Nikola-ed and Dimed

In a game projected with by far the highest total of the evening, Nikola Jokic is a virtual must-start especially considering the team will be without both Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s NBA contests.


James Harden, Rockets, $22,100 – Instead of sorting by guards (G) and forward/centers (F/C) in the article for tonight, it seemed beneficial to just list six of my favorite plays without any constraints because most of them are guards. As per usual, James Harden is well worth playing in all formats but this is one of those slates where you literally may not be able to win if you choose not to use him. Harden draws the dream matchup against the Nuggets who rank dead last in PG efficiency defense this season and this game comes equipped with a whopping 238 total. To put it differently, Vegas is implying the Rockets will score 120.5 points and a total like that simply cannot be overlooked. Additionally, only three teams have allowed more points per game (PPG) to opposing PGs than the Nuggets and only one team has allowed more assists per game (APG) to the position…partially due to their fast pace. Both teams should be playing at a lightning fast pace in this game which should lead to additional scoring, assist and rebounding opportunities which should help raise the bar on Harden’s already substantial ceiling. If all goes well, Harden could easily drop an 80 burger in this game so do not get cute and fade him (especially in cash games).

Jimmy Butler, Bulls, $14,700 – This is an insanely low price tag for a player who has averaged over 46 fantasy points without the team’s other superstar guard (Dwyane Wade) in action. Sure both the matchup and pace of this game should be brutal for fantasy prospects but Butler is still $1,000 underpriced in a situation where he should excel. Butler has squared off against the Jazz thrice in the last two seasons and he has produced at least 43.25 fantasy points twice. At this price tag, 43.25 fantasy points would equate to 2.94x value and 46 fantasy points would equate to 3.13x. In other words, those totals would put a fantasy team on pace for 294 and 313 fantasy points respectively. Overall, the Jazz have allowed the fewest fantasy points to both opposing SGs (where Butler started on Friday) and SFs (where he often plays) but they have struggled against both positions (by their standards) over their last five games. The way to beat this team is to avoid heading the rim, especially when Rudy Gobert is in the paint, and Butler is a solid outside and mid-range shooter. While this feels like a scary situation to deploy him, the price justifies the risk.

Will Barton, Nuggets, $13,000 – Are you startin’ Will Barton? Okay so that was just a corny rhyme but seriously Barton absolutely needs to be started in this matchup. Without both Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler active on Thursday, Barton took 18 FG attempts and made 12 of them en route to 35 points (PTS) with seven threes, five rebounds (REB), three assists (AST), one steal (STL) and a ridiculous 50.25 fantasy points. Sans those two important members of the rotation, Barton is a virtual lock for minutes in the mid-30s again in by far the most fantasy friendly atmosphere of the evening. By comparison, Barton’s usage rate (USG%) for the season currently sits at 20.9 but last game it rose all the way to 27.9. Facing a Rockets team that allows the sixth most fantasy points per game (FPPG) to the position, Barton is in a prime spot to blast off yet again.

J.J. Redick, Clippers, $8,800 – If spending up on multiple players from the Rockets/Nuggets tilt, value is certainly going to needed in order to fill out a roster and J.J. Redick fits the bill. Look, as always, a guy who relies purely on shooting is risky but this is a game where he should be capable of reaching his ceiling. To this point in the season, the Cavaliers rank dead last in defensive efficiency versus opposing SGs and they even allow the sixth highest three-point percentage to the position as well. In each of his last two meetings against the Cavaliers, Redick has managed at least 26.75 fantasy points in each which would equate to 3.04x value. Just based on the eye test, the main contributors in the Clippers offense do not look right as of late (Chris Paul and especially Blake Griffin) which, if it continues, should lead to more of the offense funneling through Redick. Heading into this game, Redick has attempted at least 10 shot attempts in four of his last six games and he has produced at least 19.25 fantasy points in every single one of those games. With him drawing the most favorable matchup on the team, he should easily get to double-digit shot attempts assuming the team stays in the game. Although he is not the safest option on the slate, he is one of the better bets amongst his pricing tier to reach value.

Bojan Bogdanovic, Wizards, $8,800 – Another shooter in a better than average spot to succeed is Bojan Bogdanovic against the Hornets. Earlier in the week, I made a comment on Twitter that Charlotte’s defense actually made Rajon Rondo look like Reggie Millerand that is an ongoing theme for the entire season. Opposing teams have attempted three-pointers at the second highest frequency (35.8-percent) against the Hornets this season and in tune the team is allowing a league-worst 11.2 three-pointers per game (3PPG). Obviously, that sets up well for a guy like Bogdanovic who relies almost solely on his shooting prowess to rack up fantasy points. Even though the matchup is ripe, Otto Porter is too expensive for my liking and Bogdanovic’s price has recently dropped to a point where the profit potential is once again abundantly clear (it had risen to about $10,000 for a while). Especially if Markieff Morris sits out a second straight game, which would lead to a slight minutes increase, I love the idea of taking advantage of a cheap shooter against the WOAT shooting defense.

Nikola Jokic, Nuggets, $19,200 – Last but certainly not least is Nikola Jokic who himself enjoyed USG% uptick without Gallinari and Chandler on Thursday. It only took him 30 minutes to triple-double against a Clippers frontcourt that rates at about the league average in terms of defensive efficiency. Now, Jokic will draw an ideal matchup against the Rockets frontcourt that ranks 26th in defensive efficiency and allows the fourth most PPG. In this atmosphere, a triple-double is a definite possibility yet again as the amount of offensive possessions set to be run in this game is off the chart considering the ridiculous over/under. Vegas believes the Nuggets should stay within 3.0 points of the Rockets at home and they certainly will need to rely heavily on their superstar in order for that to come to fruition. No matter the format, Jokic is a worthwhile start.


Ricky Sanders

Ricky Sanders

Ricky Sanders is a fantasy sports expert with over 15 years of playing experience. After starting several freelance fantasy sports blogs, Ricky moved up in the fantasy industry when he joined Going9 Baseball. He wrote fantasy baseball content and had a weekly radio spot on the site’s SiriusXM Satellite Radio show. Shortly thereafter, in early 2013, Ricky joined RotoExperts as a three-sport fantasy contributor, eventually becoming one of the site’s lead basketball writers. While writing for RotoExperts, Ricky was introduced to daily fantasy sports and immediately fell in love. With help from some of his mentors, some of the best DFS players in the world, he honed his skills and became the daily fantasy expert he is today. When RotoExperts created a daily-focused website called, Ricky was brought on as one of the main contributors. He still makes frequent appearances on the RotoExperts SiriusXM Radio show and on the FNTSY Sports Television Network, talking daily fantasy sports. He also continues to write for a few DFS content sites: RotoCurve and The Fantasy Fix. Ricky is a proud and active member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. He has agreed to be a writer and representative for the FantasyDraft brand and serves as an ambassador to the site. He has no more access to the site than the typical user. Don’t hesitate to contact Ricky with questions on Twitter @RSandersDFS.

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