DeMarcus Cousins, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, James Harden, Anthony Davis, Steph Curry, LeBron James, and John Wall are all in action for tonight’s nine-game slate. Unfortunately, you may have heard that there is a salary cap on DraftKings. The good news is that the injury situations in Orlando, Memphis, Boston, and Chicago have opened up enough cheap options to give us access to at least one, possibly two, superstars tonight.


INJURY BOX

StatusPlayers
ProbableKristaps Porzingis (NYK), C.J. Watson (ORL), Bradley Beal (WAS)
QuestionableKelly Olynyk (BOS), Derrick Rose (CHI), Mike Dunleavy (CHI), Terrence Jones (HOU), Paul Pierce (LAC), Vince Carter (MEM), Lance Stephenson (MEM), Alan Anderson (WAS)
DoubtfulBen McLemore (SAC), Norris Cole (NO)
OutJae Crowder (BOS), Spencer Hawes (CHA), Pau Gasol (CHI), Andre Iguodala (GSW), Zach Randolph (MEM), P.J. Hairston (MEM), Mike Conley (MEM), Lance Thomas (NYK), LeBron James (CLE), Nikola Vucevic (ORL), Ersan Ilyasova (ORL), Elfrid Payton (ORL)

Editor’s Note (5:25 PM): LeBron James is OUT tonight for the Cavaliers. Kyrie Irving had 38.3 DK points the last time LeBron sat out on February 28th and considering LeBron has a whopping 31.5 percent usage rate, we should expect Kyrie and Kevin Love to see a lot more opportunities to handle the ball. Shumpert will draw the start for James and he had 28.8 DK FP when LeBron sat out in late February. This season, when Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving are on the court and LeBron is off, Kyrie has had a ridiculous 36.5 percent usage rate (compared to 29.3 percent average usage on the year).


INJURY IMPLICATIONS

1. Orlando Magic

Starters Nikola Vucevic (groin) and Elfrid Payton (elbow) are questionable to face the Hornets. These guys play a combined 61.1 minutes and take a combined 26.2 shots per game, so there is a ton of usage to go around. If both Vuc and Payton sit again, all four Magic starters outside of Dewayne Dedmon are firmly in play — even on a back-to-back. Brandon Jennings, who averages .833 DK points per minute, costs just $3700, even though I have him at a 25-minute projection as a starter. Evan Fournier has played at least 35 minutes in four of the last five games, Victor Oladipo has a hefty 25.5 usage rate with Vuc/Elfrid off the floor, and freak athlete, Aaron Gordon, brings a high ceiling nightly.

2. Chicago Bulls

Pau Gasol (knee) remains out, but Derrick Rose (adductor), Mike Dunleavy (illness), and Jimmy Butler (knee) are all expected to play. They’ll likely be in the starting lineup along with Taj Gibson and Nikola Mirotic. Both of those bigs are simply too cheap relative to their roles in a matchup with a Wizards team that ranks fifth in pace. We can safely expect around 30-32 minutes for each, with Mirotic matching up nicely against Wizards stretch four Markieff Morris and Gibson banging down low with Marcin Gortat. The return of Rose and Dunleavy puts me off the likes of E’Twaun Moore, Doug McDermott, and Justin Holiday.

3. Memphis Grizzlies

The dark comedy continues on the Grizzlies’ injury report. Marc Gasol, Mike Conley, Zach Randolph, Chris Andersen, P.J. Hairston, and Jordan Adams all remain out. Lance Stephenson (wrist) and Vince Carter (calf) are questionable. It has created a situation where they’ve signed three D-Leaguers in the last week, and all three will likely see minutes against the Wolves tonight. Matt Barnes, Lance Stephenson (if he plays) and JaMychal Green are all options. The Briante Weber/Ray McCallum punts are very thin.


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MATCHUPS TO EXPLOIT

1. John Wall against the Bulls

In his career, John Wall averages 41.5 DK points per game at home vs. 38.6 on the road. The Wizards are extremely motivated right now as they sit 10th in the Eastern Conference, 2.5 games out of the final playoff spot. Most importantly, Wall is facing a Bulls team that is inept at defending the point guard position. Just in the last three games, they’ve been hit for 33-11-7 by Kyle Lowry, 26-9-3 by Goran Dragic, and 20-12-4 by Tony Parker. Derrick Rose’s return from an adductor injury is fine news for Wall, as Rose has deteriorated into one the worst defenders in the NBA. He ranks 81st among 82 qualifying point guards in Defensive Real Plus-Minus and was on the court for that Tony Parker outlier.

2. Andre Drummond against the Hawks

Mar16 - Andre Drummond

Drummond actually fares better in slower games, as evidenced by a +1.82 DK points over salary expectation with a pace differential of +2.0 vs. +4.57 DK points over salary in all other games over the last two seasons. I also love to use rebounders against the undersized Hawks as they rank T-28th in rebound differential (-4.3) and give up the third-most offensive rebounds per game (11.6). Of course, rebounding is Drummond’s forte, as he leads the league in both total rebounds per game with 15.0 and offensive rebounds per game at 4.9 (way clear of second-place DeAndre Jordan at 3.6). Anytime we can give a guy a floor of 17 rebounds when he costs $7800, we have to consider rostering him — even in what projects as the lowest-scoring game of the night.


SITUATIONS TO CAPITALIZE ON

1. Jae Crowder’s injury changing the Celtics’ rotation

I was not surprised Evan Turner came off the bench Tuesday night even though Crowder was sidelined. Turner is an asset as a second-unit ball-handler, not as an off-ball player with the first unit. I also wasn’t surprised that Jared Sullinger got 30 minutes, well over his season average of 24.2. Without Crowder, the Celtics can’t play their small lineup that featured Crowder as a stretch-four.

“We can expect more big lineups out of Brad Stevens for the next couple weeks and that means a higher minutes floor for Sullinger”

So we can expect more big lineups out of Brad Stevens for the next couple weeks, and that means a higher minutes floor for Sullinger – especially if Kelly Olynyk (shoulder) remains sidelined. Note that Sullinger averages 1.18 DraftKings points per minute — more than Kyle Lowry, Nikola Vucevic, Carmelo Anthony, Rajon Rondo etc. The difference is Sully costs just $6000.

UNDERPRICED ASSET

1. Isaiah Thomas against the Thunder

Speaking of value within the Celtics, Isaiah Thomas remains significantly underpriced at just $7300. That’s especially true given a matchup with a Thunder defense that gives up an embarrassing 4.06 more DK points than salary-based expectation to point guards, third-most on the slate behind only the Kings and Rockets. We can see how Thomas is underpriced in the form of his DK points per minute relative to other point guards. IT2 is at 1.165 and costs $7300 while Kemba Walker is 1.092/$8800 and Rajon Rondo is 1.154/$7800.


Cash Game Considerations

(No particular order)

PosPosition
PGJohn Wall, Isaiah Thomas, Brandon Jennings, Marcus Smart, Russell Westbrook, Toney Douglas (if Norris Cole is out), Jrue Holiday
SGAndrew Wiggins, Zach LaVine, Evan Fournier, Victor Oladipo, James Harden
SFKevin Durant, Rudy Gay, Matt Barnes, Lance Stephenson (if he plays), Trevor Ariza
PFTaj Gibson, DeMarcus Cousins, Nikola Mirotic, Anthony Davis, Aaron Gordon, Draymond Green
CKarl-Anthony Towns, Dwight Howard, Andre Drummond, Jared Sullinger