***UPDATED CORE FOUR AT 6:30 PM ET***
Christian Wood will not play tonight and Kelly Olynyk will start. Olynyk is a nice value play on DK where he is $4400 and PF eligible.
Lonzo Ball went from questionable to doubtful. If he sits, Alexander-Walker becomes a viable option this evening.
Add Saben Lee in your player pool as a value option.
What’s up #elitemafia. Happy Monday!
We have a huge 11-game slate tonight, with plenty of star power to choose from. There has not been a ton of news throughout the day, leaving us with lots of pending news as we head into lock tonight. However, we did get word that Jaylen Brown will not play tonight.
With that said, there are a lot of players considered questionable tonight and their statuses can have a major impact on the way we approach the slate. Here are some of the players listed as questionable for tonight: Bradley Beal, Lonzo Ball, Julius Randle, Reggie Bullock, Kyle Lowry, Justice Winslow, Avery Bradley, Christian Woods, Hassan Whiteside, Taurean Prince, and Stephen Curry.
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 124.75
- Pacers 119
- Jazz 118.75
- Celtics 117.25
- Grizzlies 116.75
- Jazz -16
- Nets -11
- Mavericks -11
- Grizzlies -8
- Pacers -5
Position By Position
Russell Westbrook (DK $11000/ FD $11000) – Westbrook continues to post up stellar numbers on a nightly basis, offering one of the more consistent floors in basketball. He has triple-doubled in five of his last eight games, falling short of a triple-double in one of the other games by one assist. Tonight, he faces off against a Pacers team that ranks 25th in defense efficiency against opposing point guards over their last 10 games. Indiana surrenders the sixth most assists and 10th most rebounds to opposing teams, so this is a great matchup for Westbrook to be able to stuff the stat sheet. In addition, both of these teams play at a top 10 pace, making this a paced-up spot, which can create more touch opportunities. Moreover, the Pacers give up the fourth most points in the paint per game, which bodes incredibly well for Westbrook who generates 43.6 percent of his scoring from inside the paint. Lastly, Beal is considered questionable for tonight, if he misses, Westbrook gets a big boost. With Beal off the court, Westbrook sees an 8.2 percent usage increase and a 6.7 percent increase in assist rate. In two games that Beal sat out and Westbrook played, Westbrook has sported a 36.9 percent and a 43 percent usage rate. This is a great matchup regardless, but without Beal, Westbrook would be in a position for a ceiling game.
De’Aaron Fox (DK $9500/ FD $9800) – Fox is someone I have been recommending often and he continues to return value for us. We can go right back to the well here with him tonight against a Spurs team that ranks 22nd in defense efficiency against opposing point guards. Fox has now scored 30 or more real points in four straight games, sporting a 32+ percent usage rate in three of those contests. He should be able to score at-will against a Spurs team that gives up the ninth most real points to opposing point guards. This is not the greatest game environment being that the Spurs are middling when it comes to pace, but that has not slowed Fox down this season, as we saw against the Cavs a few nights ago. Fox is getting pricey, but he is still very capable of paying off this price tag with room for upside.
Dejounte Murray (DK $7100/ FD $7200) – I have been avoiding Spurs players for the most part given their schedule and how they run their rotations at times. That said, tonight I am willing to roster Murray given the matchup against the Kings. Sacramento gives up the third most real points, 10th most assists, eighth most three-pointers, fourth most blocks, and fifth most fantasy points per game to opposing point guards. This is a team that surrenders the most points in the paint per game, which is where Murray generates 47.3 percent of his points from. In addition, Sacramento plays incredibly fast, making this a paced-up spot for Murray and the Spurs. Murray is capable of stuffing the stat sheet on any given night and this is one of those matchups where that is very possible. There is certainly risk with Murray, but it is risk I am willing to take in this specific matchup.
Malcolm Brogdon (DK $7000/ FD $6500) – Brogdon remains too cheap on FD and his price on DK is palatable as well. He draws a fantastic matchup against a Wizards team that plays at the fastest pace in basketball and one that ranks 23rd in defense efficiency against opposing point guards. The Wizards give up the fourth most real points, ninth most rebounds, sixth most steals, and seventh most fantasy points per game to the position. Despite the lack of consistent peripherals, Brogdon has now topped 35 DK points in eight of his last 10 games. He is in a price range where that will be enough to return value and in this specific matchup, that type of performance is certainly in the realm of possibilities. This is a great spot for Brogdon and the price is tough to ignore here, making him a viable option this evening.
