by Owen O’Brien (follow Owen on Twitter @0wen0Brien)
It was a busy week on the basketball court and on FanDuel as 30 teams worth of NBA players danced their dance, some wrangling for postseason position, some simply playing out the last breaths of a dying year, but all fueling the flames of fantasy glory and defeat. The stars were out in full force this time around with some of the biggest names in fantasy basketball leading the charge and producing like the dependable institutions of fantasy scoring that we’ve come to know and trust when building our lineups. With that in mind and more 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 20th and ending with a shower of prize money on Super Wednesday, March 26th.
Top Performers (Most Fantasy Points Per Game)
All data covers games played between 3/20/2014 – 3/26/2014. Player prices shown are as of 3/27/2014.
1. Kevin Durant – OKC, SF ($12,000) – 57.7 fantasy points per game
2. DeMarcus Cousins – SAC, C ($9,900) – 57.5 fantasy points per game
3. James Harden – HOU, SG ($9,400) – 50.1 fantasy points per game
4. Anthony Davis – NOR, PF ($10,900) – 49.6 fantasy points per game
5. Blake Griffin – LAC, PF ($10,300) – 46.9 fantasy points per game
6. Al Jefferson – CHA, C ($9,500) – 46.7 fantasy points per game
7. LeBron James – MIA, SF ($10,300) – 45.4 fantasy points per game
8. Carmelo Anthony – NYK, PF ($10,200) – 44.0 fantasy points per game
9. Kevin Love – MIN, PF ($11,600) – 43.2 fantasy points per game
10. Kyle Lowry – TOR, PG ($9,100) – 41.9 fantasy points per game
It was a week of strange normalcy with Kevin Durant sitting atop the scoring list and not a single player priced under $9,100 in the top ten performers. The Durantula hadn’t been the top scorer in either of the two previous weeks thanks to monstrous efforts from Anthony Davis, but Durant has now led the NBA in scoring in three of the last seven weeks. That says a lot about the risk associated with paying a full $12,000 to have him in your FanDuel lineup, but he certainly paid dividends this time around with two games in the high 50’s and a jaw-dropping 74.9 fantasy point explosion against the Raptors on Friday.
This was the first time in the last seven weeks that there wasn’t a single player priced under $9,000 on the top ten performers list. Chalk that up in part to FanDuel’s player pricing becoming more and more accurate as the season goes on and additional data accrues, but also to the fact that we’re getting into crunch time with the season drawing to a close and teams fighting for playoff spots and positioning. That tends to keep the ball flowing primarily through a team’s best player, so as long as they’re not being rested the proven stars are more than ever becoming vital components to a successful FanDuel lineup.
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. Gorgui Dieng – MIN, C ($5,100) – 37.0 fantasy points per game
2. Henry Sims – PHI, C ($5,300) – 35.8 fantasy points per game
3. Drew Gooden – WAS, PF ($3,500) – 22.4 fantasy points per game
4. Jordan Hill – LAL, PF ($4,900) – 30.5 fantasy points per game
5. Richard Jefferson – UTA, SF ($3,800) – 23.6 fantasy points per game
6. Reggie Jackson – OKC, PG ($5,600) – 34.5 fantasy points per game
7. Dion Waiters – CLE, SG ($6,000) – 36.6 fantasy points per game
8. Matthew Dellavedova – CLE, PG ($4,000) – 24.4 fantasy points per game
9. Samuel Dalembert – DAL, C ($4,700) – 28.1 fantasy points per game
10. Omer Asik – HOU, C ($4,000) – 23.5 fantasy points per game
Gorgui Dieng continued his meteoric rise to fantasy relevance in replacement of the injured Nikola Pekovic with four helpful games last week that saw him average 15.5 rebounds per game and top 32 fantasy points three times. Pekovic’s return continues to be pushed back, likely due to both Dieng’s dominance and Minnesota’s lost season. It’s starting to feel like the T-Wolves would be better off letting Pekovic rest his ankle for the rest of the season so they can see exactly what they have in Dieng. Imagine a healthy frontcourt of Love, Pekovic, and Dieng next year given some time to practice and scheme! It’s possible Pekovic does return, and maybe even quite soon, so keep an eye on the news to see whether Dieng remains a must play over the coming days.
