Ricky Sanders has the in-depth breakdown and all the top plays for tonight’s 7-game NBA DFS slate!!
Game by Game
Cleveland Cavaliers @ Memphis Grizzlies
- MEM -2.0, O/U 206.5
CLE – Collin Sexton (Q), Matthew Dellavedova (O), Dante Exum (O), Darius Garland (O), Kevin Love (O), Kevin Porter Jr. (O), Dylan Windler (O)
MEM – Jaren Jackson Jr. (O), John Konchar (O), Ja Morant (O), Jontay Porter (O), Killian Tillie (O), Justise Winslow (O)
Any game that includes the Cavaliers, especially without Darius Garland, is going to play at a slow pace. Not only do the Cavaliers rank 27th in pace this year but they also currently sit at second in defensive efficiency. Naturally, their subpar opponents early on has contributed to their defensive success, but they are not the ideal opponent for fantasy ceilings in general.
On the Cleveland side of the ball, Andre Drummond has now played 37-plus regulation minutes in back-to-back games, including the team’s last meeting against the Grizzlies on Jan. 7.
In that game, both Collin Sexton and Garland were out, and Drummond garnered a 36.4-percent usage rate en route to 22 points, 15 rebounds and 47.75 DK fantasy points. Assuming Sexton returns, his usage rate will probably drop this go-around, but he will still be needed to play significant minutes to match up against the size of the Grizzlies frontcourt.
Isaac Okoro is a poor fantasy point per-minute (FPPM) producer but the team is so thin in the guard department that he has rarely left the court as of late. Okoro is a talented kid that was selected fifth overall in this year’s NBA Draft and it is only a matter of time before he starts building on his 0.38 DK FPPM. The 14-percent usage in back-to-back games leaves much to be desired but there should be 30-plus minutes available for a player priced near the bare minimum.
Otherwise, Sexton is worthy of consideration assuming he plays, but he is a scoring-dependent fantasy option in a game with by far the lowest total on the slate. In tournaments, that will lead to him being virtually unowned, but that is the only place to deploy him.
As for the Grizzlies, De’Anthony Melton is once again the most appealing play as he clearly warrants a $4,000-plus price point despite his limited minute role. After averaging 1.0 FPPM in 2019, Melton is up around that number again this year, which equates to around 22 fantasy points in around 22 minutes. The pace will limit his opportunity for stocks but he still can rack up the points (18.2-percent usage rate), assists (17.4-percent assist rate) and rebounds (7.5-percent rebound rate) even in poor game environments. For $3,800 on DK, you simply do not need much for him to pay off.
In tournaments, Jonas Valanciunas and Brandon Clarke possess the per-minute upside to smash their price points but this is simply not a game environment I want to get too heavily invested in.
Top Plays: Andre Drummond
Top Values: Isaac Okoro, De’Anthony Melton
GPP Plays: Jonas Valanciunas, Brandon Clarke
Milwaukee Bucks @ Orlando Magic
- MIL -7.0, O/U 226.0
MIL – Torrey Craig (O)
ORL – Michael Carter-Williams (O), Evan Fournier (O), Markelle Fultz (O), Jonathan Isaac (O), Chuma Okeke (O), Al-Farouq Aminu (O)
With Giannis Antetokounmpo back, guys like Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton can be toned down a bit. Antetokounmpo is available which means he should be set to go against a Magic team he has topped 57 fantasy points against in every meeting since the beginning of last year.
Middleton has been so great this season that he is still viable even with Antetokounmpo in and he has come within 10-15 fantasy points of Antetokounmpo on multiple occasions this year.
With Jonathan Isaac active last year, the Magic were better-equipped to guard Antetokounmpo, but guys like James Ennis, Gary Clark and Aaron Gordon are the only ones they have to counteract him this go-around. Good luck.
Jrue Holiday is priced at a point where he can exceed value on any given game. Of course, playing alongside two other stars, his usage rate is down this year, and he is going to be a lot less consistent. Still, the ceiling is there.
Brook Lopez is a decent value but center is loaded.
James Ennis and Nikola Vucevic are really the only guys I like on the Magic with Aaron Gordon being a reasonable GPP play if he can stay out of foul trouble versus Antetokounmpo.
Ennis presumably draws the start at small forward with Evan Fournier out and he is priced at the bare minimum. The Bucks are not a perfect matchup for opposing centers but the Magic certainly will need Vucevic’s offense if the game stays competitive.
Overall, the Magic should be left for tournaments, outside of maybe a YOLO Ennis spot-start in cash games.
