James Harden

We should see plenty of point scored in tonight’s matchup between the Bulls and Rockets. The total is set at 233.5, the highest mark of any game being played today. The Rockets’ style of play tends to lead to lots of points. Houston is playing at the second-highest pace in the league and has the league’s second-worst defensive efficiency.

Note: All salaries will be Flex prices unless noted as Captain’s Pick prices.


FIVE BETTING TRENDS

— The Bulls have lost seven of their last eight home games.

— The Rockets have failed to cover the spread in 12 of their last 15 games against Eastern Conference opponents.

— Eight of the Rockets’ last 10 road games have gone UNDER the total points line.

— James Harden has scored 36-plus points in five of the Rockets’ last six games.

— Zach LaVine has scored 26-plus points in six of his last seven appearances against Southwest Division opponents.

Stats provided by DraftKings Sportsbook


SHOWDOWN STRATEGY

Rockets

When building lineups, I am doing everything I can to fit James Harden ($19,800 CP; $13,200) into the captain spot. It turns out, adding Russell Westbrook ($10,000) hasn’t been an awful thing for Harden’s production. Even though his usage is slightly down, Russ is pushing the pace and creating more possessions for the Rockets. They are playing at the second-fastest pace in the league this season after ranking 24th in pace last season. This has been worth an extra 9.7 possessions per game for Houston. This is allowing Harden to lead the league with an average of 36.5 points per game. Obviously, this also helps his fantasy production and he’s averaging 74 DKFP in his past two games.

Clint Capela ($9,200) has the most favorable matchup of any Rocket. A good chunk of his fantasy production comes from rebounds and the Bulls are dead last in the league in rebound rate. We also have Capela coming off his best game of the season. Against the Warriors, he pulled down 16 rebounds and scored 57 DKFP. Something interesting about Capela — he got off to a slow start and was reportedly dealing with a shoulder injury he sustained playing internationally during the offseason. It seemed to hurt his ability to grab boards in the first few games and he has double-doubles in consecutive games. I am guessing that Capela is healthier now and his production should take off.

Most of the value is on the Chicago side of the game. There aren’t many cheap Rockets I like in this spot, although I am not going to totally ignore Eric Gordon ($5,800). DFS players have to be sick of hearing his name since he’s been awful to start the season and a chalk play a handful of times. Gordon is getting looks at the rim and he hasn’t been able to knock down shots. He’s a career 37% shooter from three, so there is no way he continues to shoot 23.3% from deep. The shots will fall eventually.


Bulls

Otto Porter is out of tonight’s game with a foot injury, creating value on the Bulls. In his place, Chandler Hutchinson ($2,000) is drawing the start, putting him in place to have a strong game for his salary. In the Bulls’ last game, Hutchinson scored 15 DKFP in just 19 minutes. He should easily clear that amount of playing time since he made 14 starts last season and averaged 28 minutes in those games. The other Bulls who figure to see increased playing time without Porter is Thaddeus Young ($4,600). Hutchinson is my preferred value option since he’s cheaper and starting, but Young makes for a nice pivot. We can also roster both of them together to make fitting in Harden easier.

Of all the players on the Bulls, Lauri Markkanen ($8,200) sees the biggest uptick in usage with Porter off the court. His usage rating jumps to 25.9% from 22.6% without Porter. Overall, this has been a disappointing season for Markkanen, but it’s worth mentioning he had one of the best games of the season last game, which is likely correlated to Porter leaving during the game with an injury. Markkanen scored 36.25 DKFP, his best output since opening night. We should also expect Zach LaVine ($8,800) to get more shots up, although I think Markkanen is the better target of the two.

The production for Colby White ($5,200) has been difficult to nail down. This shouldn’t really be a surprise when considering that he’s a rookie point guard. His inconsistencies makes him tricky to deal with for DFS. In the Bulls’ first nine games, White has scored over 30 DKFP three times and scored under 15 DKFP three times. For GPP purposes, this makes him somebody to target on a one-game slate and a player we should avoid in cash games. One reason for optimism: White played a season-high 30 minutes last game, so it’s possible his playing time is trending upwards.


THE OUTCOME

The Porter injury hurts the Bulls’ odds to win tonight. He is likely a bit overpaid, leading people to say Porter is a bad player, which isn’t the case. Porter is a valuable player who typically provides plus defense and has been one the more efficient scorers from three over the past few seasons. The Bulls are off to an underwhelming 3-6 start and it’s unlikely they have what it takes to slow down a red-hot Harden. The Rockets should comfortably win a high scoring game.

Final Score: Houston 122, Chicago 112


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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is gehrenberg) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.