Huge Prizes Tonight on DraftKings
It’s a big Friday night in NBA DFS with a full ten game slate. It is a very tricky slate, because the games with the 220 totals also have double digit spreads and may not be as good a spot as some of the games with 210 totals that should remain close throughout. The Orlando/Sacramento and Philly/Brooklyn games look to be two that will be highly owned, but on a ten game slate, we do have a lot of ways to go. Let’s take a look at some of the top players to target on the day.
Damian Lillard – Blazers vs. Warriors – $9,800 – Lillard is one of the most talented offensive players we have in the league and gets fired up when he has a chance to prove it against reigning MVP Steph Curry. In two games this year, Lillard has put up 78 and 69.75 DraftKings points against the Warriors. He has a total of 91 points with 15 made 3-pointers, 17 assists, and 8 steals in the two matchups. It is not something exclusive to the Warriors either. Dame has been playing some great ball lately. He has over 62 fantasy points in two of the last three games and is averaging a huge 39 minutes during his recent run. The Blazers go as Damian Lillard does, so I expect them to keep this high total game close today with Dame Dollar putting up some more eye popping numbers.
Rajon Rondo – Kings vs. Magic – $7,800 – This was a tough decision between Rondo and Jrue Holiday in the price range. Both guys should be asked to do more today with guys sitting out. The Pelicans are riddled with backcourt injuries, and we saw Jrue take a much larger offensive role in his last game. He should be in line for another big game here, although he has the tougher matchup against Memphis. He will likely see some Tony Allen defense and that is never an easy task. Rondo gets his boost due to Boogie Cousins suspension. He also faces an Orlando team that may be without both Elfrid Payton to guard him and Nikola Vucevic as rim protection.
“With no Boogie today, I expect him to look to score a little more, while still doing what he does in all the other categories”
The total and pace of that game is well above the one for Jrue, so that gives Rondo the better spot for fantasy production. Rondo has 40+ fantasy points in 10 of his last 13 games, with double digit assists in 10 of those games, as well. His scoring has been a mixed bag recently with games alternating between single digit points and 20+ points. With no Boogie today, I expect him to look to score a little more, while still doing what he does in all the other categories. With the discount in price off of some of the top options, I think Rondo has one of the safer floors and still has upside for Friday.
Jose Calderon – Knicks vs. Clippers – $4,100 – I normally shy away from guys who have to guard and be guarded by Chris Paul, but this Calderon play has more to do with price and minutes. Calderon has seen over 35 of them in three of his last four games, which includes his big 36.5 DraftKings point performance in his last game. With Aaron Afflalo out, Calderon sees a ton more court time. He has produced with the increased time as well. He has returned 5X or better in each of his last 4 games which includes a 7X and a 9X value game as the bookends. It is a tough matchup, but the Knicks will be up in pace, and Calderon does not need to do a ton to pay off the $4100 price tag.
Patrick Beverley – Rockets vs. Celtics – $5,200 – The Celtics defense has allowed the 2nd fewest fantasy points per game to PGs this season, but the price point and recent production has kept Beverley as a viable option. Over his last 11 games we have seen him return between 25-35 fantasy points in nine of them. The minutes are a main reason. Since they parted ways with Ty Lawson, Beverley has been on the court at least 30 minutes each game. He does not do anything spectacular, but contributes three to five stats in every category with double digit points. He is a tenacious defender, as well and tends to come up with a couple steals every game.
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Victor Oladipo – Magic vs. Kings – $7,200 – Oladipo gets a matchup with the high paced Kings team playing without DeMarcus Cousins today. That alone is enough to tick up anyone they face. Throw in the fact that Vucevic and Elfrid Payton are both questionable and we could see a high usage guy like Oladipo get a bump up in usage against a team that allows huge fantasy points to high usage players. It would almost be the perfect storm for him. With Vucevic out, Oladipo’s usage rate rises from 21.8% to 24.7%. Similarly, Oladipo is averaging 36.2 DK points per game in 5 games with Vucevic out this season. If Payton is out as well, those numbers will jump even higher. Even if both guys are in, the pace and high scoring nature of a game against the Kings is enough to make him a top option.
