Not only are the Rockets implied to score the most points on the entire slate (117.8) but he will also face a team that has allowed the third most points on isolation plays. In a battle between the two highest scoring teams in basketball, James Harden is a must-start. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s NBA contests.
James Harden, Rockets, $22,000 – To this point, the Rockets rank second in the league in points per game (PPG) with 115.8 and the only team they trail is the Warriors…aka their opponent on Tuesday. This game is a battle between two playoff-bound, offensive-minded squads so shares of this game will be essential in order to win on this slate. Clearly, the top player to roster both in this game and on the slate is James Harden with his team implied to score a slate-high 117.8 points. Furthermore, the team is only listed as 1.5 point favorites so this tilt should prove to be a doozy and many of the players involved have a chance to reach their ceiling. Speaking of ceilings, Harden has topped 60 fantasy points in two of his last three meetings against the Warriors and it makes sense on paper; only two teams have allowed more points to players on isolations than the Thunder (and one of them is the Rockets). If they are getting burned by isolations then they are sure to have a difficult time containing Harden and he is about $1,500 underpriced in this spot.
Karl-Anthony Towns, Timberwolves, $18,000 – Targeting Cs against the Pacers is normally a profitable strategy, and while Karl-Anthony Towns is not C in the truest sense (Gorgui Dieng often plays C), the matchup is still ripe. Overall, the Pacers rank 20th in defensive efficiency against opposing frontcourts, allow the third most rebounds per game (RPG) and even surrender the fourth most offensive RPG to frontcourt members. Additionally, the Pacers have allowed the most points per possession (PPP) on post up plays of any team in the league (0.98) plus they have allowed the fifth most total points overall on the play type. As icing on the cake, teams run the pick-and-roll at the third highest frequency versus the Pacers and they have allowed the absolute more PPG to roll men and pick-and-rolls (702). Basically, Towns has his entire offensive repertoire available to him in this game and could potentially dominate on the boards as well. Rostering both Harden and Towns will not leave a roster with an insane amount more salary to spend but that still will equate to money well spent.
Paul George, Pacers, $15,500 – Value will need to emerge to comfortably roster this entire trio but Paul George rounds out the pricey players who stand out on this slate. Quietly, the Timberwolves have struggled to defend opposing SFs this season as they rank 19th in defensive efficiency and have allowed a healthy 45.4 FG percentage to the position as well. After being priced at $16,000 last time out and flopping, his price has dropped $500 and now sits at a very affordable $15,500 with his team listed as 5.0 point home favorites. At home this year, George has averaged 40.3 fantasy points per game (FPPG) compared to just 37.5 away from Bankers Life Fieldhouse. This matchup sets up perfectly for George because the Timberwolves have allowed the third most PPP to spot up shooters and George relies heavily on his jump shooting. In two of George’s last three meetings against the Timberwolves, he unsurprisingly has topped 46 fantasy points. As long as this game remains close, George should be one of the safest investments on the slate.
Robert Covington, 76ers, $12,700 – At a much more affordable price than the likes of Dario Saric, Robert Covington is a lock-and-load in all formats on this slate. First off, he will square off against a Nets team that plays at the fastest pace in the league, gets blocked more times per game than any other team and also gets the ball stolen from them more than any other squad. The last part of the previous sentence is the most important because Covington produces monster lines when he is able to rack up the steals (STL) and he is averaging a whopping 2.2 STL per-36 minutes. To add to the juiciness of this spot, the Nets also allow the eighth highest three-point percentage to opponents so Covington should be able to exploit all of his strengths. Do not be afraid to roster Covington in anywhere and everywhere.
Ish Smith, Pistons, $9,900 – For the second straight game, Reggie Jackson has been ruled out so Ish Smith will start at PG for the Pistons and play all the minutes he can handle. Last night, Smith played 35 minutes, scored 15 points (PTS), grabbed six rebounds (REB), dished out five assists (AST) and even stole a pass en route to 32.50 fantasy points. Although the Heat play at a reasonably slow pace (20th in pace) and rank sixth best in team defensive efficiency, Smith’s usage rate (USG%) increases from 12.3 to 20.2-percent with Jackson on and off the floor. The ball is going to be in his hand virtually every play for 35 minutes as long as the Heat remain in the game and he averages 0.93 fantasy points per minute (FPPM) with Jackson off the floor. In other words, even an average performance should lead to him flirting with 30 fantasy points and the double-double bonus could propel him to well beyond that total. If looking for a rock solid mid-tier value, Smith is your man.
Shawn Long, 76ers, $8,400 – Assuming Jahlil Okafor does not manage to suit up yet again, Shawn Long is going to emerge as an elite value play on a slate where value is difficult to come by. Long’s minutes have risen in three straight games and they peaked last game at 23. During his 23 minutes on the court, he actually managed a 15-10 double-double and he nearly scored as many fantasy points as the team’s starter at the position (Richaun Holmes). Now, Long has actually topped 31 fantasy points in back-to-back games and he faces a much more enticing matchup than Holmes considering Brook Lopez plays on the perimeter and limits rebounding potential for those who guard him. On the other hand, the Nets’ bench has allowed the most RPG to opponents so Long has a much better shot at a double-double than even Holmes. At just $8,400, Long is one of the best plays on the board tonight.