Kemba Walker (DK $6800/ FD $6800) – We got word that Brown will not play tonight and although Walker is not the primary beneficiary, he does benefit in a big way when Brown is off the court. In this instance, Walker sees a 5.1 percent usage bump, as well as a 9.9 percent increase in assist rate. Tonight’s matchup is a great one, as Walker faces off against a Pelicans team that ranks 29th in defense efficiency against point guards. New Orleans surrenders the sixth most real points, second most assists, fifth most three-pointers, and second most fantasy points per game to the position. The Pelicans are also yielding the most three-pointers per game to opposing teams, the second highest three-point field goal percentage to opposing teams, and the sixth highest three-point field goal percentage to the position. This is excellent news for Walker who generates 48.1 percent of his scoring from beyond the arc. Walker struggled with his shot the last time he faced the Pelicans, especially from beyond the arc where he went 1-of-12. However, I expect a much better performance from him tonight and he remains reasonably priced considering the circumstances and matchup.
Theo Maledon (DK $5800/ FD $5100) – OKC will be without several players tonight, which means that Maledon will be in for an expanded role. Considering who has been ruled out for tonight, Maledon sees a 6.7 percent usage bump, an 8.2 percent increase in assist rate, and a 1.8 percent increase in rebounding rate. Tonight’s matchup is far from elite, but given his role increase, Maledon makes for a viable option. His price on FD is far more enticing than his DK price tag. Maledon has faced off against Dallas twice this season and has mixed results against them. In one of their meetings, the most recent one, he scored 30 DK points in 36 minutes and in the other he scored 17 DK points in 31 minutes. He should play minutes in the mid to upper 30’s tonight and is averaging 0.75 fantasy points per minute, so he should be able to pay off his price tag this evening.
James Harden (DK $10900/ FD $11300) – I don’t need to spend too much time on Harden as we already know what he brings to the table. The matchup is great against a Timberwolves team that ranks 28th in defense efficiency against opposing backcourts. He should be able to score at-will against Minnesota who surrenders the second most points in the paint per game and the third highest three-point field goal percentage to opposing teams. Harden generates 39.2 percent of his scoring from inside the paint and 33.7 percent of his scoring from beyond the arc. The two concerns I have with Harden are that he is priced up at the top end of his range and Irving will play tonight, in addition to this contest having an 11-point spread and could potentially turn into a blowout. For those reasons, I am not prioritizing Harden tonight, though I will never talk anyone off of him.
Paul George (DK $8500/ FD $8700) – George is heating up and finds himself in a great game environment tonight against a Bucks team that plays incredibly fast. Milwaukee is a good defensive team, but has struggled against opposing shooting guards, ranking 21st in defense efficiency against the position. The Bucks have been generous from beyond the arc this year, giving up the fourth most three-pointers per game and the ninth highest three-point field goal percentage to opposing teams, which bodes extremely well for George who generates 42.6 percent of his scoring from beyond the arc. The last time these two teams met, George struggled with his shooting, as he shot 33 percent from the court and 20 percent from three-point land. We can expect a better shooting effort tonight, as he is a 45.1 percent career shooter and a 42.6 percent shooter from beyond the arc this season. This is a great spot for George tonight and his price remains reasonable given his upside and what he brings to the table.
Fred VanVleet (DK $7900/ FD $7400) – VanVleet continues to play huge minutes on a nightly basis, as he has played no less than 38 minutes in five of his last six games. In fact, for the season, he is third in minutes per game behind only Harden and Randle, averaging 36.9 minutes per game. VanVleet gets a nice matchup here against a Pistons team that ranks 24th in defense efficiency against opposing backcourts in their last five games. Detroit yields the third highest three-point field goal percentage to opposing backcourts over the last five games and the ninth highest three-point field goal percentage to opposing teams for the season. Both of which bode incredibly well for VanVleet who generates 50.6 percent of his scoring from beyond the arc. Lowry is listed as questionable here and if he misses, VanVleet gets a big bump. With Lowry off the court, VanVleet sees a 3.5 percent usage boost, a four percent increase in assist rate, and a one percent increase in rebounding rate. I definitely prefer VanVleet if Lowry sits tonight’s game, but he is in play regardless.
Marcus Smart (DK $6100/ FD $5500) – Smart should be in for an expanded role this evening with Brown out. When Brown is off the court, Smart sees a four percent usage bump, averaging nearly four more DK points per 36 minutes. Smart faces off against a Pelicans team that ranks 25th in defense efficiency against opposing backcourts. New Orleans yields the 10th highest three-point field goal percentage to opposing shooting guards, the second highest three-point field goal percentage to opposing teams, and the most three-pointers per game. This bodes exceptionally well for Smart who generates 45.6 percent of his scoring from beyond the arc. Smart plays big minutes on a nightly basis, playing no less than 33 minutes in each of his last six games. There is a lot to like about Smart tonight, especially with Brown being ruled out. I prefer Smart on FD where he comes in at a cheaper price, but he is viable in all sites tonight.
