***UPDATED CORE FOUR AT 6:30PM***
Pat Beverley, Paul George, and Kawhi Leonard have all been ruled out for the Clippers. This puts Reggie Jackson, Lou Williams, Terance Mann, and Serge Ibaka firmly in play tonight. Ibaka is my favorite one of the bunch, but all are strong point per dollar plays.
Houston ruled out Eric Gordon and P.J. Tucker. This gives Wall, Cousins, and Tate a bump (all listed in the article). You can add Sterling Brown, Daniel House, and David Nwaba into your player pool. Have them ranked in that order.
You can add Moe Wagner into your cash game player pool. He is starting and will not get any Tucker defense.
What’s up #elitemafia. Happy Monday!
We have a nice seven-game slate this evening, in what should be a high scoring night with all but two games on the slate having implied totals of 225 or more. Russell Westbrook is available to play in tonight’s contest despite being on the second half of a back-to-back. This is the first time this season he plays both halves of a back-to-back. Andre Drummond will not play tonight or moving forward as the Cavs are trying to trade the big man.
As far as pending news, we have several situations to keep tabs on. Here is a list of notable players who are listed as questionable for tonight: Joel Embiid, Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Marvin Bagley, Wendell Carter Jr., and Doug McDermott.
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 FanDuel positions as they are less flexible than they are on DraftKings, but you should have plenty of options at each position to build on DK as well given the roster flexibility and multi-position eligibility of many players on their site.
Let’s jump right into it!
Top Projected Total
- Nets 123.25
- Kings 119.25
- Warriors 118.5
- Jazz 116.75
- Rockets 116
- Warriors -9.5
- Jazz -7.5
- Pacers -5.5
- Nets -4
- Clippers -3.5
Position By Position
Russell Westbrook (DK $9400/ FD $9000) – Westbrook is reportedly available to play tonight, which means it is the first time he plays in the second half of a back-to-back all season. So long as there are no minutes restrictions for him in this contest, he is firmly in play. Westbrook played just 28 minutes the last time he faced the Rockets and scored 19 points with 11 rebounds and seven assists. He has now finished either one rebound or one assist short of a triple-double in three of his last four games. That is what we can expect from Westbrook most nights that he is one the court.
De’Aaron Fox (DK $8800/ FD $8700) – Fox returned to action yesterday after missing Friday’s game due to a knee injury. He logged in 30 minutes and scored 23 points with nine assists, two rebounds, one block, and one steal. Fox has played some really good basketball this season, but that is especially true in recent games, as he has averaged 30.1 real points in his last seven games. During that stretch, Fox has finished with three double-doubles and has topped 42 DK points in all but one contest. The matchup against the Nets is one that he should excel in, as this is not only a paced-up spot being that the Nets play at the fourth highest pace, but this defense is not great, ranking 22nd in defense efficiency. Fox generates 48.5 percent of his scoring from inside the paint and Brooklyn yields the second most points in the paint per game. This contest has the highest total on the slate this evening and just a four-point spread, so this should be a great game environment.
Malcolm Brogdon (DK $7700/ FD $7800) – Brogdon’s production has been shaky in recent games, but he is coming off a solid performance, scoring 18 points with eight assists, six rebounds, one block, and one steal in 33 minutes against the Hawks. As you can see, Brogdon is very capable of stuffing the stat sheet on any given night and this evening he finds himself in a great spot against a Bulls team that plays fast, ranks 25th in defense efficiency, and one that struggles against opposing point guards. Chicago is giving up the seventh most real points, third most assists, 11th most rebounds, fifth most steals, and fourth most fantasy points per game to the position. Brogdon played the Bulls earlier this season and averaged 1.11 fantasy points per minute against them, though he did not play his regular allotment of minutes due to the blowout. While that is always a risk, Vegas is not projecting a blowout tonight with just a 5.5-point spread. Brogdon is in a good position for a nice performance here and his price is reasonable when taking his ability, as well as tonight’s matchup, into consideration.
