Jimmy Butler is available to play tonight. This takes Herro and Nunn out of play. Adebayo is still viable, but not a must play by any means. If Trevor Ariza starts, he is viable at his price tag, even with Butler in.
Norman Powell will make his Portland debut tonight and start. He is an interesting mid-range option in this fantastic matchup. Bump down Simons and Jones, but McCollum remains a strong play this evening.
Add Khem Birch and Dwayne Bacon into the cash game player pool as value options.
What’s up #elitemafia. Happy Friday!
We have a big 11-game slate tonight and it’s shaping up to be a wild one. There is still plenty of news pending, so make sure to stop on by later this afternoon for any updates and notes on the article. I would also recommend tuning into our livestream today at 5pm eastern.
News has been flowing in all day. So far, we got word that Terrence Ross, Lonzo Ball, Goran Dragic, Damian Lillard, Victor Oladipo, Evan Fournier, DeAndre Bembry, Kevin Love, Taurean Prince, and J.J. Redick are all out tonight. Luka Doncic and Kevin Porter Jr. are considered doubtful.
There are also a lot of players listed as questionable, some notable ones too. Here is the list of the players considered questionable for tonight: James Harden, Dennis Smith Jr., Jimmy Butler, Draymond Green, and Collin Sexton.
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
- Bucks 120.5
- Jazz 119
- Nuggets 117.25
- Timberwolves 117
- Pelicans 114.75
- Jazz -9.5
- Trail Blazers -9
- Hawks -7.5
- Bucks -6
- Nets -6
Position By Position
John Wall (DK $8300/ FD $8200) – The Rockets got blown out last game in what was expected to be a competitive matchup. That is the risk you take when playing a Houston player, as this team is not great and even against bad teams, a blowout is possible. Tonight, the Rockets face off against a Timberwolves team that plays at a top five pace and ranks 28th in overall defense efficiency. Minnesota is equally bad against point guards, ranking 28th in defense efficiency against the position. They surrender the seventh most real points, sixth most rebounds, 13th most assists, eighth most three-pointers, and fifth most fantasy points per game to the position. In addition, the Timberwolves are giving up the second most points in the paint per game, which is great for Wall who generates 41.6 percent of his scoring from inside the paint. Oladipo is no longer with the team, as he was traded, which gives Wall a huge bump. When Oladipo was off the court, Wall averaged 1.2 fantasy points per minute, while sporting a 36 percent usage rate. So long as this game remains competitive, which Vegas believes it will, with just a four-point spread, Wall should be able to produce strong numbers against this defense.
Kemba Walker (DK $6700/ FD $6800) – Walker is affordable on both sites and has been playing solid basketball as of late. He has now topped 30 DK points in eight of his last 10 games, including three 40+ DK point performances. He faces off against a Bucks team that he played against just a few nights ago. In that contest, Walker played 35 minutes and scored 23 points with six dimes, two rebounds, three steals, and a block, finishing with 43 DK points. Walker made five from beyond the arc and now has 10 three-pointers in his last three games. He generates 48.4 percent of his scoring from beyond the arc, so he is in a position to score at-will once again. The Bucks are allowing the fourth most three-pointers per game and the 11th highest three-point field goal percentage to the position. Aside from that, this is a paced-up matchup for Walker and the Celtics.
Kendrick Nunn (DK $4900/ FD $5500) – If and only if Butler is out, we can go right back to the well with Nunn. Butler missed last night’s game with a stomach illness and remains questionable for tonight. Nunn had himself a game against Portland, scoring 22 points with five rebounds, five assists, and a steal in 34 minutes. Tonight, he faces off against a Hornets team that ranks 22nd in defense efficiency against opposing point guards. They have struggled in the paint as of late, allowing the 10th most points in the paint per game, which bodes well for Nunn who generates nearly 40 percent of his scoring from inside the paint. Nunn averages a fantasy point per minute with Dragic and Butler off the court. He also sees a 3.8 percent usage bump, a 3.2 increase in assist rate, and a one percent increase in rebounding rate. We know Dragic is out, so if Butler misses, Nunn will be in a great position to pay off his affordable price tag on both sites.