Top Plays: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, Nikola Vucevic
Top Values: James Ennis, Brook Lopez
GPP Plays: Aaron Gordon, Jrue Holiday
Phoenix Suns @ Washington Wizards
- PHX -6.5, O/U 231.0
PHX – Cameron Payne (D), Jalen Smith (O)
WAS – Thomas Bryant (O), Russell Westbrook (O)
In what is a pace up spot for the Suns, it is a bit disappointing to see very few Suns in optimals on each site. Amongst the bunch, Deandre Ayton stands out as the top payout option versus a team that ranks 28th in defensive efficiency versus the center position.
Thomas Bryant was a poor defender but it is not like Robin Lopez or Mo Wagner, who will be playing a majority of the center minutes now, are good defenders in their own right.
Ayton has started to play minutes into the mid-30s as of late but has only posted a 20-10 game once this year. Obviously, against a poor center defense and a team that plays against the fastest pace, he easily could post his second one tonight.
Cameron Johnson benefitted from the absence of Cameron Payne last game as he played a season-high 29-minutes and matched a season-high with 13 shots. Ten teams allow more three-point field goals per game this year than the Wizards but, as is the case for most positions, they rank bottom eight in defensive efficiency versus the small forward position specifically.
If the game were to remain close, Chris Paul has double-double upside in his own right, and he would be the preferred Suns guard to target. Paul has simply eaten into Devin Booker’s usage so much that he is tough to roster until his price depreciates further.
Bradley Beal is back in rotation and the man has scored 101 points in his past two games combined…and Westbrook played in both those contests. In two games sans Westbrook, Beal’s assist rate has risen from 19.4-percent to 31.1-percent, so the ceiling is limitless for Beal.
Unfortunately, the price has caught up to the role, but he is amongst the most desirable superstars on the slate. The one catch here is the Suns rank second in defensive efficiency versus opposing backcourts and have allowed guards to shoot just 40.9-percent against them.
Ish Smith is apparently back to his old role of playing more minutes than the starter when Russell Westbrook is out. At the beginning of the year, Raul Neto posted a monster performance sans Westbrook, and it appears his hot hand kept him in the game. Since that time, Smith has been the one playing more when Westbrook has been out, and he has been over a 0.90 FPPM producer since joining the Wizards.
If looking for a spot to target in tournaments, speculating on the center rotation could be a profitable proposition, as it appears Robin Lopez, Moritz Wagner and Rui Hachimura are the ones splitting time at the five.
Hachimura was in severe foul trouble last game so I’m cautious with projecting too many minutes for Lopez or Wagner. However, if the team wants to play bigger against the likes of Ayton, it would not be shocking to see Lopez and Hachimura play a similar allotment of minutes, with Hachimura only playing center to match Dario Saric.
Depending on the way the minutes are distributed, one of these three has a chance to factor into tournament victories, it is just tough to project which of the three. My preference would be Wagner.
Top Plays: Bradley Beal, Deandre Ayton
Top Values: Cameron Johnson, Ish Smith
GPP Plays: Moritz Wagner
New York Knicks @ Charlotte Hornets
- CHA -4.5, O/U 212.0
NY – Reggie Bullock (O), Alec Burks (O), Taj Gibson (O), Frank Ntilikina (O), Obi Toppin (O)
CHA – Cody Zeller (O)
Julius Randle, a power forward, is averaging 7.1 assists per game (APG) this season and no that is not a typo. Essentially, Randle acts as the team’s point forward and he rarely leaves the floor (averaging 37.8 minutes per game (MPG)). On offense, Randle has expanded his game beyond the arc (averaging 1.4 three-pointers made (3PM) per game) but prefers to live in the paint.
Meanwhile, only the Pacers and Knicks have allowed a higher frequency of shot attempts at the rim this year than the Hornets, so this is a great team for him to live in the paint against.
At one point, paying close to $10,000 for Randle may have seemed insane, but with Coach Thibodeau playing him one million minutes per night, it is no longer a crazy proposition.
Elfrid Payton remains cheap on FD and the Knicks will be fine playing small against a Hornets team that likes rolling out three-guard lineups. Even on DK, he is a reasonable tournament play, with the masses spending either all the way down or all the way up at the guard position.
Mitchell Robinson is viable for those same paint reasons as Randle and he is a whole lot cheaper. The team being thin does nothing for his minute projection as Nerlens Noel is active and the two split the team’s 48 center minutes each game. 30-plus minutes of Robinson could certainly do damage against a small, below-average rebounding (19th in rebounding rate) ball club.
Five different players on the Hornets project similarly in value to the point that they are good but not great values on Monday. Devonte’ Graham and LaMelo Ball are the most reasonably-priced of the bunch with Ball a bit difficult to handicap.
Lately, Ball has been crushing, and the field has noticed, as Ball is habitually 20-plus percent owned on every single slate these days. Now, he has reached his most expensive price point of the year, and the ownership probably will not depreciate much. He fills up the stat sheet, so he is a fine cash play, but eventually he is going to be a letdown at this price point and will be a good fade.
