A huge battle in the East between Cleveland and Toronto. Could the Raptors backcourt be worth targeting? Let’s take a look at that and the rest of Friday night’s 8 game slate.
Chris Paul ($9600) – I’m not thrilled with the price here on Chris Paul, but I do love his chances to hit value in cash games today. The high price zaps his upside potential for a GPP, but the rest of the analysis points to him as a top option. Paul has been awesome lately for the surging Clippers. In his last 6 games he is averaging 23 points, 5 rebounds, over 10 assists, and 2.5 steals which translates into a robust 50 fantasy points. He has been consistent with it too, scoring at least 44 in each of those six games. His matchup today is ideal. He faces the Sacramento Kings who play a very fast pace and very little defense. We have seen tons of high usage guys go off against them lately, and while I am unsure about 6X or better upside for Paul, I can’t see him missing a floor of at least 45 here.
|Levitan's Leverage||Tournament Plays||NBA Sneak Peek|
|Player Targets||Top 5's by Position||Cheat Sheet|
Kyle Lowry ($8400) – My safe play for cash is Chris Paul, but for Upside I really like taking the shot with Lowry today. A 208 total is pretty high for the Raptors and Cleveland has been playing at a faster pace and both scoring and giving up more points lately. If the Raptors keep this one close, Lowry will be heavily involved. He draws a good matchup against some weak Kyrie Irving defense that he should be able to put up numbers against. Lowry already has a 50 and 52 fantasy point performance against the Cavs this year, so we know he is capable. Lowry is a gamer, a tough nosed kid from Philly who does what it takes to win games. Sometimes that means scoring, sometimes rebounding, sometimes setting up teammates, but no matter which way he is needed, he always manages to put up fantasy points when it counts.
Deron Williams ($6000) – A guy who has flown under the radar lately is D-Will. In his last five games he is averaging 36 fantasy points, which is exactly 6X his cost here today. He faces a Denver defense that has allowed a lot of points and struggled to stop opposing guards this year. Williams is playing some of the best basketball we have seen out of him in quite some time. He is playing 35 minutes a game over this stretch and his Mavericks team has played five straight games with totals of 214 or better. D Will may is rarely highly owned, but recent games of 45+ twice in his last five mean that probably should not be the case.
Editor’s Note: Rajon Rondo is listed as Questionable for tonight’s game. Darren Collison has averaged 40.1 DraftKings Points per game in 2 games without Rondo this year.
Darren Collison ($5000) – The lowest I am willing to go at point guard with the information available this morning is probably Darren Collison. The Sacramento backup guard has been seeing more minutes and producing nice returns for pretty cheap. He has returned 5.3X or better in 7 of his last 10 games. He has played over 30 minutes for four straight games right now, so it appears this is not a fluke. Collison has flashed some 6 and 7X upside, but his value to me is as a cheap salary saver that can get you 5X or better. The matchup with the Clippers seems tough, but he plays a lot of shooting guard when paired with Rondo on the floor, so he likely draws J.J. Redick or Jamal Crawford defense instead of having to chase and be checked by Chris Paul.
DeMar DeRozan ($7500) – This is a pretty weak slate for high end shooting guards. DeRozan is probably the one with the best situation tonight and I really do not love him. He and Lowry are the engine that drives the Raptors offense. The matchup is not ideal, but the total is elevated for a Raptors game and when the Raptors score to the upside, Lowry and DeRozan are usually the reasons for it. He has thrown up 6X or better in two of his last five games. The others have been games where he failed to even reach the 5X floor we look for in cash, so at best he would be an upside play for a GPP. This is a weak position today, so DeRozan is likely the top overall point scorer, but I think there is more value at the lower end, which makes this a position I would be looking to save some salary at.
