Lillard of the Valley

There is no reason why Damian Lillard should be priced so cheaply this afternoon ($13,800) so take advantage of the discount while you still can against the fast-paced Thunder. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s NBA contests.


Russell Westbrook, Thunder, $22,900 – On this three game slate, there is no question rostering Russell Westbrook is of the utmost importance especially against the defense (or lack thereof) of Damian Lillard. Over the course of their last 10 games, the Trail Blazers rank 21st in terms of PG efficiency defense and this is not an anomaly. For the season, Lillard ranks dead last amongst the team’s regulars in terms of defensive box plus/minus (DBPM) and rates second worst (behind only Allen Crabbe) in terms of defensive rating (DRTG). Earlier this season, Westbrook only managed 35.5 fantasy points against the Blazers because the team was absolutely blown out of the water. In fact, he played exactly zero minutes in the fourth quarter so this can be considered an anomaly. In the prior two meetings against Lillard, Westbrook topped 60 fantasy points in each and Kevin Durant was still on the team during those contests. Sans Durant, Westbrook basically flirts with a triple-double every night and Sunday afternoon should be no different.

Damian Lillard, Trail Blazers, $13,800 – What in the world is this price tag? For a player who has been hovering around $16,000 all year long, this discount is simply too significant to overlook. Portland plays fast (11th in pace) as-is but they will have to play even faster than normal against an Oklahoma City team that plays at the sixth fastest pace in the league. Although the Trail Blazers opened as 4.0 point underdogs, the 217 over/under is substantial enough to deem this game stackable (and it is). Only 11 teams have allowed more fantasy points per game (FPPG) to opposing PGs than the Thunder (54.6) and Lillard has been quiet for too long. Although Lillard has a poor history against the Thunder other than one blowup game on Jan. 10 of last season (57.75 fantasy points), he is worth using as a price play if nothing else. If Lillard, who is averaging 38.4 FPPG this year, just produces an average performance, he would put a team on pace for 278 fantasy points. If the pace helps lead to an outlier performance, Lillard could easily crush value.

Spencer Dinwiddie, Nets, $6,400 – Since Coach Kenny Atkinson made the switch at PG, Isaiah Whitehead, the new starter, has struggled and Spencer Dinwiddie is coming off a game where he scored 22.50 fantasy points in 27 minutes. Over the course of his last seven games, Dinwiddie has topped 22 fantasy points four times and eclipsed 19 fantasy points five times. At just $6,400, you do not need much out of him and he has been averaging 26.5 minutes per game (MPG) during the span of his last seven. Quietly, the Raptors have struggled to defend opposing PGs so far this year as they rank 17th in defensive efficiency against the position for the season and 28th over the course of their last 10 games. Sure Dinwiddie is not exactly a sexy option but his salary relief is necessary in order to fit the combo of the aforementioned Westbrook and the next superstar…


Blake Griffin, Clippers, $15,900 – Of course, that next superstar is none other than Blake Griffin who looks completely healthy after dominating on both ends of a back-to-back in his previous two games. It was very encouraging to see Griffin play 30 minutes in each game of the back-to-back and manage at least 50 fantasy points in each. It appears any concerns for limitation are out the window and Griffin is ready to roll as his usual self moving forward. Without Chris Paul on the court, Griffin is averaging 1.38 fantasy points per minute (FPPM) and garnering a 29.5-percent usage rate (USG%) compared to 1.22 FPPM and a 29.8 USG% with Paul. Clearly the USG% does not change much but Griffin because the sneaky enhancement he enjoys minus Paul is a sizable uptick in assist rate (from 21.8 to 26.0-percent). Since Griffin is essentially playing point forward and the offense is essentially running through him, the $15,900 price is probably not even high enough to justify the production. On this slate, simply locking in Westbrook and Griffin and building around them seems like the way to create the highest possible floor for a lineup.

Steven Adams, Thunder, $11,100 – If starting Westbrook, a strong correlation play with him is none other than Steven Adams because over 40-percent of Adam’s baskets are assisted by Westbrook when the two are on the court together. Enes Kanter will miss around the next month so Adams should continue to see additional minutes in his absence. With Kanter in the rotations, Adams is averaging 30.3 MPG compared to 33.6 in four games without him. At 0.88 FPPM, that earns him an additional 2.90 FPPG on average with the extended run and the Trail Blazers rank 25th in terms of defensive efficiency against the position. Even though the price tag rose over $1,000 since his last time out, Adams’ extensive role as the team’s lone true C is still an enticing proposition at the increased cost.

Lucas Nogueira, Raptors, $7,000 – Since Patrick Patterson left last game and did not return, there is a solid possibility he does not suit up for the Raptors on Sunday against the Nets. As a whole, the Nets are the absolute best team to target players against as they have allowed the FPPG overall to opponents…and also specifically to the PF position. The last time Nogueira drew the start against the Nets (on Jan. 13), he played 30 minutes and dropped 31.25 fantasy points on them. Since Patterson will be missing once again, there really is no reason to overanalyze anything else. At just $7,000, there is plenty of room for profit at this price tag.

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, 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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