This is a big day for yours truly. I actually have over a dozen season-long leagues in the playoffs, and what happens today will determine whether I move on or not. I’m also in the championship of an industry league against Dalton Del Don, and I’m really hoping to take that down. That has me as zoned in as ever, but we only have four games making up this Sunday slate beginning at 7 pm EDT.
D’Angelo Russell, LAL vs. ENT ($27)
Many people forget this, but Russell was an All-Star just a few years ago. The Lakers were certainly aware of that because he was their biggest acquisition at the trade deadline. Since joining LA, D-Lo has posted at least 30 Yahoo points in all five fixtures while averaging 39. It’s no surprise because he’s being asked to run the offense without LeBron James and handle the ball on nearly every possession. Orlando is an outstanding matchup ranked 19th in defensive efficiency ratings. And in their last matchup a month ago, Russell dropped a season-high 53 fantasy points.
Markelle FultzORL at LAL ($25)
The former top pick appeared to be a massive bust, but he enjoyed a revival season in Orlando. The stat-stuffing guard has scored at least 27 Yahoo points in 16 of his last 19 games while generating an average of 35 over that span. Fultz has also produced 51 ad 54 Y! in his two most recent outings and could be asked to do even more with Jalen Suggs (concussion) sidelined. Facing a lackluster Lakers’ defense is the icing on the cake as they’re ranked fourth in pace while surrendering the third-most fantasy points to opposing PGs.
Guard to Avoid
Anfernee Simons, POR vs. LAC ($21)
Simons recently had an outlier game, but we can’t trust him as long as Damian Lillard is doing everything for the Portland offense. This hot stretch from Dame has led to Simons’ worst stretch of the year with 29 or fewer Yahoo points in nine of his last 10 appearances. His lack of stat-stuffing is what hurts him from a fantasy perspective with averages of 1.8 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 0.8 steals and 0.1 blocks. That means if Simons doesn’t shoot well, he could have a bad night. One of those types of performances is way more likely against the Clippers, who give up the second-fewest fantasy points to opposing SGs.
Brandon IngramNOP at HOU ($32)
It’s sad what’s happened to the Pelicans since the Zion Williamson injury, but it’s allowed Ingram to go off. The former All-Star is leading the team with a 33 percent usage rate with Zion off the floor while averaging 1.2 Y! points per minute during those circumstances. That’s led to Ingram producing at least 35 Yahoo points in 11 of his last 16 games while averaging 39 over that stretch. That should be easy to duplicate against Houston’s horrible defense that’s ranked 28th in points allowed and 29th in defensive efficiency. In their five head-to-heads since the beginning of last season, Ingram has posted a 47-point average.
Jabari Smith Jr, HOU vs. NOP ($21)
Smith was rough through the opening three months, but the rookie’s starting to roll right now with at least 41 Yahoo points in three of his last five games. His role is the main reason for his resurgence since he’s averaging 40 Y! across 37 minutes a night. Smith is also taking nearly 15 shots per game. And as long as he’s notching 35-40 minutes 15 shots, his salary should never be this low. New Orleans used to be a scary matchup, but they’re allowing nearly 120 points over this recent stretch.
Forward to Avoid
Bobby Portis, MIL vs. TOR ($17)
Portis is an easy recommendation when there are players missing in this rotation, but he’s tough to trust when the Bucks are at full health. That’s what we’re expected to see here, and he’s scored 18 or fewer Yahoo points in seven of his last 11 games. The four times Portis cracked that total were times when a starter was rested. That shows a terrifying trend for a role player, and we don’t expect it to get any better against the Raptors and their seventh-ranked total defense.
Anthony Davis, LAL vs. ENT ($49)
Davis has been more inconsistent than Lakers fans would like, but he boasts too much upside with LeBron sidelined. With James off the floor this year, AD leads the club with a 34 percent usage rate. What makes him scary is a 1.6 Y! points per minute average during those circumstances. That’s one of the best rates you’ll see, leading to Davis carrying a 53-point average across his last nine outings. We already talked about how poor the Magic’s defense has been, and it’s a great opportunity for the big man to feast once again.
Ivica ZubacLAC at POR ($20)
We were worried about Zoo’s role when LA acquired Mason Plumlee, but he’s actually been playing more since Plumlee arrived logging at least 27 minutes from 13 of his last 14 appearances and averaging over 30 Yahoo points per game over that span. That’s what we’ve seen all year with Zubac averaging 35 Y! in the 30 games he’s received at least 30 minutes. He should pummel Portland if he gets that sort of role, with the Trail Blazers ranked 27th in defensive efficiency while surrendering the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing centers. In their one matchup earlier in the year, Zoo dropped 32 fantasy points.
Center to Avoid
Jonas ValanciunasNOP at HOU ($21)
The Lithuanian big man can be a beast when given a prominent role, but that’s just not happening right now for whatever reason. Larry Nance Jr returning to the lineup was the start of this nightmarish trend, with Valanciunas logging less than 21 minutes in four of his last five outings. He’s also averaging 18 Y! points across 15 minutes a night in the four duds, and it’s clear New Orleans doesn’t want him on the floor. People might lean to JV because this is one of the best matchups out there, but that would be silly behind a 20-minute role.