I spent an extra hour today researching this 8-game NBA slate because it’s one that is tough to break down. Let me explain. Two games have no spread yet.
I spent an extra hour today researching this 8-game NBA slate because it’s one that is tough to break down. Let me explain. Two games have no spread yet. The 76ers were waiting on the status of Ben Simmons and Jimmy Butler, so one of them is the Wizards/76ers. It looks like both guys should play and that should mean a decent spread with a high total in that game. The other game is the Kings/Suns and we won't likely know that information until lock as Devin Booker is listed as questionable. This slate has a lot of landmines, which makes it tough one for cash. Three of the six games with totals have spreads of 10 or more with another one at 8.5. I expect the 76ers to be favored by a big number too, so we may have 5 teams with near double digit spreads over their opponents today.
Hell I wouldn't even be shocked if the Kings get close too if Booker sits. We have a bunch of these teams playing on back-to-backs today, namely the Nuggets, Knicks, and Kings. We have some potential slate changing injury news to sit on with the status of Devin Booker, as well as Gary Harris for the Nuggets. We even have a total organizational change with the Timberwolves that could lead to a shakeup in their lineup under a new coach. This is enhanced by both Derrick Rose and Robert Covington sitting out today. Do we see a youth movement with guys like Saric, Jones, and Okogie getting more playing time at the expense of vets like Taj Gibson and Jeff Teague?
The injury situations could open up some value, the blowouts could be major landmines to avoid, and the back-to-backs always introduce some risk of less minutes if the game gets lopsided in either direction. Grinding cash games is how I make my money to take shots at Qs and bigger GPPs. I pride myself on not wasting cash in bad spots and today feels like a bad spot for cash games for all the reasons stated above. The breakdown is here for you guys to use, but I caution that tonight is not the best slate to go heavy in cash. I will be heavier in GPPs and Qs tonight.
The Pacers currently list Cory Joseph, Darren Collison, and Myles Turner as questionable. This could be a big deal or end up being nothing of note. If Turner misses, the easy play is Domantas Sabonis. He’ll get the minutes boost and is already a high PER guy. High PER guys are efficient and when they get minutes boosts they tend to benefit greatly from that. They basically get 48 minutes a game out of Collison and Joseph at the point. Either would benefit if the other is out, but if both guys are out we will have 48 minutes to distribute. Oladipo likely handles the ball more, so he’ll also see a usage bump. Bojan would be asked to keep creating a little more and we could even see more minutes for Tyreke Evans who recently returned from injury. My guess is at least one of the guards plays, but I do think Turner is more likely to sit out again today than either of the guards.
Gary Harris left the game with hamstring tightness yesterday. I was already skeptical if the Nuggets would sit him given he just recently returned from injury, but now I am even more convinced he doesn't play. They list him as questionable now. Monte Morris came off the bench and had a big game with Harris leaving early. He is very cheap today and likely makes all my lineups if Harris can't go. Jamal Murray also benefits as he was one of the guys putting up the big numbers when Harris was out a few weeks ago. Jokic is Jokic. He already is high usage and plays a lot of minutes, so when people say he’ll benefit, I discount how much more he can really be expected to do.
Devin Booker is a bigger part of his team’s offense than almost any other star on any other team. He routinely plays 36+ minutes, takes 20+ shots, with a usage rate in the 30s. If he misses, everyone else benefits from added usage and a lot of guys share those extra minutes. Now the Suns are also not as good a team as we watched them struggle last time he was out for an extended stretch, but they are still going to score some points, grab some rebounds, and get some steals, blocks, and assists. Guys like DeAndre Ayton and TJ Warren are likely to pick up the scoring if Booker misses. Ayton is pricey and so is Warren on DraftKings, but at $6400 on FanDuel he would be an auto-play for me if Booker is out. De’Anthony Melton also is likely to benefit as he would get more minutes and more usage at the point.
Last, I wanted to mention the Timberwolves firing Thibs. I have heard numerous people mention this already and since I’m not a Timberwolves insider, I will listen to those that are. Part of the reason for this change is that the T-Wolves are ready to move on. I would not be shocked if guys like Derrick Rose, Taj Gibson, and maybe even Jeff Teague are put on the block soon. I would also not be shocked if you see young guys like Dario Saric, Tyus Jones, and Josh Okogie start playing more minutes so the team can evaluate them. Towns and Wiggins already see huge minutes so that is the one thing that doesn't change. Towns is expensive today though, but he has been balling out with some monster games recently. This is always a tough matchup for him against the Thunder as he played poorly in the first meeting and was below expectations in 3 of the 4 last year too.
