Identify the players on tonight’s NBA DFS slate who have the safest floors for your DraftKings & FanDuel cash game lineups!
Small four-game slate for NBA DFS tonight. This is a very wide open slate due to the pricing, and as much as I bitch about some of the crazy pricing things, I mean it in a good way today. I mentioned the lack of superstars to pay up for on yesterday’s slate, and the reason is we have them all in play tonight. Harden, Giannis, Lillard, LeBron, Davis and Jokic are all on this slate and each of them is going to run you five figures to put in your lineups.
Just by that fact, we will have some more diversification today than you normally see on a four-game slate. You literally can’t afford to play all the best plays today and have to actually choose. This is how DFS is supposed to be, forcing people into more decisions and less overlap. In fact, I would be willing to bet that the chalkiest players on this slate are going to be the ones in the $4K range who actually make sense to play. I can make a legit case for playing any of the superstars here. These are all guys that can roll out of bed and get you 40 fantasy points on their worst days. On their best days, all of them are capable of 70-80 fantasy points, and we should see at least one or two of them do that tonight.
While the ownership on the high end may be spread, building a lineup with multi five-digit superstars means you have under $5K per position on DK and not much above that on FD. Any good value plays are going to end up on everyone’s roster tonight because the savings are that important. The Houston/Charlotte game is probably going to be very highly owned for this reason. Clint Capela is out, and Westbrook is doubtful, which would open up a ton of value for the remaining Rockets, as James Harden is the only expensive one left on the team. Hell, even on the other side of that game, we have some really solid options around that $5K range like Zeller and Bridges. A few other guys in the $4K range are going to end up taking money here tonight as well, and we will discuss them as we go.
Outside of the Rockets situation we discussed above, I do not see much else in terms of injury news to really worry about. The Denver Nuggets are probably the next spot, but guys like Millsap, Murray and Michael Porter Jr. have already been out, so we have seen the Nuggets and know what to expect from them by this point. George Hill is out for the Bucks, and PJ Washington is listed as questionable for Charlotte. Both guys have missed recent games, so even those situations are ones we know how to handle and the prices of the remaining guys have already adjusted accordingly.
Top Projected Totals
- Bucks – 125.5
- Lakers – 120.5
- Rockets – 119.25
- Pelicans – 119
- Nuggets – 114.75
Biggest Pace Bump
- Hornets: +7.6
- Nuggets: +3.7
- Pelicans: +1.2
Highest Projection over Average
- Lakers: +6.5
- Bucks: +5.5
- Nuggets: +5
- Pelicans: +4
NBA DFS Position By Position
- Damian Lillard – If real life was NBA Jams, Dame would be on fire with unlimited turbo and the ability to legally goaltend. In fact, I’m pretty sure I saw an actual flame or two coming off his back as he was running down the court last game. He’s been burning up the nets for the last two weeks. It started with 61 actual points in a game where he dropped 84 fantasy points against the Warriors. He followed that up with 47 points and 64 fantasy points against the Mavericks, 36 points and 59 fantasy points against the Rockets (his worst game in two weeks), 48 and 78 against the Lakers and 50 and 73 against the Jazz. He’s averaging 73 fantasy points over the last six games – with four of those matching his average or exceeding it – and a floor of around 60 fantasy points in his worst effort. This is one of the best runs in fantasy for any player. This is not a soft spot, and the Nuggets are a slower-paced team, but how do you fade him right now? We obviously have superstars capable of monster games at almost every position on this slate, but none have been playing ceiling type performances more often than Lillard at the moment.
- Lonzo Ball – He had some injuries and was slow to round back into form, but since the beginning of January, he has been cruising with 40+ fantasy points the norm instead of the exception for him. He’s played slightly above his averages literally across the board. He’s not a massive scoring threat who can get you 20+, but he’s been in the high teens more often as opposed to barely getting there in 2019. He’s played more minutes and has always been a guy who can contribute in every stat category. Those increased minutes have meant a few more rebounds and a few more assists to go along with the uptick in points. The Pelicans as a team are healthy, and they have a lot of talented players on this roster who can score, making a trigger man point guard like Lonzo a good option with high potential assists numbers. He’s a massive discount to the skyrocketing price of Lillard, and while the gap between their projected production is wide, he’s the guy I have for the second most raw points at the position on this slate, slightly ahead of guys like Rozier and Bledsoe.
