There is a big slate of 11 NBA games tonight to choose from and there’s very few that make for good fantasy situations tonight on a very tricky slate. Four of the seven games have double digit spreads and only two games have totals over 210 with spreads under 5. In total there’s only 6 games with toals over 200 and three have pretty large spreads on them which gives me some cause for concern. It’s not going to be an easy night to square away some plays today, but I will do my best to help you through the NBA daily plays with what I see.
Like many of us, Wednesday was not a very good night. I did not have a great feeling about it and played less volume than usual and thankfully so. I missed out in all GPPs across all three sites and only cashed a few of my 50/50s on FanDuel. I had a lot of trouble on Ace’s geting something I liked together so I only played a Q for a $109 ticket over there and had my worst showing to date. Here’s what I ended up with on Aces, Draft Kings, and Fan Duel. Despite the bad results I still believe in the process and the way and reasoning for the picks. Sometimes things like unknown benchings (Giannis), Underperformances from guys who had bigger roles due to injuries (Jeremy Lin), and a bad game from the hot player (Jusuf Nurkic) can drag down your rosters. Missing out on the late Kyrie Irving news and watching him go off was also quite painful. All in all though I am glad it happened on a low volume day for me and hope to turn it around tonight while taking my shots with the 3 $109Q tickets I was able to get from Aces. Hopefully I can turn one of them into a nice California vacation while I type this here looking out at the snow falling on this cold NJ day.Here’s what the sheets are pointing to for tonight.
At the high end tonight we have two guys on FanDuel that I think are in line for outperformance on Average point per $ basis (APP) and they are Darren Collison and Brandon Knight. Knight will most likely see a lot of Zac Lavine defense today as Mo Williams is questionable after picking up an injury in their last game on Wednesday. Knight has played well and more importantly is seeing a ton of minutes. Jason Kidd’s erratic substitution patterns and random benchings are conjuring up images of the “GHOST of LARRY DREW”, but Knight seems to be the safest of all the Bucks guard options especially after they released Nate Wolters yesterday. Collison is price very well across the board tonight and is in play on all three sites for me. He is in the highest O/U game of the day with one of the lowest spreads. I forsee a breakneck pace in that one and he should be able to put up some nice numbers while probably getting a full allotment of minutes. He is priced a tier below the top options today and I think he is too low based on the projections for that game.
If you are looking to save, there’s three names that are popping up green and I really am only thinking about using one of them. Jeremy Lin has nice projections, but word is Ronnie Price is going to play. He practiced yesterday and looks to be a go tonight despite the Questionable tag he still has. Orlando is really bad at defending PGs so I can see why the projections have him up there, and the Lakers may be minus two wing players in Wes Johnson and Swaggy P, but I still think Lin is risky with Price taking a lot of PG minutes here. The next guy I think will be very highly owned and I am fading him. That is Jarrett Jack. For reasons I can not really pinpoint, PGs tend to underperform against the 76ers. I’m a little torn on Jack, because I feel the reason is a lack of minutes. Most PGs tend to play less than their usual minutes against the Sixers mostly due to blow outs, but it’s still a thing to be weary of. PG DvP is not very high for guys facing the Sixers and I think many of us are still stuck on thinking of the Sixers like we did in 2013-2014. This is not the same team and the pace of this 2014-2015 Sixers squad is well below the fantasy goodness of last season. If you are still blindly rostering guys against Philly like we did last season you have probably been disappointed more often than not. While I do not think Jack is a bad play I also do not see him as the Nuts tonight, even with Deron Williams out. I think he will be highly owned too, so it makes sense to me to fade him. His price is most reasonable on Aces and not horrible on DK, so I would think he is worth a look, but not a must play. The guy near the low end I really like is Elfrid Payton. He is always low owned and recently he has seen a bump in his minutes which has led to a bump in production. Throw in the historically bad Lakers DvP vs PGs this year and at his low price he has a very good chance to outproduce his cost. Many will be reaching down for Jack and maybe even Lin, but if I can get Payton below 9% owned I will be very happy with it.
