College Basketball Daily Fantasy Helper: Thursday 3/18/21
March Madness is here, and we have a four-game slate today to kick off the NCAA Tournament.
You can get in all the college hoops hype by playing daily contests at FanDuel today. If you've played NBA DFS before, it's quite simple: pick a total of eight players -- four guards, three forwards, and one utility spot you can use for either position. Stay within the $50,000 salary cap and field the team you think will score the most fantasy points.
Where scoring differs from NBA is in the blocks and steals categories, with each worth two FanDuel points apiece rather than the three you get in NBA contests.
Now that you're in the know, we can attack Thursday's slate, which locks at 5:10 p.m EST.
Which players should you be targeting, and why?
Relevant injury situation to monitor: Drake Bulldogs guard ShanQuan Hemphill is questionable. Hemphill is the Bulldogs leading scorer and second leading rebounder. He has been out with a broken foot since mid-February. If he returns, Garrett Sturtz would likely be most affected by his presence (from a playing time standpoint). With that said, I'd imagine Hemphill would be limited even if he's available. Wichita State Shockers forward Trevin Wade should be available.
All stats come from KenPom unless otherwise noted.
Michael Weathers, Texas Southern ($8,000) - Weathers is intriguing due to his ability to contribute on both ends of the court. Amongst the regular rotation players, Weathers leads the Texas Southern Tigers in usage rate (26.5%), shot rate (25.6%; the percentage of the team's shots taken when the player is on the floor), assist rate (23.1%), and steal rate (3.8%). The senior is also efficient with the ball in his hands, as he owns an effective field goal percentage of 52.8%. Additionally, his 3.8% block rate ranks third amongst the Tigers. While the matchup with the Mount St. Mary's Mountaineers is a significant pace-down spot for Texas Southern, the Mountaineers provide little resistance on the defensive end of the court (ranked 136th in defensive efficiency, which is 6th worst amongst the field of 68).
Damian Chong Qui, Mount St. Mary's ($7,500) - It's easy to root this kid if you've heard about his background. Anyway, Chong Qui emerged as the Mountaineers' primary option on offense once leading scorer Jalen Gibbs opted out of the season after four games. Chong Qui is a good bet to log all 40 minutes on Thursday, as he has played the entire game in five consecutive contests. He's posting a team-leading usage rate (26.4%), shot rate (25.8%), and assist rate (33.8%). Additionally, this a massive pace-up game for the Mountaineers. Texas Southern ranks 41st in adjusted tempo, while Mount St. Mary's is 356th out of 357 teams in Division I. Texas Southern is also atrocious on defense. They check in at 236th in defensive efficiency.
Joseph Yesufu, Drake ($6,400) - Yesufu took over as the Bulldogs' floor general when Roman Penn was lost for the season. He has dominated usage with Penn and, subsequently, ShanQuan Hemphill sidelined. The sophomore leads the Bulldogs with a 25.7% usage rate and a 28.0% shot rate. He's also posting a 13.9% assist rate and 2.7% steal rate. Additionally, he's likely to play the entire game, as he's logged 199 out of 200 possible minutes over the last five games. Yesufu and the Bulldogs are in a good spot as they square off with Wichita State Shockers. The Shockers rank 103rd in adjusted defense.
Garrett Sturtz, Drake ($5,800) - Sturtz entered the starting lineup once leading scorer ShanQuan Hemphill went down due to a broken foot. In six-plus games without Hemphill, Sturtz is averaging 10.7 points, 7.0 rebounds, 1.9 assists, and 1.0 blocks/steals in 37.4 minutes (22.5 FanDuel points). As noted above, there is a chance that Hemphill returns on Thursday. I wouldn't let that sway me off of Sturtz though as Hemphill would likely be limited. The only thing that would concern me is if Hemphill replaces Sturtz in the starting lineup. If that scenario manifests itself, Alterique Gilbert ($5,800) is a fine pivot.
