Growth Spur-t

Dejounte Murray is averaging 1.14 fantasy points per minute without Kawhi Leonard, Pau Gasol, Rudy Gay and Manu Ginobili (all ruled out) on the floor and he is facing one of the league’s worst defenses. Do not miss out on Murray night. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s NBA contests.

Guards (G):

Russell Westbrook, Thunder, $21,200 – The best player in basketball is matched up against a Nets team that ranks 25th in defensive efficiency against his position so, yeah, he is a very good play. Heading into this game, Russell Westbrook has topped 60 fantasy points in half his games this month, and he is coming off a 20-20 performance versus the Cavaliers. Only the Mavericks, Magic, Suns and Pelicans have allowed more points per game (PPG) to the point guard (PG) position this year than the Nets and Westbrook is averaging the second most PPG of any true PG this season, per statmuse. Furthermore, and probably most importantly, the Nets have allowed the most points by far to ball-handlers in the pick-and-roll this season (1,018) and they rank as just a 17th percentile defense against the play type. Westbrook, who habitually runs the pick-and-roll with teammate Steven Adams, and he averages the 15th most PPG of any player in the league running the pick-and-roll. Combine all these factors and it is easy to see why Westbrook is worth building around with only five games to choose from.


Isaiah Thomas, Cavaliers, $11,700 – One of these games, Isaiah Thomas is going to bust out in a big way, and his price point does still not reflect his potential upside. Despite the team getting blown out by the Thunder in their last game, Thomas still played 26 minutes after playing 30-plus minutes in consecutive games prior to that. Although he only played 26 minutes last game, he still scored 24 points (PTS) and dished out four assists (AST). The team has had a few days to rest so there is no reason to believe he should not flirt with 30-plus minutes once again tonight. The funny part is the Spurs have already ruled four players out and the Cavaliers are still listed as 1.5-point underdogs. With the game expected to remain close throughout, Thomas will play a full allotment of minutes, and he can score against any team (especially against one without a true rim protector). Price enforce with Thomas tonight and reap the benefits.


De’Aaron Fox, Kings, $10,800 – The Magic are an absolutely brutal defense against opposing backcourts and George Hill will very likely be one of the veterans sitting on Tuesday. Consequently, De’Aaron Fox is bordering on must-play as he will handle a majority of the ball-handling duties against one of the league’s worst defenses against his position. Not only do the Magic rank 28th in defensive efficiency versus opposing PGs but they have also yielded the most FPPG to the position as well. On the front end of the back-to-back, Fox scored 16 PTS, grabbed three rebounds (REB), dished out seven AST and racked up 32.25 fantasy points…and Hill came off the bench. Assuming Hill joins Frank Mason on the inactive list, which seems likely because Coach Dave Joerger has said he will sit 2-3 veterans every game, then Fox could flirt with 40-minutes in an elite matchup. What more needs to be said? Lock in Fox and move on.


Dejounte Murray, Spurs, $9,100 – Rostering Spurs quite often is a frustrating proposition but the injuries to this team are sort of making them predictable. The team has already ruled Kawhi Leonard, Pau Gasol, Rudy Gay and Manu Ginobili and Coach Gregg Popovich also announced Dejounte Murray would be his starting PG moving forward (even when Tony Parker is active). This is extremely noteworthy because Murray ranks second on the team in both usage rate (USG%) and fantasy points per minute (FPPM) with all these players off the court. For a player averaging 1.14 FPPM, that means he only needs around 24 minutes in an average matchup to produce 3.0x value at his current price point. Guess what? This is no ordinary matchup as Isaiah Thomas has posted a significantly negative defensive box plus/minus in every single season of his career and he is quite literally one of the worst defenders in the league. Therefore, Murray should prove to be more efficient than usual, so one can only imagine his ceiling if he flirts with 30 minutes. Murray may legitimately be the top per-dollar investment of the entire slate.


Forward/Centers (F/C):

LaMarcus Aldridge, Spurs, $15,900 – Secondary Spurs are nice and all but this is LaMarcus Aldridge’s team and they still rely on him to keep the engine going. Look, the Cavaliers defense is pathetic, as they currently sit 29th in defensive efficiency. In other words, only the Kings rate below them in terms of defensive efficiency so it is no wonder the team keeps losing. Like most other positions, the Cavaliers struggle to defend opposing power forwards (PFs), ranking 27th in defensive efficiency and allowing the second most PPG to the position. The way the Cavaliers’ lineup works, either Kevin Love or Jae Crowder will end up guarding Aldridge in the post, and neither has a real shot to slow him down. Oh, by the way, Aldridge averages a team-leading 1.24 FPPM with the four players off the court who have already been ruled out. Good luck to those who fade him.


Davis Bertans, Spurs, $7,300 – Last but not least, Tuesday is setting up as a Davis Bertans game, and he proved his upside a few weeks ago against the Kings when he dropped 28 PTS in 31 minutes. As noted in the Aldridge tidbit, the Kings are the only defense worse than the Cavaliers right now, and the appropriate players have been ruled out to set up a path for playing time and usage for Bertans. With Gasol out, center minutes will be available to Bertans, and he matches up well against a player like Love. Additionally, with Ginobili ruled out, usage will be available to him off the bench, and the veteran shooting guard (SG) will not be out there stealing shooting opportunities from Bertans. Essentially, the price point is still cheap enough for Bertans that he does not have to go crazy to provide fantasy owners with value, but this definitely is a spot where he has the potential to go crazy anyways. Especially in tournaments, Bertans is an intriguing investment.


*Statistics are accurate as of Monday, January 22

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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