Jalen Brunson (DK $4500/ FD $4800) – As I was writing the article, Doncic, who I was particularly high on this evening, popped up on the injury report and is considered doubtful. Assuming he sits, we can consider Brunson a solid value option tonight. Brunson started in each of the three games that Doncic has missed this season and played no less than 33 minutes in those three contests. In eight starts this season, Brunson has averaged 32.6 minutes, 17.1 points, four assists, 3.5 rebounds, and 0.8 blocks per game, while scoring over 27 DK points in five of those contests and never below 18 DK points. He faces a Pacers team that ranks 28th in defense efficiency against opposing point guards over their last 10 games. In that timeframe, Indiana was giving up the 12th most real points, fifth most rebounds, fifth most assists, most steals, and fourth most blocks per game to the position. Brunson should have no trouble paying off his cheap price tag on both sites tonight. You can also consider Trey Burke as well at the absolute min price on both sites, though he does come with a bit more risk.
Anfernee Simons (DK $3500/ FD $3500) – Simons could be in for an expanded role tonight with Lillard resting. When Lillard is off the court, Simons sees a 1.2 percent usage bump and a 5.5 percent increase in assist rate. Simons comes in at the min price on FD and near min on DK. Taking his price and the matchup into consideration here, he makes for a strong value option this evening. Orlando just had a fire sale, trading away their best players and are also dealing with injuries. It’s tough to pass up on Simons in this spot at this price tag.
James Harden (DK $10800/ FD $11300) – Harden remains questionable for tonight, after missing the last game. If he plays, he becomes a viable option as he is in just about any slate. We already know what he brings to the table, a great combination of one of the highest floors in basketball with immense upside. Keep an eye on news with Harden because if Harden plays, he is in play and if he sits, it will open a ton of value for the Nets. Detroit is ranks 17th in overall defense efficiency and plays slow, so this is far from a great matchup. Though, Harden can post up huge numbers against any team.
C.J. McCollum (DK $7700/ FD $7500) – First off, HUGE shoutout to Ricky for his McCollum call yesterday as he absolutely went bonkers against Miami. McCollum is once again in an incredible spot against a Magic team that ranks dead last in efficiency against the shooting guard position and just traded away a bunch of their top players. McCollum, who thrives from beyond the arc, scoring 55 percent of his points from there, should be able to have a field day against this Magic team that allows the sixth most three pointers per game. In addition, Orlando yields the ninth most real points, third most rebounds, 10th most assists, most three-pointers, 11th most steals, and third most fantasy points per game to the position. I mean, talk about an incredible spot for him. Lillard was ruled out for this contest, so I am not as concerned about the blowout as I was this morning. This also gives McCollum a huge bump here and makes him an incredible play.
Will Barton (DK $6200/ FD $5900) – Barton had an awful game his last time out, scoring zero points on 0-for-8 shooting in 23 minutes. Let’s not let that performance discourage us from considering him again. Tonight, he is in a nice spot against a Pelicans team that ranks 23rd in defense efficiency and is playing at a top 11 pace over their last 10 games. Prior to last game, Barton had topped 28 DK points in seven consecutive games, including 32+ DK points in six of those contests. He faced off against the Pelicans a few nights ago and had a solid performance against them, scoring 16 points with six dimes, three boards, and two steals in 36 minutes. Barton plays big minutes, has been fairly consistent, and draws a nice matchup here. I am willing to go right back to the well.
Tyler Herro (DK $5600/ FD $5700) – Herro erupted for 29 points with eight dimes, four rebounds, and a steal in 35 minutes against Portland last night. If Butler sits tonight’s game out, he once again becomes a viable option against a Hornets team that is giving up the second most three-pointers per game, which bodes well for Herro who generates 36 percent of his scoring from beyond the arc. Herro gets 3.7 percent usage bump and sees a 4.4 percent increase in assist rate when both Dragic and Butler are off the court. We already got news of Dragic sitting this one out, so if Butler sits as well, Herro would be in for a nice boost. I am only considering Herro if Butler sits.
