March Madness CBB DFS Preview
It’s that time of year again! Everyone is filling out their brackets, picking their upsets, and skipping out of work early to watch the games. Why not get a DFS fix of the Madness to go along with your brackets? Here at DailyRoto we have you covered. We’ve ten teams that should be in it the for the tournament long haul and who you should target players from for DFS purposes.
North Carolina Tar Heels
SEED: 1 | TEMPO: Fast | DEFENSE: Average
The Heels are one of the favorites to win this year’s Tournament and for good reason. UNC swept the regular season and conference championship while playing in the best conference in the NCAA. Throughout the year, because of their up-tempo play, UNC has been one of the most targeted teams for DFS players – a trend that should continue throughout March Madness. North Carolina is built from the inside out with one of the best big men in the country, Brice Johnson, holding down the interior. Johnson is a great defensive player and is the most utilized in the offense. Across from Johnson, Kennedy Meeks plays the other forward role, but coming off an injury only plays 20-25 minutes per game. Even with his limited minutes, Meeks is a very talented player and still has the ability to score 30 fantasy points given the right matchup. Building out, Justin Jackson plays the three position for the Heels and has recently been lighting it up for beyond the arc. Jackson, one of the top 2015 recruits for the Heels, has had his price bounce around during the season due to his extremely streaky nature. Jackson is not the first option for the Heels but makes for a solid play if you can get him at a discounted price. Marcus Paige plays the shooting guard role for the Heels and will go down as one of the UNC all-time greats. However this year coming off injury, Paige has not found his three point shot. As a result, Paige’s price has come down a ton. If he gets hot as he did in the 2015 NCAA Tournament he will blow through his value threshold. Lastly, arguably UNC’s MVP in Joel Berry II, plays the point guard role for the Heels. Berry has taken a lot of the load off of Marcus Paige, becoming UNC’s second leading scorer. We saw Berry II get extremely hot during the ACC Tournament from three-point range. Berry is a great rebounder and assist maker and will generally always be a safe cash game play. The only other player to note for DFS would be Isaiah Hicks who comes off the bench and takes the other 15-20 minutes from Kennedy Meeks. He plays with a high motor and has an extremely high fantasy point per minute rate. Hicks often times makes for a great value consideration.
SEED: 1 | TEMPO: Extremely Slow | DEFENSE: Great
Virginia has traditionally been a top team to fade players against as they play at the pace of a Charlottesville snail. That said, their tempo is priced into their player’s salaries, so they do have the ability to make for fine plays – especially when they get a nice tempo boost. The Cavaliers run out a three-headed monster, spearheaded by senior guard Malcolm Brogdon. Brogdon is going to be one of the highest priced players on any given slate, but this is for good reason. In all three ACC tournament games, Brogdon took a minimum of 15 shots, including 21 in UVA’s championship loss to North Carolina. The second piece to UVA’s three-headed monster is point guard London Perrantes. Perrantes has an elite assist rate and led the ACC from three-point range, shooting 48% from beyond the arc. Depending on price, Perrantes is usually a safe cash game option. The third main piece to the Virginia offense is senior big man, Anthony Gill. Gill is a presence in the paint. In some of the matchups against smaller schools with undersized interiors, Gill should dominate and put himself in position to post double-doubles. With UVA’s plodding pace, many Cavaliers’ players have trouble hitting value on a day-to-day basis, but two value plays with upside in GPPs are Mike Tobey and Devon Hall. While Mike Tobey is a great rebounder, he’s not a great offensive player. Devon Hall will lead the timeshare for the third guard in the UVA offense, but he isn’t great in any one statistic. He’s a cheap option and he’s playing consistent minutes, so he can give you the ability to roster an extra stud if you need the cap space.