- Rajon Rondo – Rondo is a little more of a GPP play as some games, he can go off for big numbers, and other times, it feels like he disappears. Still, on a slate like this, we need value and playing with a little risk and upside is how we can get it. San Antonio didn’t have to travel after playing the Clippers last night, but that game was close and hard-fought. Today, they run it right back against another very good team and I’m not expecting them to be fresh and flying around. Rondo pushing the pace on the tail end of a back-to-back for his opponent seems like a good idea. Rondo is not playing 30 minutes a night, and because of that, sometimes he fails to reach value. When he’s playing well though, we’ve seen him get up 30-40 fantasy points even in 22-28 minutes of action. The Spurs have struggled to slow down point guards this year, and many have played above their average production against them. At just over $4K on either site, Rondo is one of the few cheap options who could smash value on a good day and help us differentiate our lineups in any game format on a short slate.
- Monte Morris – Jamal Murray is questionable, but when a guy has missed a bunch of games, I want confirmation on him before I step off a good value play. If Murray is in, Morris is dead. Without Murray, Morris has averaged 34 minutes over the last five games. He’s very inconsistent, as he’s popped off for massive scores and other times disappeared and done basically nothing with that court time. Like Rondo, he is very volatile; but also like Rondo, he is cheap. Rondo is a better per minute producer, but Morris is arguably the safer play because he sees more of the minutes. Rondo has more upside, and the two have very similar floors, which is why I listed Rondo ahead of him. I don’t dislike Morris though, and without Murray, he would remain a viable option.
- James Harden – No Capela and No Westbrook means it’s the James Harden show today. He’ll be very popular and rightly so. We have seen his batman impersonation without his Robin for a few years, whether that #2 was Chris Paul or Russell Westbrook. When he’s the #1 option without his #2, the man has put up 100 fantasy points before. This is not an ideal spot for him – the Hornets are a very slow-paced team near the bottom of the league – but we should see a potential triple-double performance, as 30 shots and double-digit assists are more the norm than the exception in these cases for Harden. On a slate with a ton of stars, he projects higher than all of the other ones. That’s not to say he’s a lock for the most overall points tonight, but he’s the most likely amongst a pretty stacked group. As such, I would expect his ownership to be very high, especially because the SG position lacks a lot of other major standouts in terms of points per dollar. Despite the massive price tag, Harden not only projects to be the highest scorer at the position by a wide margin but also the highest in terms of points per dollar, which is a very rare double to see. It makes him very tough to fade in cash.
- Kris Middleton – One of the reasons I am so high on Harden is I dislike the spots for many of the other higher-end SG options. DeMar DeRozan is on the tail end of a back-to-back, and Jrue Holiday catches one of the toughest defenses and his three-point range is not great. Usually, you want guys who can hit open shots against the trapping Milwaukee defense, so Holiday doesn’t exactly profile the best here. That leaves us with Kris Middleton in a game with a massive total against a defense that has allowed some bigger games this year. Middleton is producing around 1.2 fantasy points per minute and over the last five games has averaged about 34 minutes, up from under 30 on the year. If this game is as close and high scoring as I expect it to be, he should be in line for that same type of run today in a spot where his team projects for five points above average.
- Donte DiVincenzo – I prefer the $4200 DK price to the $4600 FD price, but I actually have ended up using him more on FanDuel with the need to play two Shooting Guards. DiVincenzo is a good per minute producer but doesn’t often see massive minutes. He’s actually the backup point guard currently with George Hill still expected to miss this game. He averages just shy of a fantasy point per minute on the year, although he’s played a tad above it recently. He’s still only seeing half the game and never really plays 30 minutes, which is why 25-32 fantasy points seems to be the range he is stuck in regularly. With a low to mid $4K price tag, that’s around a 6X return though and 7X if he hits his recent 32 point ceiling. The game does have a massive total here, so expecting him to reach or even slightly exceed his average is not crazy. He’s a salary saver and the guy who projects for the second-most points per dollar at the position behind Harden.
