My goodness was last night a disaster for my daily fantasy basketball picks. It wasn’t really due to a lack of trying or insight, either. The Cleveland Cavaliers and Milwaukee Bucks both failed to show up for their road tilts and it saw my roster bleeding out before the night was up.
Brutal blowout losses by Cleveland and Milwaukee contributed to severely poor outings by both Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kevin Love. The Greek Freak was somewhat survivable (34 fantasy points), but Love delivered quite arguably the worst non-injury performance I’ve personally ever seen by a borderline stud (5 fantasy points!).
This was a bummer, seeing as Kyle Anderson was a fine value play and guys like Spencer Dinwiddie, Serge Ibaka, Stephen Curry and Andrew Wiggins were all fantastic. I’m not sure I was getting around weak performances by Ryan Anderson or Bryn Forbes, regardless, but Love was the ship that sunk me first.
There were still some fantastic NBA DFS picks here. Curry was a logical stud and Giannis had 60+ upside, per usual. Wiggins had the obvious revenge factor, too, while Ibaka was facing a bad Nets team. Dinwiddie was just an amazing value, while a mountain of deaths in San Antonio made Kyle Anderson a fine option.
In hindsight, I should have used Davis Bertans in lieu of Ryan Anderson and dropped from Giannis to Jimmy Butler. Had I done that, I would have had extra cash to consider upgrading over Love and/or Forbes.
My team as a whole failed horribly, but if you used the right picks here, you might have won big. Hopefully that was the case. Either way, it’s onto the next one, as things quiet down for Tuesday night’s small 4-game daily fantasy basketball slate at FanDuel:
PG: Dennis Smith Jr. – Dallas Mavericks ($6.1k)
Russell Westbrook is far and away the top stud tonight and he’s a difficult fade. I think he’s a must for cash games and probably GPPs, but you don’t need me to tell you that. I also think creating a few GPP teams without him could be smart.
Russ costs a lot of cash, but fading him frees up salary and allows you to get a lot of ideal guys at some fairly weak positions. I’d say the exposure to Westbrook should be 80/20 in favor of using him, but for the sake of this lineup build, I won’t be including him.
A huge reason why you can use Russ and get by without him is a plethora of options at point guard tonight. Damian Lillard and Kyle Lowry are both out tonight, so there are elite value plays at PG both in Toronto and Portland. That being said, those guys don’t have amazing matchups on paper, so I feel drawn to some other options.
Lonzo Ball and Elfrid Payton are also in play, but I’m not sure they’re totally necessary on this slate. Given the value and the presence of Russ, however, it’s likely both will be rather low owned.
DSJ can have shaky run at times, but he’s still producing and carries a reasonable floor with interesting upside. Despite frequently dipping below 30 minutes, he’s safely topped 28+ fantasy points in each of his last five contests. That solid stretch also includes three outings with 31+ fantasy points and one of 44.
Smith is good for something somewhere in the middle on a regular day, but tonight he’s at home against the Magic, who rank dead last against point guards on the year. In theory, there isn’t a better time to target Smith than tonight.
PG: Shabazz Napier – Portland Trail Blazers ($4.8k)
There are a slew of options here, but provided George Hill (birth of baby) remains out tonight, I love Fox as my second point guard. It will be very easy to pivot to Delon Wright or Shabazz Napier if Hill returns, but I like the idea of Fox facing off with Lonzo Ball.
Fox destroyed Ball in the NCAA tournament last year and is playing with a lot of confidence these days. Due to a lack of depth at the point guard position in Sac-town at the moment, Fox has logged 30+ minutes and dropped 26+ fantasy points in each of his last three contests.
That being said, I’m rolling with Napier for now, simply because Frank Mason us nearing a return and I’m afraid George Hill will be back tonight. That’s going to take me off of Fox and in turn make Napier and Wright look a lot more attractive.
I’m not sure where the ownership will be, but I don’t mind if Napier is a bit chalky. He’s been fantastic with a bigger role when Thrillard has missed time this year and it’s easy to see that with 29+ fantasy points in each of the last 6 games where he logged more than 30 minutes.
Andre Roberson isn’t on hand, either, so OKC’s stingy outside defense is down a capable body. Based on sheer value, he’s an easy play at PG, whether you use Russ or not.
SG: DeMar DeRozan – Toronto Raptors ($9.3k)
With news breaking that Kyle Lowry has been ruled out tonight, DMR feels like a must-use option. He’s expensive, but shooting guard is pretty bad tonight and he’s in for a massive offensive workload with Toronto’s second best player sidelined.
Toronto as a whole feels risky after going into OT against the Nets last night, but they’ll at least be at home and DMR feels relatively safe given the huge role. He’s one big reason why I feel fine with fading Russ, as he’s pretty necessary on this slate due to a lack of reliable SG value.
Fading DMR feels like a mistake, all things considered, while Miami (16th) isn’t exactly lights out against shooting guards this year. DeRozan has poured it on thick the last two times he faced Miami (38 and 40 points), too, so I love the upside here. DMR makes for a dangerous fade in all formats tonight.
SG: C.J. McCollum – Portland Trail Blazers ($7.5k)
The same could go for McCollum, who is in for a big workload with Damian Lillard out tonight. C.J. is very hard to trust due to his erratic nature this year, of course. Some games he looks like a total stud and he takes advantage of the extra scoring opportunities, and other times he looks like a blind chucker.
