FanDuel NBA Week In Review (Thu. 3/6/2014 – Wed. 3/12/2014)
by Owen O’Brien (follow Owen on Twitter @0wen0Brien)
A lot can happen in one week of fantasy NBA action on FanDuel. One of the best weapons in a FanDuel user’s arsenal is hindsight, and it’s important to use it to take stock of recent trends to help inform your lineup decisions for upcoming contests. With that in mind here’s a look back at the top performers, best values, and biggest busts of the week that was in the NBA starting on Thursday March 6th and ending with a shower of prize money on Super Wednesday March 12th.
Top Performers (Most Fantasy Points Per Game)
All data covers games played between 3/6/2014 – 3/12/2014. Player prices shown are as of 3/13/2014.
1. Anthony Davis – NOR, PF ($9,900) – 59.7 fantasy points per game
2. James Harden – HOU, SG ($10,000) – 55.6 fantasy points per game
3. Kevin Love – MIN, PF ($11,800) – 55.0 fantasy points per game
4. Kevin Durant – OKC, SF ($12,000) – 50.3 fantasy points per game
5. Russell Westbrook – OKC, PG ($8,700) – 48.7 fantasy points per game
6. Carmelo Anthony – NYK, PF ($10,300) – 46.6 fantasy points per game
7. Blake Griffin – LAC, PF ($9,600) – 45.5 fantasy points per game
8. Kyrie Irving – CLE, PG ($8,500) – 42.0 fantasy points per game
9. Chris Paul – LAC, PG ($9,300) – 41.7 fantasy points per game
10. LeBron James – MIA, SF ($11,100) – 41.2 fantasy points per game
Anthony Davis is simply on another level right now, topping the league in fantasy scoring with an average of nearly 60 fantasy points over the last week. In what was generally a down week for scoring The Brow dropped 67.9 fantasy points on Denver bookended by 58.3 and 53 point games against Milwaukee and Memphis respectively. Add in the 51.5 he put up against the Lakers in his final game of the previous week and you’ve got a consistent dominator with nearly limitless upside. Davis is getting you 30 fantasy points per game by scoring alone these days, and the 16.4 fantasy points he generated per game in rebounds last week imply a floor well above 40 fantasy points if he keeps playing 38-45 minutes per game. He’s young enough and important enough to the team to do that, and when you add in his tremendous contributions on the defensive end you’re looking at a top 5 fantasy player when healthy.
Backcourt players are making some fantasy noise these days with three point guards and a shooting guard in the top 10 scorers last week. While it wouldn’t be a surprise to see all four fall off the list next week, it’s a reminder that the top guards can still be deciding factors on nights when the big men fall silent. Inconsistency is part of the game for backcourt players but their FanDuel prices reflect that and it’s possible to stack quite a few notable names at the top of your lineup on days when there is bargain value available for your frontcourt roster spots.
Best Values (Most Fantasy Points Per Game Per $1,000 in Salary)
Only includes players with at least 2 games played over the last week.
1. Ryan Kelly – LAL, SF ($4,500) – 32.0 fantasy points per game
2. Henry Sims – PHI, C ($3,800) – 26.5 fantasy points per game
3. Shaun Livingston – BKN, PG ($3,900) – 24.1 fantasy points per game
4. Kris Humphries – BOS, PF ($4,800) – 29.0 fantasy points per game
5. Anthony Davis – NOR, PF ($9,900) – 59.7 fantasy points per game
6. Anthony Morrow – NOR, SG ($3,800) – 22.6 fantasy points per game
7. Kenneth Faried – DEN, PF ($6,900) – 39.9 fantasy points per game
8. Drew Gooden – WAS, PF ($3,500) – 19.9 fantasy points per game
9. Khris Middleton – MIL, SF ($5,300) – 30.0 fantasy points per game
10. Tim Hardaway Jr. – NYK, SG ($3,500) – 19.7 fantasy points per game
Ryan Kelly rapidly returned to relevance last week with two huge games as the Lakers carousel of bargains continued to spin. Kelly rejoined the starting lineup late in the week at the expense of Kent Bazemore, who himself was just coming off a run of fantastic unexpected value. The Lakers have been such an appetizing matchup for opponents this year that it’s easy to forget that someone in Los Angeles other than Pau Gasol is going to have the ball in their hands quite a bit each night. With so few name brand players on the Lakers roster, whoever it is that’s getting those shots and minutes will be priced low enough to offer solid value on FanDuel. Lately that’s been Kelly, and he has the tools for his production to continue to easily outpace his price as long as Mike D’Antoni sticks with him.
