Monday is normally a slow day for NBA DFS, but we have a really robust nine game slate to tackle here. We have at least 3 games with totals in the 220 range, so hopefully that spreads out some of the ownership. We also have reached the point in the year where a lot of injuries have been popping up, which opens up a ton of value plays. Memphis is on this slate, and they have been one of the places a lot of people have been looking. Short rotations mean the fantasy points and production are funneled into fewer players, and that is usually good for their fantasy upside. Let’s take a look at all the matchups and see where we should be looking.
|Out||Danilo Gallinari (DEN), Mike Conley (MEM), Chris Andersen (MEM), Andre Iguodala (GSW), Alexis Ajinca (NO), Zach Randolph (MEM), Gordon Hayward (UTA), Derrick Rose (CHI), Dion Waiters (OKC)|
|Doubtful||Pau Gasol (CHI), Mike Dunleavy (CHI)|
|Questionable||Dwyane Wade (MIA), Bradley Beal (WAS), Vince Carter (MEM), Dion Waiters (OKC), Norris Cole (NO), Lance Stephenson (MEM), Bradley Beal (WAS), Jusuf Nurkic (DEN)|
|Probable||Jimmy Butler (CHI), Jodie Meeks (DET), Joffrey Lauvergne (DEN)|
Dallas Mavericks @ Charlotte Hornets
Line: CHA -6
These two teams are heading in opposite directions. The Hornets have won 7 in a row and are doing so by scoring a ton of points and playing at an elevated pace. They have scored 118 or better in 5 of those 7 recent wins. Dallas, on the other hand, have lost five straight. Their scoring is down, and they are giving up a ton of points. The total and spread here are a little weird to me, as I would expect a huge game from the Hornets. Kemba Walker and Nic Batum have been the main cogs and both are in a pretty good spot here. They have had plenty of help lately too. Marvin Williams has been a guy who has consistently outperformed expectations. Batum is easily the biggest addition to this team, but Williams has easily been the most pleasant surprise. He has consistently put up 30-35 fantasy points, and his price still remains friendly. Guys like Zeller and Al Jefferson have alternated big games, as well. When a team is scoring 118+ as often as the Hornets have you tend to get a lot of really good fantasy stat lines.
For Dallas, they do not have a ton of guys you have wanted lately for fantasy purposes. Wesley Matthews, Deron Williams, and Zaza Pachulia have all underperformed. The Dallas offense is really being carried by Dirk Nowitzki and a bunch of bench players at the moment. Dirk can and always will have the ability to put up points. He’s gone for 40+ in back to back games and returned 7X value. The only other starter to consider is Chandler Parsons. When his shot is dropping he tends to outperform value, but when it is not, he can hurt you team. Guys like J.J. Barea and David Lee off the bench have been solid surprises, but we like them much better when the price is lower. At present levels, it saps the upside potential, unless an injury opens up a clear path to more minutes, more so for Lee who is up to $5K. J.J. still has some left at only $3500. Charlotte has been paced up, so they are allowing a good number of points, too. That may be the thing to hang your hat on if you want to play some of these Mavericks tonight.
- Kemba Walker ($8,700)
- Cody Zeller ($4,200)
- Dirk Nowitzki ($6,600)
- J.J. Barea ($3,500)
Denver Nuggets @ Miami Heat
There is a lot to talk about here. For starters, Dwyane Wade’s status will change a lot. He sat last game, and Miami’s production shifts drastically when he does. Goran Dragic would be the main beneficiary, as he usually is. Wade has such a high usage rate that it really negatively impacts everyone else when he is on the court. When he is out, however, a lot of the other cheaper options tend to shine. One guy we have to talk about is Hassan Whiteside. Whiteside is a beast in fantasy. He racks up rebounds, he leads the league in blocks, and he consistently has been scoring in double digits. Yes, he comes off the bench, but he still gets 30 minutes and is scoring 40+ fantasy points in them. The other guy I like with Wade in or out is Luol Deng. Denver struggles defensively against every position, so Luol Deng’s versatility will yield results anywhere he does play. He has been more consistent than Joe Johnson, so if you want to know where else to go, I would trust Deng’s body of work over the big last game from Johnson for those who chase game logs.
