*** UPDATED CORE FOUR AT 7:26PM***
Add Chasson Randle and Dwayne Bacon into the cash game player pool.
What’s up #elitemafia. Happy Friday!
After an insane 11-game slate last night, we end the week with a nice seven-game slate. It’s an interesting slate, as we have one of the highest spreads I have seen all season, with the Jazz favored by 18.5 points. This essentially makes it risky business to roster any Jazz players in cash games this evening, despite the favorable matchup.
News has been flowing all day, as we already know that Eric Gordon, John Wall, Victor Oladipo, Bam Adebayo, Ben Simmons, Aaron Gordon, Terrence Ross, Evan Fournier, James Ennis, Taurean Prince, Rodions Kurucs, Danuel House, and Christian Wood are all out tonight. P.J. Tucker and the Rockets have agreed to part ways, leaving Houston with possibly just nine players this evening, one of which is considered questionable.
As far as pending news, we have plenty of that as well. Here are some of the players that have a questionable status heading into the evening: Bradley Beal, Kevin Love, Darius Garland, Paul Millsap, JaMychal Green, and David Nwaba. As always, unexpected news can pop up throughout the day, so make sure to keep an eye on news as we head into lock.
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
- Jazz 122.75
- 76ers 119.25
- Pelicans 117.5
- Nuggets 116.25
- Wizards 114.75
- Jazz -18.5
- Spurs -7.5
- Pelicans -7
- 76ers -4.5
- Lakers -4.5
Position By Position
Russell Westbrook (DK $10200/ FD $10400) – Westbrook takes on the 76ers this evening in a matchup that he has done well in this season. In two meetings against Philly, he has averaged 37.5 minutes, 20.5 points, 13.5 assists, 9.5 rebounds, 1.5 steals, and 0.5 blocks per game, while scoring no less than 56 DK points in any of those contests. He also had one triple-double against the 76ers in those two games and finished shy of another by just two rebounds. The 76ers will be without Simmons this evening, making this a better matchup than it may appear on paper. Both of these teams play at a top seven pace in the league, making this a favorable game environment for Westbrook who likes to push the pace. He is a stat sheet stuffing machine that offers triple-double upside whenever he is on the court and tonight is no different.
Dejounte Murray (DK $7500/ FD $8200) – Since the Spurs got healthy, Murray’s production has taken a dip. That could change tonight as they will be without DeRozan and Aldridge, both of whom have been ruled out. DeRozan leads the team in points, assists, and usage, so his absence will open up plenty of opportunities. With both of these players off the court, Murray sees a two percent usage bump, as well as an increase of two percent in assist rate. The matchup against Orlando is a favorable one. They rank 27th in defense efficiency against the point guard position and allow the most fantasy points per game to the position. In addition, they give up the fifth most real points, third most assists, fourth most rebounds, and most three-pointers per game to point guards. This is a matchup where Murray, who is very capable of stuffing the stat sheet, can rack up peripheral stats along with scoring at will. He is priced reasonable on both sites and should be able to return value in this matchup.
Malcolm Brogdon (DK $8000/ FD $6600) – On FD, Brogdon is just way too cheap not to consider. I get it, he had an awful performance prior to the All-Star break, he has been more volatile as of late, and tonight’s matchup is far from elite. That being said, Brogdon is not a $6600 player, he is much better than that. The Lakers have also been more generous to opposing point guards in recent games, ranking 27th in defense efficiency against point guards in their last 10 games. During that stretch, they are allowing the 10th most real points, fourth most rebounds, and fifth most assists to the position. This is good news for Brogdon who is capable of stuffing the stat sheet on any given night, as he can score, he is a good facilitator, and is active on the boards. On DK he is not someone that will likely make my roster this evening, but on FD he is tough to pass up on at this price tag.
