5 Under-the-Radar Daily Fantasy Basketball Plays for 1/28/16

Rajon Rondo will likely be overlooked tonight with so many viable point guard options, but he shouldn't be ignored in this matchup.

If you have played daily fantasy sports for a while, you realize by now the importance of being contrarian, especially in large-field tournaments. Being able to recognize which players are going to be owned by the majority of the field and find players that you think have a similar point projection but will come at much lower ownership can really separate yourself from your opponents.

It’s a lot easier in NFL to identify the players who will be low-owned due to Thursday Night slates, but NBA can be much more difficult if you aren’t an experienced player.

The purpose of this article will be to bring you my favorite high-upside players at each position that will likely go overlooked and give you an edge.

Keep in mind when constructing rosters that these are contrarian picks. There is a reason that they will be overlooked by many; they are risky plays. If possible, I’d try to relegate these players to GPP-only use, where their high risk-reward styles make more sense.

Rajon Rondo, PG, Sacramento Kings

FanDuel Price: $8,500

Why He Will Go Overlooked:

If paying up at point guard, most will likely choose John Wall in a better matchup over Rajon Rondo. Jrue Holiday and Jordan Clarkson will likely be fairly popular mid-range price point options, while Cory Joseph could be a very popular value play if Kyle Lowry sits tonight.

In addition to the excess amount of point guards, Rondo has to compete with DeMarcus Cousins within his own team for ownership. Cousins let down a lot of people in his last game and is very expensive but draws a premier matchup against an Anthony Davis-less Pelicans frontcourt. Cousins is also the only healthy option available above the $10,000 mark and one of two above $9,000. People will find a way to pay up for him. They likely won't want to spend a combined $19,700 on two players from the same team, which may leave Rondo overlooked.

Why You Should Use Him:

Rondo hasn't scored below 30 FanDuel points in a game in over two weeks. He has also had double-digit assists in every game in 2016. His ability to pile up counting stats consistently provides him with an elevated floor, and his ceiling is there as well, as evidenced by the seven games of 50-plus FanDuel points this season.

Rondo draws a very favorable matchup against the Pelicans, who have given up the 4th most points and 11th most fantasy points to opposing point guards this season. New Orleans is also ranked 28th in Defensive Efficiency and allowed Rondo to put up 17 points and 10 assists in their only matchup this season. Rondo has fared well against Jrue Holiday in his career, averaging 45.33 FanDuel points per game against him since 2012, which is 13.1 points higher than his average in other games during that span.

Statistic Against Jrue Holiday All Other Games
Points 13.5 11.01
Assists 13.75 9.68
Rebounds 7.25 5.71
Steals 2.25 1.53
FanDuel Points 45.33 32.23

D'Angelo Russell, PG, Los Angeles Lakers

FanDuel Price: $5,100

Why He Will Go Overlooked:

As mentioned previously, point guard is pretty loaded tonight. D'Angelo Russell normally fills a bench role for Los Angeles and likely won't even be the most popular point guard option on his team. 

Why You Should Use Him:

This pick is contingent on Kobe Bryant and/or Louis Williams, both of whom are questionable. If both sit, Russell would likely be re-inserted into the starting lineup, alongside Jordan Clarkson. In this scenario, Clarkson, who is coming off of a 33.7 FanDuel point game, would be the more popular option. In scenarios such as this hypothetical, Russell has actually been the more productive of the two. Check out their splits below, per

Clarkson Usage Rate Points/Possession
Bryant/Williams On 22.4% 0.74
Bryant/Williams Off 24.2% 0.81
Russell Usage Rate Points/Possession
Bryant/Williams On 24.1% 0.79
Bryant/Williams Off 26.9% 0.97

I ran the splits on how the two guards perform while sharing the court together with Bryant and Williams off the court also and got similar results. In this scenario, Russell's Usage Rate is 26.6% as opposed to Clarkson's 23.9%. Russell averages 0.90 FanDuel points per possession while sharing the backcourt with Clarkson, while Clarkson averages 0.78.

Monitor the injury news as the day progresses because, if both Bryant and Williams sit, Russell should be in line for 30-plus minutes against a Bulls team that has allowed the fifth most fantasy points to opposing point guards this season. Statistics suggest that he will be more productive than Clarkson, who is more expensive and will likely have higher ownership.

