After a tame Friday we have an absolutely bonkers 11-game slate on Saturday night, and there are SO many decisions we’ll have to make tonight, starting with Harden who will once again be without Chris Paul and (likely) Eric Gordon. We going back to the well, or are the other studs (and there are a ton of them) good enough to group together instead? Time (and injury reports) will ultimately tell, and make sure to join us in chat tonight. I’m also on twitter @jac3600. Good luck!
FANDUEL TOP POINT GUARD
Ben Simmons, PHI ($9700)
One of the premier games of the night is the PHI-SAC game, which features a 3.5-point spread and a 236 O/U. The two teams rank second and seventh in pace, which means fantasy points galore are coming. Embiid is the #1 option for Philly, but Simmons is a strong 1A who thrives in the uptempo matchups against bad defenses (SAC is 20th overall). The first-time allstar has triple-double upside, and the Kings also have the third highest TO rate.
Other options – Stephen Curry, Kemba Walker
Mid-tier options – DeAaron Fox, Kris Dunn, Ricky Rubio
FANDUEL TOP SHOOTING GUARD
James Harden, HOU ($13,500)
Harden’s price tag came down a lot more on DraftKings, but this is a situation where you have to treat him in his own tier, even with all the other studs on the slate. Chris Paul will rest today, and Eric Gordon looks like he’s set to miss more time as he tweaked the same knee that kept him out last time. With those two off the court, Harden’s usage rate was at 47% and his assist rate was at an incredible 52%. The matchup with Utah is horrible, but rates trump matchup here, and Harden already has a 71.7-point game against the Jazz in 40 minutes this year. I can at least listen to ideas of fading him on FD where his price is still up, but I’m looking to build around him if I can.
Other options – Bradley Beal, Luke Doncic, Jrue Holiday (all three of these guys are in monster spots), Devin Booker, DeMar DeRozan, Jimmy Butler
Mid-tier options – Zack LaVine, Khris Middleton, Buddy Hield
DRAFTKINGS TOP/MID GUARDS
Harden is a totally different story on DK where his price has come back down to $12,500. I don’t care how good the other studs look – you’re not fading Harden at that price tag which is about 2k too cheap for the scenario. The double- and triple-double upside he has only furthers his DraftKings score. Play him and don’t look back.
That said, we do need to talk about Luka Doncic ($8300). He is questionable himself, so that’s the first thing that needs to be monitored. If Doncic plays, he’s arguably as good a per-dollar play as Harden on DK, and I’d look to roster both (Doncic is also SF eligible). The Mavs traded away everyone to the Knicks, and the players they got back won’t debut tonight. This means astronomical rates for Doncic, and he gets to take on the Cavs who rank dead last in both overall defensive efficiency and against guards. Sheesh. Bradley Beal is ALSO way too cheap on DK at $8500, and he’s the direct way I’d pivot if Doncic were to sit. Milwaukee ranks second in overall team defense, but they’re also fifth in pace and allow the most 3PA in the league and Beal is too cheap for life without John Wall. Also consider Devin Booker ($8800) who is facing the Hawks who rank first in pace and allow the most FPPG to opposing guards. God, tonight is tough…
Jalen Brunson ($3600/$4200) was a chalky bust last time out for the short-handed Mavs, but we can consider him again tonight against the Cavs who are last in defensive efficiency against opposing PGs. If Doncic sits that will vault him up the rankings considerably, but he’s already fine as the FD “burner” play. On DK at $4200, I’m much less interested. Malik Beasley ($4200/$4700) will be popular tonight after going batty on the Rockets yesterday, but that shouldn’t deter you. He’s taken huge strides for the Nuggets this season, and Minnesota ranks 18th against opposing SGs. If Gary Harris sits again, Beasley is very much in play. Cory Joseph ($4200/$4000) is definitely usable as long as he starts again. He didn’t do all that much last game but he played 36 minutes which is more than enough for 4k price tags. The matchup is neutral for Joseph (Miami is 15th against PGs) but he’s a solid punt to fit in some of the studs.
Other options – Darren Collison, Derrick Rose, Jeremy Lin, Monte Morris, Evan Fournier, Terrence Ross, Torrey Craig
FANDUEL TOP SMALL FORWARD
Giannis Antetokounmpo, MIL ($11,700)
Antetokounmpo is an interesting play today, as he matched Harden’s per-minute totals during that whole historic run for Harden – he just played almost ten less minutes per game. If he gets full run, the numbers could be massive against a Washington team that is undersized and slow in the frontcourt and ranks dead last in rebounding rate. He’s firmly in play in all formats, and the top GPP option if it looks like massive ownership for Harden.
Other options – LeBron James, Kevin Durant
Mid-tier options – Justise Winslow
FANDUEL TOP POWER FORWARD
LaMarcus Aldridge, SA ($9800)
Meh. The matchup is awesome against a New Orleans team that ranks sixth in pace, but man LMA’s price tag has really caught up with him. It helps that the Spurs actually have the second highest team total on the slate, but I find it hard to envision Aldridge paying off this price tag even in GPPs as long as DeRozan is around. Figure him in some large field MME’s, but save your money in cash at PF.