- Giannis Antetokounmpo – Another potential 70-point scorer here and one that the numbers point to doing so today. The game has the highest total on the board by a wide margin, even with all of the totals being over 224. The Bucks project for 5.5 points over average, and the game projects to remain close. My biggest beef with Giannis is his minutes, not his productivity. The guy averages about 57 fantasy points in around 30 minutes of action. That’s a massive 1.9 fantasy points per minute on the year. Giving him closer to 34-36 minutes is worth an additional 10+ fantasy points over that 57 per game average. He only really sees max minutes in close games, and this one does project to be that. A close, high scoring game where Giannis hits max minutes is a spot where I would not be shocked if he goes for 60+. He’s averaged 31 minutes in the last two games since sitting one out, and he’s put up lines of 31/16/9/1/2 and 30/19/9/1/1 for 65 and 70 fantasy points. If this is a Giannis ceiling game, we could easily even see him get to 80+ if he gets those extra 3-4 minutes.
- Will Barton – The Denver Nuggets have a lot of injuries they are dealing with, and many of them benefit Barton with his diverse skill set. No Jamal Murray means ball-handling duties get spread around, and Barton is a good enough ball-handler to be the trigger man in the offense. No Michael Porter Jr. means one less scoring option at the SF position that Barton mans, and it has led to a slight bump in minutes and usage for him. No Paul Millsap means more of the offense and rebounding duties need to be spread around, and a guy like Barton, who produces all-around numbers, is one who benefits. His minutes are not really that drastically higher, as he already plays a ton of them at nearly 34 a night. What has moved up is his shot attempts, usage and assists totals. He averaged right around a fantasy point per minute on the season, but with the Nuggets undermanned due to injuries, he has stepped up and the production has been very good. His price has not really moved up that much, which is why he’s been playing over value more often. His role has increased more than his price has, and that is what has led to him being a good mid-range fantasy option.
- Miles Bridges – I mentioned Bridges yesterday but ultimately did not play him. He continued his hot streak and once again returned over 6X value. He’s now done it three games in a row, and honestly, it might be sustainable for him. He averaged 30 minutes a night this year as a starter but has played 34+ in three straight games. That’s over a 10% increase in playing time. Everything during this recent run is up from his usage to his rebounding to his assists, defensive stats, and shot attempts. Even the price has risen, although like Barton, not enough to justify the increased production. That means he remains cheap here again today. He also is likely to draw a favorable match, as the Rockets are extremely undersized without Capela. They might not have a guy play over 20 minutes tonight who is bigger than 6’6”. That should mean easier rebounding for the Hornets, who may also be forced to go small to match up. We could see Bridges in the PF role at points tonight in a small ball v. small ball kind of lineup, and that would just help him keep those rebounding numbers above his season production. When you add in his scoring has been way up recently, it’s a deadly combo that is pushing his production way past recent and season expectations.
- Danuel House – I always say I never love him for upside, but that doesn’t mean I hate his floor for cash. House is the de facto center or at least PF alongside PJ Tucker in this new small-ball system the Rockets are forced to play with the injuries. The lack of Capela and Westbrook means the Rockets have to make up about 70 minutes of court time that accounted for over 40 points and 20 rebounds a night. House has seen his usage rate bump up in the last five games to near 20 from 12. He has scored 11 or more points in four of the last five, and he’s averaged under 11 on the season. He averages 4.5 rebounds per game, but twice in the last four games, he’s reached double digits in that category too. The opportunity is there for him to do more offensively and more on the boards, and the price is still pretty cheap. He’s still a secondary piece of the offense, but secondary is better than the 4th or 5th option he normally is.
- Eric Gordon – Gordon is a few hundred cheaper than House on FD, and I like him better. He’s actually pretty cheap on both sites for the role he will play today. Much like we have a long track record of Harden without his #2, we also have a long track record of Gordon stepping up when the #2 is out and he steps into that role. Gordon can score and will be a main option on the floor anytime Harden is off. We have seen him have multiple 30 and even 40+ point games in this situation over the last couple years. He’s priced very cheaply for the minutes, shots and overall role he should be playing today. He’ll be a very popular value option today and rightly so.
