Tuesday brings an eight-game main slate at 7pm ET. Let’s jump in.
Game of the Day: Miami Heat at Golden State Warriors
When they’ve been favored by 15 points or more, as they are tonight, it’s Klay Thompson who has stood out:
Unfortunately, Klay was just ruled out. Let’s run an On/Off query with Klay out the lineup. This will be his first missed game of the season, which is problematic since this team is different than last year’s, but here’s what we have:
With Klay out, Draymond Green has historically seen the largest bump in value: He averaged a ridiculous 45.8 minutes and 61.1 DK points in the two games sans Klay last season. Again, the team is much different this season with Kevin Durant in the fold, but history shows that the other ‘Big 2’ or ‘Big 3’ in Golden State pick up the slack when someone is out.
Stephen Curry has been excellent over the last three games, scoring at least 43 FD points and playing at least 35 minutes in each contest. He’s in a weird salary spot with Damian Lillard, Isaiah Thomas, and Kyle Lowry all in the same range, but he’s an excellent tournament option at just 13-16 percent projected ownership on FD, although that could jump up with the Klay news. Durant is in a similar awkward salary range, as he’s $100 more than LeBron James, who’s in a close-spread game, and he’s way more expensive than Kawhi Leonard, who will be playing minus LaMarcus Aldridge against a Bucks squad potentially without Giannis Antetokounmpo.
On the Heat side of things, Hassan Whiteside returned to the lineup last game but struggled against the Clippers, putting up only 32.6 FD points in 31.1 minutes of action. The Warriors have been tough against centers this year and currently rank fourth in defensive efficiency, allowing a stingy 102.0 points per 100 possessions. That said, Goran Dragic is cheap enough to warrant tournament consideration, especially on FD, where his $6,900 salary comes with a +6.05 Projected Plus/Minus, 14 Pro Trends, and an 86 percent Bargain Rating. He’s $400 more there than George Hill and the same price as Dennis Schroder, who faces an awful Brooklyn Nets defense, so Dragic’s ownership will likely be reduced. Aside from those two guys, the only other player to consider in tournaments is James Johnson, who has volatile minute loads but has been above 30 FD points in four of his last five games.
The Raptors-Celtics game is the one to target for PGs: Both of these teams have been top-six matchups for opposing PGs on the year.
Isaiah Thomas put up 38 real points against the Pelicans last game, and he gets an even better matchup tonight again without Avery Bradley, who has already been ruled out with a strained right Achilles. Thomas is easily the No. 1 PG in the Phan Model for FD, where his nice $8,900 salary comes with a massive +11.07 Projected Plus/Minus, 12 Pro Trends, and an 86 percent Bargain Rating. It’s probably wise to roll this play back with Kyle Lowry, who is the No. 1 PG in the DK Phan Model. He’s especially cheap at $8,200, given that he’s averaged a +8.05 Plus/Minus over his last nine games. Isaiah has been the worst defensive PG in the league according to ESPN’s Real Plus-Minus metric (-4.04): These guys are elite cash-game options separately or together.
George Hill struggled in his last game, scoring only 26.0 DK points in 32.5 minutes of action, but it was against the Grizzlies, who own the league’s second-best defense, allowing only 101.4 points per 100 possessions. He’ll get a much easier matchup today against the Cavaliers and Kyrie Irving, who has given up an awful 1.0 points per possession to opposing ball-handlers this season.
Kyrie has allowed opposing PGs to shoot a ridiculous 44.0 percent from the 3-point line this season, and this game projects to be close: The Cavs are currently 2.5-point favorites on the road in Utah. Hill will likely have to play 30-plus minutes — he’s projected at 32.3 currently — and at only $6,300 on DK, he’s an awesome value play: He has the position’s fourth-highest Projected Plus/Minus at +5.55.
