***UPDATED CORE FOUR AT 6:52PM***
Add Maxi Kleber into the cash game player pool.
Kelly Oubre will play and start on Friday, the rest of the starting lineup is as follows Poole, Wiggins, Green, and Looney against the Grizzlies. Poole remains a fine option and I’m slightly bumping Mannion down since he is not starting. Mannion remains a viable option.
What’s up #elitemafia. Happy Friday!
We have a nice 10-game NBA slate tonight with plenty of studs to choose from. News has been flowing today as we got word that James Ennis remains out, DeMar DeRozan will play tonight, Avery Bradley will sit, and Trevor Ariza is on track to make his Heat debut. Evan Fournier was also upgraded to probable, so it appears he is on track to play.
As far as pending news is concerned, there is still a lot of statuses up in the air. Here are some of the players considered questionable for tonight: John Wall, Ben McLemore, Terrence Ross, Rudy Gobert, and Jeremy Lamb. We also have a few players listed as doubtful, with Stephen Curry and Kelly Oubre looking unlikely to suit up tonight.
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
- Suns 121.25
- Celtics 120
- Jazz 117.5
- Nets 117
- Nuggets 116
- Suns -11
- Nets -10
- Grizzlies -8
- Nuggets -7
- Celtics -7
Position By Position
Luka Doncic (DK $10700/ FD $10400) – Doncic is coming off an impressive performance and has now topped 55 DK points in four of his last five games, including two 65+ DK performances in each of his last two contests. Tonight, he faces off against a Portland team that struggles defensively, especially against point guards, ranking dead last in defense efficiency against the position. In addition, the Trail Blazers yield the second most real points, most rebounds, fifth most assists, fifth most three-pointers, and most fantasy points per game to the position. Talk about an incredible spot for Doncic to stuff the stat sheet. Portland has also struggled inside the paint over their last 10 games, allowing the 10th most points in the paint per game to opposing teams. This is something we can expect Doncic to exploit, as he generates 40.9 percent of his scoring from inside the paint. The last time these two teams faced off, Doncic played 36 minutes and scored 44 real points with nine dimes and seven boards, finishing with 66 DK points. Another performance like that is certainly in the realm of possibilities for Doncic who is heating up. He can be considered one of the top pay up options on the slate today.
Chris Paul (DK $7500/ FD $6900) – Paul gets a rematch from last night’s matchup against the Timberwolves in what was a stunning loss for the Suns. Phoenix is once again favored by double-digit points like they were last night, but like we saw yesterday, the Timberwolves were not only able to keep this game in reach, but also outright won the contest. Assuming this game remains competitive tonight, Paul is in a great position to turn in another solid performance. In last night’s contest, Paul scored 17 points with seven rebounds, five assists, and four steals, scoring 40.8 DK points. In two meetings against Minnesota this season, Paul has topped 40 DK points both times. Let’s not forget that the Timberwolves rank 28th in defense efficiency against opposing point guards. They yield the ninth most real points, sixth most rebounds, eighth most three-pointers, and eighth most fantasy points per game to the position. Paul remains reasonably priced on FD, and even on DK he can be considered a viable option.
Delon Wright (DK $6000/ FD $5600) – Wright continues to come in at an affordable price tag despite playing good basketball and tonight he draws a favorable matchup. Houston ranks 19th in defense efficiency against opposing point guards and surrendered the ninth most fantasy points per game to the position. Wright has now topped 30 DK points in three straight games and has played 30+ minutes in each of those contests, showing no effects from the groin injury that sidelined him for seven games. We can expect him to take advantage of Houston’s struggles inside the paint, as they allow the 11th most points in the paint per game, which bodes well for Wright who generates 52 percent of his scoring from inside the paint. In addition, Houston gives up the second most rebounds per game to the position, which bodes well for Wright who is active on the boards. The last time Wright faced off against Houston, Wright scored 18 points with six rebounds, two assists, and three steals in 28 minutes, scoring 35 DK points. We can expect him to play at least 30 minutes in this one and he averages just shy of a fantasy point per minute, so his chances of paying off his price tag in this favorable matchup are good.
Jordan Poole (DK $4500/ FD $4600) – Poole has played at least 20 minutes in six consecutive games and with the Warriors expected to be without several players tonight, he could once again play minutes into the mid-20’s with upside for more. Poole averages slightly over a fantasy point per minute, so he will be in a good spot to return value at his affordable price on both sites. The matchup is not great but given his potential role this evening and his price tag, Poole becomes a viable value option tonight. Please not that he is listed as a SG on DK.
