We have a solid 7-game slate here for NBA action. For a slate with 14 teams playing, we really do not have a ton of injury news though. Currently only two guys that play even decent minutes are listed as questionable. They are Tyler Johnson and Moe Harkless. That’s about it. Not that something won't pop up later in the day, but so far we don't have many spots where the value is jumping out due to injury.
There is one main injury that does jump out and that is the Cavaliers already thin frontcourt losing Tristan Thompson. I hate to say it, but unless some other news drops this is a spot we almost have to try to get right. I say that because all these guys are pretty cheap and despite the fact we all expect them to get blown out here, they still have a projection of 99.5. Someone has to do something positive to get to 99.5 points and the bars are low due to price. Ante Zizic is the first guy we have to discuss. He’s the best play here. In 4 of the last 6 games, he’s seen 20 minutes and has produced a fantasy point per minute or better each time. He played up to 27 last game and now he is without Tristan Thompson. Even if you give him just the 24-27 minutes he has played in recent contests with Tristan active, at a fantasy point per minute and a sub $4K price that is a 6-7X return. If he sees more minutes like 28-32, he should easily top cash game value.
That does still leave 20+ minutes at center though and you only have Channing Frye, Jaron Blossomgame, and maybe Cedi Osman to play them. Those guys are also likely to see 30+ minutes at PF as the next biggest guy on the team is Rodney Hood. You likely get 30+ minutes from Clarkson, Sexton, and Burks with guys like Hood also seeing 24+ and the rest soaked up by Matthew Dellavedova and Cam Payne. Again, I mention this because all of them are under $5K, with the exception of Clarkson at $5300. That means any of them putting up 30 fantasy points are going to be over value. Rodney Hood is $4300 on DraftKings, went about 6X in each of the last two games on 14+ shots playing under 30 minutes. Cedi Osman lacks a ceiling, but he’s a guy who has played 35-40 minutes before. Hell, even at 32-34 minutes, you would project him for 25ish and that’s 5.5-6X his salary.
Guys like Clarkson and Burks are the de facto high usage options right now for this team and both are priced around $5K. Clarkson has gone 5X or better in four of the last six games, averaging 16 shots per contest. Burks has gone for 30+ in 3 of the last 5 and he’s priced below $5K. With no other major issues, I can't stop making lineups without 2-3 Cavs on them. Zizic is basically a lock for me, and I end up needing punts and not finding anyone who makes more sense than guys like Osman, Burks, Clarkson at those price ranges. Maybe something else does pop up, and I agree that the Cavs likely get bitch smacked here, but the fact still remains that someone on that team is going to do something and with them all so cheap, the bar to reach is not that high. Not having at least 2-3 Cavs in cash team seems like a major mistake. This shapes up like a Stars/Cavs Scrubs kind of roster build day.
Top Projected Totals
- Warriors 123.75
- Blazers 118.25
- Clippers 117.75
- Jazz 114.75
Biggest Pace Bump
- Grizzlies +3.7
- Blazers +3.6
- Cavs +3.3
- Spurs +2.9
Highest Projection over Average
- Jazz +6.5
- Blazers +6
- Warriors +5
- Magic +4
- Celics +4
Steph Curry – My thing with Steph is always the same. Tell me the Warriors are going to need him to get full run and I’m in on him and his huge floor and ceiling in those spots. Today the game has a massive and slate leading 241 total. The Warriors are only favored by 6 and they are on the road. This does set up as a game where they could need their point guard to play 35 minutes. When Steph plays 30 minutes and sits out the end, he’s good for 45-ish fantasy points. Not enough to justify the price, but a good game nonetheless. When he does have to get that last rotation, we now see 34-35 minutes instead of 28-29 and that’s when he goes for those 50-70 point games. In a 241 total environment on the road against a decent team in the Clippers, I fully expect to see him play a ton of minutes. That’s when I want my piece of Curry as his minutes have been the most volatile in blowouts and close games.
Damian Lillard – I prefer Lillard in cash to GPPs, although today he could be viable in both. Lillard has been routinely putting up about 45+ fantasy points in recent contests. That’s solid, but not great upside for a guy priced around $9K. The reason I am willing to use him today is the matchup. Portland gets a big +3.6 boost in pace and are projected for 118.25 points, second highest on the slate and 6 points above their norm. The Pelicans pace everyone up and also play a lot of high scoring games. Lillard being the top usage guy here stands to benefit from that pace and that gives him upside. Upside on an already high floor makes him a guy I definitely have interest in here today.