Beyond Dieng, going cheap at center has been a favorable FanDuel strategy of late with four low-priced centers on the top value list this week. Henry Sims joined Dieng in being a true bargain stud with three games of 32+ fantasy points of his own last week and an average of 11.7 rebounds per game as the last big man standing in Philadelphia. Between those two options alone it’s no wonder the ownership percentages of top centers like Al Jefferson, Joakim Noah, and DeMarcus Cousins have been so low. A shout-out must also be given to old man Drew Gooden for making the top ten value list for the third straight week while managing to keep his minimum price tag of $3,500 on FanDuel.
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. Jeff Green – BOS, SF ($6,300) – 17.4 fantasy points per game
2. Ersan Ilyasova – MIL, PF ($6,000) – 16.7 fantasy points per game
3. Dwyane Wade – MIA, SG ($7,800) – 22.6 fantasy points per game
4. Pau Gasol – LAL, PF ($8,500) – 24.6 fantasy points per game
5. Spencer Hawes – CLE, C ($6,100) – 18.0 fantasy points per game
6. Lance Stephenson – IND, SG ($7,000) – 20.9 fantasy points per game
7. Carlos Boozer – CHI, PF ($5,700) – 17.6 fantasy points per game
8. Kevin Martin – MIN, SG ($6,000) – 18.8 fantasy points per game
9. Serge Ibaka – OKC, PF ($7,800) – 25.3 fantasy points per game
10. Gerald Green – PHO, SG ($5,700) – 18.6 fantasy points per game
Jeff Green didn’t have much of an opportunity to do his usual damage last week with only two games on the schedule and playing an average of just 26 minutes in those games. That’s not necessarily an excuse for his sub-40% shooting and lack of customary contributions in other categories, but it’s also too small a sample size to doom him to failure in upcoming contests. After all, this is a player who scored 48.7 fantasy points in a game as recently as March 16 against New Orleans. One single-digit scoring performance, particularly a 9.4 fantasy point outing on a Super Wednesday, might make some FanDuel users shy away from Green. He’s always been a bit inconsistent and is currently dealing with a minor neck strain, so I’m not saying go all-in next time out, but Green is definitely a sneaky option for tournament play if people fade him based solely on recent results.
The same can be said for other options on this bust list, although it’s important to understand the story of why each player finds themselves in this position today. Players like Ersan Ilyasova, Dwyane Wade, and Pau Gasol are dealing with health issues that cast a cloud over their short-term futures, while guys like Gerald Green and Carlos Boozer are dealing with reduced minutes due to the return or rise of other players on their teams. If you’re going to mine for diamonds in this pile of dirt make sure to get the full information before honoring any of them with a spot in your FanDuel lineup.
Big Winner Spotlight – Kmidget Dwarfs the Super Slam, Turns $25 Into $15,000
Super Wednesday night on FanDuel is primetime in daily NBA fantasy and the biggest prize in the pool is first place in the $100K Wednesday NBA Super Slam, a tournament that every FanDuel user should take a serious look at entering each week. Kmidget did just that on March 26th and put up a score of 359.2 fantasy points, good enough to turn a $25 entry fee into a cool $15,000 in prize money in one night. Here’s a look at the high-scoring team:
Deron Williams ($7,000) was avoided by most FanDuel users on Wednesday due to concerns that he would miss the Nets game against the Bobcats with an illness. By the time it was confirmed he would start, many had already made up their minds that they were rolling with a guy like Jeff Teague for the same price and a more seemingly guaranteed outlook. Well, Teague ended up a terminal dud with only 10.2 fantasy points while Williams scored almost 20 actual points in the first quarter alone and ended up with a fine 44.3 fantasy point night. Williams hasn’t been the passer he once was as he’s needed to carry more of a scoring load this season, but with over 40 minutes played in three straight games its clear he remains the primary focal point and court leader in Brooklyn. He’s playing well with four 40+ fantasy nights in his last six games, so ride the hot hand while it lasts.
