Using Pace as a leading indicator, what players in prime match-ups can we look to for value and a higher than usual DFS points floor.
We have a very interesting five game slate on tap for tonight, primarily because of the defensive-minded, grinding aspect of many of the teams on the schedule. According to projected pace, only two teams are projected for a higher pace than their season average. Orlando sees a mild 0.8 bump against Miami (and their 15th ranked defense), with the only significant increase attached to Phoenix, projected to have a 4.4 bump up in pace. The Suns host the Kings and their 27th ranked defense, with only power forward listed as the position where the Kings defend at even an average rate.
Slates like this set up as perfect tournament plays in my opinion. One on hand, you can game-stack Suns/Kings. The Suns are not much of a defensive obstacle themselves – ranked 25th overall this season, so there should be myriad combinations of ways to stack players like Ayton, Fox, Hield, Cauley-Stein, Jackson, etc. The fact that players like Devin Booker and TJ Warren will likely miss this game only helps matters. Throughout the day, value should open up all over this game allowing any permutation one might desire if mass multi-entering.
On the flip side, there will be so much concentration and focus on this game – which also includes a slate-high 223.5 total – that other players in positive game scripts should go under-owned.
For example, The Pacers match up against the Bulls who have the worst defense of any team going tonight and the game has a low 208.5 implied total. While the team itself doesn’t see a pace bump, individual match-ups (like the one below) should be in ideal situations. An even more contrarian play might be to mine match-ups in the Spurs/Jazz game. This is not your grandfather’s Spurs team as they rank 24th in total defense and 24th against shooting guards. Donovan Mitchell at home interest you? It should, Kawhi Leonard isn’t walking through that door.
Let’s take a peek at who other strong plays on the night might be:
Deandre Ayton ($6,800) – Ayton at $6,800 in this match-up feels like stealing. He is the second lowest priced starting center in the entire slate and is in the best possible spot against the Kings 26th ranked defense against centers. Add in the fact that the Suns will be missing two of their top three players in terms of usage rate, and the offense in this fast-paced game should flow through Ayton and Josh Jackson.
The last time Ayton was this cheap on FanDuel he hit 7x value in a much tougher match-up against Andre Drummond, so we have an idea of what his ceiling can be as long as he stays out of foul trouble.
Domantas Sabonis ($7,700) – We know by now that not all bench players are made equally. Some, like Sabonis, play a starter’s role without their name being on the PA when starting lineups are announced. Sabonis laps the field of bench players in terms of fantasy points per game (32.4) and fantasy points per minute (1.31), and he has clearly outplayed Myles Turner thru the course of the season despite the fact that Turner is still playing more minutes per game.
Against the Bulls, Sabonis will either match up against Jabari Parker – who is ranked 91st out of 92 eligible power forwards in defensive real plus-minus – or Lauri Markkannen, who is only in his second game back from a prolonged injury. Start him with confidence.
C.J. McCollum ($7,100) – McCollum’s usage rate has risen recently to an elite 25.2%. In fact, there is only one instance in his past 10 games where McCollum has not had at least a 23% usage rate, correlating with an eight-game stretch where he has hit 4x value every night.
Playing at home against the Mavericks and Wesley Matthews’ 75th ranked defensive real plus-minus, this is a potential 6x game for CJ. Revenge games typically apply on the offensive end from what I can tell, so look for Matthews to maybe take the defensive side of the floor off so he can focus on burning his old team.