NBA Bargains 1/26/17

Tonight is setting up as the ideal stars-and-scrubs night because half the Mavericks have been ruled out along with a certain Nuggets backcourt member and one of the Lakers’ best players. Combine all of those factors with Russell Westbrook headlining the slate and it is time to load up on some cheap options! Without further ado, let’s get to work…

Note: all fantasy point references are in regards to the scoring system on both DraftKings (DK) and FantasyDraft (FDr) which are the exact same other than triple-double bonus

Point Guards (PGs)

Jameer Nelson, Nuggets – With Emmanuel Mudiay listed as “extremely doubtful tonight,” it seems safe to assume he is out. In his absence, Jameer Nelson will step up and take over the starting PG duties and he has played at least 28 minutes in all three games Mudiay has sat out this season. This game atmosphere is above and beyond the most fantasy friendly of the night considering the over/under sits at 229.0 points whereas the second highest on the slate is Pacers/Timberwolves at 211.0. This season, Nelson has attempted 127 three-pointers and 111 shot attempts from 10-24 feet and the Suns have struggled in terms in field goal percentage aloud in all of those zones. In other words, with the team implied to score a whopping 117.8 points, this is a great spot for Nelson to at least come close to duplicating the 17 real points (PTS) he dropped last time out. With Nelson having topped 29 fantasy points in two of the three games without Mudiay, he feels like the safest value play on the entire slate.

Pierre Jackson/Devin Harris, Mavericks – Herein lies the question for the night: which Mavericks are worth using with literally half their team out? History would say Devin Harris would draw a healthy amount of extra minutes without Deron Williams and J.J. Barea active but Pierre Jackson actually started the second half of the team’s last game. If you are unfamiliar with Jackson, he is a former D-League star as he averaged over 29 PTS per game (PPG) in 2013-14 and he topped that total once again this year (29.6 PPG) before being called up to the big show. There is a limited sample size on Jackson in the NBA but he is averaging 0.85 fantasy points per minute (FPPM) and facing a Thunder team that ranks 23rd in defensive efficiency to opposing PGs. In a game the team assuredly is going to lose, it would not be shocking to see Coach Rick Carlisle build on Jackson’s 24 minutes from last game and give him a true extended shot to see what he is made of. Hell, it is not like the team is loaded with alternatives since half the roster is out. Of the two, Jackson is my preference but both should see upwards of 25 minutes tonight and are listed as minimum price on both DK and FDr.

Shooting Guards (SGs)

Lou Williams, Lakers – The matchup against the Jazz is admittedly not ideal but Lou Williams has multiple factors working in his favor tonight. First, he will likely come off the bench so he will be facing the Jazz’s second unit instead of their starting unit which is loaded with solid rim protectors (including Rudy Gobert who is arguably the best in the league). Secondly, Williams is a solid outside shooter and averaging a career-best 2.0 three-pointers made (3PM) per game so he can succeed even with rim protectors in the game. Most importantly, D’Angelo Russell is likely out once again so Williams will remain a large(r) part of the offense. Without Russell, Williams’ usage rate (USG%) balloons from 30.0 to 31.9-percent, his minutes per game (MPG) increase from 23.3 to 26.7 and his average fantasy points per game (FPPG) increase from 26.1 to 31.5 (in the 14 game sample prior to Wednesday). Last night, he added to the trend by dropping an impressive 52 DK fantasy points on the Trail Blazers in 28 minutes. Despite the more difficult matchup tonight, Williams remains firmly in play.

Seth Curry, Mavericks – Sans Wesley Matthews last game (against the Knicks), Seth Curry started and played 34 minutes en route to a 20 PTS, five rebounds (REB), three steal (STL) and 34.25 fantasy point explosion. Tonight, he is a virtual lock once again although he will see a fair amount of Victor Oladipo defense…but it does not matter. At just $4,500 on DK, he and Harrison Barnes will be tasked with making this offense go as evident by his 22.9 USG% and 1.07 FPPM with Williams, Nowitzki, Matthews and Barea all off the court. There is simply too much value to pass on at this price tag.

