Saturday’s robust 10-game slate has a number of fast-paced teams in action, and injuries continue to open up significant value on various teams. There’s plenty to choose from at each price level, making a lineup with both elite and value plays highly feasible. Let’s take a closer look at what some of the best investments are on what should be an action-packed ledger.
James Harden, HOU at NO ($20,900): Harden’s body of work against the Pelicans this season includes 24.5 points, 14.0 assists and 4.0 steals across two games, and New Orleans comes in allowing the most fantasy points per game (45.1) to two-guards on the season, including 66.1 over the last five games. New Orleans continues to play at the league’s fastest pace (105.1 possessions per game, including 105.4 at home) as well and allows a robust 30.2 percent of scoring from three-pointers at Smoothie King Arena, while Harden is putting up over 10 shot attempts from distance on the season and has scored over 50 fantasy points in four of the last six contests.
Dennis Smith, DAL at BKN ($12,500): Smith had a clunker of a performance against the Rockets two games ago, but he’s scored 30.25 to 44.75 fantasy points in five of the other games over the last six. A matchup against the fast-paced Nets on what is the second night of a back-to-back could well generate a similar caliber of production, considering Brooklyn has allowed the fourth-most fantasy points per game (42.3) to point guards on the season, including the fourth most (60.1) over the last five. The Nets are also operating at the fifth-highest pace of play (102.7 possessions per game) and allow the second-highest offensive efficiency rating to point guards (27.1), furthering Smith’s case at a price he’s been outproducing consistently lately.
Quinn Cook, GS at PHO ($6,600): J.R. Smith ($7,200) is another tournament-only option at this spot with Kyle Korver (personal) ruled out, but Cook’s 25-point explosion Friday and the plethora of key injuries on the Warriors puts him squarely in play. The Suns make for an excellent matchup as well, considering they’ve allowed the second-most fantasy points per game (42.8) to point guards, including the second most (59.2) over the last 10. They’re also yielding the highest offensive efficiency rating (27.3) to the position on the campaign, and Cook should once again see a heavy load of minutes and offensive responsibility with the Warriors’ Big Three sidelined.
LeBron James, CLE at CHI ($21,200): James has scored 52.50 to 71.75 fantasy points in the last five, the latest stretch of elite play for the future of Hall of Famer. The Bulls are the most tantalizing of targets, as they continue to bleed production across the board and have allowed the fifth-highest offensive efficiency rating (21.6) to small forwards. They’re also operating at the eighth-highest pace of play (102.0) and have already been touched up by James for averages of 30.3 points, 9.3 assists, 5.0 rebounds and 2.7 steals across 37.0 minutes in three games. Despite the top-shelf price, the Cavs’ own defensive inefficiency could well cause the game to remain competitive for all four quarters, which would keep James heavily engaged. The overall depleted state of the Cavs’ starting five is yet another factor conducive to his fantasy success as well.
Draymond Green, GS at PHO ($16,200): Green detonated for 50.00 fantasy points without the Warriors’ Big Three in the lineup Friday against the Kings, and a similar level of usage is likely Saturday against one of the most defensively inept squads in the NBA. The Suns come in allowing the highest offensive efficiency to power forwards (28.6), along with the eight-most fantasy points per game (39.6) to the position on the season. Green had been compiling over 30 fantasy points with regularity even before the absences of Klay Thompson (thumb) and Kevin Durant (ribs), so he’s essentially one of the safer plays on the board for either cash or tournaments despite being on the second game of a back-to-back.
Kyle O'Quinn, NY vs. CHA ($9,500): This salary is an outright bargain for a player who’s racked up 27.00 to 39.00 fantasy points in five of the last six games. He’s been highly efficient during that span, as he’s logged no more than 25 minutes in any of those contests. O’Quinn has been contributing across the stat sheet as well, leaving him poised for another strong outing against a Hornets squad that’s allowed the most fantasy points per game to power forwards (60.4) over the last 10, including 64.8 during the last five. Notably, Charlotte is allowing the second-most points in the paint (56.0) over the last three, while O’Quinn is logging 64.4 percent of his scoring from that area of the floor.
Dwight Howard, CHA at NY ($16,500): Howard is averaging 16.0 points and 9.5 rebounds in two games against the Knicks this season, and given his recent body of work and New York’s increasingly poor play, he could be primed for much more Saturday. Howard has scored 44.50 to 59.00 fantasy points in four of the last five, a span during which he’s averaging a whopping 26.8 points, 9.6 rebounds, 3.0 blocks and 1.0 steals across 32.0 minutes. The Knicks come in allowing the second-most fantasy points per game (49.5) to centers over the last 10, along with the fifth-highest shooting percentage (61.0) to the position during that span. Given the Hornets’ ongoing push for a postseason spot, Howard should once again see a robust usage level akin to what he’s generated in recent contests.
Bobby Portis, CHI vs CLE ($13,600): Portis is thriving with expanded opportunity recently, as he’s scored 33.25 to 45.50 fantasy points in four of the last five games. He’s hit the double-double bonus in two of those games as well, and will be primed for another handsome return against a Cavaliers team that’s been unable to stop power forwards all season, and even more so lately. Cleveland has allowed the sixth-most fantasy points per game (58.7) to fours over the last five games and fifth-most fantasy points (49.8) to centers over that same span, the two positions that Portis could potentially be deployed at. Portis’ floor-spacing ability and Chicago’s accelerated pace of play should both work in his favor as well, making him a strong mid-tier value.