John Wall – Wizards v. Suns – ($10,300) – My favorite guy to pay up for here is probably John Wall. Wall plays in a high tempo matchup with a lot of points expected against a weak Phoenix Suns defense. He’s also a triple double threat every time he steps out on the floor and has two of them in his last eleven games. Wall is also adding at least two defensive stats to his line on average each game, and those can help build a score up quick. Wall is averaging just over 50 fantasy points in his last 9 games and he has a floor of about 45 today with upside into the 60s. We do have some solid mid-range options, but Wall is the top dog if you are willing and able to pay up today.
Ish Smith – 76ers v. Hornets – ($6,200) – Philly is having another rough year, but Ish Smith has been a bright spot for them. With all the injuries they have, it has been a struggle lately. Ish has been the one guy who is worthy of being rostered on the 76ers though. In his last three games, Ish has averaged 43 fantasy points in about 37 minutes of action. He is getting us about 17 points, 7 rebounds, and 8 assist over this time frame. Charlotte is not an easy matchup for anyone, but the number of minutes he plays and the usage rate he has in those minutes is enough to make him viable for cash and tournaments. This Philly team is playing with a short bench, so that should mean another game with big minutes and usage for Ish.
Shelvin Mack – Jazz v. Timberwolves – ($6,000) – Another quality mid-range option today is Shelvin Mack. Mack has really taking to his role as the starting point guard for the Jazz after the trade. He has gone for 5.5X or better in 10 of his last 15 games this year. He is averaging just shy of 35 minutes per game and putting up stats across the board. He has a paced up matchup here against somewhat weak Ricky Rubio defense. Derrick Favors is listed as questionable too, so the whole team will need to step up the scoring to make up for his absence if he can not go. Mack is not a huge scorer, but will have a high usage rate if Favors is out. That should translate into a few more points and a few more assists and that would be good for his overall upside.
Shane Larkin – Nets v. Knicks – ($4,100) – Larkin has played really well in his last few games. He has averaged just shy of 29 points in just over 30 minutes of action through his last five games. That may not sound like a ton, but at $4K it is enough to return 7X on average. He faces a Knicks team that is in danger of missing it’s starting point guard in Jose Calderon and one of it’s rim protectors in Kristaps Porzingis. The Knicks have been decent defensively, but we do not need a ton from Larkin to hit value. The Nets are pretty bad and everyone knows this, but that only means more shots and usage available for anyone who can put the ball in the basket. I’m not looking for huge upside out of Larkin here, but a safe 25-30 fantasy points at $4K is a very useful piece to unlock some free cash when building rosters.
Victor Oladipo – Magic v. Bucks – ($7,300) – Oladipo missed two games and then came back to only play 26 minutes. His ownership was really small for his game last night and he bounced back with a full allotment of minutes and what had been his normal 40ish fantasy points. His price is discounted due to the injury and missing games, so at $7300 the 44ish fantasy points is a return of 6X. Dipo has become one of the stars of this team since the Tobias Harris trade. He was averaging over 40 fantasy points in the 10 games before the injury and if he is back now, I can easily see him putting up those numbers again today. At only $7300, there is a lot of safety with upside in Oladipo’s game.
“…Wade has gone for 6X or better in 3 of his last 5 which includes back-to-back 50 fantasy point performances”
Dwyane Wade – Heat v. Kings ($7,200) – Wade is the guy who draws the soft matchup against a putrid Sacramento Kings perimeter defense today. It’s a paced up and higher scoring game than we usually see for the Heat and they are favored to win. It is more than just the matchup though as Wade has gone for 6X or better in 3 of his last 5 which includes back-to-back 50 fantasy point performances. He has averaged 35 minutes, 51 fantasy points, 28 actual points, 6 rebounds, 7 assists, a steal and 2 blocks in those two games, so I expect him to keep up the good play in what has been a great spot all year to attack.
Wes Matthews – Mavericks v. Pistons – ($4,900) – Wes Matthews has not had a great year. He is not someone I love for fantasy, but he is in a good spot to produce here. Deron Williams is still questionable and with him out, Wes has stepped up his game. Dallas is fighting for a playoff spot, so they are playing the best players as many minutes as they can handle. Matthews has averaged 37 of them over the last six games. He has put up 17.5 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists on average in that time. With Dallas needing the win, I think he has a safe range of 24-32 fantasy points tonight which gives us between a 5-6X return and some savings off of the top options.
Langston Galloway – Knicks vs. Nets – ($3,200) – Jose Calderon is listed as questionable and the early reports are he is more on the doubtful side of it. If that is the case, Galloway should see a much bigger role. With Calderon in and out of the lineup over the last month, we saw Galloway get more minutes and put up 25-30 fantasy points on multiple occasions. That would be a solid return of 8-9X on his price if he does that here. The play hinges on the status of Calderon, but if you hear he will be out, then Galloway is the cheap option you want to look at.
LeBron James – Cavs v. Hawks – ($9,900) – I know everyone is in love with Giannis, but he has been under-performing lately. Sure he can always blow up for a big game at anytime, but that screams GPP play for me. For cash games, I prefer the safety of LeBron if I decide to pay up at the small forward position. The Hawks are one of the hottest teams in basketball right now, so this is not going to be a cakewalk for the Cavs. In fact, the Cavs have not had many cakewalks against good teams lately, so I expect this one to be close until the end. Cleveland still needs to keep winning to lock up the #1 seed and home court advantage, so I think LeBron only played 30 minutes last night to be ready for this one. We should see 33-36 minutes out of him here and that should translate into a few more fantasy points for him. He is averaging 55 fantasy points over 34 minutes of action in his last 5 games. At under $10K, that translates into a return of 5.5X with upside if he decides to take a game over.
