Hello everyone and welcome to another edition of the “Core 4. There could be a lot of injury news to monitor throughout the day but I’m going to do my best to navigate around that news and give you my favorite 4 plays to build around on this huge 12 game slate.
Jimmy Butler ($16,000)- Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade are both game-time decisions tonight. Rondo injured his ankle in Saturday’s game versus the Clippers and as for Wade, this thigh injury is new. Both sat out of Sunday’s practice so there’s a reasonable chance one or both of them sit out this game against the Pistons.
In the event that both of them miss this game, just lock and load Jimmy Butler into your lineups. Butler owns an insane 38.6 usage rate with Wade and Rondo off the floor, averaging 1.53 fantasy points per minute. The key to Butler going from just a good play to a great play is Wade’s availability. Even with just Wade off the court, Jimmy still averages 1.36 fantasy points per minute and has a high 34.1 usage rate. Considering Wade’s age and history, the Bulls may want to be cautious and just rest him.
The matchup isn’t the greatest of ones to exploit as Detroit has the 8th best defense in the league according to defensive efficiency ratings and play at the 7th slowest pace. That’s still not enough to scare me off Jimmy, though. He’s had success against this team in the past. In the Bulls first meeting against the Pistons this season, Butler went off for 32 real life points leading to 46 FantasyDraft points (with Wade and Rondo both healthy). In the second meeting, the Bulls just destroyed the Pistons winning that game by almost 30 points so there was no need to play him in the 4th quarter. In the final meeting of the 2015/2016 season, Jimmy gave his best Westbrook impression recording a massive triple double (28 points, 17 rebounds, 12 assists with 3 steals and 2 blocks). The point that I’m trying to make is that regardless of the match-up or injuries, Jimmy is still an awesome play and benefits greatly if one or both of Rondo/Wade sit.
Dennis Schroder ($12,700)- Here’s a little secret for any of you who have never figured out when to use Dennis Schroder: Roster him in faster-paced games. His game is perfectly suited to play up-tempo.
Just to make sure it wasn’t a naked eye kind of thing for me, I looked into the numbers. Schroder’s played 8 games so far this year against the 5 fastest teams in the league (Nets, Warriors, Suns, Rockets and Sixers). In those games, he’s averaging over 35 FantasyDraft points. One of those games was against the elite defense of Patrick Beverley where he scored just 10.5 fantasy points. If you removed that game from the 8, he’d be averaging 39 fantasy points those games.
Now he gets to face a Warriors team (the 2nd fastest in the league) traveling on the second end of a back to back, minus Kevin Durant. Despite the style and pace the Warriors play, they’ve surprisingly been decent against point guards. They’re allowing the 15th most fantasy points to the position, thanks to Curry’s improved defense. Curry is ranked 21st amongst all active point guards with a -0.13 defensive real plus-minus rating. You also have to consider that a team as good as the Warriors are involved in many blowouts so the opposing starting point guard will likely be out of the game as it winds down limiting any fantasy production. That shouldn’t be the case today because this game projects to stay a lot closer than most Warriors games.
These teams already met once earlier this year and Atlanta actually hung around for most of that game. Schroder played 34 minutes, shooting 10-20 from the field leading to 38.25 FantasyDraft points.
Blake Griffin ($16,000)- As if the Celtics’ frontcourt wasn’t fun enough as is to pick on, there’s a chance they could be without Al Horford tonight. He’s dealing with an elbow issue that kept him out of Sunday’s game against the Suns and coach Brad Stevens said he wasn’t sure how long it would keep him off the court. From the sound of that, I’m going to consider him more doubtful than questionable. Stevens started Jonas Jerebko against the Suns at power forward and slid Amir Johnson over to center.
Jerebko wouldn’t have a shot at containing Blake if that were to be the case again tonight. He’s a much poorer defender than Amir Johnson. In fact, Johnson is one of the best defending power forward’s in the league (ranked 5th in DRPM amongst all PF’s) so if Johnson is forced to deal DeAndre Jordan, Blake sees a major boost in an already awesome matchup. Over the last 4 games against this Celtics team, Blake is averaging 44.63 FantasyDraft points. His usage rate of 29.6% on the year is the second highest of his career and he’s averaging 1.26 fantasy points per minute.
The only problem I usually have when rostering Blake Griffin is my worry that he doesn’t get the rebounds I hope for so I can get the double-double bonus FantasyDraft has to offer. It makes sense when you think of who’s playing center next to him. He’s only recorded double-digit rebounds in 3 of his previous 10 games but the matchup against Boston could fix that as they’re allowing the 10th most rebounds to the position.
Karl-Anthony Towns ($18,300)- Feels like forever now that we’ve been playing big men against the Trailblazers whenever the opportunity is presented to us. So when I have a chance to roster one of the best young big men in the game in such a prime spot, I usually do my best and make it happen.
The Blazers are giving up the 7th most fantasy points to the position and a lot of that has to do with the fact that they’re giving up the 2nd most real life points to them. My friends, Towns is the highest scoring center in the league right now averaging 24.0 points per game. Also, since he’s coached by Thibs, he’s averaging more minutes than any center. That’s a simple formula for success right there. Over the last 4 games these teams have met, Towns is averaging 47 fantasy points a game. The Wolves are only 4.5 home favorites so as long as this game stays close, expect KAT to play his usual 37-41 minutes.
His price has come up because of this match-up but it’s definitely warranted. When looking at the highest priced studs on this slate, he sticks out to me because the options that surround him. I don’t wanna play Harden against San Antonio, LeBron has a paced down game against the Heat and his price has really come up, Giannis doesn’t look the same to me since the all-star break with Middleton playing more minutes and Davis/Cousins have a brutal match-up against the Jazz. The only two guys in this price range I’d consider besides KAT is Curry and Jokic. Well, Steph’s 3 point shot is struggling and traveling on a back to back breaks that tie breaker for me and Joker’s coach is Mike Malone so that solves that one for me too. Yes, Jokic has played 30 minutes or more in 4 straight games but he also played just 15 and 26 the two games before. Towns is simply the safest of this higher tier when you look at the match-up and minutes expected.