Identify the players on tonight’s NBA DFS slate who have the safest floors for your DraftKings & FanDuel cash game lineups!
Solid seven-game slate of NBA DFS action for Friday. I am still waiting on one line and spread to be announced as I type this, but that probably will not happen before this article is due in, so I’m not going to hold my breath for it. Giannis Antetokounmpo is listed as questionable along with Donte DiVincenzo. Until we get news about them, Vegas is going to slow roll the line and total here.
It should skew as a higher scoring slate with a lot of teams projected over their averages. The problem is that most of them are projected by only a point or two. I would assume Denver comes in a tad above average and Milwaukee a tad below, as the pace difference between them is one of the biggest in the entire league. If I am right and Denver comes in above average, that would be 10 of the 14 teams that project for at least their normal production or better today. That could lead to a high scoring slate.
So the Bucks news is obviously the biggest, but we have some other stuff to discuss with injuries. Anthony Davis is the next biggest name listed here. Davis always seems to be questionable, but he plays through it most of the time. I’m expecting him to play from what I have read so far. Luka Doncic is already ruled out and will be for a few games with another ankle issue. We saw them play a few games without him already and the beneficiary was everyone else on the floor. Luka is a stud, but he’s also a high usage one. His absence had propped up the production of Porzingis, Brunson, Hardaway, and Finney-Smith last time. All of them cheap and viable here as well.
Marc Gasol, Aron Baynes, Frank Kaminsky, Carmelo Anthony, Paul Millsap and Jamal Murray are the other major pieces not playing today. Markieff Morris, Tim Hardaway Jr., Donte Divincenzo and Gary Harris are the major questionable pieces to watch tonight, along with Giannis and Anthony Davis as mentioned above.
Top Projected Totals
- Rockets – 124
- Pelicans – 123
- Lakers – 121.75
- Grizzlies – 117.5
- Bucks – 116.75
Biggest Pace Bump
- Nuggets: +7.2
- Mavericks: +5.4
- Thunder: +3.4
- Bulls: +2.6
Highest Projection over Average
- Lakers: +8.25
- Pelicans: +8.25
- Rockets: +5.5
- Grizzlies: +4
- Nets: +3.25
NBA DFS Position By Position
- Russell Westbrook – A lot of the projections systems are discounting Westbrook and leaving Harden near his higher-end numbers, and I just don’t get it. I understand Algo’s look at the numbers and crunch them, but sometimes you have to use a bit of common sense. Just look at the last couple weeks of results and you will get what I am saying here. Harden is not 100%, and right now, Westbrook is the better of the two and has been. He’s gone for 60+ in six of the last seven games he has played. Harden hasn’t cracked over 50 in any of those games. Westbrook has raised his offense, rebounding, and assists numbers across the board, and the Rockets project for a massive number here against a Dallas team that will be without Luka.
- Damian Lillard – Lillard is playing like a man possessed lately. The last four games he’s averaging over 40 minutes a night and went for 84, 64, 78 and 60 fantasy points. He’s scored 61, 47.50 and 36 real-life points during this run too, hitting shots from different area codes and slicing through defenses to get to the basket basically at will. I know the Trail Blazers do not project well here on the road against a stingy Lakers D, but you can’t ignore how good and how aggressively Lillard is playing at the moment.
- Ja Morant – The Memphis/NO game is the one that stands out the most in terms of fantasy production, and Ja Morant is playing about as well as he has all season right now. He’s becoming a consistent producer, going for 40+ fantasy points in three straight games. His usage and assist totals are the two things coming in above average and giving him upside right now. This matchup is one we have successfully picked on all season long, and Memphis does project for four points above average today. Neither team has much of a pace bump here, but they are 4th and 5th in terms of pace on the season, and the 240 total should be a giant flashing light to how Vegas thinks this game is going to play out. Ja thrives in that up and down type setting, so this is one game he projects very well.