I likely will be on the fade side of Ball tonight but, if he is going to continue to flirt with triple-doubles, it is possible his price does not stop increasing until around $8,000.
Randle plays so many center minutes so we will probably see plenty of P.J. Washington at center tonight but his price too has reached a season-high. That should keep his popularity down and this is a player that has already topped 36 fantasy points on four separate occasions this year.
Top Plays: Julius Randle, LaMelo Ball
Top Values: N/A
GPP Plays: Elfrid Payton, Mitchell Robinson, P.J. Washington
Philadelphia 76ers @ Atlanta Hawks
- ATL -6.5, O/U 221.5
PHI – Ben Simmons (O), Tobias Harris (O), Seth Curry (O), Terrance Ferguson (O), Furkan Korkmaz (O), Shake Milton (O), Vincent Poirier (O)
ATL – Bruno Fernando (P), Kevin Huerter (P), Tony Snell (P), Trae Young (P), Bogdan Bogdanovic (O), Kris Dunn (O), Danilo Gallinari (O), Onyeka Okongwu (O), Rajon Rondo (O)
Welcome to the team that absolutely must be paid attention to tonight and that is the 76ers. With seven pieces of the rotation missing tonight, the 76ers will be playing with a nine-man rotation (because they literally only have nine players active).
With so much of the usage missing, Joel Embiid is an impossible player to overlook in cash games, as his usage has risen to 35.7-percent without Ben Simmons alone over the course of the last year-plus. N
ow, Tobias Harris and Shake Milton will be out as well, so Embiid’s usage should legitimately approach 40-percent while on the court tonight. Any player with that sort of usage should be priced closer to $12,000 than $10,000 so just lock him into cash lineups and move on. Naturally, he possesses the upside to win tournaments as well.
After Embiid, the team gets much harder to handicap, as they were forced to play Tony Bradley and Dwight Howard alongside each other last game and it is not clear whether or not that will be the case tonight.
Considering the personnel, they could just play both Howard and Bradley limited minutes, or they could just say “what the hell, they are some of our best guys active” and play them similar roles to last game. My guess is they run something in between which makes both Howard and Bradley tough to trust.
Instead, Tyrese Maxey is the next most reliable 76ers player, and he is a virtual lock in all formats given he ran the offense last game. In that contest, he scored 39 points with seven rebounds and six assists, and while those numbers are unlikely with Embiid active, he is the clear number two option on offense.
Isaiah Joe, Danny Green and Dakota Mathias are the other players I have projected over 30-minutes and Mike Scott is right there with them in per-dollar projection because he is minimum-priced.
All four of these players are firmly in play in all formats due to their expanded roles in the offense. Of the bunch, Green is my least favorite, as he is mostly a stand in the corner shooter, and it is not one to create his own offense much. Everyone was out last game and he still only scored 11-points so he is a player destined to go over-owned.
Otherwise, Joe, Mathias and Scott are clearly underpriced given their roles and Scott could be under-projected if Howard/Bradley end up barely playing power forward.
Strangely, the Hawks are not jumping off the page despite their 114.0-point team total, so this team is best-reserved for tournaments. If playing three-plus 76ers, it would make sense to run it back with a Hawks player, but the issue here is this game does not need to remain competitive for the 76ers players to hit value. They are so decimated that their players could play garbage time and still smash so this is not the best game stack environment.
Trae Young has been terrible since John Collins called him out but he should recover one of these days. Also, Kevin Huerter/Cam Reddish get a minor boost with Bogdan Bogdanovic out and they are sneaky mid-tier plays at a small forward (SF) position that really sucks if not totally punting.
Top Plays: Joel Embiid
Top Values: Tyrese Maxey, Isaiah Joe, Dakota Mathias, Mike Scott
GPP Plays: Tony Bradley, Dwight Howard, Trae Young, Kevin Huerter, Cam Reddish, John Collins, Clint Capela
Indiana Pacers @ Sacramento Kings
- IND -5.5, O/U 226.5
IND – Jalen Lecque (D), Brian Bowen II (D), T.J. McConnell (O), T.J. Warren (O), Jeremy Lamb (O), Goga Bitazde (O)
SAC – Buddy Hield (Q), Richaun Holmes (Q), DaQuan Jefferies (O)
Buddy Hield and Richaun Holmes are listed as questionable but it should be noted that Hield has missed just two games in his four-plus year career and has played in 229 straight games.
Holmes is the extremely consequential one not only because it is more likely that he misses but also because Hassan Whiteside would become the single best play on the slate if he were to sit.
Remember, Whiteside was a $8,000-plus player in daily fantasy last season in a 30-plus minute role and he would likely flirt with 30-minutes again in Holmes’ absence. Basically, Whiteside is a $7,000-plus player being priced at $4,200 in that scenario, and not rostering him may leave you drawing dead for a GPP victory.
