• Welcome back Hoop Ballers! It is Friday, March 1 and we have seven games to open the new month. As always we have some top-tier studs on the board in LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo. They face off against each other in the late game, and both are priced up but still in play. I’d lean LeBron given Giannis’ playing time concerns, but I would not be surprised to see the Greek Freak play with some fire against LeBron.

    Nonetheless, we have plenty of other spots in we could target and a ton of high paced games and pivots. More value will surely open up throughout the day, but as of this morning these are some of my favorite value plays on the slate.

    Point Guard

    Kemba Walker vs. Nets $8,200 – This price tag seems a tad too low. We’d expect a slight price bump given that matchup versus the Nets, but Walker’s price has actually dropped $300 since their last game. Walker will surely be a popular play and if you are looking to pivot off of him Trae Young ($8,100) has been hot and has a similar price tag.

    Elfrid Payton vs. Suns $5,600 – His lowest score over the last three games is 34.75 DK points and he has yet to hit the threshold where we fade. It’s a fantastic matchup versus a Suns team that plays at a fast pace and bleeds fantasy points. It will be hard to not have some sort of exposure to the Pelicans backcourt. Still waiting for a random triple-double from Payton and keep in mind this is a revenge game for him.

    Rajon Rondo vs. Bucks $5,000 – Rondo may fly under the radar in what will be one of the best games of the night. The Lakers have been a dumpster fire as of late and the recent play forced Luke Walton to make another change to the starting lineup. If Rondo is starting and playing 30-plus minutes we have to consider him. I don’t love the matchup for point guards, but he played 36 minutes in the Lakers’ win last game and dropped 48 DK points. I’d run to the bank with 30 DK points and take whatever else I could get from this matchup.

    Shooting Guard

    Jrue Holiday vs. Suns $7,900 – Everything I mentioned with Payton’s matchup could be said for Holiday’s. The Suns do not have a decent defender outside of Richaun Holmes. The organization mentioned limiting Holiday’s minutes going forward, but we haven’t really seen any sort of limitations on him thus far. He is averaging 43 DK points over his last over his last four games and has already dropped 46.5 DK points on this Suns team earlier in the season.

    Tyler Johnson vs. Pelicans $5,000 – Johnson has been playing well in his new threads. He is averaging 36 DK points over his last three games, one game is slightly inflated, but now we are hearing that Devin Booker is questionable with a toe injury and if he is forced to sit we should see Johnson handle plenty of minutes with increased usage. Johnson is in play for me regardless of Booker’s status, but if Booker does in fact get ruled out he becomes a chalky play. I’d also take a strong look at Josh Jackson and Kelly Oubre if Booker does sit. If Booker plays he becomes a fantastic play in this matchup.

    Pat Beverley vs. Kings $4,900 – Bev has quietly returned to the form that fantasy owners love. He’s been aggressive on defense, fighting for rebounds and playing big minutes. This is going to be one of the higher scoring games on the night and Bev is my favorite guard on the team. He’s dropped 38. 5 and 45 DK points over the last two games and scored 23.5 DK points in 25 minutes in the three games the two teams have met this season. If he were to play 35 minutes that would equal to 32.9 DK points at 0.94 DK points per minute.

    Small Forward

    Khris Middleton vs. Lakers $6,600 – Middleton has begun turning his play around following the All-Star break. Over his last four games Middleton is averaging 39 DK points. Everyone will be on LeBron and Giannis and for good reason, but this may lead to Middleton flying under the radar slightly and I don’t mind taking advantage of that.

    Jeremy Lamb vs. Nets $5,300 – Lamb has been crushing since going to the bench. In fact, he is averaging 1.24 DK points per minute since going to the bench, while his season average is 1.01 DK points per minute. It is a great matchup versus the Nets and allows us to get some exposure to this game if we are not spending up on Kemba.

    Moe Harkless vs. Raptors $3,800 – I don’t love this matchup, but Harkless has been taking advantage of the minutes left behind by an injured Evan Turner. If you need the value he’s there, but I am not in love with the play this early and looking for value to break later.

