Identify the players on tonight’s NBA DFS slate who have the safest floors for your DraftKings & FanDuel cash game lineups!
The good news is that we have a solid seven game slate of NBA action for DFS tonight. The bad news is that we have a ton of injury news to deal with. This is high end injury news with some of the top end guys in terms of minutes and usage being the ones we are waiting on. Depending on how the dominoes fall, we could have tons of value or none at all today.
I included a few more players than usual on my list and today’s going to be about crossing off the ones who get unfavorable news. Guys like Kyle Kuzma without Anthony Davis have been crushing value. If Davis plays, Kuzma becomes unplayable though. If he sits, I’ll likely end up with a lot of Kuzma in any format tonight. Same goes for guys like Lonzo Ball, Myles Turner, and Nemanja Bjelica. All of them have played exceptionally well with injuries giving them bigger opportunities. If those injured players return, the slight downtick they could see in minutes and/or usage coupled with the increasing prices put them out of play.
The reason I tried to make the list a little longer today is because I know a few of these guys are not going to end up being great plays and a few of them are. As the news drops, just cross off the names of the guys who lose the benefits and you will still be left with a group of guys who should be able to get us 6X or better.
I wanted to take a minute to catch you guys up on the injury news today as we do have a lot of it. Joel Embiid is out for Philly. Domantas Sabonis missed the last game and is questionable, although expected to play. Malcolm Brogdon has been hurt and is questionable as well. The injury is not the concern here though as the reason he missed the last game was a case of Strep Throat and that’s what has him on the fence to play again tonight.
Jrue Holiday and Derrick Favors are also questionable again tonight. Lonzo Ball and Jaxson Hayes have benefitted the most in their absences. JJ Redick is also questionable, although likely to play. That’s a lot of pieces to this team and moving parts we will have to deal with when the information comes out.
Karl-Anthony Towns has been out for about 10 games or so and is questionable again tonight. The good news is we have a long track record of him missing to use as a blueprint. The bad news is everyone else has been priced up and if he plays it would eat into the production bumps we have seen all around.
Aaron Godron and Marvin Bagley are the two main pieces of the Orlando/Sacramento game we are waiting on news for, but guys like DJ Augustin and Harrison Barnes on either side are also listed as questionable. Richaun Holmes and Jonathon Isaac are ruled out, so one way or another we have some things to sort through when the rest of this information is known too.
Anthony Davis is likely out, but LeBron is likely in after sitting out over the weekend. These are obviously very valuable pieces to their team. It’s a huge spread here and Lebron is likely to go. If Davis plays too, the spread should actually be a bit higher, which leads me to believe he is going to sit out again today.
Remember, I handicapped this slate based on assumptions, some of which may or may not end up being the case. If you see me say I like someone because he benefits from a player being out and that player is not out, it’s going to change how I view things and should make that guy less of a play.
Highest Projected Totals
- Lakers 117
- Pelicans 113.75
- Trailblazers 113
- Pistons 112.75
- Celtics 112.75
Biggest Pace Bumps
- Thunder +5
- Hornets +4.7
- Pistons +4.5
Highest Projections Over Average
- Pistons +4.5
- Lakers +3.5
- Trailblazers +1.5
- Celtics +1.25
De’Aaron Fox – Normally I’m not a fan of taking guys against the Magic, but the Kings actually project for a point over their average today. Fox returned from injury two weeks ago and was playing 29-33 minutes a night, in line with his seasonal averages. The Kings are bitten by the injury bug lately and because of that he saw 35 and 38 minutes in his last two games. His usage has also jumped up above 30 in the last few games after averaging just shy of 30 on the season. He took 20+ shots in each of the last two games, also up from 14 on the year. Fox is also averaging 7 assists and a handful of rebounds per game, so he’s producing across the board for us. Some of the pieces playing right now are not as offensive minded as the guys like Bagley and Holmes who are missing. With Bogdanovic out and Cory Joseph questionable with a fever, it’s not hard to see Fox getting max minutes again here today. He’s averaging about 1.2 fantasy points per minute, so the jump from 30ish to 35-38 should be worth an extra 6-10 points for him and give him a higher ceiling and floor.
