This is a very tricky time of year to be playing NBA DFS. We only have a few games left, and not every team has the motivation to go out and win. Between guys resting, guys shutting it down, and guys getting their first taste of big minutes, we have a lot of things to sort through. Remember, too, that even though some guys are not sitting, they may not be seeing the big minutes they usually do if the game means nothing. We only have 5 games on tap for tonight, and it feels like a night where a stars and scrubs approach will take down the big tournaments. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the guys we should be considering for tonight.
Stephen Curry – Warriors v. Spurs ($10400) – Steph Curry is one of the few stars we think will play big minutes today. The matchup is one of the toughest he faces all year, but the Warriors are chasing history with this record. I personally thing it is foolish, but as long as they are doing it they will be trying to win games. San Antonio is not going to make it easy and I can not see either team blowing out the other if everyone is playing. That means we actually get a fourth quarter from the Warriors starters today and that should lead to a big number for Curry. The Spurs defense is good and will focus on limiting him, but I will take the added minutes over the tougher defense with Curry in this one.
Goran Dragic – Heat v. Bulls – ($6700) – This is a great spot for Dragic today. He has gone for 40 or more fantasy points in 5 of his last 9 games. He gets possibly the softest recent matchup on the slate, as the Bulls have been shredded by opposing point men. His team is in a log jam with 5 teams who are 2 games apart for seeds 3-6 in the Eastern Conference Playoffs, so the Heat are also motivated to win. Chicago is not the ‘slow it down’ defensive team it once was, and they have played some higher scoring games lately. That means Dragic is also paced up in this one. He has so many things in his favor that even at the price, I still love his chances for upside today.
Derrick Rose – Bulls v. Heat – $5,100 – After missing a few games, Rose came back with a strong 29.75 fantasy point performance. That may not seem great, but at $5100 it is. That is really the thing with Rose today. His usage rate is high and his price is low, so he does not need to go off in order to return good value. Sure Miami is a tough defensive team, but 35 minutes of Rose, with his team fighting for their playoff life is definitely worth more than $5100.
Ronnie Price – Suns v. Rockets – $3,800 – If you need a cheap option, I think Price is the way I would go. Brandon Knight is out again, so Price should see big minutes. He has played 30 minutes in 3 straight and is coming off a 30 fantasy point performance last time out. Houston plays a fast pace, so this should be a high scoring game. Price will have the ball in his hands a lot, so I can easily see him getting us 20-30 fantasy points and paying off the cheap price tag.
James Harden – Rockets v. Suns – $11,100 – Man, this price tag is getting tough to swallow, but it’s also tough to fade a guy playing 40+ minutes with his team’s playoff life on the line. Houston is on the outside looking in currently, so they need to win. Harden has played over 40 minutes in his last 8 games and is averaging closer to 42. He’s put up 60 fantasy points in 6 of the last 10 games and is always on the floor, pushing his offensive talents. He gets a fast paced matchup against a weak defensive team in Phoenix, so I expect him to continue to put up ridiculous stats. He may not get us 6X today, but no one is gonna be mad when he finishes with 55+ fantasy points in this one.
“He’s put up 60 fantasy points in 6 of the last 10 games”
Devin Booker – Suns v. Rockets – $6,700 – James Harden is not known as a lock down defender, so this is a soft spot for the young Booker. Booker has been rolling lately with an average of 35 fantasy points over his last 8 games with 4 of them topping 40. Booker is playing just shy of 40 minutes and jacking up about 20 shots a game. Anyone getting that kind of volume in a high paced, high scoring matchup like this deserves a long look.
Norman Powell – Raptors v. Hawks – $3,700 – Powell has been a pleasant late season surprise for the Raptors. With Carroll down and Lowry taking games off, Powell has slid in and put up some decent value for us. In his last 7 games he is averaging close to 30 minutes and has returned 6X or better in 6 of the last 7. He has returned 8X or better in 5 of those too, so their is a ton of upside. The Raptors are locked into the 2 seed, but the Hawks are in that aforementioned group of teams between 3 and 6. I expect this to be a close game and even if it is not, Powell should still see his minutes.
Kawhi Leonard – Spurs v. Warriors – $8,000 – As of now, everything I am reading tells me the Spurs are going to play to win this one. If that is the case, then I want shares of Leonard. When they play important games, he sees 38ish minutes of action and his usage rate goes up. Kawhi contributes across the board. He can score, he can pass, he rebounds, and gets you some defensive stats too. He is not too expensive considering he put up 40+ fantasy points in four of his last six. If we expect big minutes today, he should be closer to his ceiling games and those can be in the high 40s to the low 60s. At only $8K, that would be a nice return of 6X or more.
