For any slate featuring four games or fewer, we break down the game to highlight be best plays relative to the small slate. On larger slates, we’ll highlight the best plays at each position.
Please note the advice below is relevant for daily fantasy purposes. A player or team might be better or worse from a fantasy perspective than in real life due to matchup, price, and lots of other factors. This is important to consider when constructing a roster.
Injuries play a huge role in NBA DFS on a nightly basis. Value plays on the various daily fantasy sites can arise at a moment’s notice so always, always check the starting lineups and injury news right before tipoff.
Finally, note there is a Showdown slate available on DraftKings for the nightcap between Oklahoma City and Golden State.
On one-game slates, the pricing and lineup structure is different on both DraftKings and FanDuel. In the “Showdown” mode on DraftKings, there are six utility spots with a $50k salary cap. DraftKings has also debuted a “Captain” mode in which there are five utility spots with a CAPTAIN. This specific player receives 1.5x multiplier but also costs more if deployed in that spot.
10/16/18 NBA DFS TOURNAMENT PICKS
Opening Tip: $8 entry, $1M guaranteed (DraftKings) – $250,000 to 1st!
Sharpshooter: $3 entry, $100k guaranteed (DraftKings)
Clutch Shot: $4 entry, $1M guaranteed (FanDuel) – $250,000 to 1st!
Slam: $33 entry, $100k guaranteed (FanDuel)
NBA DFS Playoff Game Breakdown for October 16, 2018
Philadelphia 76ers (+4.5) at Boston Celtics (Over/Under – 215.5)
This seems to be the game to target for high-priced players tonight unless you’re going contrary with a few studs in a potential Warriors blowout win.
Out for revenge after an embarrassing collapse in the playoffs last spring, Ben Simmons ($8.4k, $10.0k) and Joel Embiid ($8.8k, $10.4k) are strong plays with high floors.
Embiid has a much higher ceiling given that he averaged 1.44 FPs per minute last year and may be given a longer leash in the season opener. Embiid was inefficient (.450 true shooting percentage) in three regular-season meetings with Boston last year. Still, he dominated the glass (13.3 RPG) and posted a 32.6% usage rate in those contests. He then averaged 23 PPG and 14 RPG over five playoff games against the Celtics.
According to Peter Jennings’ Pro Model on FantasyLabs, Embiid has the highest median projection (49.8) and highest ceiling (67.8 DK points) of any player on the slate.
Simmons missed practice time with a neck injury but should be good to go against a Celtics team that allowed the 11th-most FPPG (36.82) to opposing SFs last season. While he doesn’t shoot the ball well, Simmons is a great GPP play on DK. He’s a triple-double threat, after all.
Markelle Fultz ($5.0k, $5.7k) is reportedly healthy after missing nearly all of his rookie season. He’s expected to start but may be replaced in the first unit by J.J. Redick ($4.9k, $5.1k) in the second half. Redick shot a scorching 59.1% from 3-point range against the Celtics last season. His lack of peripheral stats makes him a low-upside pick while Fultz is among the more intriguing GPP plays at his price tag on DK.
With Wilson Chandler (hamstring) ruled out for Philly, Robert Covington ($4.7k, $6.5k) has a clear path to big minutes. He’s a volatile option but is worth considering as a value in GPP formats.
The 76ers offer a pair of punt plays to consider in T.J. McConnell ($3.2k, $3.6k) and Amir Johnson ($3.1k, $3.5k). Johnson could see more minutes if Dario Saric ($5.5k, $6.4k) is limited by a sore back, but the former has a scary low floor. Backup PF Mike Muscala (ankle) is also doubtful for this contest.
Speaking of Saric, he’s a great pairing with Embiid as the 76ers should feature both big men as an inside-out combination. Saric has a projection of 31.2 DK points and a ceiling of 46 DK points, according to FantasyLabs.
McConnell finished the regular season strong. Then, he produced 28 points, 13 rebounds, and 11 assists while logging 38 MPG over the 76ers final two playoff games against Boston. It’s possible that HC Brett Brown rolls with McConnell more than expected if Fultz and Redick are unable to contain Kyrie Irving.
With Kyrie Irving ($7.6k, $8.4k) and Gordon Hayward ($6.5k, $7.4k) both healthy to start the season, the Celtics should feature a spread attack offensively. That’s great news for bettors taking Boston (-4.5), but it could hurt the DFS production of rising stars Jaylen Brown ($5.3k, $5.9k) and Jayson Tatum ($5.6k, $6.2k).
