Assuming he draws the start once again, JaVale McGee is a worthwhile play at minimum price because he is averaging an impressive 1.32 fantasy points per minutes this year…plus he helps fit James Harden. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s NBA contests.
James Harden, Rockets, $22,100 – Looking at this slate, the safest of all bets by a large margin has to be James Harden against a Hawks defense that has struggled to defend opposing PGs this season. To this point, the Hawks rank 23rd in defensive efficiency against PGs and they also have allowed the eighth most points per game (PPG) to the position as well. Strangely, the 9.0 spread in this game is the second lowest on the slate and only by a half point so this game is expected to remain reasonably close comparatively to the others. Sure Harden is coming off back-to-back disappointing performances but one game he shot 3-17 and the other the Rockets blew the Kings out of the gym. After combining for just 25 points (PTS) the last two games, expect Harden to top the combined total in this game alone and get back to his usual, beastly ways.
Stephen Curry, Warriors, $16,000 – Dating back to last season, Stephen Curry has excelled on the second end of back-to-backs. Naturally, due to the edition of Kevin Durant, Curry’s points are down in all the splits but Curry is averaging more PPG on zero days rest (24.3) this season than on one days rest (23.4) or even three-plus days rest (23.0). Typically, the matchup against the Clippers would be one to avoid for an opposing PGs but Chris Paul remains on the shelf. Last night, Eric Bledsoe flashed just how favorable this matchup could potentially be as he scored 30 points in three quarters. Whereas Paul ranked top three on the team in terms of both defensive rating (DRTG) and defensive box plus/minus (DBPM), Rivers ranks in the bottom three amongst players on the team who have played at least 250 minutes this year in both categories. Surprisingly, this game opened with one of the closer spreads on the slate and unsurprisingly opened with the highest over/under. If the game is going to remain reasonably close and the Warriors are going to score a ton of points, Curry is going to be one of the main culprits against a team that has ranked 16th in PG efficiency defense over the course of the last five games (which is poor for the Clippers).
Eric Gordon, Rockets, $10,100 – Due to price tag alone, Eric Gordon stands out as a mid-tier value despite the face he, likes the aforementioned Harden, has struggled as of late. In fact, Gordon has not reached the 26 fantasy point plateau in three games although he did attempt 15 shot and 10 three-pointers last game. If there ever were a positive sign, the fact that he was back and heaving last game. For the season, the Hawks rank 18th in defensive efficiency to opposing SGs and Thabo Sefolosha is expected to return next game. Assuming he starts, Tim Hardaway Jr. would be delegated to bench duty which would leave Gordon with a more favorable matchup than the starter because Sefolosha is a solid defender. If Sefolosha does end up coming off the bench, Gordon is still a fine play but slightly less enticing. In the month of January as a whole, Gordon averaged 26.8 fantasy points per game (FPPG) after averaging 30.5 FPPG in December so it is only a matter of time until Gordon rights the ship. For this price tag, it is worth the risk.
Marcin Gortat, Wizards, $11,900 – Only one team rates worse in terms of defensive efficiency against opposing Cs than the Lakers and Marcin Gortat’s price tag is incredibly cheap for a player who has topped 35 fantasy points in three consecutive games. In the month of January, Gortat only failed to reach 28 minutes played thrice in 15 games and he has gotten back to his double-double ways as of late (three in a row). With both his minutes and production trending upward recently, this is a perfect time for him to a battle a squad that has allowed the highest FG percentage of any team inside six feet of the rim. Coincidentally, that is where Gortat hangs out most of the time so it is not shocking to learn Gortat has averaged 34.1 FPPG against the Lakers over the past two seasons. If he were simply to produce his average total once again, that would equate to 2.87x value or enough to put a fantasy team on pace for 287 fantasy points. Considering Gortat dropped 44.00 fantasy points against the Hawks just three games ago, it is clear his upside stretches far beyond that as well. On this strange four game slate, Gortat is worthy of consideration in any and all formats.
Ryan Anderson, Rockets, $10,200 – Probably my favorite play on the entire slate tonight is none other than Ryan Anderson and it is not because I am chasing fantasy points from his last two performances. Sure the 40-plus fantasy points in back-to-back affairs is enticing but Anderson is a streaky shooter and has shown as much in years past. When he gets hot, there is no stopping him, and the matchup could not be any riper. So far this season, not only do the Hawks rank 28th in defensive efficiency versus opposing PFs but they have allowed the most PPG (23.4) and most three-pointers per game (2.2) to the position of any team in the league. What does Anderson do best? You guessed it: shoot three-pointers. This is a match made in heaven and Anderson is red hot so he is a player I will be locking into all my lineups.
JaVale McGee, Warriors, $6,000 – With Zaza Pachulia ruled out for at least a week, JaVale McGee drew the start last night and crushed value at the minimum price tag: nine PTS, four rebounds (REB) and four blocks (BLK) en route to 21.50 fantasy points. Against a Clippers team that features the twin towers of Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, there is no question the Warriors will have to roll with a big body in the starting lineup yet again tonight…and it will almost assuredly be McGee. Even if only projecting 17 minutes, McGee is averaging a ridiculous 1.32 fantasy points per minute (FPPM) this season which is only slightly higher than his career mark of 1.04. By comparison, Giannis Antetokounmpo is averaging 1.36 FPPM this year so 1.32 is borderline elite. Essentially, if he just produces his average in terms of efficiency, he should flirt with (if not exceed) 3.0x value. While there is certainly a degree of volatility to his game, punting with him assures Harden can be fit into a lineup easily. For that reason alone, he is bordering on a must-play.