Shake Milton (DK $5800/ FD $5800) – Milton should continue to see an expanded role with Simmons out. Last night, Milton played just 24 minutes off the bench, but that was due to a blowout. In fact, nobody for the exception of Danny Green played more than 28 minutes last night. Tonight, the 76ers face off against the Wizards, a team that not only plays extremely fast, but one that also ranks 27th in defense efficiency against opposing teams and 24th against point guards. Washington allows the fourth most real points and eighth most fantasy points per game to the position. Milton, who generates 42.8 percent of his points from inside the paint, should have no trouble scoring points tonight as the Wizards are giving up the sixth most points in the paint per game over the last seven games. Milton did not quite live up to expectations yesterday but he is once again in a great position for a productive performance.
Derrick White (DK $4900/ FD $5800) – White played 27 minutes on Wednesday, his first game back from a five-game absence. He should once again play significant minutes in tonight’s contest, especially with DeRozan out. When both Aldridge and DeRozan are out, White sees a five percent usage bump, as well as a seven percent increase in assist rate and a near one percent increase in rebounding rate. I mentioned above just how good this matchup is and for White it is even more appealing being that he generates 45 percent of his scoring from beyond the arc and Orlando surrenders the sixth most three-pointers per game. White struggled with his shot in his first game back, but the Magic yield the ninth highest field goal percentage to opposing teams and eight highest to opposing guards, making this a good spot for him to get his shot going. He is PG/SG eligible on DK which makes White even more appealing there, as it gives you plenty of roster construction flexibility.
Sterling Brown (DK $4500/ FD $3600) – You will see a theme on this article of targeting Houston value, and it begins with Brown. The Rockets are down to nine players tonight and could potentially have eight players is Nwaba can’t play. The matchup against the Jazz is far from great and this is expected to be a complete blowout. That said, someone has to finish this game for the Rockets, and Brown should see plenty of minutes here regardless of the outcome of the game. He has played no less than 28 minutes in four consecutive games, including 31 or more minutes in each of his last three games. That should once again be the case for Brown, who remains extremely affordable on both sites. Please note that he is SG/SF eligible on DK.
Collin Sexton (DK $8100/ FD $7800) – Sexton finished off the first half of the season with some strong performances in the final three games before the All-Star break. During that stretch he averaged 33 points, seven assists, four rebounds, and 2.7 steals per game, while playing 40+ minutes in each of those contests. It’s not likely that he continues to play 40+ minutes on a nightly basis but being that this is the first game back from a break, he should be able to play huge minutes again this evening. The matchup against the Pelicans is a favorable one, as they rank 29th in defense efficiency and 18th in efficiency against the position. New Orleans has struggled in the paint as of late, allowing the fourth most points in the paint over their last seven games. This bodes extremely well for Sexton who generates 51.9 percent of his scoring from inside the paint. He can also shoot from beyond the arc, as 20.9 percent of his scoring comes from three-point land. This is another area that the Pelicans struggle in, as they give up the most three-pointers per game to opposing teams, as well as the third highest three-point field goal percentage. I prefer Sexton if Garland sits this game out, but even with Garland on the court, Sexton has produced big numbers, making him a decent option on tonight’s slate.
Seth Curry (DK $5600/ FD $5000) – Curry had a solid outing last night despite playing just 25 minutes and facing a team that does well against three-point shooting. Tonight, he finds himself in an even better matchup against a Washington team that really struggles defensively, especially against shooting guards, ranking 27th in defense efficiency against the position over the last 10 games. In addition, the Wizards give up the ninth most three-pointers per game, as well as the fourth highest three-point field goal percentage. This bodes extremely well for Curry who generates 47.2 percent of his scoring from beyond the arc. Curry struggled with his three-point shooting last night, but this is a spot where he can get cooking from beyond the arc. In addition to the good matchup, this will be an up-tempo contest, which should generate more touch opportunities for Curry.
Patty Mills (DK $4500/ FD $3900) – Mills is one of the primary beneficiaries of when DeRozan and Aldridge are both off the court. In these instances, Mills sees a six percent usage bump, an increase of 5.4 percent in assists rate, and a near one percent increase in rebounding rate. Furthermore, he averages roughly eight more fantasy points per 36 minutes. The matchup against Orlando is a good one as I have mentioned already in this article, and like White, Mills does a lot of his scoring from beyond the arc (62 percent). We already know Orlando is generous from three-point land, making this a nice spot for Mills. He should play 25-27 minutes this evening with upside for a bit more and he is averaging 0.85 fantasy points per minute, which should be enough for him to return value at this price tag, especially in a matchup this favorable.
