With Kenneth Faried already ruled out, Nikola Jokic’s minutes should be solidified (assuming he stays out of foul trouble) and he will face a Knicks defense that ranks 26th in defensive efficiency versus opposing centers. Start him. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s NBA contests.
Goran Dragic, Heat, $14,600 – The price tag on Goran Dragic has risen to the highest it has been all season long and yet he is still worth using in an elite matchup against the Nets. No team plays at a faster pace than the Nets and they also rank 27th in terms of overall defensive efficiency. More specifically, they rank 27th in defensive efficiency against opposing PGs so they struggle to cover the position. Dion Waiters is trending towards doubtful which means Dragic will need his minutes to be extended a bit because Waiters has basically been playing PG on the second unit. Although Dragic has been passed by Isaiah Thomas in terms of drives per game, he still ranks second with 12.1 per contest. So far this season, the Nets have allowed the sixth most points per possessions (PPP) on isolation plays and the eighth highest defended field goal percentage at the rim. As icing on the cake, Dragic has averaged 1.12 FPPM without Waiters and Justise Winslow off the floor compared to just 1.02 FPPM alongside Waiters. Dragic has topped 41 fantasy points in each of his previous two meetings against the Nets this year and there is no reason he cannot do the same once again this go-around.
Eric Bledsoe, Suns, $13,700 – For a player averaging 39.40 fantasy points per game (FPPG), the $13,700 price tag is awfully cheap. By comparison, Eric Bledsoe is averaging more FPPG than Draymond Green, Bradley Beal, Jeff Teague, Marc Gasol, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, Jrue Holiday, Paul George and even Dragic who are all priced more expensively. Like Dragic, Bledsoe is amongst the league leaders in terms of drives per game as he averages 10.8 per game (or sixth most in the NBA). Opposing teams find their way to the basket at the fourth highest percentage against the Bulls and Robin Lopez does not exactly scare anyone as a rim protector. Bledsoe is amidst a bit of a cold streak heading into this game but that is because he has played less than 26 minutes in back-to-back games due to the second unit playing excellent and a blowout. Assuming he gets back up to around his season average of 33.1 minutes per game (MPG) in this one, he should enjoy a nice bounceback performance.
Andrew Wiggins, Timberwolves, $13,600 – The rising price tag on Andrew Wiggins is 100-percent warranted as his efficiency has improved without Zach LaVine in the rotation. He went from a player averaging 0.79 FPPM to 1.06 FPPM without LaVine on the court and Wiggins has now played at least 37 minutes in four straight games. Just doing the simple math, 37 minutes multiplied by 1.06 is 39.22 fantasy points in an average performance. In all likelihood, Solomon Hill is going to slide over and guard Wiggins which is a bit concerning because he just shut down Devin Booker in the last performance. Having said that, Wiggins is much bigger and is not the same sort of pure shooter so he should be able to enjoy some more success. In three of his last five games against the Pelicans, Wiggins has produced at least 30 fantasy points and all those included LaVine in the offense. Now, with more of the offense running through him, he should be able to succeed in nearly 40 minutes on the court especially considering the 108.8 implied team points.
Nikola Jokic, Nuggets, $16,900 – Good news for prospective Nikola Jokic rosterers: Kenneth Faried has already been ruled out so his minutes are a bit more secure without him. Occasionally, Coach Mike Malone will go with Faried at C for stretches and now he does not have that luxury so Jokic should play longer stints. On paper, Jokic has performed better playing alongside Faried but that could just be noise and may not matter in the matchup against the Knicks. First off, the Knicks rank 26th in defensive efficiency versus opposing Cs and have allowed the second most points per game (PPG) to the position. The Knicks will be playing without Joakim Noah which will both help and hurt Jokic because Kyle O’Quinn leads the Knicks in both defensive box plus/minus (DBPM) and defensive rating (DBPM) so that individual matchup is difficult. According to those same metric, Willy Hernangomez is an inferior defender to each and he should play the bulk of the minutes. Jokic has proven to be an excellent shooter throughout the course of this year and the Knicks allow the 11th most PPP on spot up shots and they allow them at the 11th highest frequency. All-in-all, Jokic is a 1.36 FPPM producer in an above average matchup with a few extra minutes headed his way so he is firmly in play in all formats.
Marcin Gortat, Wizards, $12,000 – The Pacers present an excellent matchup for opposing Cs and especially those who crash the boards. Opponents have grabbed the third most rebounds per game (RPG) against the Pacers this year and the fourth most offensive RPG. Additionally, the Pacers have played at the 12th fastest pace so the Wizards will likely need to play slightly faster than usual to compete. All of this explains why Gortat has topped 38 fantasy points in each of his last three meetings against the Pacers and he actually has played 41-plus minutes in back-to-back games against them. Since these are two good teams and divisional foes, it is understandable that each team would push their starters more than usual. At a near lock for a double-double, Gortat is a fantastic mid-tier option in cash games (although he possesses GPP upside as well).
James Johnson, Heat, $11,900 – Since Justise Winslow went down due to injury, James Johnson has emerged as an important part of this Heat rotation. Hassan Whiteside has struggled in this matchup against Brook Lopez each time this season because Lopez pulls him away from the basket on defense so he is not able to dominate the boards or rack up the blocks like per usual. After struggling in his first meeting versus the Nets, Johnson positively regressed back to the mean and racked up 17-5-5 in the last meeting en route to 40.25 fantasy points. Whereas Johnson averaged 0.90 FPPM with Waiters on the court, he has averaged 1.03 FPPM without Waiters and Winslow and the Nets rank dead last in defensive efficiency versus opposing PFs. It should even be noted the Nets have allowed the most steals against and are tied for the most blocks allowed to their opponents so Johnson could potentially fill the box score in this one. Especially in tournaments, Johnson is one of the best plays on the slate with upside stretching far beyond 3.0x value (he produced 3.38x value in this matchup the last time).