I’m hoping he comes out aggressive and dialed in tonight, as Portland will surely need him to do just that on the road against a solid Thunder defense. The good news is OKC is down a stout defender with Andre Roberson (knee) still on the mend, and there could be mild hope that Paul George is used elsewhere defensively.
Volume is the real key here, plus shooting guard drops off very quickly beyond these top two options. McCollum didn’t have great peripherals in his first meeting with OKC this year, but he still scored 22 actual points. With more chances and OKC not 100% defensively, I like his odds to reach/exceed value tonight.
After all, diving further at SG simply assumes too much risk. Evan Fournier hasn’t been putting up elite production, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has been shaky and few players do less in 40 minutes than Wesley Matthews.
If Delon Wright were a SG on FD I’d vouch for him (use him there on DK, perhaps), but with the lineup construction as it stands, I see this DMR/CJ pairing as a must tonight.
SF: Paul George – Oklahoma City Thunder ($8.3k)
I don’t need PG-13, but he’s an elite option assuming Westbrook garners insanely high ownership. Obviously if that happens and Russ doesn’t wreck like everyone hopes he will, George could benefit immensely as OKC’s top scorer. He dropped 27 actual points on Portland earlier this year and he’s been in a decent groove with 33+ fantasy points in 9 straight games.
I will need more out of him than that at this price, but when you start confiding in guys like Harrison Barnes, Brandon Ingram and Josh Richardson, you’re taking unnecessary risks. I actually feel fine about all three, but these are guys known to go spare out of nowhere.
I’m fine with pairing a combination of those three, but of all the SF options, PG-13 clearly has the highest ceiling and one of the better floors. I consider him an elite option on this slate, right up there with DMR.
SF: Mario Hezonja – Orlando Magic ($4.8k)
Super Mario isn’t an easy guy to trust, but he’s actually been pretty good in an expanded role this year. He continues to be called upon to score for the Magic, as Nikola Vucevic is still out and it’s possible Jonathon Simmons will be out again tonight, as well.
Simmons absolutely needs to sit out for me to trust Hezonja here, but he logged 38 minutes in his last outing and has the ability to rack up fantasy stats in a hurry. He’s far from safe and not really a reliable option if Simmons suits up, but if he’s starting he’s one of my favorite value picks for this slate. It doesn’t hurt that Dallas doesn’t defend that well and ranks just 18th against small forwards, either.
PF: Kyle Kuzma – Los Angeles Lakers ($5.7k)
Kuzma’s price keeps dropping due to a combination of a quad issue and a dip in minutes. He’s back to a bench role, but he’s still a good bet to log 25-30 minutes a night and he’s proven all year he can blow up as a scorer and rebounder off the bench. Kuzma also publicly backed head coach Luke Walton, so I wouldn’t be shocked for him to be rewarded for that tonight.
I love the value with Kuz, especially since power forward isn’t great beyond Aaron Gordon tonight. In fact, AG’s price is a bit inflated and the next two options are even more volatile (Carmelo Anthony and Kelly Olynyk). I prefer to save a little money and use a guy that could easily match them in a reduced bench role.
I only helps Kuzma’s case that he’ll be at home against a shaky Kings defense that ranks just 19th against power forwards, too.
PF: Serge Ibaka – Toronto Raptors ($5.9k)
Normally I wouldn’t condone points chasing with someone like Ibaka (6 blocks last night), but with Kyle Lowry being out tonight, he’s (in theory) in for a bigger offensive role than usual. He’ll probably be needed against an improving Miami team, too.
The matchup doesn’t look appealing on paper, but Ibaka can rack up rebounds, steals, blocks and open three balls, so there is some interesting value to be had with him tonight.
For me, this is 100% a combination of role/value/poor position. There simply are not amazing PF options on this slate and Ibaka has actually been pretty solid (28+ fantasy points) in 5 of his last 6 games.
C: Jusuf Nurkic – Portland Trail Blazers ($7.5k)
Center has a few options and I guess if you’re to believe this recent surge by Jonas Valanciunas is for real, it’s kind of loaded. I’m not chasing those points, though, while Hassan Whiteside hasn’t done anything lately to force me into rostering him, either.
I think it’s down to Nurk or Steven Adams and considering their pricing is so similar, I’ll roll with the guy who offers more upside. Nurk is actually a little better (+4 fantasy points per game) on the road this year and happened to wreck OKC (47 fantasy points) in a previous meeting this season.
Nurk is also is a terrific groove, pouring in 28+ fantasy points in each of his last 6 games and 35+ in 5 of those games. He’s kind of on fire at the moment and I’m not sure a date with Steven Adams is enough to scare me off of him.
Overall, I really like the balanced team I can get without Russell Westbrook tonight. I think paying up for Russ makes a little more sense on DK, where you have some superior pricing and far more positional versatility. Westbrook has cooled off a bit lately, too (below 57 fantasy points in last three games) and struggled to hit 50 the only time he faced Portland this year.
That isn’t to say Russ can’t crush or isn’t worth a look as a guaranteed 50 burger, but on this small slate, I’m wondering if it might make more sense to fade him and use a balanced lineup. This is one route to go, but as I said earlier, I certainly won’t be pulling the hard fade. I’ll still have several lineups built around Russ tonight.
Whatever you do, hopefully some of my NBA DFS picks help you win tonight. Either way, good luck!