LeBron James (DK $10400/ FD $10900) – James is considered probable for tonight’s game and there is no reason to think he does not play in this contest. He has missed just one game this season despite being listed as questionable or probable for most of the year. This is far from an elite matchup, but that typically does not matter for James as he can be productive against any defense. In fact, the Pacers are a team that James has been incredibly good against. In their last 22 meetings, he sports a 77 percent consistency rating against Indiana, while averaging 61.6 DK points per game. James might not offer the ceiling he once did, but his floor remains one of the more stable ones in basketball, especially with Davis off the court. James offers triple-double upside and should be able to stuff the stat sheet this evening against the Pacers.
Jimmy Butler (DK $9200/ FD $9600) – I recommended Butler last night and I am going right back to the well here. He finished two rebounds shy of a triple-double and continues to play some really good basketball. Tonight, he faces off against the Bulls, a team that ranks 24th in defense efficiency against opposing small forwards. Chicago surrenders the third most points in the paint per game, which bodes well for Butler who generates 49.3 percent of his scoring from inside the paint. In addition, the Bulls are giving up the second most steals per game, making this a good situation for Butler to rack up defensive stats as well. Butler ended the first half of the season playing some elite basketball and that did not stop last night. We can expect him to carry the Heat on his back once again this evening in another favorable matchup, one he should find success in.
Will Barton (DK $5400/ FD $5600) – I tend to gravitate towards Barton often when looking at small forwards priced in the mid-range. He plays a ton of minutes, he is a solid basketball player, and for the most part produces decent numbers on most nights. Tonight, he faces off against a Memphis team that struggles against opposing small forwards, ranking 29th in defense efficiency against the position. The Grizzlies are allowing the third most real points, sixth most rebounds, second most assists, ninth most three-pointers, most blocks, and most fantasy points per game to the position. Barton is in a good spot here to turn in a solid performance. He is capable of not only scoring, but also contributing to peripheral stats, and this is a good matchup to rack up the statistics. At this price, he should have no trouble returning value on both sites.
Kevin Porter Jr. (DK $3200/ FD $4900) – Porter made both his season and Rockets’ debut last night, and it was an impressive performance. He finished with 13 points, 10 assists, five rebounds, three steals, and one block in 29 minutes. He briefly exited with a knee injury but was able to return to the game and play through it, which is good news. I watched most of this game and Porter player very well. He will be in for another expanded role this evening, as the Rockets continue to be shorthanded. Wall, Oladipo, and Gordon have been ruled out, and Tucker has agreed to part ways with the team. With that in mind, Porter, who sported a healthy 22 percent usage rate last night, will once again be in for a heavy workload. The matchup is far from great and this game is likely ending in a blowout as the Jazz are 18.5-point favorites. That said, Porter is cheap and regardless of how this game plays out, he should play solid minutes this evening.
Kenyon Martin (DK $3000/ FD $3500) – Martin played 32 minutes last night and is once again in a position to play huge minutes for the Rockets this evening. As mentioned above, Houston is extremely shorthanded and will run a concentrated rotation. Even in a game that is likely ending in a blowout and versus a stout defensive team, Martin has to be considered a viable option. Not only is he min price on both sites, but he should play minutes in the high 20’s this evening, with potential to play 30+ minutes again. Please note that Martin is listed as a PF on DK.
