Tyler Ulis has averaged over 40 minutes per game since Eric Bledsoe was ruled out for the season and now he will face a dream matchup against the putrid Nets defense. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s NBA contests.
Chris Paul, Clippers, $15,600 – Thursday’s slate is a strange one because none of the highest priced options stand out as must-plays so finding expensive players is going to be of the utmost importance. While most will likely resort to a stars and scrubs approach with Damian Lillard (just because the matchup is solid) and minimum priced Nets, Chris Paul sticks out as a player who actually has the chance to reach 3.0x value (whereas Lillard would have to damn near hit his ceiling). Despite the fact the Mavericks play at the second slowest pace in the league, Paul is heading into this game having topped 43 fantasy points in back-to-back games and the Clippers are finally starting to look like their true selves once again (aka they are playing like an upper-echelon team). With this game being played in Dallas, the Clippers are only listed as 3.5 point favorites so the game will likely remain close throughout. Over the course of their last 10 games, the Mavericks have ranked 27th in PG efficiency defense and only the Suns have allowed more points per game (PPG) to the position during that span. In other words, Paul is worthy of consideration in all lineups even though he will have to overcome a less than ideal pace.
Tyler Ulis, Suns, $13,300 – If there is one game to focus on in this slate, it is certainly the tilt between the Suns and Nets in Brooklyn. Not only does this game possess the closest spread on the slate but the game opened with the highest over/under as well (220) and that number has since moved up 3.5 points higher (223.5). This is a battle between literally the two fastest paced teams in the league who also both happen to rank in the bottom four of defensive efficiency. With both Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight ruled out for the season, around 35-plus minutes should be available to Tyler Ulis on a nightly basis. Since the team shutdown Bledsoe/Knight, Ulis has averaged 41.3 minutes per game (MPG), 14.5 PPG, 9.5 assists per game (APG) and 1.8 steals per game (SPG) en route to 34.9 fantasy points per game (FPPG). Now, facing a team that ranks 28th in defensive efficiency against opposing PGs, allow the most steals (STL) and blocks (STL) and plays at the absolute fastest pace, 35 fantasy points could actually prove to be his floor (especially considering the ridiculous minutes allotment he should see). It is almost impossible to envision a scenario where Ulis flops here because he will be playing for an extended period of time against an extremely beatable foe. Start him.
Justin Holiday, Knicks, $6,000 – The Knicks recently announced they would be limiting Carmelo Anthony’s minutes down the stretch and Derrick Rose will likely deal with the same sort of treatment. Therefore, additional minutes will be available for youngsters like Justin Holiday who had been virtually fantasy irrelevant for a vast majority of the season. However, Holiday has now played 20-plus minutes in three straight games and 25-plus minutes in back-to-back games heading into a tilt versus a small Trail Blazers team filled with guards. Consequently, Holiday may have seen extended minutes regardless but now 25-plus minutes is a virtual guarantee. Minutes lead to fantasy production and Holiday has exceeded 3.0x value at this price in back-to-back games including 4.17x value last game against the Clippers. While others try to guess how the Nets will distribute the minutes for unreliable guys such as Archie Goodwin (solid GPP play) and K.J. McDaniels (secondary GPP play), Holiday is the safer investment for cash games.
Kawhi Leonard, Spurs, $16,900 – None of the expensively priced frontcourt players draw an elite matchup or anything close on this slate so you are going to have to get creative. Although Kawhi Leonard draws a terrible matchup against the slow-paced Grizzlies, Leonard has hit 2.49x value 70-percent of the time at this price tag (or lower) this season and he has reached 2.69x value nearly half the time. This seems destined to be a lower scoring slate and Leonard has managed at least 41.5 fantasy points in two of his last four meetings against the Grizzlies. In cash games, there is no safer bet for 40 fantasy points amongst the high-priced F/Cs and there are plenty of cheaper players who are likely going to exceed value. Roster Leonard for the safety but enjoy the potential upside as well as he is averaging a career-best 47.2 FPPG this month. If he reaches that total, there is no reason why a fantasy team should not be able to eclipse 300 fantasy points and compete for a big payday in tournaments as well.
Brook Lopez, Nets, $13,000 – For a player completely reliant on scoring, Brook Lopez has been incredibly reliable lately as he strolls into Thursday having produced at least 35 fantasy points in seven consecutive games including four 39-plus fantasy point outings during that span. Hell, Lopez attempted 24 shot attempts last game with Jeremy Lin out due to injury once again so eh offense is clearly running through him. Alex Len actually presents a difficult matchup for Lopez as he ranks second best on the team in terms of points per possession (PPP) allowed to spot up shooters. At the same time, Len has allowed more PPP on post up plays than anyone on the roster other than Devin Booker or the aforementioned Knight and he is posted up on a lot more often. Essentially, it is not difficult to see a path to a high-scoring game for Lopez whose post game should only open up some wide open jumpers. As if that were not enough, Lopez has actually grabbed exactly seven rebounds in two consecutive games and there will never be a better scenario to grab a ton of rebounds than in a game with this sort of pace. All-in-all, Lopez once again rates as one of the best plays on the entire slate regardless of format.
Noah Vonleh, Trail Blazers, $7,400 – Last but not least, Noah Vonleh has enjoyed an extreme uptick in minutes as of late and is now worthy of rostering just about every night if priced at this price point. After averaging just 13.6 MPG in December and 13.8 MPG in January, Vonleh’s MPG have since increased to 17.2 in February and a career-high 21.8 so far in March. In fact, Vonleh has played 26-plus minutes in four straight games and he has not sunk below 21.50 fantasy points during that span. Basically, Vonleh’s floor over the course of his last four games has been 2.93x value or enough to put a fantasy team on pace for 293 fantasy points. Only the Nets and Lakers rate worse in terms of defensive efficiency versus opposing frontcourts than the Knicks so this is a borderline optimal matchup for him to produce. Do not be afraid to roll with the young Trail Blazers PF in cash games or even GPPs.