- Reggie Jackson – I know he’s only playing half the game, but $4600 on FanDuel and $4800 on DK for a guy who has been over 30 fantasy points in three of the last four with minutes creeping up seems like a good bargain to me. 30 fantasy points for under $5K is over a 6X return on investment. It’s not a soft spot against the Raptors, but they do catch them at home with Toronto on a road back-to-back and the Pistons project for their normal scoring with a slight bump in pace. Jackson has been producing and has seen minutes climb.
- Jalen Brunson – Monte Morris is a decent cheap option as well, but I think Brunson ends up as the super chalk today. Rightly so too with Luka Doncic now on the sidelines. Brunson played four games without Luka already this year and has averaged over 34 fantasy points in 30 minutes of action. With Luka, his numbers are basically half of those mentioned without him. Brunson is under $4K so really we only need about 25 out of him to keep on pace to cash. If he matches the 30+ he’s averaged without Luka, you are looking at better than an 8X return and it’s tough to ignore that value and the savings it provides to pay up elsewhere.
- Devin Booker – Not the ideal spot for the Suns tonight against a good defensive Thunder team, but Booker also has the all-star snub motivation. Booker has missed value in a few recent games, but they were games that turned into blowouts where he saw only around 30 minutes. In the games that were close in the last two weeks, he was routinely seeing 38-40 minutes. He has a bunch of games in the 50s lately and had a couple of high 40s as well. I assume this game stays close, which should mean max minutes and max minutes should lead to near ceiling totals around that 50 point mark.
- Jrue Holiday – The Pelicans project for 123 tonight, eight points above their seasonal averages. Jrue went for just shy of 50 in his first game back from injury five games ago in only 32 minutes of action. That opponent was the same team they play today. On the season, he’s averaged closer to 35-36 minutes, and since that first meeting with Memphis, his minutes have been trending back up. Giving a guy in a huge total game a few extra minutes when he already lit this team up for 50 and doing it at a slight discount to his normal price all are appealing. With Brunson offering a ton of value at PG, we can afford to pay for a SG today, and rather than go too high priced with guys like Harden or Booker, Jrue is the one I have been leaning on in cash.
- JJ Redick – Redick on a healthy Pelicans team is a guy who may lack a huge ceiling, but man is he cheap. He’s basically $4000 on both sites today. I doubt he gets 35 minutes or 30+ fantasy points here today, but they have a lot of guys who draw a lot of attention when on the floor. Redick is the shooter who helps keep defenses honest and opens up the lanes for these guys to go to work, slashing and kicking it back out to him. Even with a decreased role and playing time, he’s still capable of 20+ fantasy points as he flashed the last couple games. I’m likely paying up at this position, but if you do need to save, I don’t think Redick will hurt you. He’s also not likely to be the upside guy who wins it for you though, so keep that in mind.
- Brandon Ingram – You can certainly play guys like Giannis and LeBron if they are affordable for you based on lineup construction, but I’m not squeezing them in and building around them today. Denver is a slow-paced team, and Giannis scares me a bit coming off injury. Not that he won’t play well, but he could see under 30 minutes. I like LeBron more in cash even with a lower ceiling, but that’s a big total in that game and the Lakers are double-digit favorites at home. Blowout risk is certainly an issue, and the Lakers appear to be near fully healthy. I would reconsider if Davis is out, but I think that questionable tag is just a precaution on him. That brings me to Ingram. His price has dropped from the super-high $8K and even $9K he was a point earlier in the year. I know they have more talent now that they are healthy, but he’s still one of the major pieces of this offense. On top of that, the matchup here is just so good with a 240 total, two of the top 5 teams in terms of pace, and a rather inefficient defense for the Grizzlies. I would expect Giannis and LeBron to outscore him, but not enough to justify a $3000 difference in price today.
- Trevor Ariza – Ariza went for over 7-8X in two of the last three games, which is not hard to do when you are priced at $4300 on FD and even at $5K on DK. What has me wanting him in cash is the minutes though. Minutes make guys have safer floors and higher ceilings, even when they are not elite level producers. Ariza has played 35, 32 and 38 minutes in the last three games for an average of 35 per night since coming back from injury. Carmelo Anthony is out so you can expect the minutes to remain high here.
