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We’re BACK! The All-Star break is mercifully over, and the second half of the NBA is set to kick off tonight with six games. We already have some injury news impacting everything (most notably Embiid), so let’s get right into it. We will all be back in chat helping out our loyal subs tonight, and make sure to follow me on twitter @jac3600.
FANDUEL TOP POINT GUARD
Ben Simmons, PHI ($8700)
Joel Embiid will be sitting out a week with knee soreness (makes you wonder why he played in the ASG), and a huge trickle-down effect will happen with the rest of the 76ers. Simmons is not priced for “no Embiid”, and his rates should be a lot more stable than they’ve been lately since Tobias Harris came over. Miami is not a terrific matchup from a pace or defensive standpoint, but Simmons gains a 4% usage rate bump and a 7% rebounding boost with Embiid off the court. I will say that from a per-dollar standpoint I do like Simmons less than other Sixers who we’ll talk about soon, but he’s more than viable in all formats.
Other options – Damian Lillard, Stephen Curry, Kyrie Irving
Mid-tier options – Chris Paul, Eric Bledsoe
FANDUEL TOP SHOOTING GUARD
Jimmy Butler, PHI ($8200)
Butler is my favorite option from the 76ers tonight, and he looks like a core play for me even if it winds up costing me Harden (who also looks amazing tonight). Keep in mind that along with Embiid, Philly traded away a good amount of fair- to high-usage players, and Butler gains an incredible 0.47 FPPM boost with them off the court. In a small sample, Butler has also seen his usage rate jump from 18% with Embiid on the court to almost 30% with him off, and his rebounding rate jumps 8% as well. His price excellent on FD, and nothing short of amazing on DK (see below).
Other options – James Harden, Devin Booker
Mid-tier options – Klay Thompson, CJ McCollum, Khris Middleton
DRAFTKING TOP/MID GUARDS
We’ll start with the Philly duo on DK as well, as the prices on Simmons ($7900) and Butler ($7200) are both bonkers at under 8k. Butler is a lock, and the only thing keeping Simmons from being one as well is the fact that there are arguably more egregiously priced guards. The first of these is Damian Lillard ($8600) whose price simply does not seem to move. The issue with him is that he’s actually a GTD tonight, but the game is early enough to provide more than enough acceptable pivots (Simmons being the most obvious). It’s also really tough to ignore Harden tonight on DK at $11,600. Harden’s assist rate has predictably dropped with Chris Paul back, but his usage rate remains on par with his seasonal numbers, and he’s averaged 27 shots per game in the eight games Paul has played in. The Lakers run at the third fastest pace in the league and rank 27th against opposing guards. Given the fact that Clint Capela is also expected to return tonight, I’m fine restricting Harden to GPPs only, but man that price tag…
Finally, Devin Booker ($7700) is also far too cheap on DK. The PHX-CLE game has very sneaky DFS value as both teams are so poor defensively that it could lead to mega fantasy points. The Cavs have ranked dead last against guards since day one, and the Sexton/Knight defensive pairing ain’t stopping Booker. I’m also not worried about DeAnthony Melton’s return impacting him at all.
Speaking of Sexton, the Cavs PG is in a fine spot as well tonight. Sexton ($5500/$4900) averaged 38 MPG and over 30 FPPG on all sites in the four games leading into the break, and Phoenix ranks 29th against opposing PGs. Sexton doesn’t have the high usage to be a GPP-winning play, but he’s got the cash floor you want. Tyler Johnson ($4400/$4200) is also someone to keep in mind in the same game. He’s averaged just under 30 MPG since coming over to the Suns and gets the bottom ranked PG defense of Cleveland. The issue here is how DeAnthony Melton’s return impacts him, but at the very least he’s more than viable as a GPP punt. Caris LeVert ($5800/$5100) is a play that intrigues me very much at his price tags. He seems to be playing a full complement of minutes now (33 last game) and has averaged 1.09 FPPM this season. Spencer Dinwiddie’s continued absence should keep LeVert’s usage up, and Portland’s DRPM rating against SGs ranks 23rd. One final FD strategy I like is sticking C.J. McCollum ($6400) in one of the SG spots. He’s so cheap that he’s a fine value anyway, and if Lillard sits he vaults to one of the top values on the night.
Other options – Buddy Hield, Malcolm Brogdon, Jordan Clarkson, David Nwaba, Eric Gordon
FANDUEL TOP SMALL FORWARD
Giannis Antetokounmpo, MIL ($12,400)
It’s hard to pass on LeBron when he’s $700 cheaper, but the possibilities for Giannis are mouth-watering tonight. Giannis is averaging 1.7 FPPM this year, but the Bucks are so good his minutes often get blazed out from under him. In a competitive game against Boston, we might actually see him get up to 35+ which means FPS galore. The matchup isn’t good (Boston sixth against PFs), but Giannis is matchup-proof. I do think the argument exists on FD to play LeBron over him, but certainly not on DK.
