The Minnesota Timberwolves bring their last ranked defense into Denver tonight, vaulting several Nuggets into daily fantasy consideration. The struggling Wolves profile in the bottom 10 at defending every position, but I would advise against clicking more than two (maybe 3 if the price is right) Denver players into your lineup.
Although this fast-paced game checks in with a high over/under (210), Minnesota represents one of the most blowout-prone teams, playing on a back-to-back in Denver’s elevation. For that reason, it may be best to select players priced more in the mid-range, as they don’t necessarily require a full 35+ minutes to hit value.
There’s plenty of fantasy goodness to go around in this one, and I’m zeroing in on Kenneth Faried, J.J. Hickson, and Ty Lawson in this “sweet spot” for the Nuggets. Wilson Chandler and Arron Afflalo can also be considered as secondary options.
You’ll surely find numerous players from this game in the matchup rankings below, which outlines the best daily fantasy plays based on the opponent and other contextual factors.
TOP FIVE MATCHUP PLAYS
1. Blake Griffin – PF – LAC (at Sacramento)
Sacramento ranks 29th in defending opposing PF’s, and Blake has absolutely destroyed them in the past. He averaged a hearty 21 points, 11 rebounds, and 5 assists (42 fppg) in four games vs the Kings last season. Griffin has been rolling as of late, posting 40+ FP in four of the last six, and a relatively close 6-point spread alleviates the risk of a blowout.
2. Greg Monroe – PF – DET (vs Philadelphia)
Unlike the previous pick, there’s plenty of blowout concern when it comes to the Pistons vs Sixers. Still, Monroe is a great FP/min producer who could eat Philly’s front line alive. As you’ve probably heard a few times in the past two years: Philadelphia’s defense is awful. They rank 23rd vs PF’s, 29th in rebound rate, and 5th in pace of play. Monroe has been much more aggressive since the Josh Smith trade, and I’m expecting 35+ FP, even if his playing time is pinched by a blowout.
3. Kenneth Faried – PF – DEN (vs Minnesota)
Faried has unbelievable upside in this favorable draw. Minnesota ranks dead last at defending opposing PF’s, and the “Manimal” feasted on them for 57 FP last month. On the other hand, the two teams have played once since then (January 5), and Faried only totaled 24 FP. However, with Timofey Mozgov shipped out of town, there’s less risk of his minutes getting randomly pinched. Blowout factor aside, Faried appears to be a promising risk/reward bet.
4. James Harden – SG – HOU (vs Golden State)
The Warriors actually represent one of the better defenses in the league, but all the other contextual factors line up well for Harden, vaulting him into “top 5 matchup play” status. In terms of defensive efficiency, the SG position is where Golden State is most susceptible (rank 16th). The Rockets check in as the highest projected scoring team of the day, at home vs the NBA’s fastest pace club. The Warriors may have tired legs following last night’s track meet with OKC, which could create an edge for Harden and company to exploit.
5. Bradley Beal – SG – WAS (at Brooklyn)
The Wizards were downright awful against the Nets last night. They’ll have a chance at revenge in this always strange back to back “home-and-home” series. Beal and his teammates didn’t have a chance to get anything started yesterday, but that doesn’t cancel out the matchup potential for Washington’s SG. The Nets rank dead last at defending opposing SG’s, and Beal is a (usually) solid mid-range play, averaging 30 fppg (past four) heading into last night.
Gorgui Dieng – C – MIN (at Denver)
Gorgui Dieng has owned the Nuggets this season. He’s averaging 45 fppg in this series (two games), which comes as no surprise considering Denver ranks 29th in D-eff vs Centers. The second year man from Louisville makes for a solid mid-range pick this evening.
Brandon Jennings – PG – DET (vs Philadelphia)
Jennings is a notoriously volatile option, and the blowout factor adds another dimension of risk. You can’t deny the upside in this dream matchup vs Philly, but I’m reserving him more for tournaments.
J.J. Hickson – PF – DEN (vs Minnesota)
Going back to the well in Denver, Hickson represents solid value for the Nuggets. He’s averaging 25 minutes per game since the Mozgov trade, including a 32 minute 33 FP performance vs Minnesota two weeks ago. The blowout factor is less of a concern with Hickson, as he could see garbage time off the bench.
DeMarcus Cousins – C – SAC (vs LA Clippers)
“Boogie” Cousins was a substantial letdown to many DFS players last night. However, it’s time to forgive, forget, and consider the big man for your lineups. The Clippers rank 22nd vs Centers and 21st in rebound rate this season. In his first meeting vs LAC, Cousins went for 34 points, 17 rebounds, 5 assists, and 3 blocks.