Denver is mostly a mess and impossible to nail down for fantasy purposes. We have seen Mudiay and Harris get a lot of minutes and play well lately, so that is where I would start. Will Barton had been struggling without Gallo when we all thought he would dominate. Lately, he has looked more like that guy from the early part of the season. Nikola Jokic had a string of good games and then was given less minutes last time out. Same thing goes for Faried. As long as coach Malone keeps mixing up the rotation and giving minutes to Nurkic, Lauvergne, and Arthur, then I can not say any of the bigs are safe for cash games. Jokic and Faried have put up the biggest upside games, so they would be the targets for a GPP. Trying to understand the ‘whys’ and ‘hows’ of that rotation is very difficult.
- Hassan Whiteside ($8,200)
- Goran Dragic ($6,700)
- Will Barton ($5,900)
- Darrell Arthur ($3,500)
Chicago Bulls @ Toronto Raptors
Line: TOR -10
Pau has been ruled out already, Rose is listed as questionable, and Jimmy Butler was just upgraded to probable. I’m not sure if any of that matters, though, as the Raptors are playing really well and will be at full strength. They have won 9 of their last 11, and I am not sure a healthy Bulls team could beat them right now. Toronto is led by it’s backcourt. If Butler plays, then it is not a good spot for DeMar DeRozan. That means the guy to look at has to be Kyle Lowry. He has become expensive, but that’s what happens when a guy puts up 30, 40, and 50 point games night in and night out. If DeRozan’s usage takes a hit with Butler active, then Lowry will be the beneficiary. The only other guy who is really viable and consistent is Jonas Valanciunas. The Bulls will be undersized without Pau, so he should also get an uptick in output.
For Chicago, an active Jimmy Butler is always in play. If Rose is out, He gets a big uptick in usage, as we have seen. With Pau out too, it only ticks him up higher. It probably also makes guys like Taj Gibson, Bobby Portis, and Nikola Mirotic more interesting. All three will see more minutes and more shots without Pau and maybe Rose out. I’d be careful about going too heavy, though. Toronto is a great defensive team and they are playing for playoff seeding. They do play low scoring games, so it might not turn into a blowout, but I do not think the game will ever really be in doubt with the Bulls so banged up.
Editor’s Note (6:10 PM ET): Derrick Rose is OUT tonight, officially. Mike Dunleavy is also looking unlikely to play for the Bulls. With Rose, Dunleavy and Gasol out the Bulls are left extremely thin but they’re likely to still spread minutes out evenly across their healthy options. Nikola Mirotic ($4500) is going to start in place of Pau Gasol tonight and makes for an interesting value play and Jimmy Butler ($8,000) is an option as well as he returns from his second stint on the injury list this season.
- Jonas Valanciunas ($5,300)
- Kyle Lowry ($8,200)
- Jimmy Butler ($8,000)
- Nikola Mirotic ($4,500)
Memphis Grizzlies @ Houston Rockets
Line: HOU -10.5
I am not quite sure what to make of this Memphis team right now. You would think it would be tough for a team without Gasol to also be playing without Conley and Zach Randolph lately, but you would be wrong. I’m not saying the Grizzlies have been great, but they have held their own. They have had some trouble scoring, which is expected when your top three scorers are all out. That is a big problem against a fast paced Houston team that does score a bunch. Houston has been pretty solid, despite a recent slip up. They are very bad on defense, but they can score with the best of them. James Harden is the main weapon for them here and I think this is a decent spot for him. He struggled against a good defensive Celtics team, as expected, and then he did not play great against the Hornets who blew them out. He also did not play big minutes in that one, so you may catch the some napping on him. He faces a Memphis team that is decimated by injuries, so he very easily could have a huge game.
“He remains cheap and has been hitting value, so he too is in play”
Dwight Howard has really been solid for the Rockets lately as well and he has a huge advantage here no matter who is healthy. He will likely see a combination of JaMychal Green and Ryan Hollins defense, with a little Zach Randolph (Z-Bo), as well if he is playing. All of them are smaller than Howard is, so he should have a good chance to play well here. A sneaky minimum priced play could be Michael Beasley, who is seeing more minutes. I would rather take him at min price then try to figure out whether Brewer or Ariza has a better game at a higher salary. Despite the bad last outing, Patrick Beverley has played well recently. He remains cheap and has been hitting value, so he too is in play.
