We only have a small five game slate today for NBA DFS, but we do have some high totals and close spreads. The one exception looks to be the San Antonio and Phoenix game, which could get ugly pretty quickly based on the Vegas line and recent performances. The other games should all remain close and allow for full minutes for the starters. Let’s take a look at some of the best options at each position to return value on the day.
Chris Paul ($9800) – Paul is getting a little pricey, but that has a lot to do with him putting up a ton of fantasy points lately. Blake Griffin is on the verge of coming back into the mix, but Paul has been the guy carrying this offense with him out. He has 50 or more fantasy points in 5 of his last 6 games with a whopping 71 last time out. He has a tough team matchup against a good Cavs defense, but he does have a solid individual matchup with Kyrie Irving who has never really been known for his defense. Paul has offered a safe 50ish point floor with upside into the 60s and 70s when he has a good game. He is almost a lock for a points/assist double double and will need to be good here for the Clippers to keep it close.
Jrue Holiday ($6500) – Jrue Holiday has not been starting, but he is still playing 30+ minutes and putting up some good fantasy numbers. with the news of Eric Gordon being out for 4-6 weeks, Jrue should move into the starting lineup. He can score, rebound, and rack up assists. It’s a big reason why his worst return is still 4.2X value over his last 11. He has gone 5X or better in 7 of those last 11 games too, so there is consistency and upside to his play. The price is not too high, especially for a guy who should get more minutes, more usage, and is in a high total game (205) with a low spread (-2) against the Pistons.
Patty Mills ($3500) – When Parker is out, people tend to talk about how Mills is a must play. I do like him, he is cheap, but he is certainly not a must play by any stretch of the imagination. Mills only sees a slight uptick in minutes with Parker out. He will likely end up between 23-28 today, which is slightly more than usual. He should end up somewhere around 20 fantasy points, which is a nice return, but nothing spectacular. He does provide salary relief and a tad bit of safety and upside with his new role. It does not mean he is a must play, but he is my favorite cheap option as of now.
NONE – With Tyreke Evans banged up and being the only expensive guy, there is really no one you can justify paying for.
Devin Booker ($5000) – Devin Booker is starting to get more expensive as the tag is up to $5K. Ever since Bledsoe has been out, he has slowly seen his minutes rise. Booker is a great shooter and a solid scorer. He had a monster game where the shot was dropping and he put up over 30 fantasy points his last time out. I think that is more of his ceiling game than the norm, so I would temper my expectations for upside. He is still pretty reasonably priced even for a guy in a tough matchup against the Spurs. In a softer spot I would lie him a ton, but in this spot he is viable, but not someone I must have.
Jamal Crawford ($4700) – The Clippers are going to need scoring if they are going to beat the stingy defense of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Jamal Crawford has always been a guy who can provide that for you off the bench. He is also seeing more minutes lately as his average per game jumped up to about 30 over his last five from a number in the low to mid 20s recently. His price is nice at below $5K and he has more upside than the other guys we will mention in this range at the shooting guard spot. Crawford is the one guy here who has a history of 30-40 point ceiling in his past, so he is the cheap option I would look to roll for upside on tournament rosters.
Gary Harris ($4600) – If Crawford is the more well known and Booker is the safer play, with the tougher matchup, than Harris might be the sneaky option to go to if you fade them both. Harris has seen solid and consistent minutes at the SG spot for the Nuggets. He is averaging 35 minutes per game over his last 6 and is returning 5X on average over that span. HE does have a slow paced matchup with Memphis and a slowly rising price to go along with it. I’m not in love with the upside, but he can get me 20-25 fantasy points which would be a solid payoff for only $4600.
Danilo Gallinari ($7100) – I’m not willing to pay up for Lebron today and Kawhi Leonard is in a game likely to get ugly, so Gallo is probably the safest cash game option of the guys I am willing to pay up for. He is the main scorer for the Nuggets right now and has been since his return from injury. Gallo has consistently put up 35-45 fantasy points in all but one game since his return from injury. He is scoring around 20 a game and adding in a few of the other stats to round out his line. The matchup with Memphis is not an easy one and the total is a tad low, so while he is a good play, I like him more for his safe floor in cash games.
