Having topped 46 fantasy points against the fast-paced Rockets in their latest meeting, there is no reason why Marc Gasol cannot produce a similar outing once again tonight. 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.
Chris Paul, Clippers, $16,400 – With Chris Paul back in the rotation, there is no real question as to how the Clippers’ offense is going to run. Paul is the man in charge and he will run all sorts of pick-and-rolls and pick-and-pops with the arsenal of guys around him. Since he has returned from thumb surgery, the Clippers have been an absolute mess and have been getting blown out regularly. With that being said, the Bulls rarely blow out anyone and usually play to the ability of their opponent. Opposing ball-handlers run the pick-and-roll at the eighth highest frequency against the Bulls (19.0-percent) and convert at about a league average rate (0.85 points per possession). Jerian Grant defended Stephen Curry reasonably well the other night but he is not a very good defender against the pick-and-roll. In fact, he allows the most points per possession (PPP) against ball-handlers in the play type on the team (1.04). He is way more equipped to guard a shooter like Curry as he has defended spots better than anyone on the team on a PPP basis (0.73). Considering how poorly the Clippers have been playing as of late, they will be looking to take out their frustrations on a mediocre Bulls team and this one is expected to remain close throughout (Clippers listed as 1.5 point favorites). Oh by the way, Paul has shot 50-percent on the second end of back-to-backs to go along with 17.6 points per game (PPG) and 9.4 assists per game (APG). Paul is incredibly safe to build around in cash games at the very least.
Kemba Walker, Hornets, $15,700 – Kemba Walker’s home/road splits are well known amongst the DFS community as he consistently averages significantly more fantasy points per game (FPPG) at home. Having said that, the Hornets are on quite the road trip right now as they have played six straight on the road heading into Saturday night. During this stretch, Walker has averaged 26.7 PPG with a ridiculous 4.2 three-pointers per game (3PPG), 4.2 rebounds per game (RPG), 6.3 APG, 1.3 steals per game (SPG) and 45.0 FPPG…and all this came before facing the worst PG efficiency defense in the league. Of course, the Nuggets present the best matchup for the position by far; not only do they rank dead last in efficiency but they also have allowed by far the most PPG (25.5) to the position as well. As if that were not enough, the Nuggets play at the sixth fastest pace so there should be many extra offensive possessions for Walker and the Hornets in this one as compared to usual. Simply put: start him.
Allen Crabbe, Trail Blazers, $7,000 – Admittedly, this play is subject to change as this slate is extremely devoid of value at this point in time and Allen Crabbe stands out as one of the better punts. On a per-minute basis, Crabbe is amongst the least efficient producers in the NBA; in 1710 total minutes this season, Crabbe has averaged a miserable 0.61 fantasy points per minute (FPPM). Even so, the Nets present the best possible matchup for almost any opposing player because they play at the fastest pace, allow the most PPG, give up the most steals and blocks to opponents and even allow the eighth most 3PPG. Meanwhile, Crabbe has played at least 25 minutes in seven consecutive games including 30-plus in four of those. Assuming the Trail Blazers get out to an early lead against an awful Nets team, Coach Terry Stotts may decide to leave his bench unit in for longer than normal. This would only lead to more minutes for Crabbe who only needs 21 fantasy points for 3.0x value. Against the worst defense in the league, this small feat is certainly possible.
Marc Gasol, Grizzlies, $14,700 – In three matchups against the Rockets this season, Marc Gasol has averaged 34.9 minutes per game (MPG) and 37 FPPG on the heels of 20.7 PPG, 5.3 RPG and 3.7 APG. Only the Lakers have allowed a higher defended FG percentage inside six feet of the basket than the Rockets and that is where Gasol excels. Furthermore, the Rockets rank 23rd in defensive efficiency versus opposing Cs and play at the second fastest pace. On paper, this lines up nicely for Gasol and he actually dropped 46.25 fantasy points against this team in the last meeting. With Mike Conley facing a difficult matchup against Patrick Beverley, more of the offense will need to funnel through Gasol. Once again, Gasol is a rock solid investment in all formats.
Jusuf Nurkic, Trail Blazers, $12,600 – Okay so the price tag has skyrocketed after a couple of productive games but Jusuf Nurkic is worth the cost. The downside to this matchup is the fact Brook Lopez plays on the perimeter on offense which should limit both his defending rebounding opportunities and block possibilities. On the other hand, Nurkic should absolutely dominate on offense against a Nets team that rank 28th in defensive efficiency. Also, the Nets allow the fourth most PPP on post ups so Nurkic should eat in the post. Even with Lopez out in the post, Nurkic is sneaky in his steals ability as he has produced nine of them in his last five games and the Nets allow the most steals of any time. There are multiple ways he can reach value in this one and certainly a healthy amount of possibilities that he can crush value as well.
Gorgui Dieng, Timberwolves, $9,100 – What in the world is this price tag for Gorgui Dieng? Sure the guy has not topped 22 fantasy points in either of his last two games but this Spurs matchup should lead to extended minutes for Dieng. Like the Timberwolves, the Spurs start a pair of twin towers (LaMarcus Aldridge, Dewayne Dedmon) and they have plenty of near seven-footers to bring off the bench as well. Consequently, Dieng should play more than usual in order to match size for size. In the past two meetings against the Spurs this season, Dieng has played 29 and 33 minutes respectively and has produced 28.5 and 37 fantasy points. At this price tag, there is just no reason to pass on a player whose talent stretches far beyond the price tag.