Nico Mannion (DK $3200/ FD $3500) – Curry is considered doubtful for this contest, so we could see Mannion enter the starting lineup this evening. The last game that Curry missed on March 4th, Mannion got the start and played 31 minutes, scoring nine points with six dimes, four boards, and steal, which was good for 24 DK points. Mannion is averaging a fantasy point per minute this season (small sample size) and could play minutes in the mid-20’s with upside for more. The matchup against the Grizzlies is not a great one, as they do rank 10th in defense efficiency against opposing point guards. That being said, Mannion is near min price on DK and the absolute min price on FD and is likely going to see an expanded role tonight. Keep an eye on news and the starting lineup for Golden State, but so long as he starts, Mannion is firmly in play as a solid value option.
James Harden (DK $11000/ FD $11300) – There is not much I can say that you don’t already know about Harden. The Nets continue to be without Durant, which means Harden remains an incredibly strong play who offers a great combination of a high floor to go along with an immense ceiling. The matchup doesn’t get much better than this against an Orlando team that ranks dead last in defense efficiency against opposing shooting guards, as well as 27th in defense efficiency against opposing point guards. Therefore, it doesn’t matter if it’s Harden or Irving running the point, because Harden is in an absolute smash spot here. He triple-doubled for his third consecutive game in his last contest, the fifth time in six games, and his 11th time this season. The one and only concern here is whether or not the Magic can keep this game competitive enough so that Harden plays his regular allotment of minutes.
Donovan Mitchell (DK $8700/ FD $8000) – Mitchell is coming off a season high 42-point performance against the Wizards last night. Tonight, he faces off against a Raptors team that is healthy again, but one that still ranks 21st in defense efficiency. The Raptors surrender the eighth most fantasy points per game to opposing shooting guards. Toronto also allows the fourth most three-pointers per game and the seventh highest three-point field goal percentage to opposing teams, which bodes well for Mitchell who generates 39.9 percent of his scoring from beyond the arc. This is also a paced-up spot for Utah, against a Raptors that plays at a top 12 pace in the league. Mitchell has now topped 50 DK points in three of his last five games and is in a great position for a solid outing in tonight’s matchup.
Tim Hardaway Jr. (DK $4900/ FD $4200) – Hardaway can be streaky at times and does not offer the highest of ceilings, but he has played solidified minutes in recent games and draws a nice matchup tonight. He faces off against the Trail Blazers who rank 18th in defense efficiency against the position. Hardaway has also been somewhat consistently productive in recent game, exceeding expectation in 70 percent of his last 10 games. During that 10-game stretch, he has topped 20 DK points seven times, scoring fewer than 18 DK points just twice. Hardaway drew the start last game and played 37 minutes, which was the fourth time in the last six games that he has played at least 30 minutes. I prefer him on FD where he is cheaper, but he is viable on both sites.
Jimmy Butler (DK $9500/ FD $10600) – Butler is human after all. He scored below fewer than 50 DK points for the first time in seven games on Wednesday night. In his defense, it was a second night of a back-to-back and he was dealing with an ankle sprain. The good news is that he is off the injury report and was able to get a night’s rest. The matchup against the Pacers is one I expect Butler to dominate in, as they rank 26th in defense efficiency against opposing small forwards over their last five games. Butler generates 52.7 percent of his scoring from inside the paint, so he should be able to score at will against this Pacers team that allows the fifth most point in the paint per game. In addition, they surrender the 10th most rebounds, seventh most assists, and 11th most blocks per game to opposing teams, making this a matchup where Butler can fill up the stat sheet in a hurry. Lastly, Indiana plays at a top 10 pace in the league, making this a paced-up spot for Miami. On FD, it’s tough to justify the price tag despite how good Butler has played, but on DK I am completely fine paying that tag for Butler.
Jaylen Brown (DK $8000/ FD $7500) – Brown has played some strong basketball in recent games and is in a great position for another big outing. He faces off against a Sacramento team that ranks 20th in defense efficiency against the position over the last 10 games and 19th on the season. Brown who generates 42.1 percent of his scoring from inside the paint, should have a field day against this Kings team that gives up the most points in the paint per game to opposing teams. In addition, they yield the highest three-point field goal percentage and the ninth most three-pointers per game to opposing teams, which also bodes well for Brown who generates 29.1 percent of his scoring from beyond the arc. This should be a great game environment for Brown, in a paced-up matchup against a Kings team that plays at a top eight pace in the league. On FD, Brown’s price is very appealing, making him a strong point per dollar play there. Though, he is viable on both sites.
