NBA Daily Fantasy: 3 Players Who Will Struggle During the Restart
Daily fantasy NBA will be returning to FanDuel in just a few more days, and there have been plenty of roster changes and moves affecting the league since we last saw it in mid-March.
With postseason hopes slim or solidified for some teams, there are natural players to avoid who may play fewer minutes in a mostly lost season.
Even some of the usual suspects when it comes to big-time daily fantasy production may be in positions to struggle coming out of the break. These three fit that bill.
Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns
Devin Booker has been a lethal scorer this season, and based on his initial $8,000 FanDuel salary, he can get quite expensive sometimes. After all, his 39.9 fantasy-points-per-game rate speaks for itself.
For the second-straight season, Booker has averaged 26.0 points per game, and he posted his highest field goal percentage (48.7%) and free-throw percentage (91.6%) of his career entering the break. He did so on his second-fewest field goal attempts (18.0) and second-most makes (8.8) in his young five-year career. The Phoenix Suns are still a ways away from making the playoffs, and at this point, Booker's future is too crucial considering where they sit in the chase.
The Suns are six games back of the Memphis Grizzlies for the 8 seed in the Western Conference and have to jump five teams in eight games to earn that final seed. The odds are stacked against them -- so stacked that numberFire's model gives them at a 0.1% chance of making the postseason.
With those odds, the Suns assuredly don't want to put their franchise star at risk, and I'm sure he doesn't want to be in that position, either. Head coach Monty Williams said Booker would see fewer minutes in the restart, so his 36.1 minutes per game average isn't happening throughout eight games.
With Booker's minutes set to decline, look at Deandre Ayton ($7,600) as one player to increase his production. Ayton's usage rate has shot up from 24.5% to 32.7% this season when both Booker and Ricky Rubio ($6,500) are off the floor, via RotoGrinders' CourtIQ. Rubio's expected to see a decrease in minutes as well, so the Suns may get a variety of youngsters in there for the bubble.
Also, with Kelly Oubre not fully ready, Cameron Johnson ($3,600) and Mikal Bridges ($5,300) become excellent fill-in options for eight games. Bridges has played the most minutes on the team (300.8) without Booker or Rubio on the court and has averaged a solid 0.88 FanDuel points per minute in that split. Johnson averaged 0.85 fantasy points per minute without the two over a sample of 255.8 minutes.
De'Aaron Fox, Sacramento Kings
De'Aaron Fox has been the engine driving the Sacramento Kings this season. He's averaged career-highs in points (20.4), rebounds (4.0), field goal percentage (47.5%), usage rate (30.5), and player efficiency rating (20.40). Fox averaged 37.5 FanDuel points per game on the season, and over his last 15 games, he averaged 21.8 points, 6.0 assists, and 3.6 rebounds.
The Kings are 3.5 games back of the 8 seed in the Western Conference, and after his recent injury scare, we should see less of Fox in the bubble.
He's dealing with an ankle sprain injury that forced him to leave practice Wednesday. Whether or not he's healthy enough to play, the 22-year-old point guard should see a minute restriction, as the Kings have a 6.0% chance at making playoffs per numberFire's model.
Fox is tied for 99th with a 1.3 nERD rating and a -1.24 Z-score fantasy basketball ranking for the rest of the eight-game regular season. Both numbers are underwhelming, and with his recent injury, he's a stay away altogether in DFS.
Cory Joseph ($3,800) will take over the starting point guard role if Fox is unable to go, and with Fox off the court, Joseph is averaging an underwhelming 0.70 FanDuel points per minute. Other players outside of Joseph to watch for are Marvin Bagley III ($,4800) and Buddy Hield ($5,700).
Hield's usage rate rises by 1.8 percentage points to 28.8% when Fox is off the floor this season, and Bagley's jumps 3.8 percentage points higher to a 29.5% usage rate. All three players could see a quick boost in their FanDuel salaries if Fox misses time. Joseph only averages 16.6 fantasy points per game, while Bagley (27.1) and Hield (31.4) offer a little more bang for their buck. Joseph will be a nice streamer if Fox can't go, but if Fox is playing for the bubble, he's a complete fade for me.
Al Horford, Philadelphia 76ers
Al Horford has had an interesting first season with the Philadelphia 76ers, mostly due to the fact he hasn't meshed well with Joel Embiid. Philly tried to play the two together, but towards the end of the season, they began starting to experiment with different lineups.
Horford was a completely different player in and out of the lineup with Embiid. Horford's numbers fell from a 20.7% usage rate and 1.13 fantasy points per minute without Embiid to to 11.0% and 0.65, respectively, with Embiid on the floor.
Reports indicate that Ben Simmons is playing power forward with Shake Milton at point guard, allowing Horford to come off the bench. If so, Horford may only get 25 minutes off the bench with Embiid ramping up for the postseason. In 11 games during February, he averaged just 28.6 minutes.
In 8 of his last 16 games, Horford recorded 30 or fewer minutes and scored single-digits in half of those games as well. In his first three games, he's predicted to register 21.29, 20.77, and 32.12 FanDuel fantasy points, in that order. He'll be a very selective DFS play once the league resumes but will be a pass on most nights in a bench role.
He may be one-and-done in Philadelphia, and after 60 games, they shouldn't still be experimenting with his role on the team. His numbers have been underwhelming as a 76er. Yes, his fantasy value receives a boost if it comes off the bench and plays without Embiid. However, the bench role limits his minutes, and even if he does play more than a typical bench player, we've seen him to be ineffective while getting minutes alongside Embiid.