***UPDATED CORE FOUR AT 5:25PM***
Bradley Beal has been ruled out, Dinwiddie and Kuzma are now core plays.
What’s up #elitemafia. Happy Friday! I’ll be diving into tonight’s 10-game slate, identifying my top targets for cash games.
Remember NBA differs from all other sports because one piece of news can change the entire look of a slate. Monitoring news throughout the day and keeping an eye on starting lineups is a key part of the daily process for those playing NBA DFS.
For the purpose of this article, I’ll be using DK position eligibility. Let’s jump right into it!
Top Projected Team Total
- Jazz 116.25
- Nets 115.5
- Wizards 115.25
- 76ers 114.5
- Hornets 114.25
- Knicks -7.5
- Bulls -7
- Nuggets -7
- Celtics -6.5
- Jazz -6
Key News to Watch
- Terry Rozier – questionable
- Darius Garland – questionable – HAS BEEN RULED OUT
- Dean Wade – probable
- Torrey Craig – questionable
- Justin Holiday – questionable
- Jeremy Lamb – questionable
- Bradley Beal – doubtful – HAS BEEN RULED OUT
- Al Horford – questionable – Will play
- Marcus Smart – probable – Will play
- Josh Richardson – probable- Will play
- Joel Embiid – questionable
- Josh Hart – questionable
- Patrick Williams – probable
- Danuel House – questionable
- Garrison Matthews – questionable
Position By Position
James Harden (DK $9400/ FD $10300) – Harden played just 30.2 minutes in the season opener against the Bucks due to a blowout, but that didn’t stop him from finishing two rebounds and two assists short of a triple-double. In that contest, he scored 20 points with eight boards, eight dimes, one steal, and two blocks, while sporting a healthy 32.1 percent usage rate. Tonight’s game against the 76ers is not only projected to be the highest scoring contest, but also a competitive one with just a one-point spread. Kyrie Irvin remains out for the Nets, which bodes well for Harden, who saw a six percent usage bump with Irving off the court last season (616-minute sample size). In those instances, Harden averaged a 35.2 percent usage rate, a 53.9 percent assist rate, a 14.1 percent rebounding rate, and 58.1 DK points per game. At sub $10K on DK, it’s hard to pass up on Harden in what should be a great game environment. In his last five meetings against Philly, Harden has scored no less the 51.75 DK points in any of those contests. He is slightly underpriced and in good position for a big game tonight.
LaMelo Ball (DK $7700/ FD $8200) – Ball made a statement on Tuesday, tipping off his season was an impressive performance. He scored 31 points with nine rebounds, seven assists, and two steals, while sporting a healthy 33.8 percent usage rate. Ball is once again in a great position for another productive outing against a Cavs team that ranked 25th in defense efficiency last season. He can be volatile at times, but his ability to stuff the stat sheet on any given night, makes him an appealing option at this price tag. Terry Rozier remains questionable for tonight’s contest, which is something to monitor, because if he misses, Ball becomes an even stronger play. Regardless, Ball is a viable option in cash this evening.
Malcolm Brogdon (DK $7500/ FD $7700) – Brogdon had a stellar performance on Wednesday night, scoring 28 points with 11 assists, 4.0 rebounds, and 1.0 block. He is in a great position for another great showing against a Wizards team that not only plays fast but they are not good defensively. Washington ranked 24th in defense efficiency against the point guard position last season, allowing 26.7 points, 8.1 assists, and 7.1 rebounds per game to the position. Brogdon is very capable of stuffing that stat sheet on any given night and this sets up nicely for that. Last season, he averaged 40.8 DK points and 1.32 fantasy points per minute against the Wizards. This is a great spot for Brogdon at an affordable price tag.
