We have a small four-game slate here today, and you guys know my feelings on smaller slates. They really aren’t the best ones to be looking to play cash, as we are going to end up with a bunch of highly owned plays and the difference between cashing and falling short likely comes down to just one or two options. I’m not saying to avoid cash today altogether, but it really is a day where you shouldn't be going too heavy. All four games are useable today though, with…
We have a small four-game slate here today, and you guys know my feelings on smaller slates. They really aren’t the best ones to be looking to play cash, as we are going to end up with a bunch of highly owned plays and the difference between cashing and falling short likely comes down to just one or two options. I’m not saying to avoid cash today altogether, but it really is a day where you shouldn't be going too heavy. All four games are useable today though, with no spread greater than 5.5. The worst spot is arguably the Celtics/Heat game, which has a total that is more than 10 points below the other three games on the slate. The other three all have totals of 223-226, so even for a small slate, that projects as a lot of positive fantasy upside. Each of those games has a team with a big pace boost. Yesterday on a 10 game slate with 20 teams, only five of the 20 projected for above average production. We have THREE teams today on a four-game slate with eight teams playing that project for over average, so there is some potential here. Rudy Gay remains out, and we have questionable tags for Gary Harris and Iman Shumpert. No other news is really moving the needle for me here. That’s not to say we don't get a surprise at some point during the day, but as of now, things seem pretty straight forward without a ton of news that we are anxiously awaiting.
TOP PROJECTED TOTALS
- Nuggets – 115.75
- Kings – 114.75
- Thunder – 112.25
- Spurs – 110.75
BIGGEST PACE BUMPS
- Spurs: +5.6
- Pistons: +4.6
- Nuggets: +4.3
HIGHEST PROJECTION OVER AVERAGE
- Nuggets: +5
- Pistons: +2
- Thunder: +0.5
Rather than go position by position, I figured it makes more sense to break it down game by game today with only four on the slate.
- Celtics -2.5, 212
Not much to love here. Not only is this a slower paced matchup between the 20th and 21st ranked teams in terms of pace, but both are solid defensively. Neither team has major injury news with Goran Dragic being the only guy on Miami and Aron Baynes the only rotation piece missing for the Celtics. Both teams have played without these guys for a while, so nothing really new here. My biggest beef with this game is that we have a lot of guys on both teams playing 24-32 minutes. That’s not enough court time to really expect the stars to shine for big upside. Guys that are pricey like Kyrie Irving, Josh Richardson, Justise Winslow and Al Horford are some of the ones playing 32 minutes or less. I can't pay for those guys in cash in a bad matchup with a low minutes projection. The plays would have to come from the cheaper options below $6K. Guys like Gordon Hayward, Kelly Olynyk, Marcus Morris and Dwyane Wade. Those guys are the ones who make more sense. Even a cheap option like a Bam Adebayo or Daniel Theis probably has a better chance to hit or exceed value than the expensive higher end guys in this one. Overall, I have very little interest here and would fade this match up completely on a large slate. At best, I can say maybe you use one or two of the lower end guys to round out a lineup if needed, but none are guys I love here today and this game has no must play options.
- Denver -5.5, 226
The main thing to look out for here is Gary Harris news. Harris was re-injured two games ago after missing some time for the weeks before his return. He sat out last game and a lot of people got burned. Minutes wise, the major beneficiary is Malik Beasley, but he played 38 minutes last game without Harris and scored 12 fantasy points. Monte Morris had a big game the day Harris got hurt, but he followed that up with just 24 minutes last game and nine fantasy points. Torrey Craig was the guy who stepped up in Harris’ absence last time out with a monster 38 fantasy point showing. This is why the situation is tough. All three of those guys see a bump in minutes and/or usage without Harris, but none are cash game consistent. On a larger slate, I wouldn't want any of them; but on a smaller slate like this, we have to consider them for the cheap prices. All three guys are $4,000 or less on DraftKings and $4,300 or less on FanDuel. 20+ fantasy points from any of them is value. All of them are capable of doing so, especially in a paced up spot like this where they are projected for the most points over average today. If you are looking for punt options, one or two of these guys likely make value if Harris sits out again.
As for the guys who make sense either way:
Nikola Jokic – He has gone for 50+ DK points in six straight games. The last five he has double-doubled in each with two of those games being triple doubles as he has averaged eight assists over the course of those last five contests too. The Clippers do not have a true center or a player who profiles well as a defender on the joker. He is pricey at $10,500 on DK and $11,000 on FanDuel, but not overly expensive. Jokic is a top spend up option here on the day with his team being in one of the best spots.