The Warriors should smash the Knicks at home tonight, but that always scares me. They have some cheap secondary bench pieces that could end up being good values, but I prefer that strategy in GPPs. The Raptors are going to have both Kyle Lowry and Kawhi Leonard back today and many of the secondary pieces are still pricey (Ibaka, Siakam, Van Vleet). Adding another high minutes, high usage guy like Lowry back into the mix is not going to benefit those guys in fantasy production.
Top Projected Totals
* does not include Wizards/76ers or Kings/Suns, both likely to be high scoring
- Warriors 124
- Raptors 121.5
- Clippers 118.25
- Thunder 117.5
Biggest Pace Bump
- Raptors +5.3
- Suns +4.5
- Timberwolves +3
- Cavs +2.1
Highest Projection over Average
* does not include Wizards/76ers or Kings/Suns, both likely to be high scoring
- Raptors +8
- Warriors +7.5
- Thunder +6
Russell Westbrook – This is not the best we have seen from him, but he’s still stuffing box scores. The guy has averaged 36 minutes, 62 DK points, with a mid 30s usage rate over his last four games, so you can’t really be made about that. He also draws one of the better matchups on the day as PGs have been outproducing against the Timberwolves this year. Of all the studs on this slate, he is one of the few in a game that doesn;t project to be a blowout. Westbrook may not be shooting well from outside, but he never really did. He’s still a threat to rack up a triple double every time he steps onto the floor and the fact he produces big numbers across the board only makes the floor even safer for him.
Jeff Teague – So there is some risk that Teague may start to see a few minutes less, but it’s not going to happen overnight and it’s unlikely to happen while Derrick Rose is out. Teague has smashed with 40+ fantasy points in each of the last two games. Okogie is not a scorer and neither are the bench guys who are going to combine to suck up the minutes vacated by the injuries to Rose and Covington. That puts more pressure on everyone else to score. Towns does not have the best history in this matchup either, so that could funnel even more shots to guys on the perimeter.
Emmanuel Mudiay – I totally expect the Knicks to get stomped here on the tail end of a B2B on a long road trip, but Mudiay still can produce. He’s now clearly the #1 PG in NY and getting the bulk of the minutes. He’s produced solid returns, in the 32-36 range over the last few games. Not much upside, but viable.
De’Anthony Melton – He’s already seeing decent minutes and has a nice floor. If Booker is out, he will see a bump in both minutes and usage which makes him a great value play. He’s not going to win you a GPP, but if taking him saves enough to squeeze in another stud somewhere, he is likely to keep you ahead of cash line pace provided Booker misses this game.
Bradley Beal – With no John Wall and no Markieff Morris, the Wizards are really hurting for guys who can score. Beal has been happy to oblige. He has five straight games with 36-40 minutes. He’s averaging 23+ shots per game over that stretch and has raised his rebounds and assists from around 5 to around 6 per game. He’s consistently putting up 45+ fantasy points. Now the price has risen and that’s not ideal, but he’s also been carrying this offense and with Wall out, I don't see that changing.
Andrew Wiggins – A lot of what we said for Teague applies here too. Wiggins is playing massive minutes, especially with no Rose and Covington lately. The coaching change is not going to affect him as much since he is one of the young pieces they are building around. The tough matchup for Towns and the lack of offense out of Okogie who flies into a bigger role puts more pressure on Teague and Wiggins to be assertive on that end of the floor. I like both guys here today and the prices are reasonable.
Monte Morris – Gary Harris left last game with tightness in his hamstring. He was recently off the injury report anyway, so this is no surprise. Morris had a big game after he left last time out. Morris was a main beneficiary of the long absence from Harris to begin with. His minutes, production, and price started dropping when Harris came back. If Harris sits tonight, we already know what Morris is likely to do and unlike a few weeks ago, his price is back to bench player status, which would give him an easy chance to make and exceed value today.
Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant, Paul George – None of these three are ever bad plays and I list them in the order I like them all today, but you have three guys here how’s teams are all favored by at least 8 points. They all have totals between 227 and 230 and all three are at home as well. If you can tell me which game stays closest, I’ll roster that guy from that game. At least one of these guys is going to be a landmine because his team wins by 20, but I honestly have no idea which. Hell, it could be all 3. If you can afford to use them, by all means do so, but we do have other options in the mid range that you can project better.