“[He] is back up to 35 and 38 minutes in his last two games and went for 31 and 33 fantasy points in those two”
Evan Fournier – Magic vs. Kings $5,900 – Another Magic player? Well, why not? They are playing Sacramento today and the same injury news that would uptick Oladipo would benefit Fournier too. After sitting a few games out with an injury, he is back up to 35 and 38 minutes in his last two games and went for 31 and 33 fantasy points in those two. This is a much better matchup for him and his usage would be up if either Payton or Vucevic do sit this one out. Sacramento has been one of the worst in the league at defending wing players, so you really can not go wrong with having exposure to anyone going up against them.
E’Twaun Moore – Bulls vs. Heat – $4,200 – E’twaun Moore has played 30+ minutes in 7 of his last 14 games and was around 30 DKFP or more in every one where he played 30+ minutes. He has played 35 minutes in each of the past two games and scored 29 and 38 fantasy points to further drive home the point. His minutes are up into the 30 range now, so we can reasonably expect his fantasy production to continue to tick up as well.
Bojan Bogdanovic – Nets vs. 76ers – $4,500 – I want to start by saying he’s a risky cash game play, who has extremely volatile games, but I love this spot and price today on Bojan. He gets a very weak 76ers team at their place, so I expect the game to stay close. Bojan tends to play 30-35 minutes in close games and has reached 5-8X each of the last five times that he has been on the court for 30+ minutes. He will likely finish in the 25-35 DK point range, but he only needs 27 DKFP to return 6X value for you. He has 25, 23, 33, 28, and 26 DK points in those last five games and none of those games were against defenses as bad as Philly’s.
Editor’s Note (6:20 PM ET) – Bojan Bogdanovic has been ruled out for tonight’s game in Philadelphia. Markel Brown ($3,800) will start and has averaged 0.74 fantasy points per minute this season in limited playing time. However, it is a great matchup with a bad Sixers defense and Brown should see a lot of playing time given just how thin Brooklyn’s backcourt has become. He’s an intriguing pivot in tournaments away from similarly priced guards Toney Douglas ($3,700) and CJ Watson ($3,400).
Kevin Durant – Thunder vs. Timberwolves – $10,500 – OKC has one of the biggest team totals on the day, and it’s no secret where the production comes from. The Thunder get most of their scoring from KD and Westbrook. What has made KD a great play recently is the uptick in his rebounding numbers. He has 7 straight games with double digit rebounds and is averaging 12 per game over this stretch. He has also ticked up his assists numbers from about 4 a game to just shy of 7 during this run. He is also still dropping consistently around 30 fantasy points per game which is why he has fallen between 57 and 66 DraftKings points in each of them. Even with the price climbing up on the Slim Reaper, he is still returning between 5.4X and 6.7X value per game, which is more than enough to make him a viable play in cash games and tournaments. If I spend up for one $10K superstar on the day, I think it has to be him.
“This is a perfect storm for Rudy Gay…”
Rudy Gay – Kings vs. Magic – $6,000 – This is a perfect storm for Rudy Gay and I think he deserves to be incredibly highly owned tonight. His price had dipped as he battled an injury last week, but he has back-to-back games with 37.5 fantasy points and over 40 minutes of run, so I’m confident he is past that. Throw in the news about Cousins being suspended and you now have a guy jump from being a strong play, to being an elite play. At this price, we need at least a floor of 30 fantasy points out of him and over 36 DKFP to keep us on pace for value goals (6X). He has averaged more than that in his last two and his usage should jump up here without Cousins. If Elfrid Payton does not play he will draw some Mario Hezonja defense and if Elfrid Payton is in, he may still get a favorable matchup with Fournier. Given the low price, recent performance and probable uptick in usage, I think Gay has all the makings of a guy who is extremely safe tonight.
Lance Stephenson – Grizzlies vs. Pelicans – $4,400 – Lance Stephenson has stepped into a great spot here in Memphis. Mike Conley is doubtful for tonight and Chalmers went down with an injury last game. The Grizzlies are basically without a ball handler. Lance is not a true point guard, but he will spend some time there today. Chalmers going down also opens more minutes for him and Tony Allen to divy up, as Chalmers was playing a lot of the two guard when Conley was healthy. Throw in the fact that guys like Randolph and Anderson are still questionable, too, and we could see huge minutes out of him again. Even before all the injury carnage, we saw him playing 22-24 minutes a night and putting up 20-25 fantasy points. With an expected uptick in minutes, usage, and shot attempts coming here, he could put up a monster score tonight at a very cheap price.