The top value list is a great way to find those cheap plays to fill out the last spot on your roster, but when a mid-to-high priced player shows up on the list it’s even more important to take note. With Anthony Davis providing 6.03 fantasy points per thousand dollars in salary and occupying almost 17% of your total salary cap, that’s a significant chunk of your investment returning superior value. In fact, that’s a pace for 361.8 fantasy points projected across the full $60,000 roster. Add in a guy like Kenneth Faried priced at $6,900 and rolling at 5.78 fantasy points per thousand dollars in salary and you’ve used up 28% of your cap at a value-pace of 355 fantasy points. That’s a great start and gives you the ability to absorb a bad game or two and still compete.
Biggest Busts (Fewest Fantasy Points Per Game Per $1,000 in Salary)
Only includes players priced at or above $5,500 and with at least 2 games played last week.
1. Anderson Varejao – CLE, C ($6,600) – 12.0 fantasy points per game
2. Terrence Jones – HOU, PF ($5,600) – 13.1 fantasy points per game
3. Lance Stephenson – IND, SG ($7,200) – 20.1 fantasy points per game
4. Carlos Boozer – CHI, PF ($5,600) – 16.0 fantasy points per game
5. Randy Foye – DEN, SG ($6,300) – 18.0 fantasy points per game
6. Trevor Ariza – WAS, SF ($6,900) – 19.8 fantasy points per game
7. John Wall – WAS, PG ($8,900) – 27.2 fantasy points per game
8. Vince Carter – DAL, SG ($5,500) – 17.1 fantasy points per game
9. Robin Lopez – POR, C ($6,000) – 19.0 fantasy points per game
10. Victor Oladipo – ORL, SG ($6,800) – 22.0 fantasy points per game
Anderson Varejao can’t really be blamed for topping the list in bust status over the last week as he’s returning from a tough back injury and playing seriously limited minutes. As bad as his value score was last week on a per game basis at just 1.82 fantasy points per thousand dollars in salary, it was pretty fantastic on a per minute basis as he had more fantasy points than minutes played over the two games since he returned. With Spencer Hawes starting in front of him and the back injury lingering, it will be tough for the usually monstrous Varejao to reach value any time soon on FanDuel. As his price begins to erode and his minutes continue to rise into the 20’s, he could easily turn into a top bargain play, but we’re definitely not there yet.
It didn’t take long for the Terrence Jones renaissance to be squashed by the fact that he’s just not one of the top 3 or 4 players on the Rockets roster. Coming off a terrible cold spell Jones had a few productive games at an amenable FanDuel price, but his minutes quickly dried up and he’s been quiet even when on the court. He’s another guy that should be watched as his price continues to fall and only a lack of playing time really stands in his way, but I expect several others on this week’s bust list to bounce back much quicker.
Big Winner Spotlight – In_gods_hands Lands the Super Slam, Turns $25 Into $12,000
Super Wednesday night on FanDuel is primetime in daily NBA fantasy and the biggest prize in the pool is first place in the $110K Super Slam, a tournament that every FanDuel user should take a serious look at entering each week. In_gods_hands did just that on March 12th and put up a score of 333.6 fantasy points, good enough to turn a $25 entry fee into a cool $12,000 in prize money in one night. Here’s a look at the high-scoring team:
Kyrie Irving ($8,500) has been mercurial in his performance of late with a broad range of scoring outcomes over the last few weeks, seeming to primarily turn in performances either well above or well below value. That trend was interrupted Wednesday as the Cleveland floor general was just about right in line with what you need from him at 5.38 fantasy points per thousand dollars in salary. That’s a 322 point pace and even more helpful given that he was owned by only 6.4% of entries in the Super Slam. Quite a few users were all in on Isaiah Thomas and Michael Carter-Williams, and the tough matchup for the Cavaliers against defensive-minded Phoenix sealed the deal for a widespread fade of Irving. With his scoring and defense in full swing and a triple-double in reach on any night, Irving will likely be much more widely owned next time around.
