We have a robust 10 game schedule for Saturday NBA action with the Indiana/Brooklyn game starting an hour before the main 9 game slate does. The rest of the games at 9 make up a pretty tricky slate. We have more than half of these games with a spread between 6 and 10, so We should have some pretty easy victories. The Totals overall seem a tad low. We have gotten used to 210+ totals being the new normal, but most of the numbers today are a tad above 200 at best. Injuries and guys resting are going to continue to be an issue with only 10 games or less remaining for most teams. Let’s take a look at the matchups and break them all down for fantasy relevance.
Toronto Raptors @ New Orleans Pelicans
Line: Raptors -9
New Orleans is at home which is a plus. Toronto played a tough one last night, so this is a back-to-back for them. I still thin this should be an easy W for the Raptors. Ryan Anderson and Anthony Davis are out. Jrue Holiday and Norris Cole are still questionable. Guys like Toney Douglas and Tim Frazier have been viable replacements for minimum price. I do not love either guy to be honest, but they are returning close to value due to big minutes. The big man situation is a mess. Alonzo Gee, Luke Babbit, and Dante Cunningham have been unpredictable as far as which one will play well. Omer Asik and Alexis Ajinca have also alternated being the top dog down low. As you can see, the New Orleans Pelicans are a mess right now, but they are all pretty cheap and someone has to score and rebound for them.
The Raptors are coming off a hard fought game against the Rockets last night. They still have a chance to grab the #1 seed in the East, so they have the motivation to play hard. Kyle Lowry and Demar DeRozan handle most of the heavy lifting for the Raptors. Lowry has an especially good matchup, but neither matchup is bad for the backcourt, especially if Cole and Jrue sit out. The only other guy worthy of note is Jonas Valaciunas. At only $5000, he is very cheap. He has a lot of upside at this price as his 49 point fantasy performance from yesterday shows. New Orleans is also putrid at guarding Centers, so this is a really solid matchup for him as well.
- Jonas Valaciunas ($4900)
- Kyle Lowry ($8400)
- Tim Frazier ($4000)
- Alexis Ajinca ($3500)
Chicago Bulls vs. Orlando Magic
Injury news is a major factor in this one. Victor Oladipo missed yesterday’s game and is likely out for this one as well. For the Bulls, Pau Gasol is questionable and may also sit. Both guys are huge pieces of their team’s offense, so it would drastically change things if they sit. With Oladipo out, Elfrid Payton has slid back into a starter’s role. He and Evan Fournier are the two guys I would look towards here. Nikola Vucevic is also out already, but Aaron Gordon and Dewayne Dedmon are not really guys I would look to use in this one. With as bad as the Chicago PG defense has been, I think Payton is clearly the top play and the main guy I would like to target. He is coming off two pretty solid games and remains at a fair price point if he sees the minutes with Oladipo out.
For Chicago, No Pau would give big minutes to Taj Gibson, Mirotic, and Portis. All three had produced well in his absence a week or two ago. Jimmy Butler is solid, but still not worth the price tag as he recovers from injury. His minutes are down and the price is not, so he is tough to recommend. Derrick Rose is still cheap and his matchup is good against Orlando with no rim protector. He has been a solid cash game play, but is lacking in the upside department. I would probably be more interested in the forwards. They should get the biggest bump in production and minutes if Pau can not go.
- Nikola Mirotic ($4500)
- Taj Gibson ($5000)
- Elfrid Payton ($5400)
- Evan Fournier ($5000)
Cleveland Cavaliers @ New York Knicks
Line: Cavs -8
The Knicks are at home and riding a two game win streak here. The Cavs have actually struggled recently and will be playing without Kyrie in this one. That opens up Matthew Dellavedovato big minutes at a price of only $3100. He seems to be too good a value to pass up on here. LeBron James has also played well and will be needed to do more. He has averaged just shy of 30 real life points over the last 3 games with an average of 56 fantasy points. He is returning right around 6X value and is definitely an expensive option to look at. Kevin Love has alternated great and solid games too. At $6600 and without Kyrie, he becomes another guy I want to make sure I get some exposure to. JR Smith and Tristan Thompson are both guys capable of picking up the slack. I would only look at them in tournaments as they have upside, but lack consistency.