Kawhi Leonard (DK $8900/ FD $9600) – Leonard continues to produce solid numbers on a nightly basis, providing us with a nice floor. Granted, he does not turn in ceiling performances often, but that doesn’t concern us in cash. His price is appealing, especially on DK where he is sub $9K and the matchup against the Bucks will be up in pace. Milwaukee ranks 21st in defense efficiency against small forwards, which is not as difficult of a matchup as some would think. Leonard had a solid performance the last time he faced off against the Bucks just a month ago. In that game, he scored 25 points with nine boards, three dimes, and two steals in 37 minutes. This should be a competitive game and I expect this to be a nice game environment, putting Leonard in a nice spot to return value at this reasonable price tag.
Malik Beasley (DK $6700/ FD $5600) – Beasley returned from a 12-game suspension and the Timberwolves wasted no time in getting him right back in the starting lineup. Beasley played 30 minutes in his first game back and scored 13 points with four rebounds, three dimes, and two steals, while scoring 27 fantasy points on both sites. He shot poorly, just 24 percent from the court, but did take 17 shots and sported a 28.2 percent usage rate. Tonight’s matchup against the Nets is favorable as they are not a great defensive unit, and this will be a paced-up spot. Beasley is not someone I generally recommend in cash but given the matchup and his price on FD, he is viable on FD only.
Saddiq Bey (DK $5700/ FD $4800) – Bey is far from the most consistent player in basketball, but he has been playing solidified minutes on a nightly basis and remains extremely affordable on FD. Bey has played no less than 31 minutes in each of his last six games and has topped 26 FD points in four of those contests. Tonight, he faces off against Raptors team that ranks 23rd in defense efficiency against the position. Toronto surrenders the sixth most rebounds, sixth most assists, seventh most three-pointers, 11th most steals, seventh most blocks, and 10th most fantasy points per game to the position. The Raptors allow the fifth most three-pointers per game and 12th highest three-point field goal percentage to opposing teams, which bodes well for Bey who generates 63.3 percent of his scoring from beyond the arc. Bey can be volatile, so there is certainly some risk here, but his price on FD and the matchup at hand is tough to pass up on this evening.
Dorian Finney-Smith (DK $4200/ FD $3800) – Talking about volatility, Finney-Smith is another player who comes with risk tonight. Typically, we avoid these types of players in cash, but this is what the slate is giving us at the small forward position this evening. Finney-Smith has played at least 28 minutes in each of his last four games since returning from a two-game absence, playing no less than 33 minutes in any of his last two games. He draws a nice matchup here against a Thunders team that ranks 21st in defense efficiency. Finney-Smith has faced off against OKC twice this season and has turned in mixed results. He scored 17 FD points in one contest and 23 FD points in the other. You never know what you are going to get with him, but given the matchup at hand and his price tag, Finney smith is a viable value option tonight. He just comes with more risk than we generally like in cash games.
Giannis Antetokounmpo (DK $10700/ FD $11100) – You know the drill by now with Giannis. If he is going to be in a competitive game, he can be considered one of the better plays on the slate on most nights in that instance. That is the case tonight as the Clippers and Bucks game has a healthy implied total and only a 2.5-point spread. Antetokounmpo had a stellar performance the last time these two teams faced off, scoring 36 points with 14 rebounds, five dimes, four blocks, and a steal in 39.6 minutes. He should play huge minutes in this contest tonight and makes for a strong pay up option this evening. This is a nice game to stack considering some of the prices on the run back options for the Clippers.
Domantas Sabonis (DK $9600/ FD $8800) – Sabonis draws a favorable matchup against a Wizards team that plays fast and ranks 20th in defense efficiency against opposing power forwards. Washington’s lack of rim protection makes this a spot where Sabonis should dominate inside the paint. They are allowing the eighth most points in the paint per game over their last 10 games, which bodes well for Sabonis who generates 64.2 percent of his scoring from inside the paint. In addition, the Wizards allow the fifth most rebounds per game to opposing teams, so Sabonis should dominate the boards as well. He is a walking double-double that offers triple-double upside on any given night. This is the ideal game environment for him. It is worth pointing out that I prefer his FD price tonight.
