James Harden, Brooklyn Nets vs. Chicago Bulls, $10,800
In his return from the hamstring injury that cost him 18 games, Harden scored 52.25 DKFP in only 26 minutes vs. the Spurs, nearly posting a triple-double. He came off the bench in the win, and even if the former MVP remains a reserve Saturday, Harden’s playing time should be closer to 30 minutes against the Bulls.
This should be enough time for him to outproduce his current salary, especially with this being a very important tilt. The Nets need to win to ensure they hang onto the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference, with the Bucks only one game back in the standings and owning the tiebreaker between the two clubs. Having a minutes restriction does limit his true upside, but Harden is still a safe bet for at least 50 DKFP, firmly putting him in consideration for this tricky slate.
Other Options: Chris Paul ($8,200)
Payton Pritchard, Boston Celtics vs. Minnesota Timberwolves, $3,800
The Celtics are officially locked into the No. 7 seed, and they will be without Kemba Walker (neck), Marcus Smart (calf), Jaylen Brown (wrist), Robert Williams (toe) and Tristian Thompson (chest) on Saturday. All of these players except Thompson were out Wednesday night, and Pritchard posted 32.25 DKFP across 26 minutes off the bench vs. the Cavs. The lack of importance for Boston and another lost body should result in more minutes for the rookie Saturday in this prime matchup vs. the Wolves.
Only the Rockets have given up more DKFP to opposing point guards than Minnesota this season, and when all of those players listed above have been off the floor, Pritchard’s usage has leaped 7.6 percentage points, helping him produce 1.0 DKFP per minute. Regardless if he starts or not, Pritchard is without a doubt one of the best values of this five-game slate.
Other Options: T.J. McConnell ($6,600), Lonnie Walker IV ($4,500)
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D’Angelo Russell, Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Boston Celtics, $8,000
Russell has provided over 40 DKFP in four of his past six starts, and coming to town today is a Celtics team that will be without four starters. Nonetheless, they rank 26th in defensive rating over their past 10 games, and Russell lit Boston up for 43.5 DKFP earlier this season.
Expect over five times value from Russell and feel free to confidently deploy him in both cash games and GPPs.
Other Options: Kyrie Irving ($9,200), Devin Booker ($8,500)
Aaron Nesmith, Boston Celtics vs. Minnesota Timberwolves, $3,700
With Smart, Walker, Williams and Brown absent Wednesday, Nesmith got the start and tallied 21.75 DKFP against the Cavs. Just like Pritchard, with this game meaningless for the Celtics, Nesmith should play a ton as a rookie.
He scores 0.82 DKFP per minute without Smart, Walker, Thompson, Brown and Williams, and although it is just a two-game sample, Nesmith is amassing 31.9 DKFP per game when his playing time has been over 25 minutes this season.
Other Options: Landry Shamet ($3,700, if Joe Harris is out), Patty Mills ($3,200, better if Dejounte Murray is out)
Anthony Edwards, Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Boston Celtics, $7,900
The Wolves’ tendency to go all out even though they have been eliminated from the playoffs for months makes their expensive players some of the best targets available today. Edwards is supplying 43.9 DKFP per game in his past 10, and he should have extra motivation in these final two games of the season to help his campaign for rookie of the year.
Believe in narratives or not, Edwards and the Wolves’ coaching staff absolutely have this on their minds, and the rookie should score a minimum of 40 DKFP against the Celtics.
Other Options: LeBron James ($10,300, if active and not severely limited)
Alec Burks, New York Knicks vs. Charlotte Hornets, $3,900
Burks (knee) returned on Thursday after missing three straight games and went nuts for 50.5 DKFP in 34 minutes vs. the Spurs. His usage was at an immense 31.6%, and this number should stay elevated if Derrick Rose ($6,300; questionable, ankle) is sidelined.
Either way, Burks is just too cheap right now, and while we can’t expect a repeat performance from Thursday, the pure scorer should deliver at least 20 DKFP. This matchup with the Hornets will be in Madison Square Garden on Saturday, and Burks is collecting 25.8 DKFP per game on his home floor this season.
Other Options: Kyle Kuzma ($5,800, if either Anthony Davis or LeBron James are out), Mikal Bridges ($5,800), Bruce Brown ($4,300)
Julius Randle, New York Knicks vs. Charlotte Hornets, $9,700
The Knicks are still alive for the No. 4 seed and should treat Saturday as a must-win. Randle has played an absurd 44.5 minutes per game in his past two and barring foul trouble or an injury, we can safely expect him to surpass the 40-minute mark vs. the Hornets.
With the hefty playing time, Randle has responded with 49.9 DKFP per game in those last two starts, and the All-Star is amassing 49.6 DKFP per game at home this season. At a sub $10,000 price tag, Randle is a great high-end player to build around today.
Other Options: Anthony Davis ($10,500 if active and not limited)
Jae Crowder, Phoenix Suns vs. San Antonio Spurs, $5,200
Crowder has been efficient with 28 DKFP per game in his first four back from a sprained ankle, and his playing time reached 41 minutes Thursday vs. the Blazers. Technically, Phoenix is still alive for the top seed in the Western Conference, and while over 40 minutes is an unreasonable expectation, we should see a heavy dose of Crowder vs. the Spurs.
The veteran doesn’t present the greatest ceiling but is a solid mid-tier target to consider from a team that is still jockeying for a higher seed.
Other Options: Rudy Gay ($4,400, if active), Keldon Johnson ($4,300)
Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Boston Celtics, $10,100
If you haven’t caught on yet, I love stacking the Wolves against the skeleton staff Celtics today. Towns exposed Boston for 58 DKFP last month, and he has cracked 50 DKFP in two of his past three starts.
The Celtics should be extremely vulnerable inside with both Thompson and Williams sidelined, and anything less than 50 DKFP would be a letdown for Towns in this spot.
Other Options: Domantas Sabonis ($10,400, if active)
Drew Eubanks, San Antonio Spurs vs. Phoenix Suns, $3,100
The Spurs will officially finish the season as the No. 10 seed, and they are resting DeMar DeRozan and Jakob Poeltl against the Suns on Saturday. Eubanks has made two starts for Poeltl this season, generating 28.4 DKFP in 24.5 minutes per game.
The center is also averaging 24.25 DKFP when given 20 minutes or more this season and is a punt that must be utilized at his near-minimum salary, even in the difficult spot against the Suns.
Other Options: Nicolas Claxton ($3,300), Dario Saric ($3,100, if Deandre Ayton is out), Luke Kornet ($3,000, if starting)
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