Daily Basketball Notes 2/28 Featuring the Queen of DFS

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As the title tonight states, we have a very special guest contributing to our daily notes tonight. Renee Miller (@reneemiller01), a contributor to both Rotowire and Rotoviz, was nice enough to take the time to write a piece for us. With her presence, the mean IQ of people who have written for  FakePigskin immediately went up 9.5 points (if not more). The difference in intelligence between her and someone like Evan Hale is just astounding. If you aren’t familiar with her work, she is a neuroscientist that brings her scientific thinking to the world of daily fantasy sports. Also, if you seriously aren’t familiar with her work, get familiar with it ASAP.

When I pitched the idea to her, it was supposed to be a back and forth piece. I consider her and I to be good friends who like to give each other a hard time. Being as nice as she is, she of course sent her part over to me without the insults. Unfortunately for her, I am not quite that nice. So when I give my picks that differ from hers according to her principle, there will be some friendly banter included. If you are wondering why only I am making fun of her, it is solely because she is a better person than I am.

All of that being said, Renee stated three important DFS principles that she will be following tonight/pretty much always follows. Each principle comes with an explanation of the idea and her picks according to that thought process. According to those principles, we both have come up with our list of daily recommendations for your viewing pleasure (considering the fact that I agree with all of them):

Principle 1: Target high over/under, close games

Renee – One game that stands out that I want some exposure to is SAC at LAL (guessing around 205, Sac -2ish). Both of these teams play at a high pace and neither is known for their defense. The Kings will be without DeMarcus Cousins, making the delicious matchup with the Lakers’ guards even more appealing for Isaiah Thomas. He’s my favorite PG play of the night. I also like Pau Gasol with no Cousins in this Lakers home game. He’s been scoring in the mid-upper 30’s FPTs since his return from injury, which doesn’t hurt you, but I think tonight he has a good chance to get back to the 50 FPT range he was in earlier this year. While the GSW-NYK game is projected to be high scoring and relatively close (201.5, GS -5), I’m not excited about what either of these teams has been doing lately. Steph Curry in particular is slumping, and the Knicks are decent against opposing bigs. Unless Curry’s price is severely reduced, Klay Thompson or Iggy may be the best bets to target from GS. I would like Melo a lot, particularly if he gets to match up with David Lee, but he may be exhausted and further demoralized after yesterday’s loss to the Heat.

Ricky – Don’t believe everything you read, Renee. That being said, you’ve read a lot more than I have, and  if I believed everything I’ve read, I’d believe Green Eggs and Ham and nothing else. Obviously Vegas is close more often than they are far off but a team like the Lakers can get blown out on any given night. I agree that I prefer games that will be higher scoring and close but you just never know. Without Anthony Davis, the Pelicans defense will definitely suffer. Considering the Phoenix Suns may be missing Goran Dragic and will definitely be missing Eric Bledsoe, this could be a close, high scoring game. Plenty of guys will be undervalued in this one because guys like Eric Gordon will go from #2 scorer to #1. Same thing with Gerald Green for the Suns. While I wouldn’t avoid the SAC-LAL game by any means, I wouldn’t necessarily just focus on it.

Renee - Vegas is a great way to get a broad overview of predicted game flow. I’m not worried about a Sacramento blowout in LA. Agree with you that Phoenix-NO is another good one to target (see #3).

Principle 2: DvP

Renee – Cleveland is often underrated or at least overlooked as a PG matchup, but they’ve been extremely generous this season. I love taking guards vs the Cavs. Believe it or not, they’ve allowed more FPTs to PG than the Lakers this year. Trey Burke has shown he can take advantage of good matchups in games with Portland and Minnesota, but he’s also blown opportunities as seen by his 10 FPTs in 29 minutes vs Philadelphia a couple weeks ago. I won’t feel comfortable with Burke tonight, but will probably have him in a lineup or two. There are a couple of defenses I rarely even consider playing guys against, and Memphis is one of them. Therefore I won’t be paying the rapidly rising salary for Russell Westbrook. KD is matchup proof, kind of. In three games with the Grizzlies this year he has 34 and 44 FPTs on the road, but 53 FPTs at home. Tonight’s game is in OKC, but for 20% of the cap or more, I’m probably not risking it. Charlotte has been pretty kind to PGs too, especially in the past month, but it’s hard to trust the Spurs rotation with Parker out until at least Saturday.

