The season is winding down, but we still have a very nice 9 game slate for Friday’s NBA action. We have a lot of totals well over the 200 level and spreads ranging from 2 to 14 points. We could see at least three teams tonight playing without their top scoring option, so definitely be aware of the news flow throughout the day. Minimum priced options that get bumped up due to injures have been on every winning roster in the last two weeks. This tends to happen this time of year, so take advantage of the best situations you see when they arise. Let’s take a look at each position now and talk about some of our top plays based on the information we have available here today.
Rajon Rondo – Kings v. Suns – $7,800 – Rondo had a monster game last time out with Cousins sitting. Many will assume that with Cousins back in the lineup today Rondo will not be able to repeat that value, but I think that’s the wrong way to look at it. Rondo actually scores more fantasy points when Boogie plays, as Rondo’s assist numbers tend to be higher. He also has a very solid matchup against a fast paced Suns team that gives up a lot of points to the guard position. Rondo has reached double digit assists in 14 of his last 20 games and has 13 double-doubles along the way. In a high paced, high scoring matchup like this, he could easily get back into the 40-50 fantasy point range and be one of the top value plays for his price.
Ricky Rubio – Timberwolves v. Wizards – $6,900 – Rubio rebounds well for a guard, racks up the assists, and gets his hands on a few passes every game for some defensive stats, especially over the last two weeks. The thing that has changed recently is his field goal percentage. He is both shooting better and taking higher percentage shots, and that has helped him be more efficient on the offensive end. That’s translated into more fantasy points, as Rubio has gone 5X or better in seven of his last nine games. Twice he has gone over 7X value and two other times he has gone over 8X, so he is safe for cash games and offers GPP upside.
Rubio gets a high tempo game against the Washington Wizards here and should be able to reach to his ceiling. He was on his way to another monster game before foul trouble derailed him in the last one, and he still managed to get us 35 fantasy points for a 5X return. If he can avoid the fouls, he should be one of the top producers at the point guard spot again.
Darren Collison – Kings v. Suns – $5,100 – Darren Collison has quietly slid into the role of starting two guard for the uptempo Sacramento Kings. He has been a model of consistency since doing so. In 8 of the last 11 games, he has put up 5X or better, which is a solid floor for a guy who is still pretty cheap at only $5,100. He is not only starting, but he is playing about 34 minutes per game, so he has ample opportunities to score fantasy points. Despite being listed as a PG, he really plays the 2 for the Kings. Devin Booker for the Suns has been allowing huge numbers to whoever he guards, which makes this a nice spot to target Collison. The pace should be hot and the scoring high, so he is definitely a cheap option worth noting when building your lineups.
James Harden – Rockets v. Raptors – $10,400 – Harden has been on a tear lately, and it is a great time for him to start to step it up. The matchup is not great on paper, but he has produced in some tough matchups recently. He put up 66 DKFP in Utah last game, 65 in Oklahoma City the game before, and 61 in Minnesota two games before that. 60+ points in 3 of the last 4 games is something we have to respect. Houston needs to keep winning to lock up a decent spot in the Western Conference, and motivation is a big factor to consider this late in the year. A motivated Harden has proven to us that he can still ball at an elite level, and we also have to respect the fact he is likely to be the highest scorer at the position by approximately 15-20 points. That will make him tough to fade due to the replacement cost associated with doing so.
“His returns have been good enough for 6X or better in 8 of his last 11 starts . . .”
Devin Booker – Suns v. Kings – $6,600 – I wish he was a little cheaper, but Devin Booker has been putting up numbers good enough to justify this lofty price level. He had 37 or more fantasy points in 7 of his last 11 games. He is playing a ton of minutes also, checking in at a tad under 40 as an average over this run. He gets one of the best possible matchups against a fast paced Sacramento team that has not guarded shooting guards well all year, and we can see a lot of positives behind him today. His returns have been good enough for 6X or better in 8 of his last 11 starts, so he has been returning tournament winning value on a consistent basis.
