Wednesday brings a 12-game main slate at 7pm ET. Let’s jump in.
Game of the Day: New York Knicks at Brooklyn Nets
The battle for New York City begins at 7:30pm ET tonight, and it currently has the highest Vegas total at 224 points. The Knicks are only two-point favorites over the 9-39 Nets, but they’re on the second leg of a back-to-back and they also played in a four-overtime game on Sunday against the Hawks. The Knicks and the Nets both rank in the bottom 10 in defensive efficiency, allowing 108.2 and 109.9 points per 100 possessions. This game could get sloppy.
Derrick Rose was out last night and is considered doubtful for tonight with a sprained left ankle. Kristaps Porzingis also missed last night’s game with an illness and is considered questionable tonight. It’s clear who the top beneficiaries are without Rose and Porzingis. Per our NBA On/Off tool, without Rose . . .
. . . Brandon Jennings has been the guy, averaging 36.3 minutes per game, 29.5 DraftKings points, and an +8.9 Plus/Minus. He put up 37.25 DK points last night in 37.7 minutes despite shooting only 5-of-16 from the field. He should be chalky tonight in a brilliant matchup.
Without Porzingis . . .
. . . Joakim Noah has received the largest bump in value, averaging a +7.6 DK Plus/Minus in seven games sans Porzingis. He disappointed last night, scoring only 7.5 DK points in 15.3 minutes, but it is noteworthy that he played over 40 minutes in that 4-OT game on Sunday. Picking up the slack last night was Guillermo Hernangomez, who dropped 39.5 DK points in 31.5 minutes thanks to a 15-14-4 line. He’ll be intriguing again today at only $3,900 if Porzingis can’t go again, but there is some uncertainty given Noah’s volatile minute loads.
Carmelo Anthony shot the ball well last night, hitting 10 of his 17 attempts in 31.6 minutes, but he used fewer possessions (25.6 percent) than Jennings did (26.6). As shown in the above images, Melo has been excellent without Rose but struggles without Porzingis. Regardless of who is out or in tonight, however, it’s tough to fade Melo against a Nets team that ranks 28th defensively and first in pace, averaging 104.0 possessions per 48 minutes. He’ll match up against Bojan Bogdanovic, who is 97th among 98 eligible SGs with an awful -3.11 Defensive Real Plus-Minus (DRPM) on the year.
And don’t forget about Courtney Lee, who has averaged a robust +7.70 DK Plus/Minus over his last 10 games.
On the Brooklyn side of things, it’s the same old story: They’re implied for a lot of points (111, the slate’s fourth-highest total) but they widely distribute minutes among their rotation. Brook Lopez is the only player who receives 30-plus minutes consistently, and he remains the best play on the team. He has impressed lately . . .
. . . and remains cheap on DK, where his $6,700 salary comes with a 93 percent Bargain Rating. Also, the Knicks have been poor against opposing centers this year, as evidenced by BroLo’s +4.23 Opponent Plus/Minus.
DeMar DeRozan has been ruled out tonight, which means that Kyle Lowry will certainly be one of the chalkiest options in the slate. He faces a Boston team that has been bottom-10 against opposing PGs this year, allowing a +3.8 DK Plus/Minus, and Isaiah Thomas has defensively been the Bojan of PGs.
Mike Conley exploded for 65.5 DK points last game against a poor Suns defense and tonight gets the best matchup in the league for PGs in the Nuggets.
Conley has 11 DK Pro Trends, a 90 percent Bargain Rating, and easily a position-high +6.71 Opponent Plus/Minus. In second place in terms of Opp Plus/Minus is Ricky Rubio, who also impressed last game, dropping 50.5 DK points against the Magic on Monday. He gets a Cavs team that has struggled defensively lately and is now the second worst in the league against opposing PGs.
That said, Rubio is only $100 cheaper than Conley on DK (he’s $1,000 cheaper on FD, however), and he has significant home/road splits. He’s on the road tonight.