For Memphis, I will assume Conley and Randolph sit. Z-Bo out means more run for JaMychal Green again. Houston struggles vs. big men and plays fast, so it is a good spot for him. You also have to look at guys like Matt Barnes and Lance Stephenson. The price is up on both, but they are seeing more minutes and being asked to do more. Stephenson has even played some point guard minutes with both Conley and Chalmers out, so he is my favorite play. Even with the price bump, his increased minutes, usage, and shot attempts still justify his present tag. If Vince Carter remains out, we should be able to reasonably expect the minutes to stay elevated for all these guys. The fast pace and likely high score make them a team you have to consider, especially with the bench being so short.
Editor’s Note (6:35 PM ET): Vince Carter has been ruled out for tonight against the Rockets. Matt Barnes, Tony Allen and Lance Stephenson all stand to benefit the most (Stephenson is also questionable tonight).
- James Harden ($10,500)
- Dwight Howard ($7,800)
- Lance Stephenson ($5,500)
- JaMychal Green ($6,200)
Portland Trailblazers @ Oklahoma City Thunder
Line: Thunder -8.5
I really like this game for fantasy purposes – two fast paced teams and both are a tad lackadaisical on the defensive end. Each routinely plays games in the 210 range with a ton of those games going over that mark. They also are both very easy to nail down the production for. Durant and Westbrook account for 62.5% of the usage for the Thunder. That is an insane amount. As heavily as the Trailblazers depend on C.J. McCollum and Damian Lillard, they only come in at 58.7%. That normally is much higher than a combo any other team would have, but not in this case.
If you want exposure to this game, those are the four guys who are the likely top scorers. It’s an easy 2 and 2 from the numbers, but the pricing makes playing them all nearly impossible. All 4 have plus matchups, but Westbrook is probably in the best spot. Lillard is a very weak defender and always has been. Westbrook also has put up some eye popping numbers across the board this season. If I could only choose one of these four for upside, value, or consistency it would be Westbrook. If you want a piece of this game for cheap, I think we have a few options to look at. Myers Leonard and Mason Plumlee are both really cheap. Each has put up some decent games that were great value at rock bottom price. Serge Ibaka will be a popular name, but he’s strictly a GPP option for me. $5500 is cheap for some of his upside games, but he also can just as easily disappear and put up a very low score.
- Russell Westbrook ($10,800)
- Kevin Durant ($10,500)
- Damian Lillard ($9,700)
- C.J. McCollum ($6,700)
Detroit Pistons @ Washington Wizards
John Wall needs help. I’m not sure what more I can say. It sometimes feels like he should be more selfish, because his teammates are not doing much of anything. I can not even make a good case to pay up for another guy on Washington right now. Gortat is not playing a ton of minutes, Markieff is not making value, Beal is always hurt. That basically leaves us with guys like Otto Porter, Nene, and Garrett Temple to look at. Temple sees a lot of minutes if Beal is out, but lacks upside. Otto has upside, but does not always show it. Nene has been the most consistent, and he still is not playing huge minutes or putting up big scores. That really leaves Wall all by himself, which has been a big reason they have lost five in a row.
Detroit has actually been playing pretty well and are a solid defensive unit. They would be the team to target in this one, as Washington paces them up a bit. They are a tough team to nail down for fantasy though. Reggie Jackson and Andre Drummond are the two biggest studs for fantasy but both are very up and down. Tobias Harris has been really solid since coming over, so he is likely my favorite option here at a slightly cheaper price. We also see games where KCP goes nuts for a big score. They are very balanced, which makes it tough to predict where the fantasy points will come from. I really like the Pistons in this game but I’m not certain which Pistons I like the most. I do think we see a few big stat lines, so I would not argue with exposure to any of them but would prefer to keep the volatility on tournament rosters only.
- John Wall ($9,400)
- Garrett Temple ($3,500)
- Tobias Harris ($6,300)
- Reggie Jackson ($6,700)
Minnesota Timberwolves @ Phoenix Suns
Line: Suns -3
I am actually pretty excited to see what kind of fantasy numbers can come out of this game. Alex Len and Devin Booker have looked really good lately for the Suns. It is the end of the year and these two young guys are starting to round into shape. Throw in Brandon Knight, back from injury, and the once lowly Suns look pretty good. Even Tyson Chandler is playing better. The trio of Knight, Len, and Booker are all reasonably priced, so this game is one that has some stack-ability.