Zion Williamson (DK $9100/ FD $9000) – There is no other way to put it, Williamson completely shit the bed yesterday in a great spot. In his defense, the Pelicans are so bad that they got blown out by the Timberwolves last night. That should not discourage you from going back to the well with Williamson this evening. He draws a solid matchup against a Cleveland team that ranks 21st in defense efficiency against opposing power forwards. In addition, the Cavs surrender the 11th most point in the paint per game, which bodes well for Williamson who generates 75.4 percent of his scoring from inside the paint. Prior to last night’s game, Williamson had been playing some strong basketball in his most recent games. On the season, he has exceeded expectations in 69 percent of his contests, showing plenty of consistency to go along with a stable floor. Recency bias could force people to look in a different direction, but all good players have bad games, that includes Williamson.
Tobias Harris (DK $8300/ FD $7800) – Philly blew out the Bulls last night, despite being without two of the primary weapons. This led to just 25 minutes for Harris yesterday, but he should be back to his regular allotment of minutes this evening, in a game that should be much more competitive. Washington ranks 21st in defense efficiency against power forwards over their last five games. The Wizards are giving up the sixth most points in the paint per game to opposing teams over the last seven games, which bodes well for Harris who generates 48.5 percent of his scoring from inside the paint. Philly is expected to have Embiid back tonight, so it’s a different situation for Harris than it was last night. That said, when only Simmons is off the court, Harris still gets a nice boost with a 4.6 percent usage increase, a 6.3 percent increase in assist rate, and a two percent increase in rebounding rate. Harris has not had great results against the Wizards this season, but the 76ers were healthy in those meetings. Look for Harris to turn in a nice performance in what should be one of the better game environments on the slate.
Jae’Sean Tate (DK $5800/ FD $4700) – By now you are aware of how shorthanded the Rockets are expected to be this evening. Tate continues to be extremely affordable on FD and should play solidified minutes. He has now played no less than 30 minutes in each of his last three games, starting in his last the last two contests for the Rockets. Tate is not the most consistent player, as he has turned in some mixed results even when the minutes are there. This is also not an ideal matchup for him, however, it is tough not consider a player who is going to play at least 30 minutes and can contribute to multiple categories like Tate is capable of doing. I prefer him on FD where he is much cheaper.
Joel Embiid (DK $10700/ FD $10700) – There are several center options you can pay up for tonight, but my favorite one is Embiid. You can certainly make a case for Jokic or evening Vucevic this evening and if that is the direction you want to go in, I will never talk anyone off of playing either of those centers. That being said, I love this spot for Embiid against a Washington team that has been crushed by centers all season long. They allow the third most real points, most rebounds, third most assists, 12th most three-pointers, ninth most steals, and most fantasy points per game to the position. The Wizards rank 28th in defense efficiency against centers on the season and 26th over their last 10 games. This unit has surrendered the sixth most points in the paint per game over the last seven games, which bodes extremely well for Embiid who generates 35.1 percent of his scoring from inside the paint. With Simmons off the court, Embiid is the main beneficiary from a usage standpoint as he sees a team high 6.5 percent usage bump, as well as a 5.3 percent increase in assist rate and a 2.2 percent increase in rebounding rate. Embiid has dominated against the Wizards this season and should once again dominate this evening. In two meetings against Washington, he has averaged 36 minutes, 33.5 points, 11 rebounds, 3.5 assists, two blocks, and 1.5 steals per game, while eclipsing 50 DK points in each of those contests. He is in an incredible position for a huge night.
Kelly Olynyk (DK $5700/ FD $4500) – Adebayo will miss another game this evening, which means that Olynyk will see a lot of playing time at the five. Olynyk played well last night as he filled in for Bam, scoring 20 points with seven boards, two dimes, two steals, and a block. Tonight’s matchup is just as good against a Bulls team that ranks dead last in defense efficiency against the position over their last 10 games and 25th in defense efficiency on the season. The Bulls give up the fifth most real points and seventh most fantasy points per game to the position, so it’s a matchup that Olynyk should be able to exploit. He is much more appealing on FD where he is still too cheap but is viable on both sites.
DraftKings: Russell Westbrook, Joel Embiid, Kenyon Martin, Kevin Porter Jr.
FanDuel: Russell Westbrook, Joel Embiid, Patty Mills, Kevin Porter Jr.
** Always check for updates to the core four closer to lock as it is subject to change with news**