John Wall (DK $7500/ FD $7700) – For those who like narratives, brace yourself as Wall will face his former team for the second time this season. In their first meeting, Wall put on a show in just 24 minutes of play, scoring 24 real points with five dimes, two boards, and a steal. The game turned into a blowout, so Wall played just 11 minutes in the second half. Oladipo also played in that game and tonight he will be out due to a foot injury. Wood is also out tonight, which bodes extremely well for Wall who sees a 4.3 percent usage bump with both Wood and Oladipo off the court. The matchup is also a favorable one here for Wall as Washington plays at the fastest pace in basketball and ranks 26th in defense rating. They are also extremely generous to the point guard position, allowing the second most real points, the third most rebounds, the 10th most three-pointers, and the second most fantasy points per game to the position. Wall remains affordable on both sites and finds himself in a great position for a strong performance.
Darius Garland (DK $5500/ FD $5500) – Garland can be more volatile at times than we normally want for cash games. However, not only does he come at a very discounted price tonight and finds himself in a paced-up spot, but Drummond is not playing this evening, which benefits Garland. With Drummond off the court, Garland sees a 2.7 percent usage bump. In two games with Drummond out, Garland scored no less than 19 real points and no less than 34 DK points, attempting at least 15 shots in each of those contests. Garland generates 32.2 percent of his scoring from beyond the arc and the Warriors give up the eight most three-pointers per game. In a game where Garland should have more touches than he normally does because of the pace, he should have no trouble returning value at this price tag.
James Harden (DK $10700/ FD $10600) – No Durant only means that Harden has to be considered, especially in tonight’s matchup against Sacramento. The Kings enter this contest ranked dead last in defense efficiency and have been overly generous to the position this season. They are giving up the second most real points, third most assists, ninth most three-pointers, fifth most blocks, and second most fantasy points per game. The Kings are also allowing the most points in the paint per game, which is where Harden generates 36.5 percent of his points. In addition, they allow the third highest three-point field goal percentage, which is where he generates 35.8 percent of his points. Scoring is not going to be an issue for Harden this evening and considering the game environment at hand, we should expect him to stuff the stat sheet as well. Harden sees a 2.3 percent usage bump and a 2.4 percent increase in assist rate when Durant is off the floor. All signs point towards a big game for the Beard tonight.
Bradley Beal (DK $8900/ FD $9800) – I had to rewrite my thoughts on Beal because Westbrook will play tonight. Just because that is the case, that does not mean that we cannot consider Beal this evening, especially on DK where he is sub $9K. The last time these two teams faced off, Beal dropped 33 points with five boards, four dimes, and one block, which was good for 45.3 DK points. Westbrook played in that contest and it did not stop Beal from a strong outing. Tonight, the Rockets will be one of their top defenders in Oladipo, which makes this situation much better for Beal than it was the last time out. On FD, I am probably going to find a way to get an extra $800 for Harden, but on DK it’s tough to ignore Beal’s price tag, considering what he brings to the table.
Donovan Mitchell (DK $8000/ FD $8300) – Mitchell should continue to see more ball handling duties with Conley still out. When Conley is off the court, Mitchell sees a hefty 4.9 percent increase in assist rate. Mitchell now has at least eight assists in all but one of his last four games, all of which Conley missed. Being the primary facilitator for the Jazz tonight will benefit Mitchell, as the 76ers are giving up the fifth most assists per game to the position. This will also be a paced-up spot for the Jazz being that Philly plays at a top eight pace, and that should create additional touch opportunities for Mitchell. There is a lot to like about him this evening, even the reasonable price tag. The floor is solidified, and the ceiling is pretty big here for Mitchell, making him a viable option in all formats this evening.
