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I'm going to do something a little different today. Rather than break down today's slate by position, I'm going to take a close look at a few games tonight and discuss their fantasy implications and some key players to keep an eye on.
Houston @ New Orleans (O/U 228.5, HOU -5)
On the New Orleans side, the biggest question is how do Davis and Cousins play together. There are only 11 data points available in the Davis-Cousins partnership, but early indications would suggest that playing Davis and Cousins together is not a viable option. Their negative correlation of -0.35 is quite strong, suggesting that if one does well, the other is likely to have limited production. In tonight's matchup, I think Davis is the far superior play. As discussed at length, Cousins has higher risk as his team's margin of defeat increases. NO +5 isn't a huge spread, but there is some risk of the Pelicans losing by double digits, a scenario in which I think Cousins has little to no upside.
On top of this, one of Cousins' limiting flaws since joining the Pelicans has been his inability to stay out of foul trouble on a consistent basis. I think tonight's matchup against the Rockets proves problematic in this regard, as the Rockets feature scorer James Harden leads the league in free throw attempts. Davis on the other hand is far more stable against the spread, and thus has less risk if the Pelicans' fail to cover the spread.
I think Pelicans' PG Jrue Holiday makes for a nice stack with Davis. They had very little correlation prior to the Cousins trade, but since Holiday and Davis have had a +0.61 DKP correlation. On the contrary, Holiday and Cousins have had a -0.28 correlation. Holiday has decent stability against the spread, but has very strong upside if the Pelicans can approach 120 points, while Davis has limited return amidst increasing point totals.
I think Holiday/Davis make for a very strong stack. They have some protection against busting in a blowout Rockets' win (where Cousins is a liability), but also have decent upside if the Pelicans cover the spread or win outright and put up a higher-than-expected point total. Additionally, Holiday and Davis both have good prices tonight, at $6.7K and $10.2K respectively.
There are really no other Pelicans players that intrigue me tonight. Jordan Crawford has some upside, but at $4.4K I feel like his price is a little high in response a couple 30+ DKP outings in the past 1-2 weeks. He seems to have a rather risky sub-20 DKP floor. And although E'Twaun Moore is a sub-$4K option who seems to be guaranteed of at least 25 minutes, he doesn't have a robust enough game to have huge upside. His production is almost completely linked to his scoring.
On the Houston side, it really starts and ends with James Harden. A reasonably close and high scoring game is ideal for Harden, which is what tonight's matchup is expected to be.
And $11.6K isn't an unreasonable price for Harden.
Harden really isn't an ideal stacking candidate, because he negatively correlates with just about every member of the Rockets' starting 5.
The only player with a positive correlation with Harden (although essentially no correlation, at +0.03) is Trevor Ariza, a guy who I have been high on recently, due simply to his low price. At $5.2K his price is starting to creep back to what I think is an appropriate level, but I still think he is a decent value option tonight due to a somewhat low price and his tendency to be more productive in Rockets' wins and high-scoring games.
Ariza is a strong defender, which gives him nice upside as his production isn't completely dependent upon scoring.
Boston @ Brooklyn (O/U 216.5, BOS -8)
The big news out of Boston is that star PG Isaiah Thomas will not play tonight, due to a bruised knee. The two primary beneficiaries are most likely Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart. Bradley has a strong negative correlation (-0.46) with Thomas, while Smart figures to get the bulk of Thomas minutes.
While Smart and Bradley have good individual upside, I don't think they make sense as a stack. They negatively correlate (-0.31), and while this might be due to their starter/backup dynamic, Bradley doesn't correlate well with the starting PG either. Bradley doesn't really correlate well with anyone, which might suggests that he could have some value as a contrarian play, in the hopes of him having a big night at the cost of his other teammates' production. Both Bradley ($6K) and Smart ($4.9K) have reasonable price tags tonight.
I'm leaning towards Smart a little bit, as he has a fairly consistent tendency of being more productive as the Celtics' margin of victory and point total rises. Bradley on the other hand seems to boom and bust almost completely at random.
While Bradley might have better upside, I think Smart is ultimately the better value play tonight. He is just more consistent and more projectable with a favorable spread and implied point total. Not to mention, Bradley hasn't shown tremendous upside since returning from injury, topping 30 DKP only once.
Celtics' backup PG Terry Rozier also figures to get a bump in minutes due to the Thomas injury, and as a minimum-priced PG could have some value. But I'm not terribly high on him as he hasn't been very efficient at low minute totals, I don't know that he has that great of upside even if his minutes climb a little in the next couple games.
On the Brooklyn side, there isn't too much to be excited about. I've liked Jeremy Lin ($6K) over the past 1-2 weeks, as he is one of the few Nets whose production doesn't drop off in losing efforts, but his price has started to climb to a level where I no longer see him as a super high value option. He was a way better option a week or so ago, when he was sitting at the $4.5-5.5K range. Brook Lopez does have some upside if the Nets can keep it close and maintain a high scoring pace.
However, at $6.8K I don't think he's a great value, and when you couple that with the risk associated with the Celtics covering the spread I'm not terribly high on Lopez.
Toronto @ Detroit (O/U 202, DET -4)
The Pistons don't have one guy for whom tonight's game is an ideal matchup. The Pistons are modest favorites, but the game figures to be slow-paced and low-scoring. Drummond ($7.1K) is a really good guy to own in a Pistons win, but he has some risk when the Pistons score fewer than 110 points, but equally high upside. He is priced very competitively tonight, as his usual price tag is North of $7.5K.
Reggie Jackson ($5.4K) is a good low-scoring option, but his production is higher when the Pistons lose, and inexplicably drops off when the Pistons win by a significant margin.
On the contrary, Drummond (as well as Tobias Harris and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope) has better production and upside as the Pistons' margin of victory grows. Drummond isn't a great stacking option, as there are no Pistons that he correlates particularly well with.
If you are looking for a stacking option that figures to perform fairly well under the expected game scenario, the combination of Tobias Harris ($5.9K) and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope ($5.3) correlate well (+0.32) and perform well in Pistons wins. One aspect of the KCP/Harris stack is that their production rises at a steeper rate than Drummond through the 95-105 point range.
But in general I'm higher on Drummond tonight, simply due to his price. $7.1K is a steal for Drummond, and $5.3K and $5.9K aren't particularly good prices for Caldwell-Pope and Harris.
There are no Raptors that I'm particularly high on tonight. Cory Joseph ($4.8K) is starting to fall towards a more reasonable price, but he still hasn't shown a ton of upside as the regular starter in place of the injured Kyle Lowry. And tonight's matchup isn't particularly good for Joseph (and all other Raptors except DeRozan) as whose production drops off when the Raptors lose.
DeMar DeRozan ($8K) is the only Toronto player that I'm even moderately intrigued by, as he does have some nice upside if the game stays close. However, he doesn't display great upside unless the Raptors top 110 points, which doesn't seem to be a likely scenario given their low implied point total of 99.