Dejounte Murray (DK $7000/ FD $7900) – I recommended Murray in Wednesday’s article and will go right back to the well with him tonight. To no surprise, Murray turned in a solid stat line, scoring 15 points with eight dimes, six rebounds, and four steals, while sporting a 29.1 percent usage rate. His price slightly increased on both sites, but he is still affordable given his ability. The matchup against the Nuggets is a favorable one, as they ranked 23rd in defense efficiency against opposing point guards last season. This is a matchup that Murray was successful in last year, averaging 18.7 points, 6.3 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 2.0 steals, and 37.1 DK points per game against Denver. In those three meetings, he averaged 1.21 fantasy points per minute. There aren’t many players in this price range with triple-double upside, but Murray does bring that to the table. Until his price gets to the point where we have to start thinking twice about rostering him, Murray is someone we can continue to target.
Spencer Dinwiddie (DK $5600/ FD $6200) – Dinwiddie didn’t deliver a stellar performance on Wednesday night, but it was a solid all-around effort. He remains affordable this evening, in what should be a nice game environment against the Pacers. Indiana played at the fourth fastest pace last season and although it’s one game, they are already top five in pace to tip off this season. In fact, both of these teams play fast, so there should be a ton of possessions for both sides. Dinwiddie played just 26.1 minutes on Wednesday, but this was a game where the Wizards went into the fourth quarter with a 20-point lead. In a more competitive game, Dinwiddie should play 29-31 minutes, with potential for more. He’s an over a fantasy points per minute player and at this price tag, returning value should not be an issue. Keep an eye on Bradley Beal’s status, because if he misses, Dinwiddie gets a significant boost this evening.
Tyrese Maxey (DK $5300/ FD $5800) – Maxey was featured in Wednesday’s article and with Simmons out again tonight, Maxey is firmly in play again. In the season opener, he played 33.4 minutes and scored 20 points with seven rebounds and five assists, while sporting a 21.4 percent usage. The matchup against the Nets is a favorable one, as they ranked 22nd in defense efficiency last season and are not a great defensive unit. In two games against Brooklyn last season, he averaged 1.26 fantasy points per minute. Maxey should play 30+ minutes in tonight’s contest and his price remains reasonable on both sites.
Honorable mention: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
Donovan Mitchell (DK $8700/ FD $8700) – Mitchell wasn’t great in the season opener, shooting just 35.3 percent and playing only 28 minutes. That said, we shouldn’t let that impact our decision making with Mitchell because of that. The truth is, the Jazz were playing with a hefty lead on Wednesday, which led to Mitchell playing just three minutes in the fourth quarter, something we would never see in a more competitive game. Tonight, he faces a Sacramento team that plays fast and ranked dead last in defensive rating last season, as well as 29th in defense rating against the position. Mitchell played in just one of the three meetings against this Kings team last season, and in that contest, he scored 42 real points and 57.3 DK points. This should be an fantastic game environment and a much more competitive matchup than it was on Wednesday, which makes Mitchell an appealing option in all formats.
Zach LaVine (DK $8000/ FD $8400) – There was some uncertainty on what to expect from this Bulls team with some of the changes to their roster. The one thing we knew for sure, is that LaVine would continue to produce. Not only did he have a strong preseason, but he had a stellar performance to start the year. He scored 34 points with 7.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.0 steal, and 1.0 block on Wednesday night, while sporting a 29.6 percent usage rate. LaVine draws a fantastic matchup this evening against a Pelicans team that ranked 21st in defense efficiency against the position last season. The Pelicans gave up the ninth highest three-point field goal percentage and the fifth most three-pointers per game to the position, which bodes incredibly well for LaVine who generated 42.5 percent of his scoring last season from beyond the arc. Despite his great performance on Wednesday night, his price came down on DK. He’s reasonably priced on both sites and makes for strong play in all formats.
