We only have a small five game slate to start off the new year in NBA DFS. We have some alternating styles too, so it is tough on some to figure how the game flow will be. None of the posted spreads so far are much higher than any of the others and we do have some injury news that may open up some value for us. It’s an interesting slate to say the least, so let’s take a look at some of the top options at each position.
John Wall ($9700) – It might seem crazy to pay almost $10K for John Wall, but not when you look at his recent game logs. Wall has consistent been at about 50 fantasy points in each of his last six games. With Bradley Beal out, he has picked up his scoring. He has also picked up his minutes and added a few more rebounds, assists, and defensive stats as well. Orlando is likely missing Elfrid Payton here again and this could be another 50 point performance from Wall. I do not like the upside for a tournament at this lofty valuation, but he has been consistent and safe for cash game use.
Ish Smith ($6500) – Ish is no longer cheap, but he’s still a good value for a guy with back to back 40+ point fantasy efforts who has one of the best matchups on the slate. Since the trade, the Sixers have just rolled him out there for as many minutes as he could handle and it has been good for them. He faces a Lakers team that has struggled to stop point guards and allows huge fantasy numbers to almost everybody. Even at $6500, he makes sense for cash and tournaments.
J.J. Barea ($5500) – J.J. is another guy who has seen his price rise along with his recent uptick in minutes and production. He has not seen as big a jump though. As long as Deron Williams remains out, we will continue to see him produce. He has 38, 40, and 53 fantasy points in three of the last 4 games. That kind of production for only $5500 is hard to ignore.
Aaron Brooks ($4100) – any guy coming off of 67 fantasy points in his last 2 games and still priced around $4K is in play for me. If Derrick Rose is out, Brooks is almost a must play on a day we really need some value to open up. He’s played 25-35 minutes in his last two games and finished with 28-38 fantasy points both times. He is still too cheap for his potential and makes a great salary saver if Rose misses again.
Jimmy Butler ($7600) – Whenever Rose is out, we see Butler’s production tick up for fantasy. It makes me believe that Rose should be deferring to Jimmy buckets even more than he already is. Butler gets more usage, minutes, points, and assists when he plays with no D. Rose. He was an MVP candidate early last season in the same situation and his price is well below what we had to pay for him during that run. He went 6X value the other night when Rose first sat and I would be looking for more of that here.
DeMar DeRozan ($8000) – If you are not paying attention, DeRozan has turned it up a notch lately. He has been consistently putting up 40 fantasy points and flashing his 50+ ceiling more often in recent contests. His scoring has picked up, but he is also grabbing more rebounds and assists which all contribute to rising scores. He is more of a cash game play than a tournament play to me as the price has really come up, but he is definitely someone to consider as a safe 5X or better performer lately.
Dwyane Wade ($7000) – We have three solid options near the top of the SG spot today and I am ok rolling any of the three depending on the cash I have left to do so. Wade has consistently been putting up 35-40 fantasy points which makes him another guy who consistently has returned 5X or better. Like DeRozan, I worry about the upside. Those two have been playing consistently well though, and it’s not hard to envision each of them having a floor of about 5X salary as they have shown recently.
Terrence Ross ($4100) – If you need to punt the spot, T.Ross is the best option I see down in the cheap seats. The Raptors have had some banged up wing options off the bench, so Ross is seeing a few more minutes. He is still really cheap, so you do not need a ton out of him. The upside is somewhat limited, but he is the only guy that cheap I currently feel OK rolling out there.
Evan Fournier ($5800) – Fournier is my favorite play of a stacked group of guys around his price at small forward. He is playing about 32-37 minutes and has scored 30 or ore fantasy points in 7 of his last 8 games. With Payton on the shelf, he has reverted to the guy we saw earlier in the year that everyone was using. Fournier could always score, but this year he is adding some assists, rebounds, and steals to his stat lines. He might not have a ton of upside for this price, but a guy below $6K who can consistently top 30 fantasy points is well worth it.
Chandler Parsons ($5800) – Parsons is my third favorite option at this price point, but still worth mentioning. His minutes limit is gone and he is seeing 30+ minutes now. With the extra minutes, we also see him putting up 30+ fantasy points. He may have a higher ceiling, but probably will not see it with the tough matchup. Miami is both solid on defense and plays at a slower pace. That should cap his upside and keep him as a strict cash game option at the price.
Otto Porter ($5700) – Porter is recently returned from an injury and is really helping with the scoring load for the Wizards. He has at least 20 points, 8 rebounds, and 2 assists in back-to-back games for the Wizards since his return. That was good enough for 35-40 fantasy points both times. He and Fournier make for better tournament options here today over Parsons, but I think all three are in play for cash games.
Nerlens Noel ($6300) – It seems all the 76ers needed to do was trade for Ish smith back and sit Okafor with an injury for a few days and Nerlen’s becomes a stud again. He has looked great over the past few games and really seems to have clicked with Ish. Ish keeps finding him on his dives to the rim with alley oop passes and the two are putting up really nice numbers lately. He has a good matchup against a weak Lakers defense, so despite the price bump, I still want to have shares of the man who is outproducing every night and helping people win GPPs.
Julius Randle ($5400) – Randle has been a guy I have been calling for more minutes out of for weeks. He is only playing about 24 a game and is still managing to double double. If he got 30-35 minutes a game the production could be scary good. He may get a chance here with Larry Nance Jr. banged up. Nance has been hobbled and that could mean we finally see 30+ minutes from Randle. If so at $5400, he could have a huge upside and a pretty safe floor as he has made value often lately without the possibility of more court time.
Bobby Portis ($3900) – We waited and waited for him to get some minutes after watching him tear up summer league’s and preseason games. The moment finally arrived and Portis has not disappointed. He has back to back games of double digit points and just shy of double digit rebounds. They have been good enough for 25-30 fantasy points. At a price under $4K, that is 6X or more returns and he has done so in only about 20 minutes of action per game. Portis is an elite talent with a bright future, but for tonight he is a cheap salary saver who has paid off his tag and allowed you the cost savings to spend up for a stud. That’s a valuable trait as well.
Pau Gasol ($7800) – Pau is one of the better cash game plays in my opinion. He has been consistently putting up 40+ fantasy points since the Noah Injury. That gives him over 5X in the last few games with only one real clunker in there. The Knicks frontcourt is not a lock down defensive one, so the only thing that can keep Pau from value here is a blowout and I do not envision one of those today.
Hassan Whiteside ($7100) – I never play Whiteside in cash, because sometimes Spoelstra sits him, sometimes he gets in foul trouble, and sometimes he just does nothing. With that being said though, he is a great tournament play. He has huge rebounding numbers and can block 4-6 shots on any given night. His offensive game is limited though, which is one of the things that keeps him from being an all around monster on both ends of the floor. $7100 is not cheap, but he has the upside of being able to go for 6 or 7X off that number if he does get some easy dunks and has a big block party.
Roy Hibbert ($4200) – Hibbert has a plum matchup against a Sixers squad that has given it up to opposing centers this year. He was a really solid player last year in Indy, so I have no idea what the heck happened to him. I do know he is still seeing 25+ minutes and his price has dropped to $4200. He was a walking double double with block potential last year and a repeat of that effort would give him huge upside here. He’s not someone I would play in cash games, but the matchup is as good as it gets and the cheap price is very enticing.