The Golden Nugget

With Jamal Murray out yet again, Will Barton should prove to be fantasy gold tonight against a team that has allowed the second most fantasy points this season to opposing guards. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s NBA contests.

Guards (G):

Will Barton, Nuggets, $12,200 – Jamal Murray continues to deal with a concussion and he is listed as doubtful for Friday’s tilt against the Suns. Point Will Barton showed up last game, basically because he had to, and he delivered: 17 points (PTS), six rebounds (REB), six assists (AST), one steal (STL), two blocks (BLK) and two 39 fantasy points in 35 minutes.  Without Murray in the rotation, the team is relying on him as the main ball-handler despite the fact the roster features a pair of true(r) point guards (PGs): Malik Beasley and Emmanuel Mudiay. Tonight, Barton will square off against a Suns team that ranks dead last in defensive efficiency versus opposing PGs and has allowed the second most fantasy points per game (FPPG) to the position. For the season, Barton has averaged 0.99 fantasy points per minute (FPPM) without both Murray and Paul Millsap on the court, and he should be destined for around 35 minutes once again. Consequently, 40 fantasy points in well within reach, and Barton should be built around in all formats.


Gary Harris, Nuggets, $12,200 – One member of the underpriced Nuggets backcourt is not enough on this slate as Gary Harris is also worthy of this mid-tier price tag. Harris has improved upon his average FPPG output every month this season and he is averaging 34.9 FPPG in the month of January alone. The Suns have yielded the most FPPG to opposing shooting guards (SGs) this season and Harris has topped 34 fantasy points, including a 49.25 fantasy point outburst, in each of his last two meetings against Devin Booker and company. Although Barton is the superior per-minute producer with both Murray/Millsap off the court, Harris may end up playing more minutes of the two, and court time will equal fantasy production in what is looking like the most fantasy-friendly game environment of the evening. Stack away on this game, FantasyDraft-ers!


Josh Hart, Lakers, $9,000 – With Lonzo Ball looking unlikely for Friday, the guard rotation is going to be concentrated yet again, with Tyler Ennis and Josh Hart eating up a ton of minutes. Most of the Lakers have taken a hit in fantasy value without Ball in the rotation this year, because he is such an excellent passer, but Hart is one of the few whose fantasy prospects have improved without him. When Ball is active, Hart has only averaged 16.5 minutes per game (MPG) and 10.8 FPPG, but those numbers improve to 28.3 MPG and 21.6 FPPG with Ball inactive. The Lakers’ opponent, the Pacers, will be playing on the second end of a back-to-back, meaning there is no reason they should blow the Lakers away in this game. If the game remains close, expect Hart to flirt with the upper-20s in terms of minutes against a team whose bench unit ranks 16th in defensive efficiency. Since Hart does not typically start, he will see very little of the Oladipo defense, and should prove to be a solid per-dollar investment at just $9,000.


Forward/Centers (F/C):

Andre Drummond, Pistons, $18,200 – Okay, so this is not the most favorable price point but value is aplenty on this slate…especially in the mid-tier. Consequently, fitting a superstar like Andre Drummond is easy, and he draws an absolutely elite matchup against the Wizards. Since the beginning of the month, Marc Gasol, John Henson, Epke Udoh, Jarrett Allen and Dwight Howard have all smoked this very team. The only outlier game against this team since the fifth of the month was Henson’s second meeting against him and it was due to a quiet first half. When all said and done, Henson still dropped 14 fantasy points in the second half, which would have equated to more than 3.0x value over the course of a full game (at his respective price point). If not for a blowout, Howard was on pace for a 20-20 type double-double against the Wizards on Wednesday, and Drummond possess similar upside on Friday. Unlike Howard, Drummond has developed into an above-average passer at the position, so that only enhances his potential ceiling. In a game expected to remain close throughout, and against a team he dropped 55 fantasy points against earlier in the season, Drummond is going to feast.


T.J. Warren, Suns, $13,200 – The defense of the aforementioned Harris is very relevant to this matchup because he held Booker to just 13 field goal attempts and 30.8-percent shooting in the first meeting. Harris is one of the game’s upper-echelon perimeter defenders, so while he may not hold Booker down to that pathetic of a performance this go-around, he should make like difficult for the Suns’ star SG. Therefore, some of the offense will be forced to funnel elsewhere, and T.J. Warren is the likeliest of candidates. Obviously, Booker leads the team in usage rate (USG%) this season at 31.6-percent without Eric Bledsoe, but Warren is not far behind (26.4-percent). Over the course of their last 10 games, the Nuggets rank 20th in defensive efficiency against opposing power forwards (PFs), so the matchup is certainly favorable for Warren. All these factors combined would explain why Warren posted a healthy 36.25 fantasy points in the last meeting versus this team. With similar factors still in play, Warren is one of the safest investments on the slate.


Julius Randle, Lakers, $12,100 – In the month of January, the Lakers are playing at the fifth fastest pace in the league, and the Pacers have slowed down their pace a bit since the injury to Myles Turner. In other words, something has got to give in this matchup, and normally the home team wins the battle of pace. Looking back at the Pacers’ last three games, or during the time Turner has been out recently, the team ranks 29th in defensive efficiency versus opposing centers and they have been roasted for a 59.5-percent field goal percentage by the position during that span. On offense, Randle plays plenty of center, but it almost does not matter whether Domantas Sabonis or Thaddeus Young guard him, because he should dominate either on the interior. This year, only the Warriors and Lakers have allowed more points on putbacks than the Pacers, and Randle leads the Lakers in putback points per game (PPG). Essentially, he is not a player you are going to want to fade tonight.


*Statistics are accurate as of Thursday, January 18

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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