I had some solid daily fantasy basketball picks last night, but you needed a perfect team to do much damage on a crazy 12-game NBA DFS slate. Mine wasn’t perfect, so it’s onto the next one.
Thursday has things quiet down considerably, as we move from 12 games to just two. The lack of balance in the NBA schedule is very frustrating, but two games is better than one or none.
This is obviously a very different slate and you can take one of two strategies; stack as many studs as possible or try to go more balanced. Let’s see which way I’m leaning for tonight’s NBA DFS picks at FanDuel:
PG: Chris Paul – Houston Rockets ($8.5k)
CP3 is a must for me unless he’s randomly held out. The Rockets are playing the second game in a back-to-back set, so you do need to keep an eye on Houston possibly resting a player or two.
I doubt CP3 sits, though, as the Rockets are on fire and will want to take advantage of the way they’re playing. They do get a pace-down game on the road against an underrated Heat team, but there simply isn’t a better point guard play on the slate.
Chris Paul has been rock solid lately, topping 30+ fantasy points (even in blowouts) in each of his last six outings. Miami is a softer matchup with Goran Dragic and possibly Justise Winslow out, but I’m on CP3 no matter what. The slate demands it.
PG: J.J. Barea – Dallas Mavericks ($4.5k)
You could consider fading CP3 to just punt point guard, but if you do that you better be loading up elsewhere. I don’t see the logic in it, especially when there just aren’t many alternatives.
Dennis Smith Jr. might be available tonight, but if he’s not J.J. Barea feels like a lock to me. He can reach value in limited action and remains too cheap to ignore. I also like Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, but his run has been difficult to trust.
Needless to say, the second PG slot is going to be shaky with Dragic out. I’d pay up for Paul and hope Barea gets enough run to pay off this low-priced salary.
SG: James Harden – Houston Rockets ($12.4k)
You only get two NBA games to work with tonight and Harden is by far the top option on the board, so he feels like a must. There is logic to fading him, though, seeing as he’s quite expensive and will be on the road in the second leg of a back-to-back set.
Still, Harden is flat out smashing right now (56+ fantasy points in four straight outings) and I don’t see enough reason to get away from him. The matchup could be better, but the guy is allowed to do this in games:
— For The Win (@ForTheWin) December 18, 2018
He’s pretty unstoppable.
I’m rostering him in 99% of DFS contests tonight, but I do think there’s merit in fading him in one or two GPP lineups. There just aren’t many pricey guys worth paying up for behind him, though, so I’m not sure this is the slate to fade the best option.
SG: Luka Doncic – Dallas Mavericks ($8.2k)
I’ve been using Doncic a lot lately and it hasn’t burned me yet. He could be bogged down by shouldering a heavy scoring load and I know he’s just a rookie, but I see no reason to go away from him tonight.
This matchup with the Clippers isn’t particularly scary and he’s proven he can chip in enough peripherals to reach value even when he’s not connecting on his jumper. His price has spiked a bit, but Luka appears to be worth it and there simply aren’t many options at SG outside of him and Harden.
Lou Williams could be back and I don’t mind considering Eric Gordon or Dwyane Wade, but my ideal pairing at this position tonight is Harden/Doncic.
SF: Derrick Jones Jr. – Miami Heat ($5.2k)
Small forward has some respectable options in Josh Richardson and Danilo Gallinari up top, but they might be a tad over-priced and have been know to disappoint in the past.
I like them both fine enough if you can get there safely, but it’s not going to happen if you’re rostering Harden, CP3 and Luka like I am (plus other expensive players).
You can use those guys, but I’d rather save at SF. Jones has been getting solid run lately due to all of the injuries in South Beach and that’s led to him producing 26+ fantasy points in each of his last five games.
I won’t be ignoring that, plus a banged up Winslow being out or limited would only solidify the value you could be soaking up here.
SF: Danuel House – Houston Rockets ($3.5k)
This is one of two true punts for me on this slate. It’s just such a small slate and there are a lot of players I covet, so I feel like it makes more sense to punt a couple of positions and hope one guy works out, rather than fade Harden.
House is actually getting solid run for the red hot Rockets (18+ minutes in five straight games) and he’s even popped off as a scorer a couple of times. He’s the bare minimum and he can get hot, so hopefully he comes out guns-a-blazin’ tonight.
If he doesn’t work out, he can be my lowest score and will be dropped from my NBA DFS lineup at FanDuel. Gerald Green is the same price and is also very much in play, plus he has the revenge factor in facing his former Heat squad.
You could go either way, but with Green probably being a little more high-owned, I’d pivot to House and hope he fills it up a bit more.
PF: Montrezl Harrell – Los Angeles Clippers ($6.7k)
Tobias Harris is my favorite PF play, but maybe he’s a trap after going off for 55 fantasy points in his last outing. Ideally I roster him anyways, but Harrell is actually a value given his recent run and the upside he’s flashed at times this year.
The Clippers will probably need him against DeAndre Jordan tonight and assuming we can bank on 25-30 minutes like we’ve been seeing, he feels like a great play.
Power forward is not good after the top two options. Hassan Whiteside being back complicates things a bit for Bam Adebayo and Kelly Olynyk and P.J. Tucker rarely does much despite getting sick run.
You can consider these guys or pay up for Tobias, but I like Trez for this lineup.
PF: Dirk Nowitzki – Dallas Mavericks ($3.6k)
This is my second punt on this slate and I just need Dirk or House to pan out. The other will likely be my lowest score and will be dropped from my team.
Nowitzki is not a guy who will be highly owned, as he’s maxed out at eight minutes in his three games back from injury. He’s still a very risky play, but eventually he’s going to log minutes in the teens and even in limited action you know what he is capable of.
Playing Nowitzki is fun and he costs nothing, so if he randomly pops off it’ll be an amazing value pick. I’m thinking he could log 12-15 minutes in a pretty big game and at this price there’s a chance he returns stellar value.
C: DeAndre Jordan – Dallas Mavericks ($7.2k)
I’ll wrap things up with DJ, who has a chance at true revenge as he returns to the Staples Center to battle his former squad. He just got done roasting the Clippers in Dallas (53 fantasy points) in early December, so I have no qualms about the matchup or his motivation.
Jordan is a lock for me, as there aren’t any appealing value plays at center and the other viable centers are arguably way too expensive. Both Clint Capela and Hassan Whiteside are absolutely on the board tonight, but I don’t see the need to pay up for them with DJ just begging to be rostered.
I’m not really focusing on game or team stacks on such a small slate, so this one starts with rostering Harden, CP3, Luka and DJ. I do really like Tobias, but I don’t think you need to force it with Harrell providing the necessary salary relief below him.
Trez did frop 43 fantasy points on the Mavs in Dallas on December 2nd, too, so it’s not like he’s in a bad spot or hasn’t produced in this exact matchup.
The value plays are probably what will decide your fate tonight. Fading Harden and some of the top options isn’t ideal with just two games, but no matter what I think the cheap options you use could dictate how your team does.
Nowitzki and House are very risky plays, but you’re going to need to take a deep dive or two like that tonight.
Whether you use this lineup as it stands or mix and match your own picks with mine, I wish you luck. Enjoy the games!