A straight to the point three game slate to help us get our fix for the day as we await NFL’s Wild Card Weekend to kick off. One can simply take a quick glance at the matchups and figure out where salary will be spent.
A straight to the point three-game slate to help us get our fix for the day as we await NFL’s Wild Card Weekend to kick off. One can simply take a quick glance at the matchups and figure out where salary will be spent. Without Chris Paul and Eric Gordon, you can rest assured that the masses will once again flock to James Harden as their building block in cash, and find a way to fit in Nikola Jokic against the fast-paced Kings. Lest we forget about Kawhi Leonard’s return to the team he forsook! From there, it’s all about avoiding landmines and finding the value plays who will help us take home the cash.
In addition to Paul and Gordon (both of whom are already declared out), we have some other key injuries, as is always the case. Marvin Bagley (SAC, knee) should be back soon but will miss Thursday’s tilt. Same with Will Barton (DEN, groin) who is very close to getting back into the Nuggets’ lineup. Rudy Gay (SA, wrist) is doubtful as is Kyle Lowry (TOR, back). With just six games, let’s go at this team by team to figure out the best values on our Thursday slate. Salaries listed for DK, FD and Y!
Raptors @ Spurs (8pm ET)
Kawhi Leonard ($8,800, $10,300, $47) – I know, I know. You can’t fit all the studs. We have some tough decisions to make. And Narrative Street isn’t always a well-paved road. Sometimes we get mugged on our stroll. But if there was ever a spot for a player, this is it. You can rest assured that Kawhi has had this game marked down on his calendar for a while now. Of course, so has Coach Pop and the Spurs. But without Rudy Gay to help, they are going to have a tough time stopping him from dominating the floor. FanDuel and Yahoo!’s algorithms have wisely factored this into their pricing, but DraftKings not quite as much. It means having to go without Harden or Jokic, but so be it. Leonard is no ‘value’ at this price but two his two 60-burgers have come against solid defenses (PHI, BOS) and this matchup is even better. Another 60-spot incoming on Kawhi’s Day of Reckoning. (DeMar DeRozan technically has a 'revenge game going on too here).
Davis Bertans ($3,800, $4,000, $10) – I was part of a lonely crew of Bertans > Poeltl peeps on New Year's Eve, and it worked out for me, as Bertans out-yahoo’d him 25 points to 15.7. Poeltl got the start in absence of Gay but drew two fouls in the first, and Bertans ended up playing a season-high 31 minutes, hitting five-of-eight three-pointers. Don’t expect similar production from beyond the arc against this shutdown Raptors’ defense, but there is a chance of him starting. Or at the very least, getting 25 minutes. A good fit if you plan to approach it stars-and-scrubby.
Danny Green ($4,000, $4,200, $10) – Maybe I’m just a fool for narratives because I have yet to roster Green this season. He’s just not someone I ever play. But you’re buying in as low as you ever could here in a game where he may be ‘up for it’ against this Spurs team he played with for eight years. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more volatile guy. Just check out his latest box scores on DK (10, 24, 11, 30.5, 11.75, 17). But if there was ever a spot, this is it. On the bright side, he always draws the start at SG and is averaging nearly 30 minutes per game. If you’re building around them studs, then a ceiling game in true narrative style may be right up our alley today.
Also Consider: Pascal Siakam ($6,200 DK), Bryn Forbes ($4,400, $4,400, $10)
Nuggets @ Kings (10pm ET)
Nikola Jokic ($9,800, $10,300, $44) – Best value over on Yahoo! The Kings play at the league’s second-fastest pace at 105.2 (Hawks are first – 105.5) and are one of only ten teams to allow over 57 FanDuel points per game to opposing centers. The Nuggets are slowly getting all their reinforcements back with Gary Harris, Paul Millsap returning and Barton back soon, which will undoubtedly affect Jokic’s usage rate. But that time is not yet here with both veterans slowly easing back into their minutes, Jamal Murray tied up with the solid defense of De’Aaron Fox, so it all lines up for this to be Joker Game. Keep in mind that over on FanDuel, locking both Jokic and Harden into your lineups allow you less flexibility elsewhere (just $5,200 per remaining spot) but lineups may still be doable with those two if you’re expecting ceiling games with the fact that one score is dropped. On Yahoo! You’re left with just $16 per remaining salary spot and $4,866 on DraftKings.