Fred VanVleet (DK $6900/ FD $8300) – It was a disappointing effort for VanVleet and this Raptors team in their season opener against the Wizards. That said, we can go right back to him this evening at an incredibly low price, especially on DK where he is just $6900. VanVleet shot poorly on Wednesday, draining in just 25 percent of his field goal attempts, which is uncommon for him as he is a 40 percent shooter for his career. The matchup this evening is not the best, but it’s also not one to shy away from, as Boston ranked 19th in defense efficiency against the position last season. In two meetings against the Celtics last year, VanVleet averaged 20 points, 7.0 assists, 5.5 rebounds, 2.0 steals, 1.0 blocks, and 43.9 DK points per game. On FD, I would go in a different direction given his price tag compared to some of the other guards. However, on DK he is tough to pass up on given the cheap price tag for a player, who on most nights, offers an incredibly high floor as well as a nice ceiling.
Cole Anthony (FD $4900) – I know, Anthony is listed as a PG on DK, but based on his price there, I am not recommending him on DK. However, on FD, where he has SG eligibility, Anthony is way too cheap. He played 30 minutes in the first game of the season, scoring 10 points with 5.0 rebound and 4.0 assists, while shooting 25 percent from the field. The matchup against the Knicks is far from great and this is not an enticing game environment by any means. That said, the Magic are incredibly thin in their backcourt, so Anthony should play at least 30 minutes in this contest and his FD price is incredibly cheap. He is a FD ONLY play for me, for those looking for some salary relief.
Jalen Green (DK $4800/ FD $5500) – Green had a rough start in his NBA debut. He shot 28.6 percent from the field, scoring 9.0 points with 4.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists, and 1.0 steals against the Timberwolves. He did play 32.1 minutes and attempted 14 shots, which was encouraging, as the 14 shots were the second most by any player in Houston on Wednesday night. Tonight, the Rockets draw a favorable matchup against a Thunder team that ranked 24th in defense rating last season, one that also ranked 28th in defense rating against the position. Green should once again play big minutes and continue to be one of the primary offensive weapons for this Houston team. Despite his subpar performance, the rookie managed to scored 22.5 DK points.
Kevin Durant (DK $9300/ FD $10800) – You can definitely make an argument to pay for LeBron James tonight, but I prefer paying up for Durant at the SF position. Durant had a strong showing in the season opener, scoring 32 points with 11 rebounds, 4.0 assists, and 2.0 blocks, despite playing only 30 minutes due to the blowout. Tonight’s game should be far more competitive and sets up to be a nice game environment. Durant benefits from having Irving off the court tonight, as he sported a healthy 34.5 percent usage rate, a 29.4 percent assist rate, and 56.1 DK points per game with Irving off the court. On Tuesday, Durant finished the night with an incredibly high 42.8 percent usage rate. Durant is a $10K+ player and remains sub $10K on DK, making him a strong option in all formats.
Brandon Ingram (DK $7500/ FD $8300) – Despite a strong performance to start the season, Ingram’s price has come down on both sites. As noted in the last article, Ingram benefits from not having Bledsoe, Ball, Adams, and Williamson off the court, as he averages a 33.3 percent usage rate and over 45 DK points per game in these instances. We saw it firsthand on Wednesday night, when Ingram scored 43.3 DK points, while sporting a 35.8 percent usage rate. In that contest, he scored 25 points with 7.0 rebounds & 6.0 assists. Tonight, he finds himself in a solid position for another productive outing. He comes in at an affordable price and should once again be the focal point in this Pelicans offense.
OG Anunoby (DK $6200/ FD $6900) – Despite an awful shooting night on Wednesday, Anunoby still managed to return value for those who rostered him. He shot 18 percent from the field, scoring only 11 points, but did a little bit of everything and ended up scoring 32 DK points. Anunoby is once again in play tonight and although the matchup is far from elite, the Celtics are not a defense to shy away from. They ranked 17th in defense efficiency against small forwards last season. Anunoby displayed why he can be trusted in cash so long as his price is reasonable, like it is tonight, because of his ability to accumulate fantasy points even on bad shooting night. He took 17 shots last game and should once again be one of the top offensive options on this Raptors team.
