Russell Westbrook – OKC @ PHI – $10,500 – Westbrook is in one of the best spots here today against a putrid 76ers defense. John Wall just put up a huge number on them, Reggie Jackson did so as well with 24 and 10 a few days ago, and even Donald Sloan was only a rebound and an assist shy of a triple-double. There is no doubt Westbrook is in a great spot, and he has been putting up absolutely eye popping numbers. As is always the case when OKC takes on a weak team, the main concern is a blowout. Westbrook could triple-double in three quarters, but a smaller triple-double only gets him 45ish fantasy points, as we saw last week. It is always tough to know whether or not the game will get ugly, and for that reason I won’t be using him in cash games. However, I will definitely have some exposure in tournaments.
Brandon Knight – PHO @ LAL – $7,000 – I really like this matchup a lot for Brandon Knight. He faces a Lakers defense that has been one of the worst against point guards all year long. Neither team plays much defense, and neither is good, so this should be a close, high scoring affair. Knight played 24 minutes in his first game back and has averaged over 36 minutes since then. 36 minutes out of Knight in a matchup this good should yield 35-45 fantasy points for him. That would be a safe floor around 5X with upside in a plum matchup.
Jordan Clarkson – LAL vs. PHO – $5,700 – Clarkson is another guy in a good spot from the likely high scoring game between the Lakers and the Suns. Phoenix has really been giving it up lately to shooting guards, and that is where Clarkson plays, despite being listed as a point guard. He has hit a little bit of a rough patch in the last few games, but Kobe Bryant is listed as questionable again here today. It is no secret that Clarkson’s minutes, shots, and usage all go up when Kobe is out. If Kobe misses this one today, I love Clarkson to get back into the 30+ fantasy point range and be one of the best value plays we have available.
Brandon Jennings – ORL vs. CLE – $4,300 – Jennings has done well as a fill in for Elfrid Payton, who has missed the last few games. Despite these good performances, he is still only $4300. He faces a solid Cleveland defense, but they do struggle to contain point guards. Jennings has popped off 35 and 33 fantasy points in his last two games. That would be a return of 7-8X on his price tag today. Even if he only gets to 25, that is still 6X value and makes him a top salary saving option with upside. If Elfrid Payton plays, forget about Jennings, but if Elf is out, I will have a ton of exposure in cash and tournaments to Jennings.
Continue your Friday Night NBA Research Journey
|Player Targets||Levitan's Leverage||Cheat Sheet|
|Game Breakdowns||Tournament Plays||Top 5's by Position|
James Harden – HOU vs. MIN – $10,400 – Harden has underperformed lately, and his ownership rates keep dropping with each rough outing. That makes him a great GPP play today, though, as some will be unwilling to pay the steep price tag. Minnesota plays fast and gives up a lot of points to opposing guards, so the spot for him is good. Harden is clearly the best option at the shooting guard position on a near nightly basis. He is the only guy with consistent 50-60 point upside in every game, and his floor is around 40 fantasy points. It is not a slam dunk play to pay up for him, so I would not do so in cash, but he is capable of putting up a 50+ fantasy point performance and helping you win a tournament, which is not something I can say about any other option at the position.
C.J. McCollum – POR @ NO – $6,400 – The price and matchup here on C.J. are screaming at me to play him today. The Blazers two guard is one of the highest usage players on his team and at the position overall. His price has dropped over $1,000 from his high, and he is now a very interesting value play. He is in a high total game against a high paced New Orleans team that gives up a ton of points. C.J. can score a ton of points and usually puts up 30-40 fantasy points when he does. He also faces a backcourt that is riddled with injuries, and the better defender will likely be on PG Damian Lillard in this one. That should leave C.J. with a good matchup, in a fast paced game, at a cheap price. Exactly the kind of guy we want on our rosters for fantasy.