Lonzo Ball – With Jrue Holiday out, Lonzo has looked very good. On the season he is averaging 32 minutes, but he’s played at least 33 in each of the last 7 games and sometimes as high as 40. He’s averaging 42 fantasy points over this stretch, which is still 6X on his sub $7K DK price. On FanDuel he’s in the low $6K range here today. Even without some of the better scorers on the team, the Pelicans on the road project for their average or slightly above today. I have a hard time figuring out how they get there without another solid to big game from Lonzo.
Aaron Holiday – He moved to a bench role, but that only benefits him as he gets more opportunity to shine with the second unit. The price has come down on both sites, even though he again went for 6X last time out. Holiday is even cheaper now on FanDuel in the mid $4K range. Despite coming off the bench, he still saw 30 minutes last game and was the closing point guard. As long as Brogdon remains out, he remains a viable cheaper play in cash.
Honorable Mention: Ben Simmons, Darius Garland
Devonte’ Graham – Charlotte has a nice pace bump and projects for a point above average here today. Yes, they are big dogs, but Graham and the Hornets are not a team that gets blown out often. When games do stay close, Graham is usually one of the reasons why. It’s a rough day for the shooting guard position. Jrue Holiday is questionable and Zach LaVine draws very tough perimeter defense from the Celtics. The third highest projection at the position is Graham who feels safer. A couple overtime games throw off some of his minutes projections, but the guy is averaging over 36 a night on the season as a starter. He’s averaging about 18 points/4/8 on the year for around 36 fantasy points when you factor in those defensive stats. He’s played more minutes and flashed some upside in most of the recent games. If you want to pay up today, he’s the guy I like the best. It’s not the position I’m really forcing myself to pay for though.
Evan Fournier – This is not an ideal spot overall as both teams play slow and neither is technically bad defensively. It is a spot though where I like Fournier to continue to flash his upside. He’s played a little more of a scoring role with guys like Isaac and Gordon missing recent games. Khem Birch and Wes Iwundu are getting some starts, but neither is a big time scorer. That has meant guys like Vucvic, Fournier, and Fultz have had to do a bit more of the scoring. Fournier remains reasonably priced and is coming off a big scoring game. He really doesn;t do a ton of other things, but he’s cheap and getting big minutes and shuts right now.
Dwayne Bacon – Bacon is min priced on DK and cheap on FD as well. The Hornets all but benched Nic Batum and that has opened up minutes for him. He’s not an elite upside kind of guy, but you do not have to be at this price. He started the season playing around 30 minutes a night. He battled through some injuries that had him in and out of the lineup before getting consistent minutes again two weeks ago. He has since seen the minutes continue to rise and has produced when they get up high. In January, he has played at least 25 minutes three times, finishing with 25, 16, and 33 fantasy points. Nothing that great, but when you factor in the minimum price on both sites he’s producing nice value and saves you a ton of salary. We get guys at 25-33 fantasy points that cost $1000-$2000 more and that kind of money can help you upgrade a position or two to a higher end play.
LeBron James – Highest projection at the position by a pretty decent margin. The only other guy close is Brandon Ingram and his price has come up a bit too much for my liking in cash games. I assume Davis is out and this is a bit of a revenge narrative against the Cavs for LeBron. The thing that I am also watching is Rajon Rondo. If Rondo can’t go, LeBron could see extra minutes and see them with the ball in his hand the whole game as the primary PG. LeBron is a monster and routinely puts up 50+ points, He’s averaging 25/8/10 for almost 1.6 fantasy points per minute. He’s playing 35 minutes a night, so you are getting your 50+ out of him at least.
Danilo Gallinari – Gallo is not a big upside guy, but he’s a solid producer. He’s playing around 30 minutes and doing it at around a fantasy point per minute. OKC gets a big pace bump tonight and despite being on the road still project over their seasonal average. I don’t think of Gallo as an upside play, but he’s also seen the price come down a bit to low $6K range. He’s a 30-40 fantasy point a night kind of guy. At closer to $7K, it’s a tad pricey. At closer to $6K like he is today, you can get away with 35ish.
Trevor Ariza – Ariza has stepped into a bigger role than expected due to injuries. He’s played over 32 minutes in four straight games, going for 31+ in the last three of them. With Bogdanovic and Holmes hurt, as well as Bagley and Joseph questionable, the minutes are there for whoever wants to take them. Ariza has done well in those minutes and remains solidly priced towards the lower end for the production.
