Thunder Island

Pairing the duo of Russell Westbrook and Steven Adams makes almost too much sense on this slate due to the elite matchup versus a Magic team that struggles to guard the pick-and-roll. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s NBA contests.


Russell Westbrook, Thunder, $21,100 – Poor Elfrid Payton is probably still having nightmares of Russell Westbrook blowing straight by him. Since the start of the 2015-16 season, Westbrook has posted at least 76.75 fantasy points in every meeting versus Payton and the Magic, including two games in which he played alongside Kevin Durant. Heading into this game, the Magic rank dead last in defensive efficiency versus opposing point guards (PGs) over the course of the last five games. Additionally, the Magic have allowed the 11th most points to ball-handlers on the pick-and-roll this season, and Westbrook averages the seventh most possessions per game in the play type. All the stars are aligned in this matchup and yet, with all the stars to choose from, Westbrook should go criminally under-owned. Do not be one of the people who fades him in a clear blowup spot.

Dennis Smith Jr., Mavericks, $11,300 – On a slow-paced Mavericks team, Dennis Smith Jr. is amongst the fastest players in all the NBA, so he should thrive in a matchup against the fast-paced Nets. Over the course of the last week, only the Magic, Timberwolves and Bulls have posted higher defensive ratings than the Nets, as they are regressing defensively due to all their injuries. For the season, the Nets rank 26th in defensive efficiency versus the PG position and they allow the third most points per game (PPG) to the position, behind only the Grizzlies and Mavericks. Thus far, Smith Jr. has run isolation plays at the seventh highest rate of any qualified player and Spencer Dinwiddie is a 13th percentile defender against the play type. What more needs to be said here? At some point this season, Smith Jr. is going to consistently flirt with a $14,000 price point, so fantasy owners should continue to buy low on him while they still can.

T.J. McConnell, 76ers, $9,000 – Ben Simmons hobbled off the court last game, and he was already dealing with an elbow issue, so it seems unlikely he would play on Wednesday evening. The last time he saw, T.J. McConnell took over the point guard (PG) duties and dropped a 15-7-13 double-double en route to a ridiculous 52.75 fantasy points. In that game, McConnell played a whopping 37 minutes, and he likely would garner a similar minute allotment if the star point-forward were to sit once again tonight. Sans Simmons on the floor, McConnell has unsurprisingly played more minutes than other player on the team and he has averaged 0.90 FPPM. Just doing simple math, if he were to play minutes into the mid-30s, that would equate to around 31.50 fantasy points in an average outing. Even though his price tag has risen, it is still a bargain for his current role (if Simmons is out).

Michael Carter-Williams, Hornets, $8,500 – With Kemba Walker already ruled out, Michael Carter-Williams is destined to take over as the starting PG for the Hornets in a tilt against the Raptors. To this point, Carter-Williams is averaging 33.48 fantasy points per-36 minutes overall, which is just another way of saying 0.93 FPPM. Specifically, he is averaging 0.98 FPPM with the starting PG on the bench, and he should be destined for close to 30 minutes even in the worst-case scenario. In a 91-minute sample size (177 possessions), Carter-Williams has posted a 33.3-percent assist rate without Walker and a 9.0-percent rebounding rate. Carter-Williams is not a huge scorer but he does not have to be if he is filling up the box score in other ways. He is going to be extremely popular, so fading him in GPPs is a viable strategy, but he should be locked and loaded into cash game lineups.


DeMarcus Cousins, Pelicans, $19,300 – Despite the fact Karl-Anthony Towns’ offensive game stretches far beyond the paint and Taj Gibson’s does not, opposing centers have had a much easier time rebounding against the Timberwolves than power forwards (PFs). Whereas the Timberwolves have yielded the ninth most rebounds per game (RPG) to opposing centers, they have held PFs to the third fewest rebounds per game. Those rebounding numbers should clear up all the confusion as to which member of the Pelicans frontcourt is the superior play; DeMarcus Cousins is the clear answer. The last time Cousins faced the Timberwolves as a member of the Pelicans, he dropped 35 points (PTS), nine rebounds (REB), six assists (AST), six steals (STL) and three blocks (BLK) en route to 71.75 fantasy points. Clearly, the ceiling is there, and both the coaches in this game play their starters an absurd of minutes. In a game expected to be both high-scoring and competitive, the sky is the ceiling for Cousins.

Steven Adams, Thunder, $10,600 – If looking for the ideal GPP pairing, look no further than the Westbrook/Steven Adams pairing. Not only do the Magic struggle against the ball-handler in pick-and-rolls but they also have struggled against the roll man. Four teams have allowed more points per possession (PPP) to roll men than the Magic and they rank as just a 14th percentile defense against the play type. Nikola Vucevic is a large, true center, so Adams will be needed to play big minutes in order to match up against him. During his time on the court, he and Westbrook will look to run the pick-and-roll often, and they should be successful. In 2017, Adams has stepped up his game and he is averaging a career-best 28.50 fantasy points per game (FPPG). He is almost averaging a double-double, and the Magic allow the fourth most RPG to centers and most offensive RPG. If there were ever a game for Adams to produce both an outlier scoring and rebounding performance, this would be the one.

*Note: stats are accurate as of Tuesday, November 28

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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