The Vegas odds serve as a great starting point for daily fantasy NBA research. After all, a high over/under indicates more fantasy potential, and you’d be wise to attack these games accordingly.
For tonight, we’ll focus on the later games, as that’s where the highest scoring matchups reside. The Grizzlies are making a rare appearance in this column, and they actually check in with the largest over/under (207 vs the Suns). Most of that is due to Phoenix’s breakneck pace (ranked 4th in possessions/game), creating a nice fantasy opportunity for the Memphis players. After all, playing up in pace should help their prospects dramatically, seeing more shot attempts and opportunities for peripheral stats as a result.
A full breakdown of that game, along with the CLE-SAC and POR-LAL matchups are outlined below:
Phoenix @ Memphis: Over/Under 207, Grizzlies -4
This is an absolutely fantastic spot for Marc Gasol. His price point isn’t too imposing, especially comparing to the other top shelf big man, DeMarcus Cousins. Gasol has one of the best matchups in all of basketball, taking on a Phoenix team that ranks 29th vs opposing Centers, 29th in rebound rate, and 4th in pace. Even though Cousins has a higher raw fantasy point projection, it may make more sense to take the savings with Gasol, who also profiles extremely well … Mike Conley is always a steady cash game play, and taking on an up-tempo Phoenix team should only help his cause. If we set aside the blowouts, Conley is averaging 38 fppg over his last eight. Some of that may take a hit with Zach Randolph back (cuts into his usage), but Conley still represents solid value in this matchup … Eric Bledsoe is far from a “must play” this evening. In fact, his inflated price point makes him better suited for tournaments. The Grizzlies actually rank 29th in defensive efficiency vs SG’s, but they play very good overall team defense, and they’ll likely try to slow this game down (limiting Bledsoe’s open-court attempts).
It’s tough to justify any other Phoenix player in your lineup. Markieff Morris has a non-prohibitive salary, but he’s a streaky jump shooter going against a solid defense. I’m also concerned with foul trouble (vs Randolph) on the other end … Goran Dragic has been a solid as of late, but I believe he can be safely avoided tonight. He doesn’t resemble much upside as is, and Memphis ranks in the top 10 at defending PG’s … Zach Randolph is back in action, posting a solid 29 FP line (31 minutes) on Friday. However, his price point is still exaggerated, especially considering the Grizzlies may take the cautious route and limit his playing time if the opportunity presents itself.
Cleveland @ Sacramento: Over/Under 205, Kings -2.5
Kyrie Irving represents one of the top “per dollar” plays of this game. As you’ve probably heard over the last several weeks, Irving enjoys a huge boost in usage rate with LeBron James out. A 42 fppg mark over his past five games confirms that statement. Sacramento ranks 23rd in defensive efficiency vs PG’s, meaning Kyrie gets the “green light” to be utilized in all formats … As I alluded to before, DeMarcus Cousins has the highest raw fantasy point projection of any player. However, he’s also the most expensive option. The matchup vs Cleveland is favorable, considering the Cavs rank 23rd in defensive efficiency vs Centers. I’m speculating that the addition of Timofey Mozgov won’t dramatically help that number, and Cousins has feasted on Mr. Mozgov during his tenure in Denver. Cousins is pricey, but if substantial value plays allow you to absorb his salary, don’t hesitate … I really like Darren Collison as a mid-range PG this evening. Cleveland ranks 21st at defending PG’s, and Irving is a notoriously bad perimeter defender. Collison doesn’t have tremendous upside, but he’s a solid cash game option … J.R. Smith is more of a tournament play than anything. However, if he receives 40+ minutes (like last game), he should have no problems satisfying his modest price tag. The Cavaliers need his scoring ability with LeBron out of the lineup, and J.R. should be chucking again tonight.
With the addition of Mozgov, Tristan Thompson can now be safely ignored. His price has been marked up due to a nice stretch as a starter. However, he’s back in a reserve role, and not worth the heightened salary … Kevin Love falls into a similar category. His price is extremely marked up due to some colossal performances with Irving out of the lineup. His usage rate drops substantially with Kyrie back in, and the added depth in Cleveland’s frontcourt doesn’t help his fantasy prospects … Ben McLemore can sometimes be a nice value filler depending on the situation. However, I wouldn’t take that route today. Despite the high allotment of minutes, McLemore maintains just an 18 FP average, and his floor is pretty low (12-14 FP).
Portland @ LA Lakers: Over/Under 204, Blazers -6
Damian Lillard has an elite matchup against a Lakers team that ranks dead last at defending PG’s. Last Saturday, he torched Los Angeles for 59 FP. I may lean towards Irving in cash games (or roster both), but you can’t deny Dame’s upside in this one … LaMarcus Aldridge isn’t a top-notch target this evening, but you still need to consider him in this great matchup vs LAL. There aren’t many viable mid-range PF plays, and like his teammate Lillard, Aldridge presents substantially higher upside than majority of the options at his position … Wesley Matthews is on fire. He’s averaging 29 fppg over his last seven, including two 38+ FP outings. He’s a somewhat streaky jump shooter, but he definitely warrants consideration given the short slate and favorable matchup … Nicolas Batum has a very friendly price point, and he’s finally coming to life (25+ FP in four of the last five). He has been playing through an injury, but his production has actually increased steadily over the past week. Batum is an extremely solid SF option for cash game consideration.
As of Sunday morning, we aren’t sure if Kobe Bryant will play or not. Even if he does play, he’ll take on a Portland defense that ranks 3rd in overall efficiency, which makes it tough to justify Kobe’s inflated price tag … Nick Young is always a volatile option, but he has been downright dreadful as of late. Even with Kobe out of the lineup, “Swaggy P” has disappointed with 16, 20, and 8 fantasy points in his past three respectively. You can find better SG value options today … Jordan Hill falls into the same category of fantasy frustration. He would get a small boost if Kobe sat out, but a bump in production would remain speculative at best. He could be considered for tournaments, given a remarkable 42 FP showing vs Portland last week. However, that performance appears to be more of an outlier than an indication of things to come.