If you want a bargain player cheaper than Jennings, perhaps look at Yogi Ferrell, who will likely start for the Mavericks again in place of Deron Williams. Ferrell has started the last two games without Williams, and he’s averaged 31.1 DK points and a +15.9 Plus/Minus in 36.6 minutes per game during that time. He’ll face a 76ers squad that has improved defensively with stud rim protector Joel Embiid this year, but Embiid is doubtful to play. When he’s off the floor, the 76ers allow 111.6 points per 100 possessions, which would be the worst mark in the league. Ferrell is attractive on DK, where his $4,000 salary comes with a 97 percent Bargain Rating.
The last guy I’ll mention is Isaiah Thomas, who has been utterly unstoppable on the offense end lately:
I mentioned above that Lowry can take advantage of Thomas’ defense, but Thomas can do the same to the Raptors, who have given up a mediocre 105.8 points per 100 possessions on the year and have been the third-worst team in the league versus opposing PGs, allowing a +4.83 DK Plus/Minus. Thomas has been priced way up to $10,600 on FD, but he’s still viable for tournaments on DK at $9,500.
With DeRozan out of the game . . .
. . . Norman Powell has essentially become a must-play, averaging 30.7 DK points and an +11.6 Plus/Minus at an average salary of only $4,300. He’s pricier there today at $5,500, but he’s still an incredible value on FanDuel, where his $4,200 salary comes with a 99 percent Bargain Rating. He should be the chalkiest SG in the slate.
Seth Curry has been a revelation lately:
In Williams’ absence this year, Curry has led the team with a DK Plus/Minus differential of 3.9 points and a usage rate increase of 3.3 percentage points. He’s averaged 25.4 DK points and a +5.5 Plus/Minus in 32.5 minutes per game without Williams, who will be out again tonight. As mentioned above, the 76ers are essentially the NBA’s worst defense without Embiid, and the news gets even better for Curry: Robert Covington, the 76ers’ best wing defender, will be out as well with a right hand contusion. That means that Curry and Wesley Matthews will see a lot of Nik Stauskas and Gerald Henderson, who own poor DRPM marks of -1.0 and -1.7.
None of the top SG options have elite matchups . . .
. . . which means that paying down for Curry and Powell is the prudent move in cash games. That said, if you want to pay up, look at Devin Booker, who is facing a Clippers team that has dropped to 11th in defensive efficiency without Chris Paul, allowing 104.8 points per 100 possessions. Booker has been elite spotting up this season — he’s averaging 1.4 points per possession on such plays — and J.J. Redick has given up a below-average 1.0 PPP to spot-up shooters this year. Booker has exceeded salary-based expectations in nine of his last 10 games, averaging a +5.78 FD Plus/Minus over that time.
Despite the Cavaliers’ troubles as a team, LeBron James has been an excellent DFS asset of late.
He’s playing massive minutes . . .
. . . and he gets a Minnesota team that also plays their starters huge minutes. The Timberwolves have really struggled to pick up head coach Tom Thibodeau’s defensive scheme, and they rank 23rd on that end, allowing 107.2 points per 100 possessions on the year. Andrew Wiggins has a world of defensive potential, but he’s yet to realize it in his young career.
Derrick Favors has been ruled out for the Jazz, and in 14 games this season with Favors out Gordon Hayward has averaged 36.7 DK points in a team-high 35.2 minutes. The new All-Star has been in a bit of a slump lately, scoring 33 DK points or fewer in each of his last five games. However, that has led to a price drop: He’s only $6,600 DK, which means he needs just 30.65 fantasy points to hit value. He should be able to do that against a Bucks team that has been truly awful against opposing SFs, as evidenced by Hayward’s position-high +4.42 Opponent Plus/Minus. The Bucks have been playing Jabari Parker on SFs to keep Giannis Antetokounmpo near the basket, and that could very well be the tactic they employ tonight.