Bradley Beal – Wizards v. Timberwolves – $5,100 – Beal still strikes me as a guy who is too cheap. He has been in and out of the lineup due to injuries, but he has produced really well on the days he has been in. He has scored 26-37 fantasy points in four of his most recent five starts, which means he has returned 5-7X at his current price. He faces a fast paced Minnesota team that has struggled to guard shooting guards lately, and as athletic as Zach LaVine is, guys have been putting up numbers against him. $5,100 is a very friendly price point for someone with Beal’s talent level. He is pretty safe for a 5X floor and has 6-7X upside at the price.
|Player Targets||Levitan's Leverage||Cheat Sheet|
|Game Breakdowns||Click For More||Tournament Plays|
Giannis Antetokounmpo – Bucks v. Hawks – $9,600 – Giannis gets the top billing at SF today by default. Last night we had LeBron, Durant, Paul George and Melo all in action. With Kawhi Leonard already ruled out, Giannis is the only option over $6,200, and no one wants to play Rudy Gay right now at $6,200. Giannis is still putting up 40+ fantasy points a game, but it is not as sexy a return now that his price has jumped up near $10K. The Hawks Wing defense is nothing special, so he should be able to keep putting up numbers here. Giannis is playing a ton of minutes, and his time running the offense has helped him up his assist totals. Throw in the scoring which is also up, his usual 8-12 rebounds, and the defensive stats, and we are left with a guy with a 40+ point floor and upside into the 70s. No one else on this slate has anywhere near the same type of upside, so that alone makes him stand out as the only guy worth paying up for.
Otto Porter – Wizards v. Timberwolves $5,100 – Otto Porter has had a very up and down season, but lately he has been up, while his price remains fairly cheap. In 6 of his last 7 games he has gone for 5.2X or better with two of those games being for 6X and two others going for 8X. He is going to be in a high scoring game here against the Timberwolves, and while I expect whoever he is guarding to go off, he should see a lot of court time regardless. He has returned between 25-40 fantasy points recently, which is 5-8X value based off of his current price. He has scored double digits in each game, hit a 3-pointer in each, and has a floor of 5 rebounds. That alone is enough to get him near 20 points, so if he adds in an assist or two and a steal, he basically reaches his floor. I think that floor is a safe projection, and he could even give you upside for a price this cheap.
“With [Kawhi] Leonard out, we should finally see some big minutes from Kyle Anderson”
Kyle Anderson – Spurs v. Grizzlies – $3,000 – So the Spurs already announced a half dozen guys will not be in uniform tonight, including Kawhi Leonard. With Leonard out, we should finally see some big minutes from Kyle Anderson. The youngster has been solid when filling in at times during the year, but his minutes have always been a concern. With so few guys active tonight for the Spurs, I can not see him playing less than 25 minutes in this one. At a minimum price of only $3K, he basically needs to get us about 15-20 points to pay it off. Anything above that would be gravy. He has had some games of 25-30 fantasy points in this situation earlier in the season, so he will be a popular choice here when people realize how limited the Spurs bench is actually going to be tonight.
DeMarcus Cousins – Kings v. Suns – $10,300 – Cousins sat out the last game, but is likely to return for this one in a matchup that is ideal. Cousins is a beast. He has a floor of 40-45 fantasy points with 50+ DKFP as an average and 60-70 point upside. He gets a high scoring matchup here against a soft Suns frontcourt that will be without Tyson Chandler as a rim protector. The combination of Alex Len, Jon Leuer and Mirza Teletovic have very little chance of slowing Cousins down. Earlier in the season the Kings beat the Suns by 30 and Cousins put up just shy of 50 fantasy points in only 27 minutes of action. I think he sees a few more minutes here, and the matchup is still good enough for him to reach 50-60 DKFP without much help. He is the likeliest high scorer at the position and one of the best options at any position to pay up for today.
Markieff Morris – Wizards v. Timberwolves – $5,000 – It seems like a lot of the Wizards are in play here, and that has a lot to do with the pricing. $5K is a pretty friendly price tag for a guy who has scored 30-35 fantasy points in each of his last three games. The key for Morris is his minutes. He is now averaging close to 30 MPG. He is a good rebounder and a competent scorer, so those extra minutes tend to translate into a few more points for him. Again, here the game is expected to be uptempo and high scoring, so that rising tide floats all boats. The Wizards, outside of Wall, all seem a little too cheap, so you have to respect the pricing and look to have some exposure to them.