TJ Warren – On DraftKings he is a tad pricey at $7100. If we get late Booker news after lock I would be willing to swerve to him even at that price. Without that news, I likely do not play him tonight on DK. Over on FD, we have a very different situation. When a guy is cheaper on FD I always prefer to play him there and Warren is only $6400 on FD. That is a very enticing price. I think at that price he even makes sense if Booker plays as we have seen him go for 30-40 FD points in recent games. If Booker sits, he should smash at this price as his usage likely goes up. That is why I love him today. He’s either a good play or a great one and I’m fine using him whether we have Booker news or not. At $6400 on FD, Warren is basically a lock button in my lineups today.
Otto Porter – Porter is discounted due to his recent coming back from injury. He’s not back to full run yet, but he’s still producing. I do expect to see him out on the floor more minutes as he gets his legs back under him. This team is hurting for offense right now and Porter is a guy who can provide it. His price is $1000-$1500 cheaper on both sites to where it likely ends up when he gets all the way back to his 35 minutes. Even at 20% less, he’s still not a bad play, because his price is also down 15-20%.
Domantas Sabonis – Much like Warren, I like Sabonis even if Myles Turner plays. If Turner happens to sit again, then I love him. Sabonis has a high PER, which is Player efficiency Rating. Boiled down, PER is a measure of production per minute of action based on a scoring system very similar to how we grade fantasy points. That means it’s a stat that translates well. Since it is basically a per minute calculation, when guys with a high PER get more minutes, they tend to be the ones who take advantage of that and produce better than you would expect them to. Sabonis is one of those guys. He normally plays a little over half a game, but without Turner his minutes jump up closer to ¾ of the game. Those extra 5-7 minutes for a highly productive player tend to be enough to get a high floor game with upside potential.
Marvin Williams – Jeremy Lamb going down hurts this offense in a big way. They were already lacking in guys who can score and Lamb was the #2 option behind Kemba. Batum, MKG, GHG, and Bridges are all guys who see increased minutes, but none of them are scorers. Marvin Williams is arguably the second best scoring option. He’s still relatively cheap and has produced nice 30+ fantasy point scores in the last few games without Lamb. Again, I don't see him as a guy who has huge upside, but he has a solid floor as long as Lamb remains out.
Bam Adebayo – Bam is cheap. That is literally the reason I am interested in him. Not just that he’s cheap, but he’s produced well for a guy who is cheap. He’s dropped 30 fantasy points in two straight games at below $5K. I prefer to use him as a salary saver on FD as you can always drop the score if he craps the bed. He’s literally no lock for any upside, so that is a possibility that he gets 10-12 fantasy points. There are no injuries and he plays like half the game. Still he has the upside at the low price I like from my FD punts and with the drop rule, you benefit from taking two or three guys like this and hoping that a few of them hit so you can fit in studs to go with them.
Richaun Holmes – A lot of the reasoning for Holmes is the same as that for Bam. He’s cheap and when he plays well he plays really well and easily clears value. I do not love a lot of the guys available for the prices they are available for at the PF position today. Holmes is one of the few exceptions. Again, much better FD play as it does carry some risk and he could end up your dropped score.
Joel Embiid – This is a guy I am trying to actively pay up for. If Towns smashes today, I’ll lose all my money and I’m fine with that as he's struggled vs. OKC historically. Embiid though is just dominating. Over the last five games he is averaging about 35 minutes, 62 DK points and has a usage rate in the low 30s. Those are dominant numbers. The Wizards lack size at the moment and that should make this a walk in the park for Embiid. He’s dropping a ton of points and big rebound numbers too, so 25/15 is not out of the question. I mention him and Towns, because they are both about the same price right now and I trust Embiid a ton more tonight.
Enes Kanter – Normally bigs v. the Warriors is not a place I want to attack. This year has been different though. Kevon Looney, Jonas Jerebko, an undersized lineup of death, and Jordan Bell are all guys playing defense on him today. Kanter is both reasonably priced and putting up big numbers in the rebounding and scoring departments in recent games. Again here I do not expect the Knicks to keep this close, but if they do, Kanter is likely to be one of the guys doing the work for them.
Willy Hernangomez – The Hornets are hurting on the interior. GHG is a guy who has routinely averaged around a point per minute. He’s not going to see the massive 35 minutes some want him to play, but at a point per minute pace if he even just sees 25-30 he’s going to be over value at his price. I prefer him on DK as a second center in the util spot or if you want to go cheap to pay up elsewhere. He has a decent floor at a very low price which is why he makes the list.
LAST NOTE: Please remember to check the status of guys like Booker and Harris before tip. Other news may come along that needs to be accounted for as well, but if either of those guys sit it creates some must play spots for guys I already have on this list. If they both play, adjust accordingly with most of those boosts likely not being there.