SEED: 2 | TEMPO: Fast | DEFENSE: Good
The Sooners play at an up-tempo pace and are also one of the best defensively in the country. As a result, Oklahoma is a below average matchup for opposing DFS players. Transitioning to the offensive side of the ball, the Sooner offense should be renamed the Buddy Hield show. Hield was second in the nation in scoring in 2015/16 and holds quality assist & rebound rates, aiding DFS teams. If you’re going to want the Big 12 Player of the Year (and likely National Player of the Year), you are going to have to pay a hefty price. In the right matchup, Hield could take over the game and put up 60 fantasy points. Isaiah Cousins and Jordan Woodard play the rest of the guard minutes, each taking their turn at point guard. Cousins has been criticized as a ball hog, taking too many shots away from Hield, but that is good for your DFS teams. Cousins will likely also have a hefty price tag, but in the right matchup he has huge upside. Woodard is more of your cash game play. He is the cheapest of the three guards, is a solid three-point shooter, and has an elite assist rate. He is not going to have the huge games that Cousins or Hield have, but he is good for 20-30 fantasy point’s day in day out. The interior of the Sooners is one that I have generally avoided this season. Ryan Spangler plays the four position and he’s a great rebounder. He does not do too much else and unless his price falls he is out of play for me. The center position is held down by a combo of Khadeem Lattin and Dante Buford. Lattin is an extremely talented player with huge block upside, but until he gets consistent minutes he cannot be trusted for DFS use. Buford generally plays even fewer minutes than Lattin and should not be in consideration.
SEED: 2 | TEMPO: Slow | DEFENSE: Great
Nova, similar to Virginia, is a team to fade opposing players against due to their slow pace and a great defense. Nova’s offense is one of the most efficient in the country and is led by power forward Kris Jenkins. Jenkins has really come on down the stretch, heating up after an injury to stud center Daniel Ochefu. Since Ochefu’s return, Jenkins has continued to score the basketball, complementing his solid assist and rebound rates. Ochefu is currently injured and has come off the bench in his last two games. If Ochefu recovers for the tournament and draws a start, he will make a great value as a result of his recent price drop. If Ochefu remains hampered by injury, Darryl Reynolds will draw the starts. Reynolds played extremely well with Ochefu out earlier in the season, proving his viability after posting up a forty-point game. This is a situation to monitor because one of these two will be a great value on nearly every slate. Josh Hart plays the three guard position for the Wildcats and is one of the best rebounding guards in the tournament. Hart is one of the top options for the Cats, and due to his consistent rebounding, he’s always going to be considered a safe cash game play. The two guard position is a timeshare between Jalen Brunson and Phil Booth. Neither of the two are great fantasy plays to begin with and with no consistent minutes, both should be ignored in DFS. The point guard role is held by senior captain Ryan Arcidiacono. Archie has been known to step up his play come tournament time, but for me he’s not in play for cash game rosters. He is a gifted scorer but does not provide enough in the way of peripheral stats to make him anything more than a GPP play. Off the bench, talented freshman Mikal Bridges plays the sixth man role and has great steal and block rates. At minimum price, Bridges makes a fine punt play.
SEED: 5 | TEMPO: Below Average | DEFENSE: Below Average
Purdue has a great interior defense due to their great height, but allows some guards to put up good performances against them. Purdue’s height is exemplified in senior seven footer AJ Hammons. Hammons has a top twenty-block rate nationally and is the top scorer on a really good Boilermaker team. The only problem with Hammons is that on some nights his motor decides to hit the kill switch. At his insanely high price, he is a cash game fade for me, but a great GPP play. Building out from the interior, is super freshman Caleb Swanigan. Swanigan is a talented scorer and the best rebounder in the Big 10. He recently received a minutes bump during the conference tournament, making him an elite play in all formats. Vince Edwards plays the small forward position and has been a safe cash game play all season. He can shoot the three, is a great rebounder, and leads the team in assists. The guard positions for Purdue are where things get a little shaky. Rapheal Davis, PJ Thompson, Dakota Mathias, and Johnny Hill split the two guard positions. They each have unique strengths in different facets of the game and split minutes differently in each contest. As a result, none of the Purdue guards are cash game plays and only Mathias (who is knock down from three point land) is in play in GPPs. In potential blowout games early in the tournament, backup center Isaac Haas makes a great GPP play, as the Boilermakers love to get Hammons rest. When given quality minutes, Haas is one of the top fantasy points per minute guys in the country.