    Power Forward

    John Collins vs. Bulls $7,000 – How is Collins only $7,000 in this matchup? The Bulls play at one of the league’s fastest paces with one of the worst defenses. Collins dropped 53 DK points on this Bulls frontcourt already this season and just came out with a bang against the Timberwolves last game with 38 points and eight rebounds.

    Nikola Mirotic vs. Lakers $4,800 – This is a dream spot on paper for Mirotic, but the question is, does he see the minutes? Well, we know they are comfortable with rolling him out there for 27 minutes like we saw last game, but that was also an overtime game so will he need to play that much? Personally, I don’t care, I know the upside is there now and if this game gets out of hand early he should still see some decent run. He can provide value in limited minutes as well and while everyone will be jamming the studs into this game I am leaning towards the value.

    Jabari Parker vs. Celtics $4,700 – I will always reiterate the fact that Parker should only be played in tournaments. He is one of the better GPP values on the slate given his upside, but his floor is also extremely low and could sink lineups. The Celtics have an excellent team defense, but Parker should draw a few plus individual matchups against the Celtics second unit. I am not going overboard on Parker, but I will definitely have a share or two.

    Nemanja Bjelica vs. Clippers $3,800 – Bjelica has been phased out of the rotation for the better half of a month now, but the injury to Marvin Bagley should open up some playing time for him again. He only played 10 minutes last game, but Bagley also played 20 minutes in that game and we can’t imagine a world where the Kings want to run out Harry Giles big minutes. This puts Bjelica in play along with another name we will get to in a moment.

    Center

    Julius Randle vs. Suns $8,000 – Randle has been playing big minutes and that means big DK point totals. I am never worried about Randle burning me and his upside is immense in this game. There is not much that needs to be said here, but if for some reason we hear Anthony Davis is ruled out he would only be better (obviously).  The sky is the limit for Randle in this matchup.

    Robin Lopez vs. Hawks $4,900 – Lopez is finally seeing a price increase, but not enough to scare me off of him in this matchup. The Atlanta frontcourt is just as poor defensively as the Bulls’ and while Lopez isn’t an offensive juggernaut, he should continue playing heavy minutes and have plenty of rebounding and block upside.

    Willie Cauley-Stein vs. Clippers $4,500 – WCS will be chalky tonight with Marvin Bagley ruled out, but someone has to take advantage of the minutes and usage and over the last few weeks we have been seeing plenty of Bagley at the five. This price tag is great and so is the matchup. We target bigs against this weak Clippers frontcourt and there is no reason to shy away from it tonight, especially with this game’s total.

    Honorable Mentions:

    Kyrie Irving, Eric Bledsoe, Al Horford and Harry Giles (GPP value play)

    As always you guys can find me on Twitter @MikeApotria with any of your questions and comments. Good luck!

Fantasy News

  • Malcolm Miller - F - Toronto Raptors

    The Raptors have sent Malcom MIller to the G-League on Saturday.

    Miller will play for the Raptors 905's final regular season game. He is averaging 10.1 points, 3.5 rebounds, 1.0 steals, 0.8 blocks and 1.6 triples in the G-League this season but has only appeared in six games for the Raptors, playing very limited minutes.

    Source: Blake Murphy on Twitter

  • Justin Bibbs - G - Los Angeles Clippers

    The Clippers have signed Justin Bibbs to a second 10-day contract.

    Bibbs spent most of the first 10-day deal in the G-League and is yet to make his Clippers debut. The undrafted rookie out of Virginia Tech has G-League averages of 11.6 points, 3.1 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 0.8 steals and 1.7 triples in 29.7 minutes.

    Source: Andrew Greif on Twitter

  • Tyson Chandler - C - Los Angeles Lakers

    Tyson Chandler has no plans to retire anytime soon.

    Chandler on his future in the league says, "I feel like I got a lot left.” He is 36 years old and averaged 3.1 points and 5.6 rebounds in 15.9 minutes across 54 games this year. He will be an unrestricted free agent after this season and the 2012 Defensive Player of the Year will hope to sign the veteran's minimum deal somewhere but no longer has value in fantasy circles.