Paul Millsap – A healthy Millsap is a $7-$8K player and he has not been healthy in a while. He finally got over the 30-minute mark in his last game and he seems to be rounding back well from injury. He is still cheap, and I like catching a guy who's playing time is ascending before the price starts ascending to catch up and that’s the situation we are in with Millsap. He’s barely over $6K on DK and just under $7K on FanDuel. He does have a high 30 point floor is he is going to see 30 minutes of action. His ceiling games could be as high as 45-50 if he sees 35 minutes, which is something he has done routinely throughout his career.
Danilo Gallinari – The cheapest of the big three options on the Clippers by a slight bit on both sites. Gallo lacks elite level upside. He’s not the guy who pops off for 45-50 fantasy points, but he is consistent. He and Tobias Harris are the two guys who do consistently see 35 minutes a game on this Clippers team, and the two guys consistently putting up 35-45 fantasy points. At the price, that’s about the pace we need him to be cash game viable. On the road at Denver is not an ideal spot, but it should be a close game, which should mean ceiling minutes for Gallo.
Tobias Harris – A tad more expensive and a tad more volatile than Gallo, but basically the same thing can be said for Harris. These are the two most consistent guys on the Clippers because they are the two who consistently see the most minutes. The Clippers will rotate guards from the stable of them available and they do the same at the center position. All those other pieces rotate around the two constants in Harris and Gallo. Harris also lacks major ceiling upside, but the minutes and his overall production keep the floor high enough for us.
Montrezl Harrell – Harrell is more GPP play than the safer cash options like Gallo and Harris, but on a small slate, he is worthy of mention. Harrell has gone off for those monster 45-50 point games and is a guy with a high PER. High PER guys are the best per minute performers, so the key to upside for Harrell is court time. It’s no surprise that when he plays closer to 30 minutes, he puts up 35-45 fantasy points, and when he and Gortat each see 22-25, he falls a tad short of that. I have never been good at predicting which games he gets the minutes, which is why I tend to shy away in cash and play him more in GPPs.
NOTE: Patrick Beverley, Shai Gorgeous-Alexander, Lou Williams and Avery Bradley are all guys who split 20-28 minutes a night at the guard positions. I’m not high on any of them unless we get news about someone being out. In GPPs, you can try to pick out who has the big game, but in cash, I would rather take guys who I can project for 30 minutes with safer floors. None of these guys have a safe floor due to the low minutes.
- Thunder -1.5, 223.5
San Antonio gets the big pace bump here, but OKC is solid defensively, so the Spurs project for about their normal amount of points. OKC is paced down but actually project for slightly over their team average, so really this game is pretty neutral in terms of production bumps or downgrades. Both teams are coming off of games many expected them to win, but they didn't. The Spurs looked horrendous losing to Memphis while the Thunder defense looked bad as they dropped one to an undermanned Timberwolves team. This game does have a healthy total, so I would expect them both to bounce back with the usual stars all in play here.
Russell Westbrook – He is playing banged up, and the one place you really see it is with his shot, which to begin with has never been that great. You don't play Westbrook for his shooting percentage; you play him because he plays 36+ minutes a night in close games with triple-double potential every time he steps on the floor. He has three of them in the last five games and is averaging 25/11/11 over that stretch. That’s what he brings to the table, across the board production. Westbrook has a floor around 50+ with an average game of 60+ and upside into the 70s. The Spurs defense is not as lockdown as it once was with two of the best defenders (Kawhi and Danny Green) now playing in Canada. Westbrook should smash tonight and is one the likeliest high scorer on the entire slate.
DeMar DeRozan – DeRozan really disappointed last night, as did the entire Spurs team. Still, he makes sense as an option here because the Spurs tend to lean on him for scoring when Rudy Gay is out. You look at this roster and it makes sense as the Spurs really lack for guys who can put the ball in the basket. DeRozan is a guy I play more often in GPPs and one look at his game log tells you why. There is a lack of consistent production with him. He’s gone for 55+ DK points in three of the last six and also went for 40 or less in three of the last six games. That’s normally GPP type stuff, but on a four-game slate, just the ability to put up that kind of numbers makes him a guy we can look at for cash games too.
NOTE: Paul George and LaMarcus Aldridge are the other two big-time scorers and fantasy producers on these teams, and if you can manage to squeeze them in with DeRozan and Westbrook for GPPs today or in Q lineups, I’m all for doing that. My bigger beef though for cash is I prefer their teammates more tonight in Westbrook and DeRozan. Unless you are going complete stars and scrubs and punting the hell out of the rest of the lineup, you really can't fit all four of them or even really three of them (FD maybe you can get 3, DK you can’t).