On the other side, Karl Anthony-Towns and Gorgui Dieng form a nice big man combo for the Timberwolves. Those two guys have been putting up double-doubles on a regular basis. Zach LaVine is seeing more time, but Ricky Rubio is the better fantasy player in his role. Rubio can rack up assists and steals, which are two of the higher scoring things a point guard can do. He scores in the open court mostly, but is also a solid rebounder for a guard. Some people do not come away from watching him visibly impressed, but he can definitely rack up fantasy points.
- Brandon Knight ($7,200)
- Devin Booker ($6,500)
- Ricky Rubio ($6,200)
- Karl-Anthony Towns ($7,900)
Cleveland Cavaliers @ Utah Jazz
Line: CLE -3
The Cavaliers and the Jazz should be a pretty decent game to watch but a dreadful one to use for fantasy purposes. The Cavs play at a faster clip, so this game is paced up for Utah and paced down for Cleveland. Utah is also a pretty solid defensive squad, so it will not be an easy task for any of the Cavs. The Cavs production comes from the three main guys in LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love. None of them are really cheap in general, so you will need a lot of production against a good defense in a slow paced game to make sense of using them. I really would not even bother with anyone outside of those three in a tough matchup.
“He faces a very weak Cleveland point guard defense here, so he is in the best spot”
On the flip side, Shelvin Mack is my favorite play in this game by a mile. Utah has been horrendous at the point guard spot and Mack is getting more and more minutes because of it. He faces a very weak Cleveland point guard defense here, so he is in the best spot. I’m not thrilled with the matchup for Hayward vs. LeBron or Gobert against the good center defense from Cleveland. I would think Favors is the second best target, especially coming off the 60 fantasy point game he had yesterday. I really do like Mack the most and think his price rise is offset by his new role and increased minutes. If I use any Jazz player, it will likely be him.
Editor’s Note (3:40 PM ET): Gordon Hayward is OUT tonight for the Jazz. He has a 25.9 percent usage rate this season and his absence opens up some opportunities for others to step up. Trey Burke and Rodney Hood both have the highest usage rates this season when Hayward has been off the floor. Hood is particularly interesting as his minutes have stayed relatively high but his usage and fantasy production has dropped considerably in recent weeks. Hood has a 22.4 percent usage rate with Hayward on the floor this year compared to 26.1 percent usage with Hayward on the sidelines.
- Shelvin Mack ($4,800)
- Derrick Favors ($7,100)
- Kyrie Irving ($7,900)
- LeBron James ($9,900)
New Orleans Pelicans @ Golden State Warriors
Line: Warriors -15
The Warriors have shown a few areas of small weakness lately but they are still incredibly tough at home. They face a Pelicans team that is extremely banged up right now and not playing very well. The spread and total here seem right with two faster paced teams on the floor, so we should see a ton of fantasy points. The easy team to start with is the Pelicans. As far as sheer fantasy points go, it only makes sense to look at Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday. Both guys can, and have, put up 40 and 50 fantasy point outings lately. Jrue is cheaper, although getting expensive, so I like him more. Neither one is a great option, though, as Davis disappoints often, and Jrue is not 100%. Norris Cole and Ryan Anderson are the other two I may consider, but Cole has been hurt too and Anderson still comes off the bench. Both are cheaper and may see an uptick against this fast paced Warriors team.
For Golden State, I really like Curry here. Curry has a matchup with one of the worst teams against point guards while being one of the best at the position. That alone would be a reason to look his way. The same goes for Andrew Bogut, who is much cheaper and may even have a better matchup. This could also set up to be a big game for Draymond Green. He will likely be tasked with stopping or slowing down the Brow, so he will see a lot of minutes in this one. Draymond contributes across the board, so the more minutes he sees, the better his overall fantasy output is likely to be. The Warriors could easily top 120 points in this matchup, so as long as the starters play the fourth quarter, we could get some huge stat lines. It’s obviously not an ideal matchup in a game with a huge spread, but they will likely go lower owned and be solid tournament plays because of it.
- Jrue Holiday ($8,200)
- Anthony Davis ($9,900)
- Stephen Curry ($10,200)
- Draymond Green ($7,800)