    Source: Mike Trudell on Twitter

  • LeBron James - F - Los Angeles Lakers

    LeBron James (sore left groin) returned from a one-game absence on Friday night and put up 25 points, nine rebounds, 14 assists, a steal, a block and a 3-pointer in a 106-111 loss to the Nets that eliminated the Lakers from playoff contention.

    James went 8-of-25 from the field and 8-of-12 at the line while committing eight turnovers, but the real insult-to-injury part of the night came in the final minute when LeBron slipped out of bounds while driving the baseline. He came up limping after the play, so maybe it's more of an injury-to-injury situation. James returned to the game for a final offensive possession but was subbed out when the Lakers had to defend. With the Lakers' season over, we can expect more nights off going forward, especially after James appeared to get hurt again tonight.

  • JaVale McGee - C - Los Angeles Lakers

    JaVale McGee set a new career-high in points on Friday night, going 15-of-20 from the field for 33 points to go with 20 rebounds, a steal and six blocks in 35 minutes against the Nets.

    McGee went 3-of-7 from the charity stripe to put a single blemish on a fantastic performance. This game surely swung some weekly matchups out there, and despite L.A.'s spot in the standings they don't appear ready to dial back on McGee's minutes just yet. Tyson Chandler played 13 minutes while Mo Wagner and Johnathan Williams didn't take the floor. Just hope that it keeps up so McGee can put up big numbers as the Lakers play out the string.

  • Kyle Kuzma - F - Los Angeles Lakers

    Kyle Kuzma scored 18 points with five rebounds, a block and three triples on Friday night, though he shot 5-of-19 to get there.

    Kuzma's stat set is just not good enough for him to really help you out when the shot isn't falling. Points, threes and rebounds will be there — as will some assists if LeBron James sits out — but everything else will be lacking. Deploy as needed.

  • Alex Caruso - G - Los Angeles Lakers

    Alex Caruso came off the bench on Friday and posted 10 points, eight rebounds, two assists, a steal and two 3-pointers in 35 minutes against the Nets.

    Caruso shot just 3-of-10 but it's certainly better than Rajon Rondo, who had five points, three rebounds, four assists, a steal and a triple in 25 minutes. Now that the Lakers are officially out of the playoffs we could see the scales tilt further in Caruso's direction, which means only those of you who are in desperate need of assists should be hanging onto Rondo. Caruso's a decent flier with the Lakers having four games next week but we wouldn't be entirely surprised if he ended up burning you, so buyer beware.

  • Kentavious Caldwell-Pope - G - Los Angeles Lakers

    Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored seven points (1-of-6 FG) to go with four rebounds, one assist, two steals and a triple in 33 minutes against the Nets on Friday.

    KCP took a predictable hit with LeBron James back in action, and even the absence of Josh Hart wasn't enough to earn him more looks on offense tonight. He's a 3-point streaming option but we wouldn't fully trust him as a permanent member of lineups in standard-sized leagues — at least not when LeBron is healthy.

  • D'Angelo Russell - G - Brooklyn Nets

    D'Angelo Russell put up 21 points and 13 assists in his return L.A., adding three steals, four triples and six turnovers in a win over the Lakers.

    Technically Russell had been back to L.A. given that Brooklyn played the Clippers several days ago, but the sweet narrative can ignore such things. It wasn't anything special as far as the vaunted "Revenge Games" go, but Russell gets the last laugh as the Lakers were eliminated from playoff contention with the loss tonight. We'll see if he can get back on a roll now that the Nets have removed Caris LeVert, another ball-handler, from the starting lineup. Spencer Dinwiddie was also productive with 19 points, two steals, a block and two triples off the bench, though he shot just 4-for-14.

  • Ed Davis - C - Brooklyn Nets

    Ed Davis came off the bench for 14 points, 15 rebounds (seven offensive), a steal and a block on 7-of-11 shooting in 20 minutes on Friday against the Lakers.

    Davis is always one of the top rebound streamers available and odds are that someone in one of your leagues got pushed over the hump by this huge game. Hopefully it was you. Boss would've had a bigger game if not for five fouls, too. Jarrett Allen was less impressive but still turned in a decent game with 13 points, 11 rebounds and a block.