SEED: 1 | TEMPO: Average | DEFENSE: Above Average
In a tournament with a ton of great defensive teams, Oregon will be below average and a team to target against for offensive players. Oregon will still be one of the top offensive targets led by stud forward Dillon Brooks. Brooks has come on during his sophomore campaign as a lead scorer for the Ducks, by simply outmuscling his defenders in the lane. In matchups against weaker, small school interiors, Brooks should put up big nights. Playing the center position for the Ducks is Chris Boucher. Boucher is one of the most difficult players to figure out from a DFS standpoint, but is generally priced similarly to Brooks. Boucher is 6’10, fourth in the nation in blocks, and a great three point shooter. When he’s on his game both shooting and blocking, he puts up 50 point performances. When he is off in one or both categories, his fantasy production falls. Consider Boucher the GPP option of the Oregon offense with Brooks being the safe cash game play. Elgin Cook plays the small forward role/three guard role, and similarly to Brooks, is able to outmuscle his defenders. Cook is a player that loves to run in transition and drive on defenders in the half court game. When Cook draws the matchup of an undersized guard, he has his biggest games. Tyler Dorsey runs the shooting guard position and is one of the streakiest shooters in the nation. Early in the season, Dorsey was priced as a stud player, but due to a cold spell his price has come way down. He recently heated up in the Pac-12 tournament but his price has yet to rebound. Tyler Dorsey will be a cheap value play early in the tournament until his price jumps – he should be priced as a stud. Casey Benson handles the point guard role for the Ducks but is generally out of consideration for DFS use as he hardly shoots and does not rack up peripheral statistics. Off the bench, Oregon utilizes Dwayne Benjamin as their sixth man. Benjamin was highly utilized by many DFS players this college basketball season as he plays between 20-30 minutes per game. I personally think there are better value options in the tournament than Dwayne, especially given some of the small school values.
SEED: 5 | TEMPO: Average | DEFENSE: Average
Indiana is a defense that was considered to be weak early in the year, but since the injury to James Blackmon Jr., they have really stepped up their game. Depending on price and other available options, Indiana can be targeted against for DFS play. Indiana’s offensive game will always be a top target. IU’s offense is led by senior guard Yogi Ferrell, whom it feels like has played at Indiana for ten years. Ferrell is going to likely play entire games during the tournament and has a knack for stepping up in big time environments. This season, Ferrell has been a safe cash game play but not a GPP option. For the tournament I think he steps up and has some massive outputs. The shooting guard position is normally held by Robert Johnson but he has missed his last few games with a high ankle sprain. If he plays, he is always a good value play and is a lethal three-point shooter. If Johnson does not play, Nick Zeisloft will draw the start but he is not worthy of DFS consideration. Troy Williams plays the small forward role for the Hoosiers and is one of the most athletic players in the country. He is a great defensive DFS player and racks up peripherals. Williams will likely be priced in the mid-range area and will represent a great value player for DFS teams. The power forward and center positions are interesting for the Hoosiers as they are split by the combo of Thomas Bryant, Colin Hartman, Max Bielfeldt, and OG Anunoby. Hartman is a three point bomber, Bielfeldt gets the most playing time against big interiors, Anunoby is a talented freshman that is recently getting more run, and Thomas Bryant is a fouling machine. Any of the four could have big games and are all GPP only options on any given slate. Bryant is my favorite of the four.
