NBA Top Plays 3/3/20

THE CORE

So let’s see here. We have the following names listed as questionable on tonight’s eight-game slate: Anthony Davis, Alex Caruso, Cory Joseph, Fred VanVleet, Serge Ibaka, Marcus Smart, Jayson Tatum, Garrett Temple, Draymond Green, Kevon Looney, and Paul Millsap (sorry Noah Vonleh, you don’t count even though you are listed as questionable too).

Gee, I wonder if things will change at all today!

Because we still, ya know, want an article for everyone to read, I am going to churn something out here operating under the assumption that all of those guys play tonight. If I was able to bet against that happening on the Sharpside app, I’d put that as my lock bet no matter how high the odds are.

1) Terry Rozier, Charlotte Hornets

FanDuel: $5,700, PG DraftKings: $6,100, PG/SG Yahoo: $20, SG FantasyDraft: not on main slate

Recency bias is strong with this one, as the last time I rostered Rozier was a similar situation we are looking at tonight. It was February 25th against the Pacers, and it was the last game that Devonte Graham (who is listed as doubtful for tonight) sat out. The Hornets got trucked, and Rozier only played about 26 minutes en route to 18.1 FD points.

There are a few important things of note from that game though. First, we have to talk about this Hornets roster, specifically the backcourt.

Yes, Graham was out that game, but Malik Monk was available. But now? He’s gone…suspended by the league for drug use (not of the performance enhancing kind either IIRC). Furthermore, the latest NBA injury report has Dwayne Baconand Kobi Simmons still on G League assignment. So, uhhhh, what ball handlers are left here besides Rozier? I’ll save you the trouble. The answer is that there are none.

Now I am sure we will see news pop up today that they signed someone to a 10-day contract. When the Hornets were laying eggs in that second half against the Pacers, a fella named Joe Chealey (a 10-day contract signee) played instead of Rozier for most of that half (NOTE: the Hornets did in fact sign Joe Chealey to another 10-day contract after I had written the Rozier blurb). So I’m not saying the situation tonight is going to call for Rozier playing 48 minutes, but you’d certainly expect at least mid 30’s. For instance, his first half rotations in that Pacers game indicated he would have been on pace for right around 36 minutes.

The other important thing of note from that game is that Rozier couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn (2 for 13), but his assist rate was up at 46.7%. In fact, that is a nice segue into what CourtIQ tells us.

If you run the CourtIQ query with Graham, Bacon, and Monk OFF, we have a 163-minute sample for Rozier. If you just look at the surface FPPM differential, you will see essentially no difference for FD and +0.05 for DK.

What I see though is huge boosts to his assist rate and usage rate. The assist rate goes up almost 10 percentage points to 33%, and the usage rate goes up almost 2.5 percentage points to 25.4%. So while he has been at 0.89 FD / 0.93 DK points per minute for the season, I think we should expect well over a fantasy point per minute tonight based on those underlying rate bumps. Especially when you factor in the matchup…

…against a Spurs team that people still for some reason think are good defensively (they aren’t). They rank 25th in defensive rating and overall team defensive efficiency, and the micro matchup is great for Rozier here as well. Against opposing point guards, they rank 25th in defensive efficiency there too.

The price tag is obviously at its best on FD, where it is below $6,000. But at the minutes and FPPM rates I am expecting (noted above), he even grades out as a great play on DK too ($6,100). Is there a chance he falls down the priority list a bit tonight? Sure. But for now, he is a starting point for me in cash games. Now excuse me while I go wipe the vomit off of my face.

(Tournament pivot: I will go with Ricky Rubio as the pivot here on FD at just $6,400. I think the matchup against the Raptors will keep DFS owners away for the most part, but to say the guy got rejuvenated over the All Star Break would be an understatement. In the 11 games leading up to the break, he crossed the 30 FD-point threshold exactly zero times. In the five games after the break, he went: 38.1, 45.9, 65.7, 42.2, and 47.7. After the dud last game though, the price tag came back down a little. So I think there is still plenty of room for profit potential. On DK, where Rubio is priced a lot higher, I will go with Fred VanVleet (assuming he plays) at $6,600 as the tournament pivot. The questionable tag throughout the day could help keep ownership down, and I think 45-50 DK points is within the range of outcomes on the right night.)

