Friday is shaping up as a slate in which the amount of quality cheap plays exceeds the number of high-priced guys in good spots. John Wall is extremely expensive, Steph Curry has a difficult matchup and blowout concerns, DeMarcus Cousins is suspended and all of the Cavs’ Big Three are playing. At this time of year, there’s just as much value in picking the right cheap plays as there is in identifying them.
1. Sacramento Kings
DeMarcus Cousins isn’t hurt or resting this time, but he is suspended for going over the technical foul limit. This is his 12th game on the sideline, so we know what to expect. Kosta Koufos goes from 13.6 DK ppg with Cousins to 26.9 without, while Rudy Gay (31.1/30.4) and Rajon Rondo (39.5/39.9) stay flat. The wild card here is Willie Cauley-Stein, who currently averages 18.5 DK ppg without Cousins on the year but that doesn’t reflect how well he’s been playing lately. The No. 6 overall pick is at .804 DK points per minute this month and George Karl has made it a point to get him more minutes lately. Koufos is safer, but I’d want to make sure he’s starting first.
2. Utah Jazz
The Jazz have everything to play for tonight as they’re currently tied with the Mavs for the No. 8 seed in the West, just a half-game clear of No.9 Houston. Unfortunately for them, they may have to face the Wolves without Derrick Favors (knee). In the 17 games Favors previously missed, the biggest bumps went to Trey Lyles and Trevor Booker, who averaged 26.3 and 26.2 minutes respectively. Note that with Favors only able to play 19 minutes last game, it was Lyles (25 minutes) who got more burn than Booker (14). The DK points per minute with/without Favors on the floor this season, via NBAWowy: Hayward .94/.99, Gobert .93/.96, Booker .81/.78, Hood .79/.89, Lyles .73/.77.
MATCHUPS TO EXPLOIT
1. Andre Drummond vs. DAL
The Mavs will start Zaza Pachulia at center tonight in an effort to slow down Andre Drummond. It’s unlikely to work. Drummond hit Zaza for 25 points and 17 rebounds (while going 5-of-14 from the line) when these two teams met on March 9, and the Mavs have been bleeding points to bigs ever since. On top of that the Pistons are just two games ahead of the Bulls for the final playoff spot, giving them the motivation that is so valuable in NBA DFS this time of year.
SITUATIONS TO CAPITALIZE ON
1. Knicks finally resting veterans
For some reason, Kurt Rambis has been playing vets like Carmelo Anthony, Jose Calderon and Robin Lopez for massive minutes despite the Knicks’ woeful record. It took that trio going to Rambis and telling him to start playing the young guys more for the tone-deaf Rambis to oblige. First of all, this development takes all veteran Knicks out of play despite a dream matchup at home against the Nets tonight. Second, we have to track the news closely here. If Jose Calderon (calf) sits, first-round rookie Jerian Grant would likely start. He averages .734 DK points per minute on the season while the Nets rank 29th in defensive efficiency and give up 2.95 more DK points than salary expectation to point guards. Derrick Williams will also be a strong play again Kristaps Porzingis sits as his minute floor rises as Carmelo’s drops.
2. Robert Covington Playing PF
With Jahlil Okafor, Nerlens Noel, Richaun Holmes all sidelined and Jerami Grant (knee, quad) slated for limited minutes, the Sixers are out of big bodies. The corpses of Elton Brand and Carl Landry can’t handle more than 20-25 minutes and Brett Brown has no faith in Christian Wood. It’s led to massive minutes for Covington at the power forward spot, therefore allowing him to average 9.5 rebounds across the last four games. Of course, that’s on top of what we already know RC3 is good at. He ranks 15th in the league in steals per 48 minutes (2.72) and 12th in 3-pointers per game at 2.3.
1. Nikola Vucevic coming off injury
Vooch (groin) finally returned to the court last night, coming off the bench for 24 real-life points in 25 minutes. He looks extremely sharp despite the 13-game layoff. After the game, Vucevic said he felt fine and expects to play again tonight, this time against the Bucks. It’s very possible he’ll regain his starting role from Dewayne Dedmon, which would give him a minimum 30-minute projection. We don’t have to be a mathematician to realize Vooch is grossly underpriced at $6,500 considering he gets 1.159 DK points per minute on the season. The Bucks have struggled against bigs this year, giving up 2.5 more DK points than salary expectation to centers.
Cash Game Considerations
Below are the players I’m most considering in head-to-head or 50/50 style games (in no particular order).
|PG||Jerian Grant (if Jose Calderon is out), Shane Larkin, Reggie Jackson, Goran Dragic, Brandon Knight, Isaiah Thomas|
|SG||Devin Booker, Brad Beal, Wes Matthews, Nicolas Batum, Dwyane Wade, Courtney Lee (if Jeremy Lin is out), Klay Thompson, Evan Turner (if Jae Crowder is out)|
|SF||Robert Covington, Gordon Hayward, Matt Barnes, Marcus Morris, Otto Porter, P.J. Tucker, Luol Deng, Tobias Harris|
|PF||Thomas Robinson (if he starts), Derrick Williams (if he starts), Draymond Green, Dirk Nowitzki, Jabari Parker, John Henson, Trey Lyles (if he starts)|
|C||Andre Drummond, Rudy Gobert, Nikola Vucevic (if he starts), Willie Cauley-Stein, Kosta Koufos, Hassan Whiteside|