Oh, baby! Hoops is back! Pumped about getting back into the groove here. The week off from DFS was a great way to recharge with much of it spent on preparing more baseball content for our Draft Guide over at our sister site, FantasyGuru.
This Thursday slate is a perfect little five-gamer to get us back into the swing of things. No Joel Embiid today as he’ll be out for at least a week, but that means it’s Boban Time. Of course, he will come at high ownership, but it’s Lock City for him across the industry. No Embiid means we’re more likely to use some of the other studs on the 76ers (Simmons, Harris, Butler). Giannis Antetokounmpo (knee) is probable and that’s important news that will be key for our slate today. It’s very likely that he plays, but if not, that 5.5 spread in favor of the Bucks should swing a couple points the Celtics’ way. The Suns-Cavs game features two horrid teams but it’s a game that should be close and offers plenty of DFS value.
Rockets and Lakers should be an exciting one with James Harden and LeBron James facing off in a close spread (HOU by 2.5) and the second highest total of the night (233). The other nightcap features the fast-paced Kings as double-digit underdogs to the Warriors at home.
Salaries listed for DraftKings, FanDuel and Yahoo!.
Tyler Johnson, Suns ($4,200, $4,400, $10) – Johnson has had a horrid three-game stretch since coming over to the Suns and that has his outlook and projections down. It’s a perfect spot to roster a guy the industry is down on in a great matchup. The Cavs allow four FanDuel points more than average to the point guard position this season and only the Suns themselves are worse for this slate (and that was prior to Johnson’s arrival). He should start at PG, play close to 30 minutes and finally reward us – all at under ten percent ownership.
Ben Simmons, 76ers ($7,900, $8,700, $33) – Better value on DK and Yahoo and should benefit from the absence of Embiid. Price has dropped considerably on both sites as his usage and production has dropped over the last few games since the arrival of Tobias Harris. In fact, he’s produced a paltry 29 DKP in his last four. But with Embiid out of the lineup, Simmons should see increased usage, surpass the 45-point mark and possibly even flirt with a triple-double. Keep in mind that he’ll likely be popular.
Devin Booker, Suns ($7,700, $8,200, $32) – Feels very underpriced and should pop off in this fantastic matchup against the Cavs who rank among the league’s bottom ten teams in defensive efficiency against shooting guards. In his last game before the break, Booker had an unforgettable shooting night (2-for-10 against the Clippers) but should get back into the groove after a bit of a layoff. It’s a 60-point type of night for him but, like Simmons, Booker will be a popular play.
Collin Sexton, Cavs ($4,900, $5,500, $14) – Sexton is far from being one of the most talented point guards in the league, but boy is he always on the court. He played 45 minutes in the game prior to the break but that was a triple overtime game. Regardless, Sexton is averaging nearly 37 minutes over his last ten and has a fantastic matchup against the Suns who allow the most FDP to opposing PG’s on this slate (49.2). Sexton is uber cheap and is probably the safer option over the Suns’ Johnson.
Reggie Bullock, Lakers ($4,100, $4,700, $11) – Just two games with the Lakers so far, and with different results (13.75 DKP @ PHI, 29.75 DKP @ ATL). But the key is that he starts, played over 30 minutes in both games and is dirt freaking cheap. He’ll have the opportunity to match up with some of that patented Harden non-defense and may find himself with some opportunities for peripheral stats like steals, blocks and boards. Not a big usage guy with this Lebron-led team, but should pay off 5x on his salary.
Eric Gordon, Rockets ($4,400, $5,300, $14) – Gordon hasn’t been anything spectacular this season, averaging just 0.73 FP/M with a usage rate under 22 percent. But Gordon is still chucking a boatload of three-point attempts (10 per game over his last four) and has dipped below 20 DKP just once in his last 10. The key here is that Austin Rivers is likely out and that Gordon could find himself on the court for more than 30 minutes tonight (last three MPG: 36, 29, 32). Gordon is cheap and will come in at half the ownership of Nets’ Caris LeVert, offering us a nice pivot option to some chalk.
