Guillermo Hernangomez enjoys an uptick in both rebounding and usage rate without Kristaps Porzingis and the young center will be matched up against one of the worst defenders in the league: Jahlil Okafor. Even at an inflated price, Hernangomez should be considered a building block on tonight’s slate. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s NBA contests.
Kyrie Irving, Cavaliers, $15,600 – Over the course of the last 10 games, the Bulls rank 24th in defensive efficiency against opposing PGs, which is interesting because Michael Carter-Williams is amongst the best on the Bulls in terms of both defensive rating (DRtg) and defensive box plus/minus (DBPM). In another sense, it makes sense because Carter-Williams is better when matching up against bigger two guards as opposed to quick, agile PGs such as Kyrie Irving. Yes, Irving presents a very difficult matchup for both Carter-Williams and the Bulls as a whole and Irving took advantage of the mismatch in the teams’ only meeting this year. On Dec. 2, Irving lit the Bulls up for 20 points (PTS), six rebounds (REB) and eight assists (AST) en route to 40.5 fantasy points…and Kevin Love suited up in that contest. Now, without the team’s starting PF, Irving actually leads the squad in usage rate (USG%) with the current roster construction. Additionally, he averages 1.24 fantasy points per minute (FPPM) without Love and Jimmy Butler should be guarding LeBron James. Essentially, if James is at all slowed down, virtually all the offense will have to funnel through Irving. At this price tag, Irving is a stone cold lock in this overall favorable situation against a divisional rival at home.
Andrew Wiggins, Timberwolves, $15,000 – Many of the Timberwolves are in play tonight in what should be a high-scoring affair but none are safer bets than Andrew Wiggins. Since the injury to Zach LaVine, Wiggins has not only led the team in minutes per game (MPG) with 37.7 but he has also led the team in scoring (31.2 PTS per game) and has averaged 44.4 fantasy points per game (FPPG). With Patrick Beverley guarding Ricky Rubio, that leaves either James Harden or Trevor Ariza to guard Wiggins. On paper, both Harden and Ariza have rated as solid defenders this year but the Rockets as a team rank in the middle of the pack against opposing SGs and SFs partially because of the pace they play at and their true lack of rim protectors. With the Timberwolves implied to score 108.3 PTS, it is pretty obvious as to who should be leading the way. There are rarely surprises in the rotation with Coach Tom Thibodeau at the helm so start both Wiggins and all the other Timberwolves staples with confidence in this one.
Terrence Ross, Magic, $8,800 – The trade from the Raptors to Magic has only enhanced the value of Terrence Ross as he should now be given an extended look as the team’s starting SF. In his first game with his new team, he produced the sixth most fantasy points of any game so far this season (27.25) and it was only his debut. To this point, the Hawks have been awfully stingy against opposing SFs (seventh in defensive efficiency) but the reasonable price and boost in opportunity supersedes the matchup. Hell, Ross only shot 4-17 from the field in 33 minutes on Thursday evening so 27 fantasy points could actually be on the low end for what Ross might produce in the near future. Ross’ USG% in a one game sample with the Magic was 24-percent compared to 20 during his stint with the Raptors this year. If for real, a four percentage point boost in usage would be huge. In my opinion, the boost is not just an anomaly so I would continue to exploit the trend before the field catches on.
Hassan Whiteside, Heat, $14,700 – Hassan Whiteside has topped 50 fantasy points 17 times this season but only thrice since the start of the New Year. If there were ever a spot for him to blow up once again, it would be in tonight’s meeting against the Pacers. Not only do the Pacers rank 17th in terms of defensive efficiency but they have allowed the third most rebounds per game (RPG) and the second most offensive RPG to the C position. It just so happens one of Whiteside’s three 20/20 performances this season has come against the Pacers and Whiteside’s price tag has been on the decline since Feb. 8. On Saturday, the price tag and matchup have finally reached the perfect combination as to where Whiteside is viable in any and all formats. As icing on the cake, the Pacers rank dead last in points allowed per possession on post up plays this season so Whiteside should be able to dominate in the paint. There may not be a better matchup for this beast so go ahead and deploy him in both tournaments and cash games at a surprisingly affordable price.
Dario Saric, 76ers, $13,000 – Following the All-Star Break, Dario Saric started his second half of the season just like he ended the first half: with a double-double. In fact, he headed into the All-Star Break with two consecutive double-doubles which means he has now managed the feat in three consecutive games. Amazingly, Friday’s monster performance against the Wizards marked the fifth consecutive game Saric had eclipsed 38 fantasy points and now there is no competition for minutes due to the departures of Ersan Ilyasova and Nerlens Noel. Sure his price has risen $400 from yesterday but this is still a minimal change considering his recent success. Furthermore, Kristaps Porzingis will miss this game so it is very likely that extremely poor defender Lance Thomas will step into the starting lineup instead. The lineup change presents a gigantic boost in individual matchup for Saric so do not be shy to deploy him once again.
Guillermo Hernangomez, Knicks, $12,300 – The absence of Porzingis opens up a larger role for Lance Thomas but it also enhances the role of Guillermo Hernangomez as well. Playing alongside Porzingis, Hernangomez was averaged a rebounding rate of 18.2-percent but that number balloons to 23.1-percent with the team’s starting PF off the floor. Additionally, Hernangomez’s USG% increases about two percentage points with Porzingis on the bench. Basically, Hernangomez is more active on the boards and also is more involved in the offense when he is the focus of the frontcourt. Even with Porzingis active, Hernangomez has played 27-plus minutes in three consecutive games and has topped 29 fantasy points in all three of those games. With Jahlil Okafor attempting to defend him, 29 fantasy points would prove to be an utter disappointment especially considering 30-plus minutes is all but guaranteed. Expect a monster performance from the up-and-coming Knicks C so act accordingly.