We have ten NBA games today, with one of them starting too early to be included in the main slate. Of the nine we do have to choose from, we see some pretty big totals. The Houston/Charlotte, Washington/Denver, and Orlando/Portland games all look like good targets. Each has a nice total and a close spread that should be beneficial to fantasy players. The Thunder/Spurs and Warriors/Suns also have big totals, but the spread is large in both, which should give you a little bit of pause when looking players there. We do have a lot of options here, so let’s take a look at each game and break it down for fantasy purposes.
Houston Rockets @ Charlotte Hornets
Line: Hornets -4.5
With a high total and a close spread, this should be a great game to target. The Rockets play fast and are lax on the defensive end, so I really like this spot for the Hornets. The wing defense of the Rockets leaves much to be desired, as they are one of the worst in the league in that department. This should be a great spot to look at a guy like Nic Batum, who has played pretty well in his most recent games. He and Kemba Walker have been a big reason why the Hornets have won 12 of their last 14 games. They are scoring well over 110 points a game recently and playing solid enough defense to keep their opponents in the 100 range. They are a deserving favorite at home based off those recent numbers.
“Patrick Beverley has been one of the NBA’s elite value plays since Ty Lawson was released.”
On the other side, we have a Rockets team that is also playing pretty well. They have won four of their last five games and are also scoring over 100 while giving up right around that number. It is no secret that James Harden is their main weapon. His floor is in the high 40s, and he has ripped off a couple of 70 fantasy point games in his recent matchups. He gets a lot of help now from Dwight Howard who is playing 35ish minutes a game and putting up close to 40 fantasy points or more in his recent contests. Patrick Beverley has been one of the NBA’s elite value plays since Ty Lawson was released. His low price and consistent 25-35 fantasy points have him in consideration for all your cash games. We should see a ton of points here, so having exposure to this game makes a lot of sense.
- James Harden ($10,600)
- Dwight Howard ($8,100)
- Kemba Walker ($8,600)
- Nicolas Batum ($7,000)
Detroit Pistons @ Philadelphia 76ers
Line: Pistons -10
Philadelphia is having a rough year. They snapped a 13 game losing streak last time out, but are a deserving 10 point dog here, even at home. It really all depends on which Pistons team decides to show up. The Pistons have been the definition of streaky. They lose five straight, followed by four wins, followed by two more loses, and then 2 more wins. Sometimes they look great, sometimes they appear very average. They did just handle this Philly team by 20 points a few weeks back, so they should have little trouble doing so again. For Philly, the injuries are piling up. Okafor is likely done for the year, and Jerami Grant and Rishaun Holmes both picked up recent knocks that have them listed as questionable. Ish Smith and Nerlens Noel are back to playing a nice two man game. The price has dipped a tad on both, so they make some sense here in a tough matchup. The only other Sixer worth noting lately is Robert Covington. He too picked up a knock yesterday, but is likely to play. He can get hot and carry your team, but he can also cause problems it if he is not shooting the ball well.
For Detroit, we have seen some big games from Andre Drummond, although not nearly consistently enough. Tobias Harris has played well and found a role since coming over, and Reggie Jackson still has the ability to put up huge numbers now and then. KCP is also seeing big minutes and getting some numbers with them, although the whole team has the same problem. It is tough to figure when, and if, any of the Pistons will have a big game. It seems they have a different star almost every night, and that is not good for fantasy purposes. We like to be able to know that a player will have a huge part of any scoring that goes on. I can never say with certainty that this is a R-Jax or Drummond or KCP kind of game. I do think we see a big score from one or two of the guys mentioned, but I’m not certain which two it will be.
- Ish Smith ($6,800)
- Nerlens Noel ($6,200)
- Tobias Harris ($6,200)
- Kentavious Caldwell-Pope ($5,000)
Miami Heat @ Toronto Raptors
Line: Raptors -6
This is not going to be one of the better games to target for fantasy purposes. Both teams are efficient defensively, and they both tend to play at a tad slower pace. Both teams have won six of their last eight games, and both have done it by scoring just over 100 points, and limiting opponents to a tad under it. The line here looks right, and the game should play out that way with a few less points than some of the others. For Toronto, it’s very easy to nail down the production. Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan do all of the heavy lifting for the Raptors. Jonas Valaciunas chips in with some points and rebounding each game, but the forward spot is tough to predict – between guys like Ross, Thompson, Scola, and Patterson. Sticking to the high usage guys would be the way to go if you wanted any exposure here.