Will Barton (DK $5700/ FD $5700) – I didn’t write Barton up on Wednesday, but he was certainly on my shortlist, as I gravitate towards him often when the price is right. That is precisely the case tonight, as he comes at sub $6K on both sites. The matchup is a solid one against a Spurs team that ranked 19th in defense efficiency against the position last year. Barton played 33 minutes in the first game of the season, scoring 20 points with 6.0 rebounds, 5.0 assists, and 1.0 steal. He scored 39 DK points in that contest and should have no trouble exceeding expectations once again. Last season, he topped 27 DK points in two of his three meetings against the Spurs. Barton should play big minutes for the Nuggets this evening and makes for a solid play in all formats.
Lauri Markkanen (DK $5200/ FD $5100) – Markkanen got the start in the season opener and played 31 minutes. He finished one rebound shy of a double-double, while scoring 10 points. Markkanen shot poorly against the Grizzlies, draining in just 29 percent of his shots. However, tonight’s matchup is far more enticing against a Hornets team that plays up in pace and one that ranked 26th in defense efficiency against the position last year. Markkanen who generated 56.8 percent of his scoring from beyond the arc, should take advantage of this Hornets team that allowed the second most three-pointers per game last season. I’m expecting a better shooting effort from Markkanen tonight and even though his price increased a decent amount, he remains affordable on both sites, especially on FD. So long as he remains in the starting rotation, he makes for a viable cash game option.
Josh Giddey (DK $4100/ FD $5300) – On FD, Giddey is listed as a SG, but on DK he is listed as a SF. Giddey got the start on Wednesday night and played 29 minutes. He didn’t shoot the ball well, making in just 28.6 percent of his shots. That said, he did grab 10 rebounds to go along with three assists. The Thunder have a far better matchup tonight against a Houston team that not only plays fast, but they are bad defensively. Giddey should once again play decent minutes this evening and have a much better outing. Even if he continues to struggle with his shot, he is capable of accumulating fantasy points with peripheral stats.
Honorable mention: Kevin Porter (FD)
Domantas Sabonis (DK $9000/ FD $9700) – Sabonis had a great season opener, scoring 33 points with 15 boards and two dimes, while sporting a 28 percent usage rate against the Hornets. Despite that performance, his price has dropped $800 on DK and he draws yet another stellar matchup. The Wizards are terrible defensively and play at a fast pace, which should create plenty of touch opportunities for the big man. In addition, this is a Washington team that allowed the fourth most points per game to opposing power forwards, as well as the seventh most rebounds to opposing teams. Sabonis is a walking double-double and offers triple-double upside. He absolutely dominated against Washington last season, averaging 29 points with 13.5 rebounds, 9.5 assists, and 2.5 blocks per game, scoring no less than 54.3 DK points in any of their four meetings. Not to mention, he eclipsed 60 DK points once and 70 DK points twice against them last year, and triple-doubled twice. Sabonis not only offers an incredible floor, but also an immense ceiling.
Julius Randle (DK $8500/ FD $9500) – Randle had a monster performance in double overtime against the Celtics on Wednesday night. He scored a team high 35 points with 9.0 assists, 8.0 rebounds, and 3.0 blocks, while sporting a 35.3 percent usage rate. He faces off against a Magic team that ranked 27th in defense efficiency against the position last year. A team that Randle found success against last season, averaging 21.3 points with 11.3 rebounds, 7.0 assists, and 0.3 steals against, while scoring over 45 DK points in two of the three meetings. Randle remains reasonably priced, especially on DK where he remains under $9K, and could once again be considered a viable option.
Tobias Harris (DK $7200/ FD $7600) – As noted in the last article, with Ben Simmons off the court last season, Harris averaged a 28.8 percent usage rate, a 23.5 percent assist rate, a 12.2 rebounding rate, and over 40 DK points per game. Simmons remains out for Philly, so Harris is once again in a great position for a productive outing. He turned in a quality start on Wednesday, scoring 20 points with 12 rebounds, 2.0 assists, and 1.0 block, which was good for 41.5 DK points. His price decreased by $400 on DK, which makes him even more appealing. Harris had some strong performances against the Nets last season, eclipsing 40 DK points in two of their three meetings, scoring no less than 33.5 DK points in any of those games. Harris can be considered a strong point per dollar play given his price on both sites.
