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Daily Fantasy Basketball Strategy: March 25, 2016

Below I will be breaking down tonight’s big nine-game NBA DFS slate. I will give a top play and then go over every player you should be heavily considering at each position. All of this should help you build winning lineups, so let’s not waste time, let’s get to the daily grind.

Point Guard

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“The Play”: The Sacramento Kings sport the absolute worst defense in the NBA in terms of points per game (PPG) and they played at the fastest pace. Therefore, targeting players against them is basically mandatory, and despite the nine games on tap, rostering multiple Suns tonight seems like a fantastic idea. All Brandon Knight did against the Lakers on Wednesday was drop a whopping 52 Draftkings (DK)/FantasyDraft (FDR) fantasy points which marked the second time in six games Knight surpassed the 50 fantasy point plateau. Knight has now eclipsed 30 fantasy points five times in the past seven games and appears to be fully healed from a groin injury that cost him two months. He’ll go from one elite matchup to another because, not only does Sacramento allow the sixth most fantasy points to opposing point guards (PGs), but they also rank 27th in efficiency to the position. Knight has scored 34 and 39.25 fantasy points in two meetings versus the Kings this season respectively but Eric Bledsoe played in the first meeting. Therefore, I expect Knight to produce a closer output to the second meeting than the first considering Knight’s usage rate (usg%) is up about one percentage point without the team’s other star. Knight proved his ceiling is as high as anyone priced in this range his last time out so he is an excellent target regardless of format.

Other Options: If spending up at the position, John Wall and Stephen Curry stand out to me as the logical options. Curry, who will face the Mavericks, nearly triple-doubled against them in 34 minutes on Mar. 18 and scored 31 actual points (PTS) to boot. Wall, despite having played a top three efficiency defense versus PGs twice in the past two games, is averaging the seventh most fantasy points per game (FPPG) of any player this month. On Friday, he’ll square off against a Timberwolves team that allows nearly 106 points per game (PPG) and ranks below average in efficiency to the position. He could and should go bonkers. Deron Williams has been on fire as of late, partially because he has been playing minutes in the upper 30s, and he’ll be needed once again against Golden State. Williams is averaging more than 10 FPPG more without Chandler Parsons. Although Kyle Lowry is listed as questionable, he would face a fast-paced Rockets team at home if he were to play and would be viable in all formats. Others to Consider: Patrick Beverley (cash), Darren Collison (GPP), Goran Dragic (both) and Jordan Clarkson (GPP).

Shooting Guard

“The Play”: Stack city against the Kings: engaged. The first two top plays come from the same team tonight as Devin Booker can safely be placed into a lineup next to Knight. Although I realize this is typically an unconventional strategy using both starting guards from one team, this is the prime spot to employ the strategy. Similarly to the Trail Blazers, most of the usage runs through their star-studded backcourt so you know where a majority of the shots are coming from. Facing a team that allows nearly 110 PPG, there will be plenty of scoring opportunities. Typically Booker is a volatile asset as he relies heavily on outside shooting but he has taken 18.1 shots per game this month. If he puts up 18 shots against this defense, he is all but assured to hit value. If Booker were just to produce his fantasy point average for the month (34.8), he would virtually be at 3x value on FDR (35.1). Knowing this is just about as juicy of a matchup as it gets, the odds are very likely he will surpass that total handily.

Other Options: As long as Nikola Vucevic remains out, Victor Oladipo remains the focal point on offense. His usg% upticks from 22.7 to 25.3-percent without the team’s star center. On Friday, Oladipo will face the man who his game most closely models: Dwyane Wade. Oladipo only played 18 minutes in his only matchup versus the Heat this season but I expect close to the mid-30s tonight and therefore he should be productive. If there’s one spot the Wizards struggle on defense, it is against opposing wings, and they’ll face the up-and-coming Andrew Wiggins tonight. Wiggins is clearly polishing his offensive game as he has scored 20-plus PTS in three straight games as well as eight of his last nine games. In two of his three games versus Dallas this season, Klay Thompson has scored at least 39 PTS. Obviously he likes something about the matchup so look for him to take advantage yet again of a team ranked 23rd in shooting guard (SG) efficiency. Last but not least, James Harden is an elite tournament option as always although he’ll face a difficult matchup against a Toronto team that only allows 98.3 PPG. Others to Consider: Nicolas Batum (GPP), Evan Fournier (cash) and Zach LaVine (both).

Small Forward

“The Play”: Surprisingly, a small forward (SF) versus the Spurs rates as a borderline elite play tonight. San Antonio has already announced Kawhi Leonard (among others) will sit out tonight’s game so the matchup becomes much more doable for opposing players at the position. Consequently, Matt Barnes emerges as a solid play yet again on a Grizzlies team without two of their three top scorers (Marc Gasol and Mike Conley). Although Barnes put up a stinker last game against the lowly Lakers, it was an anomaly because he had eclipsed 32 fantasy points in three straight prior to the dud. Hell, last week he even dropped a 26-11-10 triple-double against the Pelicans with Zach Randolph out, and guess who is out again tonight, yep. At that value, and factoring in not having to face “The Claw” (Leonard), he is an absolute steal especially for cash games.

