Kyrie Irving both leads the team in usage rate without Kevin Love and draws the best individual matchup of all the Cavaliers on Friday. Therefore, Irving stands out as one of the best plays on the entire slate tonight. 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 – Lately, LeBron James has been absolutely ridiculous as he has tripled-doubled in two of his last three games and he has not sunk below 45 fantasy points since Feb. 9. Yet, somehow, Kyrie Irving still leads the team in usage rate (USG%) without Kevin Love on the floor (33.3-percent). Therefore, it is not surprising to see Irving has attempted at least 19 field goals in three straight games and he has made at least 10 of them in each game during that stretch as well. Now, Irving and the Cavaliers will square off against a Hawks defense that has struggled to cover opposing PGs all season long; they rank 22nd in defensive efficiency and have allowed the 10th most points per game (PPG) to the position (23.5). Against a foe within the conference on the road, Irving is likely to see his minutes extended because Coach Tyronn Lue should definitely be attempting to win the game. Not only is this expected to be close (3.0 point spread) but the 108.5 implied points for the Cavaliers are pretty substantial as well. If the Cavaliers are going to get there, they are going to need both James and Irving to do their part. On paper, the matchup is significantly better for Irving so he is my Cavalier of choice (although both are in play).
Nik Stauskas, 76ers, $7,400 – Depending on the status of Gerald Henderson, Nik Stauskas could emerge as one of the premiere values of the slate. Henderson left Wednesday’s tilt with hip soreness and did not return so he seems questionable at best for tonight. It should be noted he had by far the best plus/minus of any 76ers starter through two quarters (source: rotoworld) at the time of his injury but his absence would open up additional minutes for Stauskas. The Knicks have been a tough matchup for opposing SGs but Stauskas will be all but guaranteed 30-plus minutes in this scenario. When Stauskas has played 30-plus minutes this season, he has only failed to reach 21 fantasy points in six of 15 games so he would be a virtual lock to flirt with 3.0x value at this miniscule price tag. Assuming Henderson plays, Tony Parker (confirmed as playing) would be the cheap guard to pivot to.
Blake Griffin, Clippers, $16,800 – Okay so Blake Griffin looked absolutely horrible the last time out. After producing darn near 20 fantasy points in the first corner, he decided to just stand around on offense for the remainder of the game and the team was blown out by the Rockets. On Friday, Griffin will have a chance at a redo against a Bucks team literally on their third string PF. In fact, the team signed Terrence Jones on Thursday and it is unclear whether or not he will suit up for this contest. Regardless, the Bucks rank 20th in defensive efficiency versus opposing PFs this season including the third highest FG percentage allowed to the position. Even if Jones suits up, the team simply has no answer for him and it is likely he will want to make up for his flop last time out. Additionally, the Bucks are one of the best teams at defending opposing PGs so Chris Paul may have a difficult time scoring. If so, more of the offense will have to go through Griffin which means he should come closer to this 69.50 fantasy points outing against the Hornets as opposed to his 28.50 fantasy point performance versus the Rockets.
Dwight Howard, Hawks, $12,400 – Similarly to the aforementioned Irving, part of the allure of rostering Dwight Howard is the likely extended minutes in a conference matchup. Tristan Thompson is certainly not an easy individual matchup but Howard will need to remain in the game to match size for size whenever the Cavaliers’ starting C is in the game. Furthermore, Howard was still able to dominate the boards in the last meeting as he grabbed 17 rebounds (REB) in 27 minutes in this meeting the first time (although that game was played in Cleveland). Clearly the major advantage the Hawks have on the Cavaliers is their twin tower duo down low so they would be foolish not to establish both players. Howard only took five FG attempts in the first meeting so more should be on the horizon this go-around. For what it is worth, Howard took 11 FG attempts the last time he faced an upper-echelon Eastern Conference team (Celtics) so that should be more along of the lines of how he finishes in this game. As evident by his 38-plus fantasy points in back-to-back games, Howard’s upside stretches far beyond the price tag.
Dario Saric, 76ers, $14,000 – With Joel Embiid out for the rest of the season, Dario Saric is my pick for rookie of the year and he also is my pick for one of the best plays on the slate tonight. First of all, his price has come down to a reasonable level after ballooning to the most expensive it had been all season last game. One disappointing outing has done nothing to change my mind about the kid as he had managed at least 38.25 fantasy points in seven consecutive games prior to his 20 fantasy points against the Heat. Assuming the Knicks roll with the same starting lineup as last game, Saric will be matched up against Lance Thomas who is one of the worst defenders on the Knicks according to both defensive rating (DRtg) and defensive box plus/minus (DBPM). Even if they revert back to Kristaps Porzingis at PF, the 76ers are listed as 2.0 point underdogs in a game with a projected 216.5 over/under. In other words, Vegas implies the 76ers will score 107.3 points. If they are going to get there, they are going to need a healthy amount of offense from their usuals including Saric who averaged 17.0 PPG and 7.9 rebounds per game (RPG) in the month of February. Start him in any and all formats.
Enes Kanter, Thunder, $10,600 – Considering Victor Oladipo did not travel for yesterday’s game in Portland, it seems doubtful he would suit up for Friday’s game in Phoenix. With Oladipo this season, Kanter is averaging 25.7 fantasy points per game (FPPG) whereas that total has crept up to 26.2 without the starting SG on the court. This is partially due to Kanter’s USG% increase from 26.6 to 30.1 with Oladipo on/off the court. Kanter fares much better in fast-paced environments because there are more possessions available to him on offense and also more rebounding opportunities. Now that the Suns are committed to a two C setup with the ultra-efficient Alan Williams off the bench, Kanter will be needed to match his minutes at the very least. Also, his offense is needed without Oladipo so he becomes a very important part of the game plan. Like last night, Kanter is one of the best risk/reward options on the entire slate.