Rudy Gay ($6800) – While Gallo is my top cash option, Rudy Gay is my favorite play for tournaments. At only $6800, his price is pretty cheap and he has flashed 40+ fantasy point upside in two of his most recent games. He is more erratic than Gallo is, which is why I prefer Gallo in cash, but Gay has a better chance for upside here. He is more involved in the offense recently and this game has a total of 217 with a low spread. Gay could be the guy who goes for 40-45 fantasy points today at a friendly price below $7K. That would make him one of the best value’s at the position today and a guy who can help you take down a big tournament.
P.J. Tucker ($5000) – The matchup for Tucker is tough and he will likely see some Kawhi Leonard defense for portions of this game. While I normally would not attack that matchup, the injury situation makes me think it’s not as bad as usual. Mirza Teletovic and Markieff Morris are both banged up. Jon Leuer is not 100% either. That means we have three guys who usually soak up some minutes at the forward spot who are likely out or limited here. Tucker should see an absolute ton of minutes and produced well in his last game in this same situation. While the matchup likely keeps him from hitting his ceiling, he does have a good chance to get 25-30 fantasy points at $5K, which would be an excellent return.
DeMarcus Cousins ($10600) – We have two options at the $10K price range for power forward and if I am going to pay up for one of them it is going to be Cousins. Cousins plays in a game with a 217 total and a close spread. He has been an absolute monster lately as well. He is putting up around 30 points per game over his last nine and has not had less than nine rebounds in any of those games. In fact he has double doubles in 9 of his last 10 and none of them have been of the cheap variety. He is putting up monster lines of 30 points and 12-17 boards which is a big reason why he has returned 5X or better in 7 of his last 8 games. His floor is more consistent and he has a higher ceiling than Anthony Davis does, which is why he will be a keystone in many of my lineups today. I can see an argument to be made for the lower owned Davis in tournament play, but Cousins seems to be the safer $10K option to roll on Thursday night.
Paul Millsap ($8200) – Millsap is considerably cheaper than Boogie Cousins and would be the guy I came down to if I really needed the extra $2K in savings. He has a great matchup against a high paced Sacramento team that has yielded big numbers to everyone so far this year. Millsap has the safest minutes profile on the Hawks as he gets a few more minutes per game in all situations. This is a high total game at 217 with a 1 point spread and Millsap has been a consistent cash game performer all year. Due to the pace, he also has upside in this one, so I would be comfortable plugging him into cash or GPP rosters on this short slate.
LaMarcus Aldridge ($7100) – I really do not think there is any cheap value worth chasing at the power forward position and it looks like a day you want to pay up here. Aldridge is my third favorite option on the day, but the friendliest on your fantasy budget. After a slow start to the season, Aldridge is now more involved in the Spurs game plan. He has put up 35-45 points in 3 of his last 4, which is solid 5X or better value at his current price. The blowout risk is a concern, but he put up 35 fantasy points and played 27 minutes last game which was also a blowout. He has a safe floor regardless of the outcome, but would need the game close to get over 30 minutes and become a top tournament play.
Marc Gasol ($7600) – Gasol is probably my favorite center option on the day. He has a solid matchup against a Denver Nuggets team that has struggled to stop big men all season. His Memphis team is paced up here, despite the low total overall. Gasol has been on a tear recently as he has averaged over 6X in his last few games. He has played an averaged of 39 minutes in his last four games with a solid floor of 40 fantasy points. At his price of $76, that gives him a solid 5X or better in each of those. He is not too expensive and the matchup is favorable, so I see no reason not to target him heavy, especially in cash game play.
Willie Cauley-Stein ($3400) – This is a great salary saver to help you afford some of the big ticket items like his teammate DeMarcus Cousins. Cauley-Stein is back from injury and lately has been back in the starting lineup. He is dirt cheap at $3400 and has produced over 7X value in the two games he has played 20+ minutes since his return. He was given 29 minutes in his last game and produced a monster 10X game in that one. At$3400, we only really need 20-25 points out of him to be a value added guy on a tournament roster. Stars and Scrubs is a popular and profitable strategy on a small slate like this one. WCS is the key to being able to fit in the high priced studs while not surrendering too much upside. I do not know f he is safe enough for cash, that would depend on how safe you think his minutes are. I do know that I will have a lot of exposure to him in tournaments though, because the savings and his ceiling are too good to pass up for the cheap price tag.