I had the right idea in a sense last night, as James Harden just wasn’t a guy you could fade and Anthony Davis wasn’t that far behind.
The path around those guys is where I hit a wall, but hopefully you found the right spares or just built around Harden. Fortunately neither of those guys will be on Thursday’s five-game NBA DFS slate, so we can aim for a better overall lineup building process.
There is still a lot to consider for tonight, but here’s my favorite squad to toss in FanDuel tourneys at the moment:
PG: Fred VanVleet – Toronto Raptors ($5k)
Kyle Lowry, Kawhi Leonard and OG Anunoby are all out for tonight’s showdown against the Phoenix Suns. That makes Raptors value picks very chalky, but also pretty necessary. How many you use and which ones will be tough to decide, but I’m planning on building around a few of them.
I’ll get things started off with FVV, who has been rock solid when he sees his role enhanced. With Lowry off the court, VanVleet sees a solid 21.7% usage and averages over 33 fantasy points per 36 minutes.
When Kawhi Leonard is also off the floor, FVV sees those averages jump to 24% and 36 fantasy points per 36 minutes. He’s an elite play against a bad Suns defense that ranks near the bottom of the league at defending point guards.
If FVV is out for some reason, pay up at PG at try getting Delon Wright into your NBA DFS lineups
PG: Kemba Walker – Charlotte Hornets ($9.2k)
This still feels a bit steep for Walker, considering he’s a guy that never pans out for me and he’s had some shaky games of late. He does seem to be turning things around with 31 and 33 actual points dropped in his last two contests, though.
On top of that, Walker feels like an elite pivot away from Russell Westbrook and Ben Simmons. Westbrook is just really expensive and Simmons doesn’t have an amazing matchup on paper.
Walker does, as the Kings are terrible at defending the point and don’t play sound defense in general. It’s also worth noting that Walker dropped 31 actual points in this matchup just two games ago and tends to play very well at home.
Spending on Walker always feels like a roll of the dice to me, but he has monster usage and can explode as a scorer. Here’s to hoping he stays hot.
SG: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope – Los Angeles Lakers ($4.5k)
KCP got promoted recently and that went well (28 fantasy points), so he should continue to start and get around 30 minutes per game. He’s a great defender and solid scorer, so there’s reasonable upside with him at this cheap price tag.
The Thunder are not an easy matchup at all, but KCP actually went off for 37 fantasy points the last time he faced them. I’m not expecting a repeat, but I think he’s one of the better value picks out there tonight.
SG: Delon Wright – Toronto Raptors ($4.5k)
Devin Booker feels like a great play at $7.7k, but I’m currently unable to get there. If injuries change things, he’s my spend at SG tonight. Jimmy Butler is the most expensive shooting guard option and would be a must if Joel Embiid were to be randomly scratched.
For now, I’m stacking four Raptors and Delon Wright will be part of that. The Raptors should still house the Suns at home, so he should get a lot of run off the bench. Even if it’s somehow a close game, the odds are good he crushes this price tag with such a tasty matchup in front of him.
Toronto is without three key bodies (as well as C.J. Miles), so Wright should see around 25 minutes in this one, if not more.
If you want to go even cheaper, Monte Morris ($3.7k) is a pretty good play off of Denver’s bench. They’re likely to crush the Bulls at home tonight and he could get a lot of run as a result. Gary Harris being out would entice my further to roll with him as a punt play.
SF: Norman Powell – Toronto Raptors ($3.6k)
I told you I’m all about Toronto plays, especially if I can get an elite punt like Powell. He is going to be locked into serious run with three key bodies down for the Raptors and if you use RotoGrinders.com’s CourtIQ tool, you can see he has a solid 22% usage and 30 fantasy points per 36 minutes average when Lowry and Leonard aren’t playing.
Even if he’s the only Raptors player you roster, Powell feels like an elite punt tonight and if he’s my dropped low score when it’s all said and done, so be it.
SF: Paul George – Oklahoma City Thunder ($10.4k)
This feels a bit steep for PG-13, but he’s the only elite small forward option on this slate and this is not a strong position beyond him.