Eric Gordon (DK $6400/ FD $6200) – Gordon has now scored 20 or more real points in six of the last seven games, averaging 22.4 points per game during that stretch, while shooting a healthy 50 percent from the court. Tonight, he faces a Wizards team that allows the sixth highest field goal percentage, so there is no reason to think he cools down tonight. In addition, Washington allows the seventh most three-pointers per game to opposing teams and the third highest three-point field goal percentage, which bodes well for Gordon who generates 43.3 percent of his scoring from beyond the arc. As we already know, the Wizards play at the fastest pace in basketball and rank 26th in defense efficiency, making this a great matchup for someone like Gordon. He played just 28.5 minutes in the last meeting against Washington but scored 30.5 DK points. Tonight, he will have more shooting opportunities with Wood and Oladipo out, as he sees a 2.3 usage increase when they are off the court. Gordon is fairly priced and should be able to return value with ease this evening. RULED OUT
Bruce Brown (DK $4100/ FD $3900) – In three of the last five games that Durant has sat, Brown has received the spot start. It’s uncertain whether that will be the case or not this evening, but if he does get the start, he is a viable cheap option. Yes, Brown can be volatile and like we saw a few nights ago, the floor is incredibly low. That said, this is a great game environment for him, and the matchup does not get much better as the Kings rank dead last in defense efficiency. Brown generates 78.3 percent of his scoring from inside the paint and the Kings allow the most points in the paint per game. Talk about a great spot for Brown. This would also be a great way to get exposure at a low cost to arguably the best game on the slate. Even off the bench he is viable but would be far riskier in this instance.
Jimmy Butler (DK $8200/ FD $8900) – Butler finally had a subpar performance on Saturday night against the Jazz. Tonight, he faces off against a Clippers team that could be without Leonard and could also be without George once again. If that ends up being the case, this would be a much better matchup than what it suggests on paper and it would be a solid spot for Butler. Prior to last game, he had topped 40 DK points in each of his last six games, averaging 22.6 points with 8.6 assists, 8.6 rebounds, 1.4 steals, and 0.3 blocks. Butler is a stat sheet stuffing machine and would be in a great position for a bounce back game so long as Leonard is out. The SF position is not all that great this evening, so even if Leonard plays, Butler is in play, though the matchup becomes much tougher at that point.
Joe Ingles (DK $5700/ FD $4900) – On FD, Ingles remains too cheap. He has now started in each of the last four games with Conley out and is in line for another start. Ingles has played no less than 30 minutes in any of his last four games and in six starts this season, he has averaged 31.5 minutes per game. He has also averaged 16.2 points, 4.3 rebounds, 5.3 assists, and 0.3 steals per game in those starts, scoring less than 20 FD points just once in any of his starts. The Jazz will be in a paced-up spot tonight against Philly which should create additional touch opportunities for Ingles. He is averaging 0.92 fantasy points per minutes and should play no less than 30 minutes in this contest. That should be enough for him to returning a solid value on investment.
Joe Harris (DK $5400/ FD $4900) – Harris is more volatile than we like in cash games, but as I mentioned before, the SF position is not great tonight, especially on FD. The good news is that the Nets will not have Durant tonight, which creates more shot opportunities, and the matchup is excellent. The Kings rank dead last in defense efficiency and this will be a paced-up game. Sacramento is yielding the 12th most three-pointers per game, as well as the third highest three-point field goal percentage. This is great news for Harris, who is a three-point specialist, and generates 66.7 percent of his scoring from beyond the arc. I prefer him on FD where he is cheaper, but he is perfectly fine on DK too.
Julius Randle (DK $8700/ FD $8600) – Randle faces a Hawks team that he completely dominated against the last time they faced off. In that contest, he scored 28 points with 17 boards, nine dimes and a steal. Randle has not been racking up the assists like he was earlier in the season, though he should still dominate inside the paint and on the boards in this contest. The Hawks give up the fifth most points in the paint per game to opposing teams, which bodes well for Randle who generates 35.8 percent of his scoring from inside the paint. In addition, the Hawks have been somewhat generous to opposing power forwards this season, yielding the ninth most fantasy points per game to the position. Randle continues to produce consistent numbers, with 43+ DK points in all but two of his last eight games, while recording a double-double in five of those contests. His price is reasonable, and this is a matchup he should exploit.