Loul Deng – Heat v. Bulls – $5,900 – I debated Deng v. Ariza hard in this price range today and ultimately decided Deng makes more sense. Ariza has a good matchup with Phoenix, but he is more up and down. In his last 14 games, we have seen Deng go for 40+ in five of them, mid 30s in 5 others, and throw in a few clunkers when he was a little banged up before sitting a game out. He has been more consistent and also flashed more upside. He gets a pace bump vs. Chicago and will not be the one drawing Jimmy Butler defense. That would mean he has a softer matchup and should be asked to do a tad more with Wade having the tough matchup. We mentioned the Heat is in a dogfight for better playoff seeding, so they should be motivated to play well and win here.
Mirza Teletovic – Suns v. Rockets – $5,000 – Mirza can put up fantasy points when he gets the chance. In his last five games he has averaged just shy of 30 minutes and he has rewarded owners by averaging 33 fantasy points with a high 20s floor and an upside into the 40s. He gets a great matchup against a weak Rockets froncourt that has allowed a ton of fantasy points to the power forward position this year. I see no reason why 25-35 fantasy points are not in Mirza future again and he would be a great value at his price if so.
Paul Millsap – Hawks v. Raptors – $8,100 – I know we also have Boogie and Cousins up here, but for me the play is Millsap today. Boogie is in and out of the lineup and looks like he does not care. He is just playing out the rest of these games and will probably get his normal 50ish fantasy points for us. Draymond has not been great with two underperformances against the Spurs stingy defense this year, so I am not heavy on him. Millsap on the other hand has stepped it up lately. The Hawks are trying to cling to the three seed in the East, and Millsap has been leading the way. He has scored at least 41 fantasy points in 6 of his last 7 with 3 of those being 55+ fantasy points. This is a likely matchup for the second round in the East, so I think both teams want to show the other they can beat them. If we get full run out of Millsap again here, I can see another 50+ performance like his last 2.
Nikola Mirotic – Bulls v. Heat – $5,500 – Taj Gibson is doubtful again and the Bulls need to win. Jimmy Butler is coming off one of his worst games of the season, and the news is he is hurt worse than Chicago is saying he is but still gutting it out. Either way, they need scoring, and Mirotic provides that. He has gone for 6X in four of his last five and topped 40 fantasy points in three of those games. The Bulls need to win out and get help to make the playoffs, so they will be motivated to do their part. I expect to see another 30-35 minutes out of Mirotic, especially if Taj does not go.
Patrick Patterson – Raptors v. Hawks – $4,000 – Pat Pat has been getting more run lately with his minutes hovering in the 27-34 range. He has been returning 20-25 fantasy points which makes him a solid value play. I do not see Scola matching up well against Paul Millsap today, so I expect big minutes out of Patterson. He has been between 23-28 in five of his last six games, so he has been consistently returning around 6-7X.
Bobby Portis – Bulls v. Heat – $3,300 – Portis is way too cheap for a guy who should be seeing some good minutes here. It is only a tourney play for me as sometimes he struggles even with 20+ minutes of court time. Other times he goes off for 25-30 fantasy points and can be a key piece to a tournament winning roster. The safe play for cash is Patterson, but the upside of Portis is enticing for a tournament.
Karl-Anthony Towns – Timberwolves v. Kings – $8,600 – It is safe to say Towns has locked up the Rookie of the Year at this point. The guy has been a super stud for the Timberwolves. He has 43+ fantasy points in 8 of his last 11 games which includes a few in the 50s. He can score, he can rebound and he adds some stats in assists and defense as well. He has a string of 13 straight double doubles and draws a soft matchup against a fast paced high scoring team that plays very little defense. Towns had 50 against the Kings a week or so ago and I expect him to be in the 45-55 fantasy point range again here today.
“The Bulls need wins, and Pau is one of their best offensive weapons”
Pau Gasol – Bulls v. Heat – $7,700 – His price has gone up but is still nowhere near his season high. What is creeping towards his season high is the number of minutes he is playing. The Bulls need wins, and Pau is one of their best offensive weapons. He will continue to play 33-35 minutes, or they will lose. It is really that simple. Now, I love Pau in cash games, as his consistency has been great. I do not love him in tournaments, though, as the upside is definitely lacking. He has 40+ fantasy points in 8 of the last 11 games. The problem is we have not seen him crack 50 DKFP in 12 games, and I am not sure the Heat are the best team to change around that fortune for him.
Willie Cauley-Stein – Kings v. Timberwolves – $4,900 – Kosta Koufos is questionable and it would upgrade Cauley-Stein if he is out. It honestly does not matter if he does play though as Cauley-Stein has been seeing around 30 minutes a game anyway. He has managed to return 7.5X or better despite the price rising in 4 of his last 7 games. With the twin towers of Dieng and Towns on Minnesota, he will likely be asked to play big minutes alongside Cousins today. He is no longer dirt cheap, but he should see 30 minutes and get close to 25-35 fantasy points which is a range of 5-7X at his price.