First I’d like to talk a little bit about how I make my picks. One of my biggest priorities is consistency. If player A and player B both average 30 fantasy points a game but player A has a lower standard deviation per game, I’m taking him 9 times out of 10. This also involves looking at average minutes played in both close games and blowouts.
After consistency I glance at the Vegas lines for the game. Dissecting the O/U and spread for each game is critical in determining where the value will be for each position. Then I analyze the matchup itself. This involves reading over box scores and averages, watching film and predicting the lineups. After that comes injury analysis which creates opportunity for players getting additional/fewer minutes.
Lastly, a bit of narrative never hurt. Player A was traded by team B and he’s returning home? Yes please – See Rajon Rondo's return to Boston.
If you have any questions, comments or concerns feel free to contact me via Twitter.
Today’s slate is pretty weak, especially if you’re playing late games only. Tomorrow will be a bit more exciting!
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Studs – Brandon Knight, Russell Westbrook and Kyrie Irving - Knight is facing a terrible, terrible Knicks team. He shouldn’t have much of an issue scoring the ball and the spread is close enough so he’ll see his normal allotted minutes. Westbrook doesn't have a pretty matchup with Beverly, but he's been great against Houston in the past. With Beverly questionable tonight, Westbrook should have no trouble. His height advantage is likely enough to earn him a look. Irving had a really rough game against Phoenix earlier in the week. Partly because of LeBron’s return and partly because he looked so out of rhythm. If there’s anyone he can bounce back against, it’s the Lakers. On a short slate like this one he’s probably going to be my favorite pick.
Dud – Jose Calderon - Not likely to see as many minutes as usual and has been playing poorly as of late. Avoid him!
Gold Mines – Shane Larkin, Jerryd Bayless and Ronnie Price - Larkin is a huge steal this afternoon after news broke that he will be the starter. With Melo back in the starting lineup he should post decent enough numbers. Bayless isn't flashy by any means but he gets the job done. Nice matchup against the Knicks guards today. Price is looking like he’ll start against a Cavaliers team that struggles to defend against Point Guards. Kyrie Irving just doesn’t seem to enjoy playing defense. Price isn’t a pretty choice, but he’ll likely hit 4-5X even with Kobe on the wing.
Stud – James Harden - He’s really the only high priced option worth taking here. Kobe would deserve a look if he were healthier and shooting better, but he’s not. After seeing him go 3-19 from the field I’m avoiding him entirely. The news about his 32 minute cap is disappointing as well. Harden has a decent enough matchup and it should be a fast paced, hard fought game. His low floor is certainly enough for a start on a short slate.
Dud – Kobe Bryant - Just not worth the price. He has a good matchup but you’d be crazy to take a chance on him. He’ll have a minutes restriction for the remainder of the season including this game vs. the Cavaliers. I hope he doesn't make me eat crow.
Gold Mines – J.R. Smith and O.J. Mayo - J.R. is streaky but I think LeBron’s presence helps him. He can space the floor and open up looks around the arc. Mayo is averaging 26 minutes in his last 3 games and should have no problem putting up 25+ fantasy points against a weak Knicks backcourt..
Studs – LeBron James and Kevin Durant - I bet you’ve never heard of these guys before. Good thing is now they’re both healthy and looking to stuff the stat sheet. Both have great matchups and look to be the leading scorers on their team. If I had to choose I’d probably take James but you can’t really go wrong with either.
Duds – Giannis Antetokounmpo and Trevor Ariza - Giannis hasn’t played so well against New York this season. It’s not a great matchup and he isn’t worth the price. Ariza will be given the task of containing Durant. After a rough game against Orlando, I struggle to see that happening. There are better choices out there.
Gold Mines – Corey Brewer and Khris Middleton - Neither of these guys are flashy but they get the job done. If you’re not willing to spend up for LeBron or Durant then take one of these. Cleanthony Early is an honorable mention, but his production is far too sporadic for me to suggest a play.
Studs – None - I can’t sit here comfortably and tell you to play any of the high priced options. Kevin Love is definitely an intriguing choice, but I’d much rather pay up elsewhere. After his disappearing act against Phoenix I am hesitant to put him in any of my lineups.
Dud – Tristan Thompson - His price is still too high for what he can do and Mozgov has pushed him from the starting lineup. No I’m not listing Kevin Love as a dud either. He’s somewhere in between and that worries me.
Gold Mines – Donatas Motiejunas - Motiejunas, we’ll call him D Mo for short, has been a surprisingly consistent contributor for the rockets. Serge Ibaka isn’t as scary defensively as many people think, so D Mo will have plenty of opportunity down low. Great value and a high enough floor so you're comfortable with the pick. Quincy Acy would be a nice look but the news that Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire will start makes him less enticing as he will likely see no more than 20 minutes of playing time.
Studs – None - Very similar to the PF situation, there just aren’t many great big men out there tonight. Howard is the obvious play if you’re wanting to spend big but it’s just not worth it.
Duds – Dwight Howard and Cole Aldrich - Why anyone would pay up for him at this point is beyond me. He has one of the largest frames in the NBA and he plays softer than 99% of the league. It’s a bit disappointing to watch him out there on the court. Aldrich looked like a decent play until news broke that Jason Smith would take his starting spot. Not enough minutes here to make him worth the price.
Gold Mines – Zaza Pachulia and Tarik Black - Zaza has a good matchup here and continues to see a solid amount of playing time. It’s unlikely that he outscores everyone in the position, but his floor is higher than most. (Be careful with Zaza now! Ersan Ilyasova is back in the lineup and Kidd has a tendency to mess with the rotations!) Black is an interesting choice, a guy that just recently joined the Laker squad. At the minimum price he’ll open up cap space for some of the bigger cats I talked about above. Timofey Mozgov is a decent choice as well, but his floors is a bit too worrisome.
Good luck out there today! I will do my best to edit these picks as injury and lineup news is released.
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