For the Knicks, we do have some interesting things to look at. Carmelo is still the high scorer, but he’s not a great upside play. He will get his shots which will lead to his points, so he is definitely viable in cash games with his safe floor. Robin Lopez had been on fire, but Kristaps Porzingis is healthy and playing big minutes now. He is still a tad too cheap, which is a main reason why the slight bump in minutes has led to consecutive 7X+ games for him. I am off Lopez now and using Porzingis as my top Knicks option for value and upside. Another guy worth looking at is Jose Calderon. He has back-to-back 30= fantasy point performances and is only $3800. That is way too cheap for a guy who sees as many minutes as he does with the ball in his hand. Calderon and Porzingis have both been guys who have been on a lot of winning rosters this week. I think both are sneaky here in a game I expect to remain close into the fourth quarter.
- Jose Calderon ($3800)
- Kristaps Porzingis ($5900)
- Matthew Dellavedova ($3100)
- LeBron James ($9400)
Atlanta Hawks @ Detroit Pistons
Line: Pistons -1
Both of these teams have been really good lately and this should be a great game. Vegas agrees with the spread this close and the favorite being the home team. Detroit has won five straight. They are getting production across the board. If you check the recent game logs, they have been getting 30-45 fantasy points out of Jacskson, KCP, Marcus Morris, Tobias Harris, and Drummond. Drummond is usually more in the 40 range as opposed to the 30 range for the other guys, but each of them is consistently performing well over their recent run. The problem with an even distribution is we lack upside when looking at the Pistons. Drummond is the one guy who has flashed upside for the Pistons at various times. In his first two games against the Hawks, he averaged over 50 fantasy points. He struggled a little to 43 fantasy points in his last matchup vs. Horford, but he also shot horribly from the floor and from the free throw line. Outside of Drummond, the cheaper options make more sense to me. KCP and Marcus Morris are putting up the same 30s Jackson and Harris are, but doing so for about $1000 cheaper per man. I would lean towards them if you want exposure outside of Drummond.
Atlanta has also been on a winning streak here. In fact, they have won 12 of the last 15 games they have played. They get contributions from many guys on the perimeter, but the consistent plays are the two big men. Horford and Millsap make this team go. Both are playing a few more minutes down the stretch here and each is returning consistent value in the 5.5X range. Millsap is putting up the better numbers, but he also cost $100-$1200 more. The guards are all taking time and usage from each other, but the big men tend to see most of the minutes available at the four and five spots, so they have the safer floor.
- Paul Millsap ($7600)
- Al Horford ($6700)
- Andre Drummond ($7700)
- Marcus Morris ($5200)
San Antonio Spurs @ Oklahoma City Thunder
Line: Thunder -12
Before you get all crazy and fade this game or go nuts about the spread, understand the reason why. Parker, Duncan, Kawhi, Leonard, and Ginobili are all out in this game. Now instead of thinking of this as a tough matchup for Westy and Durant, we have a pretty murky situation. Basically the top 5 players are all out in this game, so throw DvP out the window. This is going to be OKC going up against the Spurs second and third string players. Those guys are actually still solid, so this is by no means a blowout for the Thunder. I still expect this game to stay reasonable and that could be awesome for the big 2 on OKC. Westbrook and Durant are always my targets when I want OKC exposure. They are the highest usage duo in the league by a good margin. I know those two guys are motivated to win this game, so I expect both to outperform in a soft matchup.
For the Spurs, we need to think about this for a second. With the starters all benched, we have a paced up game for a slew of cheap options here. I would expect Patty Mills to be in line for big minutes, which makes sense why they sat him out Friday then. I also think Danny
green and Kevin Martin will be on the floor for a lot of time on Saturday. As for the big guys, I think we do get a Boban sighting, but he will not play big minutes. Boris Diaw and David West both should see a big uptick without Duncan and Aldridge playing as well. All of these options are very friendly on the salary cap for you. I think you almost have to have some exposure if all these guys are in line for 30+ minutes. Choosing the right ones is likely the key to cashing in a paced up game like this where they have such a short bench.
- Russell Westbrook ($10200)
- Kevin Durant ($9800)
- David West ($3300)
- Kevin Martin ($3000)
Utah Jazz @ Minnesota Timberwolves
Line: Utah -7
I must admit I am a little bit puzzled by this line. The total is fine, I expect low scoring games when the defensive minded, slow paced Jazz team is involved. what I did not expect was them being a 7 point favorite. Utah has been solid lately, but Minnesota has also won 3 of their last 5. Minnesota is on the tail end of a back-to-back, but they are also at home. It was a 2 OT game, so maybe Vegas expects someone to rest we did not hear about yet. Still the Timberwolves have a very young team. The oldest starter is Rubio with everyone else 23 or younger. Karl-Anthony Towns is the top amongst the group. He has been a monster lately and they ISO him often already as a rookie. Wiggins, Lavine, and Dieng have all had huge games in the past week. It’s tough to figure which one does it, but the whole first five is seeing big minutes and doing well with them.
