Last night was a pretty good run when it came to my NBA DFS picks column. Dennis Schroder was solid enough, Kyrie Irving put up 46 fantasy points, Bradley Beal pieced together a strong 18-9-5 line against Boston and Klay Thompson (18-5-4 line) was plenty fine.
There were more solid picks along the way, as Draymond Green delivered a stout 12-10-6-2-2 line and John Collins was a strong value play (9-12-2-1 line), as well. My chalk value plays were also respectable, as KOQ, Michael Beasley and Mario Hezonja all met or exceeded expectations.
There really wasn’t a true weak spot on the roster last night, although my team did lack a true stud beyond Irving approaching 50 fantasy points. Still, this team should have cashed in most entries and if you changed things up slightly, perhaps you could have chased a big win.
I’ll try to do just that again tonight, as I look at FanDuel’s nine-game main slate. Here’s my favorite lineup for tonight:
PG: Kyrie Irving – Boston Celtics ($8k)
Irving was a stud for me last night and barring a random scratch, I’ll go back to the well with him tonight. Indy is not a bad matchup with Darren Collison out, while Irving has proven to be relatively matchup proof.
Indy is a nice DFS matchup in general, while Irving has averaged 39 fantasy points against them across two meetings this year. I’m betting he’s a lock for around 40+ tonight again and at this price he feels like a nice discount.
PG: Joe Young – Indiana Pacers ($3.7k)
I can see the interest in pairing another quality PG with Irving, but I have other fish to fry tonight. I’ll dive with Mighty Joe Young, who should retain a decent role off the bench with Collison still sidelined.
Young was fine in that role his last time out (17 actual points in 27 minutes) and I wouldn’t be shocked to see something similar tonight. If he can deliver 20-25 fantasy points, I think that’ll be enough to help make this roster worth it. And if Boston wrecks the Pacers, maybe he’ll just go nuts. That’d be fine, also.
SG: J.J. Redick – Philadelphia 76ers ($5.4k)
James Harden is in play more than usual if Ryan Anderson and/or Eric Gordon are out tonight, but I have other studs to chase after. Shooting guard is loaded, but hopefully it’s really contrarian that I’m opting to drop down.
Redick is one viable SG value play, as he’s locked into a solid starting role and is always a threat to pop off for 20+ actual points. A matchup with a bad Pelicans defense at home puts him in play for me, especially since he hung 28 actual points on them earlier this season.
SG: Kyle Korver – Cleveland Cavaliers ($3.6k)
This is where I start taking more dives, so like usual, if you don’t want to punt the way I intend to, just take the picks I have here that you like and adjust accordingly. I probably prefer J.R. Smith here, but I only have the salary for Korver.
I still like Korver, who could exact some more revenge on his former Hawks team (23 fantasy points per game against them across three meetings this year) and may have a bigger role than usual tonight. Obviously the Cavs will give him a shot at some payback, but Cleveland also notoriously stripped their entire team down via trades last night.
There is a very real possibility all the guys they brought in will either sit this first game out or be pretty limited. I need them to be fully out to roll with Korver, but if none of them play (specifically the guards), then Cleveland is going to be down to 10 active bodies. Not all of them are shooters, either, so something tells me Korver will get a lot of run and a lot of scoring opportunities.
On top of all of that, the Hawks are not a good defensive team. Cleveland will be run into the ground if their new additions don’t suit up, but the volume for NBA DFS purposes is impossible to ignore.
SF: LeBron James – Cleveland Cavaliers ($11.5k)
I do think one solid daily fantasy basketball strategy could be to just stack Cavs spares and fade King James, but it’s not the route I prefer. If all the other Cavs players end up logging insane run, that means you’re potentially getting 38-40 minutes of James against a weak opponent.
I highly doubt the Hawks blow the Cavs out and since Cleveland is so depleted, this is likely to remain a close game. That makes James my favorite stud on this slate, as he crushed (72 fantasy points) in his last outing and could very easily top that mark tonight.
To be clear, I am only heavily interested in James and the Cleveland spares if their new guys don’t play. If even 1-2 suit up, I’ll quickly lose interest and look elsewhere to achieve a more balanced squad.
SF: Jimmy Butler – Minnesota Timberwolves ($9.8k)
Cavs spares could headline NBA DFS strategies on Friday night, but so could the idea of revenge. Jimmy Butler will face his former Bulls team for the first time ever tonight and if there is any bad blood, you’re going to want him on your roster.
If I’m only picking between him and James, Butler might be the call due to the value and upside involved. Butler is already a fantastic play, even if you take away the upside associated with vengeance. He’s topped 54+ fantasy points in two straight games (40+ in his last four) and has a great matchup against a weak Chicago defense.
Butler is a great play across the board, but SF drops off considerably after the top two options. My favorite strategy involves pairing them and never looking back.
PF: Blake Griffin – Detroit Pistons ($9.2k)
There will be more blood tonight, as Blake Griffin gets to face the Clippers for the first time since being traded not too long ago. Griffin is a fine price and would already be in play based on his talent, upside and matchup, but he’s publicly stated this matchup is “not just another game”.
Oh, boy. Yeah, I am all in on this one, especially when you note that the only other high level option at PF is Ben Simmons. Simmons is cheaper and could be an elite pivot with Griffin surely drawing high ownership, but sometimes eating the chalk is the smart move. I’ll be stuffed with chalk tonight.
PF: Jeff Green – Cleveland Cavaliers ($3.9k)
My string of Cleveland spares continues on, simply because of the volume you’re dealing with tonight. If the Cavs are really down to just 10 healthy bodies, everyone is going to play a bit and the top guys are going to play a ton.
Green usually sees around 20-25 minutes anyways, but tonight he could easily top 30. His matchup with the Hawks is great and he has the ability to rack up points in a hurry, along with strong peripherals. He doesn’t have Jae Crowder or Kevin Love to eat into his minutes, either, so as long as new guys like Larry Nance and Rodney Hood don’t make their Cavs debuts tonight, he’s a lock for me.
C: Tristan Thompson – Cleveland Cavaliers ($4.7k)
Ditto for Thompson, who is right now Cleveland’s only viable big man on the roster. Kevin Love is still out with a hand injury and I can’t imagine the Cavs put a ton of faith in Ante Zizic. Atlanta also uses several big men in their rotation, so in just about every way I think TT is going to be needed tonight.
Beyond all of that, Thompson is a fine play due to his elite rebounding skills and a growing offensive role with Love being out. He was already starting and seeing 25+ minutes consistently, so tonight he’s another locked in value pick that I’ll have a tough time getting off of.
Again, if Cleveland spares do hit the floor, this really sends my strategy completely out the window. It’s still early in the build process and news could change things quite a bit. I still love Griffin, Butler and Irving no matter what and if all else fails, that trio is my main core.
Cleveland’s new additions suiting up would understandably get me off of the three Cavs spares I have here and it’d also get me off of James. If that happens, an alternate option would be pairing Butler with someone like E’Twaun Moore. Doing that would allow you to pay up slightly over guys like Young, Green, Korver and Thompson.
Other value plays at those spots I’d then be looking at are Rajon Rondo, Taj Gibson (also seeking revenge tonight) and Myles Turner. Hopefully that gives you another route to go, but for now, Cleveland’s new options are tentatively expected to miss tonight’s showdown in Atlanta. Regardless of what you do, good luck in your NBA DFS contests tonight!