Anthony Morrow ($3,500) is another player whose Wednesday outlook was helped by relatively late-breaking news as Eric Gordon, Brian Roberts, and Austin Rivers all were declared out for the Pelicans game against the Clippers. Morrow is one of those all-points and nothing else type of fantasy players, but when you’re guaranteed a big allotment of minutes that can be enough to generate considerable scoring on FanDuel. Priced at only $3,500 and blessed with a rare start, Morrow was fantastic value for those users nimble enough to work him into their lineups once the news was announced. By contributing an incredible 10 fantasy points per thousand dollars in salary and freeing up tons of money to spend at other positions, Morrow played an essential role for the big winners of Super Wednesday. It’s unlikely we’ll see this kind of game from him again with other Pelicans returning soon, but he’s a great example of the kind of minimum priced option to look for when impactful news comes out in that special hour before contests lock.
Al-Farouq Aminu ($4,200) benefitted similarly to Morrow from the injuries and illnesses in New Orleans. As evidenced by his slightly higher ownership percentage, Aminu seemed to be a better bet to see a noticeable uptick in stats with his newfound minutes given his multi-category contributions. Although he ended up a few points shy of the high-scoring Morrow, Aminu definitely did not disappoint with a full and diverse line that played well against his low price to the tune of 7.6 fantasy points per thousand dollars in salary. That was the second best value mark of any player in this lineup behind Morrow’s crazy 10.0, and further supports the notion that the low-priced dark horses are the true difference makers in any FanDuel lineup.
Derrick Favors ($6,500) overcame a difficult matchup against the sturdy Memphis frontcourt to deliver a helpful dose of fantasy points for the small 1.4% minority of FanDuel users that included the Utah big man in their Super Slam lineups. Favors has struggled to put his diverse talents together this season, often ending up with a big scoring night or a big rebounding night but not both. On the rare occasion that he has put it all together he’s shown the potential to be a fantasy stud someday. Prescient users saw yesterday as that day and looked past the matchup to see the overall gains Favors has made since recently moving from center to power forward in Utah. He still needs to add some depth to his offensive game to make it more consistent and reliable from a fantasy perspective, but priced in the mid-range he’s an intriguing option on nights when you want to spend more at other positions.
Darrell Arthur ($4,000) is not a name that lights up the eyes of the fantasy world, but he is playing 25-30 minutes per game most nights for a fast-paced Denver Nuggets team that scores more points in an average game than Golden State or Miami. I can’t say I see a clear story for playing Arthur on any given night, which explains his 0.5% ownership percentage in the Super Slam, but it goes to show the kind of deep-sleeper that can end up winning you a big tournament on FanDuel. On the back of a staggering defensive effort with four steals and three blocks, Arthur managed to put up the third best value mark in this lineup at 6.8 points per thousand dollars in salary, outvaluing the bigger names at his position by a significant margin.
DeMarcus Cousins ($9,900) showed why even when there are phenomenal cheap options available at a position, sometimes you still can’t do better than going with a truly established stud particularly at a frontcourt position. Cousins’ big 66 fantasy point line translates to 6.66 points per thousand dollars in salary, which means he almost matched Arthur in per dollar value despite costing almost 2.5 times as much. With super low ownership by just 6.7% of entrants in the Super Slam, that kind of value spread across almost 17% of your total salary cap can be all you need to get an advantage in cash games and goes a long way to lifting you higher in large-field tournament standings. It looks like there will be a few cheap center options remaining on the board for the upcoming week, so it will be a difficult and interesting decision for FanDuel users to choose between the bargain values or the ever-dangerous elite options like Cousins.
Meanwhile, sub-par value games from John Wall ($8,700) and Tyreke Evans ($7,900) and a solid but not spectacular game from Paul George ($8,100) were enough to round out this deep and potent lineup. Kmidget took down the Super Slam like a true champion finishing in first place by a comfortable margin of 11.5 points ahead of second-place finisher Nba2kfan, who still walked away with $7,500 in runner-up prize money for his efforts.
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 $100K Wed NBA Super Slam tournament that takes place on Super Wednesday April 2nd for your next chance to win the $15,000 first place prize.