Rudy Gay ($7,700) was the one expensive player on the Kings that actually came through in providing value against a hapless Sixers defense that was supposed to yield huge games to multiple Kings on Wednesday. Even Gay’s outing was probably disappointing to some users, but at least it represented 5.57 fantasy points per thousand dollars in salary and absolutely left a positive impact on any lineup that included Sacramento’s small forward. It could have also been much worse if Gay hadn’t managed to make it to the free throw line for a staggering 19 attempts and hit 16 of them. His 48.9% ownership level dulled his impact to some degree, but with so many different Kings on the minds of FanDuel users Gay still offered a competitive advantage. He’ll likely continue to translate his high usage rate and willingness to shoot from anywhere anytime into solid value with the occasional explosive dud going forward.
Paul Pierce ($5,300) showed he can still play at a championship caliber level if only for one night as he hit 75% of his shots en route to 29 points on the road against the Miami Heat on Wednesday. The decline has been immediate and significant for the ex-Celtic veterans that came to Brooklyn this year, but Pierce has had his moments and it’s mostly his unselfishness that holds him back from reaching greater statistical heights. With a low salary and an unpredictability that lies outside the comfort zone of most users, Pierce is the kind of wild card that can be the deciding factor in winning a large-field tournament on FanDuel. His play and production have improved of late, but that’s easily overlooked in the context of an otherwise disappointing season, which left just 3.1% of users in the Super Slam in possession of The Truth.
Amir Johnson ($5,200) put up the most valuable outing of the night for this lineup with 7.17 fantasy points per thousand dollars in salary on the back of a near double-double and his usual presence on the defensive end. He was owned by almost 17% of entries in the Super Slam as his minutes have picked up with Patrick Patterson out and he faced a favorable matchup against Detroit. The Pistons have a fantastic trio of big men, but they don’t play very good defense and were no match for Amir on Wednesday. The Raptors don’t have a ton of scoring options beyond DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry, so Johnson should get more opportunities to carry the offensive load, something that combines very well with his traditional contributions in rebounds, steals, and blocks to offer excellent value for a player in his price range.
Nikola Vucevic ($7,500) bounced back from a poor effort against Milwaukee to drop his third 45+ fantasy point outing in his last seven games against the fast-paced Nuggets. You can count on Vucevic to get double-digit rebounds as much or more than any player in the NBA, but his shooting has traditionally been limited and pedestrian a la Andre Drummond. That’s changed of late with Vucevic racking up 18 or more points scored in six of his last eight games. That makes him an immense threat to offer plus value on a nightly basis until his salary catches up, something that only 13% of users prioritized when setting their lineups for the Super Slam. It’s easy to understand why more than three times as many users rolled with DeMarcus Cousins against Philadelphia, but this is the kind of result that clearly shows the matchup alone doesn’t tell the whole story of what a player will do on any given night.
Meanwhile, Chris Paul ($9,300), Manu Ginobili ($4,800), and Markieff Morris ($7,100) each provided plus value for their price to help In_gods_hands overcome the single bust in this lineup in Wesley Matthews ($6,000). By going against the grain with four players owned by fewer than 9% of entries in the Super Slam and a balanced roster without a single player priced higher than $9,300 or below $4,800, In_gods_hands took first place in comfortable fashion finishing 4.9 points ahead of Bboyle21 in second place.
Make sure to visit FanDuel to enter the $90K Fri NBA Primetime Slam tournament if you want to take your shot at another big prize ($10,000 for first place). And don’t forget to keep an eye out for the next $110K Wed NBA Super Slam tournament that takes place on Super Wednesday March 19th for your next chance to win the $12,000 first place prize.
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