Jarrett Allen (DK $6700/ FD $6900) – Allen will continue to start at the five for the Cavs with Drummond no longer in the rotation as they plan on trading him. This puts Allen in play tonight against a Warriors team that struggles against opposing bigs. Golden State surrenders the eighth most points, sixth most rebounds, and 10th most fantasy points per game to opposing centers. They allow the most rebounds per game to opposing teams, so as you can see this team is not great rebounding. This should benefit Allen who averages 8.8 rebounds per game and has 10 rebounds in two of his last three games. Allen faced off against the Warriors in the first game of the season and in that contest, he finished with eight points and seven rebounds in just 19 minutes. He was with the Nets at the time, so this is somewhat of a different situation. However, he should play 27+ minutes here and be able to dominate against the Warriors. He averages over a fantasy point per minute, so he should be able to pay off his price tag. Please note, on DK he is listed as a center.
Jae’Sean Tate (DK $4600/ FD $5400) – Tate continues to turn in mixed results, with some solid performances and some below average outings. Tonight, he finds himself in a good spot against a Wizards team that plays up in pace and plays poor defense. Tate sees nearly a one percent increase in assists rate and a 1.1 percent increase in rebounding rate when both Wood and Oladipo are off the court, which would be the case tonight. He also sees an increase of one percent in usage. Tate is more volatile than we want for cash games, but on DK where there are not many PF options, he is in play.
Nerlens Noel (DK $4400/ FD $4800) – Noel got the start last game and with Robinson out once again, Noel should be in the starting lineup against the Hawks. In the last game, Noel played 32 minutes and scored 10 points with six rebounds, two blocks, and a steal. He should once again play 28+ minutes this evening and he averages 0.89 fantasy points per minutes, which puts him in a good position to return value at his cheap price tag. The Hawks give up the fifth most points in the paint per game to opposing teams, which bodes well for Noel who generates 86.4 percent of his scoring from inside the paint. Noel is very capable of big performances and in a paced-up matchup like the one at hand, I like the chances of him exceeding expectations at a very affordable price. Please note, on DK he is listed as a center.
JaVale McGee (DK $3100/ FD $3700) – McGee is not in the starting lineup, but should play 14-17 minutes this evening, with upside for more. That does not sound like a lot of minutes and truth be told, it is not. That said, McGee averages a healthy 1.3 fantasy points per minute, so even if he plays the low end of my projections (14 minutes), that should still be enough to pay off his price tag. Not to mention, this is a good matchup for McGee who faces off against Golden State who surrenders the eighth most points, sixth most rebounds, and 10th most fantasy points per game to opposing centers. They also allow the most rebounds per game to opposing teams. McGee is almost min price on both and should have absolutely no trouble returning value here. Please note, on DK he is listed as a center.
DeMarcus Cousins (DK $6200/ FD $6100) – Cousins is coming off a subpar game, where he played just 22 minutes and scored just 26.5 DK points, but that was due to a blowout. Tonight, he finds himself in a great spot against a Washington team he absolutely dominated against the last time out. In that matchup, Cousins scored 19 points with 11 rebounds, five steals, two dimes, and a block. He is once again in a position for a dominant performance against a Wizards team that gives up the fourth most rebounds per game. Washington has been crushed by centers this season, as they have allowed the 10th most real points, third most rebounds, and third most fantasy points per game against them. Cousins remains too cheap considering the matchup at hand and the caliber of player he is.
DeAndre Jordan (DK $4500/ FD $5400) – Jordan did not play in the last game for the Nets due to personal matters but is on track to return tonight. He is not playing huge minutes on a nightly basis, but he does average a fantasy point per minute, so even when he plays minutes in the mid-20’s he is capable of paying off his affordable salary. That is even more true this evening as he faces a Kings team that is incapable of defending opposing big men. Sacramento gives up the third most real points, second most rebounds, most assists, and second most fantasy points per game to the position. This is a unit who allows the most points in the paint per game, which bodes well for Jordan who generates 89 percent of his scoring from inside the paint. Talk about a smash spot for Jordan.
DraftKings: James Harden, DeMarcus Cousins, Jae’Sean Tate, Reggie Jackson
FanDuel: James Harden, John Wall, Reggie Jackson, DeMarcus Cousins
** Always check for updates to the core four closer to lock as it is subject to change with news**