We have nine games on tonight’s slate, which is much more attractive than the 14 or 15 game slates that we’ve suffered through in the past. Tonight’s matchup between the Pelicans and Rockets stands out as a very fantasy-friendly game. New Orleans is dead last in defensive efficiency, while the Rockets aren’t far behind at 27th. Both teams are ranked in the top half of the league in pace as well, so the expectation is that we’ll see a close, high-scoring game. There are plenty of great options in that game and the other eight taking place this evening, and here are a few of the top plays I’m looking at on FanDuel.
Isaiah Canaan, Philadelphia 76ers, $4400 – Fresh off a big win against the mighty Lakers, the Sixers roll into town to begin another losing streak against the New York Knicks. The Knicks are one of the slowest teams in the league, but I do like Canaan today as he should draw the “defense” of Jose Calderon. Calderon wasn’t a good defender in his prime, and he’s only gotten worse with age. Canaan is still too cheap for a starting point guard, and I expect he’ll finish with somewhere around the 25 fantasy points he gets on a nightly basis. I’ll take that value all day.
John Wall, Washington Wizards, $8000 – Wall exploded for a monster game as Washington cruised to a comfortable win over the Cavaliers in Cleveland. Don’t think that this pick is merely box score chasing, as there are a number of factors that led me to select Wall. The first, and likely most important, is that he’s facing a miserable Lakers team that just got beaten soundly by the Sixers. No team is allowing more points per game to opposing point guards than the Lakers, so expect Wall to have no trouble scoring and creating opportunities for his teammates. Further, the point guard position isn’t offering many plays that I’m interested in. I’ll happily go with the chalk play when I can’t find a good alternative and win at other positions.
James Harden, Houston Rockets, $10800 – There are several reasons why I regularly roster James Harden. First, he dominates the ball for Houston and his usage rate is extremely high. Also, he’s playing a ton of minutes as the Rockets need him on the court to have any chance of winning basketball games. Third, he always seems to be hovering around the 50 fantasy point mark, but has upside well over 60. And finally, the options at shooting guard usually make me feel like I ate whatever Damian Lillard ate last night. It’s a brutal position with a litany of inconsistent options that I’m simply not interested in. There are usually good value plays at other positions, so it makes little sense to fade Harden and force yourself into guessing with two shooting guards instead of one. Also, the folks in Vegas have this tabbed as the highest scoring game of the evening with a fairly close spread, so the odds are in Harden’s favor.
Jeremy Lamb, $4700, Charlotte Hornets – Lamb’s already seeing significant run off the bench, and if Jeremy Lin is unable to suit up tonight, he should see even more minutes as Lin logs a good chunk of his time at shooting guard. Aside from a down game against the Nets, Lamb has been putting up 20 or more fantasy points routinely. If he sees some extra run, we can reasonably expect that his fantasy totals will rise, making him an excellent value play at only $4700.
Robert Covington, Philadelphia 76ers, $6400 – He may be the highest owned player today, but that doesn’t bother me, especially in cash game formats. He seen well over 30 minutes over his past six games, recording just one fantasy total below 30 points (28.7). He has significant upside relative to his modest price tag, and he’s an extremely safe pick as well. Fire him up in all game formats against a Knicks team that’s not a great matchup, but is nowhere near tough enough to get me to fade Covington this evening.
Nicolas Batum, Charlotte Hornets, $6900 – I like Kawhi Leonard and Paul George tonight, but I like James Harden and Anthony Davis a lot more, so spending up at small forward just isn’t a realistic option. Batum is a tough sell in cash games because he’s been inconsistent and draws a matchup with a Golden State team that plays excellent team defense. However, the Warriors also play at an extremely fast pace, which will give Batum extra opportunities to what he does best: stuff the stat sheet. I also expect Batum to pick up a little extra time in the wake of Al Jefferson’s injury. I don’t blame you for not wanting to go this route. Punting the position with Jared Dudley, assuming Nene Hilario is out again, is also a viable option.
Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans, $10800 – Forget that Davis likely burned you when he went down with an injury after playing 6 minutes against Denver. In close games, he’s hitting 50 or more fantasy points on a regular basis right now, and he draws a terrific matchup with a Houston team that’s playing miserable team defense, allowing the most FanDuel fantasy points per game to opposing power forwards. This should be a close, high-scoring contest tonight, and I plan on trying to build my lineups around each team’s stud player.
Kristaps Porzingis, Philadelphia 76ers, $7200 – Over Porzingis’s last five games he’s logged fantasy totals of 41.1, 27.6, 35.3, 43.3, and 54.8. That’s pretty good for a guy that’s only going to cost your $7200 and happens to be facing a Sixers team that’s allowing the fourth-most fantasy points per game to opposing power forwards. Porzingis is extremely active, and he’s going to contribute heavily in scoring, rebounds, and blocked shots. The Sixers get blocked more than any other team in the league, so expect Porzingis to finish with at least two, and likely more. When a player is offering you the potential for absurd upside relative to his price while also maintaining a very solid floor, you almost have to roster him.
Alex Len, Phoenix Suns, $3500 – If Tyson Chandler is unable to play, Len should see big minutes once again tonight as the Suns will need his size to attempt to combat Andre Drummond. Len played 35 minutes last night after seeing 16 and 28 in previous games Chandler had missed. If you can get a big man playing heavy minutes at a dirt cheap price, you almost have to roll with him. He’s going to get rebounds and some cheap buckets, and he’s capable of contributing some blocked shots as well. It’s hard to see him finishing with less than 20 fantasy points tonight. He’s a great cash game play, but might be worth a fade in tournaments given his likely high ownership after his huge game last night.
Bismack Biyombo, Toronto Raptors, $3900 – Biyombo was a letdown against the Suns last game, playing 33 minutes but only contributing 15.6 fantasy points. What’s important, though, is that during Jonas Valanciunas’s absence, Biyombo’s minutes have held tight at 31 to 35. As I said in Len’s write-up, any time you can get a big man that’s playing over 30 minutes at a cheap price, you have to give him consideration. What’s also working in Biyombo’s favor is the fact that the Hawks have been terrible at rebounding the basketball this season. They currently rank 24th in rebounding rate, and Biyombo should do well on the glass tonight. He’s also contributed four blocked shots in each of his past two games, and those, combined with some cheap buckets, should help him easily surpass 20 fantasy points tonight.