Kyle Kuzma (DK $5700/ FD $5600) – Kuzma had a decent outing in his Wizards regular season debut. He struggled with his shot, making just 30.8 percent of his field goal attempts, but did grab 15 rebounds with 3.0 dimes, 1.0 steal, and 1.0 block, across 35 minutes. He attempted 13 shots, sporing a healthy 23.1 percent usage rate. Tonight’s matchup against Indiana should be up in pace and this is a defense that ranked 29th in defense efficiency against the position. If Beal sits out tonight, Kuzma will have to be more involved on offense. Taking everything into consideration, Kuzma is an appealing option in cash games tonight.
Scottie Barnes (DK $4500/ FD $5100) – Barnes got the start on Wednesday and played 33 minutes. He finished the night with 12 points, 9.0 rebounds, 1.0 assist, and 1.0 steal. The rookie shot 38.5 percent from the field in his first game of the season. Barnes should once again be in the starting rotation and is in position to play 30+ minutes. He offers double-double potential and although the matchup is far from elite, Barnes is incredibly cheap tonight, making for a solid value option.
Nikola Jokic (DK $10200/ FD $11100) – To no surprise, Jokic had a solid outing in the season opener on Wednesday night. He didn’t break the slate by any means, but did finish with 27 points, 13 boards, 2.0 dimes, and 2.0 steals, across 35 minutes, while sporting a 29.3 percent usage rate. He draws a nice matchup against a Spurs team that struggled against opposing bigs last season, a team that Jokic scored no less than 51 DK points against last season. There’s really not much I can say about Jokic that you don’t already know, as he is one of the best all around players in basketball. He offers triple-double upside anytime he is on the court, to go along with a safe floor, and an incredibly high ceiling.
Christian Wood (DK $7100/ FD $8100) – Wood missed a double-double by one rebound in Wednesday’s season opener, adding 16 points, 3.0 dimes, and 1.0 block, in 32 minutes. He led team in bot shot attempts and scoring. He’s in an elite spot this evening against a Thunder team that ranked 28th in defense efficiency against opposing centers last season. A unit that surrendered both the seventh most rebounds and the seventh highest field goal percentage to the position. In addition, they surrendered the 9th most points in the paint to opposing teams, which bodes well for Wood who generated 53.7 percent of his scoring from inside the paint. Wood is $900 cheaper on DK than he was on Wednesday night and has arguably a better matchup.
Montrezl Harrell (DK $5400/ FD $5700) – The center position is stacked tonight, and I much rather pay up than pay down at the position. That said, if you are looking for a cheaper option at center, Harrell is someone to consider. Normally I don’t recommend him in cash, but I am willing to make an exception this evening and now that he is on a new team. He played 26 minutes off the bench on Wednesday and finished with a strong stat line. He scored 22 points with 9.0 rebounds, 1.0 assist, and 1.0 block against the Raptors. Harrell should once again see decent minutes this evening against a Pacers team that plays big. Indiana struggled against opposing big men last season, ranking 23rd in defense efficiency. They surrendered the most points in the paint as well, which bodes incredibly well for Harrell who generated 74.8 percent of his points from inside the paint. Harrell worked as the Wizards sixth man and that will likely continue so long as Bryant is out.
Honorable mention: Rudy Gobert, Nikola Vucevic, Robert Williams
DraftKings: Domantas Sabonis, Josh Giddey, Kyle Kuzma, Spencer Dinwiddie
FanDuel: Domantas Sabonis, Kevin Durant, Kyle Kuzma, Spencer Dinwiddie
** Always check for updates to the core four closer to lock as it is subject to change with news**