The NBA Breakdown offers data-driven analysis for each day’s slate using the FantasyLabs Tools and metrics to highlight notable players.
Tuesday features a four-game slate starting at 8:00 p.m. ET.
It’s an ugly slate. Six of the eight teams playing are below .500, and outside of the Lakers, they are a combined 33-58. That means a lot of unfamiliar names and it means that today, D-F-S spells opportunity. There are bargains and unknowns across the board, and prepare yourself: there will be Warriors.
There are only three true studs on the slate today, and Damian Lillard was the only guard among them. Unfortunately, Lillard will miss tonight’s game with back spasms. That’s going to make C.J. McCollum a very popular play, and McCollum should see a big uptick in usage and assist opportunities with Dame sidelined. He’ll be a strong play, but the even better play might be Anfernee Simons.
Simons has been breaking out this season and can get buckets, and he’s going to have a lot of opportunity to do so tonight. At his price tag, he’s a near must start and an intriguing high-upside fade if you want to stay away from McCollum in tournaments. And at their bargain salaries, you might just want to play both together in a plus matchup.
I warned you there would be Warriors. Our first is Ky Bowman, who scored 19 points off the bench last night. That was the rookie’s fourth game this season scoring double digits, and he’s getting more playing time with D’Angelo Russell sidelined.
We project Bowman at 27.6 minutes in a great matchup, with Memphis a +2.92 Opponent Plus/Minus. That gives Bowman a +4.29 Projected Plus/Minus there, giving him rare 30-point upside for a $4,700 player.
Ja Morant will be a popular pivot from Damian Lillard. Morant has had a few clunkers but has been pretty productive overall and is leading the Rookie of the Year race. For Morant, the decision depends on the site. Morant costs $8,400 at FanDuel but only $6,700 at DraftKings. In a plus matchup, that gives him a +5.69 Projected Plus/Minus and a 92% Bargain Rating at DraftKings.
You might decide to gamble at point guard today, with both Lonzo Ball and Ricky Rubio listed as questionable, but that can always go wrong in any number of ways. Our model prefers a gamble on Rajon Rondo. He’s scoring 0.99 points per minute at FanDuel and has a +3.76 Projected Plus/Minus at at $4,400.
There are a number of options at shooting guard, even on a light slate. Jrue Holiday is the most expensive option, but may not be the best one. Holiday has outperformed projections in six of his last seven games and is playing a very hefty minutes load since returning from injury as the Pelicans team mostly resembles a M.A.S.H. unit at this point.
Holiday has never been a big scorer, but he’s been back at point guard with Ball out, and Ball is questionable again. Holiday should score plenty of fantasy points, but he may not be the best bang for your buck. Our models have him at -5.0 Projected Plus/Minus at DraftKings and -2.75 at FanDuel, making him the biggest stud fade on the board.
Unfortunately, the models don’t like Devin Booker much either today. These guys are getting a salary boost on a light slate, and that’s hurting their upside and points per salary. Booker is a similar case to Holiday. He might get more time on the ball if Ricky Rubio (questionable) does not play, but the models rate him at -5.37 Projected Plus/Minus at FanDuel and -4.13 at DraftKings. If you’re going to pay up for a stud, shooting guard may not be the place to do it today.
Instead, you might want to give a long look at Thunder breakout wing, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. SGA is averaging nearly 20 points per game, along with 5.2 rebounds and 2.8 assists.
He’s playing big minutes at 34.8 per game, and his young legs could give him even more workload potential on the second night of a back-to-back with older high-usage teammates like Chris Paul and Danilo Gallinari likely to need a bit of a blow. Gilgeous-Alexander has a huge +6.95 Projected Plus/Minus at his $6,100 DraftKings salary, third highest on the entire slate.
Dennis Schroder is a nice option for similar reasons. Our models project Schroder at 27.8 minutes, and that could go up even further if the Lakers blow Oklahoma City out and CP3 gets mothballed early. Schroder has a +4.60 Projected Plus/Minus at DraftKings.
Jordan Poole is our Warrior of choice at shooting guard, but be careful. Poole has seen his minutes and scoring drop over the last week, and he’s scoring 0.60 fantasy points per minute at FanDuel. Our model likes him nonetheless at +3.01 Projected Plus/Minus, a product of a $3,800 salary and a great matchup. Poole has a drop-out floor but a high ceiling, so he’s an intriguing tournament play.
LeBron James continues to put up monster stats in what is becoming an early MVP campaign. He’s leading the league in assists and already has eight 50-point fantasy games and four triple-doubles. Despite all that, LeBron has a negative Projected Plus/Minus.
