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Fantasy Focus: Pickups For The Stretch

With fantasy playoffs coming up, Basketball Insiders breaks down players to consider picking up for the stretch run.

Susan Bible

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It’s a critical time in the world of fantasy basketball as owners are rolling toward the playoffs in their respective leagues. With 20 or so games remaining in the regular season, there is still time to make some strategic waiver wire moves to not only ensure the best seeding possible, but to assure your team is playoff-ready.

While devoted owners have stayed on top of player injuries, moves and minutes all season long, there may be some players available on your wire that have been overlooked or discounted. This is a perfect time to analyze such players and decide if they warrant consideration to boost your roster. Basketball Insiders is here to help you make such decisions.

As always, when we talk fantasy basketball here, it is based on nine-category fantasy scoring leagues that account for points, assists, rebounds, steals, blocks, three-pointers made, turnovers, field goal percentage and free throw percentage. (Note – all stats reflect games played through 3/6/15)

Here is our list of fantasy pickups for the stretch run:

WILL BARTON – Denver Nuggets
On the NBA’s trade deadline day, February 19th, the Denver Nuggets sent Arron Afflalo and Alonzo Gee to the Portland Trail Blazers in exchange for Will Barton, Victor Claver, Thomas Robinson and a protected 2016 draft pick. Though this trade involved five players, Afflalo was the primary name continually discussed with regard to the transaction.

Barton, a 6’6 shooting guard, was drafted with Portland’s 40th pick in the 2012 draft. He made little noise during his three seasons there – in a total of 144 games – averaging 3.8 points, 1.8 rebounds, 0.8 assists, 0.4 steals and 0.2 three-pointers in 11.0 minutes of playing time. In his span of just eight games in Denver, Barton is logging 13.5 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.1 three-pointers in 27.4 minutes. Barton is thrilled with the opportunity to finally prove himself, and he should continue to get chances to do just that with the Nuggets. The recent coaching change (Brian Shaw was replaced with assistant-turned-interim coach Melvin Hunt) hasn’t affected how Barton’s being used on the court. For fantasy owners, his ability to contribute in multiple categories is valuable. His shooting percentages aren’t bad either at 47.5 percent in field goals, 37.5 percent in three-pointers and 76.7 percent in free throws. Surprisingly, Barton is owned in only 10 percent of Yahoo leagues.

CODY ZELLER – Charlotte Hornets
Cody Zeller started the season in a reserve role and was inserted into the starting lineup at the end of November. He did have a recent game off the bench, but that was due to a matchup situation. His numbers have been up and down, but he’s on a decided upswing of late. A glance at Zeller’s points per game over the last five games – all double-digits in 23.4 average minutes – reveals a real trend: 11, 16, 10, 13, 12. He hasn’t been on this kind of scoring streak all season. Keeping with the past five-game numbers, he averaged 7.4 in rebounds and 56.6 percent in field goal shooting and connected on 16-of-17 free throws. A big man who has success at the foul line is always a very nice addition. He throws in an assist here and there (1.6) and doesn’t turn the ball over much (1.0).

Also, it’s important to note that Zeller’s production and minutes have been solid even with the return of teammate Bismack Biyombo four games ago. It was suspected Zeller’s minutes would decrease with Biyombo’s return, but that has not been the case. Remember the 7’0 center was Charlotte’s fourth pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, so the fact they are now giving him room to develop is great news for owners. Like Barton, Yahoo shows only 10 percent ownership of Zeller.

ISAIAH CANAAN – Philadelphia 76ers
Yahoo reports Isaiah Canaan, now in his second year, is owned by only 28 percent of its leagues. Perhaps not all owners are unaware that Canaan is Philadelphia’s starting point guard (following the shocking Michael Carter-Williams trade to the Milwaukee Bucks), and that he is doing quite well. In just eight games with the Sixers, Canaan is averaging 13.8 points, 3.4 assists, 2.8 rebounds, 88.9 percent in free throws and an unbelievable 3.3 three-pointers in 28.9 minutes per game. Compare that to his 6.2 points in 14.8 minutes with Houston before the trade. Owners would hope to see higher assists and steals (just 0.5), but his numbers figure to improve while he gets better acclimated to his new team.

DENNIS SCHRODER – Atlanta Hawks
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that the team with the best record in the NBA (Hawks, 49-12) must have some pretty good players on its roster. One such player is backup point guard Dennis Schroder; not quite a household name, Schroder can definitely help a fantasy owner down the stretch. A review of his season stats in total doesn’t yield numbers that impress too much (8.9 points, 3.9 assists and 2.0 rebounds in 18.7 minutes), but look what he’s done since the All-Star Break: 12.4 points, 6.6 assists and 2.4 rebounds in 24.2 minutes. Schroder, a EuroBasket stand-out for his home nation of Germany, has scored in double digits in five of the past six games, all of which were wins.