SEED: 4 | TEMPO: Slow | DEFENSE: Good
Kentucky is a really solid defensive team with a lot of length inside. The way to beat them offensively is through three point shooting and free throws, so guards make better DFS plays against the Cats. On the offensive side of the ball, everything runs through Tyler Ulis. You are going to have to pay a premium for Ulis but he is worth every penny. In the SEC tournament he averaged 27 points and 5 assists – great production relative to his price. Ulis is also great at nabbing steals, giving you an even larger upside in GPPs. Jamal Murray plays the shooting guard role, which fits him nicely as he loves to shoot the rock. Murray took nearly 500 shots this season with over half coming from beyond the arc. He has scored over 20 real-life points in 13 straight games, giving him a safe floor with peripheral statistics and huge scoring nights giving him GPP upside. Isaiah Briscoe plays the third guard role and is a bit of an afterthought in the high-powered Kentucky offense. He will likely be a cheap value option that will be in play in up-tempo matchups. Alex Poythress plays the power forward role and is the prototypical Kentucky big-man. He splits minutes with Derek Willis, a 6’9 three-point bomber that has spent most of the year in the starting lineup. Unless Calipari changes his rotations in the tournament, neither player is safe for cash games. The center position has a similar problem with #2 overall recruit Skal Labissiere recently joining the starting lineup. Skal has earned a few starts, but only played four and eight minutes in his last two games respectively, so he is out of any DFS consideration. Marcus Lee (another prototypical Kentucky big man) controls the rest of the center minutes, but is a GPP-only play because I feel that Coach Cal could go back to Labissiere at any moment.
SEED: 1 | TEMPO: Above Average | DEFENSE: Good
On paper Kansas is a solid defensive team, but they play at a relatively fast tempo, allowing for increased possessions and fantasy points for opposing players. As a result, in the tournament Kansas is an average team to target against. Offensively, Coach Self is very nice to DFS players, playing the same five athletes the majority of the game. The leading minutes recipient for the Jayhawks is point guard, Frank Mason. Mason is a mid-range guard that is generally regarded as the ultimate cash game option. The reason for this is that he is a great scorer and provides points in both peripheral categories as well as steals. Mason will never blow you away with a huge night but is always a cash option. Devonte Graham is the second point guard on the floor for the Jayhawks. He is a really good three-point shooter and high upside player. He’s generally cheaper than Mason and more the GPP play of the Kansas backcourt. Wayne Selden Jr. locks down the small forward position for the Jayhawks. He is one of the most aggravating players in the nation to play because he has consistently bombed in great matchups. Selden always has the ability to have a huge scoring game but I’m not going to touch him this tournament. Perry Ellis plays the power forward position for Kansas and is their best overall player. He has a great mid-range game and is a solid rebounder. Ellis also gives you the piece of mind that he won’t get into foul trouble, as he’s averaging less than two fouls per game, great numbers for a big man. Ellis, depending on price, should be in play in all formats. Landen Lucas plays the five for the Jayhawks but he’s more of a defensive player than an offensive one. He’s shooting only 11% of the Jayhawks’ shots while in the game, which takes him out of DFS consideration for yours truly.
Michigan State Spartans
SEED: 2 | TEMPO: Slow | DEFENSE: Great
Under Tom Izzo, Michigan State is one of the best defensive teams in the country and should not be targeted against for DFS play. Offensively for the Spartans, everything runs through Denzel Valentine. He is a gifted player and a threat for a triple double every time he takes the floor. Valentine will likely be the most expensive player in the tournament and this is for good reason. If Valentine gets a good matchup, fade at your own risk. Bryn Forbes plays the two guard position and is a GPP only play for me. He is a great shooter and will likely score a ton of points during the tournament, but he does not rack up peripheral statistics. Eron Harris plays the third guard position for the Spartans – and similarly to Forbes – is terrible at collecting peripheral statistics. It’s almost like Valentine is just sucking up all the peripherals for the team. Harris is a role player and unless you find him dirt-cheap, he should not be used in DFS. Talented freshman Deyonta Davis plays the power forward position for the Spartans. He plays with a high motor and is great on the defensive end of the floor, racking up steals and blocks. Davis makes for a great value play, but always has foul trouble problems, making him a little risky in cash. Matt Costello is Michigan State’s second stud player, locking down the center position. He is a great interior scorer with huge rebounding upside. In games against weak small school interiors, Costello should dominate. Even in harder matchups this season, Costello has played well.
Good Luck with your brackets and DFS teams and as always hit me up on twitter @DCoop328dfs or in the DailyRoto March Madness Forum!
*Statistics courtesy of KenPom.com