Lou Williams – LAL vs. PHO – $4,900 – Lou Williams came back two games ago and has promptly put up back-to-back 5X value games for us. He also would get a major bump if Kobe sits, as we expect him to. The matchup is ideal for a shooting guard against Phoenix and the game is likely to be close and high scoring. Williams could see 25-35 minutes if they only have the three guards active and has consistently put up 25-35 fantasy points all year in this same situation. At below $5K, he is one of the cheaper, safe options we have and definitely someone to look towards at a pretty weak position for Friday.
Tobias Harris – DET vs. SAC – $6,300 – I am not thrilled with the high end options, as Durant is in a likely blowout vs. Philly and LeBron is taking his foot off the gas to get ready for the playoffs. That leaves Harris as my top target for the day. Since he was traded over from Orlando, he has carved out a nice role as a power forward/small forward option in this offense. He is up above 30 minutes a game and has been consistently around the 30-40 point mark for a few weeks now. He gets an ideal matchup against a fast-paced Sacramento team that everyone has outperformed against. Harris is great in up-and-down contests due to his length and athleticism. He has been throwing up 16-20 real points with 7-10 rebounds in most of his recent contests, and I expect him to play more towards his ceiling in this ideal spot.
Jerami Grant – PHI vs. OKC – $5,200 – I think this is a position we want to save a little money at today, and Grant is an interesting play for me. I fully expect his 76ers team to get killed here, but Grant will see minutes regardless. He came back from a two game absence to play 30 minutes in his first game back. I expect him to see that or more in this matchup with the thin frontcourt the 76ers currently have. Grant will score a few points, grab a few boards, and add in a few defensive stats too. He is not a 40-50 point upside kind of guy, but he can definitely get you 25-30 and pay off his price tag.
Michael Beasley – HOU vs. MIN – $4,100 – Maybe I am biased or crazy because I remember how dominant he was back in his Kansas State days, but I always was a fan of his game. If he ever got his act together, I thought he could be a productive NBA player. My fingers are crossed, but it looks like that may be the case right now. Beasley has put up 27+ fantasy points in 3 of the last four games. The amazing part about it is that he did it while playing only 14, 18, and 27 minutes in those three games. Beasley’s potential production and his upside are massive. The drawback is the amount of court time he will see. He is basically getting you 15 points and 8 boards in limited minutes. If he ever saw a consistent 25+ minutes of court time, I think a double-double is almost a lock. At $4,100, he can and has given you 6-7X value all week. It is too risky for cash, but I love him as a cheap tournament option to save you some money.
DeMarcus Cousins – SAC @ DET – $10,200 – We have done a lot of cheaper options and salary savings because we needed to save money today to spend up on big men. Cousins is only $200 more expensive than Anthony Davis today, so he is still my top option to pay up for on this slate. He will be in a high total game against Detroit, and they really don’t match up well with him. They can try to use Drummond on him, but he is too quick and will draw the Pistons’ big man away from the basket. Boogie is a tough guard due to his shooting and driving ability from the high post, so I doubt this works out for Detroit.
“Sacramento runs everything through Cousins, so his usage rate is insanely high”
They can try to roll Morris or Harris over on him to stop the drive, but Boogie will just wind up in the post dominating those two and drawing a ton of fouls. They really do not have an answer for him. Sacramento runs everything through Cousins, so his usage rate is insanely high. It also provides a nice floor and upside for him. We have seen a 45 point floor consistently with a lot of games in the 50s and upside into the 70s. It is not an easy matchup for Boogie, but he’s been so good I still trust him over Brow in all my cash games.
Anthony Davis – NO vs. POR – $10,000 – I still cannot bring myself to play him in cash games due not only to his injury situation, but also his lack of a high enough floor. That has been changing recently, though with his floor starting to rise along with his ceiling. The Pelicans are ravaged by injuries with scorers like Tyreke Evans and Eric Gordon out. That has meant increased usage and shots for the guys who can score like Jrue Holiday, Ryan Anderson, and the Anthony Davis. He has scored 22 real points or more in each of his last seven games and has added double digit rebounds to give him 8 of those in a row. With the increased usage, we have seen him raise his floor and ceiling up by about 5-6 points each, so he now projects as a guy to score between 42-60 fantasy points. You can’t ask for a much better matchup for a big man than facing the Portland frontline. They also have some injuries to guys like Myers Leonard, so he is facing a bad line at less than full strength too. He has hurt me too many times to go back to him in cash games, but this could be a monster game for Davis in a really solid, fast paced matchup.