The Hawks are discovering that a Jeff Teague/Schroder backcourt pairing has distinct advantages. Owned in just nine percent of Yahoo leagues, you might find out that owning Schroder gives you an advantage as well.

JORDAN CLARKSON – Los Angeles Lakers
The only rookie (46th pick in 2014) on our list, Jordan Clarkson is beginning to get noticed around the league, so make a move (owned 31 percent in Yahoo leagues) if you can. Over the season, he’s averaged 9.3 points 2.3 assists and 2.4 rebounds in 20.5 minutes, which is fine for his first year. However, upon closer inspection, the now-starting 6’5 point guard’s numbers have nearly doubled since mid-February. In the past eight games, he’s recorded 15.6 points, 4.3 assists and 3.8 rebounds in 29.6 minutes.

Coach Byron Scott, in his typical straight-forward manner, both praises his shoot-first ways and knocks his ability in ever becoming a “true” point guard. Clearly, he likes what he sees though. Clarkson is setting some records – in his last outing, he scored 25 points which was the second-highest total by a Lakers’ rookie in nearly 10 years. In addition, with his accompanying six assists, he became the youngest Laker to achieve both since 2001. And who was that in 2001? Kobe Bryant.

QUICK HITS:

TONY SNELL – Chicago Bulls
With coach Tom Thibodeau trusting Tony Snell in increased minutes after the start of the year, he came in and answered the call with good scoring and three-pointers. When Jimmy Butler (the Bulls’ leading scorer) was recently ruled out for three to six weeks and with Derrick Rose out, it was assumed Snell would step in and exceed his recent solid run. It hasn’t happened yet; he’s getting minutes though, so keep aware.

KENNETH FARIED – Denver Nuggets
Yes, another Nuggets player makes our list. Some owners gave up on Faried with the less-than-desirable season he’s having, but the coaching change seems to have given him new life. He’s probably not available in your league, but make sure of that.

TIM HARDWAY JR. – New York Knicks
Sure, the Knicks have the worst record in the league (12-48), but those who play fantasy basketball could not care less. Individual player statistics are all that matter. He’s inconsistent, but when he’s hot, it’s a great thing.

PAUL GEORGE – Indiana Pacers
If you have any room on your roster, consider adding Paul George. No firm return date has been released, but we know George is close.

We hope these glimpses into possible pickups for your stretch run in fantasy play is useful. Now is the time to get your roster in order to win your league!

Susan Bible covers the Oklahoma City Thunder for Basketball Insiders and writes about all NBA teams. She is a Senior Newslines Editor and contributes to fantasy basketball coverage.

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Draft Kings

DraftKings Preview: Best Value Plays 4/13

Cody Taylor shares his list of top bargain players (under $6,000) on DraftKings tonight.

Cody Taylor

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Each Wednesday, we help you build your DraftKings lineups for the upcoming night of action. The point of these articles is to highlight relatively cheap players who are poised to do well given their recent success and upcoming matchup.

Tonight features 14 games on the schedule as most teams wrap up their regular season. With nearly every team in action tonight, you will have plenty of options when building your DraftKings rosters. Everyone wants superstar players in their lineup, but in order to afford those players, you’ll need some of these value plays on your squad as well.

If you haven’t done so already, be sure to enter our DraftKings league before 7 p.m. ET tonight. It’s FREE for new users! Here are six bargain players to keep an eye on tonight – all of whom will cost you less than $6,000:

PG: Seth Curry, Sacramento Kings – $5,000

With the Kings shutting down five of their top scorers for the rest of the season, look for Curry to continue to see plenty of playing time. Curry is coming off of his best game in the NBA in which he recorded 20 points, 15 assists, three rebounds and three steals on Monday night against the Phoenix Suns.

Curry’s career night was good for 54.3 fantasy points. Since March 25, Curry has seen a much bigger role with the Kings as he’s averaging 28.7 minutes per game after playing sparingly before that. He’s averaging 15.7 points, 3.7 assists and 2.4 rebounds per game while shooting 54 percent from three-point range during that time frame.

Honorable Mention: Tim Frazier – $5,900

SG: Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers – $5,000

Before you laugh at this selection, consider what we know going into Bryant’s last game. It’s been reported that Lakers head coach Byron Scott plans on letting Bryant play as much as he wants and Scott stated on the record that he’s instructing other players to “get KB the ball.” Knowing the type of player that Bryant is, he’ll want to play big minutes and go out with an impressive performance. Field goal percentage isn’t factored in for DraftKings’ scoring system, so Bryant can shoot it as much as he wants without negatively impacting your team.

