College Basketball Daily Fantasy Helper: Monday 3/22/21
March Madness is here, and we have an eight-game slate today to finish out the second 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 Monday's slate, which locks at 12:10 p.m EST.
Which players should you be targeting, and why?
Relevant injury situations to monitor: Oklahoma Sooners guard De'Vion Harman is out due to Covid-19 protocols. Michigan Wolverines guard Isaiah Livers is out due to a foot injury. Alabama Crimson Tide guard Josh Primo is a game-time decision. Kansas Jayhawks Jalen Wilson is expected to play.
All stats come from KenPom unless otherwise noted.
Franz Wagner, Michigan ($7,700)/Jason Preston, Ohio ($7,800) - I couldn't decide which guard I wanted to mention as a high-end investment so I decided to write about both Franz Wagner and Jason Preston. Wagner is intriguing because he can affect both ends of the court. Surprisingly, his usage rate is rather low (19.1%) but I expect that to rise with Isaiah Livers sidelined. He ranks second amongst the Wolverines in defensive rebounding rate (19.1%), assist rate (17.5%), and block rate (3.2%). He has one of the best matchups on the slate. The Louisiana State Fighting Tigers love to push the gas pedal (78th in adjusted tempo) and they're not particularly concerned with playing defense (123rd in defensive efficiency).
Meanwhile, Preston will likely play all 40 minutes for the second consecutive game (barring foul trouble). He is one of the few college players with the ability to post a triple-double. Preston leads the Ohio Bobcats in usage rate (25.1%), defensive rebounding rate (21.6%), and assist rate (38.1%). In tournament action (three MAC tournament games and one NCAA tournament game), Preston is averaging 38.4 FanDuel points. I will also note that there are a slew of good tournament plays with salaries just above Wagner and Preston. That includes Jalen Suggs ($8,000), McKinley Wright IV ($8,100) and Herbert Jones ($8,100). Suggs may go unnoticed after struggling in the Gonzaga Bulldogs' first-round game. Wright IV has been on fire for nearly the last month (averaging 36.0 FanDuel points over the last seven games). Jones is one of the most versatile players in college basketball (averaging 1.0 FanDuel points per minute).
Chris Duarte, Oregon ($6,800) - This might be the first time this season that we've seen Duarte's salary under $7,000. There is a good chance that Duarte plays nearly the entire game (barring foul trouble). He managed to play 39 out of 40 possible minutes in the Oregon Ducks' Pac-12 semi-final loss to Oregon State. Duarte offers considerable upside due to multi-category ability. He's tied with Eugene Omoruyi for the team lead in scoring (averaging 16.7 points per game). The senior ranks in the top-45 nationally in effective field goal percentage (63.0%) and true shooting percentage (65.4%). Duarte is also a willing rebounder (14.4% defensive rebounding rate) and ball distributor (13.4% assist rate). His 2.9% block rate and 3.3% steal rate are just the cherry on top of the dessert. Marcus Zegarowski ($6,900) is an incredibly appealing option as well. He'll face off with a vulnerable Ohio defense. The Bobcats are 154th in defensive efficiency (second-worst amongst the remaining NCAA tournament teams).
Elijah Harkless, Oklahoma ($5,500) - With De'Vion Harman sidelined, Harkless will have to play as many minutes as he can handle. He's also the Sooners' top defender so, needless to say, his presence on the court is vital. On paper, the matchup with the top overall seed the Gonzaga Bulldogs looks unappealing (sixth in defensive efficiency). However, the Bulldogs love to push the tempo so the pace boost offsets some of that concern. Gonzaga is 4th in adjusted tempo while Oklahoma is 223rd. Harkless leads Oklahoma with a 17.6% defensive rebounding rate and a 4.0% steal rate. His 18.7% usage rate figures to rise with Harmon out of the lineup. Harmon ranks third amongst the Sooners in usage rate (20.1%). Damien Jefferson ($5,700) is a viable alternative/compliment to Harkless.
Eli Brooks, Michigan ($5,000) - From a math standpoint, Brooks is a solid source of a salary relief. The Wolverines shooting guard is averaging .62 FanDuel points per minute. At that production level, he should pay off his salary in 32.3 minutes of action (assuming value is 4.0 points per $1,000 in salary). He's logged 35-plus minutes in three consecutive games. Throw in a juicy matchup with LSU and Brooks makes for a fine play. Backcourt mate Mike Smith ($5,200) is more volatile but also has a higher ceiling than Brooks. Denzel Mahoney ($5,100) and Will Richardson ($5,100) also make for acceptable plays in Brooks' salary range.
Eric Williams Jr., Oregon ($4,800) - Williams Jr.'s rates are pretty similar to his teammate, LJ Figueroa ($6,100). However, Figueroa's salary is significantly higher than Williams Jr. (side note: I also like Figueroa). Both players have a 7.0% offensive rebounding rate and a 17.0% defensive rebounding. Williams Jr. has a slightly higher usage rate (19.0% to Figueroa's 18.5%) while Figueroa's defensive rates are slightly better (block rate and steal rate). Additionally, both players are averaging over 30 minutes per game (30.8 minutes per game for Williams Jr. and 31.2 minutes per game for Figueroa). Finally, the battle with Iowa will be a pace-up spot for Oregon. The Ducks are 242nd in adjusted tempo while Iowa is 108th. Aundre Hyatt ($3,900) is coming off a stellar performance in which he tallied 13 points and 10 rebounds. He's logged 33 and 32 minutes over the last two games, respectively.