Jon Leuer – Suns v. Kings – $4,100 – Jon Leuer has produced when he has been given the chance to this year. With Tyson chandler out last game, Leuer was back in the starting lineup and produced another monster performance. He has 36 and 44 fantasy points in his last two games which is 11X and 9X value based on his current price. As long as Chandler remains out, you have to like him in this uptempo, high scoring matchup. The one concern to watch for is foul trouble if he has to guard Cousins for long stretches. Boogie gets everyone into foul trouble, so it is valid. Still at $4,100, we don’t need 35-45 fantasy points out of him. A 25-30 point game is still 6-7X return and would make him a top value play. The fact he can and has gone for 35-40 and a 10X return only makes him more interesting as a tournament option on top of the safety he can provide for a cash game lineup.
David West – Spurs v. Grizzlies – $3,300 – With Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard and Boris Diaw all out tonight, we should see more minutes for all the backup Spurs. West will likely have Duncan and Aldridge in front of him, but he will be the guy who sees the most minutes behind them. West is a great veteran option for the Spurs and has produced in spots when called upon. He has put up a bunch of games in the 25-35 point range when he gets the uptick in minutes. He does a little scoring and a good deal of rebounding when he is in the game. I do not think he has a 35-40 point game in him like Leuer does, but I can easily see 25-30 for him if he sees an extra 7-10 minutes, which is likely, given the number of guys already confirmed out.
Hassan Whiteside – Heat v. Magic – $8,000 – Hassan Whiteside could be a stud if he ever saw the full allotment of minutes other centers get. We can see this with his recent game logs. He plays just shy of 30 minutes per game on average, yet still manages to get between 40-50 fantasy points on most nights. His rebounding rate is elite, he still leads the league in blocked shots, and he does more scoring as a top offensive option with the second unit. Whiteside sticks to what he does best. He takes a lot of high percentage shots from inside the paint, which is also why he is one of the most efficient players in the league based on field goal percentage. He faces an Orlando team that will be undersized and undermanned without Nikola Vucevic, so I can not see anyone that will slow him down. As long as this game does not turn into a blowout, I expect around 30 minutes and 45 fantasy points from the big guy on the Heat.
Andre Drummond – Pistons v. Hornets – $7,600 – For some reason Drummond has struggled against the weak interior defense of the Hornets. I am not exactly sure why he played poorly against them this year, but I still think this is a good matchup for him. His price is discounted from where it has been most of the year, and he is coming off a 50 fantasy point game. The Hornets have been playing faster and higher scoring games recently, so that too is a positive. I think the perimeter players for Detroit have tough matchups with guys like Nicolas Batum and Kemba Walker, so the big men will need to step up if they are going to win. With Marvin Williams out, the rotation at the 4 and 5 spots for the Hornets will consist of Frank Kaminsky, Cody Zeller, and Al Jefferson. None of those three are defensive stalwarts that would scare me away from using Drummond.
Salah Mejri – Mavericks v. Warriors – $3,800 – You always have to take notice when a guy returns 15X and 10X value in back-to-back games. When his price stays below $4K, you really have to take notice. Mejri is a talented player. He had not seen a ton of court time this year, but his numbers have been over a point per minute when he’s on the floor. With Chandler Parsons out for the year and Zaza Pachulia so banged up that he is playing under ten minutes a game, that leaves only Mejri, Dirk and David Lee as viable options for the big man spots. Mejri has seen about 30 minutes in each of his last two games, recorded a double-double in both and is likely to see the same here. With Bogut and Ezeli likely out for the Warriors, Mejri should have a softer matchup with a guy like Mo Speights and a size advantage over the entire Golden State team. We only need 25-30 DKFP out of him at this price to be happy, so even if he falls short of his recent two games, we should still get a nice return with a solid floor.