Mile High Club

Playing in the Denver altitude, the Nuggets may be without Will Barton this evening, which simply enhances Gary Harris’ already fantastic matchup against the Pelicans this evening. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s NBA contests.

Guards:

Chris Paul, Rockets, $15,900 – Right now, Chris Paul is simply unfadeable. Despite the substantial price tag, Paul heads into this game having topped 43 fantasy points in four consecutive games, including a 62.75 fantasy point explosion his last time out. His role right now is so insanely fantasy-friendly. He starts the game but only plays about six-or-so minutes then is pulled. He typically returns late in the first quarter when James Harden is subbed out so he ends up leading the second unit. There is no player on any second unit that can guard Paul and his role on the second unit is not too dissimilar from Harden’s. Most of the baskets result in either Paul scoring himself or dishing to one of the open shooters on the perimeter. Additionally, Clint Capela is not featured on the second unit, so Paul enjoys an enhanced rebounding rate as well. Thus far in the month of December, Paul is averaging 34.5 minutes per game (MPG), 23.2 points per game (PPG), 6.4 rebounds per game (RPG), 8.4 assists per game (APG), 2.4 steals per game (SPG) and 49.7 fantasy points per game (FPPG). Sure, the Rockets are facing the Spurs tonight, but they are still being implied to score over 110-points. Until Paul reaches $17,000, he can be safely started against anyone.

Gary Harris, Nuggets, $12,300 – Will Barton is listed as questionable for Friday with a back issue which means Gary Harris will potentially need to step up his involvement in the offense. With both Paul Millsap and Will Barton off the floor this season, Harris averages 1.05 fantasy points per minute (FPPM), and he would be destined for minutes in the upper-30s without Barton. Shooting wings have presented a tough matchup for the Pelicans all season long because the team rates as a 38th percentile defense versus spot up shooters and struggles against both shooting guards (SGs) and small forwards (SFs). For what it is worth, Harris has dropped 34.75 and 38.75 fantasy points in his two meetings against the Pelicans this year. His 36.75 fantasy point average against the team would equate to 2.99x value at his current price tag or almost the exact number necessary for value in tournaments. The absence of Barton could lead to his ceiling stretching beyond his previous game logs which means fading him is a scary proposition.

Milos Teodosic, Clippers, $8,400 – The injury to Austin Rivers is a game changer for Milos Teodosic because he was destined to hover around 20 MPG in the short term had it not been an important opening the rotation. Following the injury Rivers last game, Teodosic played 25 minutes against the Magic and managed 28.50 fantasy points. With Rivers out for the entire game, Teodosic’s minute ceiling could stretch to around 30, which is substantial for a player averaging 0.97 FPPM to this point in his young NBA career. As he becomes more accustomed to the speed of the game, his efficiency should only increase, and he amazingly posted a respectable outing his last time out despite shooting 2-9 from the field. If his shots start to fall early, he could absolutely crush value tonight. NOTE: Teodosic has been ruled out for tonight so Lou Williams becomes a prime play on the slate and Sam Dekker emerges as the preferred value play on the Clippers.

Forward/Center:

Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks, $20,700 – Who on the Bulls is supposed to guard Giannis Antetokounmpo? Regardless of who tries, they shall likely fail miserably, as evident by the fact Antetokounmpo topped 57 fantasy points in three of his four meetings against the team just a season ago. Also, Justin Holiday simply is not large enough or athletic enough to stay with him. The Bulls also struggle in transition as they allow the sixth most points per possession (PPP) on the break.  Meanwhile, Antetokounmpo averages the most plays in transition per game of any player in the league and scores 1.28 PPP on the play type. As if that were not enough, the Bulls allow the ninth highest field goal percentage inside five feet of the basket and no player attempts more field goals per game in that range than Antetokounmpo. What more needs to be said? Start Antetokounmpo and sleep like a baby.

Marc Gasol, Grizzlies, $14,500 – Like many injury situations on Friday, the status of Tyreke Evans is iffy at this point, although he did not practice with the team yesterday. This season, Gasol has garnered a 25.4-percent usage rate with Evans on the court and Mike Conley off but that number jumps to 30.9-percent with them both off the floor. Furthermore, Gasol averages just 1.03 FPPM with Evans on and Conley off compared to 1.15 while both are on the bench. In other words, if looking to roster Gasol, you are rooting for Evans to sit for the second consecutive game. Regardless, the matchup against the Hawks is ripe, with the team ranking 26th in defensive efficiency to centers over the course of their last five games. During that stretch, the Hawks have yielded a ridiculous 57.1-percent field goal rate to the center position and they have also been dominated on the boards (15.4 RPG) by men in the middle. In this matchup, Gasol would be fairly-priced around $15,500 if Evans were to sit, so take that discount all the way to the bank if that ends up being the case.

Jonas Valanciunas, Raptors, $9,900 – Apparently, Jonas Valanciunas has hit his groove as of late as his recent uptick has minutes has led to monstrous performances in back-to-back contests. After averaging just 19.9 MPG in the month of November, his minutes are up to 23.0 in December, and he has played 28-plus minutes in consecutive games. Unsurprisingly, minutes have led to production for the talented center, and he has dropped a 20-10-plus double-double in each of those games. Tonight, he and the Raptors will square off against a Nets team that ranks 22nd in defensive efficiency versus opposing centers. Really the only thing that matters here is Valanciunas’ minutes. If he continues to play in the upper-20s, he is a virtual lock to flirt with value at this price point. Even if his minutes sink back down, the matchup is good enough that he can post an efficient enough outing to not kill you. However, if he remains around 30 minutes, fading him will be a grave mistake.

*Note: stats are accurate as of Thursday, December 14

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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