Each Tuesday and Friday, I’ll be analyzing the players and teams involved in the (projected) highest-scoring games of the night. Those vegas guys that set the over/under totals tend to know their stuff, so we should definitely use their hard work to our easy advantage. Total points in a game translates quite well to fantasy points for the players involved in that game in the National Basketball Association, so we’ll be looking to start our teams each night with players from these games.
Timberwolves @ Bucks Over/Under - 204.5
The Wolves players production hinges heavily on the status of Mo Williams for tonight. Clearly their best facilitator on offense, he’s been very impressive when he’s been able to get on the court this season and he’s created better looks for his teammates as well. If Williams is out, Zach LaVine becomes a value play on volume and price, but the real ripple effect is going to be with the Wolves young wing players as both Andrew Wiggins and Shabazz Muhammad will have to create their own shots more against more defensive attention. This is not a recipe for success for either player right now and while both are still in play, much like LaVine, on pure volume. This could get out of hand if the young perimeter players are all shooting it poorly. Gorgui Dieng remains a solid play until Nikola Pekovic returns and he has another nice matchup tonight. He has a huge range of outcomes from around 25 to 50 in terms of fantasy points, but he’s rarely been worse than that lately. The Wolves bench remains razor thin, especially if Williams is out, but Chase Budinger should play solid minutes as the sixth man if called upon.
The Bucks are in the middle of a four games in five nights stretch, with this being the third. We already saw some of the effects of this stretch as Giannis Antetokounmpo sat the entire second half on Wednesday without a reason given. Antetokounmpo is a great matchup play again today and his price remains palatable, but the risk here isn’t something I’m happy about. Brandon Knight has been playing well and should bounce back from a fairly rough game against the Sixers when he wasn’t really needed. With Kenyon Martin in the fold, I think both John Henson and Zaza Pachulia start to get a little risky at their rising prices, despite the good matchup. Khris Middleton continues to play his scrappy and efficient brand of basketball in the starting lineup and makes for a pretty safe small forward value play.
Suns @ Spurs Over/Under - 210
The Suns are impossible to predict, as I write about them almost daily, outside of Eric Bledsoe, there’s not a lot we can trust. Bledsoe has proved well worth the contract he was given in the offseason and has really settled in as the go-to player for the Suns. Markieff Morris continues to drift along with decent lines, throwing up a massive double-double here and there. He’s not any easier to predict than streaky guys like Isaiah Thomas and Gerald Green at this point and with Alex Len playing well, Morris’ center minutes have been limited lately. Speaking of Len, he’s been a monster in terms of blocks lately and has been approaching double-doubles. Tonight’s matchup with the Spurs isn’t where you want to chase those stats, but keep an eye on Len going forward.
The Spurs play a much less competitive game tomorrow, so I’m expecting them to go all-in with their veterans trying to get a much needed win against a tough western conference team. Tim Duncan is my favorite play at power forward tonight without price coming into consideration, so I’m going to try and fit him in as much as I can. He’s been elite this season in games where he’s played 30 or more minutes and I expect that to be the case this evening. Tony Parker is impossible to trust at this point because we simply have no clue how many minutes he’ll play even when they call him “healthy”. Parker’s inability to stay on the court and contribute keeps Manu Ginobili as a high usage, high upside fantasy play off the bench for the Spurs, despite his limited minutes most nights. Danny Green is overpriced still, despite the fact that he’s having a great season, we can’t pay this price for him. With Kawhi Leonard still out, we’ll see some decent minutes from Marco Belinelli, but not enough to consider him with his low usage rate.
Nuggets @ Kings Over/Under - 212.5
The Nuggets all have excellent prices heading into a competitive, high-scoring matchup with the Kings on the road. With Timofey Mozgov out of the rotation, it’s opened up a starting spot for the red-hot Jusuf Nurkic and he’s going to get a long look as the Nuggets center of the future. Behind him, JJ Hickson has double-doubled in two straight games, playing 30 minutes in each for a very cheap price. Darrell Arthur hasn’t found a big enough role as a swing forward to be looked at yet, leaving Wilson Chandler to play extensive minutes at small forward, 35-40 a night, at a very cheap price for that kind of playing time. Chandler hasn’t been as involved on offense lately, but I expect that to be corrected soon. Ty Lawson is an elite play tonight against a bottom 10 shooting guard defense, as he’s been playing close to 40 minutes in competitive games this season, which this one projects to be.
DeMarcus Cousins is far and away the top play of the night. He’s been posting monster lines on poor shooting for the last week or so and I think in tonight’s matchup he finally gets his shot to fall. Nurkic averages 7.7 fouls per 36 minutes and Boogie and the Kings are at the top of the league in drawing fouls. Cousins is always a risky play with foul trouble and his tendency to let things get under his skin, but in this kind of matchup, he’s impossible to ignore. Rudy Gay is who you want to pay up for at small forward if you have the cash tonight, as he’s shooting almost 8% better at home this season and the pace of this game favors him racking up peripheral stats. Darren Collison is a fine, albeit boring play tonight. The Nuggets are a neutral matchup for point guards and Collison is priced accurately. With Omri Casspi out, I expect Derrick Williams to see around 25 minutes between small forward and power forward this evening, which could lead to some solid numbers in an uptempo game for his price. The shooting guard rotation in Sacramento is something I’ll continue to avoid with the usage rates of their three top players.