Other Options: Watch for the status of DeMarcus Cousins because Rudy Gay would emerge as an elite play if he were to sit…and would remain viable even if Cousins did suit up. Phoenix’s defense is nearly as bad as Sacramento’s so starting multiple players against the Suns is almost as high of a priority of starting them against the Kings. Giannis Antetokounmpo faces a Hawks team to struggles to guard opposing wings so don’t be surprised if he is on triple-double watch once again. Otherwise, the position is sort of desolate tonight and all the other options are high risk. These are legitimately the three I would focus on at least for cash game purposes. Others to Consider: Tobias Harris (both), Mirza Teletovic (GPP), Trevor Ariza (GPP), Luol Deng (GPP), Michael Beasley (GPP) and P.J. Tucker (GPP).

Power Forward

“The Play”: In cash games, there should be no reason why LaMarcus Aldridge isn’t 100-percent owned yet I doubt that ends up being the case. The Spurs have already ruled out Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green, Boris Diaw and Patty Mills just to give them a rest day. Only two players on the Spurs are averaging more than 8.7 PPG this month: Leonard and Aldridge. Leonard has averaged 23.5 PPG in March while Aldridge currently sits at 22.0. Without Leonard, Aldridge is going to have to act as the true top scoring option. In this sort of expanded role, a fair price to spend on him would be around $15,000 on FDR and about $7,500 on DK. Considering he is more than $2,000 cheaper on FDR and only $7,100 on DK, he is the definition of a must-play.

Other Options: Dirk Nowitzki has eclipsed 40 fantasy points in six of his last nine games and has only failed to reach 35.5 fantasy points once during that span. His teammate, Chandler Parsons, tore his meniscus late last week and has missed the last two ballgames (and could miss the remainder of the season) because of it. In his absence, Nowitzki has scored 61 points (PTS) in two games including a thrilling overtime victory against the Trail Blazers on Sunday. Strangely, Nowitzki has registered a usage rate (usg%) of 25.7-percent with Parsons this season and 25.8-percent without…so for all intensive purposes it has been exactly the same. The major difference has been the uptick in rebounding rate (reb%) which has improved from 11.3 to 14.3-percent. Not only is Nowitzki acting as the team’s top scorer, but he now is averaging 8.9 rebounds per game (RPG) without Parsons as well, so he is ascending towards a fantasy monster. Assuming DeMarcus Cousins plays, he’s probably my favorite superstar on the entire slate to spend up for against a poor Suns defense. After a stretch of failing to reach 18 fantasy points in two of three games, Julius Randle has rebounded by stringing together back-to-back solid double-doubles (13-14 and 19-15). Coach Byron Scott came out earlier this week and announced he would be playing his young core down the stretch in fourth quarters of games moving forward. It’s about freaking time. He is start-able everywhere versus a poor Nuggets frontcourt. Man, the position is sort of loaded tonight, because Paul Millsap and Draymond Green present interesting alternatives to the aforementioned players in the price range. Both Milwaukee and Dallas, their opponents, rank below average in terms of both efficiency and fantasy points allow to the power forward (PF) position so both are viable for cash. That being said, I probably prefer at least Green for tournaments because of the safety of both Aldridge and Nowitzki for tournaments. If you have extra salary left at the end, I wouldn’t be mad at you for upgrading Nowitzki to Millsap in cash. Others to Consider: Aaron Gordon (GPP), Gorgui Dieng (GPP) and with ZBo out Jon Leuer and JaMychal Green become really good value plays.

Center

“The Play”: While Karl-Anthony Towns is awfully enticing at his price of $8,300, I’m not sure he’s a high enough priority to fade some of the aforementioned options…which is what you’d need to do to fit him in a cash lineup. Therefore, I think the remaining player with a doable price is Dwight Howard. All season, one of the Raptors’ clear weak spots on defense has been against opposing centers (Cs). Even though they only allow the 11th fewest fantasy points to the position, that is actually considered a hole in their overall solid defensive scheme. Howard is coming off a quiet game but the good news is Howard has played at least 33 minutes in eight of his last 11 games including only two under 30. As long as Howard sees the minutes, he should have no trouble reaching cash value (approximately 5x his salary on DK) especially at a sub-$7,000 price.

Other Options: Center is surprisingly thin tonight as it usually is just oozing with value. Towns is the prime option if spending up at the position as Andre Drummond has yet to reach 30 fantasy points in two meetings versus Charlotte this season…with that being said, he is still a viable GPP option as always because his ownership should be down and he still possesses elite upside. Tim Duncan is incredibly viable with many members of the team sitting out. Don’t forget, he’s still one of the most efficient players per minute in the NBA (1.0 FPPM). Salah Mejri is interesting if he starts but the Warriors have a propensity to go small so his minutes are a volatile proposition. Greg Monroe is reasonably priced at $5,500 but his minutes have been on a steep decline so he has a wide array of possible outcomes even against a Hawks team that struggles against opposing Cs. Others to Consider: Al Horford (cash), Jonas Valanciunas (GPP), Hassan Whiteside (GPP) and Boban Marjanovic (GPP).

Good luck tonight.

Grind on…

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