Jeff Teague – So Teague is my favorite of the group of guys in the mid range. He’s my favorite because of two reasons. One is that I like that game to stay close. Vegas only has it as a one point spread and both teams project for a solid 112-113 points. Teague is one of the few guys who has upside potential at his price. We've seen him go off for 40+ before. Not only that, but Tyus Jones was banged up the other night too. Derrick Rose is likely to play, but no Jones could mean an extra rotation or longer one for Teague throughout the game. That too could mean a few extra minutes. Plus all season long I like picking on Spurs with PGs and Teague has the score first mentality to capitalize on that too.
DJ Augustin – I debated Augustin v. Collin Sexton as my favorite cheap play and lean this way. Neither guy is great, but Augustin feels safer to me,. I know the Cavs are short-handed but that’s more a frontcourt thing for them. The backcourt may not have a ton of high end talent, but they have a few other guys who also see minutes here. None of that changes this game. I guess this is more an edictment on Sexton than a plug for Augustin, but so far they are the salary savers I am looking at.
Donovan Mitchell – I know everyone fears the blowout and rightly so, but Mitchell right now is playing as well as he has all season. He’s putting up 40s and 50s over the last 5 games with usage climbing into the mid 30s with all the point guards hurt. That’s another reason I’m ok with sticking with him despite the blowout potential. I understand you want to rest guys, but this rotation is already thin. Even if it does turn ugly, you might still have to give these guys some run because of lack of options. Either way Mitchell in this PG role is upping his production and you really can't ignore that.
Klay Thompson – I know everyone is wondering how the Warriors are going to look tonight with Boogie back, but I’m more interested in the fact they have a huge total in a game that may not blow out. The Warriors bench is not putting up massive numbers for them. The scoring tends to come from three guys. Steph, KD, and the underrated and slightly underpriced one is Klay Thompson. Klay has gone for 40+ in 5 of the last 9 games and is priced at $6600 on DraftKings. 6X that price is 40, so he’s been over 6X his price more than half the time over the last 2-3 weeks. Three of those last 9 games were blowouts were he played 25 minutes or less. When the games stay close you get 33-39 out of him. Klay does lack upside, I will say that those 50 point explosions happen only once or twice in a season, but a guy averaging 40 in more than half his recent games does not deserve to be in the $6K range.
Terrence Ross – I keep being surprised that I get this guy at under 15% owned lately. Ross is a scorer and one that produces for the Magic second unit. He has seen the price creep up a little, but that will happen when you go 6.5X or better in 4 of the last 5. Even at his elevated price the 30ish per game he is putting up is over 5.5X. I like the matchup here against Brooklyn as well for him.
Kevin Durant – KD in the highest total game on the slate. I prefer Steph if you have a utility spot and can only play one of them, but depending on your roster build and what position you need, KD is fine for cash too. Again, I expect full run or close to it for the Warriors here and the total in that game is already well above the other games. Last game they had the same situation and the scoreboard nearly broke from all the points. I would not play all these Warriors together in cash (GPP, sure) but I definitely think you need exposure to them by choosing your favorite one or two.
Danilo Gallinari – We talked a lot about the Warriors side of the ball, but if their recent games teach us anything it is that the opposing team tends to outperform too. The Clippers are also projected for 117.5 points today, 3rd highest on the slate and 2.5 over there average. Gallo is my favorite of the Clippers guys in cash, because he is just so consistent. He benefits slightly here from pace, but really you take his high floor and bump it up slightly and you just get a guy who is an even better cash play than normal today. And he’s already been a solid cash option even in worse spots.
Joe Harris – You won't get upside from Joe Harris, but you can't deny the minutes. Harris gets a lot of his production via knocking down shots, but that’s why the minutes are important. He will luck into some rebounds, assists, and defensive stats when on the floor. Everyone does. The more you are on the floor, the more shots you get and the more stuff you luck into. It might not sound or look good, but the returns tend to keep being cash viable due to his current workload.