Nickeil Alexander-Walker (DK $5300/ FD $5300) – Ball will not play tonight which means that Alexander-Walker is in line for another start. In five starts this season, Alexander-Walker has averaged 30.2 minutes, 19.2 points, 5.2 rebounds, 2.4 assists, one steal, and 0.4 blocks per game. He has topped 27 DK points in all but one of those starts, including three 31+ DK point outings. He has now started in two straight games for the Pelicans and has sported a 23 percent usage rate, averaging just shy of a fantasy point per minute. The matchup against the Nuggets is middling as they rank 17th in defense efficiency against the position. Although, this is a matchup he did well in the last time these two teams faced off a few nights ago. In that contest, Alexander-Walker scored 20 points with three rebounds, one assist, one steal, and two blocks, which was good for 32 DK points. The Nuggets allow the ninth most three-pointers per game to opposing teams, which bodes well for Alexander-Walker who generates 43 percent of his scoring from beyond the arc. Overall, he is in a good spot and comes in at a reasonable price tag. He is PG/SG eligible on DK, giving up more flexibility with roster construction.
Jaylen Brown (DK $8400/ FD $8000) – I won’t stop writing up Brown until his price becomes too expensive or he cools off, and at this time neither of those have happened. Tonight, he faces off against a Bucks team that he has dominated against this season. In two meetings against them, Brown has averaged 28.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, three assists, one steal, and 0.5 blocks per game, scoring no less than 42 DK points in any of those contests. The Bucks are a good defensive unit, but they have struggled against small forwards this season, ranking 25th in defense efficiency against the position. Brown continues to shoot well from beyond the arc, 42.3 percent over his last five game and generates 31.1 percent of his scoring from three-pointers. I point that out because the Bucks surrender the fourth most three-pointers per game to opposing teams as well as the 11th highest three-point field goal percentage to the position. The Bucks play up in pace, so this is a paced-up spot for the Celtics, which also benefits Brown. He remains reasonably priced and once again makes a strong cash game option this evening.
Gordon Hayward (DK $8000/ FD $7000) – Hayward is priced appropriately on DK, but on FD he remains underpriced. He is coming off a disappointing performance against the Rockets, but he played just 19 minutes as that game turned into a blowout. Tonight, he faces a Heat team that could be without Butler, which would make this a better matchup than it appears on paper. We know that with Ball off the court, Hayward averages 1.1 fantasy points per minute and sports a healthy 24.2 percent usage rate. The last time he played Miami, he scored 34.7 FD points. Another performance like that is certainly feasible here. The Heat allow the most three-pointers per game to the position, which Hayward can certainly exploit, as he generates 29.4 percent of his scoring from beyond the arc. On FD where you need to start two small forwards, he is someone you can consider at his price, as he should be able to return value. He is a better play if Butler sits.
Danuel House (DK $5200/ FD $5500) – This all but tells you how bad the small forward position is tonight, as I am recommending House as an option. Porter isn’t expected to play tonight and Oladipo is no longer with the team, so there are minutes and usage up for grabs. Since returning from a five-game absence, House has played and started in each of the last five games. During that stretch, he has averaged 30.6 minutes, 12.2 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 0.6 steals, and 0.2 blocks per game, while scoring no less than 20 DK points in all but one game, including 25+ DK points in two of those contests. The matchup against the Timberwolves is a good one as they rank 26th in defense efficiency against opposing small forwards. House, who generates 51.7 percent of his scoring from beyond the arc, should take full advantage of the fact that Minnesota yields the fourth highest three-point field goal percentage to opposing teams. This should also be a great game environment as well, being that both of these teams play fast. UNEXPECTEDLY RULED OUT
Derrick Jones Jr. (DK $4500/ FD $4400) – Jones is not a major offensive threat, but this is a matchup where he can rack up the defensive stats against the Magic team that will be on the court. In addition, plenty of usage opens up now that Lillard has been ruled out. Not to mention, the Magic rank 22nd in defense efficiency against small forwards in their last three games. Jones is affordable on both sites and although he tends to be volatile, he plays solid minutes and is in a great spot tonight.