Harrison Barnes, Kings ($4,700, $5,600, $17) – Hard to make assumptions on whether Barnes will be a consistent fantasy option game to game on his new team since the Kings have so many offensive options and Barnes has not been consistent this season. In the game prior to the break, Barnes saw a ceiling effort (43.2 FDP in 41 minutes), and this came against a tough Denver defense on the road. Still, we shouldn’t draw much from a single game but considering Barnes will be facing his old team tonight (the Warriors) and the fact that he’s still fairly priced means it may be a matchup worth using. It’s the highest implied total on the slate (239.5) and if there’s any way the Kings can hang with them, you’ll see some true smashing from some of their players.
Tobias Harris, 76ers ($6,600, $7,100, $24) – Expect a bit of chalkiness tonight with Philadelphia guys without Embiid in the lineup tonight. The price on Harris has dropped considerably since he’s gone from basically primary scoring option on the Clippers to third or fourth on Philly. Harris will be among the top-ten owned players tonight and it’s one of those rare nights that I’m happy to buy in on Harris’ services.
Josh Jackson, Suns ($5,900, $5,800, $23) – This Suns-Cavs game is where all the fun value is. Problem with the Suns is that they have so many weapons who can go off at any time (Booker, Jackson, Oubre, Bridges, Ayton and now Tyler J) that cherry-picking the right ones can be difficult. What’s good for us here is that the Cavs rank among the bottom-five in defensive efficiency against power forwards and that Jackson is priced under 6k on both DK and FD. Aside from the weak nine-DKP effort against the Clippers last game (a true outlier), Jackson has been crushing value. He’s hit over 30 DKP in his previous six including a 51-point effort against Utah. That’s an easy 6x at minimum tonight if we get ourselves a typical JJ game.
Jake Layman, Blazers ($4,500, $4,600, $13) – Layman has become a sneaky secret weapon for this Blazers club, averaging 26 DKP in 28.5 minutes-per-game over his last six. That includes a floor game of 11.25 DKP and a ceiling of 41 against Miami. Either way, it has been a great stretch for a guy who has been shooting .500 from beyond the arc over that span. A true GPP play as we can’t trust Layman for cash, but he’s the ultimate Vlad’s Values type of play against a Nets’ team that can’t seem to stop big men.
Also Consider: Caris LeVert, Nets ($5,100, $5,800, $16) and spend up for Kevin Durant, Warriors ($9,300 on DK, $42 on Y!)
Boban Marjanovich, 76ers ($3,500, $3,800, $10) – This one’s simple and doesn’t require much thought. Embiid is out, Boban is starting. He’s dirt cheap and averages 1.33 fantasy points-per-minute so you just take the free square and move on.
Jusuf Nurkic, Blazers ($7,400, $8,100, $27) – Trivia question: What’s a better DFS spot than centers against the Nets? Literally, none. Well, on paper, Clippers have been worst against centers allowing nearly 60 DKP to the position per game, but the Nets and Suns fall in next allowing 58.8 per. We have seen some absolute monster performances from centers against the wretched defense of Jarrett Allen and it’s a matchup Nurkic should feast in. Can bump him up even more if Damian Lillard (ankle) misses the game.
DeMarcus Cousins, Warriors ($6,100, $7,600, $23) – The big man is in his next phase of recovery and has surpassed the 25-minutes played mark in each of his last three games. At 1.40, he’s a monster fantasy point producer and the matchup with these Warriors with a near 240 implied total is ripe for the picking. Still cheap on DK and Y! but note that he’ll be popular and if this game gets out of hand he might see less than 25 minutes.
Also Consider: Javale McGee, Lakers ($5,200, $6,100, $14) and Willie Cauley-Stein, Kings ($4,900, $6,300, $17)