The 2018 NBA Playoffs tip off on Saturday afternoon, which means season number two of daily fantasy basketball is here. It’s truly an entirely different ballgame, but in a good way. Teams are playing for way more, injuries don’t knock players out of games as easily and the rotations are usually tighter.
For the most part, this makes life a bit easier in NBA DFS, but there are still tough decisions to be made. The slates are always going to be relatively small, too, so you’re going to need to take some harsh stands and stick with them.
The biggest stand comes with which stud you want to pay up for and which games you will be targeting the least.
On Saturday’s slate, The Brow and Damian Lillard stand out the most to me. That figures to be my core and I’ll build it out from there. As far as games to avoid, I’m surprisingly finding myself with very little exposure to Spurs vs. Warriors.
Let’s see what kind of GPP lineup I end up with at FanDuel:
PG: Damian Lillard – Portland Trail Blazers ($9.8k)
I’m not sure I’m into any other stud more than Lillard tonight. The Pelicans were awful defensively all year and this game projects to have the best spread (+5.5) and Total (217) of this slate, per Bovada.
That’s always encouraging, while the Pels specifically ended the year ranking 29th against point guards. This is a huge game one at home for Thrillard, who also happened to wreck New Orleans to the tune of 48 fantasy points per game this year. I’m thinking he drops a 50-burger.
PG: Kyle Lowry – Toronto Raptors ($6.8k)
Thrillard is my pay-up guy at the point, as I don’t want much to do with John Wall on the road against a solid Raptors defense. He could obviously wreck, but for just $400 more at FD, Lillard is the obvious play.
I could try punting the other PG spot, but with the tighter rotations, Tony Parker is probably the only other viable option and I’m not going there.
Instead, I’ll eat up the elite value Kyle Lowry offers.
He’s at home with a decent matchup against a Washington team that was just a middle of the pack unit against opposing point guards. I’m not sure I expect Lowry to go nuts here, but he just feels way too cheap.
Considering the alternatives are Goran Dragic, Quinn Cook, Rajon Rondo and Dejounte Murray at similar price points, I’ll take my chances with Lowry.
SG: DeMar DeRozan – Toronto Raptors ($7k)
The value story is similar with DMR. I know the Raptors have been a pain to roster in NBA DFS this year, but this is the playoffs so I’m hoping it’ll be easier to trust them to get regular run.
DeRozan’s numbers are down in more of a ball-sharing system, but he could still easily have some big outings in huge games. Considering Toronto will want to rectify a shaky history in game one situations, something tells me he’ll be up for this one. It can’t hurt that he averaged 43 fantasy points per game against Washington this year, either.
SG: Dwyane Wade – Miami Heat ($4.4k)
I will let others spend big money at shooting guard tonight. I’m taking value via DMR and hoping a playoff setting will push some veterans into more stable minutes. That has me eyeing Wade, who has gotten solid run in big situations this year and I’m thinking a first round showdown with the Sixers qualifies.
He’s pretty safe at this price off the bench, but if Miami has any hope of upsetting Philly, they’re going to need his help. He doesn’t have to crush at this price, but anything close to 30 fantasy points would be considered a big win.
There has been success for Wade in this matchup (26 fantasy points per game) and I think he can top that average on Saturday.
SF: Rudy Gay – San Antonio Spurs ($5.5k)
Kevin Durant is easily the best small forward option today, but he’s facing a stingy Spurs defense that will hope to slow him and this entire game down. That doesn’t mean you can’t use him, but he might not be that contrarian and I don’t know if I’m banking on a huge outing.
That, and I’d rather spend my cash elsewhere.
Fortunately there is some nice value I’m interested in and that starts with Rudy Gay. The Spurs held his minutes in check all year, but Kawhi Leonard isn’t back and this is the playoffs. I will not at all be shocked to see Gay regularly top 30 minutes in this series. I don’t expect him to go nuts, but I think he can get you around 30 fantasy points.
SF: Andre Iguodala – Golden State Warriors ($4k)
The same goes for Iggy. Again, a lot of the focus will be on the star Dubs guys and I can’t exactly say that’s a bad idea. However, the Spurs are tough and I also don’t know if I expect a lot of these games to be very good for DFS purposes.
I do like Iggy, though. He’s cheap and versatile and with no Stephen Curry he will probably be asked to do more. Hopefully that means consistent minutes, more shots and the ball in his hands. The fact that he can rack up the peripherals boosts his upside, while he recently suggested that he’s out to prove in the playoffs that he’s not washed up. I’m game for testing him out immediately.
PF: Anthony Davis – New Orleans Pelicans ($12.5k)
I see the value in dropping down to Ben Simmons and LaMarcus Aldridge, but I want The Brow on this slate. There’s something about Simmons against a slow, defensive-minded team I’m a little afraid of, too, while Ridge could easily face-plant against the Warriors.
I prefer Ridge of the two oddly enough, but Davis in what should be the game of the night is the guy I want. He simply has more upside and I think he and the Pels are relishing the opportunity to prove themselves in this series. Look for a huge outing.
PF: Al-Farouq Aminu – Portland Trail Blazers ($4.8k)
Davis should wreck, but Portland still has to try to stop him. Cue AFA, who is a good defender and will be on the court a ton in this series. He can try to bother The Brow, Jrue Holiday and/or Nikola Mirotic and I think he also could go off in a favorable matchup.
As previously mentioned, the Pels stink defensively and he actually put up 28 fantasy points against them across four games this year. He’s a good price and is a solid bet to continue that average or exceed it tonight.
C: Marcin Gortat – Washington Wizards ($4.7k)
Hassan Whiteside is an appealing value and Jusuf Nurkic could be a great play, but their minutes tend to be all over the place. So are Gortat’s, but he’s way less of a risk due to his price.
Since this is postseason play, there’s a decent chance the Wiz confide in Gortat more. He is a stable defender and can help on the glass, but he can also wreck in the pick-and-roll game. He also has been solid (28 fantasy points per game) against Toronto this year. Considering they have a collection of big guys they use, I think he can push for 30 minutes in game one.
Overall, I’m starting off with two elite hammers in Thrillard and The Brow and not looking back. Durant, Simmons, Wall and Ridge are all viable studs as well, but I see enough value to pay up and I also see issues with all of these other elite options.
Maybe I’m wrong, but that’s my strategy for the first slate of daily fantasy basketball playoff action. Hopefully some of my insight helps you win. Either way, I wish you luck in your FanDuel NBA DFS tourneys!