Monte Morris ($4,500, $4,600, $11) – The bottom line today is that you’re going to want to nail the correct complementary Nuggets to win this slate. Loading up on players against fast-paced Kings and Hawks teams is no longer a secret. Targeting guards (specifically shooting guards) against the Kings is always a good thing as they rank 30th in the league in defensive efficiency against the position. The issue in this regard is that Morris is primarily Jamal Murray’s backup. Morris did play some SG this year, but with Gary Harris back, the shooting guard duties are mostly manned by Harris and Torrey Craig. Morris is coming off back-to-back poor outings (3-for-14 from the field), playing 23 and 30 minutes in those two games where Harris has returned. There’s nothing that gets the juices flowing and the stat line juiced like a matchup with the Kings, so consider a completely overlooked Morris – especially if you smell a Nuggets’ blowout.
Also Consider: Malik Beasley ($4,900, $4,900, $11), Paul Millsap ($5,200, $6,200, $20), Jamal Murray ($7,300 DK)
Rockets @ Warriors (10:30pm ET)
Clint Capela ($6,900 on DK) – Sure, you can pop him in on the other sites ($8,600 FD, $32 Y!) but you’d be paying a pretty penny there. The best value is on DK where he falls oddly under $7k for the first time since November 13. Capela is a beast on the boards, ranking seventh in the NBA with 12.5 per game as undersized ‘big’ men Kevon Looney and Draymond Green are ones to contend with him there. He has topped 38 minutes in two of his last three. Outside of a poor effort against the Pelicans last week, here are his rebound totals in his last four games (v MEM: 13, v BOS: 18, v OKC: 23, v SA: 23).
Austin Rivers ($3,800, $3,800, $12) – Like me, you’re probably not a fan of Rivers. Yet, he somehow keeps getting prime opportunities in this league. Well, here is another one for the near min-priced Rockets’ guard who has averaged over 38 minutes over these last two games sans Eric Gordon. Gordon is out yet again, and I’m big on ebb and flow with these cheap, interchangeable shooting guards and small forwards. What that means is I’m off Gerald Green off a good game and on Rivers following a mediocre 17.5 DKP effort against the league’s best defense on Monday (the Grizzlies). The keys here are: 1) he’s starting, 2) minutes, 3) price, 4) no Gordon. You really don’t need much more.
Fade?: James Harden ($11,000, $13,000, $58) – I know the title of this column is Vlad’s Values, and this is big time cheating. But Harden’s recent stretch is incredible. No Paul or Gordon, and he’s averaging nearly 65 FanDuel points over his last 10, including three games over 65 FDP. It’s concentration to the max as his 40 percent usage rate over that span is bananas. No one on the slate even comes close to that 35.5 percent usage rate on this slate. You’re basically getting what you’re paying for – and you’re paying for a Bugatti. Despite all of this, I’m not opposed to the fade in cash nor GPPs because of how strongly I feel about both Kawhi and Jokic tonight. The only thing that would keep me off Jokic and paying up for Harden is if I think the Nuggets can blow out the Kings on the road. Certainly possible and that’s a big part of our decision-making today. On the flip side, a Warriors blowout at home is even more likely given the eight-point spread. Kevin Durant did hold him to just 41 DKP in their November 15 tilt where the Warriors were thoroughly embarrassed (107-86), so perhaps it’s payback time. The fade is easier since he’s priced through the teeth and doing so differentiates your lineup from the field.
Also Consider: Klay Thompson ($6,100 DK), Danuel House ($10 Y!), Stephen Curry ($9,500 DK, $43 Y!)