Zion Williamson (DK $8800/ FD $9000) – Whenever Williamson is on the slate, he generally makes my cash game breakdown. He continues to produce consistent numbers on a nightly basis and has now been flashing a ceiling with two 50+ DK performances in back-to-back contests. Tonight’s matchup is far from great, but that has not stopped him from posting up big numbers and this is a matchup that he played well in the last time these two teams faced off. In that game, Williamson scored 28 points with 10 rebounds, four assists, and one block in 39.5 minutes (includes five minutes of OT). He is playing incredibly well right now and remains affordable considering his production as of late. When you are looking for consistency, Williamson is one of the top players in that department.
Jayson Tatum (DK $8600/ FD $8500) – As you can see, the PF position is loaded with incredible plays tonight. Tatum is in a great spot here with Brown listed as out for this contest. When Brown is off the court, no other Celtics player see a higher usage rate bump than Tatum, who gets a 5.6 percent usage bump. Tatum also sees an increase of 3.8 percent in assist rate and averages slightly over four more DK points per 36 minutes. The Pelicans have done a solid job defending the position, though Tatum had a big performance against this team in their last meeting. In that contest, he scored 32 minutes with nine boards, two dimes, and two steals. Granted, that game went into overtime, but Brown did play in that game. Tatum has turned in three consecutive solid performances and is in a great position to make it a fourth. Tatum generates 32.9 percent of his scoring from beyond the arc and this is an area that the Pelicans significantly struggle in. His price is reasonable given the circumstances and the caliber of player that he is.
Aleksej Pokusevski (DK $5400/ FD $4800) – Poku has been in the starting rotation for the last nine games for OKC. During that stretch, he has averaged 31.1 minutes, 10.2 points, 6.9 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 0.9 blocks, and 0.4 steals per game. Tonight, he faces off against a Dallas team that ranks 20th in defense efficiency against the position over their last 10 games. Poku had a strong showing against the Mavs in their last meeting, scoring 14 points with eight rebounds, three assists, and two blocks, which was good for 32.5 DK points. The Mavericks yield the seventh most three-pointers per game, which bodes well for Poku who generates 46.6 percent of his scoring from beyond the arc. He is far from a safe play being that his production does vary, but this is a decent matchup, and he should continue to play solidified minutes for the Thunder. His FD price is much more appealing, but he is viable on both sites.
Karl-Anthony Towns (DK $9900/ FD $10000) – Towns is in a great spot here against a Nets team that struggles against opposing bigs. Brooklyn ranks 26th in defense efficiency against opposing centers for the season and 19th in their last 10 games. They are giving up the eighth most real points, third most assists, 11th most three-pointers, third most steals, and eighth most fantasy points per game to the position. The Nets surrender the ninth most points in the paint per game, which bodes well for Towns who generates 45.5 percent of his scoring from inside the paint. They also give up the eighth most three-pointers per game, which is something that Towns could also take advantage of as he produces 29 percent of his scoring from beyond the arc. This is an incredible matchup for Towns, though this contest does have an 11-point spread, so there is certainly the risk of a blowout. That is what makes me hesitant about prioritizing Towns tonight. If this game stays competitive, Towns could smash in this spot.
Moses Brown (DK $6800/ FD $6500) – Brown continues to play exceptionally good basketball and has truly made the best of his opportunities. He has started in five of the last seven games and has averaged 29.8 minutes, 14.2 points, 15 rebounds, 1.8 blocks, 0.6 steals, and 0.2 assists per game in those starts. Even when he has come off the bench, Brown has posted some strong numbers, although he will be in the starting lineup tonight. He faces off against a Dallas team that has done well against opposing big men, but that has not stopped Brown from turning in good performances. In fact, Brown played just 19 minutes the last time these two teams faced off and in that contest, he scored eight points with 12 rebounds and a block. Tonight, Brown should play minutes in the mid to high 30’s and considering he averages well over a fantasy point per minute, he should have no trouble returning value this evening. Not only does he offer us a nice floor, but also a pretty high ceiling.
Note: Robert Williams almost made the cut here and he is firmly in play. However, Brown, who comes in at a similar price, is playing more minutes than Williams is and has been extremely productive with his opportunity. Therefore, I prefer rostering Brown in cash, even though they are both in good spots to produce here. I also think Jonas Valanciunas is in a great spot and could have a huge performance, but sort of prefer him in tournaments tonight in his price range. That said, if you land on him in cash, I am totally fine with that.
DraftKings: Moses Brown, Kemba Walker, Paul George, Zion Williamson
FanDuel: Moses Brown, Kemba Walker, Domantas Sabonis, Paul George
** Always check for updates to the core four closer to lock as it is subject to change with news**