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March is here and just like spring the NBA playoffs are approaching. We’re down to about 6 weeks of the regular season left and teams are in one of two modes. The first mode is playoff push and this applies to all 16 teams currently in the postseason and the few teams just outside on the bubble. The second is tanking mode and this applies to the approximately 10 teams that are either eliminated from playoff contention or are very close to being eliminated. The reason I bring all of this up here is to tie it into the fantasy sports world and how it can be something very important to your success.
Teams at the top of the playoffs standings tend to be willing to rest their starters more often to help keep them fresh and healthy, but for the most part they play everyone including their veterans in an effort to clinch a playoff spot and a higher seed. The teams just barely inside or outside the playoffs tend to play their starters higher minutes and will use the best player available, regardless if they’re young or old. Teams in tanking mode tend to play their younger players in order to give them game experience and to get an evaluation of their talent level, but will rest veteran players more often and give them less game action. Generally, a simplified strategy is to target teams making playoff pushes against tanking teams for the best results. These can all be things that fantasy players overlook when choosing who they want to plug into their lineup, but it can play a big part in determining who wins and who loses.
Los Angeles Lakers vs Portland Trail Blazers
The Trail Blazers have been on fire winning six straight games and scoring an average of 110 during that span. The Lakers have been just as hot, winning five straight games and scoring an average of 121 during that span. If you put the two together you have a red hot fire of fantasy goodness. With an over/under of 224, this game comes in as the highest on Monday night’s slate. The Trail Blazers are favored by two points, meaning that if Las Vegas is correct, the implied score would be Portland 113 Los Angeles 111. Over their past 10 games the Trail Blazers have given up the 9th most Fanball points to Centers and the 4th most Fanball points to the Small Forward position. On the other side, the Lakers have given up the 10th most Fanball points to Point Guards, the most to Shooting Guards, the 3rd most to Small Forwards, and the 9th most to Power Forwards. This makes for a fun game that should involve a lot of points.
Devin Booker – SG - $8,800
Phoenix has been terrible on defense lately, giving up an average of over 118 points per game over their last 10. If the Suns want to keep up they’re going to have to put up a pile of points and that means Devin Booker will have to put on another big performance. In four out of his last five, Booker has put up over 30 points per game and 49 or more Fanball points per game. He’s been playing a ton of minutes as well, finishing with over 36 minutes per game in six out of his last seven. Along with the high amount of playing time, he’s also been shooting the ball an insane amount lately. Booker has 28 or more field goal attempts in four out of his past five games and 10 or more shots from beyond the arc in three out of his last six.
Rudy Gobert – C - $7,700
The French Rejection has been living up to his name lately, blocking seven shots over his last two games, along with averaging 53.75 Fanball points. Orlando has given up the 9th most Fanball points to Centers this season, and Gobert has a great opportunity to continue his hot streak. The Magic have given up an average of 15.9 points and 11.1 rebounds per game, almost identical to what Gobert has averaged over his past 10 games, 15 points and 11.6 rebounds.
Tier Contrarian Play
Andre Drummond – C - $9,800
DET @ CLE
Some fantasy players may be off of Drummond tonight because of red number 1 below his name. He’s the type of talent though that can overcome a perceived tough defense. The Cavaliers have a bark that’s worse then their bite, ranking 21st vs Centers during their last five games. In their last meeting Andre dominated the Cavaliers, scoring 74 Fanball points by posting up a massive double-double with 21 points and 22 rebounds. In addition to all those points and rebounds he also seven assists, three steals, three block, and shot an impressive 75% from the field. If he can come anywhere near repeating that performance he'll more than reach his value.
Lonzo Ball – PG - $7,300
LAL vs POR
After a lengthy recovery from an injury it appears that the restrictions are off and Lonzo is a full go. He’s 33 plus minutes in back to back games and in his most recent he looked like the top draft pick many expected him to be. He had an 18 point 11 assist double-double which was only 3 rebounds away from a triple-double. It resulted in in 51.25 Fanball points and maybe the most encouraging sign since returning, Lonzo has been shooting 63% from 3 point range. Until his price tag goes up, Lonzo should continue to be a value because of his well-rounded basketball skills which result in many points, assists, and rebounds.
Pau Gasol – C - $6,600
SAS vs MEM
I’ll start this off by saying it’s dependent upon whether or not LaMarcus Aldridge is playing or not. He is currently questionable after an ankle injury he suffered last week and if he doesn’t end up playing Pau Gasol is a great value play. In Saturday's game Gasol put up 51.5 Fanball points and will have a great opportunity to do it again. With Kawhi Leonard still out as well, Gasol might be the best offensive option the Spurs have and will continue to receive 30 plus minutes per game. He only needs 36 points to reach five and a half times his value but that’s something he’s reached with Aldridge playing already this season. If LaMarcus misses tonight’s game then be prepared to use Gasol if you need some mid-level value.
David Nwaba – SF - $5,000
BOS @ CHI
Small Forward is often the hardest position to fill and David Nwaba is a solid option with a solid price tag. Nwaba has averaged 31.15 Fanball points over his past five games and gets a home matchup vs Boston. The Celtics have given up the 8th most Fanball points, the 8th most NBA points, the 2nd most rebounds, and the 4th most steals to Small Forwards over their last 10 games. Nwaba has the skill set to take advantage of this good matchup. He’s averaged 12.4 points and 8.2 rebounds over his past five games and has put together eight steals during his last three games.
Horford – C - $5,900
Normally I like to give a top fade every article but I couldn’t find anyone in that price range, so instead I found a mid-level player I’ll be staying far away from instead. Al Horford has taken a back seat lately to some of the other offensive talents on the Boston Celtics. He’s scored 22 or less Fanball points in four out of his past five games and averaged a pitiful 5.75 points per game over that span. To go right along those lines he’s struggled from the field quite a bit lately as well, going eight for 29 in those four games. The rest of his game has been down as well, only reaching double-digit rebounds once over his past 11 games and averaging just 2.5 assists over his past six games.
Aminu - PF - $4,300
As I mentioned earlier, the Portland at Los Angeles Lakers game is a great spot to stack some players together. Aminu is a player that presents a high risk or high reward situation and his past 10 games have been all over the place. He has reached 31 plus Fanball points four times, landed around 24 Fanball points two times, and scored 18 or less Fanball points four times. I think this is a soot where the matchup presents us with an opportunity to hit one of the high reward times. The Lakers have given up the 9th most Fanball points, the 9th most NBA points, the 8th most rebounds, and the most blocks to the Power Forward position for the season.
Turner – SG - $3,100
This is another spot where paying attention to the injury report is a big deal. If Maurice Harkless ends up missing this game, playing Turner is a great value spot. Harkless is questionable and missed his most recent game with a knee injury, so be sure to find out ahead of time if he’s playing or not. Evan Turner got the start at Small Forward in the last game and produced 25.75 Fanball points vs Oklahoma City. The Lakers present an even better matchup for Turner if he starts again. They give up the 4th most points to Small Forwards and the most points to Shooting Guards, so Turner should be in a great spot to make some noise.
Evan Bletz is a freelance contributor for SportsHub Technologies, Fanball’s parent company. Any advice or strategies provided by Evan or other SportsHub contributors represent their personal opinions; they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of SportsHub Technologies and are not necessarily reflective of the strategies they may employ in their own lineups.