Steven Adams – I’m not a huge fan of Steven Adams today either, but I do think he’s worth discussing because you can squeeze him in if you need him. Jokic is a 100 times better play than he is, so he’s not the best spend up. If he was cheaper, you can consider it. On FanDuel at $7,200, I have gone down from Jokic to him when I needed the savings, especially on teams I was using a few other guys from this game to just max out exposure. Still, it feels more like a GPP thing to do on FanDuel, where you pair him with guys like Russ and DeRozan and take a few of the punts mentioned below. On a four-game slate though, we have at least consider him in cash due to the lack of other options.
I do like this game for some of the cheaper guys and I will rank them in order:
- Derrick White
- Bryn Forbes
- Marco Belinelli
- Jerami Grant
- Dennis Schroder
- Jakob Poeltl
- Kings -5, 226
Detroit has lost six of the last seven games, four of those by double digits. This team is not playing well right now. They do draw one of the best spots on the day. They have the second highest projection over their average and also get the second biggest pace bump. It’s tough to parse through the minutes here with so many recent blowouts skewing the playing time, but here’s what we do know. In a close game, you will likely see 30+ minutes from four guys with everyone else at 24 or below. The four guys are Blake Griffin, Andre Drummond, Reggie Jackson and Reggie Bullock. Those are the ones who make the most sense today, and I like all four of them given the matchup.
Pistons Players in order of cash game love
- Reggie Jackson
- Blake Griffin
- Andre Drummond
- Reggie Bullock
The Kings are favored by five here and projected to hit their averages, so that’s not a bad thing. They are also at home, where they have played better this year. They have two minor injury pieces and I expect both guys to end up playing today. Marvin Bagley missed the last game but played the game before. With that being part of a back-to-back and him coming off injury, it makes sense he would sit out. He should be back today, which squeezes some of those big man minutes. The other guy is Iman Shumpert. Shumpert has a finger injury. He’s been sneaky productive this year when healthy. When he’s out, it means even more minutes and a boost in production for guys like Bogdan Bogdanovic and Buddy Hield on the wings. Even with Shumpert back, those guys all see court time still and are worth talking about. The Bagley news is bigger for me for two reasons. The first is we are reasonably sure he is going to play. The second reason is that really crunches minutes for a boatload of guys. You have Bjelica, Justin Jackson, Harry Giles, Bagley and Koufos all seeing time. The only guy who sees consistent minutes is Willie Cauley-Stein, with the rest of these guys all playing like 18-24. Still, some of them are pretty cheap. Bjelica and Justin Jackson have both had some big games for low prices. WCS has benefitted from the injuries with more minutes, giving him more upside as well. The Kings are a reasonable spot to look for production tonight on a four-game slate. Normally, I am not one who tries to get exposure against the Pistons, who slow things down and do have some rim protectors and rebounders that limit teams from exploding offensively against them, but with how bad they have looked the last 2-3 weeks, I think we can make an exception.
De'Aaron Fox – Fox does everything for this team. He scores, he rebounds well for a PG and he sets up teammates and racks up the assists. He also draws the softest matchup as Reggie Jackson defense is an oxymoron. Fox is my favorite play on the Kings and his price is high, but not overly expensive for what he produces.
Willie Cauley-Stein – WCS is the one big man whose minutes are always there. They are going to need him today to contend with guys like Griffin and Drummond down low. I fully expect him to get near his ceiling for minutes, which should also lead to close to a ceiling game in production. WCS is not a guy who can go for 50+ as Drummond can, but he’s been a guy consistently around 40 when he’s playing full minutes in close games.
Bogdanovic > Hield – To me, these guys tend to produce around the same type of stat lines, so the real kicker is the price. You get a slight discount of a few hundred bucks on DraftKings and about $1,000 discount on FanDuel. I like both guys, but would not be looking to play them together. SG has a lot of options today, to begin with, and usually one of these guys gets hot and does better at the expense of the other. This is especially true if Shumpert plays as well. Bogdan tends to be more offensively aggressive with the second unit when he is on the floor without some of the starters, so even if Shumpert plays he should still see high usage. That’s the other thing that has me looking at him over Hield.
Justin Jackson – I have not been a big fan of his, but you can't argue with the recent production. The guy is $4K on both sites and normally averages under 22 minutes a game. In the last three games, he’s played 34, 36 and 34 minutes. If he’s going to get a 50% boost in his playing time and remain cheap, I am going to have to keep going to him on my lineups in cash, especially on a day where good punts are hard to find. Shumpert does hurt him, as the reason for his minutes boost the last three games is Shumpert has been out the last three games. If Shumpert does sit, Jackson is a guy I will have on all my lineups as a salary saver.