- Zion Williamson – I debated putting LaMarcus Aldridge on the list at a slightly discounted price, but he’s coming off a big game with a lot of minutes against a tough Clippers opponent last night. Today, he draws arguably a tougher match for the position against guys like Anthony Davis, Dwight Howard and Javale McGee. The Lakers are also a massive favorite, and if the game gets ugly, this feels like a spot Pop would have no problem limiting or sitting some starters who played big minutes last night. Zion, on the other hand, has seen his minutes rise above 30. It’s a small sample size, but he’s averaged 1.25 fantasy points per minute. His minutes have risen every game, and he played 33 last time out. At 33 minutes times 1.25, we are looking at roughly 42 fantasy points or 6X his $7Kish price on both sites today. I know it’s a tough spot, but he can knock down the three; something that usually translates into a good game against the Bucks. He’s also a legit rebounder and surprisingly good passer for a guy his size. That kind of all-around production is what we get from the best fantasy players in the league, and while Zion is not there yet, he was so coveted for that reason as he rounds into the dominant player we all expect him to be.
- Jerami Grant – Massive minutes and minutes at a highly productive center spot due to injuries have really helped out Grant. Before the month of January, he had a ceiling game of 32 fantasy points. In the last eight games, he’s gone for at least that or more six times. He’s had three games with 40+ fantasy points and two others of 36 during this recent run, so he’s playing his best ball of the season. He’s priced right around $6K, which is not cheap, but it’s also not expensive since his rebounding, usage and minutes are all up due to injuries. He doesn’t have much GPP upside left at this price tag, but he’s been consistent and safe, which makes him cash viable still.
- PJ Tucker – I know, I hate playing PJ Tucker too, but this PJ Tucker is slightly different than the stand in the corner and defend guy we have come to know him as. He still doesn’t score much, as you have to go back before Xmas to get a double-digit points game out of him, but he does have assists and is a very good rebounder. Without Capela and Westbrook, you have over 20 rebounds a game to make up for and that’s helped Tucker get to above his season average of 7.0 in five of the last seven games. Even on his best days, Tucker is a 25-30 fantasy point a night kind of guy. You won’t get massive upside, but 25-30 and a low $4K price tag is 6X and it does free up the cash to go get your superstars into the lineups.
- Nikola Jokic – I debated Jokic against Whiteside on the other side of the same game. Yes, Whiteside offers a slight discount and has a high ceiling, but the floor and ceiling are both higher and safer for Jokic. Right now, the Nuggets need him to do everything, as the injuries have really piled up. They have depth, but the depth is not as offensively capable as the guys they are playing without. As such, we have seen him both play more and do more when on the court. He averages 32 minutes a night but has played 34 or more in eight straight games now. He averages 44 fantasy points a night but has matched or exceeded that in six of the last seven games. He’s double-doubled in nine of the last 10. He’s gone for double-digit assists in four of the last seven games and averaged nine during that stretch to go with over 10 rebounds and over 20 points. He is also playing some of his best ball of the season right now. It’s tough to fade guys like Lillard and Jokic when they are this hot and carrying the offenses right now. It’s also tough to fade a near max minute Giannis spot or a Harden spot without his #2 and #3 scoring options. That’s what makes this slate so wide open, as any of those massive stars could easily top 60+ tonight and I can’t really argue against any of them. For me, the key comes down to finding the value you like best and filling in the stars at the spots where you don’t like the value offered.
- Jakub Poeltl – On FanDuel, you can make a case for Cody Zeller, as the two are both priced right below $5K. My problem with Zeller is the Rockets have no big men, which could force the Hornets to go small to match. If so, that could and probably will lead to fewer minutes from Zeller than we are used to seeing. Poeltl on DraftKings is $1200 cheaper than Zeller. Pretty drastic difference in price between the two sites, as one has them priced exactly the same and the other has one guy 30% more expensive. He only played 14 minutes last night against the Clippers, but the Clippers go smaller at times with Harrell playing center. The Lakers run out Dwight Howard and JaVale McGee, so you always have at least one true center on the floor for them. Poeltl is rarely a 30 minute a night guy anyway, but he’s a high per minute producer when he is on the floor. He has played over a fantasy point per minute this season as a starter, and if he sees 24 minutes, that means he’ll end up over that 6X mark on DK with a $4K price tag.
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