DEEP DIVE 11/15/16
Damian Lillard is the top point guard on the slate in a matchup with Chicago. The game is in Portland, where Lillard excels, and the best way to attack the Chicago defense is by going after Rondo. Lillard should be able to have his way with Rondo and it will be difficult for the Bulls to switch a better defender to Lillard since there is nowhere to hide Rondo and he would have to defend C.J. McCollum. Lillard is in the low-mid 9,000s across the industry and he has a very nice floor and ceiling at that price. Kyrie Irving is a strong tournament option today against Toronto. He has the highest usage rate on the Cavaliers and is among the top 20 guards in drives per game at 8.4. Jonas Valanciunas allows the 12th highest field goal percentage within 5 feet of the basket out of centers who average at least 20 minutes per game, so Irving should have some success at the rim. He would be a better option if DeMarre Carroll plays because it would keep LeBron from being able to do as much offensively, but it does not appear he is going to play. Dennis Schroder remains a strong cash play at his price point. He has not shown a high ceiling yet this season and that probably will not change in a pace-down game against a strong defensive unit but, at $6,100 on FanDuel and $6,300 on DraftKings, his 26 percent usage rate makes him a fine cash game option. D’Angelo Russell’s price is falling and he gets a matchup with Brooklyn that should result in a very high-paced game. The issue is that he just is not seeing enough minutes because of the presence of Jordan Clarkson and Lou Williams off of the bench. He is limited to a tournament option despite his excellent matchup because he has not played more than 28 minutes in a game since November 2nd. We just can’t count on him to produce consistently with his minutes fluctuating from the low-mid 20s on most nights. He is worthy of tournament consideration because the pace of this game will allow him more possessions so he can do more in his limited minutes. Rajon Rondo has been pretty bad this season for Chicago, but his price is too low for a matchup with Damian Lillard and the Blazers. Portland has played at a top 10 pace so far this season, which will allow Rondo more opportunities to make plays. In addition, Portland has the lowest total rebounding percentage in the NBA and Damian Lillard averages 11.5 drives per game, which will keep Rondo close to the basket. His minutes have fluctuated this season, but a lot of the low games were the result of foul trouble or blowouts so he looks more inconsistent than he really is.
Core: Damian Lillard, Rajon Rondo
Secondary: Kyrie Irving, Dennis Schroder, D’Angelo Russell, Ricky Rubio
Value: Tyler Johnson, Isaiah Whitehead (if starting), Jerian Grant, Randy Foye (if Whitehead out)
DeMar DeRozan continues to perform at a ridiculous level. His price tag has jumped to over $9,000 on FanDuel and $8,800 on DraftKings but he still has a very nice floor because he has not attempted less than 20 field goals in a game this season and is averaging 37.1 minutes per game. The problem with DeRozan is that he does not do a lot to contribute in other categories, which lowers his ceiling. He is averaging a career high in rebounds so far this season, but his assist numbers are lower than each of the last three seasons. On a short slate, DeRozan is a fine option in any format because there is not a ton to love at shooting guard and he can be relied on for 40+ raw points. There is merit to a GPP fade, however, because it is very unlikely for him to produce a line that is a “must have” to win a tournament. Sean Kilpatrick is in a nice matchup with the Lakers. His price is in an awkward spot because the Nets rotation is inconsistent and he is not an elite NBA player, rather he is a capable scorer who is being forced into a large role. The price makes him a tough option in cash games, but a perfectly fine GPP play- especially if he is starting at point guard again. If Whitehead is back, Kilpatrick becomes significantly riskier now that Randy Foye has also shown he can handle extended minutes.
