After a wild night in the NBA Friday, we have what looks to be a pretty calm five game DFS slate for Saturday night. In my estimation, there's more to be wary of than to be excited about today. Six teams are on the second half of back to backs, while the Suns and Pistons are on the front half tonight. Brooklyn went to triple overtime last night to finally beat Milwaukee. The defenses of Memphis and Utah are on my overall do not target list, while a few of the other teams playing present tough individual matchups. While fantasy scores soared to 400 again Friday night, expect much lower output today. We'll cover the best game to target, the top matchup plays to consider, and a few to avoid.
Phoenix Suns @ Houston Rockets over/under 207, Rockets -8.5
These teams rank 2nd and 3rd in pace, are very similar in terms of offensive efficiency, but Houston is 3rd in the league in defensive efficiency. Both teams are top six in turnovers, as expected from the fast pace of play. So we have a high scoring game with plenty of fantasy potential with a slight boost for Rockets' players. James Harden is coming off a monster 50 point game on Thursday night and is easily the top play of the night. You don't need any statistical enticement from me to play him at this point in the season. Along with Harden, Trevor Ariza and Corey Brewer are both top 20 in steals per game and make for good plays tonight (see below). Terrence Jones suffered a perforated lung Thursday night, a scary injury which he should recover from just fine. It does open up some opportunity for Donatas Motiejunas and Josh Smith, both of whom make nice value plays at PF tonight.
For the Suns, Brandon Knight is questionable, as is Alex Len. Knight draws the tough matchup with Patrick Beverley that I'm inclined to avoid even if he goes tonight. If Knight is out, Beverley makes an interesting GPP option considering there isn't a lot of sharp PG value tonight. Eric Bledsoe should be asked to do a lot if this game is to be competitive at all, and I like him in all formats. Brandan Wright is a great value at C as well.
Top Matchup Plays
Eric Bledsoe SG Phoenix ($8300): If you're not paying up for Harden here, Bledsoe is the safe counter play. He is priced for his ceiling but the reason to use him is for his steady floor. He's rarely, if ever, going to kill your lineup if he plays a full game. Bledsoe gets his high floor from his peripherals, including a notable 1.7 steals/game. Tonight he goes to Houston for the night's most exciting game and as I said above, if the Suns have a shot here, Bledsoe needs to lead the charge. The Rockets allow the 8th most fantasy points to SG, though they do sometimes shift Patrick Beverley to the opponent's 2 guard.
Pau Gasol PF Chicago ($8900): I feel like I should just copy and paste what I said about Bledsoe here. Pau Gasol is a little overpriced for my taste, but on a small slate, paying up for safety is a very reasonable and smart thing to do. Gasol averages 18/12 with 2 blocks/game. He's a solid bet for a double double every single night and today he faces Detroit's terrible frontcourt defense, which allows the 2nd most fantasy points to opposing PF and is ranked 28th in defensive efficiency over the last 10 games (25th on the season).
Reggie Jackson PG Detroit ($7400): Reggie Jackson has been up and down since taking over the starting PG role in Detroit, but mostly up. We of course remember the heartbreaking 4 fpt performance at the Lakers but I can forgive the bad outing vs Utah last week. He bounced back with a 55 fpt game (23pt/20ast!!) against Memphis (minus Conley) after all. Jackson makes for a solid play in all formats tonight with his high minutes and 29.2 usage rate. Chicago is 27th in defensive efficiency over the last 10 games to PG and has given up the 7th most fantasy points on the season to the position.
Brandan Wright C Phoenix ($5600): If you're looking to save at center, Brandan Wright is the guy. In the three games Alex Len has missed over the past couple weeks, Wright is averaging 33 fantasy points. Through his journey around the league this year, his PER is still 21.98, which is good for 16th highest in the league and puts him in the company of players nearly twice his salary. Houston is a fine matchup for opposing C since Dwight Howard is absent; they rank 27th in defensive efficiency to the position this month.
Joakim Noah C Chicago ($6700): Detroit's defensive numbers and poor rankings vs centers are exactly the same as they are for PF (see Gasol, Pau). Joakim Noah, however, is substantially less expensive than Gasol. Despite a 32 minute limit, Noah is a solid fantasy option providing there is no news that he'll be rested on this back to back. One of the rare big men who averages around five assists per game, Noah is actually coming off a wild 10 rebound/14 assist double double vs Toronto last night.
Trevor Ariza/Corey Brewer SF Houston ($5900/5400): These guys are making it really hard on us DFSers! They're both capable of playing well above....and well below their salaries. Trevor Ariza is particularly locked in right now, averaging 18/7/4/1stl per game over the last three for 30-32 fantasy points a night. All things considered, he's my top pick at SF to take advantage of the high scoring game, the matchup (Suns allow 6th most fantasy points to SF), the low price, and his hot play right now. Corey Brewer comes off the bench, making his minutes a bit more sporadic than than Ariza's, but he also manages to produce most nights. While he's usually more of a pure shooter, he has double digit rebounds in his last two games and the fact that he has at least one steal in each of his last six games is also a bonus in this fast paced matchup with the turnover prone Suns. Brewer is the contrarian play, but I can't make a strong case for saving a mere $400 on him instead of Ariza.
If you're feeling frisky
Indiana Pacers: George Hill, Rodney Stuckey, even Roy Hibbert are in play against a bad Nets team that played triple overtime last night. The starters saw 48-49 minutes and though the effort paid off, I do expect some let down from the Nets tonight and their already shaky defense should be the first thing to go. David West is actually a solid play tonight based on the especially weak Brooklyn frontcourt, but he is questionable today after leaving Friday's game with an illness.
LaMarcus Aldridge PF Portland ($9600): He's on fire right now, with four consecutive 40+ fantasy point games including tough ones vs Miami and Washington. While Damien Lilliard is slumping a bit, Aldridge is picking up the slack (fantasy wise, the Trail Blazers are in the midst of a three game losing streak). I don't typically target Memphis but I do expect ownership of Aldridge to be low tonight and I'll be using him in my tournament lineups.
Steph Curry PG Golden State ($10,000): It's painful to say it, but Utah's defense is that good. Vegas expects them to slow this game down (195.5 total), and though Golden State should still win easily at home in the Oracle, it projects as one of the Warriors' few fantasy-unfriendly games. Steph Curry finds himself in a 3-game stretch in which he's averaging 17 points and 10.7 assists per game, good for about 35 fantasy points. In other words, not good enough at his salary. He will be fine, and if you watch him play it's staggering to even use the words "not good enough" in describing him, but I don't think Utah is the set up for Curry to break out of this mini-slump. Watch and enjoy, but use him sparingly in your lineups tonight.