3 Under-the-Radar Daily Fantasy Basketball Plays for 2/9/16

The first rule of NBA DFS is don't play bigs against Utah, right? Not so fast.

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 risk-reward styles make more sense.

Dirk Nowitzki, PF, Dallas Mavericks

FanDuel Price: $6,800
DraftKings Price: $5,800

Why He Will Go Overlooked:

Nobody ever feels good about rostering a player against Utah, especially a post player. Dirk Nowitzki is often overlooked in daily fantasy, regardless of the matchup, due to the perception that he doesn't have big upside.

There are plenty of other ways to go at power forward tonight, including Draymond Green and Derrick Favors in terrific matchups. LaMarcus Aldridge has been playing very well recently, and people will likely risk rolling with him in a tough matchup before taking a chance on Nowitzki. Rookie phenom Kristaps Porzingis has posted back to back big games, and is always a popular option when he is playing well.

Why You Should Use Him:

Nowitzki is a better play on DraftKings, where he is much more conservatively priced. If you're going strictly for a contrarian approach, Nowitzki will likely have lower ownership on FanDuel due to the more expensive price tag.

Nowitzki has played well recently, averaging 30 FanDuel points over his past five games. He has posted 30-plus in three of those games, with one game of 40-plus. Even more encouraging, two of those big performances came against the tough defenses of the Heat and the Grizzlies, giving hope that Nowitzki may be able to ignore tonight's poor matchup.

In 15 career games against Derrick Favors, Nowitzki has averaged 33.85 FanDuel points. Nowitzki has been especially effective against Favors recently, averaging 35.92 FanDuel points in their past four matchups, including a 33.8 performance against Favors earlier this season.

Favors clearly struggles to keep up with Nowitzki, who doesn't play like a traditional power forward. This is backed by the fact that Nowitzki has averaged 2.5 threes per game, while shooting 53% from behind the arc against Favors in their past four matchups. Those numbers are big improvements from his 1.5 threes made and 37% from three in all other games during that time period. Nowitzki shot a perfect three for three in his matchup with Favors this season.

As alluded to earlier, the fact that Utah has allowed the fewest points to opposing power forwards, while impressive, doesn't necessarily spell doom for Nowitzki, who doesn't play like a traditional power forward. For a more accurate look at how Utah (specifically with Favors in the lineup) has fared against stretch-fours, I took a look through their game log. In 16 games that Favors has played against stretch fours that played at least 25 minutes at power forward, the Jazz allowed the opposing power forwards to average a whopping 36.6 FanDuel points per game. For reference, the power forwards that fell into that category were Serge Ibaka, Draymond Green, Ryan AndersonDeMarcus Cousins, Paul GeorgeMarkieff Morris Kevin LoveChris BoshPaul Millsap, and, of course, Dirk Nowitzki.

Michael Carter-Williams, PG, Milwaukee Bucks

FanDuel Price: $6,200
DraftKings Price: $5,900

Why He Will Go Overlooked:

Stephen Curry and John Wall will be the chalk at point guard, while Michael Carter-Williams will be largely ignored in a matchup against the Celtics, who have allowed the fewest fantasy points to opposing point guards.

Why You Should Use Him:

Rolling with Carter-Williams is always a risky proposition, as his minutes and production fluctuate greatly from game to game. His production has been as erratic as ever recently, with three games of over 32 FanDuel points and three games of under 16 FanDuel points in his past eight contests. He has seen fairly consistent minutes during that time though, playing 31 minutes per game and never dropping below 26 minutes.

Vegas has Milwaukee set to outscore their season average by four points tonight, which bodes well for Carter-Williams. This is also a huge pace-up game for Carter-Williams, as Milwaukee ranks 24th in Pace, while Boston ranks third. Carter-Williams has topped 35 FanDuel points 15 times this season. 13 of those 15 games have been played against teams who rank in the top 14 in Pace.

While Boston ranks first against opposing point guards, that's more dependent on scheme than the individual efforts of their diminutive point guard, Isaiah Thomas, who is the 66th ranked point guard in Defensive Real Plus-Minus.

While one could speculate that the Celtics will put Avery Bradley or Marcus Smart on Carter-Williams, there really is nobody to try to hide Isaiah Thomas against. Milwaukee's backcourt minutes are accounted for by Carter-Williams, Khris Middleton, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jerryd Bayless, and O.J. Mayo, who all stand above 6'3" and have an average height of 6'7".

The 6'6" Carter-Williams should be able to take advantage of the defense of the 5'9" Thomas, as he has in the past. In three games against Thomas last season, Carter-Williams averaged 31.20 FanDuel points.

Tyler Zeller, C, Boston Celtics

FanDuel Price: $4,100
DraftKings Price: $3,800

Why He Will Go Overlooked:

Well for one, it is Tyler Zeller. Second, he is a member of the Boston frontcourt, which means he could see anywhere from zero to 30 minutes in any given game.

Most will be focusing on Greg Monroe and Dwight Howard at center today, which should keep Zeller's ownership in check.

Why You Should Use Him:

It's always a guessing game when trying to project minutes for Boston's frontcourt, but it has been Zeller who appears to be on coach Brad Stevens' good side currently. Zeller has played 20 or more minutes in three of his past four games and has more minutes during that span than the likes of Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynyk, or Amir Johnson.

Zeller has responded to his recent opportunity, averaging just over 25 FanDuel points per game in his past four.

Assuming Zeller gets extended run again, he should be able to take advantage of a prime matchup. Milwaukee has struggled to defend opposing posts all year, which isn't surprising considering they're ranked 22nd in Rebounding Rate and 26th in Defensive Efficiency.

Greg Monroe is ranked 39th among centers in Defensive Real Plus-Minus, while Jabari Parker ranks 89th of 94 centers. Milwaukee will also be without their best interior defender, John Henson, whose 1.98 blocks per game ranks sixth in the NBA and 5.69 blocks per 48 minutes ranks second.