On DK, you can leave a spot open in utility for him and swap to Carmelo Anthony or someone else in the later games if Holmes ends up playing. If you think Holmes is playing, well, then do not worry about Whiteside.
None of the other rotation members really jump off the page but De’Aaron Fox would be enticing if the team announces he will be back to full minutes. Tyrese Haliburton would get a minute boost if Hield sat as he would be the presumable starter at shooting guard and likely would play minutes into the mid-30s as well.
Indiana is really the more fantasy-viable team in this matchup as Doug McDermott, Aaron Holiday, Domantas Sabonis, Malcolm Brogdon, Myles Turner and Victor Oladipo are all popping into sporadic optimal lineups.
Starting with the expensive players, the model basically views Sabonis as another cash game lock with forward lacking the clear value that is present at guard. Sabonis is coming off back-to-back 20/10 double-doubles including a 28-22 double-double versus the Suns (61.50 fantasy points).
Oh, by the way, the Kings rank 27th in frontcourt efficiency defense and, if Holmes sits, the stints versus Marvin Bagley at center will be no match for Sabonis. For matchup purposes, it would not be surprising to see more Nemanja Bjelica playing the four, especially if Hield were to sit (if only to match the rebounding prowess of the big Pacers frontcourt).
Malcolm Brogdon’s usage rate, assist rate and rebound rate are all down comparatively to last year but he is playing way more minutes and shooting closer to his career average from the field.
Considering the rate drops, this does not seem to be a fluke, and Brogdon has shot 50-plus percent from the field for a full season before. Facing the defense that ranks dead last in defensive efficiency, Brogdon can be rostered with confidence.
The same can be said for Victor Oladipo and Myles Turner and it should be noted the Kings are blocked at the fifth highest rate per-48 minutes. Turner has already blocked eight shots twice this year and has only blocked fewer than three shots in two games. Basically, this should be another great spot for an outlier block performance, and Oladipo has averaged over 3.0 stocks per game in a season before as well.
McDermott and Holiday will perform based on how well they shoot and Holiday has been a low-usage player all year. McDermott is the preferred value of the two but he too has attempted just five shots in his last two games combined. These values are a bit thin and are better tournament options than cash game investments.
Top Plays: Domantas Sabonis, Malcolm Brogdon
Top Values: Hassan Whiteside (if Holmes out)
GPP Plays: Myles Turner, Victor Oladipo, De’Aaron Fox, Doug McDermott, Aaron Holiday, Nemanja Bjelica/Tyrese Haliburton (if starting)
Toronto Raptors @ Portland Trail Blazers
- POR -5.0, O/U 230.5
TOR – N/A
POR – Zach Collins (O)
Pascal Siakam is back to his All-Star form but this is just about the worst possible matchup for an opposing power forward. Seriously, the Trail Blazers have allowed the fewest points per-48 minutes to opposing power forwards of any team, and it is unlikely Siakam plays extended stretches at center against either Jusuf Nurkic or Enes Kanter.
Chris Boucher is the GPP darling on this team always but the Trail Blazers are equipped with two large centers. If Alex Len ends up starting again then Boucher’s minutes will need to be toned down a bit.
The team has shown a willingness to play Boucher extended minutes against smaller centers but it is possible he has just been so darn effective that they have to play him against everyone.
Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet remain strong tournament options if the offense funnels away from Siakam and Lowry features the more attractive price point of the two.
Damian Lillard caught fire against one of the league’s worst defenses a few games ago and reverted back to a poor shooting performance last time out. Toronto is nothing more than a middle-of-the-road defense against point guards (PGs) and one of Portland’s guards seems to carry them each game.
The price point on C.J. McCollum has risen so high that it seems crazy, but once you take a look at his season averages (27.9 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 5.0 APG), you quickly realize it is not too farfetched.
Jusuf Nurkic has seen his minutes stall at 23-minutes in two straight blowouts but this game is expected to remain competitive. In 2019, Nurkic flirted with a 1.30 FPPM, and he has not been that productive this year.
As he showed against the Bulls, he still has that sort of potential, and I am projecting his highest minute role in quite some time tonight (due to the competitive game environment).
Do we really need to cover Derrick Jones Jr. again? He is a poor per-minute producer who has a chance to hit his ceiling when he lucks into putbacks and stocks. He also may see extended minutes if tasked with guarding the guard duo of the Raptors.
Top Plays: Pascal Siakam, Damian Lillard/C.J. McCollum
Top Values: Derrick Jones Jr.
GPP Plays: Chris Boucher, Jusuf Nurkic
GPP Core 4
DK: Joel Embiid, Tyrese Maxey, Isaiah Joe, Domantas Sabonis
FD: Joel Embiid, Tyrese Maxey, Isaiah Joe, Giannis Antetokounmpo
SD: Tyrese Maxey, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Malcolm Brogdon, Domantas Sabonis