So it begins …
Friday night is going to be absolutely insane. Not only are there 14 NBA games to prepare for, but, for all of you serious degenerates out there, 15 MLB games are on tap as well, making this evening one filled with anxiety, stress and more anxiety. Luckily, I know a thing or two about anxiety.
Oh, and basketball. Basketball too.
Note: FPPG totals are based off FanDuel scoring.
Rajon Rondo vs PHI - Rondo should easily be considered the top point guard play of the night. This matchup against the 76ers is tailor-made for a guy like Rondo. There will be plenty of peripherals to be had here, as the Sixers are coughing up the most fantasy points per game to point guards, as well as the most assists (10.01), second-most rebounds (5.77) and the third-most steals per game (2.21). Meanwhile, we all know how easily Rondo can flirt with a triple-double. A guy who is known for his defense and steals, Rondo should post at least three in this game against a reckless Philly offense that turns the ball over more than anyone, but the assists will be there too, as Sixers opponents are averaging a league-leading 26.3 assists per game. Finally, the 76ers don’t allow a ton of scoring from point guards from the shot department, but that’s not Rondo’s game anyway. Fire him up.
James Harden vs OKC - Harden is arguably my top play of the evening. First of all, the revenge factor is real, playing against his former team. But there are also plenty of other reasons why I love him. Russell Westbrook does not play back-to-backs, so he will sit this game out, assuring that the game will be close. Also, Harden absolutely torched the Thunder during their last meeting, going off for a near triple-double (28 pts, 9 ast, 8 reb). You know there is going to be some extra incentive to go off against the team that sent him packing. And finally, with point guard Patrick Beverley out, Harden has benefited. I mean, the guy was already handling the ball a ton with Beverly, but with him off the court, he’s seeing an insane usage rate of 36.6 percent. A monster game is looming for the bearded beast.
Chris Johnson vs PHI - This is all contingent on the status of the always injured Avery Bradley, but if he can’t suit up for this game, Johnson serves as one of the best value/punt plays of the night. Over his last two games, Johnson has logged 35 and 33 minutes, and if you play that many minutes against a Sixers defense that is allowing the most fantasy points per game to small forwards this year, fantasy points will fall into your lap before you know it. He had 21 fantasy points in 22 minutes the last time he received significant playing time against Philly, so he’ll be a very intriguing guy to watch as the day goes on.
Zach Randolph vs DEN - Power forwards, especially those who are practically walking double-doubles, are a lock. Randolph is currently 5th in the league with 43 double-doubles, and is also 12th in the league in rebounds per game (10.0). I love him against a Nuggets defense that is surrendering the the third-most fantasy points per game to opposing power forwards this year (45.90) to go along with the fifth-most rebounds per game (12.65). Denver has struggled rebounding all season long, allowing 53.1 total boards per game this year, which is behind only the two most generous defenses in fantasy, LA and Philly. Consider Z-Bo a lock for double-double number 44 of the season.
Gorgui Dieng @ MIA - Again, another guy that will depend on the health of his teammate, but if Nikola Pekovic can’t go again (and signs are pointing to him not being able to), Dieng is a very strong option among big men. The Heat just cannot rebound the basketball very well, but especially to centers. This year, opposing fives are hauling in 15.41 rebounds per game, only behind the Lakers for league-worst. Obviously, Dieng has been a massive rebound guy when on the court, and Miami is also surrendering the 6th-most fantasy points per game to the position. On a 14-game slate with the top centers in the game in action, Dieng could be a sneaky tournament play that separates you from the rest of the pack.
Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.
You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.