Good morning and welcome to another edition of the FantasyDraft “Core 4”, brought to you by DFSDatalytics.com! We have ourselves a nice eight-game slate tonight with a plethora of great plays. This “Core 4” will highlight a point guard in the biggest game of the night and three forwards who are in fantastic spots. Good luck tonight!
Damian Lillard ($17,600)
All eyes will be on tonight’s matchup as the Portland Trail Blazers host the Denver Nuggets for the battle of the eighth seed in the Western Conference. Both teams come in tied for the eighth seed at 35-38. Portland has won six of their last seven games, while Denver has won six of their last nine games. Portland currently leads the season series 2-1, so this is a pivotal game. There is a great redemption opportunity for both Jusuf Nurkic and Mason Plumlee as they were traded for each other from Portland and Denver. I wouldn’t mind both, but the key player I’m looking at tonight from this game is Damian Lillard. There are so many good plays tonight, but he sticks out the most to me. He costs $17,600 on FantasyDraft tonight which doesn’t break your bank. In such a big game like this, I want the best player.
The matchup for Lillard is what sets him apart for me. Playing against the Denver Nuggets has been a spot to target all season for opposing guards. They currently rank 28th in DvP vs point guards this season allowing 49.7 FantasyDraft PPG to the position. In three games against the Nuggets this season Lillard is averaging 36.3 PPG, 5.3 RPG and 7.7 APG. He has shot 51.5% from the field, 39.1% from three-point range and 96.8% from the free throw line. Those numbers are incredible! Not only has he played well against Denver, but he’s been crushing as of late. During the month of March, Portland has won 11 of their 14 games which is extremely impressive. Lillard has been the catalyst as he has averaged 29.6 PPG during the month of March while shooting 42.0% from downtown. Find a way to get him in your lineup.
Brook Lopez ($13,000)
The Brooklyn Nets aren’t playing for much other than the “spoiler role”. They are one of three teams who have already been eliminated from the playoffs as they hold the worst record in the league at 16-57. Despite the poor overall record, Brooklyn has won seven games in the month of March which is three more wins than they had combined for the last three months! To put their March in perspective, they have more wins than the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers! 10 of Brooklyn’s 16 wins this season have come at home where they’ll be tonight as they welcome in the Philadelphia 76ers. This isn’t a spoiler opportunity as the 76ers are 27-46 this season, but it’s a fantastic spot for Brook Lopez tonight. Lopez is $13,000 on FantasyDraft which is far too cheap for this matchup against Philadelphia.
Philadelphia is last in the league in DvP vs centers this season allowing 56.5 FantasyDraft PPG to the position. In two games against Philadelphia this season, Brook Lopez has averaged 24.0 PPG, 5.5 RPG and 5.0 APG along with 2.5 BPG. Lopez made seven field goals last game versus the Hawks, giving him 3,982 field goals in his career with Brooklyn. That is the most by a Nets player since the franchise joined the NBA in 1976. Lopez is having a solid year despite the abysmal team record. He is averaging 20.6 PPG which is second among all centers in the league, trailing only Karl-Anthony Towns. Lopez has found comfort from playing at home. He has some of the biggest home/road splits in the league. He averages 3.6 PPG more at home versus on the road this season. Riding the best player on a hot team will pay off.
Larry Nance Jr. ($7,700)
It’s time to dig into the value bin so we can pay up for a few more studs on this awesome slate! Larry Nance Jr. fits the bill as he only costs $7,700 tonight on FantasyDraft. The Los Angeles Lakers are another team like Brooklyn in that they have already been eliminated from the playoffs with their 21-52 record which is second to last in the league. They have lost 15 of their last 17 games. It’s always tough trusting Lakers head coach Luke Walton as he seems to mix it up with his playing time. However, his hand is forced with Larry Nance Jr. He has played 35 and 29 minutes in their last two games and has averaged 11.0 PPG and 7.0 RPG during that time. The 35 minutes was the second highest in his career for the athletic power forward. The stable minutes and cheap price make him a fantastic value play.
Brandon Ingram was sidelined last game due to injury and is doubtful to play tonight. Ingram leads the Lakers in minutes this year so having him off the floor provides more minutes to Nance Jr. When given the minutes, we have seen Nance Jr.’s upside as he has four double-doubles this season. He averaged 30.3 MPG during those four double-doubles and there is a great chance he’ll see 30 or more minutes tonight. Los Angeles will host the Washington Wizards tonight in hopes to play a spoiler role. The Wizards are currently third in the Eastern Conference as they try and make a run for the top overall seed. They rank 24th in DvP vs power forwards this season allowing 47.7 FantasyDraft PPG to the position. This also opens the door for Julius Randle as well, but I’ll stick to the cheap price on Nance Jr.
Dwight Howard ($13,900)
The Atlanta Hawks are in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff race as they are tied with two other teams for the fifth seed. Unfortunately for the Hawks they will be playing at least their next three games without Paul Millsap. However, Dwight Howard has been a machine as of late. Howard has six straight double-doubles and has averaged 15.0 PPG and 10.5 RPG during that hot stretch. Atlanta needs this one and they’ll need to rely on Howard to anchor their frontcourt tonight. They have lost seven straight games and need to turn this ship around quickly before they slip out of the playoff picture. Tonight, they welcome in the 22-52 Phoenix Suns into Philips Arena. It’s a near must-win situation for the Hawks. Being priced at just $13,900 on FantasyDraft tonight, Howard has potential for a huge game.
Tonight, will be Phoenix’s last game of their six-game road trip. Their road trip hasn’t gone as planned as they have lost all five games by a combined 16.8 PPG. Howard should add to the pain tonight as the Suns are 25th in DvP vs centers this season allowing 52.1 FantasyDraft PPG to the position. Phoenix continues to be second in the league in pace and 28th in defensive efficiency. That is not a winning combination! With Millsap out, I love the idea or pairing Howard with Dennis Schroder tonight as the Suns are 26th in DvP vs point guards this season allowing 48.6 FantasyDraft PPG to the position. In their last game, both Howard and Schroder had over 40.0 FantasyDraft points. Pairing up a deadly combination like this in a must-win scenario will pay dividends. Lock them in and count your money!
With those four players locked into your rosters, you’ll be left with $11,950/per player remaining to fill out the rest of your lineup. There are so many good plays on the slate tonight, but those four stood out to me the most. Good luck with all your contests today!