There is no one on the Bulls who can match up against DeMarcus Cousins as evident by the fact he dropped 71-plus fantasy points on them in the last meeting. Now, playing at home, go ahead and roster Cousins without hesitation once again. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s NBA contests.
Andrew Wiggins, Timberwolves, $13,300 – The absence of Zach LaVine is huge for Andrew Wiggins’ involvement in the offense because the starting SG will be replaced with low usage guys such as Brandon Rush and Nemanja Bjelica in the rotation. With LaVine on the court, Wiggins averaged less than 0.80 fantasy points per minute (FPPM) whereas he has averaged 1.02 FPPM with LaVine off the court. Nothing really stands out in the matchup against the Heat other than the fact they rank 16th in defensive efficiency to the SF position over the course of their last ten games (they have regressed since the injury to Justise Winslow). Still, for a player who is going to flirt with 37 minutes on a nightly basis, it is difficult to overlook a 1.00 FPPM producer because he should average upwards of 35 fantasy points from here on out. While his price remains within the realm of reason, it makes sense to continue using him.
Devin Booker, Suns, $13,000 – Heading into this contest, Devin Booker has now scored at least 20 points (PTS) in 16 consecutive games and he has managed at least 33 fantasy points in 14 of those games during that span. In other words, despite his reliance on scoring, he is actually a pretty safe fantasy option somewhat similar to the likes of the aforementioned Wiggins and even DeMar DeRozan. After registering a measly 26.6-percent usage rate (USG%) in the month of November, Booker has produced USG% outputs of 28.3, 29.5 and 28.9 (through three games in February) in the next three months respectively. Booker is the lucky one to draw the incredibly favorable individual matchup against Buddy Hield on Monday night as Hield is legitimately one of the worst defenders in the NBA…and the stats show it. Over the course of their last five games, the Pelicans rank 21st in defensive efficiency against opposing SGs. As if that were not enough, Hield ranks dead last amongst all players on the team in terms of defensive box plus/minus of those who have played at least 175 minutes this season by a decent margin. Essentially, Booker should be a lock to top 20 PTS once again and it would not be surprising if he approached (or even topped) 30.
Jameer Nelson/Jamal Murray, Nuggets – Yet again, Emmanuel Mudiay’s back is ailing which leaves the duo of Jameer Nelson and Jamal Murray as the remaining players on the roster capable of running the point. Lately, Murray has been en fuego as he has topped 22 fantasy points in five consecutive games and it makes more sense for the team to continue to expand his role because he is probably their PG of the future. At the same time, Nelson has averaged 34.3 minutes per game (MPG) with Mudiay out so there is a potential for both to eclipse value at their price tags. The problem here is the Mavericks rank dead last in pace and starting both together in the same lineup is a negative expected value move because Murray getting hot could lead to a minutes reduction for Nelson (and vice versa). This is a spot to pick and choose the one you like more and use them. Nelson is the safer option in cash but Murray is viable in all formats and probably possesses the higher upside (at least in terms of value).
Dwyane Wade, Bulls, $13,800 (if no Jimmy Butler) – If Jimmy Butler were to miss this game, the offense would certainly revolve around Wade against a defense that has struggled to defend opposing SGs since the beginning of last season.
DeMarcus Cousins, Kings, $19,500 – The Bulls simply have zero chance of covering DeMarcus Cousins. First of all, Cousins has topped 62 fantasy points in each of his last two meetings against Robin Lopez and 47 fantasy points in each of his last three meetings (two with the Knicks). Second of all, Cousins has topped 49 fantasy points in each of his last three meetings against the Bulls including a 71.5 fantasy point outburst in his only meeting against them this season. With Cristiano Felicio out for at least a week, the Bulls will have to resort to the likes of Bobby Portis to cover him if Lopez were to get in early foul trouble…and Cousins averages more free throw attempts at home than on the road (dating back to the beginning of last season). As icing on the cake, Cousins’ USG% has increased from 36.8 playing alongside Gay to 39.0 in games without him. In this matchup, he is an absolute beast.
Wilson Chandler, Nuggets, $11,900 – Throw out last game’s letdown from Wilson Chandler because he drew an individual matchup against arguably the best defender in all of the NBA: Kawhi Leonard. Prior to his 14.50 fantasy point flop, Chandler had topped 37 minutes played and 45 fantasy points in each of his three previous games without Danilo Gallinari. Against a Mavericks team that is starting Wesley Matthews (a SG by trade) at SF right now, Chandler should revert back to the excellent run he was on sans the starting SF before he was shut down by Leonard.
Taj Gibson, Bulls, $9,700 – This is a tough matchup all-around for the Bulls frontcourt because the roster does not include a player with the ability to even slow down DeMarcus Cousins a little bit. Kosta Koufos is not athletic enough to stay with Taj Gibson on defense and their team as a whole has struggled against the position (19th in defensive efficiency versus PFs) as well. While it may not seem like a big deal, Cristian Felicio missing from the rotation actually substantially affects Gibson in a positive manner. In 41 games with Felicio, Gibson has averaged 26.9 MPG and that number has increased to 31.1 without Felicio active this year. When Felicio is off the court, Gibson averaged 0.91 FPPM so an average performance would equate to around 28 fantasy points. Amazingly, Felicio on/off the floor has had a larger impact on Gibson’s production than Butler so his status is pretty inconsequential. Most notably, the Kings allow putbacks at the second highest rate of any team in the NBA and that is a large portion of Gibson’s offense. He is a better play in cash games than tournaments but he is a fantastic play nonetheless.
Lucas Nogueira, Raptors, $7,000 – Assuming DeMar DeRozan sits, Nogueira sees a sizable USG% bump without him and he should play more minutes on a second end of the back-to-back because Jonas Valanciunas only averages 22.4 MPG on zero days rest.
Guillermo Hernangomez, Knicks, $10,200 – Joakim Noah will not play on Monday Night so Hernangomez, who has produced nearly identical numbers on a per-minute basis to the likes of Rudy Gobert and Jonas Valanciunas, should see extended minutes. Lock and load him into any and all lineups and reap the benefits.