Starting 5: Trending Stats Watch - Tuesday, February 24th

The Starting 5 Series will provide Grinders a quick look at the day’s top positional plays, analyzed through the lens of our Daily Research Tools.

Today we’ll take a closer look at the Trending Stats Watch. We can use this tool to determine which players are getting a recent boost in minutes and how well they are performing with that extra playing time. The boost in minutes is often tied closely to injuries, so it’s a tool that goes hand and hand with the RotoGrinders daily lineup alerts.

Today I’ll look at FanDuel pricing.

Point Guards: Reggie Jackson ($4,400) and Russell Westbrook ($11,100)

I’m expecting this duo of Reggie Jackson and Westbrook to be the highest owned PG combo on FD tonight, and I’ll let the trending stats tool tell you why. First let’s look at the minutes over the past week:

Reggie Jackson

You have to scroll down a bit to find Jacksons, as his numbers are deceiving. He played 30 minutes in his first start in Detroit, which is only 2.51 minutes above his season average of 27.49 MPG. That doesn’t seem like a big boost, but Jackson’s MPG season average is being boosted from the starts he drew early in the season while Russell Westbrook was injured. If you look at his minutes over the past three weeks, you’ll see a -6.66, so his minutes were on serious decline in OKC. That decline in OKC brought his price down all the way to 4.4K, so he’s a steal now that he is back to playing starter’s minutes.

Jackson draws a solid matchup with Kyrie Irving and the Cavaliers, as Irving is not a good defender. The Cavs have surprisingly been very good against PGs this year (they are fifth in DVP on the season), but Irving’s weak defense looks to be starting to show up recently, as they are 23rd in DVP against PGs over the last three weeks.

Now let’s look at recent production with the “FPTS” tab:

Russell Westbrook has been simply unreal this year, and with Kevin Durant now out once again, he’s the first guy that should be put into your lineups. He’s averaging 53 FD points over his last three weeks and 53 FD points over the past week. In his last game against Denver, he put up an insane 54 fantasy points in only 27 minutes. The Pacers are league average against opposing PGs, but Westbrook’s talent and usage with Kevin Durant out are far from league average. It’s crazy to say, but even at 11.1K he’s a plug and play. FD is going to have to raise his price to at least 12K before I start to wonder whether he is worth it.

Shooting Guard: J. R. Smith ($5,300)

For shooting guards, let’s take a look at who has seen a recent boost in fantasy points per game by continuing to look at “FPTS” over the last three weeks.

J.R. Smith has really started to play well for the Cavaliers. Prior to his arrival in Cleveland, he was really struggling on a terrible Knicks team. However, with all the attention that LeBron, Kyrie and Kevin Love draw, he is getting wide open shots, which was not the case in New York.

Smith is making the most of this opportunity, averaging 26.29 fantasy points over the past three weeks, which is five fantasy points above his season average and also the 5x value we are looking for on FD. He’s picked it up even more over the past two games, as he has topped 30 FD points in each. If Stephen Curry sits, Klay Thompson is obviously option number 1 at SG tonight, but Smith makes for a very nice second SG to pair with Klay on FD.

Small Forward: James Johnson ($4,500)

First let’s look at the “MIN” tab:

James Johnson

I’ll be honest – I am terrified every time I roster James Johnson, and it’s not just because of his crazy neck tattoo. He is averaging 29 MPG over the past week, 25 MPG over the last three weeks, and averages just under a fantasy point per minute this year. As long as he gets his recent three-week average of 25 MPG, he should hit 22-25 FD points to pay off his salary in a plus matchup. My hesitancy in rostering Johnson is due to his incredibly volatile minutes – his minutes played in his last six games read as follows: 35, 35, 19, 19, 30, 19. However, it’s a short slate, and if tonight is one of the nights he gets 30+ minutes then he has considerable upside. He also checks in highly on the “FPTS” tab:

Johnson again checks in at the top of the list, averaging 30 fantasy points over his last two games and 26.20 fantasy points over the last three weeks, which is well above 5x value. He also draws a solid matchup with a fast-paced Mavericks team and the ageing Richard Jefferson.

I’ve noted the volatility of Johnson, and I think a sneaky option that is quietly starting to play much better is Andre Iguodala. He gets a nice boost if Curry is out, since he picks up more playmaking duties. In Curry’s absence on Sunday, he played 32 minutes and produced 28.8 FD. He doesn’t carry the ceiling of Johnson, but if Curry sits he makes for a solid cash game play. Two other value options are Al-Farouq Aminu and Richard Jefferson, who should see a boost with Chandler Parsons out, but picking which one to target can be tricky. Aminu had been playing better and was thought to be the biggest beneficiary, but last game it was Jefferson who took the majority of the minutes.

Power Forwards: Greg Monroe ($7,700) & Serge Ibaka ($7,200)

The PF spot is very thin tonight, as most of the PFs do not play heavy minutes and lack upside. However, Serge Ibaka and Greg Monroe are both playing solid minutes and present nice upside. Looking at the “MIN” tab shows us that Monroe is seeing a boost in playing time over the past few games:

It’s a short two-game sample size, but the early returns from the All-Star break have shown an increased willingness for Stan Van Gundy to play Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe together. Monroe has played 37 minutes in each game, while Drummond has played 39 and 33. It is worth noting that those games came against Chicago and Washington, who have big front lines, so it’s something to monitor going forward. In any event, Monroe has seen almost a seven-minute bump above his season average over the past week, and a four-minute bump above his season average in the past three weeks. If he plays 37 minutes again tonight, he should produce a great line against the weak defense of Kevin Love and the Cavs, who are 29th in DVP against PFs over the last three weeks.

Now let’s check out the “FPTS” tab:

Like Westbrook, Ibaka has really picked his game up with Kevin Durant out of the lineup. He’s averaging 42 FD points over his last three games, which is almost 14 FD points above his season average. The matchup with David West is far from ideal (Indiana is #1 in DVP against PFs on the season), but the thin PF position and Ibaka’s increased usage with Durant out makes up for the tough matchup. Also, the Pacers just gave up a huge game to a similar active, shot-blocking PF in Nerlens Noel, as Noel piled up nine blocks and four steals against them.

Center: Timofey Mozgov ($5,700)

For centers, let’s look at “FPTS” over the last three weeks:

Timofey Mozgov

Timofey Mozgov has come out of the gate slow and is more of a GPP play than a cash game play. However, prior to the All-Star break, he was playing quiet well, and he is averaging almost 25 FD points per game over the last three weeks. This game presents a nice opportunity for a slump buster, as the Cavs should need his size to deal with Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe. Also, the Pistons are 27th in DVP against opposing centers, which is the best center matchup of the night.

It’s also worth noting that Andre Drummond is showing up well in the trending stats, as has seen the same increased playing time that Greg Monroe has. However, going with three Pistons is a risky strategy, since the Cavs are favored by 6.5 points and have been blowing teams out. However, a stack of Jackson, Monroe and Drummond is a low owned, high upside GPP option if the Pistons can keep it competitive tonight.

About the Author

  • Andy Smith (a25smith)

  • Andy, aka a25smith , is an oil and gas attorney from Houston, Texas. He graduated from tiny Southwestern University but his allegiance lies with Texas A&M where his wife currently attends veterinary school. He started playing DFS in 2012 with a $150 bankroll and is now ranked in the top 50 of the RotoGrinders CFB leaderboard. His two best DFS sports are CFB and NBA. Follow Andy on Twitter @SouthwesternAg


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