Jae Crowder has been everything you want out of a cash-game SF option lately:
He has exceeded salary-based expectations in each of his last 10 games, averaging a ridiculous +9.34 FD Plus/Minus during that time. He finally got a decent salary hike up to $6,600, but he still brings immense safety at a position that has historically lacked it. He’s projected for only five to eight percent ownership currently, and he needs only 26.84 points to hit value — a mark he’s easily exceeded in each of his last five games.
Punt play P.J. Tucker has averaged a +6.16 FD Plus/Minus over his last 10 and should get a couple extra minutes tonight with Dragan Bender ruled out again for the Suns. Marquese Chriss had a nice game for the Suns on Monday, but that was on a rare 8-of-12 shooting, and he now has to face Blake Griffin. The Suns might have to combat the Clippers’ big frontcourt by going small with T.J. Warren, Tucker, and Tyson Chandler.
Kevin Love has been ruled out for tonight’s game versus the Wolves, which means that Channing Frye should get the starting nod again at only $4,200 FD. Frye is very scoring-dependent and thus has a limited ceiling, but his salary and projected floor is safe enough to roster against a Timberwolves defense that has allowed 107.2 points per 100 possessions on the year. Frye had a mediocre game on Monday in Love’s absence, scoring only 13 real points, but he was still able to exceed salary-based expectations by 8.86 FD points thanks to his low price.
On the other side of that matchup, Gorgui Dieng is the only Wolves starter to have better splits on the road than at home this season:
It’s unclear who will guard each other in this game . . .
. . . and it’s certainly possible that the Cavs will put the superior defender in Tristan Thompson on a currently red-hot Karl-Anthony Towns. That would leave Dieng on Frye, who has given up incredibly high shooting marks all over the floor.
Ersan Ilyasova disappointed last game in Embiid’s absence, scoring only 14.9 FD points in 22.7 minutes of action. That said, the large sample of data points suggests that he’s the best value among the 76ers when Embiid is out of the lineup:
In 16 games this year without Embiid, Ilyasova has averaged 28.4 DK points and a +6.4 Plus/Minus in 27.1 minutes of action. The 76ers will be desperately in need of his shooting tonight with both Embiid and Covington out, especially since non-shooter Gerald Henderson is projected to start at the SF spot. Dallas has been a brutal matchup in DFS this year because of their league-low pace, but there’s certainly upside with Ilyasova given his likely expanded offensive role.
Andre Drummond is coming off excellent games of 65.9 and 51.5 FD points against the Celtics and Heat, and he gets a Pelicans team that has allowed a +3.21 FD Plus/Minus to opposing centers this season. They’re certainly improved with Anthony Davis playing the five, but they struggle to rebound the ball: They now rank 29th in rebound rate, grabbing only 47.6 percent of the available boards. Drummond has put up lines of 28-22 and 17-20 over his last two games and could certainly have another huge game tonight. He’s projected for low five to eight percent ownership on DK, where his reasonable $7,900 salary comes with a 95 percent Bargain Rating.
Rudy Gobert is always good, but he’s improved his play even more when his frontcourt mate in Favors has been out. In 16 games without Favors this year, Gobert has averaged 36.8 DK points and a +6.3 Plus/Minus. Although his rebound rate hasn’t budged, he has increased his true-shooting percentage by a whopping 6.8 percentage points, likely due to the increased spacing in the Jazz offense.
He is $1,100 cheaper than Drummond, has an equally good matchup against the Bucks, and is also projected for a low five to eight percent ownership.
Jahlil Okafor will likely draw the start in Embiid’s absence, and he’ll be a popular play despite the fact that he hasn’t crushed value in games without Embiid:
He’s averaged 26.0 DK points and a fine +4.0 Plus/Minus in 26.1 minutes in 12 games sans Embiid, but he hasn’t shown a ceiling worth rostering in guaranteed prize pools. He had his best game of the year a couple weeks ago, putting up 37.8 FD points in 35.5 minutes against the Wizards, but other than that he’s been above 30 FD points just once. He’s cheap enough to roster in cash games at $4,700 — he needs only 18.5 FD points to hit value — but he’s a nice fade candidate in tournaments.
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