Ian Mahinmi, C, Indiana Pacers

FanDuel Price: $5,000

Why He Will Go Overlooked:

Ian Mahinmi is coming off of an injury, and rookie Myles Turner stole the hearts of the DFS community while he was away. Mahinmi isn't nearly as flashy of a player and will go overlooked on a slate with several viable center plays. As mentioned before, Cousins will likely be popular as a top option at center. A fair share of people will be on the Gasol brothers, as both Pau Gasol and Marc Gasol draw favorable matchups. You can only play one center on FanDuel, and few will be rushing to lock in Mahinmi as theirs.

Why You Should Use Him:

Before succumbing to injury, Mahinmi was really beginning to put together a nice stretch of games for Indiana. In the six games prior to the injury, he averaged 11.8 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 27.9 FanDuel points per game in 25.5 minutes per game. Many speculated that Myles Turner would cut into Mahinmi's minutes upon his return, but Mahinmi returned to his usual role, dropping 30 FanDuel points in 29 minutes.

Mahinmi draws one of the most favorable matchups available to a rebound-first center tonight. He faces the Hawks, who have allowed the fourth most fantasy points to opposing centers this season. Atlanta is also dead last in Rebounding Rate and allows opposing centers to average 16.6 rebounds per game against them, the most in the league.

Mahinmi put up 13 points and 9 boards in his previous matchup with Atlanta and could exceed those numbers tonight if he continues to play at the level he has recently.

Bobby Portis, PF, Chicago Bulls

FanDuel Price: $3,500

Why He Will Go Overlooked:

There is a reason Bobby Portis is minimum priced. The rookie has played single-digit minutes in seven of his past 10 games and put up single-digit FanDuel points in eight of those games. He seems to have fallen out of favor with head coach Fred Hoiberg, and many will be too scared to pull the trigger on Portis's uncertain minutes.

Why You Should Use Him:

While Hoiberg may not want to rely heavily on the rookie's inexperience and inconsistent post defense, he may have to tonight with Joakim Noah and Nikola Mirotic both out. The Bulls are down to Pau Gasol and Taj Gibson as their only healthy post players outside of Portis. With the Lakers also dealing with injuries, this game could easily get out of hand. If that happened, Portis could be in store for even more minutes.

Portis is third among active Bulls in FanDuel points per minute, averaging 0.91. He's also fourth in Usage, with a healthy 24.6% Usage Rate on the season. It is always important to be able to target punt plays who will be heavily involved when in the game, rather than just standing in the corner and playing defense. That Usage Rate isn't due to a small sample size either. Portis has shown the ability to be productive when given extended minutes, averaging 25.24 FanDuel points per game in games he's seen over 20 minutes.

The matchup couldn't be much better for Portis either, as the Lakers are ranked dead last in Defensive Efficiency and are 28th in Rebounding Rate. They've given up the most fantasy points to opposing teams and the ninth most to opposing power forwards.

Alexis Ajinca, C, New Orleans Pelicans

FanDuel Price: $3,500

Why He Will Go Overlooked:

Well, for one it's Alexis Ajinca. In all seriousness, Ajinca has played fewer than 15 minutes in seven of his past 10 games and will be very overlooked as everyone focuses on obvious plays from this game such as Jrue Holiday and Ryan Anderson.

Why You Should Use Him:

This pick is very speculative -- and therefore very risky. I would reserve it to large-field tournaments only, as there's a decent chance Ajinca drops a dud and sinks your lineup.

Now that that is out of the way, let me tell you why I love Ajinca tonight.

Anthony Davis is considered doubtful for tonight's game with concussion symptoms. Davis has sat out or played fewer than five minutes six times this year (I know, it's seemed like more.) In five of those six games, the Pelicans faced a physical low-post center ( Roy Hibbert, DeAndre Jordan, Ian Mahinmi, Steven Adams). The other game was against the Hawks, who have smaller, more mobile bigs. Tonight the Pelicans play the Kings, who have one of the most physical frontcourts in the NBA.

In the five games against physical centers, Ajinca averaged 21.8 minutes, 9.0 points, 9.4 rebounds, and 25.4 FanDuel points per game.

It seems impossible that the Pelicans will attempt to go small ball against the Kings with the way Cousins and Willie Cauley-Stein have been playing. Ajinca should be locked in for nearly 20 minutes, and there is reason to speculate he could receive more. The past seven players who have attempted to defend DeMarcus Cousins have averaged 4.9 fouls per game. Starting center Omer Asik averages 4.2 fouls per 36 minutes and could easily find himself in foul trouble tonight, which would lead to an expanded role for Ajinca.