NBA DFS is going to be very new at FanDuel this year. This is probably my favorite site for MLB DFS and NFL DFS, but their basketball product is really set up for failure. Not only do they often have bad pricing, zero roster flexibility and not late swap (why?), but now they’re introducing this new system of dropping your lowest scoring player.
This is going to encourage more stars/scrubs teams and “free square” punt and it’s obviously going to have to factor into your NBA DFS strategy from this point on. I don’t love how someone else’s bad decision can be “forgiven”, though. For instance, if my team has nine guys with 35 fantasy points each, my low score of 35 gets dropped. If my opponent has 7 guys with 35 fantasy points, one with 36 and one with 0, his low score gets dropped and he wins.
I clearly had the better team, yet I’m going to be handed a loss in that scenario. It’s a really bad idea, but I know people are still going to play at FanDuel, so I’m going to help all I can throughout the daily fantasy basketball season.
Keep that free square in mind and be sure to utilize the punt strategy at the position it makes the most sense. I’ll be transparent about that each time out, of course.
With that, let’s dive into Tuesday’s opening night two-game slate and see if we can’t take down a GPP at FanDuel:
PG: Markelle Fultz – Philadelphia 76ers ($5.7k)
I really want Stephen Curry tonight, but I often get blinded by his upside and stacking Warriors. I won’t let that happen tonight. He’s obviously a great play (especially if Westbrook sits and he faces Dennis Schroder’s defense), but I think I can get a more balanced lineup without him.
It starts with Fultz, who will be inserted into Philly’s starting five to hopefully get him going. He is a pretty versatile player and comes at a discount despite his ability to score and rack up all kinds of stats. I would not be shocked if the Sixers were aggressive with him early to boost his confidence. Either way, he has the ability to pitch in 30-40 fantasy points and he helps save some much-needed cash on this small slate.
PG: Kyrie Irving – Boston Celtics ($8.4k)
Ben Simmons has not been that great against a good Boston defense and Stephen Curry averaged just five more fantasy points per game than Irving a year ago. That’s still a decent amount, but I think the two are comparable on this slate. Irving has also done pretty well (40 fantasy points per game across three games) against this Philly defense.
Irving feels like a solid value and elite pivot off of Curry and Simmons. Things might change a bit if Russ plays, but for now I like these two as my point guard tandem.
SG: Dennis Schroder – Oklahoma City Thunder ($6.1k)
Schroder figures to be a key scorer for OKC off the bench no matter what this year, but in the first game of the year he may wind up starting. Russell Westbrook is very iffy for this game and if he’s ruled out, Schroder is a cash game lock. On such a tiny slate, he’s a very tough fade across all formats.
Schroder is not bashful about scoring and averaged nearly 40 fantasy points against Golden State last year over two contests. Blowout or not, he’s likely to get a lot of run and shoot at will. He’s still a solid GPP dart even if Russ is active, but he looks like a must if Westbrook sits this one out.
SG: Hamidou Diallo – Oklahoma City Thunder (3.5k)
This is my free square punt. If the Thunder get housed, I reckon OKC plays their young rookie. If not, Russell Westbrook not playing should also help him get on the floor. Diallo looked good during preseason play, but even if he doesn’t work out here, his score gets dropped if he’s my worst player.
Shooting guard is the spot to pay down at on this slate. Schroder is a lock, but the rest of these guys lack upside. Jaylen Brown ($5.9k) is the only guy I’d really covet, but due to a variety of scoring options in Boston, he’s no lock to produce out of the gates.
SF: Kevin Durant – Golden State Warriors ($10.6k)
KD is a must for me as he prepares to face his former team. He’s pricey, but he’s quite the late-game hammer and he seems to always pop off versus the Thunder. There’s risk here if this game gets out of hand, but I won’t feel good about fading him. Durant typically has the floor of about 40 fantasy points and obviously has the ceiling for 60+.
SF: Paul George – Oklahoma City Thunder ($9k)
Dropping from PG-13 to Hayward or Robert Covington is on the table, but I don’t trust those options. If Westbrook is out, George is looking at an insane 39% usage, per RotoGrinders.com’ CourtIQ. George has also found success in this matchup, averaging over 40 fantasy points per game across four meetings with the Dubs last year.
PF: Jayson Tatum – Boston Celtics ($6.2k)
There are viable punts at PF, but I’ll cut it right down the middle at this position. Tatum was good against Philly last year (30 fantasy points per game) and still figures to have a prominent offensive role even with Boston’s top two stars back in the fold. He’s a mild discount and I’ll gladly use him here.
PF: Dario Saric – Philadelphia 76ers ($6.4k)
Jerami Grant and Marcus Morris are fine punts and I get the feeling too many people will succumb to the Patrick Patterson trap. Draymond Green is expected to be limited, too, so he’s way too pricey at the moment.
All roads lead me to a balanced take at PF, where I can roster Tatum and Saric – both of which are just rock solid DFS options. Saric also fared quite well against Boston (34 fantasy points per game) a year ago.
C: Nerlens Noel – Oklahoma City Thunder ($4)
I’m not sold on Noel just yet, but Steven Adams is listed as questionable for this game. If Adams ends up being out, Noel is a lock for me at this price. Even if Adams suits up, OKC are still +12.5-point underdogs on the road and there’s a chance Noel sees solid run, regardless.
Noel is a very strong per minutes performer and you can look at his last game against these very Warriors (20 fantasy points in just 11 minutes) to see that. I’m interested in Noel as a GPP flier no matter what, but he obviously is a lot more appealing if Adams is indeed out. For now, I’m assuming with Russell Westbrook looking very iffy, the Thunder end up being cautious with anyone else that isn’t 100% as well.
Joel Embiid and Al Horford are the other top centers here. Embiid has a terrific floor and a great ceiling, but he’s on the road and the Celtics defend well. I don’t know if he’ll reach what his price tag demands of him. Horford is a solid play at $3k less, but he always feels like a risk and facing Embiid is far from ideal. If I’m even entertaining that risk on such a small slate, I don’t see why I can’t just aim high and punt with a per minutes monster like Noel.
If Noel hits, this team could be special.
I’m not really taking a specific “team” stance other than the fact that Russ and Adams might not play. Obviously as we get closer to the games we’ll know for sure and you can adjust accordingly.
Assuming they’re out, though, I probably need to roster Dennis, PG-13 and Noel. I also need to have KD against his old squad.
Shooting guard is the weakest position on the board in my opinion, so I’ll punt there and hope Diallo gets some run and isn’t terrible. If he works out, he’s a leverage play on guys like Fultz and Noel, who could potentially be gaffes. If Diallo is my worst play, it works out just fine and he gets dropped from my score.
I’m new to this format just like everyone else, but I like my strategy. Whether you’re with me or not, hopefully I help you win in some manner tonight. Good luck and enjoy the games!