The only other guy I am considering today is Ty Lawson and only on DK and Aces. I think he is a little too pricey for me on FD, but again here he plays in the highest O/U game of the night and should see full minutes. Sacramento plays less defense and a higher pace since releasing Mike Malone, so as a Malone fan I’m glad things are fallling apart for that clueless ownership group. (Chippy hanging like 3rd graders? Come on MAN!!!). We should see a lot of fantasy goodness come from that game, so I will definitely be rolling out a stack or two of Lawson and Collison to cover both sides of it.
There’s only one guy I would consider using across the board tonight and that is Joe Johnson. He gets a really bad Philly team and will be asked to shoulder a bigger load with no D Will in for the Nets. It’s not that I love Joe Johnson, but it is hard to deny he has stepped up his game recently. The bigger factor for me is that I don’t love the top SG options tonight to make their value thresholds. Kobe, Jimmy, and even Bledsoe can all outscore J Squared, but I doubt they get to five times value like I think JJ can. In all honesty I would only roster one SG tonight on DK and probably none at all on Aces as I think the pricing for the position is not condusive to big games. On sites like FD where you need to roster two, I would easily be willing to make SG the position I look to punt tonight.
If I am punting at SG I do have a bunch of options that look viable. Arron Afflalo is pretty cheap across the board and will be in that same high O/U low spread Sac/Den game. He has played 43, 33, 37, and 40 minutes in his last four games and his floor over them seems to be just a tick below 30 on DK. He has been returning over 5.5 times his cost per $1000 over the last week on DK and FD and closer to 7 times that on Aces. Those are the kind of returns that help you keep up with GPP winning pace. Add in the uptick in pace tonight and the probable high minutes due to the close game and you got a very good chance for outperformance while also getting some salary relief. I can’t see paying up for a Danny Green, Bradley Beal, or Giannis Antetekounmpo tonight when I can get as many or more points out of a cheaper Afflalo with better upside.
CJ Miles is cheap on DK and FD so he could be a lower priced swerve for you if you want to save some more money. If Hill and Stuckey are out than he has a big chance to soak up those minutes at the SG spot that will be open, so he makes some sense. Same can be said of Kyle Korver in a high O/U game with a low spread for Atlanta and Ben McLemore in that really high O/U game for Sacramento. Either of these guys could be good APP guys, although I think they will be far short of the highest point getters at the SG spot tonight. Danny Green makes a little more sense to use on DK to me today at a discount to Afflalo. I’d like him more if Parker was out, but honestly he has never been a guy I really love or trust. If his shot is dropping he can put up nice lines with the 3 pt bonus on DK, but otherwise he’s more a steady cash game option to me with very little chance to really smash through his upper limits. On Aces Afflalo stands out head and shoulders above all other options on a points per dollar basis and is going to be my top play.
My favorite small Forward play across the board tonight is Andrew Wiggins. If you have not watched this guy recently he has really taken a step up in his game. He is playing with more confidence and being asked to shoulder more of the scoring load, so it’s no surprise he has began producing at a really high level. He is far and away my top play on FD and Aces tonight and I like him a lot on DK too, although I feel there’s a few more ways you can go on DK.
Don’t get too enamored with the big green number for Solomon Hill over here on our cheat sheets as I feel he is nothing more than a price play who should see a few more minutes due to injuries. The Red numbers next to his very green projections tell me that he has a bad DvP match up and despite the low price I could see him throw up a stinker. If you think he is just too cheap to ignore with the probable extra minutes, I can understand, but I am not going to jump aborad that ship with you today. He may make value, but I doubt he smashes through his ceiling and I think his making value does little to help your overall score if he only throws up like a 20 point DK/FD game. It’s purely a minutes/price play so it has some merit, but I just am not a true believer in him at all. If I wanted to save across the board tonight at SF I would be more inclined to roster a Kris Middleton. Hill might have the better path to more minutes with Middleton playing for J Kidd, but the upside on Middleton is higher than I see for hill. Hill is probably safer for cash games as minutes = money, but for taking down a GPP I think you need someone who can go bigger and I like Middleton for that in a higher O/U game. Don’t fall into the Joe Ingles trap tonight. He is dirt cheap and likely getting another start at the 3 tonight for Utah, which means he will be guarding that Kevin Durant guy and that is not a positive match up for anyone. 99% chance both he and Jusuf Nurkic get into foul trouble trying to check two of the NBAs best players. He is so cheap he does not need to do much, but I doubt he gets anywhere near what he has done in his recent starts.
