Welcome to the newest addition to FantasyDraft, “MAS47’s Starting Five.” In this article, I will be breaking down five things that you need to know about each slate. These topics will range from but are not limited to, narratives, chalk locks, fades, amazing matchups, terrible defenses, targetable games and much more. As you all know, every slate is a blank canvas and it will be my job to paint an appropriate picture. Tonight FantasyDraft locks 30 minutes later than both FanDuel and DraftKings giving daily fantasy sports players a little bit of extra breathing room, which is greatly appreciated. The two games that will not be on the slate are the Bulls/Pistons game and the Hawks/Pacers game. Luckily for us, these two games didn’t exactly have a lot of DFS appeal to them. Neither game has over a 215 total and both games have more than a seven-point spread. Let’s talk about the games that ARE on tonight’s slate and get this party started…
Grit and Grind
For those who didn’t know, the Grizzlies’ motto is just that, “grit and grind.” Tonight, there’s a lot of merit to this and how it’s applicable to our 8-game slate. Tyreke Evans, Andrew Harrison, Mario Chalmers and of course Mike Conley (indefinitely) are out for tonight’s game against the Utah Jazz. Why is this important? Well, for starters that means the team’s starting Point Guard, backup Point Guard, third-string Point Guard, and ball-dominant Shooting Guard will not be suiting up. That’s a whole lot of usage that’s missing from the team’s offense. Let’s take a second and look at the last two games (the only two this Season) with all of these players off of the court. Dillon Brooks possessed a 31% usage rate in the team’s last game against Chicago and took 18 field goal attempts. That has to be an anomaly, right? Wrong! The game before that he had a team-high 29.9% usage rate and took a team-high 17 shots. Why? It makes sense if you think about the game-script here. Memphis has nothing to play for. Brooks is their “Developing Rookie.” When you put two and two together, he gets run down the stretch, starts every game and is the team’s proverbial “focal point.” The matchup against Utah (ranked third best in the NBA behind San Antonio and Boston) isn’t ideal, but it’s also enough to get people completely off of Brooks at an incredibly affordable price tag on FantasyDraft at ($8,800). He’s WAY too cheap. Now let’s look at one other player who is popping on my projections this afternoon. Have you heard ofÂ Xavier Rathan-Mayes? I hadn’t either until this week. I played him in his last game against Chicago and it paid off nicely. I mentioned earlier in this segment that Memphis has NO primary ball handlers on their active roster. Xavier is literally the only player in a Grizzlies jersey that is a “true” Point Guard. In the team’s last two games he’s come off of the bench and flourished in the minutes he’s played. Sometimes coming off of the bench isn’t a bad thing when it comes to DFS. If you’re the fifth option with the starting unit, you might be the first off of the bench. That’s exactly what’s happened for Xavier over these last two games. Against San Antonio (a very tough defensive unit similar to Utah) he possessed a 24% usage rate and played 25 minutes on March 5, 2018. The next game, against Chicago (a very weak defensive unit) he possessed a 23.9% usage rate and took 12 field goal attempts (the second most on the team). The last point I want to make about Memphis is this team is in full tank mode (whether we want to realize it or not). They have an 18-46 record which is good for the last spot in the West. Marc Gasol and JaMychal Green didn’t play a minute in the fourth quarter on Wednesday. I’d assume this will be a trend moving forward for the course of the Season. Who benefitted? All of the “young guys” on this Grizzlies roster.
Fear the Beard
Full disclosure, both of my first two points in my “Starting Five” are a bit contrarian and will not be popular in cash games or tournaments. Just because they’re not popular, does that mean they aren’t the right play though? I’d argue no. So we have James Harden (“The Beard”) going against a Toronto defense that ranks third best in the NBA against apposing Shooting Guards. I preach on our Podcast all of the time to ignore DvP (Defense versus position) for this very reason. The Raptors best defender, RookieÂ OG Anunoby, will be out tonight. This is just the tip of the iceberg, folks. James Harden and the Houston Rockets have only played against this Raptors team once this year (November 14, 2017). In that game, Chris Paul sat. I think it’s important to note that as his usage rate will not be this high again, but he possessed a 44% usage rate in that particular game. That means nearly half of the game had his stamp on it. So it must be an anomaly, right? Wrong! The last time these two teams met prior (January 8, 2017) Harden had a 43% usage rate. As expected, in both games he scored more than 60 FantasyDraft Points. I want to point out a few things about this team defense on Toronto and why I think Chris Paul being back might actually mean a little less than most will realize. First, OG has missed the last four games for Toronto, in those four games, their defensive ratings collectively dropped substantially. As a team, Toronto went from a top 10 defensive team to a bottom 10. I know you’re thinking, “But he only plays 15-25 minutes a game, how is this possible?” He’s that good y’all. According to ESPN.com out of the 90 Small Forwards ranked, he’s #11, as a rookie. Now let’s think about the man that will be responsible for defending him, DeMar DeRozan. In those last two games, DeMar defended him for an average of 65% of the game. Look what he did in those minutes. Now imagine that number increasing to 75-80% which it should tonight. What do you get? I think you get a James Harden ceiling game. The defensive metrics would back up this theory as well. Out of the 107 Shooting Guards ranked defensively on ESPN.com, DeRozan comes in ranked 78th. Of the 30 starting two-guards, that’s 8th worst in the NBA. My last point to push you over the Harden cliff, this game is ONLY a two-point spread with a very respectable 221 total. If CP3 (Chris Paul) has his hands busy with Kyle Lowry defense, imagine what James Harden is going to be able to do tonight at very low ownership.
