Welcome to the last NBA slate without MLB interference. Okay, there is one MLB game on tonight, but the real action begins tomorrow. Some Daily Fantasy enthusiasts will be switching to MLB exclusively, but I personally believe that’s a mistake.
I’m not building up rhetoric against MLB DFS, just suggesting you don’t write off Daily Fantasy NBA altogether. I’ve always found this time of year to be extremely profitable, as there are plenty of injury situations (and subsequent value plays) that favor people who do their research.
If you want to venture into the MLB DFS arena tomorrow, I suggest looking over this FanDuel MLB Primer.
For the rest of you that clicked on this column for NBA advice, here’s your Top 5 Matchup Plays for Sunday:
TOP 5 MATCHUP PLAYS
1. Ishmael Smith – PG – PHI (@NY Knicks)
This may seem somewhat strange putting Ish in the #1 spot, but it’s warranted after considering several contextual factors. First off, Smith’s price point is very comfortable, sitting at a non-prohibitive $6400 on FanDuel. Secondly, this battle of the NBA’s worst teams profiles as one of the most competitive games of the day, meaning the starters should see heavy minutes. Also, NYK ranks 27th against opposing Point Guards, and Ish is aveaging a solid 32 fppg over his last five.
2. Gordon Hayward – PF – UTA (@Sacramento)
I really like Hayward in this spot, playing up in pace against the non-imposing Sacramento defense. The Kings rank 22nd in defensive efficiency against the Small Forward position, and Rudy Gay’s absence hurts that mark even more. They don’t have a reliable wing defender to counter Hayward, which could inspire some nice upside.
3. Trevor Ariza – SF – HOU (@Oklahoma City)
If you are playing the matinee games, this Houston-Oklahoma City matchup is definitely one to target (217 o/u, 2 point spread). You don’t need me telling you that Russell Westbrook and James Harden are great plays if you can squeeze them in. However, I’d consider Ariza for some reliable salary cap relief as well. Oklahoma City ranks 26th in defensive efficiency vs the SF position (last 10 games), and the fast-paced game environment falls into Ariza’s playing style.
4. Kawhi Leonard – SF – SA (vs Golden State)
The matchup looks daunting from a defensive efficiency standpoint (Golden State ranks 2nd vs SF’s). However, that’s only one piece of the matchup puzzle. Golden State plays faster than any team in the NBA, and this should be a tight, high-scoring game. In other words, what Kawhi loses in efficiency, he’ll make up in volume and playing time to sustain fantasy value.
Even though the matchup profiles great for Paul and Griffin, they get demoted to the #5 spot due to a very serious blowout risk. LAC is favored by 12 in this game, and it’s easy to envision them running away with it. That could limit Blake and CP3’s playing time, despite the fantastic individual matchups for each. I’m limiting them more for tournaments only due to this.
Wesley Johnson – SF – LAL (vs LA Clippers)
On the other side of the “battle of Los Angeles” lies Wes Johnson. He has been seeing respectable playing time as of late, averaging 35 minutes and 27 fppg over the past five. The Clippers rank 28th in defensive efficiency vs Small Forwards, creating a nice opportunity for Johnson. In addition, Jordan Clarkson has a difficult matchup with Chris Paul, which could funnel some production to Wes with a much more favorable draw.
Derrick Favors – PF – UTA (@ Sacramento)
Even though he ended up with a somewhat middling performance, it was encouraging to see Favors post 36 minutes of action yesterday. He was coming off a two game absence, then an outing vs Denver where he only saw 25 minutes. It appears that Favors is fully healthy now, leaving him in a great position to exploit Sacramento’s 27th ranked defense vs Power Forwards.