Monday night brings us a nice 9-game NBA slate. The most popular target is likely to be the Warriors/Timberwolves game, which has a total of 232 total. We have a few other games in the 220 range, but that one is huge. Chicago/Sacramento and Boston/Orlando are the other two even close to that, and the rest lie between 199 and 208, as far as totals go. The Pacers are the biggest favorite on the day with a 15 point spread over the Sixers. The only other team in double digits is the Warriors at -12. At this time of year, we always have to be mindful of rest and injuries as well. Luckily, we already have some of the news we need to make our decisions. There is a decent amount of value we already know about and there is usually more that comes throughout the day. Let’s take a look at each game and the prospects they bring for potential fantasy output.
|Probable||Jonas Jerebko (BOS), Bradley Beal (WAS), Marcin Gortat (WAS), Willie Cauley-Stein (SAC), Pau Gasol (CHI)|
|Questionable||Kenneth Faried (DEN), Ty Lawson (DEN)|
|Doubtful||Andrew Bogut (GSW), Richaun Holmes (PHI), Robert Covington (PHI)|
|Out||Jae Crowder (BOS), E'Twaun Moore (CHI), Jodie Meeks (DET), Andre Iguodala (GSW), PJ Hairston (MEM), Mike Conley (MEM), Chris Andersen (MEM), Jahlil Okafor (PHI), Ben McLemore (SAC), Nikola Vucevic (ORL), Kevin Love (CLE)|
Editor’s Note (6:08 PM ET): Kevin Love is OUT tonight. Channing Frye ($3,600) will start in his place and had a 35.8 DK point effort when Love missed action back on March 10th. At that price, he’s certainly a strong option. Love’s absence also has a crowding out effect on LeBron James and Kyrie Irving. LeBron has averaged 47.77 DraftKings points and Kyrie Irving has averaged 42.93 DraftKings points with Love sidelined this season. The other beneficiary is potentially Tristan Thompson ($4,500) who should see a small uptick in minutes.
Editor’s Note (6:15 PM ET): Pau Gasol will play tonight on a minutes limit. He was doubtful all day and has missed significant time but his return to the Bulls lineup certainly detracts from some of the other Chicago players like Jimmy Butler and Derrick Rose. Both should see decreased usage with Pau on the floor but overall this isn’t a huge change given that Gasol is likely to be on a minute restriction.
Denver Nuggets @ Cleveland Cavaliers
Line: CLE -12
The Cavaliers have been taking turns resting LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love, so you always need to be sure you’re checking the news leading up to tip. Denver is a fast paced team that is not great on defense. They played well last game but they gave up 116+ points in the three losses before that one. This game is paced up for the Cavs and I would look to see who does sit. If any of the stars for the Cavs are out, I would tick up the production expected for the other two on Cleveland. I would not mess around with guys like Tristan Thompson, Timofey Mozgov, or J.R. Smith. They have all been alternating good and bad games, so it is tough to predict which of those guys will step up.
For Denver, I am a little concerned with some of the rising prices. Mudiay has played better, but his price saps all upside at almost $6K. Jokic is probably the best option, but I prefer him in tournaments, as he sometimes plays only 15-20 minutes for no reason and sometimes plays even less when he gets in foul trouble. Guys like Gary Harris and Will Barton have underperformed in most recent games, so it’s tough to trust them, too. Darrell Arthur is the one interesting cheap play. He has seen big minutes and thrown up nice stat lines when Kenneth Faried is out. Faried is listed as doubtful, so no Faried would put Arthur in play for me. Cleveland is solid on defense at home, and likely to win this game. That kind of has me off everyone on the Nuggets with the exception of maybe Arthur, who is dirt cheap.
- Darrell Arthur ($4,100)
- Nikola Jokic ($6,000)
- Kevin Love ($6,700)
- LeBron James ($9,200)
Philadelphia 76ers @ Indiana Pacers
Line: IND -15
This is the biggest spread on the day by far, and it’s always tough to handicap a possible blowout. Philly is still banged up. You still have Okafor, Holmes, and Covington on the sidelines. That leaves Noel, Landry, and Grant as the healthy bigs who should continue to see court time. The backcourt is a mess, too. Ish Smith is solid, but guys like Hollis Thompson, Isaiah Canaan, and Nik Stauskas are playing big minutes and not doing well with them. Philly has lost five straight and 18 of the last 19 games. A lot of those losses have been by double digits. They struggle to score and give up a ton of points. The prospects for them look bleak.
