5 Under-the-Radar Daily Fantasy Basketball Plays for 2/2/16

Dwight Howard is in line for a monster bounce-back performance if he can avoid being ejected for a third straight game.

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.

Isaiah Thomas, PG, Boston Celtics

FanDuel Price: $7,800
DraftKings Price: $7,500

Why He Will Go Overlooked:

There are several viable point guard plays today. Kyle LowryRicky Rubio, and Michael Carter-Williams all draw premier matchups and have been playing well recently. Value plays Zach LaVine and Marcus Smart will likely be popular as well. Smart actually has more FanDuel points over his past five games than Isaiah Thomas has during that stretch.

Why You Should Use Him:

As mentioned previously, Thomas hasn't put up the fantasy lines daily fantasy players have grown accustomed to over his past five games. The main reason for that is his unstable minutes during that time. While that will be enough to scare off game log watchers, a closer look offers a simple explanation for his fluctuating minutes. Three of those five games were blowouts, while Thomas fouled out in another.

Vegas projects this to be the highest scoring game on the slate and has the Celtics listed as just 2.5 point favorites, meaning Thomas should get his usual allotment of minutes. Thomas has averaged well over a fantasy point per minute this season and should return to his season average of over 32 minutes per game.

In two previous meetings with the Knicks, both of which were close, Thomas averaged 33.4 minutes per game and 44.1 FanDuel points per game. While the Knicks put up surprisingly strong defensive numbers against point guards early in the year, they've been exposed recently. Over their past 10 games, the Knicks have surrendered the second most fantasy points to opposing point guards.

Dwight Howard, C, Houston Rockets

FanDuel Price: $7,800
DraftKings Price: $7,300

[Note: Dwight Howard has been suspended for tonight's game. Clint Capela will start in his place.]

Why He Will Go Overlooked:

Karl-Anthony Towns is going to be the absolute chalk at center today in a matchup with the Lakers, especially on DraftKings, where he is criminally underpriced. Those who choose to pivot off of Towns will do so with Greg Monroe, who has played well lately and draws a cushy matchup. Dwight Howard, who has averaged 25.2 FanDuel points per game in three games since returning from an ankle injury, will be an afterthought in a matchup with Miami, who has allowed the eighth fewest fantasy points to opposing centers.

Why You Should Use Him:

A quick look at Howard's game log shows three straight games with low minutes and production. On a slate with auto-plays at center, that's all the attention many will give Howard. Let's delve deeper.

Howard was ejected from two of those games and saw limited minutes in a blowout in the other. Howard also faced San Antonio, Oklahoma City, and Washington in those three games, who are ranked fourth, fifth, and twelfth against centers respectively.

Before succumbing to an ankle injury, Howard was enjoying an incredibly productive January, averaging 44.14 FanDuel points per game. Over that 10-game stretch, he showcased his enormous ceiling, with three games of 50-plus and one standout 73.2-point performance. He also displayed a reliable floor, with zero games under 30 FanDuel points during that stretch.

Hassan Whiteside left with an injury six games ago after playing 10 minutes. During that six game span, the Heat have allowed opposing centers to average 33.62 FanDuel points per game, which is actually 1.16 higher than those six players’ season average. Most view this as a tough matchup for Howard, but Miami has actually been in the bottom half of the league against centers since Whiteside's departure. Howard has performed admirably in similar positions historically, averaging 42.51 FanDuel points per game in his past 10 matchups with Chris Bosh and the Miami Heat.

C.J. McCollum, SG, Portland Trail Blazers

FanDuel Price: $7,300
DraftKings Price: $6,900

Why He Will Go Overlooked:

Dwyane Wade has turned back the clocks and is putting up ridiculous numbers again for the Heat. He'll be the chalk today at shooting guard in a matchup with the Rockets. DeMar DeRozan, Khris Middleton, and Andrew Wiggins all draw great matchups, and Langston Galloway will again be popular if he draws another start. Expect C.J. McCollum to get lost in the shuffle and see low ownership.

Why You Should Use Him:

McCollum has a safer floor than any of the aforementioned shooting guards due to his role in the offense. McCollum maintains a career high Usage Rate of 27.2%, in large part due to the 18.3 field goal attempts the Blazers allow him to put up per game. McCollum has been below 20 FanDuel points only once all season.

The Blazers' 106 projected team total is the highest on the slate and four points above their season average. If they are going to cover that spread, McCollum is going to have to be a big part of it. Damian Lillard draws a tough matchup against the Bucks, who have given up the eighth fewest fantasy points to opposing point guards. Michael Carter-Williams is ranked eighth among active point guards in Defensive Real Plus-Minus.

McCollum, on the other hand, should have a much easier time in this matchup. Milwaukee has allowed the eighth most fantasy points to opposing shooting guards on the year, thanks in large part to the individual defense of Khris Middleton, who has a Defensive Real Plus-Minus of -1.60, ranking 60th among shooting guards. The Bucks' defense is also in the bottom 10 in three-pointers made and three-point percentage against, which is good news for McCollum, who shoots over six threes per game. McCollum put up 33.4 FanDuel points in this matchup earlier this season.

Kristaps Porzingis, PF, New York Knicks

FanDuel Price: $6,700
DraftKings Price: $7,000

Why He Will Go Overlooked:

Kristaps Porzingis has seen limited minutes in his last two games while recovering from an illness. He's also sandwiched in between Chris Bosh and Julius Randle, which will likely be the most common power forward combo on FanDuel barring any late-breaking injury news. Bosh draws a matchup with the Rockets, who have allowed the most fantasy points to opposing power forwards. Randle has played well lately and should see extended run if Larry Nance Jr. sits. He'll be very popular in a matchup against the Wolves, who he has crushed in two previous meetings.

Why You Should Use Him:

Coach Fisher initially said Porzingis wasn't 100% in his return, which may be reason for back to back games with under 25 minutes. Both those games were blowouts too though, so Fisher may have decided to be extra cautious with the rookie. He's now had six days to recover and should see 30-plus minutes tonight in what is expected to be a competitive game against the Celtics.

Boston is ranked 20th in Rebounding Rate as a team and has allowed the fourth most fantasy points to opposing power forwards. Porzingis averaged 41.3 FanDuel points per game in two previous meetings with Boston, despite playing just 27 minutes per game.

Boston plays at the third fastest pace in the NBA, and Vegas believes the Knicks will turn their extra possessions into extra points, as they are projected to outscore their season average by nearly three points. This pick has a lot of risk attached to it, but it's not often you get to target a player with the upside of Porzingis at a discounted price and ownership in a terrific matchup.

Luol Deng, SF, Miami Heat

FanDuel Price: $4,800
DraftKings Price: $4,800

Why He Will Go Overlooked:

It's Luol Deng. He has topped 35 FanDuel points once this season. Even for those choosing to stack this game, Deng will likely be the fourth or fifth option for Miami.

Why You Should Use Him:

While the absence of Hassan Whiteside gives a boost to many players, Deng is near the top of the list. Per, Deng's FanDuel points per minute rises from 0.58 with Whiteside on the court, to 0.78 with him off.

This is a huge pace-up game for the Heat, who are ranked 29th in Pace. Houston has played at the eighth fastest pace this season, and Vegas expects that to lead to a 3.6-point total increase for Miami.

Deng has topped 30 minutes in 11 straight games and is in line for 30-plus again tonight against a Rockets defense that has given up the third most fantasy points to opposing teams and the fourth most to opposing small forwards. Deng will primarily match up with Corey Brewer and Trevor Ariza, who are ranked 39th and 48th among small forwards in Defensive Real Plus-Minus.