Ricky – Renee, you nailed the thought process on Burke but you worry too much. Cleveland’s acquisition of Luol Deng has greatly strengthened their wing defense. Alec Burks has been very hot recently but Cleveland has also stifled opposing SGs over the last 15 days – ranking top 5 in FPs allowed vs the position. Points will be scored in this game and I highly doubt Burks is matchup proof. While Gordon Hayward spends most of his time being guarded by one of the best defenders in the league, Burke will run wild and have the freedom to make his own plays. I really like Trey Burke tonight and have zero trepidation in using him everywhere. Other guys I really like with excellent matchups: Mike ConleyRudy Gay and Spencer Hawes.

Renee - I do worry too much. Burke just has all the makings of a play I don’t want to use, I use it anyway, and I regret it within 90 seconds of the game starting. I’m not sure about Conley. I really liked him at his reduced price against the Lakers and he did nothing. Maybe he’s not fully healthy? Or maybe they didn’t need him in that game. I’ll wait and see if he gets back to pre-injury form before rolling him out again, despite the good matchup.

Principle 3: Replacement value of PG is much greater than that of PF/C

Renee – This is my own principle, generated by studying the fantasy performance of replacement G vs replacement F/C over the first few months of the season. I found that the backup PG was a much more reliable and potent source of value than any front court substitute. The reason probably has to do with the backup PG being a more defined position/role on teams (exception being, of course, the Spurs). So when Conley, Knight, or CP3 go down, I feel confident plugging Calathes, Wolters, or Collison into my daily lineups. This week it’s Goran Dragic who’s out, and Ish Smith is the latest man to make my point with 27 and 32 FPTs in his last two games. The NOP don’t scare anyone, matchup wise, so Smith will also be making it into all of my lineups tonight.

The other half of this analysis showed how hard it was to predict value in the front court when a starter goes down. You may have been lucky and picked the correct Celtics, Wizards, Atlanta, Portland, Cleveland, or Lakers bigs over the past month or so, but I haven’t been. Seems like it’s someone different hitting value every night. Now Anthony Davis is out with a sprained shoulder and I’ll just simply be avoiding the situation in NO tonight. Ajinca is clearly the best bet if you MUST gamble on someone there, but his price has come up on some sites. Same deal in Sacramento…Gay and IT2 will be strong plays with Cousins out on suspension, but I’m not going to risk my lineups on the hot hand between Derrick Williams, Jason Thompson, and Reggie Evans tonight. Evans would be my gun-to-head pick though.

Ricky – Okay this principle is pretty awesome. In-depth thinking like this is what separates someone like Renee from every other writer in this industry. I’ve never really taken the time to think of the difference in production between backups at certain positions. I usually just play a second stringer that catapults into the starting lineup regardless of position as long as they face a semi-easy opponent vs. the position. As Renee mentioned, Ajinca will be filling in for Anthony Davis but the Suns have consistently been tough against opposing centers this year. Even with Miles Plumlee‘s offensive struggles recently, he has found a way to bring it on the opposite end of the floor. That being said, I don’t really like any big man fill-ins for tonight. Assuming there are no surprise inactives (which there probably will be), I agree that I don’t like the Sacramento centers. Carmelo Anthony has been filling in at PF for an injured Bargnani, so I’ll go with him as my backup big guy to play (just so I can consider my strategy different from Renee’s).  :)

Renee – Ha! We agree on wanting to see Melo at the 4!

That’s all for our DFS picks for the night. If you have any further questions or concerns, feel free to hit me up on Twitter @RSandersFR. Like I mentioned above, make it a point to check out all of Renee’s work! She is awesome and all of us here at FakeRoundball would like to give her one more big THANK YOU.

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