Damian Lillard ($9700) – The top spot here was a tough call for me between Westbrook and Lillard. I would not fault anyone who went to Westy instead, but I think the $1300 savings on Lillard will be needed elsewhere today. Both guys are favored by 5 in games with 222 point totals, so it’s a great spot for both. Westbrook is the bigger triple double threat as he produces across the board, but he has been getting 45-55 fantasy points in most of his recent games. Lillard has actually been doing the same, although he shoots and scores a few more points and gets a few less of the other stats on his way there. That is the thing for me though, Lillard can score just as many fantasy points as Westbrook can for $1300 cheaper. He is being paced up by the Rockets, and I expect this one to stay close throughout. If I had to choose the higher scorer on the day, it’s probably Westbrook, but for the money Lillard should best him in points per $.
Jrue Holiday ($7500) – The fact that Holiday does not start means nothing to me. He gets to come in and guns with the second unit early in the game and is on the floor late when it really matters. He is still managing to see over 30 minutes of floor time recently. He is producing at a high and consistent level as well. In his last 6 games he has gone for 55, 45, 45, 53, 40, and 34 fantasy points. That is a low of 4.5X and a high of 8X over this stretch of games. He is in a paced up matchup here against the New Orleans Pelicans and he has not failed to reach 5X value in any game where both teams cracked 100 since the day after Christmas.
Patrick Beverley ($4800) – Beverley has been flying under the radar at low ownership, but he has produced well enough to be in play near nightly at this point. He is playing slightly over 30 minutes per game and has reached 5X value or better in 9 of his last 12 games. He has gone 6X or better in 6 of those 9, so he has been useful in GPPs as well as cash games as a salary saver. He gets a paced up matchup with the Trailblazers here and we all know Lillard is not known for his defense. If you need to save some money at a second guard spot to fit in some studs, Beverley is the man to use.
James Harden ($10500) – Harden is a guy that is always in play. He is head and shoulders above the rest of the options at shooting guard most nights. It’s not a question of whether or not he is the high scorer, but whether he returns the best value per dollar. He plays in a game with a 222 total today that is expected to be fast paced and against a team that has not been good at stopping opposing backcourt players. Harden has thrown up 50+ fantasy points in 8 of his last nine games. He is pricey, but you really cannot argue with that level of production. He is also nearly a must play, because you really can’t find that level of production elsewhere.
C.J. McCollum ($7500) – On the flip side of Harden is C.J. McCollum. He is favored in that high total game and draws some very weak James Harden defense to attack. C.J. has also gone 5X or better in 6 of his last 8 games with an average just shy of 40 fantasy points. This should be a paced up matchup for both teams and I would expect both to be over 100 and close to 110 each. Portland gets most of their offensive production from C.J. and Lillard, so it would be no shock to see him drop a 7X game for the third time this month.
Victor Oladipo ($7000) – No one is happier that Tobias Harris moved on than Oladipo. He was coming off the bench and his production took a big hit. Since the trade, he has averaged 41 minutes and 43 fantasy points per game. That is the kind of production they envisioned from him when he was drafted so highly a few years back. He is a true stat sheet stuffer as he scores 15-20 points, chips in 5 or so rebounds, 4-5 assists, and picks up a few defensive stats every game. The matchup is not easy, but the high pace that Golden State plays at should work out well for Oladipo. His price is rising along with his production. At 43 points per game since the break, even his new $7K price tag would still have yielded a 6X return on his average.
Evan Fournier ($5900) – $5900 is not really a bargain basement price, but compared to the trio of guys we discussed it is a pretty good savings. Fournier has been very good lately and had been whenever he sees a lot of minutes. Over his last seven games he has averaged just shy of 40 minutes per contest. Those minutes have helped him yield about 33 fantasy points per game. Scoring is his main way to get you fantasy points, but he does contribute a few stats across the board which help him have a safe enough floor. He is not a guy who explodes for huge upside often, but as long as he can return close to value he is useful if you need the savings.
Giannis Antetekounmpo ($7700) – The Greek Freak has been on tear lately. He has averaged over 38 minutes in his last 4 games and has not scored less then 40.75 fantasy points in any of them. He flashed his upside in the last game with an insane 10X performance that returned a monstrous 75 fantasy points. He has a decent matchup against the high paced Celtics in this one. The Celtics backcourt defense is top notch, so the frontcourt players tend to do most of the damage. With his minutes being safe and high, he has produced big returns. I think he has a safe 5X floor even with the price bump and is always capable of going off for huge upside.
Mirza Teletovich ($4800) – Mirza has averaged 28 minutes and 29 fantasy points since the all-star break. His price has slowly climbed with his production. The upside is limited now, but a 6X return at $4800 is right around his average of 29 fantasy points. The Suns are still messing with the rotation, which is why he saw 22 minutes one game and 32 in another. Foul trouble also was an issue when he only played 22, so I can excuse that game. I don’t think he is a huge upside guy at $5K coming off the bench, but he is still a solid producer that can get you a safe 5-6X return for the price.