Will Barton (DK $5600/ FD $5600) – By now you should know the drill with Barton, as he is often part of my cash game breakdown. He plays big minutes, has found his rhythm and has been more consistent as of late, and draws a nice matchup against a Bulls team that ranks 26th in defense efficiency against opposing small forwards. Barton has now scored at least 26 DK points in eight consecutive games, eclipsing 30 DK points six times during that stretch. He should be able to score at will here as the Bulls are allowing the third most points in the paint per game and Barton generates nearly 40 percent of his scoring from inside the paint. Barton is hot right now and until he cools down or his price catches up to the production, he can be considered a solid point per dollar play.
Larry Nance (DK $5200/ FD $5300) – The Cavs continue to be missing some players in their frontcourt, which has opened up some opportunities for Nance. He has now started in each of the last two games, playing at least 37 minutes in each of those contests. Nance has taken full advantage of his opportunity, scoring at least 34 DK points in each of his last two games, finishing with a double-double last time out, and one-rebound short of a double-double in his previous game. He faces a Spurs team this evening that is giving up the third most rebounds per game to opposing teams, making this a good rebounding spot for Nance. In fact, they are giving up the fourth most rebounds per game to the position. Nance remains reasonably priced on both sites and should once again play big minutes for the Cavs in a decent matchup. He offers a nice floor, as well as plenty of upside in this one.
Mikal Bridges (DK $5200/ FD $4900) – I wrote up Bridges last night and I am willing to go back to the well here with him in the exact same matchup. He panned out for us yesterday, scoring 17 points with eight dimes, five boards, one block, and one steal in 34 minutes. That performance was good for 40.75 DK points. I’ll be honest, I am not expecting a repeat performance, but this is a great spot for another productive game from him. Minnesota ranks 20th in defense efficiency against opposing small forwards, allowing the sixth most fantasy points per game to the position. They allow the second most points in the paint per game to opposing teams and Bridges generates 42.2 percent of his scoring from inside the paint. In addition, the Timberwolves give up the seventh highest three-point field goal percentage to opposing teams and Bridges generates 40.9 percent of his scoring from beyond the arc. Let’s not forget that this is also a paced-up spot for the Suns and a good matchup for Bridges to rack up the defensive stats. So long as this game remains competitive and Bridges plays his regular allotment of minutes, we can feel good about going right back to the well here.
Jayson Tatum (DK $8900/ FD $8900) – Tatum has not displayed his ceiling much, but he continues to be very consistent on a nightly basis. He has now topped 40 DK points in five straight games and in six of his last seven. The matchup against the Kings is one that he should exploit as they rank 26th in defense efficiency against the position. We saw Tatum completely dominate against the Kings in their last meeting, scoring 27 points with 10 dimes, nine boards, and two steals in 39 minutes. That performance was good for 57.8 DK points. The Kings give up the most points in the paint per game to opposing teams, which bodes well for Tatum who generates 37.3 percent of his scoring from inside the paint. In addition, they yield the highest three-point field goal percentage and the ninth most three-pointers per game to opposing teams, which is also a plus for Tatum who generates 31.9 percent of his scoring from beyond the arc. There is no other way to put this, but this is a slam dunk spot for Tatum who is playing some strong basketball.
Bam Adebayo (DK $8200/ FD $8000) – Adebayo wasted no time in getting back to his usual self, scoring 15 points with 12 boards, six dimes and a steal in his second game back from a four-game absence, on Wednesday night. Tonight, he faces off against a Pacers team that ranks 19th in defense efficiency against opposing bigs in their last 10 games. Indiana surrenders the 12th most real points, fifth most rebounds, 10th most blocks, and 10th most fantasy points per game to the position. In addition, the Pacers give up the fifth most points in the paint per game to opposing teams, which bodes incredibly well for Bam who generates 60.6 percent of his scoring from inside the paint. Lastly, Indian also yields the 10th most rebounds, seventh most assists, and 11th most blocks per game to opposing teams. Talk about a great matchup for Adebayo to fill up the stat sheet like he is capable of doing just about any night. His price is reasonable on both sites too, making him a very appealing option this evening. Please note that he is listed as a center on DK.
