On a day when many of us are actively celebrating National Pi Day, Steph Curry's birthday, and/or St. Patrick's Day, the NBA showed some restraint with this fairly uninteresting six game slate. With blowouts likely in the high scoring games, it'll be tricky to navigate this slate to find the safe studs and true value plays. We'll take a look at the best games to target, the best matchup plays, and a few to avoid tonight.
Games to Target
Sacramento Kings @ Washington Wizards over/under 210, Wizards -9
This is the game I'll be targeting the most. The Wizards have struggled a bit, but it's not like they got beat by the 76ers last night, right? Oh wait, that was actually their rock bottom a couple weeks ago. At any rate, Sacramento is a great defensive matchup for fantasy almost across the board, so a lot of Wizards will be in play. Demarcus Cousins is always an option, but Cousins may have a slight let down game after the monster 39/24 line last night. Look for Omri Casspi to be a strong value play as Rudy Gay sits out with a knee strain despite Washington's strong defensive presence. Vegas predicts plenty of points on both sides.
Brooklyn Nets @ Philadelphia 76ers over/under 194.5, Nets -5.5
I think the next best game for fantasy, based on what we know now, will be this one as the red-hot one game win streak 76ers take on the spiraling Nets. Neither of these teams plays any defense to speak of (Nerlens Noel excluded), and Philadelphia plays at a fast pace with the league's most turnovers. Fantasy points will be scored here. The issue is that both teams, like a lot of bad teams, switch up their rotations often. I've highlighted a few decent options below, but I'm finding it hard to trust Joe Johnson, Markel Brown, Thaddeus Young, Robert Covington (unless he definitely starts), or Isaiah Canaan in this one.
NY Knicks @ Golden State Warriors over/under 202.5, Warriors -19.5
I'll give it a brief mention, because who am I not to talk about Steph Curry on his birthday? But this game is a late start, and as of right now we don't have any lineup news from the Warriors. Last night they rested everyone, so being at home tonight, expect the starters to start. But this game projects to be over by halftime, when I recommend the team do some Cake vodka shots to celebrate the aforementioned birthday. I'm not sure any of the Golden State studs are worth paying for, though the Knicks won't make it hard to rack up the fantasy points. I'd use Curry and Klay Thompson in GPPs only. The Knicks have every opportunity to meet value given their cheap tags, but each one has been so inconsistent in terms of production and minutes this season that I'm not comfortable recommending anyone strongly. Alexey Shved has been the hottest hand of late, along with gasp,... choke, Andrea Bargnani.
Top Matchup Plays
Brook Lopez C Nets ($7200): The top matchup goes to Brook Lopez who gets the 76ers woeful, league worst C defense tonight. Lopez is riding a nice streak of high scoring games with three double doubles in the last four games and at least 32 fantasy points in each. If the Nets are to break their losing streak, I expect Lopez to play aggressively on three days rest against a far less experienced Philadelphia frontcourt.
Derrick Favors PF Jazz ($7900): One of my favorite plays no matter the game flow expectation because he's always a near lock for a double double with a few blocks and/or steals, Favors has the opportunity to do some even bigger damage tonight. The Pistons give up the 3rd most fantasy points to PF and thanks to Andre Drummond's league leading fouling ability, Favors should get to the line more than usual. You'll see I also like Rudy Gobert in this one, but if he can't go or appears limited, Trevor Booker (PF eligible on FD) will take on the extra minutes and meet value easily at his minimum salary ($3500).
Nerlens Noel PF 76ers ($7500): Nerlens Noel hasn't dipped below 30 fantasy points since Feb. 25 and has a five game streak with at least 11 rebounds going. His scoring is up and down, but he's supplementing nicely with enough blocks and/or steals to make up for it. He's been a pretty elite play every game recently and tonight faces the shifting Brooklyn frontcourt which seems to be a generous matchup for PF no matter who anchors it (allows 2nd most fantasy points to the position).
Deron Williams PG Nets ($5900): They are called matchup plays, remember. The 76ers are the name of the game here. Deron Williams' minutes and productivity have fluctuated wildly since his return a few weeks ago. Brooklyn seems to change their rotations more than even their lowly division 'competitors', perhaps contributing to a five game losing streak. That's tough on a PG who is happy to distribute but can't get teammates making shots on a consistent basis. Tonight the minutes and the matchup fall in DWill's favor and I'll use him in some of my lineups.
Rudy Gobert C Jazz ($7700): What Rudy Gobert has been doing is just really fun for the Jazz and for the league. He's currently 3rd in the league in blocks/game with 2.3, and boasts a 20.5 rebound rate with a PER of 21.9. He's still fairly priced, the only concern here is with an ankle injury. He's listed as questionable, so make sure he looks good to go before you lock him in to a sweet matchup with Detroit's 2nd most generous frontcourt, in terms of fantasy points allowed.
Marcin Gortat C Wizards ($6700): Marcin Gortat is playing really well lately, if you haven't noticed. He's dominating in tough matchups, has over 20 points in his last two games, and has racked up five double doubles in his last ten outings, with two other just missed (nine rebounds). He's been steadily contributing blocks and steals as well. The Kings offer up the 3rd most fantasy points to opposing C as Cousins is more concerned with the offensive end of the floor, and they give up the 4th most turnovers (16.6/game).
Bradley Beal SG Wizards ($5700): Bradley Beal has struggled a bit since returning from a leg injury earlier this month and his price reflects that. He has faced some tough defense recently, but is playing around 30+ mpg and gets the Kings, who really struggle to defend any position except perhaps SF. They allow the most fantasy points to SG in the league. Again, it's the highest scoring game on the board so if Beal can get his shot falling early he could have a big fantasy night. I'm still only using him for GPPs.
Markel Brown SG Nets ($3500): A bare minimum priced SG starting in a terrific matchup with the defenseless 76ers? I'm interested. Markel Brown had a nice stretch of games back in February and has been off the radar and not really producing while recuperating from an ankle injury. He played 29 (fantasy unfriendly) minutes on Wednesday, which bodes well for his playing time tonight on three additional days rest. The lack of production in that game is somewhat less worrisome in light of Miami's solid defensive ranking vs SG. He should improve tonight and needs only about 18 fantasy points to pay off.
John Wall PG Wizards ($9000): He is honestly a top matchup play today, with his immense talent and the Kings 4th best PG matchup on tap. He'll headline other articles today. The issue is that his big minutes (3rd in the league) and high usage rate seem to be wearing him down. From his own comments and his recent down tick in minutes, it seems safe to assume that Wall won't be asked to do anything not absolutely necessary to get his team the win. I'm looking at his teammates to do the heavy lifting today, with Wall yielding closer to 30 fantasy points than the 45 or so you want from him.
Draymond Green SF Warriors ($8000): Green has sadly cooled off over the past couple games; he looks like he's conserving himself by not playing at the 150% he had been. He has zero blocks or steals in the past two games. He only played 20 minutes last night as his teammates rested the whole game, and I expect to see something similar tonight. It's a tough position to fill, but I'd temper expectations with Green and look to Khris Middleton or Gordon Hayward with Casspi to fill the SF slots.