Nikola-ed and Dimed

Nikola Vucevic draws a favorable matchup against a Raptors team that he has exploded for 43-plus fantasy points twice in his last four meetings against. Also, the Raptors struggle against the roll man in pick-and-rolls so there is no reason why he should not succeed here. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s NBA contests.


Russell Westbrook, Thunder, $22,400 – The Cavaliers/Spurs game tonight feels stackable but both teams are really solid defensively so even the additional minutes available to most of the staples does not prompt a complete stack. Instead of rostering LeBron James or Kawhi Leonard against one another, the safer play is to just go ahead and spend up for triple-double machine Russell Westbrook. Despite the Mavericks’ slow pace, Westbrook has averaged a healthy 1.65 fantasy points per minute (FPPM) against them in two meetings this season and both would have been monster performances had the Mavericks not blown out Thunder in the previous tilt. Over the course of the last 10 games, the Mavericks rank 25th in defensive efficiency versus opposing PGs and they have also allowed the third most points per game (PPG) to the position (25.2) over that span. At this point, Westbrook is simply matchup-proof and he is likely going to dominate any time the score stays close. Vegas lists the Thunder as just 1.0 point favorites so this game is a great bet to stay close. Therefore, fading Westbrook is a risky proposition as per usual.

George Hill, Jazz, $11,600 – This price tag is simply too cheap for a guy who had played 35-plus minutes in three straight games and had topped 30 fantasy points in three straight as well heading into last game…where he flopped to the tune of 10.25 fantasy points in 32 minutes. To be fair, Hill was facing a top tier individual defender (Chris Paul) so this shortcoming should be immediately forgiven especially considering he will now face a Pelicans squad on the second end of a back-to-back. For the season, the Pelicans rank 24th in defensive efficiency versus opposing PGs and they have allowed the fourth most PPG (24.8) to the position as well. In this case, their points allowed are especially notable because George Hill is a true score-first PG. Derrick Favors has already been ruled out for Monday’s tilt and Hill enjoys a 0.9-percentage point usage rate (USG%) boost with Favors off the court and he also averages 0.05 more FPPM. As if that were not enough, both Shelvin Mack and Gordon Hayward are listed as questionable and the absence of either (or both) would lead to his minutes being even more solidified and an even larger uptick in usage. Amongst all players on the Pelicans, Jrue Holiday has surrendered the most points per possession (PPP) on isolation plays so Hill should be able to score at will. All of these factors combined deems this an elite spot to deploy an underpriced Hill.

Tony Parker, Spurs, $7,800 – As mentioned in the Westbrook tidbit, the matchup between the Cavaliers and Spurs usually leads to starters on both teams playing some extensive minutes because both coaches want to win to send a message. Specifically, Tony Parker has enjoyed solidified minutes in this matchup as he has played at least 34 minutes in three of his last four meetings against the Cavaliers. Even in the outlier game, Parker racked up 25.50 fantasy points in 24 minutes and that was in his latest meeting (Jan. 30, 2016) against them. Assuming Coach Gregg Popovich does not sit Parker, he will head into this game having topped 26 fantasy points in two of his last four games and he has registered at least 26.50 fantasy points each of the last two times he has played at least 28 minutes. As icing on the cake, the Cavaliers have allowed the third most PPG (48.1) to opposing backcourts so Parker should able to get whatever he wants on offense. This game stands out as by far the most appealing to watch on the slate so it is admittedly fun to roster someone from the contest. Of all players in this game, Parker stands out as the asset with the best chance to reach 3.5x value.


Nikola Vucevic, Magic, $14,300 – While most are targeting games with higher totals, Nikola Vucevic sticks out as a diamond in the rough from this mostly avoidable game. Not only has Vucevic erupted in two of his previous four meetings against Jonas Valanciunas but he will also come into this game red hot, having topped 48 fantasy points in three of his past four games. Furthermore, the Raptors have allowed the fifth most PPP to roll men on pick-and-roll plays and only nine players roll on the pick-and-roll on more possessions per game than Vucevic. Amongst all regulars on the Raptors, only Norman Powell, Jakob Poeltl (if considered a regular) and DeMarre Carroll allow more PPP to spot up shooters than Valanciunas so he should struggle to step out on Vucevic. Of course, Vucevic is a solid mid-range shooter so this should only add another potential way Vucevic could dominate in this matchup. Despite the substantial cost, Vucevic is worthy of consideration in any and all formats.

Pau Gasol, Spurs, $10,200 – Similarly to Parker, Pau Gasol should be expected to play significant minutes in a game where his coach will actually be full-out trying to win. Cleveland’s bench allows opponents to grab just about the league average amount of rebounds per game (RPG) but they also do not possess a true C. Channing Frye will be tasked with guarding Gasol whenever Tristan Thompson is off the court and Gasol should absolutely dominate him. In each of Gasol’s last three meetings against the Cavaliers, he has managed at least 31.5 fantasy points although all three of those came when he was playing with the Bulls. Still, Gasol is coming off a game in which he racked up 43 fantasy points in just 26 minutes so his ceiling is still intact despite the situation change. Additionally, David Lee’s minutes have depreciated to around 18.5 in both February and March so Gasol has less competition for playing time. Gasol can rack up fantasy points in many different ways and he is still averaging 1.15 FPPM at age 36. This is a tournament only play but Gasol should at least be guaranteed minutes in the mid-20s so a 40 fantasy point outing is not out of the question.

Guillermo Hernangomez, Knicks, $10,200 – At this point, the Knicks should (and may still) rule out Carmelo Anthony for the remainder of the season since they have nothing to play for. At best, Anthony will be listed as questionable for Monday night’s tilt against the Pistons as is the case for Lance Thomas as well. Assuming one or both sit, extra minutes should be available to Guillermo Hernangomez who is already locked in as the team’s stating C. Against the Pistons, big bodies are an absolute requirement because one of either Andre Drummond, Aron Baynes or Boban Marjanovic are pretty much on the floor at all times. On paper, the matchup against the Pistons is not overly favorable but Drummond’s size means Hernangomez and Kyle O’Quinn should be assured steady playing time. At this point, O’Quinn is a veteran so the team would be foolish to not try and get an extended look at their youngster Hernangomez at his and other player’s expense(s) down the stretch. Hernangomez started against the Spurs last game, and even without Anthony in the rotation, he and the other Knicks kept the team in the game. When all said and done, Hernangomez had produced 46.75 fantasy points which caused his price to rise $1,100 more time go-around. Still, his potential stretches far beyond this price tag so start him with confidence.

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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