He has flashed some vintage Kobe performances a couple of times already this month, as he dropped 35 points on the Houston Rockets on Sunday and he scored 34 points against the Boston Celtics back on April 3. The Utah Jazz desperately need a win tonight (as well as a Houston loss against Sacramento in order to make the playoffs), and Bryant would love nothing more to player spoiler one last time in front of the home crowd at Staples Center. It’s also worth noting that Utah will be without their defensive anchor Rudy Gobert. This is the final time you can have Kobe in your lineup and he may be a steal at $5,000.

Honorable Mention: Evan Fournier – $5,100

SF: Kent Bazemore, Atlanta Hawks – $5,100

Bazemore has been arguably one of the best fantasy players over his last four games for the Hawks. Over this stretch, Bazemore is averaging 17 points, eight rebounds, 3.8 assists, 2.8 steals and 1.5 blocks per game, which has translated to 41 fantasy points per game.

Bazemore has proven this season that he can contribute on both ends of the floor and make his presence felt in a variety of ways. On April 1 against the Cleveland Cavaliers, he scored only seven points, but added 12 rebounds, six assists and three blocks, which was good for 36.5 fantasy points. The Hawks should continue to play their starters with playoff seeding on the line heading into the final night of action.

Honorable Mention: Maurice Harkless – $4,600

PF: Marvin Williams, Charlotte Hornets – $5,300

Williams is another starter who you can count on playing since the Hornets are still fighting for playoff seeding. Some of the league’s best players could be getting some rest tonight with playoff positions already locked up, but Williams seems likely to play as he normally would.

Williams has been very consistent over his last six outings, as he’s scored at least 24 fantasy points in each of those games. The Hornets are up against the Orlando Magic tonight, and Williams went off for 26 points, nine rebounds, two assists and a block the last time the Hornets and the Magic faced off on March 16.

Honorable Mention: Jabari Parker – $5,900

C: Mason Plumlee, Portland Trail Blazers – $4,700

Plumlee has been very productive over the past several weeks. Since March 1, Plumlee has scored fewer than 20 fantasy points just twice (in a span of 21 games). He’s a guy who comes in at price lower than $5,000 and he seems likely to give you at least 20 fantasy points.

He has proven that he can do a little bit of everything, as he’s averaging 12.4 points, 8.4 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 1.6 blocks and 1.2 steals in five games during the month of April.

Honorable Mention: Jonas Valanciunas – $5,000

UTIL: Toney Douglas, New Orleans Pelicans – $5,500

The Pelicans have been ready for the offseason for quite some time now given all of the injuries they have endured this season. Douglas has been a direct beneficiary of those injuries, starting in 17 out of the Pelicans’ last 18 games.

Douglas has turned in four-straight outings with at least 30 fantasy points and has been one of the team’s leading scorers in each of those games. Look for that production to continue as the Pelicans face off against a Minnesota Timberwolves team that ranks 26th against opposing point guards.

If you are taking our advice tonight, let me know how your team did by reaching out to me on Twitter, @CodyTaylorNBA.

*****

We encourage you to give these players a look as you build your starting lineups for tonight. Here are contests you can enter now:

Sharpshooter:
– Last chance to play before the playoffs start
– Prove your NBA knowledge
– Make every game more exciting
– FREE for new users
– Must join by Wednesday, April 13th at 8:00 pm EST
– Salary cap style drafting: $50,000 to select PG, SG, SF, PF, C, G, F and Utility

Giant Double Up:
– Last chance to play before the playoffs start
– Prove your NBA knowledge
– Make every game more exciting
– Must join by Wednesday, April 13th at 8:00pm EST
– Salary cap style drafting: $50,000 to select PG, SG, SF, PF, C, G, F and Utility

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Draft Kings

DraftKings Preview: Best Value Plays 4/6

Who are the best value players on DraftKings? Cody Taylor gives his top options cheaper than $6,000.

Cody Taylor

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Wednesday in the NBA is typically one of the busiest nights of the week as most teams are in action. There are eight games set to tip off tonight, leaving you with plenty of options when building your DraftKings lineups.

The key to winning in DraftKings is having some cheaper players on your rosters who will perform well and allow you to afford players like James Harden, Kemba Walker and Paul George (among others). We’re here to help you set your lineups by highlighting several cheaper players who seem poised to do well given their recent success or upcoming matchup.

