Yesterday was a bad day. Thanks to Doug McDermott’s ineffectiveness and a Portland blowout against the Lakers, my DraftKings winning streak came to a half and my FanDuel losing streak continued (and I bet a LOT). I’m confident we’ll get it back tonight as Wednesday presents us with a sweet six-game slate (say that five times fast). Kevin Love immediately pops as my top value on the slate, so we’ll look at the best way to build around him.
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Kevin Love is a Top Value | FanDuel 1/11
Russell Westbrook, OKC
Westbrook will likely be a GPP-only play for me tonight. He’s always the top PG by a long shot, but the matchup with Memphis removes some upside as they rank 28th in pace and third against opposing PGs. The Grizzlies also have the longest streak in the NBA of not allowing a triple-double.
SECONDARY TOP PLAY
Chris Paul, LAC
Paul has been insanely efficient since returning from injury. His two FD scores are 42.2 and 56.2 while only averaging 30 minutes of work per game. This isn’t the most prolific game environment, but Paul is fifth in the league in PER and gets such a huge usage boost with Blake Griffin out. Orlando ranks 21st in defensive efficiency against PGs and CP3 is still underpriced on FD.
Other options – John Wall, Damian Lillard, Isaiah Thomas, Kyrie Irving
Mid-tier options – Mike Conley, Derrick Rose (yeesh)
T.J. McConnell, PHI
There are really no low end plays at PG that pop (which means you want to consider spending up for two of them). McConnell has risk associated with him since Sergio Rodriguez is healthy, but McConnell did still start last game en route to 36 minutes. It seems as though Philly is prepared to hand him the keys to the starting position going forward (a good move since they’ve won three of four), and McConnell is facing the Knicks who are dead last in defensive efficiency over the last eight games (and have also allowed the most FPPG to opposing PGs in that time frame).
Other options – Ricky Rubio, Patrick Beverley, Austin Rivers, D.J. Augustin
James Harden, HOU
I’d really love to not have to pay for Harden tonight, but the SG position is such garbage today that it’s starting to look like a necessity (even though he’s not as good a value with his price tag up to $12,400). Minnesota ranks first against SGs but 27th against PGs, and Harden dropped 57.3 FD points on Minnesota the last time they played. There are, of course, efficiency worries with Harden on the second game of a b2b, but his insane usage and assist rates rarely let us down.
Other options – None
Mid-tier options – Bradley Beal, Zach Lavine (GTD)
UPDATE: Zach LaVine is DOUBTFUL to play tonight. Andrew Wiggins becomes a much better play at SF if he’s ruled out, and Kris Dunn or Shabazz Muhammad could move into the starting five. Stay tuned.
J.J. Redick, LAC
Redick is so scoring dependent that I hate rostering someone like him in cash, but that’s really the state of the position tonight. Redick is hot right now, beating his value threshold in each of the last four contests while averaging 36 MPG. Orlando ranks well against SGs but you’re playing the price tag/opportunity and usage boost here. If you like narrative, he’s going against his former team.
Other options – Evan Fournier, Victor Oladipo, Jamal Crawford, Courtney Lee
LeBron James, CLE
LeBron has a great matchup against Portland who ranks dead last in overall team defense and 21st against SFs. He’s priced pretty fairly on FD (he’s a big bargain on DK) but he’s still a solid play in all formats. My only reason he moves down the pecking order is the high opportunity cost at the PG and SG positions, which makes LeBron more of a GPP play on FD. Remember, though, that the Cavs are also getting a nice boost in pace (they rank 19th, Portland is 11th). My Cavs priority goes to Kevin Love, however.
Other options – Carmelo Anthony
Mid-tier options – Andrew Wiggins (best value)
Andrew Wiggins, MIN
Wiggins is somewhat scoring dependent, but he is underpriced at $6300 for his minutes (37.1 MPG over the last ten games) and usage (26.7% usage rate is 28th in the NBA). The HOU/MIN game is a fun one to target as the starters for both teams generally play heavy minutes, the spread is only four points, and the O/U sits at a healthy 218. Houston ranks 13th against SFs, but they have been dropping in the overall defensive rankings as their pace factor has trended up. If Zach Lavine is indeed ruled out (doubtful), Wiggins sees his usage climb 7.4%.
Other options – Otto Porter, Robert Covington, Jae Crowder, Aaron Gordon
Kevin Love, CLE
Love is my top priority tonight, even if it costs me a bit of safety at the PG or SF position. Even at $8100, I believe he’s the top overall value on the slate against Portland who ranks last in overall team defense, last against PFs, and 29th in rebounding rate. The last time Love faced the Blazers he put on a show with a 30-point first quarter. He slowed down after that, but finished with a season-high 57.1 FD points and there’s no reason he can’t do that again.
Other options – Kristaps Porzingis
Mid-tier options – Serge Ibaka (GTD)
Markieff Morris, WAS/Gorgui Dieng, MIN
I’m including both of these guys in the value section as it depends on the level of risk tolerance you are willing to take. Dieng is the safe route. Like his Minnesota teammates, Dieng logs heavy minutes and would see additional usage with Zach Lavine doubtful for play. He is part of a nice environment against Houston, but doesn’t really have much of a ceiling playing alongside Towns. Markieff Morris is the opposite type of player. If you’re willing to take on a bit of risk, Markieff is a tremendous value at $5100. His floor is much lower but his ceiling is tremendous, especially since he had averaged 37 MPG the two contests before fouling out last night in only 22. Boston is a great draw for him as well, as they rank 27th against PFs and 28th in rebounding rate.
Other options – Ersan Ilyasova, Nerlens Noel, Dario Saric, Ryan Anderson, Al-Farouq Aminu
Karl-Anthony Towns, MIN
In my opinion you can only go one of two ways tonight at center – pay all the way up for Towns or drop down a bit to Embiid. I don’t love any of the value plays below that except for maybe Marcin Gortat but he’s struggled with efficiency lately. Towns’ price is up to $9500 but he’s averaged 36.7 MPG since the beginning of December (and 38 MPG in January) and takes on a Rockets team that ranks 16th against centers and 20th in rebounding rate.
Other options – Marc Gasol (GPP only)
Mid-tier options – Joel Embiid (also best value), DeAndre Jordan, Nikola Vucevic, Al Horford
Joel Embiid, PHI
Embiid is hardly a cheap play at $7500, but he’s still the best value at the position. As far as usage rate goes, only Westbrook, Harden, and Cousins rank higher than Embiid, and we’re now seeing his minutes start to creep to 30. The Knicks are a mess defensively right now. They are 29th against centers and allow the fifth most rebounds and the third most blocks per game to opposing centers, and they’re by far the worst overall defensive team over the last eight games. I love the price tag on Embiid, which does not reflect any of his upside in this matchup.
Other options – Marcin Gortat (cash viable if you can’t afford Embiid), Montrezl Harrell, Joakim Noah, Bismack Biyombo (only if Ibaka sits)