Nick Young remains very inexpensive across the industry because he is an inconsistent shooter. His minutes are steady, however, because he is the Lakers’ best defender. His defense keeps him on the court, but he is not afraid to fire up three-point shots- something he should have plenty of opportunities to do tonight due to pace. He is not a great play by any means, but his price is appealing for the minutes he will play and the matchup that he has. Josh Richardson has not had a big game yet so his price is not as high as it should be. He has been starting at point guard for Miami with Dragic out and has played at least 25 minutes in four consecutive games to go along with a 20.9 percent usage rate without Dragic on the court. The Hawks are a strong defensive team, but attacking them with point guards has worked well so far this season and at his price there is no reason not to go back to the well. He is $4,800 on DraftKings, which is a bit expensive, but he is a bargain at $4,000 on FanDuel.
Core: DeMar DeRozan, Josh Richardson (FanDuel)
Secondary: Zach LaVine (if starting), Dwyane Wade, Sean Kilpatrick (if Whitehead out)
Value: Nick Young, Norman Powell (if Carroll out)
LeBron James is too expensive for tournaments across the industry, but does have a nice floor for cash games- especially if Carroll is out for Toronto. His price is almost always artificially high because of his name value, which makes rostering him in tournaments difficult since he does not have a monster ceiling because he does not insist on being the entire focal point of the offense (he does not even have the highest usage rate on the team). His floor is very high, however, because he contributes so much across the board even when he is not tasked with all of the scoring. There are enough other small forward options that paying up for him in cash games may not be optimal, however.
Andrew Wiggins is scoring dependent but his price has not caught up to his 30.9 percent usage rate in 35.3 minutes per game this season. He has a tough matchup with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist tonight, but that is not enough to scare me off of Wiggins at his price. He has played at least 37 minutes and taken at least 18 shots in each of his last four games. If LaVine misses this game, Wiggins will get an even bigger bump as his usage without Lavine on the floor climbs to 38.3 percent. Jimmy Butler’s price increase has made him more of a GPP play than tournament play. He has seen more minutes lately, playing at least 38 in each of his last three games. Doug McDermott is out tonight, so Butler will likely continue to see extended minutes. It is tough to rely on him to produce enough points to be worth his salary compared to other options in cash games (his usage rate is essentially the same as Dwyane Wade’s and Wade is about $2,000 cheaper), but he has shown recently that he is volatile enough to produce huge stat lines, as evidenced by more than 60 FanDuel points in two of his last three games, and the up-tempo game against Portland should help. Michael Kidd- Gilchrist is slightly more expensive than I like to pay for him and his 13.4 percent usage rate, but he is a better option than normal tonight. He is a defensive-minded player and will be defending ball-dominant Andrew Wiggins tonight. This ensures that MKG sees extended minutes to match up with Wiggins and gives him extra steal upside. In addition, Wiggins is not a particularly good defender, so Kidd-Gilchrist should be able to score some points of his own. He is never exciting to roster but he has appeal in all formats tonight because of his salary.
After Kidd-Gilchrist, there are some intriguing options but nobody to fall in love with. Justise Winslow continues to be priced too low for his minutes and usage, but is also an inefficient scorer on the second game of a back-to-back. He is a decent cash option if he fits your lineup and lets you get everyone else you want, but all of the players listed before him are better options. Bojan Bogdanovic is an appealing tournament option because he is cheap, volatile, and playing in an extremely fast-paced game. The downside is that Nick Young will likely defend him and Young has been impressive defensively this season. Brandon Ingram has played at least 25 minutes in five of his last six games and is priced near the minimum across the industry. He has not done much with those minutes yet and only has a 15.8 percent usage rate since so much of his time is alongside Lou Williams and Jordan Clarkson. That said, he is a very athletic player with a lot of talent and it would not be overly surprising to see him break out in a fast-paced game where he can run in transition. His price makes him an appealing tournament option.
DeMarre Carroll is questionable to doubtful to play, depending on what source you read. If he plays, he is one of the best plays on the slate given his price and position. He should see all the minutes that he can handle because he will be needed to defend LeBron James. It is not a coincidence that his highest minutes total and best fantasy game came against James and the Cavs earlier this season. Carroll sat out Toronto’s last game for rest, which made sense given the extended minutes he should see tonight. Reports that he will sit again tonight are obviously concerning, so keep an eye out for his final status.