So why is that? It’s because James is playing at his peak salary at both DraftKings and FanDuel today, and DFS is always about points per salary, not just points overall. LeBron is a whopping $12,000 at FanDuel and $11,100 at DraftKings. Even at over 1.5 fantasy points per minute, he has to do so much to live up to that salary. The ceiling is always there for LeBron, but this might be a night to try another option.
Alec Burks is the Warrior du jour at small forward, though he’s only playable at either guard spot at DraftKings. He’s a nice option at either site. Burks has played 30 minutes each of his last two games and is starting at point guard with DLo out, and he gets a plus matchup against Memphis. We project Burks at 30.1 minutes again, and at 0.91 fantasy points per minute, that gives him a +3.86 Projected Plus/Minus at FanDuel and a surprising ceiling. He’s outperformed projections in six of his last eight.
Brandon Ingram is questionable with a sore knee, but he might be a swing player on tonight’s slate. The Pelicans play the first game of the night on NBATV, so you should know whether Ingram’s playing before submitting your lineup. Our model loves Ingram if he does play, especially at DraftKings where he gets a monster +8.48 Projected Plus/Minus and a 91% Bargain Rating at $7,200. Ingram could see huge usage with so many other Pels hurt, so if he does play, he could be a tournament winner.
Rodney Hood is not scoring much per minute, but he’s making up for it with a heavy minutes load for a banged up Portland team and should play big minutes again on the second night of a road back-to-back. He has a +3.67 Projected Plus/Minus and a 79% Bargain Rating at FanDuel.
Anthony Davis is the most expensive power forward by a long shot tonight. The Brow is probable with a sore right shoulder, but he’s been playing through the injury. His production has faltered over the last two games at just 15.5 points and a measly 3.0 rebounds per game.
Despite that, Davis has 10 Pro Trends at both FanDuel and DraftKings, and he gets a big +5.07 Projected Plus/Minus at DraftKings thanks to a positive matchup against Danilo Gallinari and the Thunder playing on a back-to-back. Davis always has a huge ceiling, but he’s only had one 60-point fantasy game this season.
Our models like Davis tonight, but between the sore shoulder, the lack of overall production offensively, and the chance of a blowout that could limit his minutes, I’m a bit skeptical.
Oh look, another Warrior! Eric Paschall has made a real name for himself. The second-round rookie has thrust himself into the Rookie of the Year race with some big games, and he’s coming off 30 points last night.
Paschall is projected at 34.6 minutes and has a +2.49 Projected Plus/Minus at FanDuel, highest among all power forward options. His heavy minutes give him a nice floor, and we’ve already seen the upside.
If you need an even better bargain Warrior, Omari Spellman might be your guy. Spellman is projected at 14.4 minutes but plays for the minimum at FanDuel, and that gives him a +2.18 Projected Plus/Minus. It’s not pretty, but Spellman is actually producing at 1.1 fantasy points per minute when he’s out there, so there’s a rare moderate upside for a minimum player.
Jaren Jackson Jr. will be the opposition for Paschall and Spellman, and as much as those two have come through on offense, they’ve been abysmal defensively. That gives JJJ a huge +4.95 Opponent Plus/Minus and a +4.06 Projected Plus/Minus at DraftKings, where Jackson is a great play at $5,600. Be careful, though. He’s actually a negative Projected Plus/Minus at FanDuel with an awful 9% Bargain Rating, even in a nice matchup.
Stud is often relative at center, and today’s “stud” is Jonas Valanciunas. JV should benefit from the same soft underbelly that makes Jaren Jackson a nice play, with the Warriors defense no longer what it once was. Valanciunas scores 1.26 fantasy points per minute and has a +6.25 Projected Plus/Minus at DraftKings, thanks in large part to an absurd +6.31 Opponent Plus/Minus. He’s an especially good play at his $6,800 DraftKings salary, though you probably won’t want to play both him and Jackson together.
It will be tough to keep Jaxson Hayes out of your lineup, especially at FanDuel. Hayes is the only healthy center for the Pelicans with Derrick Favors and Jahlil Okafor out, so he’s getting more early playing time than expected. He played a career-high 32 minutes last night and had his first NBA double-double.
Throw in a +5.7 Opponent Plus/Minus and Hayes could have a big night if he stays out of foul trouble. He has a +5.80 Projected Plus/Minus at FanDuel and comes with a low floor but a high ceiling, so he could be a difference maker in tournaments.
If you’re not a believer in Hayes, Hassan Whiteside might be your guy who should benefit from the Lillard absence as well. Whiteside could be too physical for Hayes, and he has a better matchup than the numbers would let on with Favors sidelined. Whiteside has eight double-doubles and is scoring 1.27 fantasy point per minute. He has the top Projected Plus/Minus on the slate at DraftKings with a +9.96 and a meager $6,300 salary.