With that being said, it’s an incredible tough matchup for them against Utah. Utah is probably the better team to target players in this one. The three I like most are Mack, Hayward, and Favors. They looked horrible against OKC last time out, so do not let that game cloud your analysis. Favors and Hayward are the consistent producers. Both guys score and do other things well to provide a nice floor for you. Each has flashed upside as well and both have average matchups here. The best matchup belongs to Shelvin Mack. Mack is no longer deep cheap, but he is clearly the starting point guard now for the Jazz. He too dipped down last game, but he is my favorite play of any Utah guy. With a total of 196, I am not a big fan of this game for upside, but I do like a few guys to hit value on each side.
- Shelvin Mack ($6100)
- Derrick Favors ($6900)
- Karl-Anthony Towns ($8000)
- Gorgui Dieng ($5900)
Charlotte Hornets @ Milwaukee Bucks
Line: Hornets -3
It may seem odd that Charlotte is favored on the road here, but Milwaukee has lost a bunch of games in a row and they really are not a good team. Things have been different since Giannis took over at the point, but have they really been better? Giannis is proving he can do it all, which we like for fantasy purposes. The problem is he has seen the price rise to a point where he needs to basically put up a triple double to pay it off now. The rise of Giannis and the downfall of Kris Middleton have seemed to go hand in hand. Fantasy points are neither created nor destroyed in this case, they just seem to have shifted from one player to another. Jabari Parker has been the second stud for the Bucks after Giannis. He has also seen a dip in production, but his dip in production is not as bad considering his price has dropped with it.
For the Hornets, they have shown a lot of guys capable of putting up decent numbers. Kemba and Batum are obviously the top two options, but with Marvin Williams not 100%, we have seen guys like Al Jefferson, Cody Zeller, and Jeremy Lin all pick up their games. I prefer the cheap guys on the Hornets in this one. Cody Zeller against a weak Bucks frontline at $3800 and Courtney Lee seeing big minutes for only $4000 are two of my favorites. I expect a close game here, so the good news is max run for most of the starters.
- Cody Zeller ($3800)
- Jeremy Lin ($4000)
- Jabari Parker ($5400)
- Giannis Antetokounmpo ($9700)
Boston Celtics @ Phoenix Suns
Line: Celtics -8
This is one of the higher scoring games on the slate here, so we need to take a deep look at who we want to have exposure to from this game. For Phoenix, it’s easier to see. Alex Len and Jon Leuer are both solid options against a weak Celtics frontcourt defense. It’s not so much that they are bad on D, but the guards are so good that you are almost forced to attack the weak link which is the big men inside. That is why I really like Leuer and Len to have some upside. Devon Booker has been great, especially when Brandon Knight sits, but Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart defense will not make it an easy day for him.
For the Celtics, I love Isaiah Thomas aka IT2 in this one. Whether Knight plays or not, we have seen guards put up numbers vs. the Suns. They are bad on D, lack rim protectors and play fast high scoring games. All those things are positives and play right into IT2′s strengths. The other guy I really like is Amir Johnson. He has been on tear this last week and his price is still insanely cheap at $4500. Phoenix is not great inside defensively either, so I can see a big double double game from him here. The Celtics should win and are in the better spot, but the pricing on both sides makes this a place we could see a lot of value with a high total at 216.
- Amir Johnson ($4500)
- Isaiah Thomas ($7700)
- Alex Len ($6200)
- Jon Leuer ($4500)
Philadelphia 76ers @ Portland Trailblazers
Line: Blazers -15
I mean the Vegas line pretty much says it all here. Philly is bad and playing without Noel and Okafor here. That’s the two best young players not in the lineup and guys like Holmes, Landry, and Grant in line to see 30+ minutes each. Ish Smith is the only player who other teams would really even want. Canaan, Thompson, and Stauskas will play minutes and do little with them.
As for the Blazers, we do have Lillard and CJ McCollum who should both go to work here. Hopefully they get that final fourth quarter rotation, but if not they may not reach value at lofty prices. Al-Farouq Aminu and Mason Plumlee are the two I would look to target. Both guys see minutes and have returned good value for a cheaper price. They can reach value even if they do not play in the fourth quarter and have a better chance with all the injuries to the 76er frontcourt. They are slated to score a ton of points, so exposure here is not a crazy idea if you think the game stays closer than Vegas does.
- CJ McCollum ($6900)
- Damian Lillard ($9300)
- Mason Plumlee ($5000)
- Al-Farouq Aminu ($3900)