With the season winding down, these games become as important as ever. It's not just teams fighting for playoff berths and positioning, we have teams tanking for more ping pong balls. That makes it easy to spot motivation and it's best to use as many players as possible from games that matter. The good news is that there's only three games who have teams playing for nothing, with the Dallas Mavericks, Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Lakers all playing as double-digit underdogs.
DeMar DeRozan,TOR at DET ($15,300): DeRozan is always a safe choice, as he's become a usage beast in the absence of Kyle Lowry (wrist). Since Lowry went down with injury, DeRozan ranks fourth in the league in usage, while posting some elite fantasy numbers. In fact, DeRozan is averaging 48 fantasy points across his last eight games. Detroit are a matchup worth exploiting right now too, as they've lost nine of their last 11 games, while allowing at least 108 points in four of their last five losses.
Ish Smith, DET vs. TOR ($11,600): Smith has taken over as the starting point guard in Detroit and it's done wonders for his fantasy value. Since capturing that role, Smith has at least 26 fantasy points in six of his last seven games. What's most encouraging is his usage rate, with Smith leading the Pistons in usage since taking over as the primary point guard. Smith should see some monster minutes too, as Detroit are in a must-win situation, sitting 2.5 games out of the playoffs with just four games remaining.
Jamal Murray, DEN at HOU ($8,800): Murray has been starting for Jameer Nelson recently and he's been posting some solid numbers. In fact, Murray has at least 21 fantasy points in the last 11 games where he's played at least 19 minutes, averaging 25 fantasy points in those games. That isn't monster production, but it's great for an $8,800 player, who is priced around a bunch of bench players. This is a great matchup too, with Houston allowing the third-most fantasy points to opposing point guards across their last 10 games.
LeBron James, CLE at BOS ($18,300): This price simply doesn’t make any sense, as James is playing at a $20,000 level. With James Harden and Russell Westbrook at over $22,000, James is a strong value, as he's more than $4,000 cheaper than those two His numbers are incredible recently, as he has at least 54 fantasy points in four-straight games, while averaging over 63 fantasy points per game in that span. James should be at full tilt here in minutes and usage as well, with this matchup potentially determining the top-seed in the east.
Al Horford, BOS vs. CLE ($12,300): This price simply doesn’t add up, as Horford is killing the players around him in terms of production. In fact, Horford's 34.4 fantasy points per game destroys that of Zach Randolph (28 FPG), Danilo Gallinari (29 FPG), T.J Warren (26 FPG) and Lou Williams (28 FPG) who are all the same price or higher than Horford. Cleveland is a fantastic matchup right now too, ranking 27th in defensive efficiency across their last 10 games.
Clint Capela, HOU vs. DEN ($11,500): Capela has at least 27 fantasy points in 11 of his last 13 games, as he continues to grow in this offense. Two of those games came against this favorable Nuggets team too, as Denver currently sits 29th in the league in defensive efficiency. It's not just a good matchup by numbers either, as Capela will need to be used heavily against the likes of Nikola Jokic and Mason Plumlee. Minutes have been the only concern for Capela this season, but because Denver relies so heavily on Jokic, Capela should be asked to approach 30 minutes to defend him, thus making him more valuable than usual.
Hassan Whiteside, MIA at CHA ($14,700): Whiteside has been one of the most consistent players in fantasy recently, as he has at least 31 fantasy points in 19-straight games. That doesn’t even take into consideration his upside, as he has at least 39 fantasy points in 16 of those games. At just $14,700, Whiteside is the only player in the $14,00's who is averaging at least 40 fantasy points per game. It comes in a fantastic matchup too, with Charlotte allowing the ninth-most fantasy points to opposing centers this season.
Yogi Ferrell, DAL at LAC ($8,800): Ferrell has seen a huge drop in his numbers recently because of a decrease in role, but he could be looking at some big minutes and usage here. Coach Rick Carlisle said that he will likely rest many of his veterans in back-to-back situations and that's just the case here with Dallas playing on Tuesday. That means Dirk Nowiztki, Wesley Matthews, J.J. Barea and Harrison Barnes could all miss this game, which makes Ferrell all the more intriguing with Seth Curry expected to sit as well. If all those players miss out, Ferrell could be leaned on to play 40 minutes and carry this depleted offense, but be sure to check roster updates up until tip-off.