Thursday, January 21, 2016

Daily Fantasy Basketball: January 21

Today brings us a slate of 5 games in the NBA daily fantasy game, featuring 10 teams.  As always, I'll sift through the 80-90 players that will play, and give you the ones set up the best for success, to get the most bang for your fantasy buck.  As with all my pieces, prices and scoring revolve around the Draft Kings fantasy basketball site.  I'll use terms like "DKFP" standing for "Draft Kings fantasy points", which represents not how many points a player will score, but how many fantasy points his performance will score based on his production across all relevant statistical categories.
Clippers @ Cavaliers 8 pm
The Clippers and Cavs will tip off the first game of the night in Cleveland at 8pm, and should be an interesting game for fantasy owners.  The Clippers will still be missing All-Star forward Blake Griffin, who has been sitting for 11 games now, over which time shooting guard JJ Reddick has picked up a lot of the scoring duties, putting in 50% from behind the three point line and scoring 20+ points per game over these last 11 games.  His price hasn't risen quite as quickly as his production on the floor however, and that's with good reason: all he does is score.  Sure he scores from deep, so if he goes 9-12 from behind the arc like he did last game vs. Houston he'll have a productive fantasy night (48.25 pts on a $5,400 price tag) but generally he'll score more like he did the previous 8 games, averaging something in the 20-25 DKFP range, with 30 being his likely ceiling.  Add in the fact that the Cavs play the 2 fairly well, excelling particularly at limiting three pointers from that position, by allowing just 1.9 per game (4th best in the league) and I'm not sure I'd be banking on Reddick being the key to victory tonight.  Let other folks make that mistake.
I'd also stay away from Kevin Love, as the Clippers have done a good job limiting production from the power forward position this season, and that hasn't fallen off at all with the absence of Blake Griffin in these past 11 games.  The one player I might target in this game would be Lebron James, who average 27-7-8 against the Clippers last season, and is coming off a game in Brooklyn where he sat the entire fourth quarter.  He'll be more rested than normal, and after the pounding the Warriors gave them earlier in the week, perhaps more motivated than usual as well.
Pistons @ Pelicans
The other early game of the evening features the Pistons heading to New Orleans to take on Anthony Davis and the Pelicans.  This game provides fantasy owners some very enticing options, namely in the forms of Pistons point guard Reggie Jackson ($7,300) and Pistons center Andre Drummond ($8,800).  While Jackson's production has dropped off a bit in the new year (by about 2 mpg, 2 shot attempts per game, and correspondingly 5 points per game), his price has also, falling several hundred over the past ten games or so.  This could justify picking him up particularly in a match up against a team like the Pelicans, who have ranked near the bottom of the league against opposing point guards DKFP production all season, giving up over 50 DKFP to them each game.
Andre Drummond should be set for an absolute field day against the Pelicans' lousy interior defense, which ranks second to last in the league in limiting the DKFP production of the opposing team's center, allowing nearly 53 DKFP per game to them.  This production from centers is built around not only rebounding (15.7 allowed per game) but also blocks, where opposing centers rack up 2.8 per game.  Particularly considering his recent campaign for a spot on the All Star starting lineup Drummond could very well see a night with production similar to that against Golden State last week, when he dominated the interior, racking up over 20 rebounds, 3 blocks, and added 14 points for 47.7 DKFP.
As for the other side of the match up, Anthony Davis could be a good buy, but I'm staying away from him tonight in favor of another power forward who I'll cover later.  Just a better match up, Detroit ranks top 5 in the league against the power forward position, and with few other threats to worry about, they can afford to focus on the Pelicans' young star and limit his production.
Grizzlies @ Nuggets
The third game of the night will feature the Grizzlies traveling to Denver to take on the Nuggets.  The best fantasy prospect brought to us by this game, is Mike Conley.  He's been out for several weeks with an Achilles injury, but returned last game and played 27 minutes in his first game back, putting up 15 points and 10 assists for 34.25 DKFP on a $6,200 salary.  His salary will remain at $6,200, but he'll be playing Denver, who defends the point guard position very poorly, ranking 25th in the league at limiting their fantasy production.  However very often in fantasy when one guy's stock goes up, another's must go down.  That down guy in this is Mario Chalmers, who has moved back to his 20-25 mpg bench role with the return of Conley, but his price hasn't dropped back yet, still sitting at $6,100, just $100 below the guy he's backing up.
On the Nuggets' side of the ball, I may look to PF Kenneth Faried for relatively cheap production.  With his price tag of $5,900 and going up against a Memphis front court that is certainly the weaker component of the team defensively, this highly active rebounder should be able to produce DKFP, at least enough to justify his purchase.  While he's not my favorite PF on the night, he's my favorite mid range cost PF and worth a look for fantasy owners.
Hawks @ Kings
DeMarcus Cousins headlines my list of suggested buys tonight.  He's one of the most talented players in the league, and playing against the small front court of the Hawks, that ranks near the bottom of the league against the power forward position.  Cousins bears the highest price tag of the night at $10,600, but is a guy who regularly puts up 30 points and 10-15 rebounds, and should do at least the same against the smaller defenders of the Hawks.
On the other side of the ball, I kinda like Jeff Teague here.  While Rondo has been playing better offensively this season and has the Kings thinking playoffs, the Kings' overall defense of the point guard position has been lacking to say the least, as they're currently third worst in the league, allowing over 52 DKFP per game to opposing point guards.  Teague's minutes have taken a bit of a dip recently, below 30 to about 26, but he's still been able to produce about a DKFP per minute of play.  Coming off two games in the low 20's of minutes, he may just be set up for a 30 minute game.
Looking a bit deeper, if I'm looking to fill a position for near minimum I'd pick up Tim Hardaway Jr.  Korver has been limited to 21 minutes in each of his last two games, which has resulted in increased opportunity for Hardaway Jr.  He's translated that into about 30 DKFP in his last two games combined, which isn't great, but it's decent.  And for just $3,100, 15 DKFP as a floor is pretty solid.  And if he happens to drop a few extra shots and give you 20-25 DKFP, even better.
Spurs @ Suns

The last game of the night features the Spurs heading to Phoenix where they'll face the reeling Suns.  The Suns are coming off a tough game against the Pacers, and have struggled since guard Eric Bledsoe went down to injury.  While Brandon Knights minutes (+3), shot attempts (+4), and points per game (+4) have all picked up slightly, his other numbers have largely remained the same, or in the case of defensive production, dropped off slightly (from 1.3 steals per game to .6).  Still, he's the only real option the Suns have, and he'll be going up against the Spurs' backup at the point guard position, so I'm looking for him to have a decent DKFP game, at least justifying his $7,200 price tag.
Injuries often open up opportunity, and typically under priced opportunity as price tags don't adjust quickly enough for the anticipated uptick in production.  This will be the case with Patty Mills on Thursday night, as he's scheduled to start with Tony Parker sidelined for the evening.  Mills has started 2 previous games this season, putting up about 20 DKFP per game, with 10 points and 5 assists in his last start.  He'll face a Suns team that will put up very little resistance to the Spurs however, and I think he can do better than that.  I see this as a game with the potential for blowout, so the Spurs stars could find themselves sitting early and often, while bench players go out and put up a few numbers.  Look for Mills to lead that charge.