Dorian Finney-Smith (DK $4400/ FD $3900) – After a two-game absence, Finney-Smith stepped back into the starting lineup and has started in each of the last two games. He played no less than 28 minutes in either of those two contests and continues to play solidified minutes for Dallas, averaging over 30 minutes per game. The production is not always there, as he can be volatile. That said, tonight he draws a nice matchup against a Pacers team that ranks 26th in defense efficiency against the position in the last 10 games. The Pacers are quietly a top 10 team in pace this season, so this is a paced-up spot for Dallas. In addition, they surrender the fourth highest three-point field goal percentage to opposing teams, which bodes well for Finney-Smith who generates 59.8 percent of his scoring from beyond the arc. He is far from a stable player, but at this price tag he should be able to pay off his salary in this matchup. Plus, like I said before, this position is not that great, so we take what the slate gives us here.
Giannis Antetokounmpo (DK $10700/ FD $11100) – We go from a terrible small forward position this evening, to a fruitful power forward one. I don’t have to dive to deep into Giannis. By now most of you know what he brings to the table and what we want from him is to be in a competitive game. That is exactly what we should get tonight against the Celtics. These two teams have faced off twice this season and both games were decided by two or fewer points. He did not play well against Boston a few nights ago but did drop 35 points on them in their first meeting. Giannis should play his regular allotment of minutes in this one, making him a viable option in all formats.
Zion Williamson (DK $8700/ FD $8300) – Williamson continues to provide us with one of the more consistent floors in basketball and that should continue tonight. He faces off against a Nuggets team that ranks dead last in defense efficiency against opposing power forwards. Denver allows the most real points, 13th most rebounds, third most assists, seventh most steals, and seventh most blocks per game to the position. In their last meeting just a few nights ago, Williamson scored 30 points with six boards, one block, one steal, and one assist in 35 minutes, which was good for 41.5 DK points. This is a spot he should be able to be productive in once again. His floor is stable, and he has flashed nice upside at times in the last month, making him a nice option tonight.
Kristaps Porzingis (DK $8100/ FD $7500) – I wrote up Porzingis on Wednesday and had him as one of my top plays on the slate and he paid off. As I noted in that article, he is not someone I consider often in cash and like Wednesday, I am making an exception tonight as well. He draws a nice matchup here against an Indiana team that ranks 22nd in defense efficiency against opposing centers over their last 10 games. The Pacers are giving up the ninth most real points, sixth most rebounds, and eighth most fantasy points per game. They surrender the third most points in the paint, which bodes well for Porzingis who generates 40.3 percent of his scoring from beyond the arc. They also surrender the 10th most rebounds per game to opposing teams, making it a good rebounding match as well. Moreover, the Pacers also give up the 12th highest three-point field goal percentage to opposing bigs and the fourth highest to opposing teams. This is also good for Porzingis who generates 33.8 percent of his scoring from beyond the arc. The last time these teams faced off, he scored 27 points with 13 boards, four assists, and one block in 32 minutes, which was good for 53 DK points. He gets a major boost if Doncic sits.
Jae’Sean Tate (DK $6000/ FD $5400) – Tate is not someone I typically like recommending in cash, but this is based on the matchup and overall specific situation for the Rockets who remain shorthanded. We know Oladipo is no longer with the team and the Rockets are missing some players, which means that Tate gets a usage bump here. When taking this exact roster into consideration, Tate averages 0.9 fantasy points per minute and sports a 15 percent usage rate. The matchup is lovely against a Timberwolves team that ranks 29th in overall defense efficiency. Tate generates 64.3 percent of his scoring from inside the paint, so he should be able to score at-will against this Minnesota team that surrenders the second most points in the paint per game. He can be volatile, so he is risky, but this is a great spot and game environment for him. Please note that I prefer him on FD where he is cheaper.
