Welcome back from the longest All Star Break ever. After a whirlwind trade deadline and a PACKED 13 game Friday night, Saturday brings a pretty interesting five game slate. Despite the fact that Vegas has three of the five games over 200, super juicy individual matchups are somewhat hard to come by today. While exploiting the opposing defense's weakness is often the focus of this article, today I think we'll do better prioritizing individual talent, opportunity, and price factors in the context of bad defense. Let's get to it.
Games to Target
Sacramento Kings @ LA Clippers, over/under 213.5, Clippers -10
The highest team total of the night belongs to the Clippers, nothing surprising there. They lead the league in offensive efficiency and score an average of 107 points per game. They've won three in a row and are home tonight--where they are 22-7 on the season--against the Kings, who rank 27th in defensive efficiency. The Kings are an up and down team, middle of the pack in most offensive statistics, but with huge variance...they can be very good or very bad. The Clippers are obviously in a great spot tonight, but using one or two Kings in tournaments lineups could be a smart move also.
Toronto Raptors @ Houston Rockets, over/under 211.5, Rockets -2/5
This might even be the better game to target given that Vegas expects it to stay close, but a blowout in LA doesn't scare me too much. The Rockets play at the 3rd highest pace in the league, and are also above average in offensive and defensive efficiency (13th and 6th, respectively). Coming off a loss to Dallas last night, the Rockets return home, where they hold an impressive 18-8 record despite scoring fewer points on average. The Raptors on the other hand score a league leading 108.6 points on the road where they are 16-8. This should be a fun game to watch and target for DFS.
Goran Dragic, PG Miami ($6000): While Mario Chalmers and Shabazz Napier both had terrific games Friday night, Dragic is expected to be ready to play tonight. He gets one of the best matchups of the day with New Orleans' backcourt, who ranks 9th in fantasy points allowed to PG on the season, and 28th in defensive efficiency to the position over the last 10 games. Dragic had his ups and downs as part of the crowded Suns backcourt, but we know what he's capable of. As the clear starter at the point, Dragic should thrive in Miami. He's a bit of a risk tonight, since he could be limited until he fully acclimates to his new coach and teammates, but at $6K, it's a risk I'll be taking.
Rudy Gay, SF Sacramento ($7200): Rudy Gay is another terrific value in a good spot tonight: the highest scoring game on the slate in what might be the best defensive matchup. LA is 30th in defensive efficiency to opposing SF over their last 10 games. The fact that Gay may play more time at the 4 isn't of concern and should actually boost his value. He scored 28 points last night in the win over Boston and was able to add three blocks in the 'new' role. Personally, I've played NBA DFS long enough to never use Gay in cash games, but I like him a lot for GPPs tonight.
DeAndre Jordan, C LA ($9300): Well it took a long time and a Blake Griffin elbow surgery for Jordan's price to rise to where it (sadly) belongs, but here we are. Using Jordan on the right nights for $7800 is but a joyful memory, but with Griffin sidelined, Jordan is putting up the kind of numbers that make for plenty of new memories. Averaging 24 points and 22 rebounds over the last three games...just WOW, I don't even remember where that sentence was headed but those numbers make $9300 sound cheap. The cherry on top? Sacramento is ranked 24th in defensive efficiency, allowing the 5th most fantasy points to opposing C this season.
DeMar DeRozan, SG Toronto ($6900): Immediately after returning from injury, DeRozan gave us all a headache-or maybe it was just me-but those days seem to be behind him. Taking advantage of great matchups, like vs. the Clippers where he went for 50 fpts, but providing a reasonable floor of at least 30 fantasy points over his last four games, makes DeRozan a nice cash game play tonight if you're not inclined to spend on James Harden. The Rockets are a good defensive team, but allow the 4th most fantasy points to SG (28th in defensive efficiency).
Jamal Crawford, SG LA ($5700): The Kings are dead last against SG in every measurement, and again, we're talking about the team predicted to score the most points tonight. In order to take advantage here, I'm likely to go with Jamal Crawford over JJ Redick tonight. Crawford comes off the bench but has been playing great--better in fact than when he was starting for Redick a few weeks ago. 30 fantasy points feels like the floor for him tonight. However, if you need to save even more here, JJ Redick is just $4500 and should be good for 20-25 fpts.
Chris Paul or Russell Westbrook: No introductions needed. The Kings are terrible against PG in general, and CP3 should dominate here. On the other hand, Kevin Durant won't play tonight, which will cause Westbrook's ownership to skyrocket. His usage rate is already insane, and you know what he's capable of with or without KD on the court. However, Charlotte will attempt to slow the pace of this game. Paul is $1000 cheaper, in a much better matchup and playing in the much higher scoring game. He's my pick between the two.
Anthony Davis, PF New Orleans ($11,000): In general, I'm staying away from the Pelicans, as Miami is a solid defensive team across the board and this game boasts the lowest total of the night (189). Anthony Davis makes a nice pivot from the expensive PG, but he has to have an unbelievably good game to justify his $11K salary tonight. Davis leads the league in PER, but his usage rate is just mediocre, generally infuriating us and making it difficult to see him getting the 50-60 fpts he needs.
Kyle Lowry, PG Toronto ($7800): Lowry's price has come down substantially but so has his production. You're lucky to see 30 fantasy points from him lately, with DeRozan back and playing well. He's recorded double digit assists just once in his last 10 games, which is particularly disappointing given how DeRozan is shooting. This, combined with the fact that I tend to avoid whomever is likely to see a lot of Patrick Beverley right up there in their face, takes Lowry out of consideration for me.