Other options – None
Mid-tier options – Lauri Markkanen, Draymond Green, Aaron Gordon
DRAFTKINGS TOP/MID FORWARDS
Giannis ($10,900) and Aldridge ($8100) are much more in play for cash on DK than they are on FD, and they’re going to make your life a lot more difficult as they present even more options to pair with Harden to go along with all the guards I mentioned earlier. In addition, Ben Simmons ($9200) is also too cheap on DK and is both G/F eligible. We also have to mention Kevin Durant here at $9300. He’s definitely feeling the usage squeeze with DeMarcus Cousins getting more and more time in the fray, but Durant’s price is baked into that, and the Lakers rank 25th against opposing SFs. KD has done historically well against LeBron in the past, and Golden State coms in with the highest total of the night at 123 points. Going back to the Spurs, it’s going to be really tough for me to fade DeRozan as well tonight at $7600. He and Aldridge are the entire offense, and New Orleans has ranked last in defensive efficiency against SFs since game one.
You want at least two of the three Dallas forwards in this one. Harrison Barnes ($5700/$5800) dominated the usage last game (granted Doncic was out) and rolled his way to 39.4 FD points in 37 minutes. If Doncic plays, it hurts Barnes, but not enough to make him a bad play at his prices. Dwight Powell and Maxi Kleber should be treated very differently on the sites. On FD, they’re the top two values as they’re both near min-priced, and I’ll probably be using both of them so I can attempt to roster Harden and at least two other big players. They took away from each other with Salah Mejri also getting in the mix, but Mejri should be much less-needed against Cleveland than he was against Detroit. Otto Porter is looking more doubtful than questionable in this one, which means Trevor Ariza ($6100/$5700) and Jeff Green ($5200/$4700) will likely get all the minutes they can handle. Milwaukee presents a tough defense, but the fast pace of this game should keep Ariza’s and Green’s floors elevated. Either are fine in cash as a last piece, with Green looking like the better overall value. I guess it’s also finally time to recognize Kenrich Williams ($4600/$4100). He has yet to start, but he’s played 30 and 37 minutes off the bench the last two games and has crushed value in both games. The Spurs’ defense is solid but their bench ranks 19th in FP allowed.
Other options – Kelly Oubre, Josh Jackson, Bojan Bogdanovic, Darius Miller, Joe Ingles, Jae Crowder, Derrick Favors, Bobby Portis, Marvin Williams, Corey Brewer
FANDUEL TOP CENTER
Nikola Vucevic, ORL ($10,000)
It’s taking all the willpower I have not to write about Embiid here, as I shudder to think what he’s going to do to the Kings tonight. However, I think Vuc is still the best per-dollar play at the C position. The Nets have been the best attack point for centers since day one, and they’ve allowed 10% more scoring and 12% more rebounding than the rest of the league to centers this year. Vuc’s two matchups against the Nets this year have yielded FD scores of 59.3 and 48.4, both of which surpass his 10k tag.
Other options – Joel Embiid, Nikola Jokic, Karl-Anthony Towns, Rudy Gobert
Mid-tier options – DeMarcus Cousins, Jahlil Okafor, DeAndre Ayton
DRAFTKINGS TOP/MID C’s
As usual, DK has no idea how to price centers. The fact that Vucevic ($9800) and Towns ($9700) are under 10k is ludicrous, and both are elite values in all formats. If choosing one for cash I still go Vuc with Towns’ foul risk against Jokic, but I will have plenty of Towns in GPP. Gobert’s price is also silly at $8400. He’s taking on the Houston frontcourt that features the 6’8″ Kenneth Faried as their main rim protector. Gobert savaged Atlanta yesterday, and he should do the same to Faried and company again. And now, of course, we get to Embiid. His price of $10,700 is obviously elevated compared to the other centers mentioned, but Embiid arguably has as high an upside as anyone on the slate not named Harden. Sacramento ranks second in pace, 22nd against centers, and 25th in rebounding rate. Poor Willie Cauley-Stein.
Finally, let’s not forget Jahlil Okafor ($7000) who is getting major run for New Orleans with everyone out these days, and DeMarcus Cousins ($6700). Cousins was still limited to 25 minutes last game, but if they raise that, he could be considered the top per-dollar play at C. The Lakers are 25th against centers and third in pace.
Willie Cauley-Stein ($6100/$5700) has to be mentioned for his cheap price. His usage and scoring has taken a definite hit lately, but the minutes have still been there. If he can stay out of foul trouble (a big if against Embiid), he HAS to play a lot of minutes as the only King who can possibly make an effort to body up on the big Philly center. I will have GPP exposure. Thomas Bryant ($4900/$5200) is also usable at his prices, although Milwaukee funnels rebounding opportunities away from centers. Bryant does have an elite 18% rebounding rate in his limited time, and Ian Mahinmi is looking more doubtful than questionable, along with Otto Porter.
Other options – Jarrett Allen, Mason Plumlee, Salah Mejri, Willy HernangomezFantasy Basketball