College Basketball Daily Fantasy Helper: Saturday 3/20/21
March Madness is here, and we have an eight-game slate today to finish out the first round of 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 Friday's slate, which locks at 12:15 p.m EST.
Which players should you be targeting, and why?
Relevant injury situation to monitor: Kansas Jayhawks forward Jalen Wilson is out. Michigan Wolverines forward Isaiah Livers is questionable/doubtful with a foot injury. California-Santa Barbara Gauchos guard Ajare Sanni is expected to play. Alabama Crimson Tide guard Josh Primo is questionable.
All stats come from KenPom unless otherwise noted.
Herbert Jones, Alabama ($8,100) - The lanky guard was the catalyst behind Alabama's SEC tournament championship. Over the last three SEC tournament games, Jones averaged 13.7 points, 10.3 rebounds, 5.7 assists, 4.7 blocks/steals in 28.7 minutes (equates to an average of 41.9 FanDuel points). His versatility is nearly unmatched in college basketball. I'm expecting Jones' stellar play to continue as the Crimson Tide have a date with the MAAC champions, Iona Gaels. Only five NCAA tournament teams rank worse in defensive efficiency than Iona does (161st). I also like Isaiah Miller ($7,900), Franz Wagner ($7,700), and Cameron Thomas ($7,300) as high end guard investments.
JaQuori McLaughlin, UCSB ($6,700) - From a rates perspective, McLaughlin is an elite play. He owns a 25.6% usage rate (leads team), 24.9% shot rate (percentage of the team's shots taken by the player when the player is on the court), effective field goal percentage of 55.6%, 10.1% defensive rebounding rate, 32.3% assist rate, and 2.9% steal rate. While the game with Creighton is a tough matchup (Creighton 39th in defensive efficiency), it's also a significant pace-up spot for UCSB. The Gauchos are 294th in adjusted tempo nationally while Creighton is 143rd. On the other side of the ball, Marcus Zegarowski ($6,900) is an appealing play. The same can be said about Kyle Lofton ($7,000). Marcus Weathers ($6,800) is in play despite the brutal matchup. He'll likely be an afterthought on this slate.
Marcus Garrett, Kansas ($6,400) - Kansas is once again shorthanded with Jalen Wilson ruled out due to COVID-19 protocols. Wilson's absence should open up a ton of usage (23.6% usage rate) and rebounding opportunities (leads team with a 22.5% defensive rebounding rate). Garrett will likely play nearly the entire game. He's one of the best defenders in the country. From a rates perspective, Garrett does a little of everything. He checks in with an 18.4% usage rate, 13.0% defensive rebounding rate, 20.3% assist rate, and 2.9% steal rate. Further enhancing his appeal is a juicy matchup with Eastern Washington. Eastern Washington loves to push the pace, and they struggle defensively. Nationally, the Eagles rank 28th in adjusted tempo and 149th in defensive efficiency. Backcourt mate, Ochai Agbaji ($6,000) is a good option, as well. I also like Scottie Barnes ($6,100)
Jaden Shackleford, Alabama ($5,300) - Shackleford leads the Crimson Tide with 24.6% shot rate. He's averaging 0.76 FanDuel points per minute. At that production rate, he should pay off his salary in 27.9 minutes (assuming value is 4.0 points per $1,000 in salary). The sophomore is averaging 29.3 minutes per game this season. He logged 37 minutes in the SEC Championship game. Christian Braun ($5,300) and Jalen Adaway ($5,300) are other players I like in Shackleford's salary range. Braun will likely have to play a ton of minutes and should have more opportunity with Jalen Wilson sidelined.
Keon Ellis, Alabama ($4,500) - Ellis' fantasy prospects rely on the status of Josh Primo. If Primo plays (looks unlikely), Ellis probably should be avoided. I'm assuming Primo won't play, which would allow Ellis to make his second consecutive start. When Ellis receives playing time, he produces. The freshman leads Alabama with a 112.7 offensive rating. Additionally, his versatility on both ends of the court makes him intriguing, especially at his current salary. Ellis has a 5.3% offensive rebounding rate, 17.1% defensive rebounding rate, 10.5% assist rate, and 3.2% steal rate. If Primo is back, Devearl Ramsey ($4,500) is a viable alternative. He's logged 30-plus minutes in three straight games.