Small Slate Stars
Editor’s Note: Joe Johnson was released from the Brooklyn Nets. He will not play tonight. It’s very unclear how this will impact the rotation, but Bojan Bogdanovic, Markel Brown, and Wayne Ellington all could see increased run tonight.
Joe Johnson ($5200) – I got some hate mail from people grumbling about Joe Johnson being in the Targets and Breakdowns I wrote over the last week, but they all seem to be before tip off. I get it, he’s Joe Johnson for goodness sake. you never feel good about having to roster him, but you really can not argue with his returns at the price. Since the break, he has yet to produce under 5.2X and his price has only risen $200. He has played 35 minutes per game and averaged 30 fantasy points in the process. He has a good matchup against a weak defensive Suns team that has allowed a ton of fantasy points. You may not feel good about putting Joe Johnson on your team, but he’s been good lately, so you can not argue it has not been worth it.
Anthony Davis ($10000) – I’m not a huge fan of Davis in 2016 so far, but he is asserting himself a little more on the offensive end. The Pelicans do not have a solid roster by any stretch. Outside of Davis, the other four starters might be the worst in the league of any team. That is good for Davis though as we saw him take 34 shots in a monster 59 and 20 performance a few days ago. My problem with Davis is that it was only the second time he has returned 6X or better since Christmas. He has a safe floor when he is not injured of about 45 fantasy points. While he has failed to go big to the upside, he has hit a decent floor of about 4.5X in 14 of his last 18. Davis is a decent cash game option with a high degree of safety and some upside. I just prefer to spend up for Stars at other positions today like Westbrook or Harden if I am going to take a guy priced in the 5 digit range.
Thaddeus Young ($6700) – Thad is in a good spot here against the Suns. The game is paced up for the Nets and has a nice total, just shy of 210. Thad has a solid matchup as the Suns have given up points to everyone, including a lot of frontcourt players this year. Thad is more than a matchup play though. He has gone 5X or better in 8 of his last 11 games, so he has been as consistent as anyone over that stretch. Thad is more a cash option than a GPP one as his upside games are few and far between. Still at $6700, he is usually safe for 35+ fantasy points, which is great production for a fair price that still leaves some room for potential upside.
Aaron Gordon ($6500) – Gordon has put up just shy of 35 fantasy points per game in 8 of his last 10, with a few breakouts above to the upside. For the most part though, he plays just shy of 30 minutes and scores just over 33 fantasy points. They are an underdog here, but they do play paced up against the Warriors in this one. Gordon will likely see some Draymond Green D, which is not ideal, but he can still do enough to get you value. I like him in cash for his potential to rebound and get some points by finishing when running the floor. I’m not looking for much upside here for a tourney play, but I do think he is a solid option for cash if you pair him in the midrange price with Thad Young. I still prefer Thad if I can only have one, but the cheap options are a mess at PF today, so one or both will find their way into my lineups.
Nikola Vucevic ($7600) – The Pricing guys must hate Vucevic. He has returned 5X or better in the last six games and his price only inches up about $100 a game. He gets a fast pace today against a Warriors team that has allowed some big games to centers recently. Al Horford just hung 60 fantasy points on them last week, so I can see Vucevic doing well here. 54, 36, 46, 56, and 50 in his last five games, so the floor has been about 5X with 6X or better in the other four and basically 3 of those 4 at 7X. That’s big upside for a guy in a paced up game with a good matchup based off recent numbers.
Brook Lopez ($7700) – The other guy who is going off at the center spot is Brook Lopez. BroLo has gone for 46, 55, and 60 fantasy points since the break, so his floor has basically been almost 6X. He faces a struggling Suns team that has Len likely out with an injury he suffered in practice and Tyson Chandler likely active, although not 100% after missing a few games. Lopez is a hug part of the Nets offense and has 2 30+ point games since the break in only 3 games. This game should feature a ton of points and with BroLo having such a large share of the Nets scoring load, I expect another huge night out of him.
Tyson Chandler ($4300) – Tyson may be tough to roster, especially coming back off injury, but I really like it in GPPs if Alex Len is out. The back up center will be Mirza Teltovic, and Chandler will need to play big minutes to matchup with BroLo who will eat Mirza alive inside. If Chandler is playing big minutes, his rebounding alone is enough to make value at this rock bottom price. The injury concern may limit his minutes whether he hurts it again or not though, so I do not think he is a safe play for cash. If you want one of the big centers and one or two of the $10K studs though, he is a path that might allow that to happen.
Mason Plumlee ($4800) – Make sure you get the right Plumlee in there if you are looking to save some money tonight. MASON is the one we are talking about here. The Portland big man has looked pretty good recently and has been a solid play since the break. He gets about 26-30 minutes a game, so he is playing a tad more than Myers Leonard is right now. He went for 30 and 34 in his last two, which had been closer to 7X value. His price jumped, so the upside is capped, but he can deliver around 30 fantasy points again, which would be 6X return at his price.