Saturday, March 1, 2014

Daily Fantasy Basketball (March 1st): FanDuel Bargains

If you play daily fantasy sports (and who doesn't these days?!), you know that one of the keys to success is uncovering undervalued players to allow you to load up on studs elsewhere.

In case you've never played daily fantasy basketball, every player has a salary and your roster cannot exceed the game's salary-cap maximum.

For FanDuel leagues, rosters consist of nine players and the salary cap is $60,000, which averages to roughly $6,667 per player. To give you an idea of the range for Saturday's games, Timberwolves PF Kevin Love ($11,500) has the contest's highest salary while many are tied for the lowest at the game-minimum salary ($3,500).

There are a number of benefits compared to traditional full-season re-draft leagues, such as:
  • you don't have to worry about being saddled by players sidelined by injury;
  • having a late pick doesn't rule out owning studs like Kevin Durant or LeBron James;
  • you get the instant gratification of winning your league(s) that night.
And you know that enthusiasm you have after drafting your fantasy team(s)? Well, you get to experience that feeling on a nightly basis with daily fantasy basketball.

OK, with the preliminary stuff out of the way, here are some value plays to consider for Saturday (March 1st) FanDuel leagues:

PG - Aaron Brooks, Denver Nuggets (at POR), $4,700: There are several top-notch fantasy point guards going tonight like Chris Paul, John Wall, Kyrie Irving, Damian Lillard, etc. With Wall facing the Sixers, the league's friendliest of teams in terms of fantasy points to lead guards, he will be in many of my lineups despite the high salary ($9,100). With Ty Lawson (ribs) still out, Brooks gets the second-most favorable matchup for point guards at a much cheaper cost. In fact, no team has allowed more fantasy points to PGs over the past 15 days.

PG - C.J. Watson, Indiana Pacers (at BOS), $3,500: With George Hill (shoulder) out tonight, Watson will get the start against the Celtics. Per 36 minutes, Watson is averaging 12.1 points, 3.2 assists, 3.1 rebounds and 1.8 steals and should be a solid option at the game-minimum salary tonight.

SG - Eric Gordon, New Orleans Pelicans (at LAC), $5,000: With solid performances in back-to-back games, Gordon has averaged 36 minutes, 20 points, three assists and 1.5 steals in those two games. Tonight, he will face his former team, which should give him some extra motivation.

SG - Evan Fournier, Denver Nuggets (at POR), $4,400: With Wilson Chandler out tonight, Fournier will get another start. In 44 minutes on Thursday, Fournier had a disappointing outing: eight points, three boards, five assists and four turnovers. That said, he has two 40-point (in fantasy terms) performances in his past six outings and has a decent amount of upside at a relatively low price.

SF - Nicolas Batum, Portland Trail Blazers (vs. DEN), $6,600: Priced at a little below the average salary of the starting lineup, Batum has been productive in his past three outings, which includes a matchup against the Nuggets. He has scored a minimum of 30.7 fantasy points in those three games, but he is averaging 37.97 points during that span. During that three-game stretch, Batum has averaged stat-stuffing line of 19.0 points, 7.33 rebounds, 4.33 assists, 1.67 blocks and 1.0 steals.

SF - Jordan Hamilton, Houston Rockets (vs. DET), $3,700: Hamilton has averaged exactly 24 minutes in his two games with the Rockets and he has scored at least 24 fantasy points in both outings. On the season, the Pistons have allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing small forwards.

PF - Thaddeus Young, Philadelphia 76ers (vs. WAS), $8,600: While he's far from "cheap" in absolute terms at $8,600, Young has been one of the most productive players recently. Since the All-Star break, Young is averaging 43.25 fantasy points per game and only six players have more during that span. In those four games, Young has averaged 23.0 points, 7.5 boards, 4.0 assists and 3.75 steals per game.

Power forward is a stacked position and it's possible you go stud-stud in those two roster spots with someone like Love, Blake Griffin, Young, etc. Love has more than 60 fantasy points in three of his past four games. The "off" game was 41 points. Meanwhile, Griffin has scored more than 45 fantasy points in eight of his past 10 games and the Pelicans, his matchup tonight, have allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing power forwards this season. In many of my leagues, I have a Love-Griffin combo in my starting lineup.

C - Nikola Vucevic, Orlando Magic (vs. MIA), $7,300: Over his past eight games, Vucevic has scored more than 30 fantasy points seven times. During that eight-game stretch, Vucevic has averaged 17.0 points, 11.25 rebounds, 1.25 blocks and 1.25 steals.

C - Marcin Gortat, Washington Wizards (at PHI), $7,200: With a 31/12 line on Thursday, Gortat extended his streak of games with a double-double and 30-plus fantasy points to six games. The Polish Hammer has averaged 18.83 points, 11.33 rebounds and 1.17 blocks per game during that stretch and he faces the league's worst defense tonight.

C - Timofey Mozgov, Denver Nuggets (at POR), $4,400: While I'd prefer to go with Gortat or Vucevic, Mozgov rounds out my (unintended) trio of Eastern European centers as solid bargains. Over his past two games, he's averaged a respectable 23.9 fantasy points per game.

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