DeMarre Carroll – Carroll sees fewer minutes than Harris, but is more of an upside play. People hopped off last game with RHJ back, but he played just 7 minutes. I doubt he all of a sudden hops back up to 24+. Carroll has been forced to play some PF in his absence and has looked decent doing so. Again, this is not a guy who goes off for 40+, but he’s been topping 30+ which has been enough to go 5-6X at his price.
Rodney Hood – So Hood is down to $4300. The CAvs may need to even use him as a stretch 4 today when they go small. They basically have to do some stuff like that due to lack of other options. Hood is only playing about half the game, but doing so with high usage and making value. If I had to pay up for him today over $5K, I would not be interested, but that price tag is dirt cheap. Everyone is going to have to help out and bump up their production to help the Cavs today and Hood already has gone for 5-6X in each of the last two games at low minutes. If he also gets a minutes boost today, he has a lot of arrows pointing up.
Jaron Blossomgame – Zizic is impossible to fade for me today, but Blossomgame will also be highly owned and I’m less confident in him. I’ll say I am not playing him today, but a lot of people will be in cash, so I can;t ignore him in the write up. He played solid last game and put up about 26. The other recent game he saw minutes, he had about the same 10 rebounds and just below 10 points. His best game all year was a 10/11 double-double vs. Milwaukee earlier in the season. He’s had opportunities before and this is the best we saw. Can he repeat that today? Absolutely. I mean he doesn't have to do much, but it will take a best effort type performance to get those 25-30. Again, I’m not saying he can't do it or won;t be given the chance, but the likelihood of him failing is > Zizic failing. Could you play both on FD? Absolutely and I do prefer him on FD for that reason. On DK, I don't know if I want to go double punt here at two forward/c spots.
Anthony Davis – Portland is not an easy spot, but studs are gonna be studs regardless. Davis has 72 and 82 fantasy points the last two games. The guy is a freak of nature. The Blazers defense is solid, but no one shuts him down. Hell even if they limit him to 55-60, that’s still enough at his price in cash.
Montrezl Harrell – Harrell is a guy I prefer using in GPPs, but I'll take him against a high pace team like the Warriors in the highest total game and I’m willing to use him in cash too. This needs to be a good, big game for him. He doesn't need his ceiling, but he does need a big game to pay off the salary. HE has gone for 44+ in 3 of the last 5 games and already has a 40+ performance against the Warriors this year. Again here I want a piece of both sides of this game and my two favorite ways to do so are with Gallo and Harrell.
Nikola Mirotic – Mirotic was back to his old ways last game. It was a huge total and an open flowing game with the Warriors, but the minutes were back near 30, his shots were back up, and he was rebounding. Mirotic pre-injury was routinely going for double-doubles and had some big scoring nights that crushed in fantasy. He was being monitored and they were letting Julius Randle see more minutes. Last game it was tilting back in Mirotic's favor and his price is discounted down.
Rodions Kurucs – If you really need to save, Kurucs has been producing. This really has to do with the fact I don't think RHJ is capable of playing 20+ minutes yet and also that he may be playing some center, which leaves Kurucs to keep playing forward minutes. He doesn't have massive upside, but he’s been over 5x in 4 of the last 5. He plays 28-32 minutes in those games with double digit points and shot attempts. He adds in 4-5 boards and an assist or two as well.
Nikola Vucevic – So now the Rockets and Cavs are likely to give up huge amounts of fantasy production to centers, but the Nets have been doing it all year too. They are one of the better spots for centers to oppose and I’ve been all over Vucevic this year already. Give me him against a weak frontcourt any day of the week. I think a ton of people are going to use Zizic on FanDuel and it’s tough to argue against locking in those points for cheap in cash. On DraftKings though we can easily fit in both guys and as of now that is the roster build I went with. Vucevic scores, rebounds, and even dishing out some assists. In a great spot like this, I can't ignore him. Again, it’s tough to justify going anywhere but Zizic on FD, but on DK or Yahoo where you have a little more flexibility, I do like the double center option a lot for cash games.
Ante Zizic – Super duper chalk today and an absolute must play punt in my eyes. Worst case he goes for 20-25 and you get your 6-7X. Best case he plays over 30 minutes, goes for 30+ and you get 8-10X. I don’t love his game either, but there is just no way to ignore that he projects for 22-32 points today and is only $3700. You find another guy locked into 25-30 minutes with about a fantasy point per minute or better and I’ll gladly roster him too. If not, don;t be an idiot in cash. No need to fade good chalk.