If you haven’t done so already, be sure to enter our DraftKings league before 7 p.m. ET tonight. It is FREE for new users! Click here to draft your team. Here are six bargain players to keep an eye on tonight – all of whom will cost you less than $6,000:

PG: Tim Frazier, New Orleans Pelicans – $4,600

Frazier seems like a safe bet to have in your lineup for the remainder of the season. The Pelicans have been battered by injuries this season, and Frazier will be relied on heavily. Frazier began the season with the Portland Trail Blazers, but averaged less than eight minutes per game — he’s averaging 28.1 minutes in 11 games with the Pelicans.

Frazier has proven that, when given an opportunity to play extended minutes, he can contribute all across the board. He’s averaging 13.5 points, 6.3 assists and 4.1 rebounds per game during his brief stint in New Orleans, which has translated to 30 fantasy points per game. He’s been on a tear lately, as he’s averaging 37.9 fantasy points over his last four outings.

Honorable Mention: Shane Larkin – $4,300

SG: Evan Fournier, Orlando Magic – $4,500

Fournier should be a player you can count on for at least 20 fantasy points or so. Outside of a few players like James Harden, Victor Oladipo and C.J. McCollum, there are really not a lot of the top names in action tonight at shooting guard, so this may be where you opt to go cheaper.

Since the beginning of March, Fournier has been a consistent fantasy option as he’s scored fewer than 20 fantasy points only four times (in a span of 17 games). He’s shown that he can get hot as well as he recorded 22 points, three assists and two rebounds on Sunday against the Memphis Grizzlies.

Honorable Mention: James Ennis – $3,500

SF: Maurice Harkless, Portland Trail Blazers – $4,100

Harkless is another player who has greatly benefited from an increased role. After playing sparingly for most of the season, Harkless has started the past eight games in a row for the Blazers and has been a solid fantasy option in the starting lineup.

Harkless is coming off of his best fantasy performance of the season after recording 20 points, a career-high 16 rebounds, two assists and two steals last night for the Blazers, which was good for 48.5 fantasy points. In 11 games as a starter, Harkless is averaging 13.2 points, 7.5 rebounds, 1.1 steals and nearly one block per game. During his current stretch as a starter, he’s averaging 29.1 fantasy points per game.

Honorable Mention: Jordan Hamilton – $4,200

PF: Thomas Robinson, Brooklyn Nets – $4,700

We’re seeing many teams having to go with some of their deeper role players and Robinson fits that bill. He’s seen a huge spike in playing time over the past week or so as he’s earned the start in three out of the Nets’ last four games. He’s averaging 13.3 points and 12.3 rebounds during that stretch, which has been good for 36 fantasy points per game.

Robinson is a good candidate to earn the bonus points DraftKings hands out for double-doubles as he’s turned in four-straight double-double performances. It seems like a safe bet to continue to ride with Robinson in your lineups until he cools off. With just five games remaining for the Nets, keep Robinson on your radar as the regular season winds down.

Honorable Mention: Markieff Morris – $5,300

C: Cody Zeller, Charlotte Hornets – $4,200

Zeller has been playing very well over the past week or so for the Hornets. He’s turned in four-straight outings with at least 20 fantasy points, including back-to-back performances with over 30 points last week.

He turned in one of his better all around performances of the season on Sunday, recording eight points, six rebounds and five steals against the Cleveland Cavaliers. With several of the top centers in action tonight, you may want to slide Zeller into your utility spot.

Honorable Mention: Mason Plumlee – $4,400

UTIL: Elfrid Payton, Orlando Magic – $5,600

Payton has been playing better in recent weeks after having an up-and-down season. Payton has scored at least 25 fantasy points in each of his last seven games. During that stretch, Payton recorded his first triple-double of the year, scoring 20 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists, which was good for 53.5 fantasy points.

Given his ability to rebound and distribute the ball, he can go off on any given night and come close to notching another triple-double. If you are in need of a utility player or another guard, Payton could be your guy.

 

If you are taking our advice tonight, let me know how your team did by reaching out to me on Twitter, @CodyTaylorNBA.

 

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Draft Kings

DraftKings Preview: Best Value Plays 3/30

Who are the best bargain plays on DraftKings? Here are a number of guys cheaper than $6,000 to play.

Cody Taylor

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Wednesday in the NBA is typically one of the busiest nights of the week as most teams are in action. There are nine games set to tip off tonight, leaving you with plenty of options when building your DraftKings lineups.

The key to winning in DraftKings is having some cheaper players on your rosters who will perform well and allow you to afford players like Stephen Curry, Hassan Whiteside and Kawhi Leonard among others. We’re here to help you set your lineups by highlighting several players who seem poised to do well given their recent success or upcoming matchup.