George feels like a must, plus he faces a middling Lakers defense that he torched (37 actual points) earlier this year. The Lake Show struggles to defend small forwards and your next best bet is going to be Brandon Ingram.
You can roll the dice on PG-13 not having a big enough game to meet value tonight, but I don’t see similar production coming from anyone else at this position. He’s a necessary pay-up tonight.
PF: Pascal Siakam – Toronto Raptors ($6.7k)
I’m also on Team Pascal tonight, while Serge Ibaka is also in the mix at a similar price point. You can definitely go with a full four-man Raptors stack and pair these two together at the PF spot.
There’s no Anthony Davis or any crazy elite options you must play at this position tonight, so finding value or even dropping down is very much on the table.
I’m willing to spend just under $7k for Siakam, though. He has been a monster (27% usage, 38 fantasy points per 36 minutes) when Lowry and Leonard don’t play. Against a terrible Phoenix defense, he’s a core play for me on this slate.
PF: Richaun Holmes – Phoenix Suns ($4.7k)
I’m soaking up a lot of Raptors, but I expect that game to be a blowout. Due to their lack of key bodies, though, I’m not that worried about their starters failing me.
Still, the Suns will probably end up turning to their bench in this one and that’s where Richaun Holmes comes in. He is filling up the stat sheet in a limited role and he won’t see Toronto’s best defenders when he comes in with the second unit. The chance at extra playing time also helps make him an elite value.
Power forward also isn’t a stacked position tonight. You will probably want to consider paying down at least once and Holmes is one of my favorite ways to save some cash. I wish he were a little cheaper, but he’s so busy when he’s on the floor (1.16 fantasy points per minute) that it probably won’t matter.
C: Joel Embiid – Philadelphia 76ers ($11.1k)
Update: Embiid is questionable (back). If he’s out, Jokic is a fine pivot at basically the same price, while guys like Steven Adams, Myles Turner and Bismack Biyombo would all be interesting. Mike Muscala would also stand to get a lot of run with Embiid out and would be viable at center as well.
Nikola Jokic has a way better matchup, but Embiid’s showdown with the Pacers projects as a closer contest. The game has just a +2.5 point spread after all.
Speaking of which, feel free to check out our 76ers vs. Pacers pick for today.
Philly should win, but this game likely stays close. Hopefully that leads him to beasting out and after dropping 50+ fantasy points in each of his last three games, I don’t know if I can fade his steadiness and upside right now.
Embiid is held back a bit by the presence of Jimmy Butler, but he can still crush in any setting. He’s also feasted on the Pacers (30 actual points per game across two meetings) this year, so hopefully this is a Joel Embiid night.
I am never on the right side of this guy for whatever reason, so if you’re not feeling him there are certainly other options to consider. Jokic is in the best spot, while Steven Adams ($7.8k) is a solid intermediate option and Bismack Biyombo is the best center punt on the board.
Obviously I’m big into the Raptors tonight. You won’t be alone in that, so there’s some logic in fading all or some of these guys and hoping they’re awful chalk. They’re at home against the Suns and they’re down four healthy bodies, though, so I really don’t think this is the time to get cute.
There are several studs to pay for tonight, but I think we need to pick our spots. Shooting guard and power forward lack a reliable elite option, so paying up there (especially at both slots) doesn’t feel necessary.
I’m of the belief you probably need to spend on a center tonight. It’s just not a great idea to pass on an opportunity for a guaranteed 50-burger when you have guys like Embiid and Jokic up top. There are a couple other options for tourneys, but it’s likely both of these guys wreck and you’ll probably want one of them.
Fading Westbrook and Simmons is also difficult, but with Kemba sitting there and fully capable of matching them, I think it’s a good pivot to make in GPPs.
I love this lineup as it stands, but if things open up and Embiid or someone else is scratched, you need to be ready to make changes. That also reminds me; if you don’t like every single play here, mix and match until you come to your optimal NBA DFS lineup.
You don’t need to use this squad as it stands, but these are some of my favorite NBA DFS picks for tonight and collectively I think they could produce a winner if everything breaks just right.
Whatever you do, thanks for stopping by and good luck tonight!