FANDUEL-SPECIFIC PLAY

Tobias Harris, Philadelphia 76ers

FanDuel: $7,300, SF DraftKings: $8,200, SF/PF Yahoo: $33, PF FantasyDraft: $14,900 F/C

I am somewhat uneasy about this one considering the systemic risk surrounding this Sixers team missing three starters and going up against a top three defense. The math is going to say this play makes a ton of sense, but I can’t say I feel great about it. Hopefully some news comes up that makes Harris more of a fill-in at small forward as opposed to one of my starting points but, regardless, let’s talk about why he is of some interest tonight.

If we take Embiid/Simmons/Richardson OFF (all of them are out tonight) in CourtIQ, we have a 131-minute sample of some good-looking rates for Tobias. The main bumps are in the usage rate (up to 25.5%) and assist rate (up to 22%), resulting in a fantasy-point-per-minute rate of 1.28 FD.

Do we think that is something we can project going forward? In their game on Sunday, Richardson went out about 10 minutes into the game, and Harris only posted a 23.3% usage rate and 13.3% assist rate. He was able to “get you there” largely because he played 41 minutes.

And as for those minutes, can we count on them being there again tonight considering the Sixers are double-digit underdogs against the Lakers? Do we think this offense can muster much of anything against such a good defense, let alone offer some resistance on the other end against the Lakers, to keep this one close?

As you can see, there are plenty of unknowns with this one tonight. I wouldn’t blame you at all for just going up to Brandon Ingram for $600 more, solely to get more exposure to that elite game environment; it’s something I will consider too (a pairing of the two is viable as well).

The positives and the negatives here are clear. If Harris is able to put together that per-minute production and see upwards of 40 minutes, he should smash this price tag. Since neither of those (the per-minute production and minutes) are anywhere close to being set in stone, this one carries a little more risk than usual.

(Tournament pivot: Especially if we remain in limbo on Anthony Davisnews, I really like LeBron James in tournaments at $10,500. I am pretty sure we got the AD news post-lock on Sunday and, if you guessed right on that, you probably got some decent ownership on LeBron and his 67.9 FD points. We’ll see what the news gives us today, but I like taking a shot on that same scenario unfolding. Even if it comes out prior to lock that AD is playing, LeBron still makes for an intriguing tournament target. I shouldn’t have to tell you the ceiling that this guy has, and Projected Ownership could turn out to be quite low if AD is ruled in well in advance of lock.)

DRAFTKINGS/FANTASYDRAFT-SPECIFIC PLAY

Trey Lyles, San Antonio Spurs

FanDuel: $5,400, PF DraftKings: $5,200, PF/C Yahoo: $14, PF FantasyDraft: not on main slate

As of now, Lyles looks to be the best source of salary relief on DK tonight, which will make him a priority for me in cash games.

For those who just look at the ‘FPTS’ column of recent game logs, this one is a no-brainer. And while we shouldn’t exactly expect 44.75 or 35 DK points tonight (his production in the last two games, respectively, with no Aldridge and essentially no Poeltl), at least 30+ seems like a reasonable projection.

He has been right around a fantasy point per minute in these past two games, but a larger sample in CourtIQ with LMA/Poeltl OFF shows that he is at just 0.85 DK points per minute. Let’s not forget that, three games ago, he only played 24 minutes and got 18.25 DK points. Yes, Poeltl played that game, but it was only nine minutes. Poeltl played only a handful less two games ago before leaving injured.

That is my long-winded way of saying let’s not just assume we are in for upper 30’s minutes tonight. This is still the Spurs. This is still Pop. And they just played last night.

Luckily, a matchup against a Charlotte team that is 29th in defensive efficiency against opposing frontcourts should mitigate a lot of these risks. I wish he was in the $3,000’s or $4,000’s like he has been the past two games, but viable salary relief isn’t exactly overwhelming at this point in the day. Let’s take it where we can get it in our cash game builds.

(Tournament pivot: PJ Washington at $5,100 on the other side of this game will be my tournament pivot of choice in this price range, as well as a guy you can include in game stacks. I think this guy can run into 40+ DK points on the right night, and I get the sense that most DFS owners are not excited to click his name whenever he gets above that $5,000 threshold. He won’t wow you in any specific statistical category. But the nights when he is hitting his ceiling, he is doing work on the boards, hitting his three’s, and racking up blocks/steals. He is one of the few Hornets that is locked into a lot of minutes (you know, barring 40-point blowouts like against the Pacers), and the fact that they will run him out at center some should help his rebounding.)

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