Other players to consider for salary relief ($5,000 or less): Drew Peterson, Eli Brooks, Anthony Polite, Keyshaun Langley, Devearl Ramsey, Mitch Ballock, Chaundee Brown Jr., and Dajuan Harris Jr. (better if he starts).
Evan Mobley, Southern California ($8,500) - Mobley is an excellent rebounder and an elite protector. He's also one of the nation's best offensive players (118.5 offensive rating). It'll be an enormous challenge for the Drake Bulldogs to try to contain the Southern California Trojans' center. The Bulldogs have only one player above 6-foot-6 on their roster (Darnell Brodie). That explains why their opponents are significantly more successful inside the three-point line versus the Bulldogs. Drake ranks 24th nationally against the three-point shot and 155th against two-pointers. Drake allowed Wichita State center Morris Udeze to record 22 points, four rebounds, and one assist in the First Four game. Additionally, Mobley enters the NCAA tournament having tallied at least 48 FanDuel points in each of his last two games.
Osun Osunniyi, St. Bonaventure ($7,800) - The St. Bonaventure Bonnies will likely be popular targets because all five starters are averaging 30-plus minutes per game this season. Plus, the contest with LSU is a major pace-up game for the Bonnies. LSU ranks 78th in adjusted tempo while the Bonnies are 319th. LSU also struggles defensively as they sit 126th in defensive efficiency. Osunniyi is the Bonnies' starting center, and he's averaging nearly a double-double this season. He's an elite rim protector (10.7% block rate), which enhances his DFS appeal. Osunniyi enters the NCAA tournament on a roll. He averaged 37.6 FanDuel points during the Atlantic 10 tournament (three games). Hunter Dickinson ($7,400) is an interesting tournament option if you can't quite get to Osunniyi/Mobley.
David McCormack, Kansas ($6,500) - McCormack is expected to play after missing the Big 12 tournament. If we assume he's fully healthy, he's in a smash spot. The Jayhawks' forward is posting a healthy 28.8% usage rate, 29.8% shot rate, 12.6% offensive rebounding rate, 16.5% defensive rebounding rate, and 4.9% block rate. Other then the defensive rebounding rate, all of those clips lead Kansas. More usage and rebounding opportunities should open up with Jalen Wilson out. McCormack is one of the best point-per-dollar plays on the slate. The minutes were down slightly for RaiQuan Gray ($6,300) in the ACC tournament. If his minutes were to spike, he'd be significantly under-salaried.
Christian Bishop, Creighton ($5,000) - The Creighton Bluejays' center is averaging 0.95 FanDuel points per minute. At that production rate, he should pay off his salary in 21.1 minutes of action. Bishop averaged 22.8 minutes per game this season. In the Big East tournament, he logged 27 minutes in Creighton's one non-blowout game. Chudier Bile ($5,100) and Isaiah Mobley ($5,100) are fantastic plays in Bishop's salary range. Jamarko Pickett ($5,600) is way down in salary after struggling in the Big East championship game. He's a good play at his current salary.
Brandon Johns Jr., Michigan ($3,800) - Johns is a great source of salary relief. He drew the start for the injured Isaiah Livers in the Wolverines' loss to Ohio State in the semifinals of the Big 10 tournament. Johns managed to tally 18.6 FanDuel points despite missing all three of his field goal attempts. I'm expecting Livers to sit on Saturday, which should gives Johns another start. Michigan is a good team target as they face off with an atrocious Texas Southern defense. Texas Southern ranks 220th in defensive efficiency, which is easily the worst among all NCAA tournament teams.
Other players to consider for salary relief ($5,000 or less): Evan Battey, Miles Norris, Shanquan Hemphill, Dylan Van Eyck, Hayden Koval, and Mitch Lightfoot (better if he starts).
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.