Evan Fournier ($6000) – Even before Tobias Harris was shipped out of town, Fournier has been producing some nice returns. His lowest value in the last 8 games has been a 5.2X, which has caused his price to jump from the $4500 range up to $6000 today. He has been between 29 and 39 fantasy in each of these last 8 games. That was a return of 6-7X when he was under $5000, but is still good enough for a 5-5.5X return now that the price has jumped. He is playing just shy of 40 minutes a game and is scoring right around 20 points per over this stretch. He always adds a few stats in the other categories, although nothing really huge. He has been a very consistent performer though, so I like the safe floor he provides for your cash games. With this position being kind of weak today, he is a solid option to consider.
J.J. Redick ($5100) – The Clippers really need more scoring and the shooting guard combo of Crawford and Redick have provided it. They both have a great matchup today against the Sacramento Kings who give up tons of points, especially to the shooting guard spot. With Redick being $600 less than Crawford now, he would be the guy I look to target in what should be a high scoring and fast paced game.
Paul George ($8500) – Of the guys available to spend up on at the small forward position, I think Paul George makes the most sense to me. I think it is very close between him and LeBron for the top scorer at the position today and I do not love LeBron’s matchup against a slower paced Toronto team. George faces the Knicks for the second time in a few days. I liked George over Carmelo the other night and am sticking with that thought process here. My reasoning last time was the same. George and Melo are about the same price. Both guys are major parts of their team’s offense. George has been playing better while Melo seems to be dropping off a bit. It is not that I don’t think Melo can have a solid game at home vs. the Magic as well, but I just like the overall game of George a tad more. If you decide to go Melo over George, I would not argue. Melo is likely to draw some Fournier or maybe Oladipo D here today. He has a size advantage over both guys, so the case for him is not horrible either.
Rudy Gay ($6500) – I had to stop and triple check this before I wrote him up, because $6500 seems really cheap for Rudy Gay. Sure he is coming off a bad game, but that was against the Spurs and Kawhi Leonard defense, so we can easily excuse that performance. He has some low scores a week or so back too, but those were when he was injured and sitting out. The Three games before the Spurs games were all vintage Rudy Gay games. He played about 38 minutes in each of them and had 36, 36, and 50 fantasy points. Even in the game against the Spurs where he only managed like 24 fantasy points, he still played about 36 minutes. We should get 35-40 minutes out of Rudy Gay here against weak L.A. Clippers wing defense. At $6500, I think he is a lock for 35-40 fantasy points which would be a very nice 5.5X-6X return. It’s tough for me to pay up for any of the more expensive studs when I can take a $2K discount on Gay and still feel comfortable with a 30-35 point floor and 50 point upside.
NBA Value Plays
Matt Barnes ($5400) – The price is rising on Barnes again, but I do not think it has gone too high yet. Barnes has a much bigger role in that offense now. The trading away of Green and the loss of Gasol to injury means a lot of usage opens up for anyone who can score on the Grizzlies. Barnes tied his season high in shot attempts two days ago against the Lakers on his way to a 40 fantasy point day. They face the same Lakers team in the rematch here today, so I expect another big one out of Barnes. I think he had a great game last out, so he may not match or exceed that output, but I do think we can reasonably expect him to get us in the range of 30+ fantasy points, which would be great value for him again at only $5400.
*Editor’s Note: Paul Pierce is out tonight. Look for increased run from Wesley Johnson, J.J. Redick, and Jeff Green.
Wesley Johnson ($4500) – If you need to go real cheap, I really like the minutes and consistent performances that Wes Johnson has provided. I do eventually think that Jeff Green steals some of his minutes from him, but so far that is not the case. He took a robust 11 shots in his last game, which is well above what he averages. He is still playing 25-30 minutes in most of his recent games as well, so I do not hate him as a cheap salary saver. I think the guys above for a few thousand more are much better options, but if I was stuck in that $4500 for a SF, Wes would likely be the guy I roll with.
