Derrick Rose ($6200) – Point guard is not a great spot for fantasy today as we really do not have a lot of top options that are big standouts. One guy I am very interested in is Derrick Rose. Jimmy Butler and Pau Gasol are both listed as questionable for this game. Either or both could still play, but if either is out than Rose makes for a very solid play. He put up 42 fantasy points in his last start with no Butler and his usage rate was way up in that game. He has a plum matchup against the Denver Nuggets who play at a high pace and give up a ton of points to the guard positions. Rose never goes highly owned either, so I think this is a solid sneaky spot to go after him.
John Wall ($9700) – Wall has an amazing matchup with the putrid Philadelphia 76ers. There is some concern of blowout risk, but his Washington team has not been dominating anyone lately, so this one should stay close. Wall is up to 35-40 minutes a game lately, and has thrown up 50 or more in 3 of his last 5. He is averaging over 51 fantasy points in those games, so he has been producing as well as other superstars at lower ownership nightly. Wall can get it done in many ways for fantasy. He had 41 real life points in his last game and had been putting up games with 5-7 rebounds and 10-14 assists in other recent starts.
Shane Larkin ($4000) – I do not like the options up top for the point guard position, but I like the cheap options even less. Larkin is definitely not a cash game play as he has thrown up two single digit numbers in his last 6 games, but the other scores of 22-35 would be huge multipliers off his $4K price. He has a solid matchup against an uptempo Sacramento team that should help his production. Larkin only plays 18-24 minutes a game, but if a guy that is $4K can get you 30+ fantasy points as he did in 33% of his last 6 games you have to respect that.
Will Barton ($5700) – Will Barton has been back in play for me over the last week or two. He was a near daily start a month or so back before Gallinari returned from injury and quickly fell off the map when his minutes dried up. We saw the offensive talent this guy had and knew it was only a matter of time before he returned to a decent role. When the price was $7K it was too risky to roll him out, but now that it dipped back into a reasonable mid $5K range we can start talking about him again. He still comes off the bench, but he is playing 25-34 minutes of work and has 25-39 fantasy points in 5 of his last 6. He might be facing a Chicago Bulls team sans Jimmy Butler defense today and that would make this a really soft spot for him.
Langston Galloway ($5000) – The low end of the spectrum is where I will likely be looking on Friday. Galloway was a stud for the Knicks in fantasy terms late last season. When he sees minutes, he has produced nice returns. This play is hinging on the availability and minutes Jose Calderon will see. He may or may not be ready to go tonight, but in his absence we have seen Galloway shine again. He is playing 25-30+ minutes per game and putting up 25-30ish fantasy points with that time. He can score, grabs a few boards, gets a couple assists and is still pretty cheap. The matchup is not ideal, but if he gets the minutes and Calderon is out he can still make value and offer the chance for upside.
E’Twaun Moore ($4200) – Moore is a no brainer choice if Jimmy Butler is out at his cheap price. He threw up over 40 fantasy points after Butler was a late scratch last game. I do not see a repeat of that monster game, but he really only needs 25 for upside at his price. Even with Butler playing in the games before that, Moore is seeing 30 minutes and scoring about 20 fantasy points per game. He is officially a major cog and starter in that current Bulls rotation, so at $4200 he offers good value if Butler is playing. If Butler is not playing, he is a must start for me.
Wayne Ellington ($4100) – There is not much upside for Ellington, but he can definitely give you the value you seek. He is not going to get you 30-35 fantasy points, but he has been consistently in the 20-25 fantasy point range for cheap. You do not take a guy like Ellington expecting him to win you a tournament. You can use him though if you need the salary savings in order to fit in a second superstar you think can help you win. Ellington is a guy who can help you stay on pace to win in cash games with his floor and his ceiling is enough to keep you in contention for a GPP. You have to use the savings wisely since he has limited upside, but he can still be a useful piece on a winning roster if used correctly.
Gordon Hayward ($7400) – Hayward is underrated as a fantasy option. His price stubbornly stays right where it is and he just keeps producing solid returns. Many are scared away now that they are completely healthy, but this is a great matchup for Hayward. I was somewhat shocked to see Milwaukee be as bad as they are against SF with a guy like Giannis guarding the position. Yet it has been a place they have been burned again and again. Hayward can score, especially when his shot is on. He also gets some assists and will chip in a few rebounds and defensive stats. His upside is rarely reached due to the slow pace his team plays at, but he has a lot of consistent returns of about 40 fantasy points which makes him a safe cash play for me in this solid matchup.
