We have a small six game slate for Tuesday in NBA DFS, but that does not mean it will be a low scoring one. The lowest total on the board today is at 203, so all these games should have some fantasy upside. Some of the spreads are creeping up into the double digit range right now, so that always makes it tough. You never know which games will stay close and which could turn ugly. The opposite can also be true. A team like Houston is clinging on to a playoff spot by the skin of their teeth. They will not be favored vs. the Cavs on the road, but you can certainly envision them playing hard and squeezing out a win. Let’s take a look at each position and some of the top plays to take a look at.
Russell Westbrook – Thunder v. Pistons – ($10,300) – We have a log jam of expensive point guards today and you can make a case for a few of them. It is tough to roster more than one, so you really have to take a stand somewhere. For me that stand is going to be Russell Westbrook. I know Steph Curry had 70 the last time he played the Wizards, but the Warriors are at home and Steph rarely plays big minutes in the 4th quarter at home. I can not see paying $9900 for John Wall when I can come up to Steph or Russ for a few hundred more. Kemba Walker is a viable option as well, but Russ plays in a game with a higher total and lower spread, so that alone makes him safer. Westbrook is not the choice by default, he has merits of his own to consider. He has an insane five triple-doubles in his last 8 games. Four times he put up 63+ DraftKings points in those games. His OKC team is still playing for wins to lock up their playoff spot and he is as close to an unstoppable force as we have in the NBA. Westbrook also has the best spot of any of the top options. Others may have softer matchups, but the close spread and high total make me feel more secure in his chances of playing deep into the fourth quarter. I think there is a case to be made for most of the top options we mentioned, but the best case is the one you can make for using Westbrook.
Ish Smith – 76ers v. Hornets – ($5,900) – Ish Smith has made me some money in his last few starts and I’m going back to the well. Not many guys priced below $8K have the upside to hit a number in the 40s or 50s for you. Ish is one of those guys. He has played 35 minutes in each of the last two games and hung up 46 and 50 fantasy points in them. For a price under $6K, that is insanely good value. Philly is not a good team even when healthy. They have been destroyed by injuries lately too. With so few solid players left, Ish has managed to really pick up his game to compensate. He has 37 points, 17 rebounds, and 19 assists in his last two games. Those are numbers that anyone would envy. The matchup with Charlotte is not ideal, but there really is no one else on Philly doing much of anything offensively right now. Ish has the ball in his hands a lot, which means he has a ton of chances during the game to score or rack up assists. I would not be expecting another 50 out of him here, but I think a 30+ point floor is pretty safe and that would give him a 5.5X or better return today.
George Hill – Pacers v. Bulls – ($4,700) – A profitable way to play DFS is to find matchups that are favorable and exploit them. Another profitable way to play is to find undervalued assets and exploit them. A third line of thinking is to find guys others likely overlook and exploit that for your advantage. Well George Hill clicks off all three boxes today. Hill has been solid, yet unremarkable in most of his recent starts. That should help keep the ownership down. His price has dropped to $4700, which handles the undervalued part of the equation. The last piece of the puzzle is the amazing matchup with the Chicago Bulls PG defense. Chicago has not been able to stop anybody lately. Jeff Teague just lit them up for almost 50 fantasy points last night. In fact, George Hill had one of his best games of the season the last time these two met, going for over 40 DK points in that one.
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James Harden – Rockets v. Cavs – ($10,400) – The Rockets are playing to stay alive in the eight seed right now, so they need to win every game. That explains why Harden has played 40+ minutes in each of the last four games. Harden is a high fantasy point per minute producer, so the more minutes he plays, the more points he scores. If we know that he is the guy that they rely on for offense, it makes sense to expect him to play a ton of minutes as long as the game stays close. Harden is averaging over 60 fantasy points in his last 6 games and those kind of numbers deserve to be on our roster.
“Klay has 32, 40, and 40 real life points in his last 3 games which averages out to over 5X value on points scored alone…”
Klay Thompson – Warriors v. Wizards – ($7,100) – I really hate paying up for guys who are so scoring dependent, but man can this guy score. Klay has 32, 40, and 40 real life points in his last 3 games which averages out to over 5X value on points scored alone. Throw in the bonus for the minimum of 7 3-pointers he hit in each of those three games and you are almost at 6X already. The problems with Klay are two-fold. The first problem is he gives you little more than points. He has averaged under 4 rebounds, just over 1 assist, and just over one defensive stat per game. That means that independent of his scoring ability, in an average of 36 minutes per game, he only generated 8.5 fantasy points per game. That leads us to our second problem. Washington plays a fast pace too, and are bad at defending wing players. Golden State tends to blow people out at home, so Klay may need 35-40 real life points by the end of the third quarter in this one. That is always the risk with the Warriors at home.
JR Smith – Cavaliers v. Rockets – ($4,400) – I think this is a great spot to look at JR Smith again. He plays in an uptempo game against the Rockets, which means he draws James Harden defense. That has been an exploitable matchup all season. With Kyrie not 100%, Delly is going to see a few more minutes at the point, which opens up more minutes for JR at the 2. If Iman Shumpert (Listed as Questionable) also misses, then we get back to the 28-34 minute JR Smith. More minutes and a solid matchup in a high paced game with a ton of points expected seems like a good case to be made in favor of using someone on your roster. If that someone is also pretty cheap at $4400, it makes it almost a no brainer if we get the Shumpert news before tip.
