Tuesday features Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals between the Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Lakers starting at 9 p.m. ET. If you’re unfamiliar with the single-game format, check out my primers on DraftKings or FanDuel before building your lineups.


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Studs

This series features a lot of star power, starting with the Lakers’ dynamic duo of Anthony Davis and LeBron James.

James continues to produce at one of the highest levels in the league. He’s averaged 1.60 DraftKings points per minute this season, which is the highest mark among today’s players.

He hasn’t exactly dominated from a fantasy perspective in this series – he’s averaged just 45.13 DraftKings points per game – but there’s no reason to expect his struggles to continue. He was limited to just 30.9 minutes in the Lakers’ blowout Game 1 win and had an uncharacteristically poor assist to turnover ratio in Game 2. The Nuggets have not played much defense during the playoffs, so I’m expecting a bounce-back from LeBron in Game 3.

Davis has done the majority of the heavy lifting for the Lakers to start the series. He’s finished with at least 51.75 DraftKings points in each of the first two games and has made the biggest shot of the playoffs so far.

He has absolutely feasted when matched up against Nikola Jokic. He’s shooting 60% with Jokic as his primary defender, and Jokic has logged the second-most minutes vs. Davis in this series. Paul Millsap has actually been the Nuggets’ best defensive option vs. Davis – AD is shooting just 30.8% in that matchup – but Millsap was limited to just 28.1 minutes in Game 2. As long as Denver doesn’t want to play him big minutes, Davis should continue to smash. He currently owns the highest ceiling, median, and floor projections in our NBA Models, which makes him an excellent choice for one of the premium spots today.

On the Nuggets’ side, Jokic and Jamal Murray are both coming off solid performances in Game 2. Jokic led all scorers with 58.5 DraftKings points thanks in part to his 12 trips to the free throw line. Jokic shot just 45.0% from the field and grabbed just six rebounds in that contest – both of which are low for him – so he has the opportunity to put together a bigger performance in Game 3.

Murray is easily the cheapest option among the stud quartet, and he owns the lowest projected Plus/Minus of the group on DraftKings. His fantasy production is a bit limited by his inability to contribute in the peripheral categories, but he’s more than capable of making up for it with his scoring output. He managed to score 45.0 DraftKings points in Game 2 despite shooting just 2-9 from 3-point range, so he obviously has the potential for a better shooting night in Game 3.

One thing to keep in mind is that the correlation between Jokic and Murray (+0.14) isn’t as strong as the correlation between Davis and James (+0.24), so the Lakers’ option probably makes the most sense from a stacking perspective. The Lakers are also favored by 6.5 points, which gives them a sizable edge in implied team total.

Midrange

The midrange options don’t look particularly appealing on today’s slate. Eight players own a projected Plus/Minus of at least +2.14 on DraftKings, and none of those options are priced between $3,700 and $9,300. Stars-and-scrubs is already the preferred option in the single-game format, and it might be an even stronger option than usual today.

If you do want to target this price range, I would probably start with Millsap. He hasn’t been great from a fantasy perspective during the playoffs, but his ability to defend Davis could earn him a few additional minutes today.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is another potential option. He’s right on the verge of being a value play at $4,800 and tough to ignore at that price tag. He’s easily playing the most minutes out of all the players priced below $6,000 on DraftKings, and he’s scored at least 19.5 DraftKings points in back-to-back games.

Michael Porter Jr. and Jerami Grant also deserve some consideration on FanDuel. Both players own a Bargain Rating of at least 94%, and each has a potential path to returning value. Grant is the safer option – he’s currently projected for 27.0 minutes – but MPJ has a significantly higher ceiling.

Last but not least is Dwight Howard. He struggled with foul trouble in Game 2 but projects to see a solid handful of minutes off the bench in this series. He’s capable of averaging well over 1.00 fantasy points per minute, just like he did in Game 1.

Values & Punts

These are the players who typically decide these contests. It may not feel comfortable to roster someone who isn’t projected for a ton of minutes, but history suggests = it’s the easiest way to find yourself at the top of the leaderboard. These plays typically command lower ownership than the mid-tier guys, so they allow you to differentiate your lineup without sacrificing the high-end stud production.

Let’s break down some of the top options in this range rapid-fire style:

  • Alex Caruso: $3,600 on DraftKings, $8,000 on FanDuel: He’s become an important role player for the Lakers and has scored at least 16.5 DraftKings points in four straight games. That said, his salary has actually decreased over that time frame, which should make him one of the most popular values on the slate.
  • Torrey Craig: $2,800 on DraftKings, $7,500 on FanDuel: He played 23.3 minutes in Game 2, which is a lot of playing time considering his price tag.
  • JaVale McGee: $2,200 on DraftKings, $7,000 on FanDuel: He’s technically the starting center for the Lakers, but he will likely command far lower ownership than Howard. Both players are similar in terms of per-minute production, so he’s an interesting pivot.
  • P.J. Dozier: $1,400 on DraftKings, $6,500 on FanDuel: He’s played at least 12 minutes in both games vs. the Lakers and has averaged 10.75 DraftKings points in those contests. He’s capable of contributing fantasy points in a variety of different categories, and he doesn’t need to do much to pay off his current price tag.