This is certainly going to be an interesting night in NBA DFS. In what’s already clocking in as the smallest Saturday slate we’ve had so far this season, this evening’s four games are also missing some extremely notable players. Joel Embiid will sit out the 76ers’ trip to Denver for workload purposes, Jimmy Butler remains doubtful to play in that same matchup, and the Pacers will play their first contest since Victor Oladipo’s season-ending injury. That’s a lot to process and there’s surely more news to come throughout the afternoon.
So, for up-to-the-minute reports and analysis download the DK Live app, as NBA news, injury reports and betting lines can change throughout the day.
Let’s dive in.
StudBen Simmons, PHI at DEN, $9,600 — We don’t have to make the world a more complicated place than it already is. The logic here is simple enough to follow. Simmons touts a 26.4 percent usage rate in the minutes he’s played this year without either Embiid or Butler on the court, a figure that dwarfs his 21.4 percent usage rate when all three share the floor. With that bolstered utilization, Simmons averages 1.35 DKFP per minute – a more than respectable output. Heck, even putting everything else to the side, the reigning Rookie if the Year is putting up 18.5 points, 10.1 rebounds, and 9.5 assists through 12 January contests. That’s pretty hard to ignore at a price point below $10K.
Other Options — Damian Lillard ($8,900)
EDITOR’S NOTE: Damian Lillard (knee) is questionable for tonight’s game vs. the Hawks according to the team but Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes reported earlier that Lillard is expected to rest.
ValueAaron Holiday, IND at MEM, $3,300 — It’s hard to know exactly what Holiday’s role will look like this evening, but it’s not as if we’re working completely blind. During Oladipo’s 11-game absence earlier this year, Holiday was thrust into the Pacers’ rotation and was actually highly successful from a DFS perspective. In fact, in each of the five scripts that Holiday logged at least 20 minutes of run during that stretch, he easily exceeded 5x value. Holiday specifically averaged 24.9 DKFP in those situations, mustering a completely viable 1.14 DKFP per minute played. I mean, considering the Grizzlies’ -11.0 net rating across their past 10 contests, this matchup could still be lopsided even with Indiana down their All-Star. Garbage time would equate to good things for Holiday.
Other Options — Darren Collison ($5,600)
StudC.J. McCollum, POR vs. ATL, $6,600 — No team in the NBA has allowed more fantasy points to shooting guards than the Hawks. The reasons for this are pretty obvious. First, at least across its past 10 contests, Atlanta has run its offense at the highest pace in basketball, getting off over 104.1 possessions per 48 minutes within that span. So, as you might expect in an uptempo and hectic style, opponents have been able to pile up the counting stats in 2018-19 — specifically, assists and steals. Clubs facing-off with the Hawks are averaging 27.1 assists and 10.9 steals per game, with both of those figures representing league-high marks. McCollum’s not usually known for his ability to rack up secondary statistics, but tonight should be an exception.
ValueKevin Huerter, ATL at POR, $5,100 — You’ll have to keep tabs on this spot a little — though the Hawks did announce Friday that Huerter has been upgraded to probable to play this evening — but this could be a nice, little variance play on a small slate. In cash games you’ll probably just want to eat the chalk with Tyreke Evans ($5,200); however, in a GPP, I’d steer clear of Evans in a situation where I see many Pacers stepping up to fill the void of Oladipo. There’s also something to be said about the implied totals of these two particular matchups. While IND-MEM is hovering around an O/U of 203.5, ATL-POR is up closer to GS-BOS for the highest total of the night. Plus, Huerter was incredibly reliable before missing two games with a neck injury. So far in January, the rookie is averaging 15.1 points, 4.1 assists, and 4.1 rebounds on nearly 38 minutes per game.
