Daily Fantasy Basketball Strategy: February 25, 2016
With the NBA schedule once again balancing out quite a bit after the All-Star break, Thursday brings six games after a manageable 10 on Wednesday. Rather than waste words in the intro, let’s head right to the Vegas lines.
Vegas lines and totals
Golden State (-8) @ Orlando – total of 222.5
Milwaukee @ Boston (-8) – total of 217.5
Oklahoma City (-5) @ New Orleans – total of 222.5
Brooklyn (-1.5) @ Phoenix – total of 208.5
Houston @ Portland (-4.5) – total of 222
San Antonio @ Utah – total of TBD
There are three monster lines on Thursday’s slate, and none of the games project as massive blowout risks. It should be easy to stay away from Spurs-Jazz, a battle of two of the NBA’s best defensive teams, especially with both squads at full strength. Even Bucks-Celtics has a pretty nice line while Nets-Suns features two bad defenses, keeping that game in play for the handful of halfway-decent players on either team.
Stephen Curry – Russell Westbrook and Damian Lillard are also good options if you want to fade Curry tonight, but I have no desire and don’t see myself straying from Steph in cash. He’s been on a roll lately and point guard is the position to attack when facing the Magic, who can’t decide who they want to take the starting job and run with it. I like Curry’s matchup quite a bit more than Westbrook’s and Lillard’s despite the similar game totals.
Donald Sloan – Rather than write up another stud you know is going to perform, I’ll drop down to the value range for Sloan. He has a dream matchup against the Suns and has hit value in two of the Nets’ three games since the All-Star break, including once against the Blazers’ stingy PG defense. Sloan is far from a guarantee, but he’s one of the top values on the board at the time of this writing and has been playing well.
Cheap risk option: Just two games into his tenure with the Jazz, Shelvin Mack has already usurped the starting role from Raul Neto, who may become a consistent DNP-CD in the near future. He’s a risk due to a tough matchup with the Spurs, but a full slate of minutes—he played 32 in his last game—should allow him to approach 20 fantasy points and pay off his tag. And if anybody on the Spurs will allow a good game to the opponent, it’s Tony Parker.
James Harden – It may not be easy to fit both Curry and Harden is the same lineup Thursday night unless some value pops up during the day, but if you can do it, make it happen. Much like Curry, The Beard has come out of the break hot and gets a matchup with the Blazers, whose lack of size in the backcourt leads to some trouble defending two-guards. Klay Thompson is a decent option as well against Orlando, but I don’t love the idea of trusting Klay in cash games with a slightly negative matchup, even if he’s hot.
Evan Fournier – If you’re avoiding Harden or choosing Curry over him, Fournier is a nice option against the Warriors as well. Fournier will get Harrison Barnes on the wing and is still a bit underpriced considering the minutes he’s getting in Orlando—almost 40 per game since the break. Fournier should end up in the neighborhood of 30 fantasy points.
Cheap risk option: He may not be that good at basketball, but Wayne Ellington comes with a bargain price tag Thursday night against the Suns, who are just as bad at basketball as he is, if not worse. Digs of pro athletes from an internet writer aside, Ellington does occasionally get hot from beyond the arc and the matchup is ripe for a random explosion. Even if he doesn’t go off—which is far more likely than him going off—he’s unlikely to destroy your lineup.
Giannis Antetokounmpo – I haven’t touched the Milwaukee-Boston game yet, but I’m all about the small forwards in this one. Antetokounmpo is coming off a triple-double against the Lakers and has scored over 40 fantasy points in four straight games. Jae Crowder is a steals machine, but the Celtics are also pretty lenient to opposing SFs. Expect another stat-stuffing performance from The Greek Freak.
Jae Crowder – Crowder himself is a nice option as well, as he enters on a hot streak of his own. Despite Antetokounmpo’s length, Milwaukee isn’t stout defensively on the wing at all and this game projects to be played fast, which is a great speed for Crowder. He won’t put up 40 fantasy points like his counterpart—30 is more likely—but his cost allows you to save a bit as well.
Cheap risk option: His price is slowly rising out of the “cheap” range, but Mirza Teletovic deserves a mention in a good matchup against the Nets. Not only has he played consistent minutes off the Phoenix bench of late, Teletovic also has the “revenge game” working in his favor. I’m not normally one to follow the narrative, but I already like Teletovic even without that angle, which only adds some more intrigue.
Draymond Green – Dray is the undisputed top play at the PF spot with Anthony Davis stuck in a tough matchup with the Thunder. While he hasn’t been playing at the top of his game since the NBA returned from recess and has to deal with Aaron Gordon, Green should still be able to get going against the rising second-year player and use his experience to his advantage. The PF spot is weaker than usual Thursday, making paying up for Dray very enticing.
Jabari Parker – If you don’t want to spend on Dray, Parker continues to play consistent ball and gets a nice matchup with the Celtics. Dollar for dollar, I’d probably take him over Green, but when the goal is scoring the most fantasy points, you can’t always look at everything from a points-per-dollar standpoint. With guys like Curry and Harden set to go off, though, a penny saved is truly a penny—or a three-point barrage—earned.
Cheap risk option: With the position a bit down on the night, punting is always an option. Noah Vonleh was gaining some momentum before he got hurt and while he’s back in the starting lineup, he usually doesn’t see a ton of minutes even if he gets off to a fast start. But at near-minimum price in an awesome matchup with the Rockets, he may very well be worth a punt for that potential quick start and the chance he gets rewarded. Terry Stotts has also soured a bit on Meyers Leonard, which could mean trusting Vonleh a little more.
Nikola Vucevic – Another problem with playing both Curry and Harden on Thursday? You’d likely have to fade Vucevic—again, unless we get some value—in what has become a great matchup against Golden State. Andrew Bogut‘s minutes are being constantly managed these days and Vuc comes in hot since Tobias Harris was shipped out of Orlando. He’s the biggest beneficiary of the trade from a usage standpoint, and his price hasn’t quite adjusted yet. Take advantage.
Jared Sullinger – Kelly Olynyk‘s injury has opened the door for consistent playing time for Sullinger, and the big man has taken full advantage with some excellent play. A matchup with the Bucks is tough on paper, but neither Miles Plumlee or Greg Monroe strike enough fear in me to think they’ll stop Sullinger from hitting value, especially since he’s playing like a $7,000-plus player.
Cheap risk option: Speaking of the Bucks center situation, Miles Plumlee is still starting and is still very cheap. Granted, his minutes haven’t jumped much compared to his time off the bench, but starting generally gives players a bit more consistency since they know when they’re entering the game and with who. Plumlee won’t put up a big line, but he should hit his floor of 15 fantasy points at his price. Those Curry-Harden-Vucevic lineups will need a near-minimum punt or two.
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 7 p.m.