If you haven’t done so already, be sure to enter our DraftKings league before 7 p.m. ET tonight. It is $3 to play (or FREE for new users) and it has a $10,000 first-place prize (and a $100,000 total prize pool). Click here to draft your team. Here are six bargain players to keep an eye on tonight – all of whom will cost you less than $6,000:

PG: Toney Douglas, New Orleans Pelicans – $4,900

It seems as though just about any player you can get your hands on from the Pelicans could be a safe bet. The team announced on Tuesday that Jrue Holiday and Alonzo Gee will miss the rest of the season, which leaves the team with seven players on the injured reserve out for the rest of the year.

Douglas comes in as a solid option for you tonight and he won’t break your budget. In his increased role, he’s become a very reliable fantasy option as he’s scored at least 20 fantasy points in 10 out of his last 11 outings. If you’re looking for a cheap option at point guard, Douglas could be your guy.

Honorable Mention: Shelvin Mack – $6,000

SG: Josh Richardson, Miami HEAT – $4,700

Richardson has benefited from an increased role with the team in recent weeks. His minutes per game have increased from 15.7 in January to a season-high 29.1 minutes per game in March. He’s averaging 12.8 points, 2.6 rebounds and 2.1 assists during the month of March.

He earned his second start of the season for Miami on Monday against the Brooklyn Nets in place of a sick Goran Dragic. Richardson would be in line to earn the start again tonight against the Los Angeles Lakers if Dragic can’t go, but Richardson should still be a great option for you even if Dragic does play. Miami has Dragic listed as questionable for tonight’s game, so keep an eye on his status closer to tip off.

Honorable Mention: J.J. Redick – $4,700

SF: Mirza Teletovic, Phoenix Suns – $4,700

With only a couple of the top small forwards in action tonight, Teletovic could be an option for you if you want to go cheaper here in order to save of your money for some other players. Teletovic and the Suns face off against a Milwaukee Bucks team that ranks 29th against opposing small forwards.

He’s been a reliable option over the past week or so as he’s turned in five-straight outings with at least 20 fantasy points. During that stretch, Teletovic has averaged 15 points and 5.2 rebounds for the Suns.

Honorable Mention: Matt Barnes – $5,300

PF: JaMychal Green, Memphis Grizzlies – $5,000

Green is another guy to target tonight on a very favorable matchup against a Denver Nuggets team that ranks 28th against opposing power forwards. Green has proven that he can contribute big games, as he’s turned in some performances with over 20 points for the Grizzlies.

There are a lot of the top power forwards in action tonight, so Green may be a guy you want to put in your forward or utility slots. The Grizzlies have been decimated by injuries this season so Green will have plenty of opportunities during games to contribute.

Honorable Mention: Patrick Patterson – $3,900

C: Jonas Valanciunas, Toronto Raptors – $5,100

Valanciunas has put together a solid week of performances as he’s scored at least 20 fantasy points in four-straight games. He’s a prime candidate to earn the bonus points DraftKings hands out for double-doubles as he’s recorded 19 double-doubles this season.

Valanciunas faces a great matchup tonight as the Atlanta Hawks are the fourth-worst team in the league against opposing centers. He could be a great option for your team as a utility player as well.

Honorable Mention: Bismack Biyombo – $4,300

UTIL: D.J. Augustin, Denver Nuggets – $4,700

If you took our advice on Augustin last week, he turned in a solid outing for you. Last week against the Philadelphia 76ers, Augustin recorded 22 fantasy points after having nine points, five assists, two assists and two steals for the Nuggets.

After that outing, he turned in performances with 39.8 and 41.5 fantasy points. If you are in need of a cheap utility guy, Augustin could be your guy since he’s been playing so well as of late.

If you are taking our advice tonight, let me know how your team did by reaching out to me on Twitter, @CodyTaylorNBA.

*****

We encourage you to give these players a look as you build your starting lineups for tonight. Here are two contests you can enter tonight:

$100,000 Hot Shot:
– Make every shot and rebound more exciting
– $10,000 first-place prize and a $100,000 prize pool
– $3 to play or FREE for new users
– Must join by Wednesday, March 30th at 7:30pm EST
– Salary cap style drafting: $50,000 to select PG, SG, SF, PF, C, G, F and Utility

$5 Double Up:
– Make every shot and rebound more exciting
– $5 to play – finish in the top half of the contest and you double your money for a $10 prize
– Must join by Wednesday, March 30th at 7:30pm EST
– Salary cap style drafting: $50,000 to select PG, SG, SF, PF, C, G, F and Utility

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