We have a big 11 game slate for NBA DFS. As of now, we have very few major new additions to the injury report that are ruled out, but we do have three starters listed as Doubtful (Jimmy Butler, Reggie Bullock, Gordon Hayward) and another dozen listed as questionable. Some are more questionable than others, and we will mention a few as we go through some of the top plays…
We have a big 11 game slate for NBA DFS. As of now, we have very few major new additions to the injury report that are ruled out, but we do have three starters listed as Doubtful (Jimmy Butler, Reggie Bullock, Gordon Hayward) and another dozen listed as questionable. Some are more questionable than others, and we will mention a few as we go through some of the top plays. Three games have no line released yet due to questionable pieces. The first is the Bucks @ Pacers, the second is Celtics @ Wizards, and the third is Raptors @ Warriors. The Bucks, Warriors, Raptors and Wizards are amongst the higher scoring teams in the league, so keep in mind, those games should feature high totals when the lines finally get released. A big slate means a big list of interesting cash game options and today is no exception.
INJURY NOTES TO WATCH
I assume Kawhi Leonard sat the front end of the back-to-back to play tonight. If not, Serge Ibaka and Pascal Siakam get big bumps when he is out, and the pace of that Warriors game would have them in play.
The Celtics list both Horford and Baynes as questionable. Daniel Theis was fun, but the price is up and his minutes are not guaranteed. I prefer to look at Marcus Morris as the main beneficiary if the bigs can’t go.
Detroit is likely without Reggie Bullock, although, they are likely to welcome back Stanley Johnson, who will eat up some of those wing minutes. With Ish Smith out, the perimeter has minutes available and fewer bodies to fill them now.
Hassan Whiteside remains out, but the Heat do have all the guards available again. It looks like Dragic, Ellington, Tyler Johnson, Wade, McGruder and Richardson are all playing. They also have Winslow, James Johnson, Bam Adebajo and Kelly Olynyk holding down the frontcourt without Whiteside. There is a better path for upside out of that second group of pigs than the guards right now.
Jimmy Butler status is interesting. It is no secret Embiid has been a little less productive lately as Jimmy has stepped up offensively. If Butler can't go, that would bump up both Embiid and Simmons for me. It would also be a big boost for Wilson Chandler. Remember the Butler trade sent Covington and Saric packing, so Chandler would have a lot of minutes and a chance for increased usage too. It would even help guys like T.J. McConnell and JJ Redick as they would all be in line for more minutes and usage.
TOP PROJECTED TOTALS
*Minus the three games without Lines
- Thunder – 117
- Mavericks – 116
- Timberwolves – 115.25
- Pelicans – 115
- 76ers – 114
BIGGEST PACE BUMPS
- Mavericks: +6.1
- Pacers: +4.8
- Grizzlies: +4.4
- Cavaliers: +3.7
- Nets and Timberwolves: +3.6
HIGHEST PROJECTION OVER AVERAGE
- Mavericks: +6
- Timberwolves: +5.5
- Cavaliers: +3
Note: None of the other teams in games with lines released are projected over average
FAVORITE CASH PLAYS
Russell Westbrook – Westbrook has triple-doubled in 3 straight games and draws a matchup with another high paced team in the Pelicans today. That game has one of the highest totals on the board, which makes Westbrook one of the best plays in one of the best games to target. He’s a guy I don't mind paying up for today.
Ben Simmons – Simmons has increased his production recently and if Jimmy Butler is out I would expect that to continue. Joel Embiid has not been his usual dominant self lately, but Simmons has been. He too is a triple-double threat on any given day and the bump in usage if Butler is out and the fact his rebounding should go up as he would be forced to play more big man minutes at the forward spot are both positives.
Luka Doncic – The best possible matchup you can have is against the Hawks and Doncic has it today. The Mavericks are popping up on every screener for increased production today. My biggest fear is that the game doesn't stay close. Doncic has been banged up a bit lately and they will take every chance they get to allow him a break. If it stays close though, he should put up a ceiling game.
Reggie Jackson – Not much upside for a GPP, but with Ish Smith out, R-Jax has been consistently putting up 30+ fantasy points. If you need to save without sacrificing upside, Reggie Jackson is a guy who can keep you above the cash line pace at a reasonable price. Just don't expect 40+ out of him. He’s high floor, low ceiling.
Tim Frazier – E’Twaun Moore has been in and out of the lineup and even when he plays his minutes are down. This has allowed Frazier more court time recently and his high assist rate has given him a nice floor. The Pelicans want Jrue Holiday playing off the ball and looking to score more and that is the other thing that has helped Frazier as it means minutes at the PG spot are open for him.
