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NBA DFS Risers and Fallers for Week 21

We've reached peak tank season, and it's coupled with "let's see what these bench guys are capable of" (on good teams, mind you, the bad ones have long been playing reserves) season. As teams have just 15-18 games left on their schedule, playoff teams are tapering their starters minutes in preparation for the playoff stretch and we've got 10 Day Contract guys racking up 25+ minutes on some bottom-feeders teams. It creates a lot of uncertainty around starters' minutes - which makes this DFS beast tough to wrestle with this time of year.

My advice for these last two-three weeks is to focus your spend-up plays on guys/teams with something left to play for. These are the players more than likely to push 32+ minutes and they've also got the "something left to play for" narrative working for them too, if you're into that sort of thing (I am).

Before I get further off on a tangent, here are two players whose current salaries outweigh their production, and two others who have become too cheap to ignore. Let's take a look.

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DFS Value Risers - Week 21

Josh Richardson (SG/SF, MIA)

I realize that Justice Winslow is the current sexy small forward du jour, but his teammate J-Rich has some serious GPP appeal now thanks to a dwindling price, steady minutes, and ownership rates dropping. It makes sense why Winslow is getting so much attention - the minutes are not only consistent, but they're more plentiful than ever before and he seems to have "figured it out." Still, despite a crowded back court, Miami is a little thin on the wing and Richardson doesn't really scream "rest his legs for the playoffs." There is some speculation in that latter part of that statement, but as I alluded to in the intro, we have to make some inferences about who will play more, who will play less, etc during this tank and rest season pre-playoffs. My gut tells me Richardson could still see his allotment of minutes (over 30 minutes in 9 of last 10 Heat games) and he could also pick up some more ball-handling duties on the second unit. Point-wing J-Rich is a more attractive play than standard wing J-Rich. Additionally, now that his price is below 6k, we know he's capable of returning much more on the dollar.

T.J. McConnell (PG, PHI)

McConnell's Usage rate has dipped over the Sixers's last few games, but the minutes have been been pretty darn consistent. (And a consistently high Usage rate was never going to happen for a player like T.J. as the Sixers have so much offensive firepower). Somewhat curiously, even in beating his price implied total in two of his last four games, the price has come down. It now sits at it's lowest point of the last 30 days, and I'm itching to fire him up in tournaments - preferably on a day where either Joel Embiid or Ben Simmons sits for rest. Rest days come often for the big man Embiid, but as Philadelphia has all but locked up a spot in the middle of the Eastern Conference, I envision them giving some rest to other starters too. That's the type of situation McConnell can shine in, and potentially return 10x on his price. Still, even with others sitting, he is a viable punt so long as his minutes per game remain above 20 - and they have. Over Philadelphia's last five games, he's averaged 22.5 minutes, which is just 1.5 lower than his season average. Plugging McConnell into your lineups is not without risk, but the upside is there and he'll likely be paired with low ownership nightly.


DFS Value Fallers - Week 21

Rudy Gay (SF/PF, SAS)

One great (okay - outstanding) performance, and Mr. Gay's price has shot through the roof. Normally, when a player is priced in the lower tiers and pops off for a great performance - we see this spike, not so much because of the raw points they contributed - but rather, the outstanding return on investment. The DraftKings pricing here is quite questionable, though. Gay produced a +22 above salary based expectations three games ago, and the price has only dropped $100 since - despite not even coming close to cashing in his most recent performance and barely scraping value in the other. A quick dig through his game logs reveals discouraging results even when he was priced below 5k. As it stands now, Gay is an avoid in all formats - with the lone exception coming on nights where Coach Popovich decides to rest *everyone*.  Still, I'd like to see the price drop much lower before I'd be comfortable throwing him in my lineup.

Hassan Whiteside (C, MIA)

It's hard to tell if it's from struggling play, a lack of big men on the other side of the ball to defend, or just a coach's decision - but Hassan's court minutes have taken a pretty big hit this past week. As such, production has dwindled and he is a GPP-only guy right now - at best. Outside of a tiny slate (where you could roster him to be unique), I'd suggest removing Whiteside from your radar. He had a really strong February, and the price was slow to creep up and that created a ton of +value potential. Now that he's at/near his price peak and hasn't eclipsed 24 minutes in his past four games, he's an easy fade for me. The fantasy scoring potential is always there as he's a stat-stuffer, but you shouldn't feel comfortable spending nearly 8k for a player who's minutes fluctuate too often.


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