Thursday night’s daily fantasy basketball slate was a bit of a bore, thanks to a small two-game schedule. I opted to fade James Harden to piece together a more balanced lineup and, well, that was a mistake. Harden went nuts with 48 actual points and it appears the return of Chris Paul may not negatively impact him like many (including myself) speculated.
I still nailed a few solid picks, of course. Jaylen Brown was a beast (42 fantasy points) and Alex Len (24) wasn’t a bad value play for his $4.8k price tag. Nobody else really went nuts, but Ryan Anderson was another solid value play (30) and just two players poured in fewer than 27 fantasy points on the night.
Jayson Tatum was the biggest gaffe. He played a ton and potentially could have had a huge game, but seemed like a ghost on the court at times. He finished with 18.8 fantasy points on a night where I was six fantasy points from cashing in a $0.25 GPP.
I wasn’t expecting the world from a tiny entry on such a weak slate, so it’s onward and upward.
I continue to loathe the “balance” the NBA has with scheduling, by the way. Last night gave us two games and tonight 11 games hit the hardwood. The league could easily just divide those 13 games up into 6 and 7-game slates and it’d be a much better NBA (and DFS) product.
Still, Friday boasts a far better slate to work with and plenty of elite options. Goal number one is picking which stud(s) to build around and then seeing if there is a lineup that makes sense for GPPs. Let’s get to it:
PG: Dennis Smith Jr. – Dallas Mavericks ($6.9k)
There are some terrific point guard options to choose from tonight, but that isn’t where I want to spend my money. The top three point guards are all viable, but they’re also kind of the same guy. You’re looking at a 45-50 point window if you’re being realistic and unless one of those guys is a lock to go nuts, I’d rather dive down and get better value.
I can get that with DSJ, who has developed into a star rookie for the Mavs. Dallas still isn’t good, but they’ll be at home and Smith gets to go to work against a weak Minnesota defense that ranks just 23rd against opposing point guards. He dropped a career-high 27 points on the Spurs in his last outing and now gets an even better matchup. Sign me up.
PG: Jeff Teague – Minnesota Timberwolves ($6.7k)
I don’t necessarily want to target a game with the Mavericks more than once, but Teague is a good price and like Smith, has a good matchup (Mavs rank 21st against point guards). The hope is Minnesota helps push the pace and the combination of two poor defensive teams leads to fantasy goodness.
Teague is not a bad play by any means. Teague has been steady enough, registering 30+ fantasy points in 7 of his last 10 games. He’s also had a pretty good floor, with just two games in that stretch dropping him below 28 fantasy points. He feels like a safe play in a good spot tonight, while point guard just doesn’t feel like the spot to spend at.
I really am interested in trying Rajon Rondo tonight at $4.2k. He is on a 20-24 minutes limit, so it’s a strict GPP move and I’m not sold on it yet, but he can do a lot in brief court time. It’s something to consider.
SG: Austin Rivers – Los Angeles Clippers ($5.3k)
Shooting guard is another position I’m not enamored with. There are plenty of solid options up top, but no true stud we have to target. I have no issue with dropping down to guys like Rivers and KCP. Rivers gets to face a bad Cavaliers defense and he’s getting plenty of run these days, as well.
Everyone will want Lou Williams, but he’s an absurd $7.7k on FanDuel right now. I’ll take the discount with Rivers, who can absolutely blow up in this matchup. Patrick Beverley is again doubtful and Danilo Gallinari is already out, so Rivers and the rest of the Clippers should see a heavy offensive workload once again.
SG: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope – Los Angeles Lakers ($5.3k)
The logic is similar with KCP, as he’s just giving us too much value at a weak position. I won’t be denying it, as KCP is still a good price and logs plenty of run. He’s provided a nice floor for much of the year and has turned in 30+ fantasy point outings in 3 of his last 4 contests.
KCP is always going to come with some risk, but he’s been steady and could blow up tonight against a bad Suns defense that ranks dead last against shooting guards.
SF: LeBron James – Cleveland Cavaliers ($11.4k)
Derrick Rose could again be out tonight, but whether I can get more Point LeBron or not, James is probably my favorite stud on this slate. That’s for three reasons, potentially.
Reason number one is he obviously can be a beast and he showed us that again by dropping 55 and 56 fantasy points in each of his last two games. Secondly, Rose potentially being out again leaves the offense in Bron Bron’s hands, which is usually a great thing for NBA DFS.
Lastly, the Clippers are coming to town and have eroded defensively. Patrick Beverley sets the tone up top and he’s listed as doubtful for this contest. That, and L.A. doesn’t stop small forwards (24th vs. SF), so overall, this looks like a strong home matchup.
I lied, as there is one more reason I covet King James. Small forward is atrocious. Jimmy Butler and Paul George both burned me last time out and I don’t love them tonight. Beyond these three guys, the position gets either inflated or ugly rather quickly. King James or die, baby.
SF: Courtney Lee – New York Knicks ($4.8k)
I’m fine with eating a bad play if it comes to that at the other small forward spot. Fortunately, there is some value to exploit. I don’t hate the idea of Brandon Ingram ($6.2k) or Joe Ingle ($5.5), but I’m probably seeking more value in the way of guys like MKG ($4.9k), Courtney Lee or Wilson Chandler.
MKG is as volatile as they come offensively and Gary Harris is due back, so that all brings me to Lee. The Knicks’ small forward has actually been fantastic lately, scoring 12+ actual points in four consecutive outings. Lee is on the floor more for his defense, but he’s getting open looks and knocking them down.
Easy buckets combined with elite run has translated to solid fantasy success, with Lee notching 21+ fantasy points in 11 of his last 12 games. He’s also topped 24+ fantasy points six times during that stretch. Lee did tweak his hamstring in his last game, so be sure to monitor his status leading up to the tip.
PF: Taj Gibson – Minnesota Timberwolves ($4.9k)
I never get excited about rostering Gibson in NBA DFS, but he starts and actually gets good run for some reason. In fact, he’s been churning out solid production in his time on the floor, notching an impressive 4 double-doubles in his last 6 outings.
Gibson is not an elite option, but he serves a purpose for Minnesota and offers nightly double-double upside. He also gets a good matchup against Dallas (23rd versus PF) and dropped 41 fantasy points on the Mavs earlier this year. I want to save in a few spots to land a stud or two, so this is a necessary dive.
PF: Anthony Davis – New Orleans Pelicans ($11k)
I’m fine with using Blake Griffin tonight if things change, but I also love the idea of pairing to elite studs together. My top option on this slate is LeBron James and right behind him is The Brow. Davis could have a little trouble with Paul Millsap on him, but Denver actually ranks just 24th against opposing PF this year.
The matchup looks fine on paper, while Davis tends to usually get his. If we can get him at lower ownership than usual, though, that cements this pick for me. That’s possible, as Davis has not been his elite self lately (below 49 fantasy points in 3 of his last 4 games). I don’t expect that to keep up, however, so hopefully other people are off of him and we get a huge outing at low ownership.
C: Greg Monroe – Phoenix Suns ($3.7k)
News came out later last night that Moose would draw the start in his Suns debut. That was a little surprising, while he proceeded to wreck with 43.7 fantasy points in 26 minutes. With Tyson Chandler out again on Friday, it’s going to be hard to pass up the elite value here. Center is loaded, but if Monroe is starting against the Lakers (17th against centers), I’m all in.