Tyger Campbell, UCLA ($4,800) - Campbell has logged 38 minutes in back-to-back games (excluding overtime in the Pac-12 tournament game). He's averaging 0.64 FanDuel points per minute. At that production level, he should pay off his salary in 30 minutes of action (assuming value is 4x of a player's salary). While his ceiling is probably out of the question due to the matchup with the Michigan State Spartans, who are ranked 32nd in adjusted defense, he provides a stable floor at a cost-friendly salary (at least 12.5 FanDuel points in six consecutive games). On the other side of the ball, Rocket Watts ($4,300) makes for an interesting tournament play. He's extremely inconsistent, but his ceiling is unmatched in his salary range.
Other players to consider for salary relief ($5,000 or less): DJ Wilkins (better if ShanQuan Hemphill is out), Kashaun Hicks, Dexter Dennis, Kyonze Chavis, and Rocket Watts.
Aaron Henry, Michigan State ($7,800) - Michigan State has struggled offensively nearly the entire season. Their best bet is to advance in the NCAA Tournament is to ride Henry as far as he can take him. He leads the Spartans in usage rate (27.1%), shot rate (27.8%), block rate (4.2%), and steal rate (2.4%). The future pro is also a willing rebounder (14.7% defensive rebounding rate) and solid ball distributor (24.8%). Consequently, I'm expecting Henry to be the most popular player on the slate. He's recorded at least 22.2 FanDuel points in nine straight games.
Nana Opoku, Mount St. Mary's ($5,900) - As noted above, Opoku and his Mountaineers teammates should benefit fantasy-wise from the anticipated pace increase. Opoku is a solid rebounder and an excellent rim protector. He's posting an 8.8% offensive rebounding rate, 15.0% defensive rebounding rate, and a 6.3% block rate. His usage rate is rather low (18.4%), but the tempo should help alleviate that concern. Over the last five games, Opoku is averaging nearly 26 FanDuel points in 37.4 minutes per game. He looks like one of the best options at the forward spot, which is rather unappealing on this slate.
Darnell Brodie, Drake ($5,600) - Brodie is a rebounding machine and a solid rim protector. His 29.3% defensive rebounding rate ranks 10th nationally. He's also posting a 2.6% block rate. The junior's playing time has spiked as the season draws to a close. Brodie has logged 35, 35, 27, and 36 minutes over the last four games, respectively. That's incredible considering he's only averaging 22.6 minutes per game this season. The bottom line is his salary hasn't adjusted to his increased role. Brodie is averaging an impressive 0.82 FanDuel points per minute.
Morris Udeze, Wichita State ($5,300) - Udeze's playing time increased significantly in the AAC tournament. He logged 32 and 35 minutes, respectively, in the Shockers' two tournament games. That is up significantly from his seasonal average of 23.3 minutes per game. In those two games, he averaged 10.0 points, 9.0 rebounds, 1.0 assists, and 2.5 blocks/steals (average of 26.2 FanDuel points). Additionally, Udeze struggled shooting the ball in those two games, which is unusual considering he's averaging 60.1% on field goal attempts this season. He only connected on 8 out of 19 field goal attempts (42.1%). If his shooting improves at all, he's a steal at his current salary.
Cody Riley, UCLA ($4,600) - With Jalen Hill out, Riley's size is needed in the Bruins' frontcourt. The junior is averaging 0.80 FanDuel points per minute. At that production level, he should pay off his salary in 23.0 minutes. Riley has logged 23-plus minutes in five straight games. If he can manage to stay out of foul trouble, his playing time could spike. In the two games (out of the last five) that Riley managed to stay out of foul trouble, he logged 28 and 32 minutes, respectively.
Other players to consider for salary relief ($5,000 or less): Trey Wade, Joey Hauser, RJ Duhart (only if he starts), James Lewis Jr. (only if he starts which would likely send RJ Duhart to the bench), and Malik Hall.
Matthew Hiatt is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Matthew Hiatt also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username easternmh. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his/her personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in his articles are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.