“He tends to see more minutes in closely contested games, so I really like him as an option here today”
As for the Heat, they too are somewhat easy to peg. Wade and Dragic have been the top weapons on offense with Bosh out. Hassan Whiteside off the bench has also been a monster. He tends to see more minutes in closely contested games, so I really like him as an option here today. With Dragic having a tough matchup against Lowry, the two main targets here have to be Whiteside and Wade.
- Hassan Whiteside ($8,200)
- Dwyane Wade ($7,100)
- Kyle Lowry ($8,600)
- DeMar DeRozan ($7,500)
New Orleans Pelicans @ Milwaukee Bucks
Line: Bucks -5
I think this is a sneaky game to target for some nice fantasy output. Both of these teams have played higher scoring games recently, so I expect a somewhat hot pace. With all the injuries on the Pelicans side, it is easy to nail down where the production comes from. Jrue Holiday and Anthony Davis take the bulk of the shots and do the bulk of the work on the offensive end. Jrue has been especially good since Gordon was injured, and he stepped into the starting lineup. My main fear here is that they went to overtime yesterday and are now on the tail end of the back-to-back with a very short bench.
Milwaukee has been up and down lately as far as the wins column, but the injuries they have, make fantasy production more centered. Giannis Antetokounmpo is finally blossoming into the superstar we thought he could become. With MCW out, he has been playing more of a distributor type of role. He has upped his scoring, is still rebounding well, and continues to add a few defensive stats to the mix. What really has helped him is the fact he is also getting 7 or 8 assists a game now, which has ballooned his fantasy scores up into the 50-70 point range near nightly. The matchup here does set up well for Greg Monroe, but the only two other Bucks I can use are Jabari Parker and Kris Middleton. Parker, Giannis, and Middleton are the three guys who see big minutes for Milwaukee consistently. That has been the way to get production if you do decide to target some Bucks here.
- Giannis Antetokounmpo ($8,700)
- Jabari Parker ($6,300)
- Jrue Holiday ($8,300)
- Anthony Davis ($9,800)
Memphis Grizzlies @ Atlanta Hawks
This is a tough game to peg right now. We still do not have any idea of the status of Randolph, and Conley is supposed to return, but is listed as questionable still. Memphis is also on the tail end of a back-to-back with an overtime game the night before. If there is going to be a let down, I can see it coming here. With Mike Conley and Mario Chalmers both out, we saw guys like Barnes and Stephenson really step up yesterday. Both of them are worth a look if Conley misses this game. With Chris Anderson banged up, and Randolph out, JaMychal Green has become a legit option in fantasy. He did not have a great game yesterday, but picked it up late to be a solid play for value and upside when the final buzzer went off. There is no one else to play the big guy spot, so he too needs to stay on your short list of options.
For Atlanta, I am not really sure what to think. Sometimes they look really good and other times they struggle. I do think they will be favored here at home with Memphis banged up and traveling after an OT game. Millsap and Horford should be the targets here, but neither guy has been paying off the salary lately. Teague has had a few good games, so he is worth a look, too. The most consistent option for minutes, fantasy points, and value has actually been Kent Bazemore. He is still reasonably priced and a nice mid range glue guy for your cash games again. It should be a good spot for the Hawks here, and I would not be shocked if they play really well against a reeling Memphis team.
- JaMychal Green ($6,000)
- Lance Stephenson ($4,800)
- Kent Bazemore ($5,100)
- Jeff Teague ($6,000)
Oklahoma City Thunder @ San Antonio Spurs
Line: Spurs -8.5
This is a very interesting matchup that does not bode well for the Thunder. Both teams are very good, but the Spurs defense has been insane lately. We know exactly where the fantasy production comes from on the Thunder. Either Durant or Westbrook will be the guys doing most of the damage. Westbrook is the one I would look to use more here, as Durant will be matched up with Kawhi Leonard who is a lock down defender. I do not think he shuts Durant down, but I am skeptical about KD going off for a big game. If KD finds it tough to get going, Westbrook will try to take over, so he makes more sense to target. The rest of this Thunder team is not worthy of consideration for me. Maybe an Ibaka or Adams, but neither have a good matchup.
