The Cavaliers have rated as the worst defense (in terms of defensive efficiency) against opposing shooting guards all season long so fire up Bradley Beal in all lineups as the 60-plus fantasy point explosion against the Cavaliers last time was no fluke. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s NBA contests.
Ricky Rubio, Timberwolves, $14,300 – Despite playing on the second end of a back-to-back, there is no worry any of the Timberwolves’ regulars should see depreciated minutes because Coach Tom Thibodeau does not work that way. For the season, Ricky Rubio has averaged 31.8 minutes per game (MPG) on the second end of back-to-backs although he has played 28, 32, 34 and 38 minutes respectively in his last four back-to-backs. The matchup against Damian Lillard is quite juicy considering Lillard ranks dead last amongst all Trail Blazers regulars in both defensive rating (DRtg) and defensive box plus/minus (DBPM). As noted in this article yesterday, Rubio has been much more aggressive on offense as of late as he has attempted double-digit FG attempts in nine straight games prior to Friday evening. Vegas expects this game to be reasonably high-scoring (216 point over/under) and close (6.0 point underdogs) so the pace should be quite favorable for Rubio to be able to rack up the points (PTS), assists (AST), rebounds (REB) and potentially even steals (STL) playing against a ball-dominant PG. All-in-all, this is an excellent spot for Rubio so he should be started in any and all formats.
Kyrie Irving, Cavaliers, $14,700 – After getting his cornea scratched last night, LeBron James is listed as questionable for Saturday and Kevin Love’s minutes are still expected to be limited on the second end of the back-to-back. Therefore, pretty much by default, Kyrie Irving is going to have to shoulder a larger portion of the offense than normal. Assuming James sits, Irving leads the team in both usage rate (41.6-percent) and fantasy points per minute (1.48) with James off the court. On paper, the matchup against Wall and the Wizards is not overly favorable but at least the Wizards play at the 11th fastest pace and the matchup between two juggernauts in the conference should lead to extended minutes. When the offense is revolving around Irving, though, he is a player you will want to roster. Period.
Bradley Beal, Wizards, $14,200 – In his only meeting against the Cavaliers this season, Bradley Beal went absolutely bananas: 41 PTS, five REB and eight AST in 45.3 minutes en route to a whopping 62.25 fantasy points. This is not some crazy outlier performance either considering the Cavaliers rank dead last in defensive efficiency against opposing SGs this season and allow by far the most points per game (PPG) to the position as well. As noted in the Irving tidbit, this is a matchup between two of the upper-echelon teams in the Eastern Conference so both teams will be trying to win this game. Consequently, there should be no worry about minute allotments despite playing on the back-to-back (plus they crushed the Nets last night and Beal only played 25 minutes). Oh by the way, only the Kings have allowed more three-pointers per game (3PPG) to SGs so Beal should be able to find his stroke from long range. Watch out because Beal could be going off in this spot once again.
Karl-Anthony Towns, Timberwolves, $19,200 – Okay so the addition of Jusuf Nurkic was certainly a significant upgrade, especially defensively, but Karl-Anthony Towns dropped 60 fantasy points the last time the two started against one another (Jan. 3, 2016). If studying each team’s rotation, it is actually evident Towns will play significant stretches with Nurkic off the floor as well as Towns is typically pulled six minutes into a game and then plays nearly the entire second quarter (and the team follows a similar pattern in second halves as well). Amongst all players on either the Trail Blazers or Nuggets, Nurkic’s 1.39 points per possession (PPP) allowed to spot up shooters ranks by far the worst of anyone and he has allowed a 60.0-percent FG to the play type. In his only meeting against the Trail Blazers this season, Towns managed 40.25 fantasy points despite shooting 20-percent from the field so that is bound to improve this go-around. For cash game purposes, there is no safer investment on this slate.
Noah Vonleh, Trail Blazers, $8,100 – Do not look now but Noah Vonleh has played 26-plus minutes in five straight games and has managed at least 21.50 fantasy points in every single one of those games. Last time out, Vonleh played a healthy 32 minutes which was his longest time spent on the court of any game this season. With Ed Davis out for the year, Vonleh has now transitioned into both the team’s starting PF but also the backup C so he plays an awful lot on a nightly basis. Facing a Timberwolves team that has either Towns or Gorgui Dieng on the court at just about all times, Vonleh’s size and rebounding ability will be absolutely necessary in order for the Trail Blazers to succeed. On a slate devoid of too many excellent values, Vonleh stands out as above and beyond the best.
Ian Mahinmi, Wizards, $6,400 – All Ian Mahinmi did last night was drop 34.75 fantasy points against the Nets and he actually played more minutes than starter Marcin Gortat. So far this month, Gortat has averaged 23.7 minutes per game (MPG) whereas Mahinmi has played 19.8 MPG. Amazingly, Mahinmi has produced 1.0 fantasy points per minute (FPPM) this month compared to just 0.8 FPPM for Gortat so they are producing nearly an identical average fantasy output on a game-by-game basis. Having said that, Mahinmi should play his normal allotment of minutes against a Cavaliers team whose bench has allowed the 10th most rebounds per game (RPG) to opponents and they also rank below the league average in defensive efficiency. Since Mahinmi is priced virtually at minimum cost, he will not be needed to do a whole lot in order to exceed value and last night proved his ceiling is quite substantial. While he certainly is no sure thing, the potential upside is difficult to pass up.