Damian Lillard is the one elite option we haven’t discussed yet, and, man, he’s in an amazing spot. The Blazers are currently two-point favorites implied for 112 points against the Lakers, who play at the league’s sixth-fastest pace, averaging 100.5 possessions per game, and own the third-worst defense, allowing a poor 109.5 points per 100 possessions. Lillard put up 40.0 FD points two games ago against this Lakers squad, but that’s probably a bit misleading considering it was his first game back from a sprained ankle injury. Over the last three years, Lillard has crushed the Lakers:
He put up 60.7 FD points against them last season, and that’s just a little above his current projected ceiling. He’s likely to have lower ownership because of his price proximity to Lowry and Thomas — he’s projected for 13-16 percent ownership currently — and he certainly could be the PG1 on the slate.
With James Harden likely facing Michael-Kidd Gilchrist on the wing and Giannis questionable for tonight, C.J. McCollum is the safest top-priced SG. He gets the same elite matchup as Lillard, facing a Lakers team that has allowed a miserable 109.5 points per 100 possessions this year. McCollum was excellent in Lillard’s most recent absence, but the most notable thing is that his usage rate and DFS production haven’t tapered with Lillard’s return. McCollum has put up at least 45 DK points in each of his last four games and has averaged a nice +5.77 DK Plus/Minus over his past nine. He’s had excellent recent splits versus the Lakers as well . . .
. . . and he’s very affordable at $8,100 DK, where he comes with nine Pro Trends and a 93 percent Bargain Rating.
With Nicolas Batum doubtful for the Hornets, Jeremy Lamb should yet again be a chalky SG value play. Per the NBA On/Off tool, in two games without Batum, Lamb has actually been better than Kemba Walker, in terms of raw DK points and Plus/Minus:
In those two games, Lamb averaged 36.0 DK points in 32.3 minutes of action and exceeded salary-based expectations by an average of 20.8 points. At only $4,000 FD and playing in the game with the highest Vegas total on the board, Lamb is a safe cash-game option who will allow you to pay up for Lowry and Thomas.
Eric Gordon is currently questionable to play with a sprained toe, but he’s an excellent option if he’s able to go. He’s exceeded salary-based expectations in eight of his last nine games, averaging a +4.76 FD Plus/Minus during that time. The likely leading candidate for the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year award, Gordon is projected for only five to eight percent ownership currently despite his elite consistency lately. Monitor his health leading up to lock (via our NBA News feed), but at only $5,900 on FD, he’s even viable in cash games alongside Batum as the SG2 if you can stomach the injury risk. The Rockets are currently 9.5-point favorites implied for a slate-high 117.5 points against the Hornets.
Kawhi Leonard is one of the most difficult players to analyze tonight. On the one hand, he’s a safe play without Aldridge in the lineup: He’s averaged 33.1 minutes and a massive 35.1 percent usage rate in three games sans Aldridge this season.
His matchup versus Giannis is a tough one, but Giannis is currently questionable with the flu and might not play. That would make Kawhi’s one-on-one matchup easier, but that would also make this game a big blowout risk. The Spurs are already 10-point favorites over the Bucks, and Giannis’ huge +6.60 Real Plus-Minus this season suggests that the Bucks would not be able to compete without him in this game:
Still, Kawhi is a worthwhile risk at only $7,900 DK. He’s currently the No. 1 SF in the DK Phan Model.
I’ll re-post the image I used in the Lamb section because it’s also applicable for Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
In the two games sans Batum, MKG has averaged 32.6 minutes and 25.1 DK points. He’s currently projected for 31.9 minutes tonight and will play in the slate’s highest total game against Houston. Without Batum, MKG is the only Charlotte player who can even somewhat hang with James Harden. That potentially hurts his offensive ceiling, but it raises his potential minutes and gives him a nice floor with Harden posting at least six turnovers in each of his last nine games. MKG remains too cheap on both sites: He’s exceeded salary-based expectations in seven of his last nine games and averaged a +6.78 FD Plus/Minus during that time.
LeBron James has a brutal matchup against an elite Utah defense that ranks third in defensive efficiency this season and has allowed only 101.7 points per 100 possessions. That said, this is LeBron. He can beat any matchup, as our Trends tool confirms:
While his baseline Plus/Minus has decreased, he’s still averaged an impressive 45.88 FD points and a +4.80 Plus/Minus on 72.7 percent Consistency. Further, he’s crushed value in close games this season:
The Cavaliers are currently 2.5-point favorites implied for 101.25 points against the Jazz.