Other options – LeBron James, Kevin Durant
Mid-tier options – Josh Richardson (only if Dragic remains out)
FANDUEL TOP POWER FORWARD
Tobias Harris, PHI ($7100)
There is unfortunately no sample size to project Harris’ usage bumps with Embiid off the court and Simmons/Butler on, but Embiid leaves behind a top-five usage rate along with elite rebound and assist rates (for a center). It’s fair to project Harris for minutes in the mid- to upper-30s along with modest bumps across the board, and Philly is only a six-point favorite. Harris can be played in all formats.
Other options – None
Mid-tier options – Draymond Green, Kyle Kuzma
DRAFTKINGS TOP/MID FORWARDS
Giannis ($10,800) is easily the top play at F on DraftKings, and it’s an easy decision in cash over LeBron ($10,600). I do like the latter as a GPP pivot since his matchup is a lot better, but in cash I’m all over Giannis. Keep in mind also that the aforementioned Simmons and Butler are both F eligible on DK which helps a lot with lineup building. I haven’t mentioned Golden State yet in this article, but Kevin Durant ($9300) is very cheap despite questionable rates with everyone healthy. Cousins’ minutes limit has been increased which damages Durant even more, but the Kings are fourth in pace and 26th against SFs, and Golden State has by far the highest implied total at 125.5 points. Finally, Tobias Harris ($6600) joins the club as another member of the “underpriced Sixers” club, and he’s fine to use in any format.
As we continue with the Philly theme, JJ Redick ($5500/$5300) is someone you can plug in as well, although he holds more value on FD where two SFs have to be played with no MPE. Redick is scoring-dependent which is risky in DFS, but he averages seven more shots per game with Embiid off the court, and the big man leaves behind almost a 34% usage rate. Redick should get his, and Miami is way more vulnerable on the perimeter than inside. Kevin Love ($5700) is a FD-only option (he’s too expensive on DK), as he carries no injury designation which means we may see him get to 20-22 minutes. The Suns are a beautiful matchup for Love who averages 1.21 FPPM, and they rank 25th against centers and 29th in rebounding rate. On the other side of the ball, Josh Jackson ($5800/$5900) and Mikal Bridges ($5000/$4600) can both be used in all formats with TJ Warren continuing to sit. Both Suns are safe to see minutes in the mid-30s, and the Cavs are 29th against SFs. With the Suns tanking, there’s no risk in them sitting their young players.
Other options – Brandon Ingram, Justise Winslow, Gerald Green, PJ Tucker, Al-Farouq Aminu, Jonah Bolden, Richaun Holmes
FANDUEL TOP CENTER
Jusuf Nurkic, POR ($8100)
Nurk is a top target of mine this evening on all sites. By now we all know the “centers vs Nets” mantra, and it should continue as they allow 10% more scoring an 11% more rebounding to the C position than any team in the league. With Portland only favored by one point, we should see a full complement of minutes for Nurkic, and he’ll be matched up all day with no one who can handle his size or athleticism. If Lillard happens to sit, that’s even better. Nurk is a core play for me tonight.
Other options – Clint Capela (if no mins limit)
Mid-tier options – DeMarcus Cousins, Hassan Whiteside
DRAFTKINGS TOP/MID CENTERS
Nurkic is even more of a lock on DK at $7400 with the double-double bonus, and it’s even better news that we get to play multiple centers on DK. Why? Because you need Cousins. With no minutes limit. At…$6100?? Do not make a cash lineup on DK without him. I don’t care what the blowout risk is, and the Kings rank fourth in pace, 25th in rebound differential %, and 26th in points allowed. Even if the blowout keeps Cousins to 25 minutes, it’s more than enough to hit value at this price tag. If Clint Capela ($7000) has no minutes restriction, he’s a tremendous GPP pivot off the previous two. The Lakers are 26th against centers, and Capela was at 1.17 FPPM before he went down.
Well, it’s also a Boban night, although I need to pay for the above guys in cash. Boban ($3800/$3500) SHOULD get the start for the injured Embiid. It’s impossible to say that he’ll get more than 15-17 minutes tonight, but last time out he had ten points, eight rebounds, and three assists in only 14 minutes. When starting, Boban has a 24% UR, 21% RR, and 12% AR this season, which is more than enough upside for near-minimum costs. Brook Lopez ($5300/$4500) is an intriguing value play for GPPs in the expected competitive game between Boston and Milwaukee. His price hasn’t moved despite averaging 29 FPPG over his last four.
Other options – JaVale McGee, Kevon Looney, Ante ZizicFantasy Basketball