LeBron James ($9600) – LeBron is another really solid cash game play that has been putting up 50ish fantasy points per game. The Cavs are playing faster under their new coach and that has allowed a lot of these players to raise their fantasy profiles. LeBron rarely gets up into the 60s for upside, but he has returned 45-55 points in his last 4 games and 7 of his last 8. The Celtics are a fast paced team and the SF spot has been kind to their opponents. LeBron is a guy who can contribute across the board and that is why he has a solid floor at this price.
Robert Covington ($6200) – I have not used Big Bob in quite some time, but he is back to playing a good amount of minutes. He has produced some decent games with occasional upside, but not consistent enough to really be high on my radar. That changes in this paced up matchup with Washington though. Washington and Otto Porter in particular, have been horrendous at stopping small forwards so far this year. Covington has been putting up 25-40 fantasy points in 9 of his last 10 games, so he has been consistent. With the top notch matchup, he should also be able to reach closer to his ceiling. The price is not cheap, but it also is not overly expensive for a guy who we have already seen 50 point upside from.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist ($5200) – He was a lock when the price was below $4500, so the upside is definitely less here. That does not mean he isn’t still a solid play. Charlotte is banged up, so the minutes are there for him. He has played about 32 minutes in each of three games since he returned, so he should see the court time. In those three games, he has produced an average of 31 fantasy points per contest so that would be a solid 6X based off his price today. Miami is not a great team matchup overall, but the SF spot is one of the weaker places to attack them. I do not expect a monster game out of MKG, but he is still too cheap not to have some value as a cash game play.
DeMarcus Cousins ($11300) – Brooklyn has not been great at stopping big men this year and Boogie has been great. He is the most dominate force in the NBA right now as he has bullied his way to the hole and added range to his jumpshot. He has become a very tough player to guard with his offensive arsenal. Cousins is on a ridiculous run lately. He has produced 48 or more fantasy points in an insane 15 of his last 16 games. That makes him a solid cash play if you can find the value to make him work. Cousins has also thrown up 5 games in the 60s, 1 in the 70s, and 1 in the 80s during this stretch, so he has upside as well. The key is finding enough value around him that you can trust. If you can do that, it is never a bad idea to have some Cousins exposure.
Derrick Favors ($7000) – Derrick Favors is still too cheap. He is playing in his sixth game since returning from injury and his price is still 12% below the pre-injury levels we saw him at consistently. He has averaged 35 minutes over the past three games and 35 fantasy points to go with it. He faces a Milwaukee team with an undersized Jabari Parker at the PF spot. Favors is a consistent double double threat with scoring upside and a few blocks per game. As long as his price is discounted and he is averaging 35+ points, he remains a steal. He is cash game safe and has GPP upside in this solid matchup.
Kevin Love ($7800) – Kevin Love has 5X or better in his last 5 games. They are playing faster and trying to get him more involved in the offense, which has translated into increased production. Love has a good matchup here with the Celtics who have struggled to stop big men. He has averaged 35 minutes per game since that coaching change and he is scoring about 21 points per game since with just shy of 10 rebounds per game. This should be a high paced game with two teams that play fast and Love is in a good matchup with a soft Celtics frontcourt that has been burned a lot recently.
Brook Lopez ($7700) – Brook Lopez is the main threat in the Nets offense. A lot of what they do has been running through him and he has produced. He has 5X or better in 5 of his last 6 and three of those were 53 or more fantasy points for 7.5X or better. Sacramento plays fast, which means more possessions, more scoring, and more missed shots. Centers have done well against them this year, so I think this is a good spot for the big man from Brooklyn. Lopez has big upside and a solid floor at a reasonable price. The foul trouble concern is valid, but Boogie does not play a ton of defense which means Lopez could wind up matching him bucket for bucket if this game stays close.
Nikola Jokic ($5900) – I love him tonight. He had a bad game in his last against the top Utah defense from the second half of last season that finally has the twin towers back. In the six games before that though he had 38 or more fantasy points in 5 of those 6. He matches up with a Chicago team that has not defended bigs well, especially since Noah has been out. Jokic is still too cheap as most people do not know about this guy yet. He is averaging just over 16 points a game with 4 double doubles in his last six. He also is a good passing big man with 3 or 4 assists per game and adds in some defensive stats as well. Jokic has a lot of upside and for $5900, I want to have exposure to it. As a caveat, he was banged up in his last game, so make sure he is healthy before rolling him out there.
Zaza Pachulia ($5700) – Zaza is actually down in price, but that only makes him a great play in cash. You do not get a ton of scoring out of Zaza, but he is consistently putting up big rebounding numbers. He has produced between 30-37 fantasy points in three of the four games since returning from injury and he had a run of seven of those in a row before taking a few games off. If you want 40 fantasy points, he is probably not the guy to get it for you in a GPP. If you want a guy who has a safe floor of about 30, even in a tricky matchup with the Spurs, then he is your guy for cash game play.