It’s looking kind of ugly tonight at PF across the board so let’s go site by site and highlight some of the pricing we see that could throw a few guys into play. ON FanDuel at the high end I really am only targeting Greg Monroe at $7500. I do not think his price reflects his new role as a scorer, rebounder, and distributor yet with no more J Smooth in town. He is a nice play on DK as well, but I would shy away from him on Aces. He will be the main PF I use on FD and DK in most of my lineups though when I can afford to pay up. Staying with FD I like a few options in the mid tier range at $6300-$6400. Jared Sullinger, Thad Young, and David West are all in that range and all three are options to consider. West is easily my favorite cash game play of the three, but I think I am still deciding between him and Sully for my GPP plays this evening on both FD and DK. The Celtics go with the hot hand approach often as well, which is why I think West is more cash game safe, but Sully does have a high ceiling which he flashes occassionally. I doubt wither is very highly owned today, so I think I will have some exposure to both.
I would venture to guess a lot of people will be saving today at PF on DK and FD and for those that do I think the main guys they will be using are JJ Hickson and Ed Davis. Davis is now a known commodity, but recently he has struggled a little and seen his FP and minutes drop. He always has upside and the Magic give up a lot of rebounds and points inside to bigs, so I can see him having some merit, but for my money I want Hickson. This guy just flat out does his job and puts up nice numbers when he is called upon. I never understood why Portland cast him off and really did not understand why he got no run in Denver, but with Mozgov gone he sees a few minutes at both C and PF as the main back up to Nurkic and Faried. He’s got back to back games of 30+ minutes and 30+ fantasy points. He produced a double double in both and he should see plenty of action when Boogie gets Nurkic in foul trouble today. His match up is not ideal, but he is able to produce nice stat lines for a low cost and that is always helpful. He is listed at PF and or C on various sites, so you may have to search for him. He should be under the radar and could be a sneaky good upside play here today for salary relief and fantasy points in the highest O/U game.
Let’s start by saying that there’s one guy who on a raw score basis stands head and shoulders above the field tonight and that is none other than Demarcus Cousins. He is very good at basketball and has a plum match up in a high O/U game. His price is also sky high and he is a dumb ass. He is just as likely to score 40 with 20 boards as he is to get two technical fouls or 6 personal fouls. No arguement against his match up or talent, but the words Boogie and Safe only belong in the same sentence if that sentence is, “Boogie Cousins is the most likely NBA player to rob my safe.” He is two to two and a half times as expensive as most of the other guys I will mention here and is purely a GPP play for me. This guy coud be the reason you win a GPP or the guy who screws you out of a double up. He is that good and that volatile that I can not recommend him for a cash play no matter the match up. I’m not coping out by calling him a GPP as some people say everyone is a GPP play. I truely mean his upside makes him a viable option to WIN you a GPP, but it’s not safe enough to use a guy like that in a cash game as he could get frustrated and just tank it.
There are plenty of options that do make sense and have a better chance to break through their ceilings tonight. Starting with the most expensive and moving down I really like Gorgui Dieng. He makes a lot of sense on Fd and Aces at his price. Milwaukee’s DvP lately has taken at hit at the center position as Larry Sanders was a very solid defenisve player and rebounder and his recent replacement Zaza Pachulia (We will get to him in a minute) is more of an offensive guy. That means an already nice DvP match up tilts even more in the favor of Dieng. That is a high O/U game and we have seen Gorgui put up some sick numbers recently. His huge games tend to be very dependant on Blocks and Steals. He is always right around double double teritory, but when he can add a few defensive stats to those numbers he tends to get his fantasy scores into the 40’s which would be good enough to go 6 times salary on FD/DK and over 7 on Aces. Milwaukee has a lot of guys who like to attack the rim, so I can see Gorgui getting a few weakside blocks on the likes of B. Knight, Giannis, and even Middleton and Dudley who are not exactly uber athletes with scary finishing abilities (cept for Giannis maybe).