Indy on the other hand is obviously in a good spot against a very weak defense. The record might not show it, but they have played well lately. They lost recent games to OKC and Toronto, but those are two of the better teams in the league. They beat teams like Dallas and San Antonio recently, and you have to play pretty well to do that. I think they just have more talent than the Sixers do and it will show eventually here. As far as targets go, George Hill, Ian Mahinmi, and Myles Turner are all below $5K, and each of them has alternated a few good and bad games recently. All of them are reasonably priced and should reach value if they get full run. Paul George is obviously the top stud they have, and Hollis Thompson and Jerami Grant will not be able to stop him. The only question is whether he plays enough minutes to pay off his tag. Monta Ellis has been playing well lately, too. The Sixers are struggling to stop opposing shooting guards lately, so this is a great spot for him. Again, though, if the game gets ugly, he may not see his normal amount of minutes. The question is not whether these guys play well, but whether they play long enough to pay off their salaries.
- Paul George ($8,600)
- Monta Ellis ($6,300)
- Ish Smith ($6,100)
- Nerlens Noel ($6,900)
San Antonio Spurs @ Charlotte Hornets
Line: SAS -6
Both of these teams are playing well lately. Charlotte’s offense has been very good lately with an average of over 100 points in their last 11 games. The problem is the Spurs defense is playing even better. They just held the Warriors to under 80 points, so I’m not too worried about the firepower the Hornets have if they can do that to Golden State. Kemba Walker and Nicolas Batum have put up some really nice fantasy scores over the last couple games, but I am very nervous about paying up for anyone against San Antonio. If I had to use some Hornets, I would stick to cheaper options like Marvin Williams or Al Jefferson. Both see a lot of minutes and have a better chance of reaching value with such low price tags.
“Those would be the two guys I would target here for fantasy upside”
Charlotte plays fast, so that could tick up the Spurs. They are not a horrible defensive team either, so I do not like this spot for either team. The two guys taking most of the shots on San Antonio recently are Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge. Those would be the two guys I would target here for fantasy upside. The problem is the total here is low and both teams are solid on defense, so, frankly speaking, I am going to stay far away from using anybody in this game.
- Kawhi Leonard ($8,300)
- LaMarcus Aldridge ($7,500)
- Marvin Williams ($5,400)
- Al Jefferson ($4,400)
Orlando Magic @ Boston Celtics
Line: BOS -8
There are a lot of points expected here and a few injuries that could open up some value. Orlando has lost 7 of the last 9 games and are playing with some injury issues. The main one is Nikola Vucevic, who would be in a great spot here against a weak Celtics interior. His replacements of Smith and Dedmon are nothing special, so I would pass on taking a center against Boston today. I do think it will help tick up the rebounding numbers for Aaron Gordon a bit, but he has not been consistent enough to use in cash games lately either. Victor Oladipo has been the stud for Orlando. He has put up 40-60 fantasy points in most of the recent games. He will have a tough matchup with Avery Bradley’s defense, though, so it’s not the best spot to use him with his price rising. Elfrid Payton is back and splitting time with Brandon Jennings, so neither of them is in play. Evan Fournier is worth a look as a scorer, but I am not big on the Orlando side of this game.
As for the Celtics, Jae Crowder’s injury opens up some serious minutes, and Evan Turner and Marcus Smart have soaked up many of those. It has also meant a few more minutes for Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley, who are no longer squeezed for time by Smart playing a lot at the SG and PG spots. Jared Sullinger remains cheap, and he has been putting up some big numbers. I like him, but mostly for tournament upside. The same can be said for Amir Johnson, who only plays about 24 minutes but has dropped some 30 fantasy point games in that time. The Celtics are expected to score a ton of points here, so it’s not a bad idea to have some exposure to them on your rosters today.