Core: Andrew Wiggins, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, DeMarre Carroll (if starting and not on minutes limit)
Secondary: LeBron James, Jimmy Butler
Value: Justise Winslow, Bojan Bogdanovic, Brandon Ingram
Kevin Love gets a matchup with Toronto that has been very beneficial for stretch-fours this season. DeMarre Carroll, if active, will need to stay with LeBron James which leaves Kevin Love open to do basically whatever he wants in his matchup with the Toronto frontcourt. He is my favorite play on Cleveland when factoring in price, slightly ahead of Irving. Julius Randle gets to face an up-tempo Brooklyn team tonight which means more chances for him to handle the ball in transition, which obviously adds to his fantasy value. Like the rest of the Lakers, he does not play as many minutes as we would like. This obviously makes him risky, but he is still playable in all formats because he should contribute points, rebounds and assists tonight which gives him a nice floor in this matchup. Trevor Booker is on the other side of the matchup and he will also benefit from the pace of this game because of his athleticism. He comes at a little bit of a price discount to Randle, which is nice because his minutes have fluctuated from game to game as a result of blowouts and Kenny Atkinson not being consistent with his rotations. He is somewhat tough to trust in cash, and I prefer Taj Gibson, but he has plenty of upside for tournaments at his price. Gorgui Dieng’s price has plummeted but Ricky Rubio is back for the Wolves. We can’t trust Dieng in cash because he has been so bad lately, but there is merit to using him in tournaments because Rubio is better at facilitating the offense than Kris Dunn is and Dieng should benefit since he is not someone who can create his own shots.
Core: Kevin Love, Julius Randle
Secondary: Paul Millsap, Taj Gibson (cash), Gorgui Dieng (GPP), Trevor Booker
Value: Larry Nance
Karl-Anthony Towns is the top center option on this slate against a Charlotte frontcourt that is not going to be able to defend him. Hassan Whiteside is the only competition to Towns but Whiteside is on a back-to-back, which gives Towns the edge. Towns’ usage rate goes from 26.1 percent without Rubio to 27.6 percent when playing alongside him, which makes sense given that Rubio’s presence opens up the rest of the offense. Frank Kaminsky and Cody Zeller are not going to be able to do anything to stop Towns, who is a matchup nightmare for just about everyone. There is also some narrative street history between Towns and Kaminsky as Kaminsky stated before their draft that Okafor should go number one over Towns. When Towns faced Kaminsky last season, he posted lines of 19 points, 13 rebounds and 2 assists and 28 points, 14 rebounds and 2 assists. This is most likely a coincidence since it makes sense for him to dominate the matchup anyway, but it is interesting if you like narratives. It is also his birthday. Hassan Whiteside has merit as a GPP option because he has huge upside in any matchup, but he is behind Towns on a back-to-back against a frontcourt of Paul Millsap and Dwight Howard. It is unlikely that his ownership is low enough to warrant rostering him over Towns since he had a huge game last night.
Tristan Thompson is an intriguing value option against a Toronto team that is in the bottom half of the league in total rebounding percentage. Despite a couple of huge offensive games earlier this season, Thompson is not much of an offensive threat so he relies on rebounds for his value. He should be able to grab plenty of them in his matchup with Valanciunas. Lucas Nogueira is a very interesting GPP option. He has played at least 26 minutes in each of his last 3 games and is averaging about 25 for the season. He is a better rim protector than Valanciunas is and averages 2.5 blocks per game, which could be needed against the drives of Irving and James. It would make a lot of sense for Nogueira to see a few extra minutes tonight for defensive reasons and he is very inexpensive across the industry.
Core: Karl-Anthony Towns
Secondary: Hassan Whiteside
Value: Tristan Thompson, Lucas Nogueira