Small Forwards (SFs)

C.J. Miles, Pacers – Rodney Stuckey has been ruled out for tonight so C.J. Miles should have an opportunity to get around 10 shots up once again. Miles is a tournament only play for sure but he is coming off a game where he attempted 14 shots and a healthy nine three-pointers in 34 minutes on the court. When all said and done, he still only finished with 20.25 fantasy points but this is a volatile player we are speaking about. The reason to like Miles tonight is because the Timberwolves have allowed the fifth highest three-point percentage to opposing SFs and Miles will likely be facing the defense of Nemanja Bjelica or Shabazz Muhammad as much or more often than the talented Andrew Wiggins. If looking for a player with sneaky 20 real PTS upside, Miles is your guy.

Justin Anderson, Mavericks – Although Justin Anderson seems like a boring name/option, it is noteworthy he has averaged 1.11 FPPM without Williams, Nowitzki, Matthews and Barea on the court this season in a 188 minute sample size. Okay so 188 minutes is not exactly extensive but he ranks second on the team in USG% (27.8-percent) in that setup and first in minutes. Meanwhile, he is listed as the minimum price on both DK and FDr so there is some serious potential for profit.

Power Forwards (PFs)

Harrison Barnes, Mavericks – At this point, you can probably realize stacking the Mavericks sans at least four of their better players is the preferred play tonight and Harrison Barnes is the icing on the cake. Literally all of the offense is going to need to flow through Barnes who already averages 20.2 PPG. Fantasy owners should take solace in the fact the Mavericks could legitimately be down to a seven man rotation tonight so all their staples will be forced to see extended run even if the game blows out. In other words, Barnes is a virtual lock for 35-plus minutes in a rotation setup where he has seen a ridiculous 32.5 USG%. Although Barnes is priced at $6,000, imagine his name was DeMar DeRozan essentially due to the role he will be playing tonight and lock him in at a sizeable discount.

Derrick Favors, Jazz – Not only do the Lakers play at the league’s sixth fastest pace but they also rank dead last in team defensive efficiency. Basically, the Lakers are in trouble tonight in Utah against a Jazz team favored (no pun intended) by 13 points. Derrick Favors returned from a knee injury in mid-December and his minutes have been trending upwards ever since then. In the month of January, Favors has played 30-plus minutes just thrice and all of them have come on either the front or back end of back-to-backs (mostly due to the schedule). In a standalone game, Favors should have an excellent chance to reach the plateau once again against a Lakers defense that ranks 19th in efficiency versus the position. For a player who averages more than 1.0 FPPM for his career, this scenario sets up nicely for him and yet he likely will go under-owned.

Centers (Cs)

Steven Adams, Thunder – The slow pace of the Mavericks makes targeting players against them frustrating but Steven Adams is the sort of player who could excel in that setup. Assuming Andrew Bogut suits up, Adams will need to match up against him during his time on the court so his minutes should be stable. Pretty quietly, Adams has stopped 29 fantasy points in seven of his last 10 games including 20 PTS and 11 REB last night against the Pelicans. Adams has averaged 28 MPG and 24.7 FPPG on the second end of back-to-backs this year but he has topped 27 fantasy points in three of his last four. At just $5,000, he a cheap C to fill the spot if necessary due to a lack of other cheap options. In all honesty, the C spot is ugly tonight beyond Karl-Anthony Towns and Nikola Jokic.

Ivica Zubac, Lakers – If needing an ultra-punt at the position, Coach Luke Walton seems committed to incorporating Ivica Zubac into the rotation as he played a season-high 27.7 minutes last night. This marked the second time in four games Zubac had topped 26 minutes and Coach Walton even had him close the game once again. Even with Larry Nance Jr. back, Walton is rolling out a strange rotation that is difficult to project from night-to-night (especially in the frontcourt). If there is one thing the Jazz possess, it is size, so big bodies will be needed to counter their attack. Zubac certainly is one and seems to be on the coach’s good side at this point. For a player with double-double upside (he double-doubled yesterday), you could certainly do worse at minimum price.

Good luck everyone and grind on….

If you have any questions you can reach me on Twitter @RSandersDFS or in the premium Slack channel.