Note: This is a position I am likely looking to save at today in cash
Derrick Rose – Minnesota has one of the best matchups on the day against a Sacramento team that paces them up. They are one of the few teams projected to score above average as well. Rose has been one of the better scorers and producers on this team all year. Robert Covington is still listed as questionable. He was out the last two games and rose went from just over half the game to playing 35+ minutes. If Covington remains out today, Rose should again produce above expectations.
Dennis Schroder – I love the matchup here for Schroeder against New Orleans. Not only are they paced up in this spot, but He likely draws Tim Frazier defense as Frazier on Westbrook is a mismatch of epic proportions. People sleep on him and dismiss him, but he is playing just shy of 30 minutes a night and has put up 30-40 DK points in 4 of the last 5 games. He’s a third option at best on this team, so I am not looking for major upside, but the matchup is great and his price is friendly if you need someone who can keep you on pace to stay above cash lines in 50/50s and double ups.
Luke Kennard – The Pistons have some injury issues in their frontcourt. Kennard is now back healthy and playing big minutes. He saw 26 against New Orleans and followed it up with one of his biggest games of the season while seeing 36 minutes against the 76ers. Ish Smith being hurt has forced Langston Galloway into more time at the point, leaving a few open minutes he was playing at the SG spot. The injury to high minutes Reggie Bullock has also opened up more minutes that need to be covered. Stanley Johnson may be back tonight, but he had been out recently too. Kennard is the better player and bigger prospect than Bruce Brown, so he should remain with high minutes even if Johnson does play. He’s $3,500 on DK and not much more on FanDuel. He’s a great salary saving punt option tonight that has a chance to produce.
Kevin Huerter – This is a DraftKings only punt at $3,600. His FanDuel price is almost $5K, so I would be less likely to use him there. Huerter is seeing minutes on a bad Hawks team. He lacks a high ceiling but has put up 20-25 fantasy points recently. At $3,600, that is a solid 6X+ return. I wouldn't be looking to go heavy on him in GPPs, but if you need to save to spend elsewhere he is interesting.
Giannis Antetokounmpo – He sat out the last game, but he said himself that he was fine which likely means it was just a maintenance day. Giannis has such a high floor when out on the floor and playing max minutes. He is the first guy they skip a rotation for when the score is out of hand. On the road as only 2 point favorites, I am expecting the game to stay close and when games stay close he plays 34+ minutes and puts up a 55 point floor. He’s pricey, but you get good production across the board for what you pay for with him.
Kawhi Leonard – I assume yesterday Kawhi sat the front end of the B2B so he could play tonight. This is a high pace game against a good opponent, so I expect max minutes out of Kawhi to. When Kawhi sees max minutes, the floor is 45 and the average return is usually 50+. He plays 35+ minutes in these spots, and last time, he went for 56 DK points against the Warriors a few weeks ago. That game did go overtime, but even if you chop off 10-15% for the extra period you are still looking at around 50 out of him. He’s also $1.000-$2,000 cheaper than the other stars, although, his ceiling is not as high. In cash, we care more about the floor, and it’s right up there with all the other main superstars. He has a paced up game against a leakier defense this year.
Justise Winslow – Three straight games for Winslow with 40+ DK points is something that caught my eye. James Johnson is still not 100%, and Kelly Olynyk is now playing back up center with Bam seeing the major minutes there with Whiteside out. That has allowed Winslow to play 31-39 minutes in the last three games, a boost of 10-30% from his season averages. He’s scored 20+ real-life points in each contest too, and I have to give him credit for knocking down 11 3 balls in those games, including 6 last time out. Winslow’s biggest knock on him since entering the league is an inconsistent jump shot. If he is going to knock those down to add to his rebounding and assists, he could turn into a true superstar in this league. At the very least, the opportunity remains for him to keep playing bigger minutes, so I expect the production to remain higher as well. Even in the game he only drilled one 3, he still managed to make value by adding in 6 boards and 9 assists, so he has multiple ways to get above the cash line for you.
Kelly Oubre – I won't waste much time here, but Oubre has been producing big numbers with Porter banged up and Wall out. Wall is likely back tonight, and Porter is questionable. I still like Oubre, provided Porter is out, but I like him less for upside with Wall back in. He’s viable, but don't expect him to go off for another monster 8X+ game.
Jaron Blossomgame – Wouldn't knock anyone for saying who the hell is this guy? Here's the case for him. Tristan Thompson went down last game and is out for a few weeks. The Cavs frontcourt depth is thinning faster than my hairline. Blossomgame was the guy who saw his minutes increase. Larry Nance, Cedi Osman and Blossomgame are the three most likely to see an uptick in minutes, and he is near minimum price. I’m not expecting huge upside, but for how cheap he is and the new role he is likely to take on, that combination is interesting for a high floor cash game play for near min price.
