Learn to Love Thys-Elf

Elfrid Payton returned from extended absence to drop a healthy double-double on the Knicks last game. Now, the matchup only gets better against a Suns team that ranks 29th in point guard efficiency defense. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s NBA contests.


Damian Lillard, Trail Blazers – Players facing the Nets are always viable because the team plays at the fastest pace in the league and ranks 21st in efficiency. Naturally, opposing offenses will enjoy more possessions than they are used to which creates both a higher floor and ceiling comparatively to an average matchup. Starting the Trail Blazers guards, beginning with Damian Lillard, makes all the sense in the world because the two dominate the usage essentially from the start to finish of the game. The way their rotation works, one of either Lillard or C.J. McCollum is almost always on the floor, and when they are, they are shooting. In two of Lillard’s last three games, he has busted out for 64-plus fantasy points. While the Nets have improved their defense against opposing point guards (PGs) this year, they still only rank 22nd in efficiency versus the position and have allowed 10.0 assists per game (APG) to one-guards. D’Angelo Russell is far from a lockdown defender so Lillard should be one of the safest investments on the entire slate in a game that should prove to be the equivalent of a track meet.

C.J. McCollum, Trail Blazers – The Nets have yielded 1.11 points per possession (PPP) to spot up shooters this year which is the third most behind only the Cavaliers and Clippers. Here are the players averaging more points per game (PPG) on spot up shots alone this year: Tobias Harris, Robert Covington and Eric Gordon. Otherwise, C.J. McCollum’s 6.7 PPG on spot ups reigns supreme. Of course, Lillard is leading the team in fantasy points per game, but McCollum’s scoring is up even above his total from his breakout 2016-17 campaign. He is averaging a career-high 23.5 PPG and 35.95 fantasy points per game (FPPG). While Lillard’s usage rate (USG%) currently sits at 30.5, McCollum is not far behind (25.9), and he still plays PG on the second unit for a stint in each half. When he handles the ball, and Lillard is off the court, McCollum averages 1.16 fantasy points per minute (FPPM), compared to 0.89 FPPM alongside Lillard. His stretches sans Lillard should be monstrous against a Nets bench allowing the ninth most PPG. Play both the Trail Blazers guards and reap the benefits.

Elfrid Payton, Magic – Last game, Elfrid Payton returned, and it was announced he would not be dealing with a minute restriction. He certainly was not restricted: 11 points (PTS), six rebounds (REB), 11 assists (AST), two steals (STL) and two blocks (BLK) en route to 43.50 fantasy points in 29 minutes (versus the Knicks). No team has allowed more FPPG to opposing PGs than the Suns and it makes sense considering they are starting an undrafted rookie at the position (Mike James). While the Suns defense has improved slightly since the team turned to Jay Triano at coach, but they still sit at 27th in overall defensive efficiency. For what it is worth, Payton posted a double-double against the Suns in his last meeting against them in 2017, and the team ranks 29th in defensive efficiency versus PGs this year. The pace should enhance Payton’s chances at racking up the PTS, AST and REB, plus PGs have racked up the steals against the Suns (2.4 per game), so Payton should smash tonight.


Andre Drummond, Pistons – Only four teams have allowed more FPPG to opposing centers (Cs) than the Hawks this year. Dewayne Dedmon was brought in to provide defense and yet he has only rated as an average defender according to defensive box plus/minus. Furthermore, the team ranks 23rd in defensive efficiency versus the position this year and they have allowed the 11th most rebounds to the position. One of the main reasons Cs have excelled against the Hawks is the fact they have been blocked the seventh most times per game which is a referendum on Dennis Schroder always driving to the hoop. In fact, the Hawks roster includes two of the 17 most blocked players thus far: Schroder and John Collins. In most matchups, especially with his improved free-throw shooting (although he went 0-7 from line last game), Drummond will find a way to post a respectable double-double. However, if he can produce an outlier performance in the blocks category, this could be a monster game from Drummond.

Nikola Vucevic, Suns – Nikola Vucevic’s value is greatly enhanced by the presence of Payton. Seriously, his impact cannot be understated as evident by the fact Vucevic has averaged 1.41 FPPM with Payton on the court compared to 1.11 FPPM with the starting PG on the bench. A 0.3 FPPM difference is substantial as it equates to the difference of nine fantasy points over a 30-minute sample. Thus far, the Suns rank as a 27th percentile defense against post ups and have allowed the eighth most PPP on the play type. Tyson Chandler’s back is hurting, and if he sits out again, the defense will only suffer even more in the post. In two games versus the Suns last season, Vucevic managed at least 47 fantasy points in each including double-doubles of 21-14 and 18-17. Sure, Aaron Gordon has emerged and morphed into a better player since that time, but Vucevic showed last game why he leads the starting unit in USG%. Like last game, the Payton/Vucevic stack should eat in this elite spot.

Bobby Portis, Bulls – Oh hello Bobby Portis; welcome back to the Bulls rotation. For those who missed it, Portis returned to the rotation on Tuesday and promptly dropped a 21-13 double-double on the Raptors (in a close game, mind you) in just 24 minutes. The Bulls rank dead last in just about every offensive category across the board, so the offensive boost was needed. While Portis’ future is still in flux with the organization, considering the fact he knocked Nikola Mirotic out, the team needs him in the short run. 24 minutes should be the norm for him moving forward and the Pacers rank second to last in frontcourt efficiency defense. Portis’ numbers were likely inflated in the first game but he will undoubtedly shoot when he is on the court. His price tag is cheap enough that he is worth a speculative start just in case he can come close to replicating his previous performance. Hell, the matchup is ripe.

*Note: stats are accurate as of Thursday, November 9


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 DailyRoto.com, 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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