- Jared Sullinger ($5,500)
- Isaiah Thomas ($7,600)
- Victor Oladipo ($7,700)
- Aaron Gordon ($5,800)
Milwaukee Bucks @ Detroit Pistons
Line: DET -7
This is an interesting dynamic. The Pistons had been playing lower scoring games and the Bucks had been paced up. In the last few games, though, the Bucks have played to lower scores and the Pistons are playing games in the 210+ range. I would think based off the recency that this game is a tick up for Milwaukee and a tick down for the Pistons. Milwaukee has been led by Giannis Antetokounmpo lately. He has proven himself to be a fantasy monster when he plays the point forward role. His assists are up, and so is his scoring. He is still rebounding and grabbing defensive stats, so he is completely filling up the stat sheet at elite levels. Khris Middleton and Jabari Parker are the other two guys seeing big minutes for the Bucks, so that is where I would look for my plays on that side of the ball.
For the Pistons, Reggie Jackson and Andre Drummond have been the most upside plays. They are both up and down, though, so they’re better for tournament play. I especially like Drummond, who I feel has the size advantage over former teammate Greg Monroe. I also really like Tobias Harris. Harris has been pretty solid and scoring around 30 fantasy points per game. He’s a solid value with his price staying stable, so he deserves a look in your cash games. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Marcus Morris are two other guys putting up good games here and there. It’s tough to nail down which Piston will have the big game, as they tend to get production at different levels from all these guys on a nightly basis. All 5 of the staters for the Pistons play 35ish minutes per night, so I would concentrate on them if I was looking for exposure to this game, especially with them favored at home and Milwaukee traveling on the tail end of a back-to-back.
- Giannis Antetokounmpo ($9,800)
- Jabari Parker ($5,800)
- Andre Drummond ($7,600)
- Tobias Harris ($6,200)
Golden State Warriors @ Minnesota Timberwolves
Line: MIN -12
The 232 total alone should tell you this is a game many will be targeting, and rightfully so. The total here is at least a dozen points above the next closest and 20+ points above most of the other games on this slate. Golden State is coming off a bad game where they only scored 79 points against the Spurs, so they will be hungry to get back on track. Stephen Curry has a good matchup here, so I think he is someone I want exposure to. Klay Thompson also has a good matchup, as shooting guards are torching Minnesota lately. Draymond is worth a look, and Harrison Barnes has been a great value, especially with Andre Igoudala out. His minutes, shots, and overall fantasy points are all up, and his salary is not. If Bogut sits again, we also have a cheap Mo Speights to look at. Speights has performed well as a fill in and remains dirt cheap. With 122 points expected, a few of these guys should be putting up big numbers here.
For Minnesota, Karl-Anthony Towns is the main guy I look at. He and Gorgui Dieng are both playing well. I wonder if the Warriors decide to put Draymond on him instead of Dieng today. Whoever gets the matchup with Speights would be the guy I look for. Ricky Rubio has also played extremely well lately. He is the rare player who is better as a fantasy option than a real life one. His high steal and assist rate is what makes him a key guy to look for, and I think he should shine in an uptempo game like this one.
- Stephen Curry ($10,300)
- Klay Thomoson ($6,800)
- Ricky Rubio ($6,800)
- Karl-Anthony Towns ($8,400)
Sacramento Kings @ Chicago Bulls
Line: CHI -6
This is another great game which should be heavily targeted for fantasy purposes. We all know Sacramento is horrendous on defense, so that ticks up all the Bulls. We also know that Chicago is undersized and thin in the frontcourt without Pau, so it’s going to be tough for them to stop or contain Boogie Cousins. That is why it makes sense the total here is almost 220 points. For Sacramento, Cousins is obviously the top option. He has put up massive scores lately and has a floor of over 40 points with 70 point upside. Rondo and Gay both chip in as well, although not on the same nights. It’s rare for all three of those guys to go off together, as one of Rondo or Gay usually takes a back seat. With Chicago’s point guard defense being so weak, I like Rondo today as the guy to pair with Cousins.
