Daily Fantasy Basketball Strategy: February 21, 2016
Sunday is a big day in the NBA after a short-slate Saturday, but with the four early games excluded from the big GPPs on most sites, we’re going to focus on the six games starting at 6 p.m. or later. Without further ado, let’s see what Vegas thinks of the Sunday slate.
Vegas lines and totals
Indiana @ Orlando (PK) – total of 200.5
Memphis @ Toronto (-8.5) – total of 202
Charlotte (-6.5) @ Brooklyn – total of 203
Philadelphia @ Dallas (-10) – total of 203.5
L.A. Lakers @ Chicago (-7) – total of 206.5
Utah @ Portland (-3.5) – total of 198
Sunday’s is one of the more balanced slates you’ll see, as all games are within 8.5 points of each other from a totals perspective and no games have a spread larger than 10 points. Lakers-Bulls will certainly be a popular game to choose from as will 76ers-Mavericks, as three of those four teams are pretty bad defensively. Pacers-Magic should be a tight game with the potential for some overtime, but without the extra periods it may not prove to be wise to target heavily in DFS, although there are a few options. It’s time now to take a look at Sunday’s top plays.
Kemba Walker – Walker picked up where he left off in Charlotte’s first game after the break, scoring 25 points against the Bucks and registering his fifth straight 20-point game. In that span, Walker has been a virtual lock for 40 fantasy points, and that should be the case again in a favorable matchup against the Nets with the upside to push even higher.
Jordan Clarkson – Another player who continued his pre-break roll upon returning from the week off, Clarkson has scored at least 20 points in three of his past four games and is also averaging 4.8 assists and 4.5 rebounds during that span. A matchup with Derrick Rose and the Bulls is one where Clarkson should continue to thrive as he looks to finish strong for the second straight season.
Cheap risk option: With Deron Williams injured in a shocking development, J.J. Barea could pick up a few extra minutes at the point, even with Devin Harris set to return from an injury of his own. If Williams sits entirely, Barea would become the top value play of the night, but for now treat him as a nice upside GPP flier until word comes out on Williams.
Kobe Bryant – Bryant’s dislocated finger didn’t seem to affect him much when he was dropping 25 points on the Spurs, and the Black Mamba has looked relatively healthy otherwise of late. His torrid stretch from the end of January into February is over, but he’s maintained a solid level of play and gets a great matchup against the Bulls, who can’t defend the wings without Jimmy Butler. Expect another 30-plus fantasy points from Kobe.
Evan Fournier – Fournier is averaging an insane 42.3 minutes per game in his last four, and the trade of Tobias Harris only serves to lock those minutes in, as Brandon Jennings is more of a threat to Elfrid Payton than anybody else on Orlando’s roster. He’s hit value in five straight with four 30-point performances, and until his price rises into the low-to-mid $6,000s he should continue to meet value, even with a slightly negative matchup Sunday against the Pacers.
Cheap risk option: It’s always risky to throw a player into your lineup in his team debut, especially when that player is a low-usage option. But most cheap fliers don’t have high usage rates, and Courtney Lee could surprise against the Nets. Mostly because it’s the Nets, but every once in a while, Lee has a game that well exceeds his value, and his first one in a Hornets uniform could be one where the team looks to see what they have in its new toy. Just make sure he’s starting before using him.
Paul George – With Evan Fournier starting at small forward for the Magic, their wing defense takes a hit thanks to essentially playing a three-guard lineup. I haven’t been huge on George in DFS since his scorching start jacked his price into unmanageable territory, but he’s settled into a good spot for his true value and the small forward position doesn’t offer a ton of great per-dollar value Sunday. If you want to lock in 40 fantasy points from the position, George is your man.
Chandler Parsons – Besides George, Parsons is the only other small forward I have projected to top 30 points Sunday. A matchup with the 76ers is always ripe for the picking, although they’ve improved at defending SFs of late. Even still, Parsons is my favorite SF play Sunday, but it’s close enough between him and George that you can pick and choose who you want to roster based on the rest of your lineup.
Cheap risk option: Coming off a career night against the Raptors where he hit 13 of 17 shots and four three-pointers, Doug McDermott makes for a very interesting GPP play against the Lakers on Sunday. Los Angeles’ defense is far worse than Toronto’s, and while expecting another explosion seems unwise, McDermott has little competition for minutes if he gets hot once again with Mike Dunleavy still rusty and Tony Snell being Tony Snell.
Nerlens Noel – Noel continues to play great ball alongside Ish Smith and even Jahlil Okafor and draws a very favorable matchup against Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavericks. He’s hit the 30-point plateau in seven of his past eight games, and Noel should easily push his way into the mid-to-high 30s in this matchup.
JaMychal Green – Green will be a popular play coming off a monster fantasy night where he filled up the stat sheet across the board against the Wolves. Don’t expect a near double-double and six combined blocks and steals again, but as long as Green remains in the starting lineup, which he should, he’s in for a nice night against Jonas Valanciunas. Not only is his playing time increasing, but his usage rate also grows without Marc Gasol.
Cheap risk option: He’s always been a point-per-minute player for DFS purposes, and Thomas Robinson is seeing an average of 17 minutes per game over his last four. While a 24-minute night against the Grizzlies skews those numbers a little bit, he’s still a near-minimum option who can get you anywhere from 15 to 20 fantasy points and allow you to stack the rest of your lineup. There’s obvious risk if he doesn’t approach 15 minutes off the bench, but that’s why he’s in this section.
Nikola Vucevic – Vucevic is the main beneficiary from the Magic trading Harris from a usage perspective, as the center gobbles up the extra touches and increases his usage rate over 28 percent when he’s not playing with Harris. Vucevic has also been on a roll in his last three games, averaging 23 points and 12.7 rebounds and double-doubling in all three. I expect his recent form and usage rate to carry him despite a somewhat tough matchup with the Pacers.
Zaza Pachulia – Jahlil Okafor and the 76ers have been awful against opposing centers this season, and Pachulia is the player primed to most take advantage of this weakness Sunday. He’s played far better at home this season, and if Deron Williams sits, Pachulia is actually the player who sees the highest usage increase with Williams off the floor. Strange but true stats, I know, but even if Williams plays, Pachulia is a very nice center option if you see too much risk in Vucevic.
Cheap risk option: The only reason I’m actually putting a player here is because I’m required to by law, because there is absolutely no cheap center I want to touch Sunday. Roy Hibbert is starting and has a nice matchup against the Bulls, but he’s also terrible at basketball. Frank Kaminsky busted in a start Friday, but does have a nice matchup against the Nets even though he’s likely to come off the bench. Gun to my head, Kaminsky has more upside, but he can also tank you hard. I’ll be avoiding any centers under $5,000.
CASH GAME RANKS
This isn’t necessarily an order of who will score the most fantasy points. Rather, the rankings are aimed to find the best price, value and production combo to help you win cash games, also taking into account potential ownership levels for each player.
As always, I’ll do my best to update this article as news breaks throughout the day if at possible, so follow me on Twitter @christripodi for last-minute updates and suggestions before the first game starts at 6 p.m.