OK, so here’s what we know. LeBron and Rondo are already out, which means megachalk on several key Lakers. What we DON’T know yet is the status on James Harden, and the entire slate hangs in the balance of whether he plays or not. If he does, he’s a lock. If he doesn’t, you have to get a little more creative. I will be in chat later helping all our subs, and follow me on twitter @jac3600.
DeAaron Fox, SAC ($8500)
Fox is on a b2b, but this is still the game you want to target tonight. The Lakers and Kings rank second and fourth in pace and the spread is 4.5 points with a 231 O/U (honestly I thought it’d be higher). The lack of LeBron removes pretty much any vestige of a blowout, and Fox has now cleared 43 FD points in six straight contests (as long as we eliminate the “benching” game). The Lakers rank 20th in overall defense despite being third against PGs, but Fox has a 34.2% usage rate over the last six games.
Other options – Stephen Curry, Damian Lillard, Ben Simmons, Kyrie Irving
Mid-tier options – Eric Bledsoe, Ricky Rubio
Lonzo Ball, LAL ($6000)
You’re going to wind up with at least three Lakers in cash tonight, and that’s just fine. It really should start with Lonzo whose assist rate rose to 29.6% with Rondo out the first time, and LeBron missing this game is only going to drive that up more (possibly significantly). The Kings are 27th in overall team defense and 20th against PGs. Lock.
Other options – Emmanuel Mudiay, Terry Rozier
James Harden, HOU ($12,500)
Harden is completely fully priced on FD, but on a five-game slate he’ll rate as a lock considering he laps the field in expected production (including Giannis, Embiid, and any Warriors). Harden has a 41% usage rate and a 61% assist rate without Chris Paul (which is nuts, by the way), and he transcends even the tough matchup against Boston. Harden has cleared 61 FD points in six out of his last seven games, a total that still hits value at his current tag.
Other options – None
Mid-tier options – Donovan Mitchell, Khris Middleton, Buddy Hield, Klay Thompson
Josh Hart, LAL ($3700)
Hart is a perfect FD punt tonight. Even if he doesn’t start, Hart should be looking at 30 minutes tonight and would only need about 20 points to pay off his tag. Hart is only averaging 0.72 FPPM after posting 0.91 last year, but it’s fair to see that mark rise back to normal with added minutes and usage. The Kings rank 29th in defensive efficiency against SGs, so take this free square.
Other options – CJ McCollum, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Malcolm Brogdon
Kevin Durant, GS ($10,500)
Playing Warriors at home has to at least give you pause with the blowout risk (they’re favored by nine), but I’m counting on Portland’s recent success against Golden State to come into play here (plus the pace of the game should be slower than usual – GS is 10th, POR is 20th). Durant is averaging an amazing 1.39 FPPM this season, and his usage rate has only diminished ever so slightly with Steph Curry back. The matchup against Portland is great, as they rank 27th in defensive efficiency against the SF position and are undersized to defend Durant on the perimeter.
Other options – Giannis Antetokounmpo
Mid-tier options – Brandon Ingram
Brandon Ingram, LAL ($6400)
Ingram is another Laker I will be heavily overweight on, and 100% in cash. We have no sample size on Laker life without LeBron since he has yet to miss a game before tonight and also leads the team in minutes, but the 33% usage and 19 shots per game has to go someplace. Ingram should be looking at heavy minutes into the upper 30s, and he thrives in the high-paced games. He was running point in the preseason, and predicting an assist rate above 20% is a very safe bet here. $6400 is simply too cheap.
Other options – Lance Stephenson (best GPP value of the slate), Nemanja Bjelica, Evan Turner, Jae Crowder
TOP PLAY AND TOP VALUE
Kyle Kuzma, LAL ($6700)
The Lakers just keep on coming. Kuzma currently has a 20.5% usage rate and a 9.9% rebound rate, both of which are sure to skyrocket this evening. After LeBron, Kuzma is the best per-minute producer on the Lakers with 0.98 FPPM this season, and he posted a 1.04 mark last year. I wouldn’t be shocked at all if he’s the highest scoring Laker tonight, and his matchup against the Kings is just as good as his teammates’. Sacramento ranks 23rd in defensive efficiency against PFs and 26th in rebounding rate. Phew.
Other options – Draymond Green, Jayson Tatum, Noah Vonleh, Kevin Knox, Daniel Theis, PJ Tucker
Joel Embiid, PHI ($10,500)
Embiid is currently an elite GPP option in my eyes, and is cash viable if Harden sits (you have to spend the money somewhere). Rudy Gobert is not generally the center you want to attack in cash (Utah is sixth against centers and 12th in rebounding rate), but Embiid is not your typical center. His ability at step-backs and fadeaways is unrivaled, and Gobert’s strength lies more in his rim protection. Embiid is sixth in the league in usage rate and is averaging an incredible 1.51 FPPM. He’s also already proven he can handle Utah, posting 48.2 FD points in only 26 minutes in their first meeting.
Other options – Clint Capela, Rudy Gobert
Mid-tier options – Jusuf Nurkic, Willie Cauley-Stein
Enes Kanter, NY ($5900)
It’s almost impossible to trust any Knicks, but Kanter’s price has fallen to a place where you can feel comfortable taking the risk, even in cash play. The problem is that Kanter has already had two subpar games against the Bucks this year (18.2 and 22.7) and Milwaukee ranks first in rebounding rate. Still, Kanter is averaging 1.16 FPPM this season and has GPP-winning upside if his game is on. I’d try to at least get to Cauley-Stein for cash, but Kanter is fine if you need a little more savings.
Other options – Ivica Zubac, Brook Lopez, Kevon LooneyFantasy Basketball