With both Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler unlikely to play once again on Tuesday, Michael Carter-Williams is going to have to play big minutes once again (this time in order to match up against DeMar DeRozan). Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s NBA contests.
Andrew Wiggins, Timberwolves, $13,900 – Since Zach LaVine went down due to injury, Andrew Wiggins has averaged 37.1 minutes per game (MPG), 26.3 points per game (PPG), 4.0 rebounds per game (RPG), 3.0 assists per game (APG), 1.7 steals per game (SPG), 0.5 blocks per game (BPG) and a whopping 39.9 fantasy points per game (FPPG)…and he put up a 25.75 fantasy point dud in the first game without LaVine. In other words, Wiggins has been a monster over the course of his last five games and there is no reason to believe he should not be able to keep that streak alive on Tuesday. For the season, no team rates worse in terms of defensive efficiency versus opposing SGs than the Cavaliers (although Wiggins splits his time between SG and SF so this only affects him some of the time). Still, there should be stints where Wiggins dominates mixed in with stints matched up against LeBron James. The good news is Wiggins is playing so many minutes, and the team is so reliant on his offense these days, he should have plenty of time to reach value. In five career games against the Cavaliers, Wiggins has averaged 36.2 FPPG so the matchup has not slowed him down before. Expect another solid performance from the man emerging as the team’s top scoring option (even above Karl-Anthony Towns).
D’Angelo Russell, Lakers, $11,100 – This price tag is just way too cheap in an elite matchup against the Kings who are struggling to cover opposing PGs as of late. Not only has Darren Collison been overworked lately (41-plus minutes in back-to-back contests) but he is a bad defender to begin with; he ranks second worst on the team in terms of defensive rating (DRTG) and third worst on the team in defensive box plus/minus (DBPM) amongst players with at least 100 minutes played this year. Even if Ty Lawson returns, there is nothing to worry about in terms of the matchup. Rostering D’Angelo Russell always requires a leap of faith as his downside is playing 20 minutes on any given night if Coach Luke Walton is feeling feisty. However, his upside stretches far beyond this price tag as he is averaging 28.9 FPPG this year including 30-plus fantasy points in three out of five months this season. Shooters spot up against the Kings at the third highest frequency and shooting is where Russell excels. Assuming Walton allows him to play 25-30 minutes, he should at least flirt with value easily.
Michael Carter-Williams, Bulls, $10,200 – On Sunday, both Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade sat and the Bulls were a complete mess. The lone bright spot on the team was Michael Carter-Williams who was forced to play big minutes for Coach Fred Hoiberg because literally nobody else stood a chance matching up against Andrew Wiggins. Well, the same is true for the Raptors and DeMar DeRozan so Carter-Williams should see extensive time on the court yet again. Without both Butler and Wade on the court, Carter-Williams has garnered a 25.4-percent usage rate (USG%) and has produced 0.93 FPPM. With Nikola Mirotic off the court as well, those numbers jump to 27.5 USG% and 0.98 FPPM. Basically, he becomes the focus of the offense and that is before even adding in his potential for rebounds (REB), assists (AST) and steals (STL)…all of which he is extremely capable of racking up. If the Bulls’ staples sit again, Carter-Williams emerges as a must-start. UPDATE: Jimmy Butler will play tonight but Carter-Williams is averaging 1.02 FPPM with Butler on the floor and Wade off so he is still very much in play (and Butler is bordering on must-play).
DeMarcus Cousins, Kings, $21,700 – A youth movement has begun for the Lakers as the organization has focused recently on finding more playing time for their youngsters they would like to develop. This trend has not led to improved defense against opposing Cs as they rank 27th in defensive efficiency versus the position over the course of their last three games. As if that were not enough good news for prospective DeMarcus Cousins rosterers, the Lakers have allowed the highest defended FG percentage in the league inside six feet of the rim. A lot of the damage Cousins does is either driving to the basket or posting up from in that range so the Lakers are in trouble. Additionally, the Lakers play at the sixth fastest pace so the Kings are going to have to speed it up in order to compete. This will lead to additional possessions and rebounding/assist/scoring opportunities for the big man. Since the beginning of last second, Cousins has not scored fewer than 44.75 fantasy points against the Lakers and he actually dropped 68.25 against them in the last meeting (Dec. 12). Even though he is expensive, his safety is worth spending up for on this slate.
LeBron James, Cavaliers, $18,900 – Since none of the guards mentioned above were overly expensive, a single lineup can afford both the likes of Cousins and LeBron James. Although Coach Tyronn Lue has repeatedly said he wants to scale back James’ minutes, he is tied for first in the NBA in terms of MPG with Kyle Lowry. The reigning Eastern Conference player of the week averages 1.37 FPPM and plays 37.6 MPG so he is bound to at least provide a safe floor on most nights. With tonight’s game being played on the reason, most of the blowout concerns are alleviated; Vegas lists the Cavaliers as mere 3.5 point favorites. In a projected close, high-scoring (218.5 over/under) affair, there is no reason why James should not play a full allotment of minutes and in tune provide fantasy owners with a productive performance. Hell, the Timberwolves only rate as a neutral matchup against opposing SFs (16th in defensive efficiency) so nothing should hold him back here. Expect a vintage James performance against a Timberwolves team allowing 110.6 PPG to opponents over their last 10 games.
Lucas Nogueira, Raptors, $6,600 – Last, but not least, is Lucas Nogueira at a ridiculous bargain price for the sorts of minutes he has been playing lately. Just last game, Nogueira played 32 minutes and produced 21 fantasy points and yet his price dropped $500. The only real obstacle standing between him and big minutes is Patrick Patterson who has not played since Feb. 3. If he sits once again, Nogueira is in a great spot against the Bulls because this game could get ugly quickly. Nogueira is the perfect sort of role player for this type of game because he is not the most important rotation player they have so the coach will probably be comfortable leaving him in with the second unit for extended stretches if the game gets out of hand. If somehow the game remains close, well, he has played at least 21 minutes in seven consecutive games anyways. At 0.83 FPPM, 21 minutes equates to 17.43 fantasy points and that is just about the worst case scenario. In all likelihood, Nogueira plays close to 30 minutes against a Bulls team that is still filled with big bodies even while they are shorthanded and crushes value in this spot.