Al Horford – The biggest beneficiary of the Embiid injury has been Horford, as expected. We have mentioned the numbers with and without Embiid. Horford is still reasonably priced as he has a top five projection in terms of both raw points and points per dollar. He has seen a big jump in usage from 16% on the year to low 20s without Embiid. He’s also seen rises in minutes, shots, points, rebounds, and especially assists which are recently up 2+ from his seasonal averages. He’s averaged 40 fantasy points over the last two games and is priced in that mid $6K range where that return is around 6X his mid-range price.
Robert Covington – I do not expect to see Towns play, yet the game is close and high scoring on the projection tonight for the Wolves. Wiggins has not played well and the PG situation seems like a mess with Teague, Napier, and even Culver. Josh Okagie went nuts last game, but I’m not expecting that to repeat. The only guy who has consistently produced lately is RoCo. They dipped a bit the last two games, but since Christmas, he is averaging well over 30 minutes a night. He’s averaged 36 fantasy points a night during this stretch. He’s priced at $6K on FD and $5700 on DK, which means he’s putting up numbers that project over 6X on his tags. He just feels a little too cheap today and I think even one of his lesser games still keeps you in line to cash. If he plays well, you could even see 7X+ on the upside.
Nemanja Bjelica – He is seeing a ton of court time recently with 38 and 40 minutes over the last two games. He’s $5500 on DK which is a reasonable price for his production recently. He’s under $5K on FanDuel which feels really cheap. If Bagley is back it could complicate things here, but people are over hyping guys like Harry Giles and Dwayne Dedmon. If Sacramento believed in either of them, the minutes would be there, but they don’t. They do believe in Bjelica though and that’s why he’s getting as much court time as he can handle and those other guys are playing behind him.
Khem Birch – Another recent change to a lineup that is going a bit unnoticed. He’s still dirt cheap at under $4K on FD and a tad over on DK. They slotted him into the starting lineup two games ago and he’s played about 29 minutes both of the games since with 35 and 22 fantasy points. The 35 is likely a ceiling, but would be an 8-9X upside. Even the 22 is still over 5.5X and wouldn’t kill you if you need a salary saver. Both squads project slightly above average there and, if Gordon remains out, I see no reason to expect Birch to get less run than he has the last two games.
Andre Drummond – I like him a good bit today regardless of Favors’ status. You can pick on the Pelicans with big men and Drummond is a load to handle. The uptempo pace and the high projection over average make this a great spot to target today. Don’t mind the game logs here as the last game he got ejected, hence the low minutes and crappy production. The two games before that he went for 60+ fantasy points and he averaged over 40 minutes the three games before getting tossed and playing under 20. Drummond is a legit threat for 20/20 lines and has even had some games where he racked up 4-5 assists. He’s averaging 17/16 in 33 minutes of action this year and recently has played 35+ minutes in five of the last eight. That extra 3-5 minutes helps him flirt with the 20/20 number which is at least 45 fantasy points on it’s own. Add in some assists, steals, and blocks and it’s not hard to see how he has been getting to those 50-60 point games he has had lately.
Myles Turner – Domantas Sabonis sat out last game. Turner benefitted from added minutes, usage, and rebounding opportunities. He put up 55 fantasy points for a 9X return. Sabonis is questionable again. I would not expect the exact same production against a tougher Philly team, but even 30 fantasy points or more is enough for 5.5-6X or better. He’s played second fiddle to Sabonis in terms of minutes, usage, and rebounding so Sabonis returning would kill his value. If the other big misses again though, Turner is too cheap in that mid $5K range not to use him.
Jaxson Hayes – Another guy that has really benefited from an injury we are waiting for news on today. Derrick Favors is the only real big man the Pelicans have and play. When he’s been out, Hayes is the guy. His last three games are 14/12 and 4 blocks, 18/10 and 2 blocks, and 20/2 with 2 blocks. All of them good for at least 28 fantasy points or more. He’s still priced in the low $4K range where he’s gone for 8-10X in some of his more recent stat lines here. If Favors misses again, you still likely only get 24-28 minutes out of him, but for the cheap tag he can pay it off.