Isaiah Stewart (DK $4900/ FD $4100) – Steward continues to play decent minutes off the bench for the Pistons. Over his last 11 games, he is averaging 22.5 minutes per game, having played at least 20 minutes in all but one of those contests. Tonight, he faces off against a Nets team that ranks 28th in defense efficiency against opposing front courts. In addition, Brooklyn ranks 26th in defense efficiency against opposing bigs. In the last month, Stewart has averaged 1.1 fantasy points per minute and the Nets are giving up well over a fantasy point per minute to opposing bigs. The last time these two teams faced off, Stewart played 20 minutes and scored nine points with eight boards, three blocks, and two steals, which was good for 28,5 DK points. He played just 10 minutes in their first meeting earlier in the season and in that contest, he scored nine DK points. I have him projected for 20-22 minutes tonight, which should be enough to return value, especially on FD where he remains affordable.
Note: If Jimmy Butler sits, we can go right back to the well with Trevor Ariza so long as he is in the starting lineup. If that is the case, he can be considered one of the stronger point per dollar plays on the slate.
Karl-Anthony Towns (DK $9900/ FD $10000) – It was really tough choosing between Nikola Jokic and Towns as the top pay up center tonight. Truth be told, they are both firmly in play, but I love this spot for Towns here. He faces off against a Houston team that has been abysmal against opposing centers, especially over their last 10 games, as they rank 28th in defense efficiency against the position. The Rockets are allowing well over a fantasy point per minute to opposing centers for the season which bodes well for Towns who averages over a fantasy point per minute. The Rockets are also a terrible rebounding team, giving up the most rebounds per game to opposing teams, which makes this an incredible rebounding matchup for Towns. This should also be a great game environment with two teams that place up in pace. Towns is an elite player and although he has mixed results in recent games, this is a matchup that he should flourish in and one where a potential ceiling game is not out of the realm of possibilities.
Christian Wood (DK $8400/ FD $7700) – On the other side of the court, Wood also finds himself in a great spot against the Timberwolves. Minnesota ranks dead last in defense efficiency against opposing centers this season. They allow the most real points, 11th most rebounds, sixth most blocks, and second most fantasy points per game to the position. Minnesota surrenders the second most points in the paint per game, which bodes well for Wood who generates 58.3 percent of his scoring from inside the paint. He can also shoot the three ball and the Timberwolves struggle in that department as well. Wood is coming off a subpar performance, in what turned into a blowout game. That said, this is expected to be competitive, and the matchup doesn’t get much better than this. There is always the risk of a blowout with the Rockets, but these are two bad teams facing off. Wood remains too cheap on FD.
Clint Capela (DK $7800/ FD $8000) – Capela was one of my top plays on Wednesday and it panned out. I am going right back to the well this evening, as he faces off against Golden State, a team I love targeting against with opposing centers. I know Capela’s minutes can be a concern as they fluctuate, but in this specific spot, he can rack up the fantasy points in a hurry. The Warriors rank 25th in defense efficiency against opposing centers for the season and dead last in efficiency in their last 10 games. They allow the sixth most real points, second most rebounds, and fourth most fantasy points per game to the position. Over their last seven games, the Warriors are allowing the third most points in the paint per game to opposing teams. Look for Capela to capitalize on that, as he generates 87.2 percent of his scoring from inside the paint. In addition, the Warriors are a terrible rebounding team, allowing the most (along with the Rockets) rebounds per game to opposing teams, so I expect Capela to dominate the boards. Capela is someone I typically prefer in GPP, but there are some matchups where I’m willing to roster him in cash, and this is one of those matchups.
Honorable Mention: I like Bam Adebayo tonight, though there are other centers in his price range that I feel better about this evening. Don’t get me wrong, he is firmly in play and if Butler sits, Adebayo will get a major bump. However, until we get news, I will be prioritizing some of the other centers in his price range tonight.
DraftKings: Jaylen Brown, Kristaps Porzingis, C.J. McCollum, Jalen Brunson
FanDuel: Jaylen Brown, Kristaps Porzingis, C.J. McCollum, Jalen Brunson
** Always check for updates to the core four closer to lock as it is subject to change with news**