On the Flip side and much cheaper from Gorgui is Zaza Pachulia. While his defense is not up to the level of Larry Sanders he is a much more polished Offensive weapon. His price does not reflect his current role and Larry Sanders is still out for god only knows what reason. In 3 of his last 4 he has about 35 DK points which given his rice today is a 6 on the APP scale. He even has a score of 42.5 which would be a 7 times APP score on DK which is GPP winning type of stuff even in a 20K entry tourney like the Lay up.As long as Sanders remains out he should continue to see 28-30 minutes and next to Knight is the safest minutes on that Bucks roster. When he gets 30 minutes he averages 40 DK points and that is just sick production from your big man. That game expects to see some points as mentioned and his team is favored, so I think Zaza has a safe floor and access to his ceiling tonight which makes him both a cash game and GPP play. Due to the savings on Aces and even FD or DK I will probably have a lot of him tonight.
Before I get to the cheap guy I like I wanted to point out two other guys the chart shows I am not going to use tonight, or at least not heavily. Those two guys are Jordan Hill and Jusuf Nurkic. Nurkic is the flavor of the week, but I think he will struggle a lot today against Boogie Cousins. Boogie is a load and I can see the Kings dumping the ball inside to him often, especially early on. I would bet at some point early in the first half he picks up his second foul and sits down for a few minutes. His price has risen and even at the low price last out he barely made value on most sites. I know his numbers from his first few games were gaudy, but I doubt he can keep up that pace. If he was really that good than he would have found minutes before this week I know he had some personal issue’s that kept him away and all, but he was still behind Hickson on the depth chart before his recent breakout and he still gets less minutes than Hickson now. He is not going to put up a career night against boogie in my opinion and he still has yet to see even 24 minutes of run. He is 10% less than Zaza on FD, about equal on DK and more expensive on Aces yet see’s 20% less minutes even on his best days. On a APP scale it just does not make sense. Jordan Hill is the other guy whose numbers look good, but he has not been great lately either. I like Hill and used him a lot earlier in the season. The narrative is he was sick and is now feeling btter, but his playing time is still down around the 25 minute mark. If you told me he was going to see 30+ minutes like he did in the early part of the year I would be all over him, but at current I am suspect of his ability to put up the over 30 fantasy points on FD and DK I would need from him. He doesn’t have a horrible match up as Vucevic plays very little defense, but I just do not love his chances tonight. He is cheap enough to be a cash game option though, but until the minutes get back into the 30s I will shy away from thinking he has the GPP upside I usually try to find.
If you need a flyer at Center tonight my guy is Lavoy Allen. Listen before you laugh me out of the gym here as I think you will like my reasoning. Allen normally is not a guy I would play as the back up PF and third string center. It would take injuries to Hibbert and Ian Mahini for me to even consider it. Low and behold we have Questionable tags on both those guys and the reports are neither looks likely to suit up. Throw in that Boston is really bad against Centers and gives up a lot of rebounds which Allen is good at doing and now you have a chance to see this pay off. He is $4300 on FD and $3800 on DK which tells me he is a lock to hit value if he sees 25-30 minutes. There’s 96 minutes to be spread around in an NBA game between C and PF spots and West is likely to see his usual 30-35 with Scola probably getting his normal 20 or so bumped up to 30. That still leaves about 30 minutes or so left to cover and Allen is going to be that guy. He had 27 DK points in 33 minutes last out and if he does that again at $3800 he goes over 7 times his value on an APP basis and that is GPP winning upside. He is probably the safest floor and ceiling guy today if those two are indeed out and you should definitely consider him for salary relief on DK and FD. If you got a guy you really want to pay up for, he is my best bet cheap start to help you roster whoever that stud may be.
Well I got a few shots at the Live final on Aces tonight and fell short of my chance to win a 3 ball ticket this week. Hopefully I will be back on Monday/Tuesday for you guys with the next round of analysis for the next set of games. Our numbers will still be published over the weekend so make sure you check out the DFSreport on Twitter for when they get posted. Good Luck tonight guys, I’ll see you on top of the leaderboards.