The last day of February isn't doing us many favors in terms of the NBA slate. Seven games is usually that just right size, but tonight features some unappealing contests, from the fantasy perspective. Only three of the teams taking the floor tonight rank in the top 10 in pace (Phoenix, Minnesota, and Dallas) and only Dallas, Atlanta, and Toronto are top 10 in offensive efficiency. On the other hand, five teams fall into the top 10 in defensive efficiency (Milwaukee, Memphis, Atlanta, San Antonio, and Washington). Nights like this set up to be lower scoring overall, and that means I want players with a fairly safe floor in every slot in my lineup. There are a couple exceptions here, which we'll highlight before we get to the players with the best combination of matchup, price, and opportunity for tonight.
San Antonio Spurs @ Phoenix Suns Over/Under 208, PK
You can't ask for more than a close high scoring game in the Western Conference. The Suns are hot off an overtime win over the Thunder Thursday night, while the Spurs are on the second half of a back to back. There are only two players from the Spurs I ever use in this situation, and they're both in good spots tonight (see below). The Suns seem to have figured some stuff out with their new rotations, winning two in a row after a brutal five game losing streak. Win or lose, scoring isn't ever the problem with the Suns which is why I like them a lot here. Markieff Morris, Alex Len (great value at $5100), and Brandon Knight all have nice DvP matchups, while PJ Tucker continues to fly under the radar despite being a virtual lock for 20 fantasy points over the past month.
Brooklyn Nets @ Dallas Mavericks Over/Under 199.5, Mavs -7
Dallas is in a great spot here, as one of the best offensive teams takes on one of the worst defensive teams at home. The only problem is that Dallas has been pretty banged up lately--physically and emotionally. Expect Rajon Rondo back tonight, and wait for word on Tyson Chandler in particular. The Mavs have been off since Wednesday, giving them much needed time to heal. The Nets are ranked 23rd in defensive efficiency to the C position in their last 10 games, so if Chandler goes, he makes for a nice play at $6100. Despite dealing with the nagging hip injury, Chandler is still 5th in rebounds/game with 11.7. After two stellar games coming off the ASB, Deron Williams ($6100) fell off a bit vs New Orleans, but had a decent 30 fpt game last night against Houston. He's worth a look as a second PG in this high scoring uptempo matchup with Dallas' defense giving up the 7th most fantasy points to opposing PG.
Top Matchup Plays
Ricky Rubio ($7300): No, I didn't expect to put the PG facing Memphis here either. But over the last ten games, the Grizzlies have allowed the most points to opposing PG per game (27.2, T-Utah) and rank dead last in defensive efficiency to the position in February. Rubio has been really hot for the Timberwolves, playing 36 mpg and averaging 38 fantasy points per game since the ASB. I expect Rubio to push the pace and contribute across the board, as his upside is nearing a triple double every night with a few steals mixed in.
Monta Ellis ($6700): Another guy who fits the safe floor profile, but finds himself in a high upside game, Monta Ellis could be the key to the SG position tonight. His range of outcomes is basically low 20's to high 30's in terms of fantasy points. He's able to dish a few assists and grab a couple steals, but you're buying his 17 FGA per game, of which he makes 45.3%. Don't expect Brooklyn to slow him down, as they allow the 5th most fantasy points to SG.
Marc Gasol ($7800): Marc Gasol is averaging 18/8 on the season with 1.8 blocks and 3.8 assists per game. He's shooting 49% from the field and 81% from the line. Coming off a rough loss to the Clippers last night, Gasol finds himself in a much friendlier matchup with the Minnesota frontcourt, who rank 30th in defensive efficiency over the last 10 games and gives up the 3rd most fantasy points to C. Unless you're going cheap at C with Len or maybe one of my other faves lately, Marcin Gortat ($5500), I think Gasol is the way to go.
Danny Green ($5400): Danny Green is one Spur that I don't mind playing in b2b situations. I didn't watch the game, but Green played only 12 minutes last night, and he was able to rack up 19.6 fantasy points on FanDuel. He shot 40%, still slightly lower than his season average of 42.3%, and was able to knock down two 3's in the short time on the court. Tonight he faces the Suns, who give up the 8th most fantasy points to opposing SG and are ranked 25th in defensive efficiency over the last 10 games (19th over the last five games). Teammate Kawhi Leonard ($7100) filled the stat sheet again last night and also finds himself in a good matchup defensively.
Jeff Green ($4900): Small forward is pretty gross tonight, which makes me look for value at the position. Memphis was really off last night, scoring only 79 points in a loss to the Clippers. Green scored only two of those after not dipping below 11 ppg all month. I expect a nice bounceback from him at Minnesota tonight as the Wolves give up the most fantasy points to SF. He played only 16 minutes in the loss, also a low for the month. Green isn't doing what he once did in Boston with his new team, but he has been a consistent source of at least 20 fantasy points night after night. Expect low ownership for Green and any Grizzlies (I also like Courtney Lee and Mike Conley tonight) as the combination of pace factors and the awful Friday night showing might scare people away.
Derrick Favors ($7500): Favors doesn't get enough attention for being one of the most consistent big men in the game. He's basically what DeAndre Jordan was the first half of the season, a lock for 30 fantasy points at a reasonable salary, with upside in great matchups. The Bucks frontcourt definitely qualifies as an exploitable matchup tonight. Rudy Gobert ($6400) is also worth a look. The only negative is that Vegas predicts a slow, low scoring game with a total of only 186.
Atlanta Hawks Kyle Korver and DeMarre Carroll are great options to fill a SG or SF slot cheaply tonight...Kentavius Caldwell-Pope remains hot and cheap...I'm okay with Ersan Ilyasova again tonight, but only in tournaments.
Kyle Lowry ($7600): I probably don't have to keep including Lowry here, if you pay any attention to NBA basketball you're not touching him in DFS. But the Knicks are no Golden State Warriors, so you may yet be tempted given his salary and your memories of him tearing up the court in December. Since the ASB, Lowry has surpassed 25 fpts just once in five games. He's had 11.2 and 4.4 fantasy point games in the last week. The only place to go for Lowry is up, I agree, but with John Wall to spend up on, and Ricky Rubio, Mike Conley, Goran Dragic, Brandon Knight, Deron Williams to save on, why risk it?
Michael Carter-Williams ($8500): His salary is simply way too high to roster him in any format until we see what his role will be with the Bucks, what he does with it, and how healthy he really is. The two outings Carter-Williams' had with his new team, vs the 76ers and the Lakers, have been anything but encouraging for his fantasy value.
I'm only considering Knicks and Raptors players for tournaments tonight. I don't expect either team to produce like they did last night--the Knicks will be worse and the Raptors will be better--and I do expect some shifting rotations, making it hard to find good, safe options in this one.