Carmelo Anthony – Knicks v. Nets – ($8,500) – Carmelo has one of the prettiest game logs for a cash game play dating back to the end of January. It’s about as consistent as you can ask for. He pays 32-40 minutes a game, puts up 37-50 fantasy points and has very few outliers to the up or downside along the way. It’s a string of consistent performances that yield between 4.8 and 6X for about two solid months now. The drawback is the lack of upside. He is a great consistent 40 point player you can get for around $8K, but he rarely gives you a 60 point 8X performance that delivers the upside you need to win a tournament. With Kristaps in and out of the lineup, Melo has taken 22 shots in 4 of the last 5 games. He plays more PF without Porzingis too, so the rebounding numbers have also bumped up. He gets a soft matchup against Nets SF/PF defense that has allowed some big games recently. Plus he is motivated to prove this is his town and win the game against his rivals from the adjacent borough. If there ever was a game where he was safe with potential for upside, this might be the spot if Kristaps does indeed sit it out.
Harrison Barnes – Warriors v. Celtics – ($4,300) – Harrison Barnes has really been playing well the last few games. He has become a very sneaky good value option in daily fantasy. The minutes have a lot to do with his recent production jump. Andre Iguodala is still banged up, so Barnes has played about 34 minutes per game over the last two weeks. He has scored double digit points five games in a row, but has also averaged 7 rebounds a game to go with it. Add in a few assists and a defensive stat or two and he’s been consistently returning 22-32 fantasy points. That’s a solid 5-8X value from a cheap option who plays big minutes on the team with the highest total and one of the higher pace numbers on the day.
Draymond Green – Warriors v. Celtics – ($8,100) – I love Draymond today. He plays in a high tempo matchup against a Celtics team that is bad against big men. Not only that, but the Celtics are very stingy to guards, so the big men tend to do more damage against them and have higher than normal usage rates. I’m not going to call my shot with a triple double from Draymond tonight, but I think it is a great spot for it. One of his 14, 12, 12, 2, 2 kind of stat lines here for 50+ fantasy points is not only possible, but probable given the matchup and circumstances. Golden State wants this record, they want the wins, and Draymond has the best matchup to help them get that done today.
John Henson – Bucks v. Orlando – ($3,800) – Henson has been getting more minutes lately and doing well with them. He has played a consistent 24 minutes in each of the last 3 games and came away with fantasy scores of 37, 37, and 29. That is a return of 11X, 11X, and 8X off his price tag. He has averaged 15 points 7 rebounds and 3 blocked shots, which is how he was able to put those scores up. Henson is still a bench player, so be careful. Anyone that can put up 25 points with upside for under $4K deserves a mention though.
Trey Lyles – Jazz v. Timberwolves – ($3,400) – Lyles will be a great value play if Derrick Favors sits out. He left the last game with a knee injury and is questionable for tonight. Lyles did a good job filling in for him and seems to have moved ahead of Trevor Booker on the depth chart. In only about 20 minutes of action in his last 8 games, Lyles has returned about 25 fantasy points in 5 of them. That means he is a high PPM producer who is already giving us about a 6X+ return. If you add in an extra 10-15 minutes with Favors out, he should be able to produce close to 30 fantasy points for under $3500 which would make him almost a must start in any format.
Hassan Whiteside – Heat v. Kings – ($8,700 ) – The Kings play fast paced, high scoring games and are lacking on defense. Throw in the suspension today for Boogie Cousins and it is easy to see why Whiteside is here. Now I am not thrilled with the $8700 price tag, but this guy could have a monster game against the Kings backup big men. Whiteside has returned 5X or more in each of the last six games, including some where he did not even play 30 minutes. In fact he is only averaging about 31 minutes, but 47 fantasy points in those minutes. Whiteside is a high point per minute producer facing a team that gives up the most fantasy points per minute. If we get 30-35 out of him here, I would not be shocked to see 50-60 fantasy points. The blowout is a concern, because he would miss those last 4-5 minutes of a late fourth quarter rotation, but if this game stays close, Whiteside will have a monster night.
“He has put up big double doubles in each of his last five games while grabbing no fewer than 14 rebounds in any of them”
Andre Drummond – Pistons v. Mavericks – ($7,400) – Karl-Anthony Towns would be more interesting if not for the matchup against a tough Utah interior. Drummond on the other hand gets to face the mess that has become the Mavericks frontcourt. The Mavs are fighting for their playoff lives with a group of David Lee, Salah Mejri, and Dwight Powell acting as their centers. Drummond is too good not to produce against that group. He has put up big double doubles in each of his last five games while grabbing no fewer than 14 rebounds in any of them. He has consistently put up 40+ fantasy points with a recent floor in the high 30s. A high 30s floor is 5X at the price and his upside into the mid 50s would be a 7-8X return.
Kosta Koufos – Kings v. Heat – ($4,100) – The big argument today is going to be Koufos v. Willie Cauley-Stein for your cheap C option. I prefer Koufos and will lay out the case for him. Koufos got the start last time and likely will again here with Boogie suspended. He put up a solid number despite being outscored by WCS in garbage time. WCS is coming off the bench and likely would have played less minutes than Koufos if the game was close. WCS will have to contend with Hassan Whiteside when the second units come into the game, so foul trouble is a concern and so is lack of production. Throw in the $500 discount for Koufos and what I think will be lower ownership and you now understand my case for Koufos over Cauley-Stein. Both guys returned great value for the price last time, but the price is a tad higher on both today, so it will not be as easy.