DeMarcus Cousins ($10600) – This is a boatload of money to spend up on Cousins today, but there is no one on the Clippers who I can see guarding him or even slowing him down. The Clippers role out guys like Mbah-a-Moute and Jeff Green at the four now and neither of them stands a chance against Boogie. Maybe they match up DeAndre Jordan on him, but I’m not a big fan of DeAndre Jordan’s one on one defense. Boogie has 50 or more fantasy points in 16 of his last 22 games. He would need a 60+ point performance for upside and he has done that in 6 of those games, so it is not out of the question. If you can find enough value that you like in order to fit in Boogie, I definitely think he is the most likely the top overall scorer on the day at any position, so it’s definitely worth it to look his way if you can afford to.
Dirk Nowitzki ($6300) – I do not really love any cheap options here, but the $6K price range does have a few guys I am looking at. The one I think I like best is going to be Dirk. He faces an uptempo matchup with Denver. Denver has struggled to guard big men all year. Other than a tough matchup with the Spurs and a putrid shooting game against the Magic, Dirk has put up 30 points in the other 5 of his last 7 games. There are a lot of solid cash game options in this range like Aaron Gordon and Myles Turner, but I think Dirk is the one guy that has GPP upside if you are looking for a guy who can get you 6X.
Myles Turner ($6000) – At this price range, I think Turner is my favorite cash game play. It was between him and Aaron Gordon, but the price jump on Gordon now makes him a guy with a 5X ceiling. Myles Turner on the other hand has a 5X floor. He has reached that floor in about 13 of his last 17 games and is averaging over 30 fantasy points per contest during that stretch. At $6K, anything over 30 points means he is going over 5X value and I’m more comfortable taking the $500 discount on him vs. Gordon. Dirk is the guy I think can give you a 40-45 fantasy point performance, but the safest 30+ fantasy points of the bunch is probably Turner in my eyes.
JaMychal Green ($4200) and Brandan Wright ($3700) – Both performed well on Wednesday night against these same Lakers with 25+ DraftKings points for each. The Lakers are an obvious opponent target given their defensive struggles and Green might be the safer option of the duo, averaging 25 minutes per game over the last three games for the Grizz. Brandan Wright is a bit cheaper and has a similar ceiling so if you need to save a few hundred bucks to spend elsewhere, he’s a suitable replacement.
Marcin Gortat ($6700) – I do not love much here at the center position on Friday, but my top play is easily Marcin Gortat. Gortat gets the dream matchup with the undersized Jahlil Okafor and the putrid Sixers D. We talked all season long about how Okafor is undersized and more suited to be a power forward. That has led to his lack of rebounding and the large number of shots he gets blocked. Blocked shots and rebounding are two great ways to add fantasy points to a center’s stat line, so I love Gortat’s spot here for an upside game. He put up 41 fantasy points against Philly a few weeks ago when they met and I can easily see him doing so again. That would give him a solid 6X return and I think he is very safe for the 33-34 points he would need to reach his floor. He is coming off a bad game too, so the ownership should remain low. If that is the case, he could be that guy who helps you take down a GPP.
Al Horford ($7100) – Horford is very talented and no one argues against that. He also is treated with kid gloves sometimes and barely sees over 30 minutes of action. He is averaging closer to 40 in his last three games, so it is no surprise he is also raising his production levels. If you look through his game logs, you will notice a pattern of games where he returns 5X or better when he plays 36+ minutes. He has played 36+ minutes in 4 of the last 5 and returned 5X or better in 3 of those 4 games. I expect him to see a lot of minutes tonight and he gets them against Pau Gasol who is a weak defender. A good matchup and a solid shot at upside should equate into a very high return for Horford on Friday. Maybe not the 60 we saw from him last game, but even a 40 point return would be fine. He is averaging 46 fantasy points in two meetings with Chicago this year. This includes a 60+ fantasy point effort earlier in the season, so we know he has upside.
Ian Mahinmi ($5000) – Mahinmi continues to produce despite the introduction of Myles Turner into the Pacers starting lineup. He’s played at least 30 minutes in four consecutive games and has ranged between 45 and 20 DraftKings points in that span. At $5K he needs between 25-30 DK points to reach value and he’s hit that in three of those past four games. There might be reduced interest after a quiet-ish game on Wednesday but his minutes were still there so we can expect production to return against the Hornets on Friday night.