Small five-game slate for NBA DFS action tonight. Some games should be entertaining to watch though. Four of the five have high totals in the 220+ range, with the one exception being the matchup between the Spurs and Grizzlies at just a 208. We do not have a lot of major injury news yet. The one major piece is…
Small five-game slate for NBA DFS action tonight. Some games should be entertaining to watch though. Four of the five have high totals in the 220+ range, with the one exception being the matchup between the Spurs and Grizzlies at just a 208. We do not have a lot of major injury news yet. The one major piece is that Kyrie Irving is not going to play. The biggest question marks we need to know about are probably Elf Payton for the Pelicans and whether or not Jonas Valanciunas makes his debut today for the Grizzlies. All of the games have spreads between 4-8, so nothing that screams blowout. This is a tricky slate in terms of roster construction though. It’s only five games, but you have a bunch of studs on this slate. LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Joel Embiid, Simmons, Butler, Mitchell, Holiday, Conley, Gobert and the list goes on. This is one of those days where everyone is going to have different stars and likely everyone is going to have the same value guys in order to fit those stars. The smaller the slates, the more important it is to have studs with high ceilings and hit on those guys you use. I think stars and scrubs is going to be the optimal build tonight, or at least the most popular roster construction.
TOP PROJECTED TOTALS
- Lakers – 120.75
- Warriors – 118.75
- 76ers – 116.5
- Hawks – 115.25
- Pelicans – 114.75
BIGGEST PACE BUMPS
- Magic: +4.2
- Grizzlies: +2.9
- Celtics: +2.5
HIGHEST PROJECTION OVER AVERAGE
- Lakers: +8
- Magic: +5
- Hawks: +4.25
TOP CASH PLAYS
Terry Rozier – The price on Rozier is where it should be for him playing a game without Kyrie Irving. He’s no longer a must play in all formats, nor is he a guy I am heavy on in GPPs today, but he does project for about 33-38 points, as he always does without Kyrie. The matchup is paced up, but they are on the road and face a good Philly team. For cash, I do think there is safety here as the floor is high, but this is not the must play Rozier spot, nor is he the guy likeliest to exceed value and make up for a miss elsewhere.
Rajon Rondo – Rondo is a guy who thrives in chaos. The up and down nature of a game like this plays to his strengths. More possessions mean more missed shots and he’s a solid rebounder for a point guard. More possessions and an open floor up and down game mean his ability to push the ball and find open teammates in transition should be on full display here. I also like the $6Kish price point for him today. Rondo is in one of the best possible matchups against the Atlanta Hawks and I would expect a high floor with a higher ceiling today for him.
Ricky Rubio – Rubio is a little risky for cash, but PG is a tough position today. In GPPs, especially on FD, I am willing to drop down to guys like Mills, Augustine, Forbes or Frank Jackson, but none of them feel safe enough to play in cash. Rubio gets the benefit of a hot pace and a high projected total. He has the ability to contribute across the board in every category, which is nice to help boost that floor. He’s also in a mid-range price that just fits roster construction today. I’m not looking to pay up for Steph or Simmons, so I’m trying to live in that mid-range in cash as you can see by my top options.
Klay Thompson – The biggest beneficiary of the super team lately is Klay Thompson. He’s been shooting lights out the last four games and knocking down 4+ 3 pointers per contest. At his $6K DraftKings price, you have a guy who in four straight has gone for 6-7X that price. At $7400 on FanDuel, I’m not as interested, especially without the bonus for the 3-point field goals. Still, Klay has been putting up points, and that has led to big fantasy production for him.
Jaylen Brown – Brown is the guy I like the most when Kyrie is out. The direct beneficiary is Terry Rozier, but the price reflects that. Brown is a guy who normally plays a little over half a game, but with the extra minutes open he tends to get 30+ without Kyrie. Everyone on the Celtics benefits from a usage bump, but Brown gets both the usage bump and a minutes bump. At his $5K ish price, he has upside and a higher safe floor. Put them together, and you have a guy I love for fantasy. I prefer Brown to Smart in these situations, but have GPP lineups with both as part of a game stack.
Evan Fournier – Orlando is in one of the best spots to outperform expectations today. They project for five points over average and have a pace bump of +4.2. Fournier is the best price of the guys who routinely see their 30+ minutes. I have quite a few of the Magic players on this list and rightly so. Fournier has a high floor due to the minutes and upside due to the matchup at his price on both sites. He’s a very solid option I have lots of exposure to today, especially on FD where Klay feels pricey.
LeBron James – Lakers have the best possible matchup here against the Hawks. LeBron and the boys need to start reeling off wins to get back into the thick of the playoff hunt, so I don't believe for one second he was not going to play when listed as questionable. They already upgraded him to probable, so it’s all systems go. LA projects for the most points on this slate, and LeBron is coming off a 70+ fantasy point effort against Boston and one assist shy of a triple-double against the 76ers in just 33 minutes of a 20-point blowout. If the Hawks can keep this respectable at their place today, LeBron is in line for another near triple-double type performance.
Kevin Durant – One thing people have been overlooking is the injury to Andre Iguodala. It gives Kevin Durant a little more leeway to get a couple extra minutes. This is not the matchup I really want to go heavy on the Warriors, especially with so many weapons now, but KD is one weapon who plays nearly the same minutes at home and on the road and really only sees a dip when the games get ugly. I expect them to win, but I do also expect the Jazz to keep it respectable.
