NBA Starting Five – 3/17

March Madness is underway and our brief 3-day losing streak is behind us! Before I get into tonight’s starting five, I will recap the lineup that we sent out to our subscribers last night.

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Because of the slate size, it was hard to get a player under 10% owned (other than Vucevic at 7.1%), but what really helped separate our lineup from the field was the value we chose and how they produced. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson erupted for 33 FDP (7.5x value), Joe Ingles got the job done with 20.8 (5.2x value) and Mo Speights struggled, but his ownership was high enough to cover his dud. That opened up room for us to spend up in the rest of our lineup and roster some really nice plays that weren’t extremely chalky (Mike Conley, Klay Thompson, Chris Paul, Nikola Jokic). Will Barton, even though he was rather chalky, erupted and anchored our line as well. Vucevic was a bit disappointing, as the other two centers at $7,700 erupted (Rudy Gobert and Marc Gasol), but at the end of the night we cashed in all formats.

We’ll look to start a hot streak again and put the skid behind us with tonight’s 8-game St. Patty’s Day slate. We’ve already got some injury news that has opened up a lot of value, as Isaiah Thomas has been ruled out for the Celtics’ next two games and Dwyane Wade and Eric Bledsoe have been shut down for the season. With this in mind, here is my Fanduel Starting Five for tonight’s NBA slate:

Point Guard

Tyler Ulis ($5,400)

With Eric Bledsoe shut down for the season with knee soreness, the point guard position is now in the hands of Tyler Ulis, the 5’9″ rookie out of Kentucky. Ulis is fresh off an impressive 13-point, 13-assist performance in 39 minutes of action last game against the Kings, and it’s far from his first impressive outing this season. While he may not see that level of playing time on a nightly basis, he should be a sure thing for at least 30-35 minutes and his per-36 minutes this season are extremely impressive. He’s posting an average of 13.6 points, 7.1 assists, 2.7 rebounds and 2 steals per-36 minutes. This game against the Magic carries a 220 over/under with the Suns favored by 2.5. The Magic haven’t necessarily been tough on point guards lately, allowing 52.2 FDP per game over their last five games. If Ulis can get at least 30 minutes of action, there’s no reason he won’t eclipse at least 5x value.

Point Guard that I’ll most likely pair Elis with: Terry Rozier ($4,100)

Other options: John Wall ($10,400) – GPP only, Elfrid Payton ($7,200), Jeremy Lin ($5,900), Rajon Rondo ($5,800), Brandon Jennings ($4,400) – only if Wall happens to sit

Shooting Guard

Avery Bradley ($6,400)

While many people are likely to jump on Marcus Smart with Isaiah Thomas out, I’m electing to spend $100 more and pivot to Avery Bradley. Without Thomas in the lineup, Bradley sees a 2.9% usage bump up to 25.8%, the highest on the team. He finally eclipsed 30 minutes last game against the Timberwolves, posting 18 points, 4 assists and 3 rebounds over 32 minutes on 7-12 shooting. With Thomas now out, you can expect to see a rise in his field goal attempts, assists, and minutes – a huge bump for fantasy purposes. While Marcus Smart is sliding over to the point guard spot, Bradley is still the far more offensive-minded player and will likely be the catalyst in that offense this weekend. The Nets are a dream matchup for any NBA player and they sit third worst in the entire NBA in terms of DvP against shooting guards, allowing 44.4 FDP per game to the position. The spread of this game is still 8 in Boston’s favor, but the Nets also lead the league in possessions per game and will likely give Bradley an ample amount of opportunities to produce across the stat sheet even if this game gets out of hand.

Shooting Guard that I’ll most likely pair Bradley with: Giannis Antetokounmpo ($10,500)

Other options: James Harden ($11,800), Bradley Beal ($8,500) – getting pricey with Wall probable, Devin Booker ($6,900), Marcus Smart ($6,300), Seth Curry ($5,600), Evan Fournier ($5,500)

Small Forward

Jimmy Butler ($8,700)

Usually people know the drill with Jimmy Butler when Dwyane Wade is out, but because of his inconsistent play as of late, I expect his ownership to be lower than it normally would be in this situation. This season without Wade in the lineup, Butler sees a increase in his usage (up to 33.5%) while carrying a 26.5% assist rate and 10.1% rebounding rate. His per-36 minute numbers without Wade on the court currently sit at 27.6 points, 6.6 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 1.9 steals while averaging 45.4 FDP. For his current salary, that is an average of 5.21x value, something you’d LOVE to get out of a stud. The Wizards wing defense provides a rather neutral matchup, but with so much of the offensive responsibility falling on Butler’s shoulders, it’ll be extremely hard for him to not go nuts tonight.

Small Forward that I’ll most likely pair Butler with: Brandon Ingram ($4,400)

Other options: Khris Middleton ($6,600), TJ Warren ($6,300), Jae Crowder ($5,600), Rondae Hollis-Jefferson ($4,400), Tony Snell ($4,200)

Power Forward

Julius Randle ($6,800)

The Lakers are going through a youth movement and Randle has been one of the primary beneficiaries. His averages over his last 5 games have been impressive, sitting at 17.2 points, 10.8 rebounds and 4.2 assists in 31.1 minutes per game (and this includes his 7 point, 8 rebound dud against the Nuggets two games ago) with a team-leading 26.3% usage rating. He’s a consistent triple-double threat and blew up for a career high 32 points in his last outing against the Rockets. The Bucks have struggled a bit with power forwards since Jabari Parker went down (yes, Parker was actually helping a bit on defense), as they’ve surrendered 43.8 FDP per game to the position. By no means is this an ELITE matchup, but the potential for an up-tempo high-scoring game is there, and Randle figures to be a large part of that.

Power Forward that I’ll most likely pair Randle with: Nikola Mirotic ($4,300)

Other options: Anthony Davis ($11,200), Dirk Nowitzki ($6,300), Aaron Gordon ($5,600), Gorgui Dieng ($5,300), Marquese Chriss ($4,800)


DeMarcus Cousins ($9,400)

Even with his $400 price increase, Boogie is still criminally underpriced. In the two games since being priced all the way down to $9,000 by Fanduel, Cousins has averaged 20.5 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists, 2.5 steals and one block per game in 30 minutes. The minutes could be higher, yes, but a player of this caliber priced this low? I’m not complaining. Houston has been downright brutal against centers this season, sitting third worst in the NBA against the position from a fantasy perspective, allowing an average of 50.1 FDP per game. While it’s unknown if Cousins or Davis will be the one to go off tonight, I’ll take the $2,000+ savings and take Boogie all day. The spread of this game is currently only 4.5 in favor of the Rockets with a 229.5 over/under. With an over/under that high and Cousins still carrying a 33% usage rate, he’s a staple for my lineups tonight at a bargain price.

Other options: Nikola Vucevic ($7,700), Brook Lopez ($7,000), Greg Monroe ($6,500), Al Horford ($6,500), Alan Williams ($5,600), Ivica Zubac ($4,100) – best value even given his last dud


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