Let’s talk about chalk, baby
So enough “hot takes” and let’s break down some of the chalk that I think is extremely viable tonight. Kevin Durant is priced $16,200 on FantasyDraft tonight. If this isn’t the first place you start with your roster construction, you’re doing it wrong. I’m all-in on Durant and have no problem eating this chalk everywhere in every format (CASH and GPP’s). We already know that Steph Curry will be out tonight and Durant steps into a perfect situation. In his time on the court this Season without Steph, he sees a very unsurprising 38% usage rate (+7% bump). That number, well, it’s just stupid. Now you consider the fact he’s playing in a game Vegas thinks is going to stay close (I trust those guys) with a 1 point spread in a 218 total (seems low) and you don’t have to tell me any more. This is a guy I’m starting my build with tonight and I think you should as well. The matchup isn’t the best, but if anyone is “matchup proof” it’s Kevin Durant in this crush spot.
It’s all about the four
If you look at the Power Forwards on tonight’s slate you are left with more depth than I can remember. Obviously, FantasyDraft gives you the positional flexibility to lock-in multiple Forwards/Centers (3). This is by far the deepest position on the slate, so let’s break it down. Here are all of the F/C’s that I’m considering tonight on FantasyDraft: LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Nikola Vucevic, Tobias Harris, Draymond Green, Nikola Mirotic, Larry Nance Jr., Kyle Kuzma, Kosta Koufos and Pascal Siakam. I know, that doesn’t help you much. I’ll narrow it down a bit. LeBron James is playing against the team that has the fastest pace in the NBA since the All-Star break (Clippers) and has the highest projected usage rate on the slate behind Kevin Durant, I like him a lot as a spend up option. Vucevic will be playing without Guard Evan Fournier and Forward Aaron Gordon where he possesses a 30% usage rate (+4% bump), I think he’s a little too priced up for me to get there considering roster construction. Tobias Harris has been nothing short of incredible over the last two weeks scoring 50+ FantasyDraft Points in three out of his last six games, but he’s a little too risky considering the matchup against LeBron James tonight. Draymond Green becomes the primary/secondary ball-handler without Steph on the floor and should be considered as a viable mid-tier option in all formats because of this despite a tough matchup against Portland. Nikola Mirotic will be the chalk and for good reason, he’ll slide into the starting lineup for an injured Anthony Davis. Larry Nance Jr. should be one of the first few you lock in tonight on FantasyDraft considering recency, ceiling, price, matchup, and pace as he makes for one of my favorite plays on the slate going up against a very attackable Deandre Jordan. Kyle Kuzma finally showed us the ceiling game we were all waiting on and at $12,300 he’s an amazing way to get exposure to the highest projected scoring game of the slate (229). Finally, both Koufos and Siakam are elite value plays (If WCS sits) that will allow you to get some of these other spend-up players into your roster tonight.
If you’ve ever typed Jrue Holiday, you’ve probably noticed that the auto-correct for his name is “true.” Tonight’s it’s applicable. I think it is “true” that you’ll need to roster Holiday in all formats to cash tonight. Here’s why… Washington as a team defends Power Forwards very well. Nikola Mirotic is going to be incredibly chalky, for good reason, but I do think if you’re forced to lean one or the other it has to be Holiday here. Not only does he draw a better matchup, he’s the team’s primary ball handler. What does this mean? Well, instead of playing off the ball, running behind screens and posting up in the paint, Jrue will be the guy responsible for running the team’s offense. While Rajon Rondo obviously will take on this role as well, it will be Jrue getting the extended run, usage, and volume because of the Davis injury. The point here is that you can’t just think scoring when attacking this situation. Sure, Mirotic “could” score more real points. Who’s going to be assisting those baskets though? My guess, Jrue Holiday will be. It’s also not even out of the realm of possibility that Holiday outscores Mirotic’s raw point total and if that’s the case, I could see Holiday exceeding value by 10-15 more points than the Spaniard. If you’re looking for a place to start in attacking this game/team, Holiday is your guy.
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