Thaddeus Young – Nets vs. 76ers – $6,600 – I think this is a very savvy spot to roll out Thad Young tonight. Game log watchers will not be doing it, so his ownership is likely to be pretty low. He sat out two games back, but remember that was for rest. They went to overtime on the front end of a back-to-back, so both him and Lopez took the day off. He came back and struggled last game against a very good defensive Toronto Raptors team, so I can excuse that poor performance, too. He now has a revenge game with a much better matchup and is discounted a few hundred bucks in price. In his last two games against Philly he has averaged 20 points and 10 rebounds, which is worth 34 fantasy points by itself. Throw in a few defensive stats and an assist or two and he is already above value for you.
Aaron Gordon – Magic vs. Kings – $6,700 – Gordon had been on a tear before a few slip-ups in recent games. I was originally hesitant to use him today because I thought he might get in foul trouble matched up on Boogie Cousins. Now that Cousins is out, I love Gordon. I’m hoping Vucevic is out again, too because that would make Gordon the best rebounder on the floor in this entire game. It would also solidify a few more minutes for him since the Magic are banged up right now. He has scored between 33 and 44 DKFP 6 times in his last ten games and each of those was when he saw double digit shot attempts. Gordon can easily get you a double double and recently went for 20 and 16 against the Warriors defense. I expect him to see minutes and more shots if Payton or Vucevic are out. That should put him back in line with the guy we saw putting up 33+ a night. Against a fast paced team like the Kings, that should give him a nice floor and big upside.
Nikola Mirotic – Bulls vs. Heat – $4,100 – Mirotic had been out for so long that people forgot about him. Back-to-back 30 fantasy point performances should change all that. With Butler out, they do still need scoring options, and Mirotic is one of those. His minutes bumped up to 28 in the last game, and he has contributed a stat in all six categories (points, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks, and 3-pointers) in each of the last two games. He is definitely a guy who can round out a stat sheet when he is playing well. This is a guy who was routinely putting up 30 and 40 fantasy points earlier this season before his injury, so we know he is capable of more than he has shown. What he has shown was still good enough for 7X or better at his bargain basement price, so hop on board now before we see him up in the mid $6K range again.
Hassan Whiteside – Heat vs. Bulls – $8,200 – I do not care if he starts or not, the guy is playing huge for the Heat right now. He has been between 40 and 60 fantasy points in 9 of his last 10 games. He also gets a really soft matchup against a Bulls team that has been struggling to stop Centers this season. Whiteside has big time double doubles in 9 of his last 10 games. Games of 20 points and 15-20 rebounds are not out of his realm of possibilities. The cherry on top is his ability to block shots. He has games with 6, 7, and 8 blocks over this recent run, and at 2 points each, they can add up quickly. For some reason, people are still shying away from him, as the ownership should be higher on a guy with upside who has also been this consistent. I have no problem saying he is my top play tonight, and I hope people continue to doubt him.
Brook Lopez – Nets vs. 76ers – $7,800 – Lopez has not been great against the 76ers recently, but this matchup overall is too good to ignore. For starters, the Sixers have been struggling against forwards and centers all year. They may be without Okafor again here, and we just saw Dwight Howard have a monster performance against them a few days back without Jahlil. Lopez is the highest usage center in the league right now and the main weapon for his struggling Nets team. Lopez will grab a few rebounds and chip in a block, assist, or steal here and there, but the scoring is his main way to rack up fantasy points. Brooklyn is anemic on the offensive end right now, so I expect them to feed Lopez against smaller defenders like Landry, Holmes, and Noel. I still prefer Whiteside for safety and upside, but Brook has a lot of positives in his corner today too.
Kosta Koufos – Kings vs. Magic – $3,000 – The most popular punt play of the day is likely to be Koufos with news of the Boogie Cousins suspension breaking last night. While Koufos is certainly no Cousins, he should still be able to crush value at the minimum DK salary in 25-32 minutes of playing time tonight. Koufos and Willie Cauley-Stein will likely both see an uptick in minutes and production at minimum price, but I think Koufos gets the lion’s share of the additional court time. If Vucevic remains out for the Magic, then those guys will only have to deal with Jason Smith defense. I usually need at least 25 points out of a minimum priced punt, and I think we get that from Koufos here. Using him at minimum price allows you the salary savings to pay up for multiple studs, so I think it will be a very popular and profitable way to build rosters on Friday.