While Tatum saw a 2.6% increase in usage rate with Irving off the floor last year, he’s poised to make another leap in his second season. When Irving was active early in the 2017-18 regular season, Tatum shot around 50% from three and cashed in on a ton of open looks in the corner. Then, Brown may become more of a defensive specialist with a lower usage rate on offense this year.
Philadelphia allowed the most FPPG (42.21) to opposing SFs and second-most FPPG (47.25) to opposing PFs last season. This is a good spot for Hayward, but he should get eased in with so much depth on the Celtics roster.
Look for Marcus Smart ($4.4k, $5.7k) to exert his will at the TD Garden and serve as a surprising value on both main DFS sites. He has a low floor (12.1 FanDuel points) but a high ceiling (36 FD points), according to models on FantasyLabs.
Irving is the safest play in a Celtics uniform. Then, Tatum isn’t far behind as a high-floor option. Al Horford ($6.1k, $7.0k) has appeal as a contrarian option at center but stands far behind Embiid in terms of upside at that position.
Oklahoma City Thunder (+12.5) at Golden State Warriors (Over/Under – 223)
This game will unquestionably hinge on the status of Russell Westbrook ($10.2k, $12.5k). The 2016-17 MVP is a game-time decision after undergoing knee surgery this offseason.
The Thunder have a backup plan in Dennis Schröder ($6.3k, $6.1k), who averaged 21.5 PPG and 8 APG over two meetings with the Warriors as the Hawks starting PG last season. Schröder may seem like a risky play, but in reality, he should get plenty of run alongside Westbrook if active. The 25-year-old will thrive in an uptempo game.
Paul George ($8.0k, $9.0k) saw a whopping 11.5% increase in usage rate with Westbrook off the floor last season and averaged 1.30 FPs per minute when both Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony (now on the Rockets) sat. That said, George did struggle to produce in H2H matchups with Kevin Durant. He averaged 20.7 PPG on 33.3% FG shooting over four meetings with GS last season. Then, Jerami Grant ($4.3k, $4.7k) is poised to leap forward with Anthony out of the picture. Grant is a viable bargain on DK.
At center, Steven Adams ($5.0k, $6.9k) is probably the only Thunder player whose production would take a huge hit with Westbrook out. He depends on the superstar feeding him the ball in positions to score. Adams could even get replaced by Patrick Patterson ($3.8k, $3.5k) or Nerlens Noel ($3.6k, $4.0k) if the Thunder try to match up with the small-ball Dubs.
On the other side, let’s temper expectations for both Kevin Durant ($9.0k, $10.6k) and Steph Curry ($8.6k, $9.6k) in a potential blowout. Still, KD is quite affordable and is a reliable source of peripheral stats, making him a Cash game lock.
Curry averaged more DK points per minute (1.40) than Durant last season and 51.3% from the floor (43.1% from 3pt range) at home last season. He did struggle in relative terms (22 PPG, 34.5% from 3pt range) in three meetings with OKC and could see limited playing time down the stretch.
Warriors HC Steve Kerr has stated that Draymond Green ($7.3k, $8.0k) will play limited minutes to open the season. That makes him an extremely risky option in a potential blowout with a usage rate projection of just 16.8%, per FantasyLabs.
The Warriors are expected to start Damian Jones ($3.0k, $3.5k) at center after a solid preseason. He’ll have to share time with Kevon Looney ($3.6k, $3.5k), but is still worth a look as a punt play on DK.
Klay Thompson ($5.9k, $6.8k) has a solid floor but limited upside given the circumstances. You also shouldn’t expect Andre Iguodala ($4.0k, $4.3k) to play much out of the gate as the Warriors eye a long championship run.
So who might log more minutes down the stretch if Golden State is rolling?
Jordan Bell ($4.1k, $5.4k) is a strong candidate to soak up floor time if Green gets some rest. Quinn Cook ($3.2k, $3.5k) will be worth a look if Shaun Livingston ($3.5k, $3.5k) sits with foot soreness.
In off-season news, Patrick McCaw declined a one-year offer from the Warriors. This opens up more minutes on the wing. Damion Lee ($3.0k, $3.5k) is a better candidate to play in garbage time than rookie Jacob Evans III ($3.0k, $3.5k), who struggled during the preseason.
If punting with a Warriors reserve, consider Jonas Jerebko ($3.4k, $3.5k) as the safest option. He has a decent floor due to his rebounding ability and could thrive as a knockdown shooter in this system. To flip back for a second, we like Alex Abrines ($9.0k, $3.7k) as the strongest OKC value. The Spaniard will boast more upside in a blowout loss or if Westbrook sits.