Other Options — Bojan Bogdanovic ($5,400)
StudJ.J. Redick, PHI at DEN, $5,600 — I’ll be 100 percent honest off the top, Redick might be more of a 50/50 play than a tournament option. Yes, it is the veteran who actually leads Philadelphia in usage rate with both Embiid and Butler off the court at 27.5 percent, yet, Redick’s only crested 40-plus DKFP on three occasions so far this season. You’re really investing in the former lottery pick for his exceedingly high floor. Redick is averaging career-bests in both field goal attempts (13.8) and points per game (18.4) and is doing so at an impressively consistent clip. In fact, in just two of Redick’s 47 games has he failed to take double-digit shots. Reaching 5x value should be a walk in the park in the 76ers are missing Butler on top of Embiid; but 7x is probably a stretch.
Other Options — Kevin Durant ($9,200)
ValueAl-Farouq Aminu, POR vs. ATL, $4,500 — While the Hawks have been toward the top-end of the league in rebounding rate since the return of John Collins, not to mention leading the Eastern Conference in offensive boards across the past 10 games, Aminu simply seems too inexpensive to ignore this evening. The forward has not had his salary sitting this low since Dec. 30, and it’s not as if he’s played poorly in recent action. In reality, Aminu has actually hit 5x value in nine of the 14 contests in that span, collecting an average of 8.6 rebounds per game. He’s cheap, he has the ability to produce a double-double, and he might also benefit from Atlanta’s propensity to surrender steals to their opponents. Aminu’s in a nice spot on Saturday.
Other Options — Corey Brewer ($3,800)
StudAl Horford, BOS vs. GS, $5,700 — Horford’s always a bit risky to own, as his usage rate tends to lag significantly behind those he shares the court with, but you’d have to assume the veteran gets up for a huge matchup against the Warriors. It helps matters that the soon-to-be 33-year-old should be very well rested. Horford has sat out Boston’s past two games, with Brad Stevens looking to preserve his big man. Plus, in Stevens’ defense, Horford has tended to respond quite well after getting some extra time to relax. In the three contests that Horford’s played this season on three or more days rest, he’s averaged 14.7 points on an astounding .742 true shooting percentage.
Other Options — Domantas Sabonis ($6,700)
ValueMike Muscala, PHI at DEN, $4,200 — With everyone aware of Embiid sitting out tonight’s contest well ahead of time, Muscala’s price is not exactly a steal in direct comparison to his usual salary. In fact, it’s tied for the most expensive he’s been all season. No matter — Muscala has been able to hit at least 5x value in three of the four spot starts he’s already made in 2018-19 and while the numbers he’s posted haven’t been breathtaking, you have to understand the change in dynamic. Muscala’s first three starts of the year were at power forward, where he was in a lineup that featured both Embiid and Butler. Really, it’s no shock that Muscala’s season-high for points in a start came when he dropped 16 against Atlanta — a game he played in place of Embiid. He should have little trouble living up to the chalk on this slate.
StudNikola Jokic, DEN vs. PHI, $10,700 — There’s honestly not that many places to spend up tonight, so you might as well get a piece of the Western Conference’s leader in passes (71.1) and touches (93.4) per game. Philadelphia’s rebounding rate falls from a commanding 54.4 percent with Embiid on the court to 49.1 percent with him off it. Opponents also sport a 116.3 offensive rating when the All-Star takes a seat. Still, I think the 76ers will have enough to keep this game close, and that bodes well for Jokic. The last three times the big man been forced to play over 35 minutes? He’s averaging 66.5 DKFP. He should be able to own the glass this evening and will easily boast the highest ceiling on the slate.
Other Options — John Collins ($8,000)
ValueDeMarcus Cousins, GS at BOS, $6,200 — There are no guarantees that his minutes will continue to steadily rise, but Cousins is exactly the type of volatile player that could make the difference on a short slate. Cousins is averaging a massive 1.45 DKFP per minute through the three games he’s played so far this season, well more than any other Warrior he’s sharing the court with. Whether it’s to re-ignite his confidence or because they’re bored, Golden State clearly wants to feed Cousins, and a 28.3 percent usage rate is indicative of just that. Maybe he doesn’t play as efficiently against a solid Celtics defense, but Boogie certainly brings a higher upside to the table than Dewayne Dedmon ($5,100) or Paul Millsap ($5,000).
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is theglt13) 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.