Julius Randle – This is a simple one when you look into the numbers. Nikola Mirotic is out. In games without Mirotic, Randle has averaged 37 minutes, 26 points and 13 rebounds on 17.8 field goal attempts. In games Mirotic has played this year, Randle averages only 26 minutes, 18 points and 8 rebounds. That means he plays nearly 50% more without Mirotic. His per minute numbers are about the same, but at 37 minutes, we are talking a guy constantly putting up over 40 fantasy points, which makes him a solid value today.
John Collins – The Atlanta big man is healthy, so his minutes are up and the production has been awesome. He’s basically a walking double-double, and he’s scoring at a higher rate this year as well. He has now been over 31 minutes in 4 of the last 5 games, something he had not done all season before that. He has four straight double-doubles and his usage rate has climbed to over 25 in the last three games as he took 14, 17 and 20 shots. He scored 24 or more in each of those games. Collins has seen a price increase, but a 24/10 double-double is worth nearly 40 fantasy points on its own, and he also adds in assists and defensive stats too. That means the high price is justifiable with the level of production he has been showing recently.
Larry Nance – Nance has been a guy the Cavs have kept a wrap on minutes with all season. With Tristan Thompson going down and that frontcourt so thin, they are going to have to start laying him more. I not only expect him to be over 30 minutes but also to have bigger rebounding games. Tristan’s best skill was his ability to clean the glass, and without him, someone else is going to have to grab some rebounds. Nance projects for more minutes and boards today and we could see him get back to that double-double ability he flashed late last season. The price is still reasonable given that his production is likely to increase.
JaMychal Green – I am not sure why, but the Grizzlies are giving Green more time lately. Gasol and Jaren Jackson have both underproduced in recent contests, yet, Green was able to put up big numbers and bail them out. This is not an easy spot for Memphis, but a healthy Jamychal Green is a contributing player, and he is priced like a scrub on the bench with no upside.
Kevin Knox – This is a tough one for me, and if he was more expensive, I would avoid it. Knox and the entire Knicks roster for that matter are enigmas. Sometimes they get minutes and produce and sometimes someone else gets the minutes. Normally I like the higher and safer floors, but it’s tough to ignore the cheap price and upside. Knox is a guy I like more on FanDuel because he may end up being the guy you drop or he could end up being a top 6 scorer at the position, regardless of price. The guy put up 50 fantasy points last game and had 42 against Milwaukee last week. Not many guys under $5K can do that while playing 35+ minutes. The three games sandwiched in the middle he played under 30 minutes and put up 20-25 fantasy points. Even that bad game doesn't kill you. Still, I prefer him on FanDuel where that could be a droppable game or he could be the 40-50 points cheap option that gets you over the cash line and makes up for one of your other misses somewhere else.
Andre Drummond – On DraftKings, he is back under $9K, which makes him a value compared to other high-end options. He’s been playing really well too with a couple 50+ fantasy point performances lately. I have him very close to Towns on a raw score basis and a little behind Embiid, although Embiid has not produced well lately. In GPPs, I’m still willing to go back to the process, but in cash, I’ll take the savings and stick with Drummond. Drummond is averaging 18/15 in 33 minutes of action, and he has seen 33+ minutes in each of the recent four games that didn’t turn into blowouts.
Bam Adebayo – With Whiteside out, he has seen a major bump in minutes and production. Of course, the price is rising too, so we need to analyze whether the price is up enough to push us off of him. He is $6,100 on DK and $6,500 on FD (where he is listed as PF). He’s put up over 5.5X in the last three on FD and 6X in the last three on DK. At his increased price, he’s still in that 5.5-6X range on both, so I still like the idea of rolling him out in cash. His ceiling is not what it was with the increased price, so I would be less likely to play him in GPPs though.
Dewayne Dedmon – It was between Dedmon and Cody Zeller at the lower end for cheap center option tonight and I prefer Dedmon of the two. He was banged up much of the year and is averaging just 22 minutes a night. He had 29, 22 and 31 minutes played in his last three, so he is at or above his seasonal averages. Dedmon is not an elite scorer, but he will get you some each game. He is an elite rebounder though and tends to end up around double digits or just short of it. He will add some assists and is active enough to always get you some steals and/or blocks. Dedmon is below $5K and has gone for 30, 25, 32 in the last three or 6, 5 and 6X his price.