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A word to those who would play daily Fantasy over the last week or so of the season; or rather, two: "caveat emptor."
With baseball kicking off yesterday, I'm guessing the field in the hoops games is going to thin dramatically. The casual player who sets a lineup at noon and doesn't look at lineup or injury news is taking the game over to the baseball tournaments now. Presumably, because he or she likes to throw away money hoping Khris Davis or John Jaso will do something. No, I'm not bitter after Day 1 of the season; why do you ask?
With the casual players moving on and abandoning us, the hoops game for the next eight days will likely be dominated by the sharks. Most of the people still playing are going to be those folks who did well enough already this season to still have something remaining in their bank roll, which means you're dealing with people who know what they are doing.
Smaller fields might mean you have a better chance to end up in the money, but you're not picking off guppies anymore. This isn't the time for casual players to enter the field; only the hardcore survive.
Phoenix at Atlanta
Combined DFS points allowed per game: 390.7
The Hawks will be without Paul Millsap tonight, which means Mike Scott or Mike Muscala could have some value. Dennis Schroder's potential return could also help Jeff Teague get some rest, either tonight or tomorrow.
Golden State at New Orleans
Combined DFS points allowed per game: 382.9
The Pelicans are fighting for their lives, while the Warriors are locked into their seed and have been resting guys. This might not be as tough a matchup for the Pelicans as it seems.
San Antonio at Oklahoma City
Combined DFS points allowed per game: 386.5
The good news about the Spurs' early malaise is they have less incentive to sit people at this point in the season.
Minnesota at Sacramento
Combined DFS points allowed per game: 411.6
From a Fantasy perspective, this should be the game of the night. A fast paced-game between two bad defenses with a lot of injury-replacement value on the board, this might be the one to stack.
L.A. Lakers at L.A. Clippers
Combined DFS points allowed per game: 396.7
The Lakers haven't played the Clippers close in years, so why should tonight be any different? As always with a likely blowout, it's tough to trust the stars.
My roster for April 7
PG Jordan Clarkson, Lakers at L.A.
PG Ray McCallum, Kings vs. Minnesota ($5,000)
SG Dion Waiters, Thunder vs. San Antonio ($4,500)
SG Kent Bazemore, Hawks vs. Phoenix ($4,100)
SF Kawhi Leonard, Spurs at Oklahoma City ($8,100)
SF Rudy Gay, Kings vs. Minnesota ($8,200)
PF Marcus Morris, Suns at Atlanta ($5,600)
PF Ryan Kelly, Lakers at L.A. Clippers ($4,200)
C DeMarcus Cousins, Kings vs. Minnesota ($12,300)
Kawhi Leonard, SF, Spurs at Oklahoma City ($8,100)
Kawhi Leonard taking a step forward offensively and becoming a go-to scorer is a lot like that scene in Jurassic Park when the raptors figure out how to open doors. It doesn't quite seem fair, and it pretty much spells doom for everyone in the immediate vicinity. Leonard has scored 20-plus points in four of his last five games, is averaging 38.5 Fantasy points per game in that span and has a great matchup on the way tonight. The Thunder surrendered 31.2 Fantasy points in 23 minutes to Leonard the last time they played, and have been the fifth-worst defense in the league since the All-Star break. The Spurs still have plenty to play for, so hopefully we won't get hit with a last-minute rest situation that could derail Leonard; there's already enough uncertainty out there tonight without Gregg Popovich taking away one of the few sure things.
Brandan Wright, C, Suns at Atlanta ($4,900)
Wright's career has been an exercise in contradictions, as he has routinely posted massive per-minute numbers while rarely earning the type of role he would need to live up to them. He is averaging 29.5 Fantasy points per-36 minutes for the Suns, but has hit the 30-minute mark just five times on the season. The good news is, he did so in his most recent games, and is averaging 34.0 in four starts for the Suns. He has contributed 35.5 Fantasy points per game in those four starts, and should remain in the first five against an Atlanta that could opt to rest some starters tonight. At a sub-$5,000 price, he is a great play if you want to stay away from Cousins.
Ryan Kelly, PF, Lakers at L.A. Clippers ($4,200)
Kelly has been very up-and-down since entering the starting lineup, so his low price makes a ton of sense. However, there's upside to be found here, as he has at least 20 Fantasy points in five of his eight starts, including 25.4 in his most recent against this Clippers team. Yes, there's a chance he turns in a dud, but Kelly has been playing well enough to more than justify this price.
Overpay of the night
Russell Westbrook, PG, Thunder vs. San Antonio ($12,300)
Westbrook is still just about the most-sure thing in the game, recording 45-plus points in four of his last five games. However, that hasn't been the case against the Spurs this season, who held him to 31.3 points in their last meeting March 25. That continues a career-long theme for Westbrook, who averages 35.7 points per game against them, his seventh-lowest total against any team. With DeMarcus Cousins on the board at the same price but with a much more attractive matchup, it's tough to justify Westbrook at this price.
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@bones_e: C.J. McCollum for Ish Smith a good pick up?
CT: McCollum's rookie season was pretty much lost from the word go, after he suffered a fractured foot before the season. Things didn't look much better to start this season because McCollum was buried down the depth chart for most of the first five months of the season. However, he has seen his role grow of late; McCollum is averaging 16.7 points per game in the month of April. Of course, he hasn't seen a huge increase in his playing time, with just 66 minutes under his belt in three April games, so it's hard to put too much stock into it. McCollum should be a good scorer in the NBA someday, and if the Blazers opt not to bring Wesley Matthews back next season, he could even enter next season as a nice Fantasy sleeper. However, Ish Smith is still playing big minutes and racking up solid scoring and assist numbers for the 76ers, so I don't see any reason to dump him for McCollum for the last week.
@bustinclustin: @KeeperOTCourt @CTowersCBS Just turned on IND-MIA, and Whiteside's not playing. This seems semi-frequent. What's up?
CT: Lately, it's just Whiteside's hand bothering him; he busted the stitches this weekend and was forced to miss Sunday's game. However, Whiteside has dealt with a few nagging injuries this season, and has missed eight of 49 games since entering the Heat's rotation as a regular in late-December. He has dealt with toe, ankle and hand injuries in that time, and is another red flag with the breakout star in his first full season. On the one hand, the fact that these injuries are all unrelated is a good sign; there's nothing worse than one nagging injury. On the other hand, missing 17 percent of your team's games in your first chance at an extended role isn't a great sign. Looking ahead to next season, I think he has second-or third-round upside, as I wrote at the Fantasy Basketball Today blog yesterday, but there are enough questions around him to knock him to the sixth round or so.