Games/Teams to Target
Philly, Miami, and OKC stand out as the top teams to target. All receive a sizable pace boost against really poor defenses.
Orlando, Memphis, Denver, Houston, and San Antonio don’t really get the benefit of a pace boost, but face poor defenses. SA’s defense is fluctuating like crazy, but they’re back to being poor defensively, the way they were earlier in the year.
Utah, Washington, and New Orleans are quietly in positive spots, as well.
James Harden (Iff CP3 is out)
Harden’s 38.8% usage rate is comically high over the past ten games. If CP3 returns tonight, that rate will almost certainly take a hit, but if Paul continues to sit out, SA’s abysmal DEF rating over the past ten games suggests Harden should be one of the first players we lock in.
In the four games since Wade’s return, he’s using 26.6% of the Heat’s possessions, which leads the team. As the only real PG on the team (who is healthy), he should continue to see a minimum of 25 minutes. As we saw against Toronto, he has upside for mid-30s minutes off the bench. For the year, he’s averaging over a FPPM and more PG duties should increase that efficiency. The up-tempo/poor defense combo of the Pelicans sets up Wade for another huge night. Coming off the bench should help him avoid Jrue defense for most of his minutes.
Okobo played 32 minutes last game (the first after the Suns waived Canaan). While we shouldn’t expect him to shoot that well again, or average 3 steals per game, his 18.8% usage rate in 30-ish minutes at minimum price is extremely inviting. With some really good stud options, Okobo could be a key piece tonight.
If Paul misses again, continue to play Gordon. In the Rockets’ past three games, he’s taken 11, 16, and 10 threes. SA’s defense has been terrible, so there’s no reason to believe they’ll be able to limit the amount of good looks Gordon gets.
Smart played FORTY minutes last game and Jaylen Brown has already been ruled out again. Even if we project him for a more conservative 35 minutes, his average FPPM of .81 suggests he’s too cheap for the opportunity.
House is another guy that I’m only interested in if Paul is out. At minimum price, House has played 24 and 28 minutes in his first two games as a Rocket. He put up eight threes last game, which is clearly what he was brought to Houston to do.
Truth be told, I don’t love this play. Embiid is dominating usage and Butler looks passive offensively, just as he was in his first month or so with Minnesota. However, the matchup is excellent, and Butler’s 21.1% usage rate is third on the team in the eight games with Butler active. Finally, TJ McConnell and other Sixers players and coaches have been vocal about believing Butler should shoot more.
Much of what Philly does offensively is a two-man game between Redick and Embiid. As such, it’s no surprise to see that it’s actually JJ, not Simmons, who is second on the team in usage. While Redick is scoring dependent, this should be a fast-paced, high scoring affair, so JJ comes with tons of upside and a floor that I am extremely comfortable with.
Jackson is getting the start tonight in Warren’s absence. The 21 year old seemed to take a big step backwards at the beginning of the season, but he’s playing much better basketball of late. Jackson is sporting a usage rate over 23% in the past ten games and I expect that to only fall to something around TJ Warren’s 21% as he enters the first unit. He should see over thirty minutes and averaged just about a FPPM last season.
Power forward is very thin tonight, but Marcus Morris is clearly viable. Morris should see at least 30 minutes with the team’s starting power forward, Al Horford, resting. The matchup is not as good as you would think; Cleveland’s defensive rating is barely below average over the past ten games and Boston is getting a sizable pace hit. That being said, Morris is one of the best per minute fantasy producers on the Celtics (~1 FPPM) and could see minutes into the mid-30s.
Atlanta remains the best opponent to target, and Grant has been especially good in pace-up spots. We can count on >30 minutes of action for Jerami and Westbrook’s assist rate of over 50% is a big boost for the athletic forward. Westbrook’s presence gives Grant scoring upside to complement his defensive upside that he simply didn’t have when it was Schroder and PG13 leading the charge. $4500 is criminally cheap.
Even if CP3 misses and I play Harden, I will desperately want to fit Embiid, as well. With Dwight out, Washington has no one who can even pretend to slow down Joel. Washington is dead last in defensive rebound rate and the pace, as well as Washington’s tendency to attack the basket, give Embiid significant defensive upside to boot. Embiid’s 33.5% usage rate is astronomical for a big man. He should be priced with the other studs over $11k and the fact that he isn’t means we should take full advantage.
Vuc’s price is finally on the rise, but it’s still not close to where it should be. He’s regularly seeing mid-30s minutes now when the game stays close (or he doesn’t foul out like last game), and he’s averaging nearly 1.5 FPPM. Phoenix is 26th in defensive rebound rate and we already saw that Orlando is a great team to target.
Baynes dominated in 23 minutes in the last game Horford missed. While we shouldn’t expect him to do that again, he’s too cheap at $3200 for a starting Center. He contributes in all categories.
Hart is priced all the way down to $3600 now and played 25 minutes last night. He seems to be getting healthy again, and I maintain that the Lakers will be best with Hart on the floor around LeBron. He’s a solid defender, great rebounder for his size (LAL is 25th in defensive rebound rate), and is shooting over 39% from three.
Before he was benched two games ago for most of the second half (no idea why – it’s Pop) and then SA got blown out a game ago, Gay was consistently seeing around 30 minutes per game. Averaging over a FPPM, if we get Gay on a night where he plays over 30 minutes against the atrocious Houston defense, Gay could absolutely crush his value. He truly has 50 point upside at $5600 and will be extremely low owned. However, he’s also one of the riskiest plays on the slate.
Green has multiple pathways to big minutes: Jaren Jackson Jr. has a propensity to get himself in foul trouble, Marc Gasol is banged up, and we saw JaMychal play big minutes alongside both starting bigs three games ago against LAC. Green has always been a good FPPM guy, and is only priced to see around 20 minutes. Brooklyn’s 28/30 defensive rebound ranking feeds into Green’s hands.