Nerlens Noel – PHI vs. OKC – $6,700 – If you decide not to pay up here, we have a ton of options in the $6K range to look at. Dieng, Randle, Love, Nowitzki, and Gordon are all in play, but the one I like the best is Nerlens Noel. Noel plays in a paced-up game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, and I like the chances for a good game from him. I expect a lot of Ish Smith pick and rolls here, which is when Noel performs at his best. He is very Athletic, so he will try to pull Kanter and Adams away from the basket and beat them on dives on the roll.
We have seen him and Ish do well in these uptempo games before, so I am relying on that again here. With the injury situation in Philly, he will see decent minutes even in a blowout, so I like the safety of court time that provides. Nerlens is putting up 30+ fantasy points with regularity and has the ability to get into the 40-50 point range when he has a game with a few steals or blocks. OKC plays fast, so he will have more chances to rack those up, grab rebounds, and finish in the open court. All of those things play to his strengths, so I think Nerlens is in for a big game today.
Jason Smith – ORL vs. CLE – $4,100 – If you need a salary saving option here, Jason smith is still a guy I like. With Vucevic out, he is seeing big minutes and has put up 31+ fantasy points in two of the last 4 games. He is a hit or miss kind of salary saving option I would only roll out in a tourney, but he has given you 5X value in 3 of the last 4 games, while filling in for Vucevic, so he makes sense if you really need a cheap option.
Andre Drummond – DET vs. SAC – $8,100 – We have three options to consider paying up for at the top end today between Howard, Towns, and Drummond. Drummond is my favorite of the three. All three play in high total games, with Drummond paced-up against a weak Sacramento defense and the other two facing off in a game with a 223 total against each other. Sacramento has been horrible against big guys all year long, so there is nothing wrong with the matchup. Both Towns and Howard have been missing value lately and neither is providing much upside. That is what has drawn me to Drummond in this matchup.
He has definitely not been the model of consistency, but he has performed well when the matchup clearly favors him. Sacramento makes everyone play fast. They miss a lot of shots and that creates a lot of rebounding opportunities for Drummond. He will either draw some lazy Cousins defense or get a matchup against an undersized Cauley-Stein or Acy. He has a good shot for a 20 point 15 rebound game here and is my favorite guy to pay up for at the position.
Enes Kanter – OKC @ PHI – $5,200 – Kanter comes off the bench for the Thunder and is dismissed by many fantasy players. Lately that has been a huge mistake. Kanter has gone for 26-36 fantasy points in 6 straight games. It has been good for a 5.6X floor or better. He has one of the best matchups against the 76ers today and could see increased run if the game turns into a blowout. Kanter is a great offensive player, which is all we really care about for fantasy. I really do not care how many points his horrendous defense allows, as long as he is racking them up for us on the other side of the court. Kanter could easily exceed his 30 DKFP per game recent average, and that would be good for 6X or better value at likely low ownership.
“He faces a New Orleans team that has been one of the best matchups this season for centers and should see close to 30 minutes”
Mason Plumlee – POR @ NO – $4,000 – I recommended him yesterday and he paid off with a 30 fantasy point performance, so I am ready to go back to the well. He faces a New Orleans team that has been one of the best matchups this season for centers and should see close to 30 minutes here. Myers Leonard is likely out again after missing the last game, and that means a bump in minutes and usage for Plumlee. At only $4,000, his price has not adjusted to the new role he is playing, and I think we can exploit that again here if Myers Leonard remains out. A 25-30 DKFP game is very likely for Plumlee and that is 6X+ value at his price of only $4K.