As per usual, Jimmy Butler is worthy of consideration with Dwyane Wade sidelined but both Robin Lopez and Nikola Mirotic are underpriced as well and have been playing well as of late. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s NBA contests.
Jimmy Butler, Bulls, $16,300 – The absence of Dwyane Wade quite obviously is incredibly impactful for Jimmy Butler’s outlook moving forward…but it is still worth reviewing just how much of an impact it truly makes. Playing alongside Wade, Butler has produced a 23.4-percent usage rate (USG%) and 1.04 fantasy points per minute (FPPM) compared to a 32.3 USG% and 1.30 FPPM without Wade. On paper, this game does not look incredibly enticing as it possesses one of the lowest totals on the slate (202 over/under) but this game is expected to remain reasonably close (Bulls listed as 6.5 point underdogs). Sans Wade in the rotation, Butler has averaged a healthy 45.5 fantasy points per game (FPPG) which equates to 6.6 more FPPG than when Wade is active. As if that were not enough, Butler is averaging 1.38 FPPM against the Raptors in two games this season although they recently added P.J. Tucker who is a solid defender. Having said that, he is suffering through the worst defensive rating of his career although that total has dropped all the way to 101 in the month of March. The individual matchup is not incredibly easy for Butler but Rajon Rondo in the starting lineup has helped create some offense for Butler as of later; he has produced at least 47.50 fantasy points in three of his last four games. On paper, this is not the easiest of matchups but Butler should have plenty of opportunity to succeed throughout.
Klay Thompson, Warriors, $13,300 – While believing in narratives can be incredibly misleading most of the time, there seems to be something to the Klay Thompson against the Mavericks storyline. Shortly after scoring 37 points in a quarter in a matchup versus the Kings in 2015, Thompson dropped 45 points on the Mavericks and has not looked back since that time. In his last five games against the Mavericks (including the 45 point explosion), Thompson has averaged 49.2 FPPG including 33 minutes per game (MPG), 34.6 points per game (PPG), 4.4 rebounds per game (RPG), 2.0 assists per game (APG) and even 1.0 blocks per game (BPG). Over the course of the season, the Mavericks have allowed the seventh highest three-point percentage (3P%) to opposing backcourts and even have allowed the 15th most PPG even though they play at the second slowest pace in the league. Lastly, Thompson has enjoyed a more than seven percentage point usage boost without Kevin Durant active. Despite the substantial cost, Thompson is worth every penny (especially in tournaments).
J.J. Barea, Mavericks, $8,100 – The emergence of Yogi Ferrell has been unexpected but it has not exactly affected J.J. Barea’s potential ceiling lately considering he has managed at least 28 fantasy points in two of his last three games. Now, Barea draws a matchup against the fast-paced Warriors and his offensive prowess will definitely be needed to compete with an offensive juggernaut. In his last game, Barea played the most minutes he has played in a game since Nov. 16 and it resulted in a whopping 35.25 fantasy points. The best part is Barea not only contributes in the scoring department but he has also dished out a total of 24 assists (AST) in his last three games despite only averaging 21.2 MPG during that span. Barea actually played more minutes than Ferrell last game and that is a trend to that is likely to continue (and the disparity should rise) based on their skill sets. Since the Warriors are on the second end of a back-to-back and playing on the road, they are only listed as 3.5 point favorites, meaning Vegas expects the Mavericks to remain in the game. If they are going to do so, they almost certainly are going to need a productive performance from the 6’0” Barea.
Marc Gasol, Grizzlies, $13,800 – Amongst all players presently in their respective team’s rotation, Gasol is averaging the 13th most fantasy points per dollar (FPPD) at his current price. Additionally, Gasol has enjoyed success this season against both the Pelicans and in his meetings against DeMarcus Cousins (while he was on the Kings). Therefore, one can reasonably infer he should be fine in a matchup against the combination of the two. As always, there is some foul trouble risk for the opposing C squaring off against Cousins but Gasol has only registered more than three fouls against Cousins once in their last five meetings. Like Butler, Gasol is rolling as he has topped 48 fantasy points in two of his last three games and his only dud during that span came against the Spurs. Obviously Gasol’s size will be needed to match up against the twin towers of New Orleans so he should play a substantial amount of minutes as well. All-in-all, Gasol finds himself in an excellent spot to flirt with value tonight (at the very least) so fire him up in cash games.
Brook Lopez, Nets, $12,400 – None of the Cs on the Pistons roster are capable of stepping out on Brook Lopez to cover his mid and long range shooting so it is no wonder he has gone off against habitually. Over the course of the last three seasons, Lopez has not dipped below 33.75 fantasy points in any of his meetings against the Pistons and he has eclipsed 52 fantasy points twice during that time period. In both his meetings against Andre Drummond this season, he has scored at least 27 points (PTS) and taken at least 19 FG attempts. With Jeremy Lin likely to sit out yet again, all of the offense is going to have to run through Lopez. As has been the case in the past, Lopez is a fantastic play in this matchup once again.
Nikola Mirotic/Robin Lopez, Bulls – Both of these players are underpriced when taking their potential ceilings into account and this matchup has proven to be more favorable to Nikola Mirotic in the past. However, Bobby Portis is coming off a career game against the Jazz and Robin Lopez has been awesome in the two games since Wade was ruled out for the remainder of the season. The problem with Lopez is he normally matches minutes with the opposing team’s C and so does Jonas Valanciunas so this could be a scenario where both teams decide to go small. At the same time, both Valanciunas and Lopez have been excellent as of late so this matchup could prove to be different than in times past. Without Wade on the floor, Mirotic is averaging 0.86 FPPM and Lopez is averaging 0.80 but those numbers have jumped to 0.90 and 0.93 respectively since the beginning of the month. The safer play of the two is Lopez because his price is cheaper and the superior tournament play is Mirotic because he has produced 30-plus fantasy points in back-to-back meetings versus the Raptors so there is clearly something Coach Fred Hoiberg likes about this matchup for the team’s backup PF. Essentially, both of these guys are viable and you are just going to have to guess right (or start them together as they could easily both exceed value).