DeMar DeRozan, could see even more than the 23.8 MPG he is already averaging sans the team’s starting SG. It is hard to ask for a much better matchup as the Celtics rank fifth worst in terms of rebounding differential and they also allow the sixth most RPG to opponents as well. Nogueira already was enjoying an expanded role in the offense sans a superstar so additional minutes on a back-to-back against a favorable opponent only adds to his already admirable appeal. At just $7,400, Nogueira rates as a fantastic value especially in GPPs.

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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