For Chicago, we have some interesting questions to ask. I love Derrick Rose at only $5,800. It seems too cheap for the uptempo, high scoring pace of this game. Rose has a high usage rate due to always having the ball in his hands on the pick and roll. When you factor in the lazy defense defending screens from the Kings big men, it is not hard to see why he has upside. Jimmy Butler has been a little less than stellar since returning from injury. He does have one of the best matchups for a shooting guard though against a horrendous wing defense from the Kings. It is a tough call to make here to be honest. He has only been putting up around 30ish fantasy points lately in slightly over 30 minutes of action. He should get a tick up in production here, but if he plays less minutes then usual it might not be enough to offset that. Guys like Mirotic, Gibson, Portis, and McDermott have all seen more minutes and shots with Pau out. They are all reasonably priced and get a tick up in this high tempo matchup. If you need a mid-range play in the $4-$5K area, I am comfortable with any or all of these guys in my lineups today.
- Derrick Rose ($5,800)
- Nikola Mirotic ($5,200)
- DeMarcus Cousins ($10,400)
- Rajon Rondo ($7,900)
Washington Wizards @ Atlanta Hawks
Line: ATL -6
This is an interesting spot for the Hawks here. I do not love the pace numbers for this game, but I do have some guys I really want to target here. John Wall has been carrying this Wizards team all year, so he is in play to me here. In fact, he is the only guy I really like on the Wizards. He has triple double upside and can boost that score with a good number of steals, as well. The only other spot I would look for here is the shooting guard situation. I like Bradley Beal if he plays. If he sits, I like Garrett Temple. Both guys should dominate their matchup with the likes of Kyle Korver, so whoever plays is in play for me.
“In fact, he is the only guy I really like on the Wizards”
On the flip side, I love Tim Hardaway Jr. in this game. Kent Bazemore is not 100%, and the SF matchup vs. Washington has been a goldmine for opposing small forwards this year. If Bazemore is limited again or can’t go, Hardaway is one of my favorite salary savers. Millsap has been disappointing me the second half of the year, but he is still the top dog on Atlanta. I do not love the Teague matchup here, so Millsap would be the only other guy I’d consider. He has been reaching right around value, so he’s more of a cash game option. I have not been impressed with the upside he has shown in the last month or so. However, with Atlanta predicted to win, I do think he plays well. Remember, though, this is a team that can easily distribute all the points around and have many guys with good stats and none who put up elite numbers.
- Tim Hardaway Jr. ($3,800)
- Paul Millsap ($8,200)
- John Wall ($9,600)
- Garrett Temple ($3,600)
Memphis Grizzlies @ Phoenix Suns
Line: MEM -2
This could be another interesting spot for fantasy plays, despite the lower total. Memphis has been bad lately. They are playing without most, if not all, of their usual starters. Conley, Gasol, Anderson, Wright, and Hairston are all out. They are rolling with guys like McCallum, Stephenson, Barnes, JaMychal Green, and Zach Randolph, who recently returned. They also lost four of the last five and are barely averaging over 90 points in those games. It seems McCallum is not the guy seeing minutes over Briante Webber, so that is a place you can look for cheap value. With Z-Bo back, I tick down JaMychal Green. Z-Bo may be in play if his minutes are there. I can not believe I am about to type this, but the safest play is Lance Stephenson. He has been the highest usage guy who has the ball in his hands whenever he is on the floor right now. There is nothing that screams safe with Lance, but that is his current lot in life with this thin roster.
For Phoenix, I like Brandon Knight now that he has returned. He will dog either McCallum or Webber, so he should put up a good stat line. Devin Booker and Alex Len are both seeing big minutes as part of the youth movement here. They are two guys getting pricey, but still worth a look. With no true big men on Memphis, I think we could see another good game from Tyson Chandler. He had a monster one last time out and should have no trouble rebounding here with Z-Bo and Green as the best opposition. This game does not scream one of the top targets, but I think we continue to see a lot of exposure to a small, select group of guys on both of these teams.
- Tyson Chandler ($5,000)
- Brandon Knight ($7,100)
- Zach Randolph ($6,700)
- Lance Stephenson ($6,500)