Hopefully everyone had a chance to recharge and relax over the All Star break. We’re going to get back into it today with a six-game FanDuel slate and, of course, the trade deadline at 3:00 PM EST. We’ve already seen several deals go down with DeMarcus Cousins landing in New Orleans and Nerlens Noel being dealt to Dallas. This article is going to be published before the deadline hits, so please be aware that some of these picks may become obsolete if those players are traded. Also, it will be interesting to monitor the situation in New Orleans with Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins playing next to each other. Neither seems worth their salary today given they are going to eat into each other’s production.
All that said, let’s take a look at today’s picks and breakdown.
Darren Collison, Sacramento Kings, $5,500 – Collison will see a significant spike in usage with DeMarcus Cousins gone. Tyreke Evans will cut into his production some, but the loss of one of the highest usage rates in the league is going to open up a lot of opportunities for the remaining Kings. Facing a Nuggets team that has hemorrhaged fantasy points to opposing point guard all season, Collison is one of the top plays on tonight’s slate given he’s priced like a player who is sharing the floor with Cousins. He should easily crush value at his $5,500 price tag, and he’ll remain a solid target until his price corrects.
Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers, $9,000 – According to RotoGrinders’ CourtIQ tool, Irving is sporting a 35.8% usage rate with Kevin Love off the court. That’s higher than LeBron James’s. $9000 is a bit of a steep price to pay, but with Love out, it’s hard to envision a scenario where Irving doesn’t reach at least 40 fantasy points against a bad Knicks team. He’s a safe play that’s worth paying up for on a day where other high-priced options like Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins will likely make for poor investments.
James Harden, Houston Rockets, $12,600 – If you can afford Harden, you should play him. I think there’s enough value on tonight’s slate to make it work, and with shooting guard being a tough position to fill with consistent, reliable players, it’s often worth somewhat overpaying for a guy that’s matchup-proof. We’re looking at what’s likely to be a very close, very high-scoring matchup with New Orleans, so we should see Harden play a ton of minutes and post a huge stat line. He’s the top play this evening, and I’m locking him in and value hunting at other positions.
Tyreke Evans, Sacramento Kings, $4,500 – Evans has stated he’ll be playing around 27 minutes per night with Sacramento, which is more than enough time for him to eclipse value at his cheap $4,500 price tag. With DeMarcus Cousins gone, Sacramento’s rotations will change quite a bit, and I would expect to see Evans spend a lot of time at both the two and three. He should handle the ball quite a bit, and given there are no intriguing options at the shooting guard position, I’m going to value route with Evans. He should offer a solid floor with terrific upside.
Aaron Gordon, Orlando Magic, $4,500 – With Serge Ibaka gone, Gordon has finally claimed the starting power forward role, a job he should have had from the very beginning. He’ll draw a favorable matchup against a Portland team that often struggles against opposing power forwards. Gordon is still priced like a guy playing out of position who never gets to make use of his natural abilities, but the shift to the four should result in big stat lines sooner rather than later, and a projected close, high-scoring game against the Blazers at home is a great place to start.
Trevor Ariza, Houston Rockets, $5,300 – It would have been easy to just write up Kevin Durant or LeBron James, but I try to offer picks that you can actually roster with other guys that I’ve recommended. Both are strong plays, but if you’re using Kyrie Irving and James Harden, you likely won’t be using one of the top two small forwards as well. Ariza doesn’t have the highest floor, but in what projects to be a very close, high-scoring game against the Pelicans, he should play a ton of minutes. I think it’s very likely he finishes in the 20 to 25 fantasy point range with upside for more. The rest of the options at the position are unappealing, and Ariza is simply the best of a bad group.
Willie Cauley-Stein, Sacramento Kings, $3,800 – With DeMarcus Cousins gone and Matt Barnes waived, Cauley-Stein should be a lock for a 25 to 30 minute role with the Kings going forward. At just $3800, a big man who can score and rebound makes for a terrific value play on what’s shaping up to be quite the stars and scrubs slate. There’s a good chance he draws the start tonight, and even if he doesn’t, he’ll play more than enough minutes to pay off his near-minimum salary.
Jon Leuer, Detroit Pistons, $4,700 – Leuer can have a bad game every now and then, but he mostly finishes in the 20 to 25 fantasy point range with consistency. I’m going the value route at the power forward position tonight given I like spending up at other positions, namely shooting guard and small forward. While Leuer is a solid value option, the other positions are not offering cheaper plays that I can recommend with any level of confidence.
Guillermo Hernangomez, New York Knicks, $5,800 – Not surprisingly, Joakim Noah re-injured himself and has already been ruled out for tonight. This paves the way for Hernangomez to draw another start at center, and given his terrific per minute production, he makes for one of the top value plays on tonight’s slate. None of the expensive options at the position are worth spending on, and Hernangomez stands out as the best per dollar play. There are certainly better matchups than the Cavs, but Hernangomez’s ability to rack up fantasy points while he’s on the court makes him a must for me tonight.