Kevin Durant – Thunder v. Pistons – ($10,000) – Durant is very likely to be the top scoring SF on the slate today. He also is in a decent spot here. this game has the lowest spread and the second highest total, so you would expect to see the starters get full run. OKC is still fighting for playoff seeding, so they are motivated and have been trying to win games. We know Durant and Westbrook do much of the heavy lifting for the Thunder and that is good for fantasy purposes. It makes it easier for us to pinpoint where the usage and fantasy points are likely to come from. Many rosters had both guys last night and both put up 60+ fantasy points. If this game stays close down the stretch, everyone knows which two guys are going to be taking the bulk of the shots. I’m not a huge fan of any of the other expensive SF options today, which means I think paying up for Durant is worth the premium on this slate.
Robert Covington – 76ers v. Hornets – ($6,000) – Robert Covington is not a sexy pick, but he is one that makes sense to use, even at $6K. The 76ers are hurting with injuries right now. Jerami Grant and Noel are questionable, Okafor and Holmes are out. With such a thin frontcourt, Covington has even seen time as a stretch 4 recently. That is actually a good thing for him, because rebounding and hitting 3-pointers is what he can do anyway. Covington also comes up with a lot of defensive stats at times. He has had some 50 fantasy point performances that were aided by 3-5 steals and a block. He can give you some nice upside on a good game, while being safe enough to crack 30+ fantasy points in each of his last 3.
Harrison Barnes – Warriors v. Wizards – ($4,100) – Barnes is a very safe play for me today. His price is low at $4100. His minutes are safe with Iggy out. Whether the Warriors are in a close game or up 20, he has still seen 30-35 minutes in each of the last 9 games. His team has the highest projected total on the board today at over 120, and faces Otto Porter defense which has been something we have picked on all year. Barnes has a lot of positives going in his favor here today and for $4100, it does not cost a ton to get a piece of him.
Kevin Love – Cavs v. Rockets – ($6,800) – Love is still selling at a discount after two bad games where he was banged up before sitting one out. If you take that three game span out of the game logs, he has been putting up 40-50 fantasy points consistently. A guy with those numbers should be priced closer to $8K than $7K, so he is still a massive discount to his abilities. The Rockets play fast and are not good defensively, so those are pluses for him too. He also faces a great DvP matchup against one of the worst teams in the league at guarding the position. Throw all these things together with his price of only $6800 and I think he is going to be a very popular play today at a somewhat thin position.
Marvin Williams – Hornets v. 76ers – ($5,700) – The Hornets have been much improved this year. Sure Nic Batum is a big part of it, but so has been the play of Marvin Williams. He has been a pleasant surprise for them, and is producing nice stat lines. Williams is under $6K, but has managed to produce about 30 or more fantasy points in 7 of his last 11. He was banged up and missed some time, but when he saw minutes, he put up nice numbers. Philly is not stopping anyone on defense and forwards have killed them on the boards. Williams should see a good amount of minutes here and contribute in the scoring and rebounding categories. I can see a 30-40 fantasy point game out of him, which could translate into a 6-7X return at the price.
Carl Landry – 76ers v. Hornets – ($4,500) – I am not a huge fan of Landry’s game or the amount of court time he saw earlier in the year, but I am a fan of his price and his new role. Philly is banged up. Okafor and Holmes are out. Noel and Grant are questionable and Elton Brand is playing minutes. Needless to say, they are hurting for big bodies. Landry has only played 24 minutes or more in seven games all season. Each has taken place in the last three weeks and he has scored a minimum of 26 fantasy points in each one. He has scored 36 and 37 in two of his last 5 as well, so he is also showing us upside of 8-9X return.
Brook Lopez ($7,300) – I have no idea why, but when DraftKings sends out the “Most Rostered Player” email for the second half of the year, I expect to see Brook Lopez’s name. Actually, that is a lie. I know exactly why I expect to see it. Since Jack when down and Joe Johnson was released, Lopez has been the entire offense for Brooklyn. He has a massive 33% usage rate for a center and they run the entire offense through him. He is not a huge rebounder, but he does have his upside games. I think this could be one of them. Nikola Vucevic is out, so Lopez will have an advantage in height and skill on guys like Dedmon, Gordon, and Jason Smith who he will face down low. He should be able to score on those guys at will, and that combination of points and rebounds is what we want. He is laying about 35 minutes and averaging 40 fantasy points over the last 9 games. At $7300, that is almost an average of 6X, with this being a positive matchup for him.
Andre Drummond – Pistons v. Thunder – ($7,800) – The only other big man I really like is Andre Drummond. Drummond has an OK matchup with the Thunder, but this is the second highest total on the day with the lowest spread. I fully expect him to get his full amount of normal minutes here and that is good. Drummond has been putting up some monster double doubles lately. He is averaging over 20 points and over 15 rebounds in his last 4 games and that alone is worth 40 fantasy points to his owners. Steven Adams is a solid defender, but Enes Kanter is horrible, so he does have a good if not great matchup to exploit. Both teams are fighting for playoff seeding, so I expect them both to be playing hard. I still prefer Lopez by a little bit, but think Drummond is a very viable lower owned candidate to use in tournaments.
Ian Mahinmi – Pacers v. Bulls – ($4,900) – If you need to save at center, I think Ian Mahinmi is the way to go. Chicago is one of the worst teams at defending the position and they have also been playing higher scoring games. That means this is a great spot for Mahinmi who has been playing better himself recently. He has 33 and 41 fantasy points in his last two games, so he has been returning better than 6X value. His minutes are up from the low 20s to the low 30s lately too, which has accounted for the uptick in fantasy production. His price is still slower to rise and his ownership is always low. Most people will be paying up today too, so a low owned cheap play like this is a good way to differentiate your roster for a tournament.