Other players to consider for salary relief ($5,000 or less): Reggie Miller, Drew Peterson, Anthony Polite, MJ Walker, Mitch Ballock, Tyger Campbell, Umoja Gibson, Hakeem Hart, and Aundre Hyatt.
Luka Garza, Iowa ($9,500) - First off, this slate is loaded with viable value plays, so finding the salary to roster Garza shouldn't be an issue. The B1G Ten Player of the Year provides a floor that is nearly un-matched in college basketball along with a sky-high ceiling. The senior has recorded at least 31 FanDuel points in six straight games. Oregon will have their hands full with Garza. The Ducks are below the Division I average in two-point field percentage allowed (50% allowed, Division I average is 49.8%) which happens to be where the Iowa Hawkeyes' star does most of his work. They also struggle to corral their own misses as they check in 153rd in offensive rebound percentage. Garza's two biggest strengths, scoring in the paint and rebounding, are two of the Ducks' biggest weaknesses. Drew Timme ($8,500) and Evan Mobley ($8,500) are fine high-end forward investments. Timme is averaging 1.14 FanDuel points per minute; if Oklahoma can keep the game competitive, Timme's playing time would likely reach into the lower 30s. Mobley is averaging 41.2 FanDuel points over the last four games.
Eugene Omoruyi, Oregon ($7,300) - Omoruyi checks all the boxes of an elite fantasy play. The matchup is juicy, his rates are outstanding, and he's logging heavy minutes. The contest with Iowa is a pace-up game for Oregon (as mentioned above). Omoruyi leads the Ducks with a 29.2% usage rate and a 29.2% shot rate. He's also posting an 8.5% offensive rebounding rate, 12.7% defensive rebounding rate, 14.6% assist rate, 2.0% block rate, and 2.9% steal rate. The senior averaged 32.5 minutes per game in the Pac-12 tournament (two games).
Joe Wieskamp, Iowa ($6,400) - Wieskamp's playing time has spiked during tournament season. The versatile forward has played 35, 37, and 36 minutes over the last three games (two B1G Ten tournament games and the first round of the NCAA tournament). He only averaged 29.1 minutes per game this season. Wieskamp's usage rate and shot rate trails only Luka Garza amongst the Hawkeyes' regular rotation players. He leads the team with an effective field goal percentage of 60.8%. Finally, the junior has collected at least seven rebounds in each of the last three games. David McCormack ($6,500), Ben Vander Plas ($6,300), and RaiQuan Gray ($6,300) are all interesting options with salaries in Wieskamp's range. McCormack had an impressive first-round performance despite missing the Big 12 tournament due to Covid-19. Vander Plas has logged 37-plus minutes in four straight games. Meanwhile, if Gray continues to play 30-plus minutes (31 minutes in the first-round game), he's under-salaried (averaged 24.0 minutes in the two ACC tournament games).
Christian Bishop, Creighton ($5,000) - The Creighton Bluejays' center recorded a double-double (tallied 33.2 FanDuel points) in a close round-one win over California-Santa Barbara. Despite the impressive outing, Bishop's salary hasn't budged. The junior is averaging 0.95 FanDuel points per minute. At that production rate, he should pay off his salary in 21.1 minutes of action. In the Bluejays' last two competitive games, he's logged 27 and 32 minutes, respectively. From a points per dollar perspective, Bishop is my favorite play on the slate. Isaiah Mobley ($5,100) and Brady Manek ($5,100) are also great plays that may go unnoticed. Mobley has cleared 20 FanDuel points in three straight games while Manek is locked into heavy minutes for the short-handed Sooners. Manek is averaging nearly 28 FanDuel points per game over the last five games.
Brandon Johns Jr., Michigan ($3,800) - Johns Jr. has replaced an injured Isaiah Livers in the Wolverines' starting lineup. In two starts, the junior is averaging 9.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, 1.5 assists, and 1.0 blocks/steals in 24.5 minutes. Despite the solid stat line, he's connected on 40% or fewer of his field goals attempts in both games, which is semi-surprising since he's shooting 52.9% from the field this season. If he starts knocking down a few jumpers, there's a great chance he tops 20 FanDuel points. As noted above, the matchup with LSU is an intriguing spot. Johns Jr. isn't the only source of salary relief at forward on Monday. Jabari Walker ($4,200) and Keegan Murray ($4,500) also stand out. Walker was incredible in round one for the Colorado Buffaloes. He erupted for 24 points in 20 minutes of action. He's averaging 1.07 FanDuel points per minute this season so he can rack up a solid stat line in limited minutes. Meanwhile, Murray is averaging 1.0 FanDuel points per minute. He's logged 20 and 25 minutes in Iowa's last games, respectively. Both Walker and Murray are better reserved for tournaments. They are highly volatile players while Johns Jr.'s role is much more secure.
Other players to consider for salary relief ($5,000 or less): Evan Battey, Cody Riley, Keegan Murray, and Jabari Walker.