Gordon Hayward – I know, people hate rostering him, but let’s take a look at the facts. Fact, he’s been playing a couple more minutes per game lately, nearing 30. Fact, Kyrie Irving being out is going to help everyone in terms of both usage and minutes. He took 10+ shots in two of the last three games. This season, he has taken 10+ shots 12 times, and in 10 of the 12, he scored at least 6X his price today on DraftKings. Hayward lacks a massive ceiling he had in the past and is unlikely to play 33-38 minutes, but if he gets up to 30, jacks up his 10 shots, he could make or exceed value today. Even at $5K on FanDuel, we need like 26-30 out of him, and he’s been at or exceeding that value in his last few games.
Jonathan Isaac – I debated whether or not to include him in cash, but his consistency is enough to win me over. Isaac basically is being disrespected. He’s been starting at SF for the Magic and has gone for around 30 in eight straight games. He has broken out for some upside into the 40s, but I wouldn't expect that, which is why he’s not as good a play on FD where he is nearing $6500. On DraftKings in the low $5K range though, he is a decent option for cash. Not my favorite, but sometimes you need to save somewhere.
Kenrich Williams – I thought the return of Anthony Davis would be the end of him, but he has played well and has kept getting minutes. He’s also still producing nice game and at a slightly lower cost now too. Williams is a salary saver type of guy, but one that I like here today. The Pelicans made some trades and got some guys back from the injured list, so it’s still a rotation that is tough to figure, but Kenrich seems to have earned the minutes and played well enough to keep them for now. At his cheap price, I like his chances to beat value again.
Anthony Davis – On FanDuel at over $12K, that is a play I will only make in GPPs, but on DraftKings at just over $10K, we are getting one of the game’s premier players at a 10-20% discount from where he has been. Sometimes you just have to take what looks like a pricing snafu and this is one of those times. I know the whole situation with him maybe being traded and not being happy is a bit of a shitshow, but let’s face it, he has the highest ceiling on the slate and it’s not even close. Davis still projects for 50-60 fantasy points like he always does with a ceiling into the 70-80s. Now though he’s $1000-$2000 cheaper on DK than usual. You can fit KD And Davis into a lineup without having to go super punty everywhere else on DraftKings today and whenever you can get two guys with that kind of talent for those prices it becomes very interesting to start there and build around them.
Kyle Kuzma – Kuzma is on fire right now and smashing value. When Lebron returned, his price plummeted, but he’s found himself on the floor with and without Lebron quite a bit the last two games. Kuzma is a big-time scorer and he’s still putting up points. He can knock down shots, run the floor to finish, and has a lot of solid interior post moves to get shots off as well. He does depend on scoring, but when you have a matchup with the high paced Hawks where they are the highest projected total team on the slate and you thrive in that up and down environment, I am going to have a lot of interest in you as I do with Kuzma today.
Aaron Gordon – Gordon is a little more volatile than I like for a cash game play, but the price still feels a tad discounted too. Kuzma may have the best matchup, but the spot for Gordon against the Pelicans is not far off. Orlando projects for five points over and a +4.2 pace bump. The Magic are playing well, coming off two straight blow out wins. Gordon saw fewer minutes and thus less production in both, which I’m hoping keeps the ownership down. This one projects for a high score and to be closer, which could mean the starters get back over that 30+ minute mark and that’s the range Gordon has been producing 35-40 fantasy points in. That would be a good return for the price on him today.
Joel Embiid – No secret here with Embiid. I like the matchup against a Celtics team that does not have the size to slow him down. He didn't play great against them in the opener, but last game he dropped 60+. Embiid is one of the higher usage guys in the league. Not just at the center position, but in the entire league for any position. For a center, his usage is off the charts good, and when you add that to his upside, rebounding and near lock double-double nightly, you get a high floor. The Celtics are a good team, and I expect this game to stay close, which should also benefit him. He’s pricey, but he’s one of the better spend ups on the slate.
JaVale McGee – The main reason I don't have a ton of Embiid is you have a guy who could smash for a cheap price in JaVale McGee. Many people question why the Lakers traded a nice looking young center in Zubac, but no matter how you feel about that deal, it does point out McGee as a guy now in line for more minutes. JaVale is a high point per minute guy, but he wasn't seeing a lot of minutes. The last two games he saw at least 26. When you start looking back to the beginning of the season, when he sees 25+ minutes he almost always ends with 30+ fantasy points and sometimes even more. At a sub $5K price, 30+ is over 6X. Embiid could go 6X too at his price, but saving at center with McGee allows you to spend at other positions where the cheaper options don't have the kind of upside or consistent production a JaVale McGee seeing minutes has.
Note: I don't hate Nikola Vucevic if you can't afford Embiid, but I would much rather play Embiid if I can make him fit. I also have some interest in Jonas Valanciunas if he plays. JV is a high point per minute guy but never saw big minutes playing half the game at most in Toronto. It’s more of a GPP thing, I guess, as we have no idea what kind of minutes he will see, but I do think whatever minutes he is on the floor will be productive ones.