- Tim Hardaway Jr. (FD) – I think both Hardaway Jr. and DFS are going to benefit here, as both played just shy of 30 fantasy points on average in the games Luka missed this year. I prefer THJ to DFS on FanDuel because the price difference is only $200. On DK, you have to pay nearly $2000 more for THJ, and since both guys project for big minutes and about the same production, that discount makes DFS the better play over there. THJ is listed as questionable though, and I’d be fine going to DFS on FD too if THJ does not play. Neither is going to get you 40, although, Hardaway has the better chance of that ceiling type game, which is why – where the price is close – he gets the nod.
- Dorian Finney-Smith (DK) – He’s also the play I like on FD if Hardaway sits out, but the two on FanDuel are $200 apart and I prefer Hardaway. On DK where Hardaway is jacked up in price, DFS makes more sense to use. Both guys saw an uptick to the high 20s in fantasy production on average without Luka, and it does not sound that great, but for $4K, that’s about a 6X return.
- Kristaps Porzingis – KP is averaging about 35 points a night in 30 minutes of action with Luka in the lineup. In the games Luka missed, KP averaged 50 fantasy points in 35 minutes of action with higher offensive and rebounding numbers. He’s mid-tier level priced, so the boost in production could have him smash that value number. He’s $6800 on DK and $6400 on FD; neither price is high for a guy who could drop 50+ tonight. In fact, he’s popping as one of the better value options on the slate despite having a higher tag than some of the cheap guys here.
- Serge Ibaka – Marc Gasol is still listed as questionable or doubtful tonight, depending on where you look. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson has been out too and is questionable again as well. The Raptors frontcourt is very thin at the moment, and Ibaka is certainly a guy that can produce when given the chance. We have seen it throughout the season with Gasol and Siakam both out. He had some monster games with 20+ points and a slew of double-double performances. Detroit is a slight downtick in pace, especially if Drummond is in. His size would be a problem for a thin frontcourt though, so if anything it bolsters the case for near ceiling minutes out of Ibaka here.
- Brandon Clarke – Jaren Jackson is suspended for this game, which opens things up for the young talented Clarke. This guy has skills but is blocked from big minutes behind Jackson and Valanciunas. That’s why I am so excited for him today. Not only is he cheap, but he’s already flashed his skill level with a bunch of 25-35 fantasy point games even in just 22-26 minutes of action. He could easily top 30+ minutes here, and for a guy producing around or above a fantasy point per minute, that could mean 30+ easily. He’s also the rare guy who is cheaper on DK at $4800 v. $5200 on FD. I like both prices honestly, as I think he gets over 30 and gives us 6X or better on his salary.
- Deandre Ayton – The OKC matchup is not a soft one, but Ayton is getting huge minutes right now. As long as Aron Baynes and Frank Kaminsky remain out, I do not see that changing. The Suns frontcourt is thin, which has led to 34+ minutes in five of the last seven games for Ayton. The only two he saw less were blowouts. He’s gone for 47-58 fantasy points in those games, so he’s not only playing minutes but producing at a very high level right now.
- Jonas Valanciunas – The Pelicans are talented but a little undersized. This game has a massive total, and one of the biggest advantages the Grizzlies have is inside with the size. I am a little concerned about the pace making him a tough guy to get huge minutes, but what has me feeling better about it is the productivity. He played only 20 minutes the last time these teams met, but he dropped 32 fantasy points for a 1.6 fantasy points per minute performance. I expect him up closer to 30 here, as he played that or more the last two games and produced really well in each. Remember, this game is one of the fastest paces and one of the highest totals, and Valanciunas is also mid-tier priced. He’s projecting out as the top PP$ center on FD today, and his DK price is even cheaper by a few hundred bucks.
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