Julius Randle has played excellent basketball lately:
He’s exceeded salary-based expectations in eight of his last nine games and averaged a +8.68 FD Plus/Minus during that time. He remains way too cheap there at $7,200, and he has a +4.63 Projected Plus/Minus, 11 Pro Trends, and and 86 percent Bargain Rating. He owns a high +3.84 Opponent Plus/Minus against the Blazers, who have the league’s second-worst defense, allowing a putrid 109.8 points per 100 possessions. The one-on-one matchup versus Al-Farouq Aminu is the toughest one for the Lakers, but these two teams just played and Randle put up 35.3 FD points in 36.5 minutes.
David Lee should be the uber chalk tonight with Aldridge out. He’s the bare minimum on FD at $3,500 and is also an elite value on DK at $3,600. He’s currently the No. 1 player among all positions in the Phan Model for FD, where he comes with a ridiculous +10.47 Projected Plus/Minus and a +1.92 Opponent Plus/Minus. I’ll re-post the Aldridge on/off numbers again:
In the three games without Aldridge this year, Lee has averaged 27.6 minutes, 25.4 DK points, and a +10.3 Plus/Minus. The Spurs are currently 10-point favorites implied for 105.75 points against the Bucks, who could be without Giannis (as mentioned above). If this game gets ugly, Lee could see even more minutes if the Spurs decide to rest Pau Gasol in a blowout.
If it weren’t for Lee, Taj Gibson would likely be the chalky PF cash-game option in this slate — and he still might be for those who decide to pay down at both spots on FD. The Bulls will be quite thin tonight with Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade ruled out against the Wizards. This will be Butler’s first missed game of the season, so we can’t do an on/off query, but (based on the rotation) Taj will need to be a defensive force without Jimmy if the Bulls want to keep this game close. Gibson is projected for only 26.5 minutes currently, but he has upside there if the other value Chicago PFs — Nikola Mirotic, especially — can’t hold their own defensively against the Wizards. Butler’s the No. 2 option in the Phan Model for FD, where his low $4,900 salary comes with a +4.90 Projected Plus/Minus and a nice +2.71 Opponent Plus/Minus.
Dwight Howard is coming off a game in which he scored 15 points and grabbed a ridiculous 20 rebounds against the Dallas Mavericks. Now, he gets the best matchup in DFS for centers in the Brooklyn Nets:
The Nets play at the fastest pace in the league, averaging 104.1 possessions per game, and they also own the fourth-worst defense, allowing a poor 108.4 points per 100 possessions on the year. They rank 26th in rebound rate, grabbing only 48.0 percent of the available boards. There is a blowout risk here — the Hawks are currently eight-point favorites implied for 111.25 points — but Howard is reasonably priced across both sites at $7,500 DK and $7,600 FD and is a fine option across all contest formats.
For the millionth slate in a row, Marcin Gortat remains much too cheap on DK, where his low $5,900 salary comes with a +4.95 Projected Plus/Minus, nine Pro Trends, and an 86 percent Bargain Rating. He’s actually down $500 from last game and has exceeded salary-based expectations by an average of 3.71 DK points over his last nine games. He has a nice matchup against a Butler and Wade-less Chicago team that already gives up a mediocre 104.7 points per 100 possessions on the season. They’ll be very shallow tonight and the public is on the Wizards team already: They’ve moved up to an 11-point favorite implied for 107.25 points. Gortat is projected for only nine to 12 percent ownership and should be a solid bet to reach his implied point total of 27.15 points.
Mason Plumlee has crushed value lately, exceeding salary-based expectations in six of his last seven games and averaging a +6.53 DK Plus/Minus over the Blazers’ last nine contests. He put 46.5 DK points in 39.8 minutes last game against Andre Drummond and the Pistons, who own a top-10 defense on the season. Tonight, he’ll face a Lakers team that plays at the sixth-fastest pace, averaging 100.5 possessions per game, and has the third-worst defense, allowing 109.5 points per 100 possessions. He’s a great tournament play at $6,100 on DK, where he has a 90 percent Bargain Rating and high +4.83 Opponent Plus/Minus. If you need any more convincing, I’ll end with this graphic:
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