“Each guy is cheap and still has upside; although, the big nights are fewer and further between”
As for the Spurs, we never know what will come of this. Kawhi and Aldridge have carried the offense lately, but Tony Parker and Tim Duncan are still worthy of a look in closely contested games. Each guy is cheap and still has upside; although, the big nights are fewer and further between. OKC beat San Antonio to open the season, and the two have not played since. The Spurs are on a roll now with 16 wins in the last 18 games, so I think it will be different this time. the Spurs are likely to win comfortably here, but the production should be spread enough where I still think I would rather target high usage OKC players.
- Russell Westbrook ($10,800)
- Kevin Durant ($10,500)
- Kawhi Leonard ($8,500)
- LaMarcus Aldridge ($7,400)
Washington Wizards @ Denver Nuggets
This is another game where the lines are slow to be released, but we do know it will be a very high scoring game. Both of these teams play fast and both of them have allowed a good deal of fantasy points all season. For Washington, John Wall is the main driver of that team. They go as he goes. Guys like Markieff, Beal, and Gortat all chip in, but no one has stepped up as a true #2 option for the Wizards.
On the flip side, we do have a lot going on in Denver. With Gallo out, Barton has not been the stud many thought he would be. Instead we have seen a host of other guys step up. Emmanuel Mudiay has really started to look good in the last few weeks. He has lowered his turnovers and now gone 5X or better in each of the last 6. Nikola Jokic is also turning into quite a good fantasy player. He has been right above or below the 40 fantasy point mark in his last four. He can score, rebound, and pass very well for a big man. Gary Harris has seen a ton of minutes and has produced a consistent value floor with them. He is worth a look as a cheap cash game guy. Lastly, we have The Manimal, Kenneth Faried, who has had some really big games lately. He is way more up and down, but could be a great play as a GPP guy if this is one of those 50 fantasy point games he puts up on occasion. I expect a lot of points here, so it’s definitely a solid spot to target for some fantasy upside.
- John Wall ($9,500)
- Emmanuel Mudiay ($6,800)
- Kenneth Faried ($6,500)
- Nikola Jokic ($6,400)
Phoenix Suns @ Golden State Warriors
Line: Warriors -18
One of the best teams in the league faces one of the worst. Do I even need to really explain this one? The Suns are letting the young guys get some run, which we will talk about in a minute. The likeliest scenario here is that the Warriors run up a big lead and then sit the starters late. We could still see 85 points out of them in three quarters, so you may get one or two good games from Curry, Klay, or Draymond here. It is not likely they play much in the fourth, though, so I will shy away in tournaments with that hanging over my head.
As for the Suns, I am all about the youth movement. Alex Len and Devin Booker have both been fantasy studs in the last week. Booker was unreal the other night, as he had a huge second half in their last defeat. Len was strapped with fouls early, but he had a big second half as well. I know Brandon Knight is back, but I still look at Len and Booker as the top fantasy options by far. Guys like Tucker and Chandler are nothing more than complimentary pieces right now, so they do not really warrant much discussion.
- Stephen Curry ($10,300)
- Klay Thompson ($7,000)
- Devin Booker ($6,100)
- Alex Len ($7,000)
Orlando Magic @ Portland Trailblazers
There is no spread here yet, due to the injury status of Elfrid Payton and Nikola Vucevic. It is also tough to nail down production without knowing if they play. No Elf usually benefits Oladipo who gets more time at the point and increased minutes overall. His matchup against C.J. McCollum and a weak Portland D is very enticing. Portland also struggles with big men, so Vucevic would be a great play if he was in. If he is not in, I like Aaron Gordon who has played well in his absence. Guys like C.J. Watson and Jason Smith would be min priced punt plays if Elf and Vucevic do not go, so keep them in mind if you need salary savings.
For Portland, we know where the production will come from. Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum do all the heavy lifting here. Guys try to mess with low cost options like Plumlee or Leonard, but I try to stay away from the volatility. If I take anyone here it will be the backcourt duo who have the high usage, play a lot of minutes, and do all the scoring.
- Damian Lillard ($9,800)
- C.J. McCollum ($7,100)
- Victor Oladipo ($7,500)
- Aaron Gordon ($7,000)