Daniel Theis (DK $4400/ FD $4200) – Boy, did Theis really let us down in his last game. He got the start, played the minutes, but just shit the bed. He played 26 minutes, grabbed four rebounds, dished out five dimes, but failed to score a single point. It’s tough to recommend him here tonight after that performance, but with Thompson out once again for the Celtics tonight, Theis should play minutes in the mid-20’s, with upside for more. The matchup is incredible too, as he takes on a Kings that ranks 29th in defense efficiency against opposing big men. Sacramento gives up the eighth most real points, second most rebounds, most assists, and third most fantasy points per game to the position. Theis generates 51.9 percent of his scoring from inside the paint and the Kings surrender the most points in the paint per game to opposing teams. Therefore, scoring should not be an issue for Theis this evening. The last time these two teams faced off back in the beginning of February, Theis played 27, scored 11 points with four rebounds, four assists, and one block, which was good for 25 DK points. That type of performance would be ideal for him at this price tag, and it is certainly in the realm of possibilities.
Nikola Jokic (DK $10600/ FD $11000) – Jokic against the Bulls is something that will be tough to pass up on this evening. Chicago ranks 26th in defense efficiency against opposing centers. The Bulls give up the fourth most real points and eighth most fantasy points per game to the position. They are also allowing the third most points in the paint per game, which bodes incredibly well for Jokic who generates 52.8 percent of his scoring from inside the paint. Jokic put on a clinic the last time he faced off against Chicago, scoring 39 points with 14 rebounds, nine assists, two blocks, and a steal in 38 minutes, finishing with 77 DK points. He should once again dominate in this matchup, making him one of tonight’s top options to pay up for.
Karl-Anthony Towns (DK $9400/ FD $9600) – Towns absolutely smashed against the Suns yesterday, helping carry the Timberwolves to a victory. He faces off against this same Phoenix team tonight, one who did not have an answer for him in yesterday evening and one who will not have an answer for him tonight. I recommended Towns yesterday and pointed out that the Suns rank 19th in defense efficiency against centers on the season and 29th in their last 10 games. So long as this game stays competitive, like it was last night, we have to once again be excited about Towns’ potential in this matchup. He remains reasonably priced considering the caliber of player he is.
Jonas Valanciunas (DK $7500/ FD $7300) – If you decide not to pay up at center tonight or if you want to roster two centers on DK, Valanciunas is someone you can consider. This is an incredible matchup against an undersized Warriors team that offers essentially no rim protection. Golden State enters this game ranked 23rd in defense efficiency against opposing centers and ranked 26th in their last 10 games. This unit is giving up the fifth most real points, fourth most rebounds, and fourth most fantasy points per game to the position. In the last three games, the Warriors have allowed the eighth most points in the paint per game and in their last five games they have allowed the 10th most. This is something that Valanciunas should take complete advantage of, as he generates 74.1 percent of his scoring from inside the paint. The Warriors are also giving up the most rebounds per game to opposing teams, so I expect Valanciunas to dominate the boards tonight. He does not play huge minutes on a nightly basis, but he averages well over a fantasy point per minute, and I this exact spot he can rack up the points in a hurry.
Mason Plumlee (DK $6000/ FD $5700) – I was torn between recommending Plumlee or Robert Williams in this price range tonight. I lean Plumlee for the consistency, but both of these guys are completely viable tonight, though I do prefer Williams in tournaments. With that said, Plumlee is who I’d lean with in cash tonight being that he continues to be very consistent as of late. He has now topped 30 DK points in five of his last six games and gets a nice matchup against a Houston team that ranks 21st in defense efficiency against opposing centers. Plumlee is very capable of stuffing the stat sheet on any given night and this is one of those matchups where that is very capable. The last time he faced off against the Rockets, he played 20 minutes and scored 23.8 DK points. I have Plumlee projected to play 25-27 minutes this evening, which would be good enough for him to return value at his price tag, being that he averages 1.11 fantasy point per minute. Truth be told whether you go Williams or Plumlee is totally fine with me, but in my opinion Plumlee offer the safest floor between the two. Keep in mind, they are both in incredible spots.
DraftKings: Luka Doncic, Larry Nance, Nikola Jokic, Jordan Poole
FanDuel: Luka Doncic, Jaylen Brown, Nikola Jokic, Jordan Poole
** Always check for updates to the core four closer to lock as it is subject to change with news**